Wednesday, August 22, 2012
When he started taking steroids in the summer of '10 the specialist he saw was convinced that the steroids alone would not be able to put him into 'remission'. Rather the hope of the steroids was that it would help to reduce the inflammation and enable a less strong drug (but with less side effects of steroids which can only be used short term or you get seriously addicted to them!) to be able to control this disease. She told us that food would not make a difference and that his colitis was in very very bad shape. In fact she gave us very little hope at all. He would be on drugs the rest of his life. If we were lucky the steroids would help pave the way for another drug.
In the beginning of the steroids it was great. He felt better than he had in a very long time. But it didn't take very long and his pain was back. I think it was about halfway through the treatment (I think it was about 8 weeks altogether). That's when the new diet began and while it has not been smooth sailing all the way through I would say it worked!
In the beginning of our new diet (you can read about the foods we didn't eat here) we were very careful. No pop. As little sugar as we could handle - I don't think I even made homemade sweets for a very long time. If I made a dessert or snack I used honey. We switched to natural foods like butter and pure maple syrup. I made homemade ice cream for a treat sweetened with honey. We used honey to sweeten our tea and coffee. I bought natural cane sugar and experimented with different kinds. We used very little of this sugar but if I did use sugar for something this is what we used. We tried very hard to limit canned goods (I think we only used canned tomatoes or homemade canned goods). We avoided most vegetables from the store (for pesticide exposure) and tried to use as much from the garden as possible. I could go on but I will some it up with this: we ate whole foods, greatly limited any processed food, made it ourselves. We bought meat from local farmers.
If we went visiting TR would notice almost right away. He tried to eat the best food that was available and sometimes I brought our own food - but he would still often leave in pain. Or be in pain the next day. So we didn't eat away from home very much. TR's job wasn't very stable back then and he started looking for a different job. I remember thinking as we approached every ad with the thinking of what he would eat. All jobs that would take him out of town were not possible. We didn't stay for potlucks at the Church. Picnics were very hard to do spontaneously as I had to prepare all the food we were bringing. No more hotdogs and smores for us. No more quickly stopping in at the grocery store on our way out.
But we were thankful and we're still thankful. He could have been on drugs. He could have been suffering severely. But he wasn't. And he was getting stronger.
On top of the food changes he also added vitamins and supplements. The main ones that he always had were alfafa, vitamin D. He has experimented with a multivitamin but the taste of it was so awful that he just couldn't swallow it. Here is a post I wrote on how he takes pills. For a while he would notice it immediately if he didn't take his pills. After a while the reaction slowed down so that if he forgot for a few days he wouldn't feel it for a week or so and then it would hit him.
What about now? Now we eat out. (by out I mean out of our house :) We go visiting and he can eat their food without too much problems. The other week we actually bought (natural) hotdogs for an impromptu picnic! He hasn't taken his alfafa in weeks and he hasn't noticed.
He still struggles. Fatigue is his biggest enemy right now. But how he is now is so different than how it was a couple of years ago. He is stronger. His body doesn't fight against him as hard as it used to. We're still looking for some more answers and ways we can improve the health of all of us. But it isn't as all consuming as it was back then. And we are thankful.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Or rather, the imposter's sitting on the grocery shelf that look like food but really . . . they're not.
I was reading about margarine this morning. And let me tell you how thankful I was that it was butter on my toast! But I grew up on margarine. Butter was for special occasions like Sunday Faspa or to use in Christmas baking. For one it is expensive and my parents didn't have a lot of money. But it's also very normal. Almost all my friends grew up on margarine. When we got married I bought margarine. Now I buy butter, but when we first switched over it was incredibly hard to buy butter. It is expensive. It hurts the wallet. Does it really make a difference?
But I bought it and now it's normal and the thought of margarine is repulsive. But in the beginning I really had to fight against the culture's ingraining to my thinking.
And I find it that way with every switch I make. And when I go visiting people have foods that I remember eating and enjoying. Foods that make me question, 'maybe I can eat it just this once?' And sometimes I do. I don't like being rude about things, but I'll often try to eat the healthier stuff that's there but sometimes it is just plain hard to refuse it because I used to love it.
Other times it is actually quite easy to not eat something I used to love. Certain patterns have been changed in my mind now and I find it easy to say no. I used to love new years cookies. LOVE. After we changed our diet I could hardly imagine the new year without them. So my Mom made me some and I ate them and I loved them. This last year my sister made some and brought them over and the smell of them was repulsive and I couldn't imagine eating it. What changed? I changed. I used to love Pepsi. Drank it every day or almost every day. After I stopped drinking pop I craved it. When TR would open one I would want one too. Now most pop is disgusting to me and I don't want it. I have one sip and I'm done. Occasionally I can drink a ginger ale but mostly I don't even want fizz anymore.
