Friday, July 26, 2013

Heartburn. Caused by Too Much or Too Little Acid?

For most of my life, I have been plagued with heartburn. I get it from my father. When I was a little kid, I picked up one of the many rolls of Rolaids that my dad had everywhere and ate one, thinking it was candy. Blech! It was highly disgusting. Growing up, I could usually control the heartburn with the occasional antacid. That is until I got pregnant. Wow! The heartburn was uncontrollable. I would have it so often that, instead of sending my husband to the store for pickles and ice cream, I was making him buy me large quantities of fruity Tums. Finally, my OB had to relent and allow me to take some Zantac.

I thought it would go back to how it was before once I gave birth but no such luck. I saw a couple of doctors and they ran a test that involved drinking something fizzy and something chalky then having me roll around on an x-ray bed while they took pictures of my innards. The doc looked at me and said it was the worst case of acid reflux he had ever seen. Thus began a very long journey into the world of acid blockers.

Up until about a year ago, I did not realize that there was anything I could do about it. So, after many hours of research, I began to change they way I ate and lost a few pounds. However, there was no change in the reflux.  In fact, it became worse. I tried all kinds of dietary supplements that others had success with but, as soon as I stopped taking the acid blockers, the heartburn came back with a vengeance!

So I gave up on ever getting off the pharmaceuticals.

Until now.

I read a blog post sponsored by The Village Green Network. (I have looked everywhere to find it to link to it but I can't:()

In that post, there was research cited that showed that up to 95% of all heartburn cases were caused by too little stomach acid instead of too much. WHAT???? How can that be???

Apparently, when you have too little stomach acid, the food you eat just sits in your stomach and starts to putrefy and ferment, causing the acid to to go back up the esophagus and causing...wait for it....heartburn!

As if that wasn't bad enough, because there isn't enough stomach acid to break down the food properly, it eventually moves into the small intestine in a form that it isn't supposed to be in, which in turn, can cause leaky gut. Yuck!

I honestly never thought that my problems could be caused by too little stomach acid.

The writer gave some tips to help with the digestion of your food.

First of all, she pointed out that your stomach does not have teeth so it relies on you to thoroughly chew your food before swallowing. Actually chewing until the food is the consistency of applesauce. I admit that I am so guilty of not chewing very well. I eat way too fast sometimes so I have to really focus on chewing thoroughly and s l o w l y.

Another tip was to not drink liquids with meals and for an hour after eating. The thought is that drinking water dilutes your stomach acid making it more difficult to break down your food. I am a big drinker of water. All day long I have a glass of water at my side. I never thought that I could be actually making my problem worse. If you need to have something to drink with meals, it was suggested to keep it to 4 oz. or less or to make it a fermented drink like Kombucha which adds lots of nice gut bacteria to keep things moving right along.

So my experiment will be to try these steps to eliminate my need for the medication. For the last few days, I have not taken any medication and I have been very mindful of my chewing and liquid consumption. I am not gonna lie, I have had some heartburn but not enough to warrant taking anything. I have a feeling that it may take some time for my stomach to start producing enough acid to breakdown my food because of the years of taking acid inhibitors.

I will keep you posted of my progress.

It is funny (sad) to think that the thing I have been doing to stop the heartburn may have been the one thing that kept it going.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cilantro...The New Love of My Life

Last week I got my copy of From Scratch by Shaye Elliott of The Elliott Homestead. I bought it on sale from Amazon for just under $16 and, let me tell you, it is worth every penny of it! And I have only made one thing from it!!
Shaye's type of cooking is plain and simple, all from scratch, good for you food. There are no exotic ingredients, nothing weird. You can pronounce everything and find it all locally, probably in your own pantry. It does, however, require just a teensy bit more time than most people are probably used to, at least in the beginning.

This type of food is most beneficial to our bodies when as much of each component is made from scratch as possible. For example, chicken stock. Yes, you can buy it at the store pretty cheaply but then that is exactly what you get cheap, unappetizing food. Store bought stock isn't going to nourish your body the way your own homemade stock will. Why? Because food manufacturers have(?) to put in all kinds of preservatives, additives, colorings etc. in order to make a product that can sit on the shelves for years without ever decomposing. If it can last that long in a package, imagine what it will be doing in your intestines! So you want to make as many of the ingredients yourself as you possibly can.

The recipe I made for lunch today was Chicken Soup with Coconut and Cilantro. Oh my word, it was sooooo good. I never knew I liked cilantro until today. The smell is just so fresh and the taste...Oh!

