You are not alone in your concern. Constipation represents one quarter of all visits to pediatric gastroenterologists (GIKids.org) As a functional medicine nutrition consultant, focusing on root causes of any abnormality is key to my plan of action. I can understand your concern and your desire to help your child have healthy bowel movements, and I am also pretty sure that you, too, want to get to the root of the problem. You don't want just a band-aid fix. I hope the following information is helpful. Never try a few things and give up. If they do not work, it simply means we need to dig deeper. The following information is not an exhaustive work. If these suggestions fail, we will do some testing to help us determine the root cause, but I like to start with simple remedies first and move on if they do not bring the results we are looking for. I will depend on you to let me know how things are going and if you need further assistance or help.
How do I know my child is constipated? A child is considered constipated if he/she has fewer than three bowel movements a week, strains to have a bowel movement, or has hard stools or discomfort.
What causes constipation? In an overwhelming majority of constipated children, it is usually not a medical reason, rather it is most often due to poor diet (too much poor nutrient depleting processed foods and not enough nutrient dense foods), poor bowel habits, and/or an emotional or psychological factor.
Most everyone is deficient in magnesium due to poor soil quality and foods grown in these soils will have little magnesium. If it's not in the soil, it's not in the plant. Magnesium aids in muscle motility in the digestive tract. The balancing mineral to magnesium is calcium. Too much dairy intake (milk, cheese, ice cream, etc) upsets our magnesium/calcium balance. Calcium is a muscle constrictor whereas, magnesium is a muscle relaxer. You can see how this would be a factor in inadequate bowel motility.
Dysbiosis is another cause of constipation. This means that the bacteria in the gut is imbalanced.
Insufficient water intake, insufficient dietary fat, insufficient insoluble fiber intake, medications, hypothyroidism, and lack of exercise are many other reasons for constipation.
Emotional or psychological factors include suppressing the urge to defecate due to pain (fissure, hemorrhoid or other structural problem), being previously scolded or from fear of some potty incident related to the bowel movement. Being too busy to stop what a child is doing also plays a factor. Ignoring the urge to defecate causes the stool to become more dried and hard as more water is dehydrated away and the rectum gets used to being stretched and fails to respond normally.
When the following suggestions do not help resolve the constipation, please consider testing to get to the root of the problem. Consider food sensitivities, lactose intolerance, parasites, or leaky gut syndrome. We can test for these.
What do you suggest to resolve this constipation issue?
Medical professionals usually do not help patients with getting to the root of the problem, nor do they make nutritional suggestions. Instead they prescribe miralax, colace, dulcolax, senakot or other laxatives. These are only triage short term fixes that do not get to the root of the problem and may cause dependence. I prefer trying the following suggestions in the following downloadable file.
High blood sugar is prevalent. Any statistic will show this to be true. NBCnews.com reported in a 2015 article by Maggie Fox that “half of all U.S. adults have diabetes or blood sugar so high they’re almost diabetic.” So most people will have to face this issue at some point in their lives. The older we get the more we need to address this issue.
Reducing sugar and refined carbohydrate intake along with regular excise is indeed one of the biggest benefits to us in our quest for lowering blood sugar. But there are certain nutrients and supplements that also help with high blood sugar and diabetes if we have adequate amounts. One that I will focus on for this post is magnesium.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, in her book, The Magnesium Miracle, states that magnesium deficiency may be an independent predictor of diabetes, and serves as a relatively new marker for the disease.
The majority of people do not have optimum levels of magnesium. A good test that we have available for testing magnesium is RBC (red blood cell) magnesium or Intracellular Magnesium, but it is not routinely ordered. The magnesium test that most people get is the serum magnesium test, but this particular intracellular magnesium test measures the magnesium within the cells (intracellular) where most magnesium is found. Since it is not routinely ordered, you would need to ask specifically for this test. What would be an optimum level to have for this RBC or intracellular magnesium test? You want to be in the upper range with 6.0-6.5 mg/dL, according to Dr. Dean.
Magnesium can be found in dark leafy greens, dairy products, meats, seafood, nuts, blackstrap molasses, seaweed, soybeans, seeds, nuts, wheat germ, whole grains and even chocolate. Since magnesium is found in so many foods, why then would we become magnesium deficient? Magnesium content in foods varies greatly depending on the magnesium content in the soil in which the food was grown. Also, magnesium is lost in the industrial processing of the food, and in how the food is finally prepared. For instance, boiling food in water causes magnesium to leach out into the water.
Another reason for low magnesium would be that even though adequate magnesium may be taken in, it does not mean that our bodies absorbed and utilized the adequate amounts. Many factors come into play here. For one, not having enough stomach acid prevents us from absorbing all that we ingest. Low stomach acid may be the result of the aging process as well as taking antacid medications, consuming too much alcohol, being under too much stress, and other factors that would be good to discuss in another post.
Diabetics in particular lose a lot of magnesium in the urine because of increased urine flow as the kidneys try to rid excess glucose from the blood. And yet another route of magnesium loss or depletion is due to prescription medications such as diuretics, blood pressure pills, steroids, birth control pills, and certain diabetic medications. All will rob the body of some magnesium.
How can magnesium help to regulate blood sugar? Insulin is a hormone we produce that acts like an escort to blood sugar guiding it into our cells where the blood sugar is most needed. Insulin requires magnesium. In a magnesium depleted diet, insulin becomes less effective at its job. Both insulin and magnesium are important for blood sugar regulation and they are dependent on each other.