Okay so what am I trying to say? I guess it boils down to this. If you are struggling with your diet and wishing that you ate healthier. If you read my posts about our diet and feel bad that you still have so much in yours that I've taken out - I really want to encourage you to relax. Take it one step at a time. Make changes. Sometimes even make hard changes. But don't beat yourself up about it. I understand how hard it is to change when all your life you've eaten this way. It's hard. It hurts the wallet. Sometimes you crave the things you don't want to eat anymore. That's okay. I'm here to say it gets easier. And it takes time. We've been making changes for over 2 years and there's still things in our diet that I'd like to see replaced. I find it's been a work in progress for me. Some people are able to make complete changes right away. But for us it's been progress. So relax. And then make a change. Just one change. You can do it!!! See how it feels. And who knows? Before you know it it might become easier. And you might be feeling better. And you might not mind that it costs more. (I'll try to do a post on the cost it's been for us soon :) But please don't feel that we're perfect or that we have this healthy eating thing down pat. We don't. We're still learning and changing.
For my kids I hope that they will grow up to love healthy food. That they will have good memories of eating healthy food. That they won't grow up craving bad foods for special occasions. I hope that they will grow up to like fermented foods and that the taste won't be disgusting and hard to swallow like it is for me. That it will be normal and good to do fasts and cleanses and that they will read labels and be aware of the way food is processed. Mostly I hope that they will be healthy and strong despite this country and culture we call home.
Monday, August 20, 2012
We picked raspberries again yesterday and it might be the last time. I have to say it would be nice to have a break from picking but it has been such a huge blessing! We have so much in the freezer, I've dehydrated some, I've made some fruit leather, I've canned some juice, I've fermented some (more about the fermenting in another post :) I am so thankful that my Mom has so many bushes and so little use for them herself :) And I am also very thankful that my kids have been doing so well when I go out there. My Mom has often been working when we've been there and the kids have just entertained themselves. Fresh berries, grown local and organic - for free! We absolutely love raspberries and now we can enjoy them all winter long too.
Today I am really hoping to make sauerkraut! I bought 2 big cabbages from the farmers market and I think today is the day :) My Mom gave me a stone crock used for fermenting vegetables that was my Grandma's and I am so excited to use it! I don't like sauerkraut to be quite honest. But that's besides the point! It is healthy and if I make myself eat it maybe I will grow to like it? I didn't grow up eating sour or fermented foods and I really have to say that I can hardly even swallow yogurt. BUT maybe I can learn to like it. I hope!!
Friday, August 17, 2012
A few years ago I honestly didn't give too much thought to what we were eating. A very good friend of mine who loves me very much loves to tease me about my misconceptions about food and how crazy she thought I was consuming so much sugar after my first 2 babies were born :) But God is so good and He has slowly been teaching me and helping me overcome my misconceptions.
I used to think that disease and what we eat were unrelated. Of course I realized that smoking or second hand smoke could cause cancer. That obesity could cause diabetes and heart problems. But what I didn't think was that what I was eating would hurt me.
Since that time I've learned that I was wrong. Very very wrong. I was astonished to go through my cupboards and read the labels. I was astonished to go grocery shopping and bypass all my old foods. That first shopping trip I left the kids behind and took my time. I read all the labels. Skip. Skip. Skip. Skip. most everything I used to buy went back on the shelf. But I was happy to find that there were some good alternatives and now I know exactly what to buy and it takes a "normal" amount of time. By normal I mean how long it takes any Mom! My kids are learning that not all food is equal. Chloe often says "we buy this because it's organic." Haha! But I also hear a lot of "can we buy ____?" and it's usually something that I don't want them to eat but marketers make look very attractive. And then I have to say "I'm sorry but that 's not healthy, they use a lot of chemicals to make that."
So why exactly is all this food bad for us? Why can't we just eat it in moderation?
The research out there is getting more and more extensive and I really don't want to go into it too much because then I would want to make sure that all my facts are straight and have a source to back it all up - but I will give you the basics of my understanding.
Life begins in the intestines. What we eat goes to our stomach. If we don't chew properly or use enough saliva when we're eating our stomachs have a harder time breaking it down. The more we enjoy our food the more easily our body digests it. (cool huh?!) Eating fast is harder on our system, eating slowly is easier. The real work begins in the intestines and if our intestines are not working properly our whole body suffers. A lot of people with an inflammatory bowel disease are nutrient deficient because their body can't absorb what they're eating. You can eat all the right foods but if your body can't absorb them, all those nutrients just end up in the toilet. Another thing that needs to happen is the elimination of wastes. Our liver is very important for getting rid of toxins - and so is our . . . you know . . . bowel movements. Overloading our bodies with toxins and harmful substances makes it harder for our body to eliminate them and they end up building up in our system. Most foods in our culture are hard on our bodies for various reasons which is perhaps another post.
Chewing is just one way that we break our food down. There is a host of helpers within our body and without them our body just can't function properly. Most disease comes when we're mistreating our body and feeding it junk. Ever looked at the label of what you're eating? Ever looked those things up? It can be pretty scary. Artificial flavour. What exactly is that? It could be a multiple number of things but you can bet you can't grow it in your garden! Do you remember my post on the pineapple juice? Here is an excerpt:
The pineapple juice was the blue menu choice. 40% less sugar. Right there my flags went up. The pineapple juice we usually buy is 100% pineapple juice not from concentrate. How do they reduce the sugar from that? So I read the label. Pineapple juice (not from concentrate), water, fruit pectin (contains maltodextrin, corn syrup solids) citric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavour, malic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) turmeric (colour) sucralose (15mg per serving), caramel colouring.