This recipe actually started yesterday with some chicken stock making. This is an extremely easy thing to do but it does take a little bit of time. First, you want to get you a good chicken. I didn't use my own because my hens are more valuable to me for their eggs than for their meat. Plus I haven't ordered my "meat" chickens yet:) So I used a pastured chicken from the store. Yes it is more expensive but I won't compromise on meat for my family. So I cut the chicken up. This is a bit more tricky than I thought it would be. Hubby is going to have to sharpen my knife after I sawed through the bones! There are supposed to be joints you cut through but I never found 'em. So you cut up the whole chicken and put it in the crock pot (put in the neck and gizzards too) along with a couple of cut up carrots, celery and onion. Add 8-12 cups of water, depending on the size of your crock pot. You want it to be about 1 1/2 inches from the rim. Add in 1/4-1/2 c. apple cider vinegar and then put the lid on it. Cook on high until it starts to boil then turn it down to low. Let it cook for 12-24 hours. Once your house is smelling so good that you can't stand it, turn off the crock pot and get to separating the good stuff in there. Put all the meat in one bowl and all the cooked down veggies, bones and skin in another. Feel free to give the veggie/bone bowl to your pets. The bones have softened from the long cook and they are no longer dangerous. I gave mine to our pig and I have never seen her focused on eating in all the time we have had her!

Next, you need to strain the liquid to get out any other bits and pieces. You will need a fine mesh strainer or use come cheesecloth in a colander to strain it all out. Put the broth into a couple of containers and put in the fridge. You want the fat to thicken up on top of the broth so that it can be skimmed off. Once it is skimmed off, you can portion your broth and freeze it or put it into canning jars and can it. Here is a great tutorial for canning broth.

Once, the meat is cool enough to handle, remove it from the rest of the bones and skin. Shred the meat and portion it out however you need to. I just put a bit in the fridge to make the soup I mentioned above and then put a couple of cups into some freezer bags for future meals. Helpful hint, freeze the bags flat so that you can stack them once frozen to save space in the freezer.

Okay, now that you have some liquid chicken "gold" put up and some shredded chicken set aside, it is time to make this nummy soup!

Into a stockpot, put 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1 can full fat organic coconut milk, about a teaspoon fresh grated ginger (buy a root, keep in the freezer, grate as needed. Trust me on this!), 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. liquid aminos (like soy sauce but better for you), 1/2 - 1 tbsp. sweetener (such as raw honey or sucanat. NOT SPLENDA!!!)1 cup shredded cooked chicken and 1 cup egg noodles. Bring all of it to a boil then turn down the heat and let it simmer until the noodles are cooked al dente. You will need to salt the soup so check it now and add what you need. Serve with chopped cilantro (do NOT leave that out!) and some chopped green onions. This recipe made enough for 3 big bowls of soup and you can double it if needed.
(I tweaked this recipe a little so it isn't exactly what is in the cookbook)

Try it. Soon. By the cookbook. Now. That's all.

Friday, July 5, 2013

They Put WHAT On TV????

We don't do a whole lotta tv watching around here but, for the last few weeks, we have had massive amounts of rain that have made outdoor activities impossible if not down right dangerous!

So we have been watching a few shows on tv. Now let me just throw this out there, I am impatient. I despise commercials so having a dvr is bliss for me! I record a show to watch later and then I get to fast forward through all the commercials.

How many of you have noticed the commercials, either for products or for other tv shows that seem to lack a bit of class? You know the ones. The erectile dysfunction ones, for example. Now I am sure ED is a problem for some men and probably not one that they want to talk about in public, so why is it necessary to show commercials for it? The channel that shows one at almost every commercial break is the History Channel!!! Really? They always have to put in the line about "If you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours, please seek medical help." You would think the History Channel would be safe for young viewers but not with this stuff. Don't be surprised when your young son comes and asks you how long an erection is supposed to last. If he's watching the History Channel, you will know why he is asking!

Now, I am not a prude so don't bother with the nasty comments. I just think that this is something that doesn't need to be on tv. Yes, I know. We could just turn the tv off but why does this stuff need to be on in the first place?

Other commercials that are a bit disturbing are the ones for the shows that they put out there for public consumption. Take Pregnant and Dating. Really? Do we need to see that? Seems that one should "date" before one becomes pregnant. Or even better, how about you MARRY before you get pregnant! I know, shocking idea isn't it.

Then there are the Teen Mom type shows. Do we really need to be glamorizing teen's sleeping around and getting pregnant? Their life isn't reality for the teen girls that actually do become pregnant because they made poor choices. No one is going to give the average pregnant 16 year old her own show but there are teens out there getting pregnant so they can be "famous". Don't believe me? Spend time in a high school.

They don't need a tv show. They need someone to parent them, mentor them, help them learn to make good choices. Not line their bank accounts with cash and reward them screwing up.

Just last night, we were watching something and this commercial comes on about Bridezilla's: Marriage Boot Camp. Here's a confession for you. I used to watch Bridezilla's years ago. It was funny to see how these women reacted to the stress of planning a wedding. Then it just got to be a cuss fest with these women behaving so badly I was embarrassed for them. So I stopped watching. Then I see the commercial for the new show coming on and it starts off with the couples being told that their homework is to go home and have sex. Then it cuts to a screen shot of a women telling the other women that their husbands need to wear this thing while they have sex so he becomes a human vibrator! These commercials are not just coming on at night. This was during a show that was recorded in the early afternoon!