Magnesium supplements come in many forms. The form most easily found on shelves is magnesium oxide. This form is not very well absorbed into the cells so it makes a great laxative, but is not preferred as the best form for cell absorption. Magnesium glycinate is one of my favorite forms and is one of the most absorbable forms.
How much magnesium do you need to take? For optimum health, the basic Optimum Daily Intake for magnesium is 500-750mg. for men and women, according to The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book, by Lieberman and Bruning. Start slow and ramp up to reach this optimum intake. If you get too much, you will know since you will have loose stools, then back down a bit. I like to take magnesium at night as it has a muscle calming effect, but you can take divided doses at morning and night. This way, it keeps a steady supply in your system.
Another way to get more magnesium is through skin absorption. You can add 2 cups Epsom salt to your bathwater or soak your feet in an Epsom salt foot bath. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Still another way is to spray on magnesium oil after a bath. Some people say they get a stinging feeling which stands to reason since it is a salt. With time I have found that this goes away. It feels much like a swim in the ocean and can be sticky feeling for a while, but give this a try since it really is a good way to get more magnesium. You can purchase this or you can make your own. There are many sources on the web explaining how to make this.
If you are a diabetic, it would be wise to check your blood sugar (glucose) levels while starting a magnesium supplement to see the effect magnesium may have, but first, It is always encouraged to tell your doctor when starting any new supplement, especially if you have kidney, liver, or heart disease, or you are on prescription medications since some supplements and pharmaceuticals might have a combined negative effect.
What is your call to action? I would suggest keeping track of your blood glucose levels over time and also getting tested for intracellular magnesium. If you are not in optimum range, than I would suggest finding ways to supplement with magnesium as I have mentioned in this post. Then retest to see how you are doing.
Contact me for more information. I'll be glad to order professional quality supplements for you, including magnesium.
Have you given up on soft drinks because of all the loaded sugar and high fructose corn syrup? I hope so. I ditched those drinks several years ago. Back then, I thought I was doing just fine, because I was drinking diet sodas and escaping the sugar content. Well, that was just as bad, if not worse. So since that time, I have had some great soda alternatives with my flavored homemade water kefir drinks. If you want to know how to make your own water kefir sodas, which are a wonderful probiotic rich alternative, then see my Water Kefir Blog.
I'm happy to share with you yet another great alternative to sugary sodas. I just received from Amazon this past week, my Soda Stream soda machine. It doesn't use electricity, so it can be placed just about anywhere. It's fun to use and really neat to have that soda pop tongue tingle that I remembered so many years ago.
But wait, I know you are wondering about the ingredients. Well, this little fizzy drink can be compared to those very expensive Perrier Lemon Lime Sparkling drinks that are so popular now. Perrier Sparkling Water contains only carbonated water and a little flavoring - that's it. There's no sugar and no artificial sweeteners of any kind, but the carbonated flavored water hits the spot when you don't want all that other bad stuff, and the taste is really good, plus the fact it gives us more opportunity to drink water.
This little soda machine will put an end to lugging Perrier bottles from store to home. I bet you can get the kids to convert over to this soda and give up all the sugar. Even if you don't think a complete no sugar taste will go over, this machine will still make a great alternative, because just a small amount of the pre-mixed sugary flavors can be added. With time, less and less sugar can be added, so this makes a wonderful transition type soda.
The machine comes with sample packs of flavors, both sugar and diet mixes, which I'm not a fan of, so I ordered this little trio of flavors from Amazon as well. It only takes 1/2 teaspoon for a powerful little taste, and again, these flavors contain no sugar or artificial sweeteners - just flavor, and fun! For an even more natural drink, just add a little fruit juice of your choice; fresh squeezed would be tops.
The machine comes with one bottle, but I ordered an extra pair. These bottles are BPA free. Also, the machine comes with a small CO2 cartridge that screws into the back. Larger canisters can be purchased when this small container is empty.
To make flavored carbonated water, just fill your bottles with cold filtered water. I fill my bottles with water and put them in the refrigerator for use when I'm ready. All you have to do then is take a bottle out of the refrigerator and screw it into the nozzle on the machine and press a button. Then you add your flavoring, put the top back on and sit back and drink. That's it!
I give this machine a two thumbs up!
After 2 days, use a mesh strainer (no metal) and strain off the kefir water. This strained water is called the 1st ferment. Put some of the kefir grains back into a new batch of sucanat or rapadura water (1 qt. water to 1/4 cup sucanat or rapadura) for starting a new batch, then, just pour up the strained kefir water into any bottles or jars and add your own flavor. Grape is a favorite, just make sure you use organic grape juice. I fill the bottles with the kefir water almost to the top, but leave a little room for adding the grape juice to the bottle, about 4 parts kefir to 1 part grape juice. Really you can't go wrong. So this is called the 2nd ferment when you add some flavor. Put a tight lid on if you want to produce a fizzy drink, and then just let this flavored kefir sit for about a day or two, and it's done and ready to be refrigerated. Here's how you know if it's finished - slightly loosen the top, and if it fizzes like soda, it's done. But be careful, I've had so much fizz that I've cleaned my kitchen walls and floors more times than I want to admit. Grape juice is notorious for making a big fizz.
Ok, so here's some house rules to keep your little water kefir critters happy.