Okay how natural is that? Does our body really need all these things? Do you know that MSG can be labeled as natural flavour ? I think we all know by now how harmful MSG is to our body. And that is just one ingredient on the list. What about the corn syrup solids? What does that do to our body? How does our body get rid of all these non-foods we're putting into it?
The truth is - it doesn't.
And it hurts. Our body suffers.
And we often think it's normal.
Do you get headaches? Do you have aches and pains? Do you have gas and bloating? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you feel anxious? Depressed?
Could it be that what you're eating is hurting you?
Yes! It could be absolutely true! I am learning more and more how serious it is to feed our body properly and what exactly that looks like. I am guessing that I will probably be learning about this my whole life. When I'm 60 I'll probably look back and say "wow, I can't believe we used to eat that!" about what we're eating right now. But that's okay - it would be impossible for me to eat perfectly right now.
Sometimes I get very frustrated and overwhelmed. But I will leave you with that which is my constant reassurance.
This is not my home.
This is not my home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :):):):)
Heaven is my home and when it is my turn, when my house is ready, my body will be perfect. I won't be looking at labels. I won't be questioning ingredients, how it was processed, what soil it was grown in, how long it was in transport, all the fuel emissions that were emitted as it was being transported and what that's doing to my breastmilk that I feed my baby (which is another post altogether!). And for that I praise God! This trial is temporary. I'm going to do all I can to learn about how to feed my family as healthily as I can. I'm going to do all I can to keep TR's colitis in check while we're here on this earth. But when it gets me down I am thankful that one day this struggle will be over and our bodies will be perfect. And the food we eat will be perfect. Thank you Jesus!
p.s. I realized that it's been a while since I've done a lot of research on the additives to food and so hopefully soon I'll be taking the time to research it again. Look for more posts coming up on that soon :)
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Our second child was born in March 2009. Right smack dab in the middle of "busy season" for TR. Usually the winter months are much busier for him and this year wasn't too bad but by March it had picked up for sure! I remember thinking that a planned induction would be nice just so I could guarantee that he would be there :)
What I didn't notice was that TR was not doing well. Not at all.
I was complaining of pregnancy problems not even realizing what was happening to him. And it still fills me with grief that I didn't really notice. All I saw was that my back hurt, my sciatic nerve was making my life miserable and the baby never let me sleep. I didn't notice that TR was losing weight, he was in pain and the bathroom was becoming all too familiar with him.
When Ben was born TR was there, thankfully, but not for long. We came home from the hospital less than 24 hours after he was born and TR stayed long enough to help me get him in the house and then he was gone again.
It was easy for me to think that all this working was the reason TR wasn't feeling well, the reason he was losing weight. But then summer came and things didn't change. I thought maybe he just wasn't eating well (if you know us you know the things he liked to take with him to work :) I tried to convince him to stop eating so many sweets and so much pop - but mostly I was just concerned about getting some more sleep and wishing he'd have more energy to help out with the kids. He would come home and crash. He was always tired. I wondered why he couldn't help out more.
Thankfully TR knew something wasn't right and went in to find out what was going on in his body. I think that maybe it was in June or so that he initially went it. I think it might have even been several appointments - my memory of this is a little fuzzy (I was getting up for 2 kids okay :) When the doctor took a bunch of blood and ordered stool samples I started to take notice. Was he really sick? Could it be that something was really going wrong here? When they ordered the colonoscopy I stopped being blind. Thankfully I still wasn't super worried here (I say thankfully because if I had been it wouldn't have helped and I probably would have been doing a ton of research which honestly until you have a diagnosis can be very scary). After all I'd never even heard of colitis and we were still young. Whatever it was had to be minor and easy to fix.
In November 2009 we headed to our nearest city for the test, taking 9 month old Ben with us. TR had to do a fast and drink some nasty stuff to clean out his system. I remember thinking how thankful I was that TR was so capable, so easygoing about it. It hardly seemed to phase him. And he said that once the initial hunger wore off he felt better than he had in a long time. After he was diagnosed it actually made sense why the fast helped.
I hated that feeling of watching him walk away for the procedure. It felt a little scary and out of control. Ben was so cute and did so well, even though I refused to let him crawl around on the hospital floor :) He charmed another patient who was waiting for her turn and really made her day. She just couldn't get enough of him and I remember feeling thankful that I had brought him with, if only to brighten this unwell woman's day.
After TR was done he was really out of it. I asked him questions and he answered them, but later he couldn't remember talking to me or even what he had said! It was so weird but the doctor said that was normal. The paper the doctor gave me said "no cancer" scribbled beneath a bunch of other words and that's when it hit me.
This could have been serious.
In fact, when he was talking to us later he said it was most likely Ulcerative Colitis and I actually felt relief. I knew what cancer was and that was bad. I'd never heard of UC before so how bad could it be?
After we came home and did some research I realized just how bad it could be. And according to the doctor TR had it bad. His whole colon was inflamed. From the rectum to the entire large intestine.
So that was how he was diagnosed. They sent us home with prescriptions and a lifelong sentence to be tied to them. It was heartbreaking watching the man I love try to take pills when the smallest pill can choke him (due to his narrow throat). It was heartbreaking to know that his body was fighting against him and we knew of nothing that could stop it or slow it down.
But the story doesn't end there! We have an amazing Father who gave us a great gift and for that I am thankful beyond words. Less than a year later we had changed our diet and TR has now been prescription drug free for 2 years!!!!! He still has ups and downs and the downs are hard, but we are learning how to care for his body and I have great hope that one day his energy levels will be soaring again!
Thursday, August 9, 2012
- Instead of cream on his cereal he's been having applesauce.
- I make ice cream out of coconut milk
- He had fresh raspberries with coconut milk
Friday, August 3, 2012
TR has always been sensitive to dairy. For a while he could have whipping cream but not milk or cheese. Organic cheese seemed to be okay and raw milk was okay. But then he started getting a reaction from whipping cream. And the cheese was starting to bother him. He's had reaction to butterscotch chips (the worst reaction he's had until lately), walnuts and hazelnuts.
Then the really strange reactions came.
He reacted to pan fried chicken and rice.
He reacted to pizza made with soy cheese and toppings he'd had before.
He reacted to fresh chocolate chip cookies.
What kind of reaction? His throat feels tight, like he's choking. His chest hurts and feels like it's closing in. It's hard to breathe.
After a few hours it has gone away and he's fine. But in the midst of it . . . not so pleasant. It makes him tired. It makes him very afraid to eat.
We just can't figure out what it is that's setting it off. All the ingredients that I used were ones he has had before in a different meal before with no problems.
What is going on?
A naturopath I spoke to suggested that it could be a combination. He's okay with food A and B separately but not together. So he went in and got a bunch of blood work done and when this naturopath is finished vacation then he will be going to see her with the hopes that something will show up and we can figure this out. It's not a whole lot of fun when you're afraid that something you used to eat might now make you hurt. I'm so thankful that although these reactions have been hard, he hasn't had to have prescription drugs or any other medical intervention. It could've been worse and we are thankful.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
As to if it's working . . . I guess I don't know. We're still not completely gluten free so I'm not really expecting too much of a change. I know that personally my stomach/bowels seem to be happier.
Hopefully soon our house will be gluten free and I'll be prepared enough to take food with us when we go out so that we can give it a real test.
p.s. In regard to the dip I mentioned in the last post - I tried using just yogurt and found I didn't like it. The mayo helps to cut the sourness.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
A few weeks ago I started making some dip with some Epicure spices for my kids. They love dipping their vegetables in dip and since we don't even do store salad dressing anymore I decided that I'd just have to make some for them. I really love the combination of mayonnaise, yogurt and spices. For veggies I've been using the Italian Dressing. The one thing I've learned though is I can't just mix some and serve it - it needs time to sit, preferably several hours.
When I was a child I used to like the "dill" dip from the store the most, so the other day I decided to give it a try. This time I just did mostly yogurt with some mayo (next time I'm trying all yogurt so it'll be even healthier) and some frozen dill blended together. TR was pretty skeptical because of the yogurt (which he doesn't like) but he loved the dip. It didn't taste at all like yogurt. In fact it tasted very much like the store stuff I remember. Creamy dill. Yum!
* On a sidenote the yogurt I used was partially drained so it was thicker. I just use a tea towel held over a bowl with an elastic hairband and allow the yogurt to drip until it's thick. Usually several hours. And our yogurt is homemade so he can eat it :)
Now that I've discovered this I can't wait to try other flavours! Like cheddar (with Epicure's mac and cheese), garlic and green onion, chili, bbq (Epicure's bbq spice), the possibilities are endless!!
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I've also just ordered a bunch of recipe books on "gluten free" recipes. As soon as I can get the appropriate foods in our house we will be going gluten free for a while. Chloe has had digestive problems for a long time. Really weak bladder muscles that are made worse by constipation. I recently read a blog where the child had these same symptoms and was found to be sensitive to wheat and eggs. I've wondered for a while if Chloe might not have a hard time digesting wheat but was told that it would give her diarrhea and not constipation. So anyway, going gluten free might not be easy but it is certainly not going to hurt us so I thought we'd give it a try. Wouldn't it be easier if we just took her in and got tested first you ask?
Trust me. It's easier to change our diet than to get her tested :)
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Thankfully over the last couple years he has become much healthier and he's also learned a little about which foods will make things worse very quickly. Once this month is over he will have been away for 20 days (10 at a time). The first time he left he really didn't take much food with him as he had no idea where he was staying. And so thankfully he really did awesome!!! The place he was eating his lunches at was very homemade and pretty safe and for suppers he alternated between buying a few groceries and cooking himself and eating out. You know your husband loves you when he resists buying grocery store meat and eating his spaghetti without ground beef just because he knows how you would feel about that meat! That is love friends :) And it totally made my day!