1. Don't let them go hungry. You must strain them off every two days (except maybe in the winter, if you keep your house cold, then you might can go 3 days). Going longer will make them sad and they will lose their health and won't be able to work for you. You should see these little critters double in quantity every time you pour them up. And sadly, that means that you will have to discard some of them. You only need about 1/4 cup of them to each new ferment batch. If they do not double in quantity, then (at least in my case) that means something is not quite right. The biggest reason for not doubling in quantity is that they have been too long in the ferment before you changed it out, and they become weakened with time. I've heard that some people say their grains do not multiply, but that's not my case. I guess it depends on where you get your grains from, but from all indications, a doubling in quantity equals healthy thriving kefir grains, and also it means they are using up the sugar in the ferment.
2. Use only filtered room temperature chlorine free water. Chlorine will kill them, so maybe we need to think about what chlorine does to our bodies too. Check out my water filter. I love it.
3. Use a mesh strainer; no metal (see my link below for where to buy)
4. Use only sucanat or rapadura sugar (at least that's the only kind mine likes); no white sugar (not even organic), and no regular brown sugar! (see link below). Mine love sucanat, but they go crazy over rapadura, so either works.
5. Factors that effect ferment time: temperature and the amount of grains in the water.
The higher the temperature the faster the ferment and the more grains in the jar the faster the ferment. If you think about it, it makes sense. Heat speeds reactions and then the more mouths to feed the quicker the food runs out. So anyway, the general rule of thumb is that it takes 2 days to ferment.
With summer on the way, we will all be looking for that refreshing drink. Have you ever tried Water Kefir? It's the healthier choice soda alternative. Say you aren't fond of water kefir? Then try my other blog post on another soda alternative.
I've taught Water Kefir classes, but realized I didn't have a blog post about it, so here it is. After reading, you will be able to make your own probiotic rich soda alternative.
Pictured to the left are 3 bottles of kefir in their 2nd ferment. There are two bottles with crystallized ginger and one bottle with a mix of grape juice and crystallized ginger. You can see the crystallized ginger in the bottom of the bottles.
So here's my instructions for making water kefir:
First, you will need to get some water kefir grains. These are different from milk kefir grains. They are small rubbery like little particles that even bounce when you drop them. They have their own little living colony of good bacteria and yeast in the grains. These bacteria and yeasts feed off sugar and they give back probiotics in return. That makes a good relationship between you and them. You feed them sugar and they feed you with probiotics.
You can get these grains from many online sources or if you live close enough to me, I'll share some with you. Just contact me.
Fill any jar with this ratio: 1 Quart Filtered Water to 1/4 cup Sucanat.
Mix and add your kefir grains. Let sit on counter for 2 days with a loose lid.
As most of you know, I've been in training with Hawthorn University. I have to say that I love my schooling and all of the knowledge that I have gained and that I am continuing to gain. With all that knowledge, it has led to an incredible diet and lifestyle change, and today I can proudly say that I am no longer on the past medications that were once a big part of my life; medications like sleep aids, cholesterol, blood pressure, and diuretics. With a personalized design plan and targeted supplementation, it sure does feel good to be free from prescriptions. I have been wanting to use my knowledge to help others in the same ways that have helpd me, and so I have been taking a few clients now, but I do limit my numbers since I still devote much of my time to my studies.
So what I want to share with you today is the importance of exercise. I have a fellow classmate who has been certified in personal training, of which I hope to accomplish one day myself, but not until my studies at Hawthorn are complete. Let me make it clear here that, and as many of you know, I really have not enjoyed exercising. In fact, it was so dreadful that I just didn't do it, but I always felt guilty, and came up with many excuses not to do it, with the main excuse of "I'm too busy." I kept my little feeble excuse even in the face of explicit evidence in my studies that exercise is one of the biggest factors in obtaining health and well being. I simply could not bring myself to like it. How in the world could I ever learn to like something that I hated so much. I mean, I'd rather scrub a toilet than exercise. I thought I was just doomed to a lifelong hate relationship with it.
Then something happened that really changed that for me. So now, do I love it? Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that, but at least I have had a revelation that has made me love the results. I think that prioritization is the key, and prioritization of exercise won't happen unless there is a reason to prioritize it. I can now say that exercise is a priority in my life. Here's why. Since I want to be able to test blood glucose levels with my clients, I purchased a blood glucose meter. One day I did an experiment on myself. I took my blood sugar reading before I exercised and then again after I exercised. The result - a 14 point drop in blood sugar! I knew from my studies that it should do this but somehow seeing is believing. Then on a second incident, I went for an eye exam last week and the technician needed to take my blood pressure. Since I don't have high blood pressure on my home monitor, I still knew that it would be high in an office setting, since I've been told many years ago that I have "white coat blood pressure." That's a term given to people who get high blood pressure from simply entering a medical facility. So I told her that it would probably be high, but then she took it and she said that no, indeed it was normal. What a nice surprise! I attribute that to diet and lifestyle factors, exercise being the most recent targeted regular addition.
So let me encourage you to get up and get moving. It doesn't have to be a big deal. And really, I would advise against prolonged high intensity exercise, as it can cause excess cortisol release leading to disease. Here is a low impact, no frills 25 minute workout that I like. I've done it so much that I don't even need to see it anymore. I just recorded the words on my digital voice recorder and I use that instead. You can even put your own music on if you'd like since there is none provided. I like that because most of the songs I hear are not to my liking anyway. If this YouTube video is too easy for you, try adding some hand or leg weights.
OK, go get busy! And please comment on this post and let me know what exercise you enjoy doing.