When he left the second time he knew where he would be staying and how he could cook so we packed up some food for him. He is still eating his lunches at the same place but now he is making his suppers. Here's a bit of what we packed him:
- steak and potatoes
- cooked ground beef for spaghetti & tacos
- canned chicken
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Well, last summer felt very difficult. We didn't go to very many campfires with other people. We didn't go on many picnics. We tried desperately not to eat hotdogs or marshmallows.
In a lot of ways it is much easier for me than for TR and the kids. And in other ways it is much harder for me. Easier because I never really liked marshmallows and they just love them. TR used to eat handfuls of the small ones as a snack. It's hard on the kids because they want to eat all the food they see other people eating. They want the pop, the chips, the sugary treats, hotdogs filled with who-knows-what - and the white bleached bun that goes with it. I know why we're eating different. All they see are the things they can't have that their cousins are enjoying. It's harder for me because bringing the healthier food takes more work. It takes more time. It takes a little more planning and forethought.
Here are a few things that I'm hoping will make this summer easier than last:
- There is a company now making "Natural" hotdogs. They are still made with pork (which we avoid as best we can) and it's not organic. But it is better and so I feel a little better about my family eating them. I don't want to be bringing these to every picnic, but at least it is an option now.
- I've discovered that my kids like canned chicken and mayo sandwiches - which is a quick easy thing to make when we decide last minute to have lunch at the park (which we did about 2 weeks ago. It was so great!)
- I've become a little more relaxed about some things. TR is doing so much better this year and it makes it easier to treat ourselves to the convenience foods once in a while.
- I've discovered they now make Organic chocolate fudge cookies! We had some on our vacation and the kids love them. Still not the best but if we're going to have a treat, it's nice it's organic.
- I'm hoping to sit down and make a list of some things I can do in advance to make spur of the moment outings easier. If I'm prepared with what we can eat on a picnic I'm sure if will be healthier than if I just wait until TR comes home and says "so and so wants to go". If I do this it will make things so much easier and less stressful.
So once I have my ideas for menus we can take on the go I will try to share them with you! Summer is so fun and short and we all just love campfires and cooking over the fire. If you have any ideas please let me know!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Some people may think we are a little crazy. After all, what fun is a vacation if you don't get to eat out?
Well, we will be eating out. Just not for every meal.
Here's our reasons:
- We don't want TR to get a flare up. Probably the biggest reason.
- It's cheaper
- It tastes better
- We'd like to avoid getting the runs and stomach pains. (If that is too much info just close your ears :) This has happened before to all 4 of us (Kara wasn't born yet) after a whole weekend away with hardly a home cooked meal. Not fun.
- It's healthier
- We can eat wherever and whenever we want - and let the kids get some steam out while we're at it! Some of my best traveling memories are when TR and I packed a lunch and ate it while the kids ran around and did crazy things (after quickly wolfing down some food of course). If it's nice outside we can breath some fresh air and stretch. Much better than trying to keep the kids from disturbing everyone in a restaurant, only to have them leave over half of their meal. And we don't have to wake a sleeping baby because we're hungry and we won't be in another town for hours.
So what are we eating? Same old same old?
Nope! I decided that just because we were taking our food doesn't mean it has to be the same things we're eating now. So I splurged a bit on the money and on the health and found some treats. Pretty risque I know - but I did try to still get something a little on the "healthier" side. Here's a few things we're treating ourselves to:
- yogurt (I do buy this for the kids from time to time but it is a treat because of all the fillers)
- Salmon dinner with sparkling juice (the salmon we love is actually farm raised and so not so healthy)
- regular chips
- organic fudge cookies (store bought!!)
- fairly natural crackers (Kashi brand)
- Chocolate covered fruit (it's not actually fruit, but made from fruit)
- Special cereal for Kara to eat as finger food
- boughten bread! For sandwiches and toast (we're eating Sprouted Grain bread) This is a big treat for me because I don't have to make it!
- Sandwich meat (the Natural brand)
- applesauce cups with different flavours (I prefer to buy them the organic applesauce so the flavours are a real treat)
- Juice boxes
- Popcorn twists (not exactly healthy, but the don't have all the additives)
- grapes (a real treat in this house as they are one of the worst fruits for chemicals)
So there's my list! The kids are so excited they are having such a hard time waiting. These foods are so exciting to my kids and once they saw what we are bringing can hardly stand it! I love that they are easy to please. I am thankful that we can do this without being too worried about TR. A flare up is no easy thing - not for him, and not for his family either. I am so thankful that he is able to be a little more relaxed now and that we can splurge on these foods. I am thankful that we can take food with us and still be able to eat out for some meals. I am so thankful that we have supplements and vitamins that we can take with us that will help to keep TR healthy. I am also really thankful that we can have a vacation! Hurray!!!
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Anyway I say all that to say this:
TR came home the other day after having been at the grocery store for me. He was just going for some butter and cream and bananas. He came home with Pineapple juice and sea salt and pepper chips. Sounds innocent enough. Looked like they were innocent. But alas . . .
The pineapple juice was the blue menu choice. 40% less sugar. Right there my flags went up. The pineapple juice we usually buy is 100% pineapple juice not from concentrate. How do they reduce the sugar from that? So I read the label. Pineapple juice (not from concentrate), water, fruit pectin (contains maltodextrin, corn syrup solids) citric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavour, malic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) turmeric (colour) sucralose (15mg per serving), caramel colouring.