It's just our nature to want to blame someone or something else, rather than own up and take control of the situation ourselves. We all like to have a pity party and bask in our misery, especially if we think that the bad situation is out of our control. It's somewhat comforting though, knowing that it's not our fault, and especially when a doctor says this to us and tells us that it's not our fault. Just "go slap your mother," was the advice given to me by a doctor many years ago when referring to a health problem I was faced with. Maybe it didn't help the situation I was in, but at least it let me know it wasn't my fault. But wasn't it?
I'm talking about genetics. Back then, I just gave in to the seemingly scientific fact that we all are predestined to doom or delight when it comes to our health, depending on the genetic hand that was dealt to us. But with new research now after over 50 years since Francis Watson and James Crick first proposed their model for DNA and genetics, we can take this matter of doom or delight into our own hands when it comes to our health. I know, I know, I hear you say, "well, we all still die, 10 out of 10 people die." Yes, you are right. We will never defeat death in this perishable body on this earth, but while we are here, we can sure put up a good fight, and we can possibly save ourselves from living out our days on a bed of ill health. I believe our bodies are God's temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, and we need to care for it as much as we can.
Now don't go slap your mother. I'm about to tell you about new research that points to the fact that our genetic tendencies are not set in stone, that they can be influenced by the choices we make. It's really hard for me to believe that we can alter our propensity toward a certain disease by the foods we eat, but that's what new research is trying to say.
Take a look at these two words and the meanings given to them:
Nature: The inner blueprint that has its own rules and regulations
Nurture: Everything you do, like eating, sleeping, working, exercising, learning, environmental exposure (the sum total of it all).
It's not an all or nothing kind of thing, it's not all nature or all nurture when it comes to our health or lack of.
What would be the first thing you would think of if given the word from your doctor that you have heart disease or cancer? Your first thought would probably be that of wondering if this is something that is genetic, that you couldn't possibly have done anything about it (nature), or is it caused by the way you are doing things (nurture).
New research is indicating that what we inherit (nature) is only a genetic potential or tendency, but how we live and the quality of our environment (nurture) determines what our genes actually express. For instance, you may inherit a tendency for heart disease or cancer, but these diseases may only be expressed depending on how you live, eat, and the toxins you may be exposed to. You may never develop that heart disease or cancer if you don't smoke, and you do exercise, eat right and avoid toxins as much as you can.
Now isn't that good news! You don't have to slap your mother, and she doesn't have to slap her mother, but both of you can work on nurturing your body for the sake of good health. To get you started, I have listed a few simple steps to work on:
1. Avoid as many contaminants as you can: pesticides (go organic if possible), heavy metals (cook in stainless steel, cast iron (see comments below about cast iron), glass, or porcelain cookware instead of aluminum), plastic packaging (especially in the microwave), cosmetics or anything you are putting on your skin that contains toxins. The skin is our largest organ and can definitely absorb chemicals we put on it.
2. Avoid as many processed foods and sugar as possible: Think about what kinds of foods the Pilgrims must have eaten when they landed here in America and try to avoid foods that they would not recognize. Would they have eaten Twinkies, Fruit Loops Cereal, Ramen Noodles, Hamburger Helper? No, but they would eat whole foods like vegetables and fruits, wild game, or sea foods.
3. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of filtered water, broths, soups, and herbal tea
4. Get plenty of sleep
5. Exercise regularly but do not overdo it.
6. Eat a diverse array of foods with many colors. Learn what factors influence the nutrients in our foods.
May God bless your efforts to be healthy.
Mateljan, George. (2007). The World's Healthiest Foods. (1st Edition). Canada: GMF Publishing
Since I have changed my eating habits over the last 3 years, it is hard for me to tell now if others like what I like, since my taste buds have changed, preferring healthier choices. So I informed the class that they probably wouldn't like the taste if they were new to green drinks, but much to my surprise, they all enjoyed it and requested that I post this, so that they could have the directions. So this is for you, class, and for anyone else who may be interested. My husband and I have had this drink everyday for a few months now, however, I must say that it is very important to change up the greens that you use from day to day or week to week. Remember that same food = same nutrition, so by changing up the contents, your body will have a greater diversity of nutrients available for use. Also, I believe that organic foods contain a greater quantity of nutrients due to better soil conditions, plus the omission of toxic additional chemicals. So take these factors into consideration.
I can't say enough about my Vita-Mix blender. When you use it like I do, it pays to have one that will really make a lot more smoother texture than most blenders. Texture has a lot to do with whether a drink is palatable or not.
Take your blender container and just start adding ingredients. I start with adding the greens which can include anything of your choice. Some of my favorites are: spinach, kale, broccoli, pre-washed spring mix, red or green leaf romaine, and bok choy. Here's a tip for you: Greens (or any plant food loses nutrients the longer they are stored, so maybe you want to focus on just one green per week using it up in your drinks and then choosing another one for the next week. Pictured here is spinach.
Next to the container, I add a couple tablespoons (for two people) of a mixture of seeds that I keep in a jar in my refrigerator.
This helps save time, since I do not have to get out all bags of seed and open each one. So my seed mixture in this jar contains 1/3 each of organic flax seed, organic hemp hearts, and organic chia seed. Another time saver: Just leave that little measuring spoon (if you have an extra to spare) right inside the jar; no need to try and find it every day, since it is right there in the jar. If you do not have a strong Vita-Mix blender, then you may need to use a coffee grinder and pre-grind these seeds before adding to your container. The Vita-Mix is strong enough to blend them without pre-grinding.
Next to my container, I add a scoop of each of the products pictured. I love these products and highly recommend them. I use one scoop each of Renewal Greens, Resveratol Reds, Vegan Protein (pea), and Clear Response. These powders include some stevia as a sweetener, but they are really sweet due to the whole foods that they contain, which is a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. Because of this, I do not need to add fruits to my drink, since these nutritious powders supply all the sweetness needed, plus a little vanilla flavoring to boot. Now this is where I get really excited, because I have learned that everybody is different and will require a different approach to stabilizing and optimizing their health. So, if you have gastric problems or leaky gut, then let's make one of the powders, "GI Response or GI Support." If you need help with tension, then you might want to add "Tension Relief," and there are many other targeted functional foods all from this same whole foods company called Innate Response. I have made some great tasting ice pops for kids using the Resvertol Reds. Contact me if you are interested in purchasing these nutritious functional foods.
Now here is the next ingredient that I add, but you could also add Rice or Almond milk or milk kefir. I choose coconut milk and especially this brand, since it is the best tasting brand I have found. It comes in either a liter or and 8 1/2 oz tetra box. If you live in Auburn, I have seen it at the Asian Market in the small boxes (at the time of this post). I have also ordered this fromImportFoods.com. They have a good price. This particular brand has a very pleasant sweet taste and I like it because it is not in a can. So to the container, I will add about 1 cup.
Really all these ingredients and amounts can be changed to your liking.
Here is a way to sneak in some of that powerful antioxidant, vitamin C. I just take a capsule, open it up, and add it to the container. I love Pure Encapsulations brand since they are committed to purity and they are a science-based nutrition supplement company. I use and recommend Pure Encapsulations. I have chosen a few of their products that I or my family personally uses and I have listed them under "Provider Picks" on my Pure Encapsulations website
Finally, a cup or two of crushed ice will be added to make a cold drink. Also, add about 2 cups of filtered water. Now it is ready to be blended and the results will be a perfectly healthy drink as pictured at the beginning of this post.
I hope you enjoy making these healthy green drinks, and please contact me for more information.
From the beginning God told Adam and Eve to eat the green plants that He gave them as food. That's proof enough for me that there is goodness in them. God made these CREATED4YOUFOODS, so enjoy them!
The Auburn Parks and Recreation Building in Auburn, Alabama was the location of my third nutrition class in a series. As class members arrived, we participated in a review discussion of the many ways that we have experienced a decline in nutrients over the years. There are many factors involved, from the soils of today not as rich as they once were, down to the fact that every person is different in the way they absorb or not absorb nutrients.
As is the case with all my classes, I treated the students to a different variety of herbal tea and some kind of snack. The snacks were homemade barley crackers and a seed and nut trail mix.
The main topic of this class was centered around "sugar" and its impact on our lives. We discussed the make-up of molecules of sugar and learned that not all sugars are metabolized the same, with some being more deleterious to our health than others. Of particular concern was the fact that a certain sugar can have the same effect on our liver as those people who have alcoholic fatty liver disease. And this leads to a broad range of modern health problems.
Not to be left without hope, however, a plan of action was discussed, and handout materials encouraged us all in setting forth a goal to bring about success, one step at a time. I'd like to thank my professor, Heidi Synder, from Hawthorn University, for her "Sugar Awareness and Elimination" project hand-out download that included three different plans for those who wish to eliminate sugar from their diet.
At the end of the class, I demonstrated what I usually have for lunch every day. Check it out if you are interested. Also, if you would like to join us for the last class on Dec. 6, 2013, check out the details here and contact me to let me know if you want to be included.
On October 11, 2013, the beautiful, enclosed, outdoor porch at the home of Evelyn Brown was the setting for the 2nd nutrition class in a series of four. Evelyn lives on the outskirts of Auburn, Alabama, just far enough out to feel like real county living. Upon turning onto her beautiful tree lined private drive, such a sense of peace and relaxation sets in, and the first thing that is noticed is her garden on the left side. It contains well supported trellises and the soil is bathed in wonderful, organic rich mulch. Evelyn tells me that the deer love her garden too, and that they will have to build a higher fence. Deer know what's good for them, and so should we, thus the reason for the series of nutrition classes.
Upon arrival, the nutrition class members were greeted with homemade snacks made with organic, chemical and preservative free ingredients that included coconut macaroons from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, and several dried fruit balls made with apricots, cranberries, dates, almonds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, and spices. Staying with our beverage theme of "How about a Nice Cup of Herbal Tea," everyone was offered a hot cup of Firefly Chai tea containing organic ingredients of ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, red rooibos tea, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla beans.
After a review of previous material, handouts were given, and several topics were focused on. Some were: how to get the most nutrition out of the foods we eat - how to store them, and how to cook them for optimal nutrient retention, a look at food labels, and the topic of fatty acids in foods - especially focusing on the essential fatty acids - Omega 3 and Omega 6. Most of the time, we can all remember that a certain fat is better for us than another, but we don't always remember why. I think the reason that we can't always remember why, is because the explanation is quite complicated, as is the case with fatty acids. So the class endured a little chemistry and molecular structure, and even learned how to name a fatty acid. All in all, I hope it was as fun for them as it was for me. And many thanks to Evelyn for hosting this class. Our next class will be on November 1st beginning at 9:30 at the Auburn Parks and Rec. on Dean Road.
I recently bought several plums advertised as organic. I would say, that indeed, this one was! The little worm inside was the proof. I can hear you say, "Well if that's what you get with organic foods, then I'll stick with conventional foods." So why is organic better, you say? Hopefully this post will address this question.