YIKES!! In my opinion that is not okay. They take perfectly good juice and water it down. Then add other sweeteners and colouring to make it taste just as good as before so that they can say it has 40% less sugar. Healthier? NO!
The bag of chips didn't get looked at right away - I assumed they were fine. After all regular is just salted chips so sea salt and pepper should be good too right?
A few days later I was making TR's lunch in the morning and he wanted some chips in a baggy. I let the kids each have two and then proceeded to put them in the smaller bag. I tried one too. And very promptly said - "These are really good!" And then I thought for a second and quickly checked the ingredients. Sure enough. MSG. And artificial flavour, and a few other things that should not have been in that bag. I don't have the bag anymore but it was definitely not a safer bag of chips to eat.
TR doesn't check labels like I do. Which is okay, because I am the main grocery shopper in our household. And the things he bought looked very okay. Maybe you think I am a little silly, over cautious. And I guess I am. But ingredients are very important to me.
Take for example what TR was reading about this week. The U.S. government buying ammonia treated sludge leftover waste groundbeef for the 'healthy' school lunch programs. And not having it being detected for 5-7 years! "Meat" no one else would buy was being fed to kids - some who even got sick from it - and everyone just trusted that the gov't was doing a great thing by feeding the kids a healthy lunch.
I want to know what I'm eating.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
I'm trying something new again! Adding a little freshly ground barley flour to my bread. And if I have time I'm going to try crackers! I've been wanting to try crackers for a long long time now. And I think today just might be the day! I'm going to try a barley cracker and a rice cracker.
Wish me luck!
p.s. Leanne, I finally replied to your comment on the microwave part II :)
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
What do you do about leftovers? Some are easier than others. Leftover soup or chili for example is very easy to just heat up the same way you made it - in a pot on the stove.
But what about meals like chicken dinner? That was the hardest one for me because there are so many parts to that meal. I've found that when you have meals like that it's sometimes best to just make a whole new meal - like casserole. I layer it with the gravy, chicken and veggies on the bottom. Then it's the mashed potatoes, followed by the stuffing. I like the stuffing on top because it gets crispy. It's a whole new meal that just get's popped into the oven. Sometimes there has been the occasion when I wanted to enjoy the individual flavours of the foods and so I use my handy dandy skillet. Mashed potatoes in one corner, stuffing in the other, chicken in the other with the lid on top. Gravy goes in a pot and veggies in another pot. Makes a little more dishes but works really great.
Here's a few others things we do:
~ Rice and chicken dinners become chicken stir fry.
~ Mashed potatoes because fried.
~ A little water added to the pot of cooked rice reheats it, and when the water is gone the rice is usually hot.
We love our cast iron skillets! Right now we have two little ones and two bigger ones. I use the lids from my pots if I need a lid. Actually our biggest skillet is too big for any of my pot lids but I've found that the oblong lid from my slow cooker, while not covering completely, does speed up the cooking time (especially for things like fried potatoes). In the beginning it took a bit of learning how to use them as I didn't take too much care in seasoning them. We did season them, but not for as long as suggested. But now they are well seasoned.
Okay, but what about chocolate? How do you melt chocolate without a microwave? That was one thing I was concerned about. But the solution is surprisingly simple. I just take a pot of water and set a glass or stainless steel bowl, or a glass measuring cup inside and put the chocolate chips in the bowl. It works great! I have not ruined a batch of chocolate yet! If I need to melt butter or coconut oil it's very easy to use the same method or simply put the oil in the pot. Actually once I just used my great big stainless steel bowl to melt the peanut butter for a cookie recipe and just used the same bowl to mix the cookies - even saving dishes!
As I showed in the previous picture we like to use our wood stove. I especially like it for simmering foods like soup, chili, beans. I like setting bowls of frozen fruit before the fire to thaw if we're having smoothies.
Another common use for the microwave is for thawing bread. I have learned to take bread out before we need it so it has more time to thaw. That's not to say I've never forgotten, but I have gotten much better about it and I don't forget very often anymore. When TR is called to work when I wasn't expecting him to need a lunch I thaw buns out in the skillet with a lid. Or I lay them on top of the wood stove. Once they've thawed a bit I can cut them open and lay both sides down to speed up the process.
When TR wants his coffee reheated he does it in the stove in a pot, or just turns the coffee pot on and it reheats.
We don't eat microwave popcorn so that's not an issue.
I don't heat bottles or baby food (Kara just eats whatever we're having) so that's no issue either.
Pizza is something we don't have very often but when we do TR likes it cold the next day and I just pop mine in the oven for a few minutes.
So there you have it! How we survive and survive well without a microwave! If there's something I didn't mention that you're curious about just ask and I'll let you know.
In closing I'd just like to say that it does make more dishes when you have to reheat multiple food items - but what you gain is better food and food that is hot all at once. None of this standing in line while every family member warms up their food, or reheating the veggies and then by the time the chicken in reheated the veggies are cold and need to go back in. I would never go back to having a microwave and having it die on us was one of the best things for our kitchen :)
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Anyway I am digressing from my topic! Give me a little space to write and who knows how many rabbit trails I'll take :)
Okay - the microwave.