Normally the pesticide would have killed this little critter, but this was an organic plum, and pesticides are not allowed in organic farming. Now, no one wants to bite into a plum to find a worm, however. But on the bright side, I know that the farm that produced this plum was probably in compliance with the organic regulations.
There was no way that I could tell that this plum had a worm in it because this particular critter will burrow its way through the stem opening so that the entry way is just not visible on the outside, but the inside is completely inedible. The critter is called the plum sawfly. "In spring the sawfly emerges from the soil and lays eggs on the blossom of plum trees. When the plums begin to develop the little caterpillars eat their way into the center of the plum and feed off it as the plum develops.
Plum Sawfly is difficult to control using organic methods, the only one being available is a pheromone trap but it really only traps a few of them.
The chemical deltamethrin sprayed when the blossom is falling off will definitely help control sawfly." To that fact, I must ask, "Do I want to also ingest this chemical?"
But I hear you ask, "why bother with purchasing organic products anyway? They are just more expensive, and there might be worms in them." True, but here are some facts that I have learned from Hawthorn University when it comes to organic foods:
Conventional crops are grown with conventional synthetic fertilizer, which contains three nutrients - phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen. Farmers use this because it makes the plants dark green, they have stronger stalks, and it gives the appearance of being healthier. But what about so many other nutrients that we need besides the three in the synthetic fertilizers? Crop rotation is usually not implemented either, and so the soil used to raise these crops is really deplete of so many nutrients. The plant cannot draw up the nutrients into the food unless the nutrients are in the soil to begin with.
By contrast, organic farmers cannot use conventional synthetic fertilizers, but they must use organic rich soil, full of many nutrients, and they also usually implement crop rotation, both of which impart a greater quantity of nutrients in the foods. Remember, if the nutrients are present in the soil, then the nutrients can be pulled up into the plants. Many studies have proven that organic foods contain greater quantities of nutrients than conventionally grown foods. Find out about one such study over a 2 year period from the Journal of Applied Nutrition posted on Organic Consumers Association which says that the organically grown food averaged 63% higher in calcium, 78% higher in chromium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybednum, 91% higher in phosphorous, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc.
Here is a good short read from "Eating Well" on the mechanism by which organic foods contain more nutrients.
Sadly, our farming techniques have focused on producing pest resistant higher yields more rapidly, and nutrient richness has been put on the back burner.
So what is it - no worm with less nutrient, or the occasional worm with more nutrients?
One of the healthy snacks that I shared at my recent nutrition class was "Seed and Nut Granola." Several of the students wanted the recipe, so I am posting it here.
This is a good snack for anyone with celiac or gluten intolerance. I think that what makes this granola special is the buckwheat. Buckwheat is not a grain, it is a seed derived from a flowering plant with a excellent source of manganese and a good source of magnesium. I like to use buckwheat from To Your Health Sprouted Flour since I know this has been cleaned, sprouted, and ready to eat. I won't be getting any dust along with my buckwheat. Products from this company are delivered to the Auburn-Opelika area once per month through the Auburn Food Club or can be ordered directly from the company. Sometimes they offer free shipping.
Mix the following into a bowl:
1 cup unsalted shelled sunflower seed
1 cup unsalted pumpkin seed
1 cup whole buckwheat
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup chopped crystalized ginger (optional)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Stir together the following and then add to the dry mixture above:
1/2 cup maple syrup (grade B is less refined than grade A and can be purchased through our Auburn Food Buying Club)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
Spread on 12 x 16 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Tamp down with back of broad spoon. Bake in convection oven on 225 for 2 hours and then lower the temperature to 200 for 2 more hours. Take out and let cool. If less maple syrup is desired, then cut down a little and add a full dropper of liquid stevia.
Click here for another fabulous no bake grain free breakfast cereal
How about a nice cup of Herbal Tea? Why yes, thank you. And that's exactly what my newest class members enjoyed yesterday as we kicked off a series of classes to be held once a month at various locations in Auburn, Alabama. Along with tea, snacks of Gluten Free Granola and Molasses Cookies were also enjoyed. These snacks contained very little added sweeteners.
Seems like I cannot remember to take pictures. I make it to class with a camera, but remembering to take it out and use it is a different matter. So you'll have to take my word for it, as there was an impressive turnout with 29 in attendance. Seems like there is a growing desire to become healthier by more and more people.
Many topics were discussed as we plotted our "Points to Ponder" in making wise food choices. I especially liked how the class really participated in this discussion.
The class members have given me a long list of topics they would like to see taught, so we may be at this for a while to come. If you'd like to join in, check out the schedule, then let me know. The classes are free, but please let me know you will be joining, since we need to set up for the proper number of chairs each month.
A couple of weeks ago, the husband put in an order for some Ginger Cookies and since this month's power bill contained a ginger cookie recipe, I placed the recipe on the counter to give it a shot; but, you know cookies just can't be made without sugar, and since we try to eliminate sugar from our diet, I decided to make some sugar free ginger cookies. Lately, I have really been delighted with the liquid stevia. Liquid stevia is way more tasty and dissolves better than the powdered kind. After looking over the recipe however, I realized that the cookies would need the texture and volume that sugar would provide so I needed to find something else in addition to the liquid stevia to replace the binding effect of the sugar. Xylitol to the rescue.
And since I do like to play around with the ingredients, I thought I would make two batches of cookies exactly the same only changing the kind of oil I would use in each batch. The recipe called for shortening, but I know what a health hazard shortening is, so I opted for two healthy options. One option was lard (organic from Miller's Organic Farm through the Auburn Food Buying Club) and the other option was unrefined coconut oil. In appearance, the cookies made with lard turned out more rounded and kept their original shape better than did the coconut oil batch. The husband gave both the taste test and he was not told which cookie contained the lard or coconut oil. His vote was for the coconut oil batch saying "they were tastier" - so there you have it from someone who loves ginger cookies. I think the reason for the coconut oil batch being tastier was because the lard batch did have a smell and slight taste of lard which masked the other flavors somewhat. I could not tell much difference myself. Either way both were good and healthier versions of the original recipe. These turned out great! Hope you'll try them too.
Please note that some people do not tolerate xylitol as well as others and may experience gastric distress. Since I have no problems with xylitol, this recipe if fine for me, but just know that everyone is different and you may be one that cannot handle xylitol well.
Here's my adapted recipe from the power bill by Kelly Junkins, Vestavia.
Papa's Favorite Gingersnaps
3/4 cup lard or coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup Xylitol
1 dropper full of liquid Stevia
4 Tablespoons molasses
2 cups flour (I used sprouted spelt flour from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
Preheat oven to 325. Cream together (I just used a spoon and a bowl) the lard or the coconut oil with the Xylitol and Stevia. Add molasses and egg, mixing well. By hand, mix in dry ingredients putting in the flour first and the rest of the dry ingredients on top. Stir together until smooth (resist the urge to add more liquid if seems too dry - once it is well mixed it will be just right). Roll into one inch balls, put into a bowl with a little Xylitol and roll around to coat, then place the balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 12 minutes. Leave cookies on sheet for a few minutes before removing. Enjoy. These are best consumed fresh as each day after baking tends to dry out the cookie.
Are there just some foods that you have yet to try? For me, that food was quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah"). I don't know why I have avoided it for so long - maybe because I was not raised in a home that even knew what it was, much less cooked the stuff.
Most people tend to stick to what they know, and I am one of them. Diversity, which is so important in the diet, however, depends on coming out of our comfort zone. Sometimes it takes a little push to get me to try something new, and that little push came in the form of one of my Hawthorn University school assignments.
My assignment was to take a given recipe and remove the meat (protein), (which would also remove the essential amino acids), then add a plant source back to it, returning the essential amino acids to the recipe. Essential amino acids (and there are 9 of them) are those amino acids that are required for life and growth, but cannot be produced by the body from other foods, so they themselves must be eaten, thus the name, "essential." It is essential that we add them to our diet. Meat, dairy and eggs contain all of the essential amino acids, but my assignment was to avoid these and choose another source for the amino acids.
So my search for making this recipe complete with all 9 essential amino acids, yielded a few choices, but not many. I could have chosen a combination of corn and beans, or beans and rice, or adding in some nuts and seeds to certain varieties of grains, but I would need to know which essential amino acids were missing from each (the limiting acids), then pair them up with other sources that contained those limiting acids. I was delighted when I found that quinoa contained all 9 essential amino acids. Now that made my assignment a little easier, and so I took the easy way out. Quinoa to the rescue! Since then, quinoa has become one of my favorite dishes. I compare it to rice, but also prefer it over rice.
Want to know more about quinoa? Well, it's gluten free, higher in heart healthy fat and calcium than regular grains, and it is a great source of fiber and protein, with anti inflammatory phytonutrients. Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as "The International Year of the Quinoa."
To prepare quinoa: Soak quinoa overnight in warm water and rinse. Quinoa's outer layer contains saponins, which impart a bitter taste without proper soaking and rinsing, but most quinoa sold commercially in North America has been processed to remove this coating. Still, it is good to soak and rinse even a little. Taste the quinoa after you rinse. If you taste bitter, then rinse some more. Quinoa can be purchased sprouted from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company. Their directions say to just give it a 5 minute soak and then rinse.
To cook, mix with 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid. For the liquid, I like to use chicken stock or broth. Add some sea salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 15 minutes. A little butter added makes it taste great also. You will know that the quinoa is done when all the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated.
Other ways to enjoy: Add fruit, nuts, maple syrup for a breakfast cereal. Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, as a substitute for the bulgar wheat in the recipe. I used it in my soup recipe for my assignment. Enjoy this nutty, down to earth flavor and see the Quinoa Corporation for more information and recipes.
What about you? Have you tried quinoa?
Does it matter what kind of pet food you feed your pet? You bet! It can mean the difference between your pet thriving, or just surviving.
I was at the vet's office today to take my 7 week old kittens (pictured) in for their first checkup. I happen to pick a busy day to be there, so I observed quite a bit of information. One owner had to bring his pet in, and the pet was going to have to stay for a while, so the owner brought the pet's higher quality food with him.
Another man brought in his 13 year old Greyhound. This dog was in great shape to be so old. He said that he always feeds him top quality food and that he also works in a restaurant that he can bring home raw meats; he even said the dog eats blueberries for his antioxidant support. He and I, along with an employee of the vet's office, started a conversation about pet foods. The employee stated that they had seen one dog with chronic bloody diarrhea that could not be controlled until they happened to change the diet. The problem cleared up, then the owner of this dog ran out of the top quality food and just ran down to Wal-mart for some feed. After ingesting the feed, the bloody diarrhea returned. What caused this? There is no telling, since cheap dog food most definitely contains genetically modified grains and loaded with preservatives.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "Human food is bad enough (yes, there are lots of awful stuff on the market), so you know if our food is bad, then pet food has got to be the worst." I know what you are thinking art this point. "I can hardly afford the good food for us; how in the world can I even consider good pet food?" Well, you might not can get the very best, but maybe you can transition to at least one step above what you are doing. Besides the bad category, there are actually good, better, and best when it comes to pet food.