We don't have one.
We haven't had one for 2 years.
- it broke.
- we were broke.
Therefore: No new microwave.
It was mostly my doing. TR really would have gone out and bought a new one. He felt pretty dependent on it. But we really didn't have much money and every part of our budget was stretched thin. Craving a little security, I really didn't want to spend money we didn't have to. I wanted to buy groceries instead. (go figure!)
So we decided to give it a trial period. We would go without until we had the money for a new one - unless we decided that we could get by without it.
And we did.
We got by without it.
At first it was a little challenging. TR had to figure out how to reheat his coffee (which, back then he did multiple times before it was gone!). I had to figure out how to reheat leftovers. I had to learn how to melt chocolate chips and butter (who knew you could use the stove?!) We learned how to quickly defrost buns when TR got called out to work expectantly. I learned to take meat out early so it could defrost before I needed it.
After a while we re-evaluated it and decided that we just didn't need it. In fact - our lives felt better without it.
I can recall a few times going to other peoples homes after we'd been without it for a while and feeling surprised that they were using the microwave. I guess I had forgotten it existed! That's how much I miss it :)
(Look for Part II coming soon with pictures of the different ways we cook now that we don't have a microwave!)
Monday, January 30, 2012
In fact I'd bet you'd turn your nose up and walk away if you didn't know that a little heat would transform them into something wonderful :) By now I can hear you asking - why on earth do you buy your coffee beans raw? Isn't it just easier to buy them already roasted and just grind them yourself? Or better yet, buy the pre-ground stuff?
And the answer is . . .
1. We've been buying beans for our whole marriage. TR is the main coffee drinker in our house and he likes to grind them himself for the best flavour.
2. We were buying the PC bags of dark roasted coffee beans, but then they discontinued them and we were on the look out for some new favourite coffee.
3. We've heard and read a lot about the way coffee is exploited and being mis-farmed. How they're tearing out trees and planting big fields. How the workers don't get paid much and the big kahunas are taking all the profits. One day while TR was at the drugstore picking up some other health food we buy there he saw these bags of coffee that were Fair Trade and organic. Something like $11 a small bag - but anything is worth a try once right? It was AMAZING! Super duper wonderful coffee. He loved it so much that he tried to ration it - only to discover that the amazingness wears off after the bags been opened. So then he had the freedom to drink the bag as fast as he could :)
4. Okay - here is the biggest reason. I say all that to say this. We just couldn't go back to the other kinds of coffee. Not only was this Fair trade and organic. It was also really good coffee. But it was expensive. While I was searching for some other food online I came accross a store in E that sells the green beans. They were still fair trade. Still organic. But about half the price of the stuff we were currently buying. So when my sister was heading that way we asked her to pick us up some.
Okay so here is in a nutshell: Fresh roasted coffee tastes better. It's Fair trade and organic. And it's even fun to roast it!
So here are my instructions :)
Pour some beans into a cast iron skillet. It needs to be clean and dry (no oil). Turn the burner on medium heat.
Once they start getting a little brown they need to be slowly stirred constantly. I say slowly because if they escape the pan they are HOT! And it is not fun to put them back in!
After about 11 minutes they are starting to look a lot more like coffee!
Starting to smoke pretty good - although it is hard to tell in the picture . . . A good fan above the oven would be really good right about now!
And since our fan was not working very well . . . we had to open the door! It was so smoky in our house it was crazy! And after a little while it was cold too :)
You can see the smoke a bit in this picture. It smells a little like coffee - but it's not a very pleasant smell at all.
It's been about 19 minutes now - and it is definitely looking like coffee beans! And the smell is getting better too. More like coffee - but still really smoky. The oils are coming out and I can feel it is a little sticky.
The finished product at about 20 minutes. The beans are really hard to roast evenly so some are much darker than the others. It looks like it would taste a little burnt because some of them are even black - but it doesn't. It just tastes wonderful!
While they are roasting there is a little shell that comes off of the beans. It's just little pieces of flakes that need to be removed. Similar maybe to removing the hulls of of oats and wheat. Anyway - we put it in this colander and swirl it around and they fall out of the holes. Right now the beans are really really really hot! You can't hardly touch the sides of the colander!
I just sweep this up with my hand and dump it in the compost :)
And there you have it! Let it cool, then grind and enjoy!
Before and after. Maybe after I've been doing this for a while it won't be quite so exciting . . . but right now I think it's pretty cool! It's so neat to watch it transform! And it actually makes me want to drink coffee!
A few interesting facts:
- The raw beans are smaller in size. When they're roasted they swell almost double (don't quote me on that - I'm just guessing, I haven't actually measure, just eye balled it :)
- Our favourite right now is the Nicaraguan. Our least favourite is the Brazilian.
- Going through all this effort for coffee makes it a real shame to waste any. So I'm looking for ways to keep that from happening. We compost all our used grounds (we were doing that before so it's not really different) I save the leftover coffee to water the houseplants sometimes. We do pour some down the drain as I don't think my houseplants want that much coffee. Right now I'm thinking I'll start freezing the leftover coffee for icecaps next summer.