Off the subject, but not quite, is that in general, people need to be more responsible. If pets are not spayed or neutered, then of course, there will be too many pets to care for, and so the very cheapest food will have to be purchased because of the many mouths to feed. So my soapbox here is get those pets spayed or neutered.
Now back to the main subject - Pet food. Ok, you are wondering, "how can I know if the food I buy is in the good, better, or best category. With my knowledge of the importance of a whole foods diet, I realized that whole foods are also the perfect food for your pet. Little did I know that when I found the following parts 1 and 2 of the You Tube videos below, that Dr. Joe Mercola is backing this presentation. I agree with Dr. Mercola wholeheartedly on issues when it comes to human health, so I was delighted to find these. You will benefit from watching these videos if you own pets. Don't give up after you realize the very best is not what you can afford. Keep watching; at least you will know how to read the label and understand what you are buying.
How about you? Care to leave a comment on what you feed your pet or where you can find a good price on top quality pet food?
Someone brought me a butternut squash, actually a rather large butternut squash. My brain immediately searched for files for "butternut squash".....not much there. Realizing that the husband does not like squashes of any kind, I knew this would be a challenge. He even threatens to step on the squash plants in the garden when I'm not looking.
So I baked the squash first. In the picture, the long butternut squash is on the left, next to the oval spaghetti squash I already had on hand. I decided to bake both at the same time. The spaghetti squash did have a folder on file in my brain. I like spaghetti squash and use it in place of noodles in spaghetti dishes when the husband is not looking.
Here is an update since this was posted: Instead of baking the squash, I found that the best way is to cut it in half (but be careful as these squashes are hard to cut open - get a strong friend) and place it, cut side down, after removing seeds, in a steamer for 20 minutes. There are some steamers that are double stacked, mine is not, so I steamed each half separately.
Back to the subject at hand, the butternut squash, and what to do with it.
A friend sent me a recipe she found on another site, so I tried it, it worked, it tasted great (well the husband said to say, "from someone who hates squash, it's ok." I said, "Don't you think hate is a rather strong word?" He then said to revise to "dislike intently." So for someone who dislikes squash intently to say that it's "ok," I guess that makes this recipe pretty good. I liked it, and best of all, for anyone trying to avoid grain products for various reasons, this fits the bill.
Butternut Squash Pancakes (serves 4 -can double to serve 8)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butternut squash, cooked and mashed
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup almond flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Poke a few holes in the squash and bake in oven on 300 degrees for about an hour or until soft when pressed. Mine was a large squash, but if you choose a small one, then it may not take as long to bake; also a higher degree oven will shorten the time.
After the squash cools, then peel and cut into pieces and place into a food processor. I used my stick blender and it worked great. The recipe only calls for 1/2 cup, but with my large squash I had about 4 cups. Read to the end, to find out what to do with the remaining squash you do not use for this recipe.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, the blended squash, syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla until well blended.
In another small bowl mix the dry ingredients - almond flour, salt, and baking soda; then mix this into the squash mixture. The picture shows everything all mixed together and ready to cook.
That's it - now heat a frying pan with some oil (butter, lard, coconut oil) and put a tablespoon of pancake mix into the pan, making several small pancakes. The recipe made about 25 little pancakes for me. Add maple syrup and now you have butternut squash pancakes - a little earthy with a little spicy taste.
The remaining squash can be frozen in 1/2 cup increments, or you can dress it up and serve it as a side dish. I tried the recipe source suggestion to add some coconut oil or butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, a little sea salt and a little maple syrup, all to taste. Just stir into the remaining squash and you got a great tasting dish - kin to sweet potatoes in taste. source for recipe: Jan's Sushi Bar
We recently had spend the night company and I wanted to have a good breakfast without a lot of trouble. So this one seem to catch my eye. I wanted something that I could make in advance and have ready to bake in the morning. It turned out yummy, so thought I'd share it with you.
What I like about this recipe also, is that it gives the oats and the nuts a good soaking. Why is it important to soak grains and nuts? Simply put, it aids in digestion and breaks down some natural anti-nutrients. You can read more about this at Food Matters.
You can make this recipe starting two days ahead or just one day.
(Ingredients listed in red)
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Place oatmeal and walnuts in a glass bowl and cover with filtered water. Soak overnight, or just skip this first soak and add the oats and walnuts to the mix below and soak all overnight.
Drain in colander and put back in glass bowl mixing in the following:
1/2 cup maple syrup (or sweeten to taste)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 stick melted butter
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups milk
Soak all overnight; add more milk in the morning if too dry. Needs to be a little soupy, like if you were going to boil it to cook.
Grease a 9 x 13 glass dish with coconut oil or butter.
Line the bottom with a single layer of sliced bananas.
Put mixture on top.
Place fresh or frozen blueberries, dried cranberries or a mixture of berries on the top.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
Melt 1/3 stick butter with extra maple syrup and pour over top. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Whole Living.
Debbie Vail, NC
Greetings from east central Alabama and welcome to my site. I am a graduate of Hawthorn University, a leader in holistic education.
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