- I wrecked a couple of batches when I was trying it. I took it off too soon and TR said it didn't taste very good. I was so scared of burning it! When TR (who has done it a few more times than me) was watching he told me to keep it on way longer than I originally thought!
- We paid $18.70/kg for the coffee.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
So here's my "recipe"
Epicures Macaroni and Cheese powder
Butter & whipping cream
Cooked ground beef
Cheese to sprinkle on
Mix together and voila! How easy is that?! Certainly just as easy as the boxed version - but way better :)
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Start the grinder. Measure 8 cups of grains into the hopper. (today I did this 3 times)
Sift the flour 3 times. (I remove a lot of the germ and bran as it is hard to digest without sprouting or fermenting (like sourdough) and it just makes my bread really dense)
Measure 2 cups of warm water - pour into bread machine.
Add 2 tsp. of salt.
Add 1 large tablespoon of honey.
Melt coconut oil on the stove. Pour 1/2 cup of melted oil into machine.
Add 5 cups of sifted flour.
Add 1 1/4 tbsp of instant dry yeast.
Put tired baby to bed :)
Once the machine starts mixing put the timer on for 8 minutes. Turn machine off and put into an oiled bowl to rise.
After about an hour punch the dough down and form into loaves or buns.
(this bowl holds three recipes of bread - or 15 cups of flour)
Let rise until doubled - about an hour or so.
Bake at 350 F. 45 minutes for bread. 20 minutes for buns.
Clean up the kitchen - then enjoy :)
Monday, January 16, 2012
And even with the drink nearby he would still choke. Not often - but enough to be scarey.
I remember driving to the hospital with a little patch of ice scraped off the window, hardly able to see rushing to the hospital because he was choking.
I remember camping - several hours away from any hospitals - and him choking.
Just remembering these moments is enough to bring the fear back.
He has a narrow throat. Has from the time he was just a toddler. He would choke on everything.
Dairy products make it worse and if he stayed off of dairy he wouldn't choke nearly so much. It actually got to the point that he would even eat without a drink nearby! Hurray!
But then it slowly was coming back.
I went on a trip to P.R. with my sisters and while we were there shopping he calls me and says that he is on his way to G.P. because he has a pill stuck in his throat and the hospital at home couldn't do anything about it. Luckily for him it went down shortly after and he didn't have to go. But scarey nonetheless.
A few years after that when he was getting some tests done we found out why he always chokes and why he can still breath even though he is choking.
He has a narrowed throat. Close to his stomach it gets smaller. They call it a hiatus hernia.
Anyway to make a long story shorter this hernia was the reason he was choking. He had his throat stretched a few times, and that does help. But he still can't swallow pills. Even little itty bitty ones that looks so easy to me are hard for him. But with his colitis he needs vitamins. Right now he isn't on any prescription drugs (Praise the Lord!!!!!!!!!!) but without the vitamins he takes he gets sick. So . . . . all of that to say this. He opens the capsules and empties them into orange juice. And then he swallows it in a few big swigs.
I am just so proud of him! His multi-vitamin is awful. It smells gross and it taste even grosser. But he takes it and I just feel so thankful that he does it even though it is hard.
And in case you were curious here is what he takes:
~ Liquid multi-vitamin from Garden of Life
~ Vitamin D from Garden of Life
~ Alfafa - from Solar-Ray
~ Kambucha - from Garden of Life
Friday, January 13, 2012
In the cookbook (Health and Hospitality) it is called Honey Baked Chicken but we always called it
Honey Mustard Chicken
1 3/4 pound chicken, cut up
1/3 cup margarine
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. curry powder
Prepare oven to 350 F. Arrange chicken in shallow pan, skin side up. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken.Bake for 1 and 1/4 hours, basting every 15 minutes until nicely brown and tender. Good served with rice.
Growing up this was one of my favourite meals and it still is - but definitely not the healthiest. And not the quickest either. And who has time to baste every 15 minutes? Since we switched over to butter I've used butter in place of margarine - which makes it a little healthier, but expensive. I love the sauce so I often double or triple the sauce and that adds up to a lot of butter. So I decided to try to substitute it again and it worked great! I couldn't even tell! And I felt much better eating it knowing that I wasn't just spooning butter into my mouth :) I tripled the recipe, so I will give you those amounts:
1 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup homemade chicken broth (or store bought if that's what you have)
Canned Chicken with all bones removed (I used my homemade canned chicken, but even leftover cooked chicken would work great!)
6 large squirts of mustard
1 tsp salt (I don't like adding too much salt so I often do less than it calls for)
3/4 tsp curry. (I like the curry taste but find that the amount of the original recipe is a little strong for our family's tastes)
Turmeric powder mixed in olive oil (turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory and very healthy. It's taste is not very strong and we couldn't even tell I had added it. I maybe did 1/2 tsp or so. The olive oil stabilizes it and your body gets more from the turmeric that way.)
It was great! If I hadn't said anything TR would not have even known and I hadn't done it myself I never would have known either!