Why do we have to accept the lie that "sex sells". Maybe because it isn't really a lie. If you compare shows from the 70's through to present time, women are wearing less and less clothing, the couples sexing it up all over the place aren't dating, much less married, the teens are behaving very badly and the parents are even worse. It seems if a show is to capture an audience, it has to abolish the limits of decency and cater to the prurient minded. Or at least that is what the producers think.

How do those producers explain the popularity of shows like Duck Dynasty? They regularly speak of their faith, no one is cheating on their spouse, no one is showing any boob or butt. Yet, it is one of A&E networks top rated shows.

I know that there are people out there that like watching this stuff but I have to ask "why"? What is it about the lifestyle these shows depict that you find entertaining? I am not judging you, I am just curious.

Last year, hubby and I made a conscious decision to not watch shows that our kids can't watch. Why? Well, it just didn't feel right making them leave the room while we watched a tv show that wasn't appropriate for them. If something is inappropriate for a 13 year old, why should it be appropriate for an adult. We cannot hold them to a higher standard than we hold ourselves to. Kids will do what we do much more than what we tell them to do! 

I say us parents need to hold ourselves to a much higher standard than we are currently requiring of ourselves. We tell our kids not to do something, take cussing for instance, yet we let those same words fly when we are mad, irritated, excited or just at a loss for a better word. Sorry but you can't get mad at your kids for picking it up from you. If we are acting inappropriately in a situation, why would be expect a child to act differently?

I don't know about you but my kids make me want to be a much better version of myself each and every day. Am I successful? Ummm, no. Not all of the time. Probably not even most of the time but I am trying. Every day. For now, I think we will just turn off the tv.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth Of July

Happy Fourth Of July to everyone!!! We have fought hard for our freedoms over the last few centuries so let us all take a moment to remember our military personnel and their families that made today possible.

Hope you all will be safe and with those that you love.

We will be here in central Georgia trying not to DROWN!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eating Healthy Is Just Too Hard & Expensive

When we started to change our eating habits, I was sure that my grocery budget was going to go through the roof! I mean, buying fresh organic foods, grass fed beef and cooking from scratch wasn't going to just take all my time but it was going to cost a fortune! At least that was what I thought.

Boy, was I wrong!

Now, before you think that I didn't have to get a little creative with my food budget in the beginning, let me set the record straight right now, I had to get REAL creative. But not for the reason you might think. It wasn't because organic costs so much more, it was because I was going to be doing a lot of cooking! About that same time, we decided that we didn't really enjoy going out to eat very much because the food just wasn't very good so we were going to be eating many more meals at home. I was going to be cooking 3 meals a day just about every day. I mistakenly thought that I had to cook 3 separate meals each and every day from then on out. Thankfully, I learned to combine cooking for several meals to save me some time and money. I'll talk about that some other time.

Let's dispel myth #1-Organic costs too much.
Truth- Organic does cost a bit more than some things but not everything has to be organic. There are lists floating around in cyberspace showing the Dirty Dozen-fruits and veggies that should always be bought organic, and the Clean 15-fruits and veggies that have very little pesticide residue. So you could save money by only buying the dirty dozen organically. One thing that works well, if you live in an area that has one, is to visit your local Farmer's Market. Sometimes, local trumps organic. Ask the farmers how they grow their product. Many times food is grown organically but just not certified. You could also grow your own. Gardening can be your best friend! It is a great workout and you get rewarded for all your hard work with wonderful, fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.

Myth #2-Processed food is cheaper
Truth-You are right on this one. Processed food is cheaper. But not in the long run. You will spend all those savings (and much more) in higher healthcare costs. Not to mention all the fun you will be missing out on by not being as healthy as you want to be.

Myth #3- I don't have time to cook from scratch.
Truth-Really? What exactly is taking all your time? Before you leave me nasty comments, hear me out. Cooking from scratch does NOT have to take hours and hours every night. It is going to require a bit more time and a bit more organization but not the hours you may be worried about. There are several "tricks" you can incorporate into your routine that will save you oodles of time. Most importantly? Plan your meals. You cannot get food on the table if you A:) don't know what your having and B:) you don't have a properly stocked pantry.
Also, make 2 or 3 meals at once. Making Spaghetti with meat sauce? Brown a few pounds of meat for tacos or casseroles for later in the week at the same time. Making beans? Cook extra for meals that week or for the freezer.

The freezer is so important in from scratch cooking. Pick a day when you have a few free hours and make several meals for the freezer. There are sooooo many blogs and websites that specialize in freezer meals. Google it and get cooking. It doesn't take long to put up a weeks worth of meals in the freezer. In a few hours your freezer will be stocked with homemade meals that will nourish the bodies of your family. No drive thru can do that!

It doesn't take much longer to make homemade foods than it does to open and cook a box of nuclear orange macaroni and cheese but the benefits of that homemade meal definitely outweigh any draw on your free time.

Something I wasn't expecting is that my grocery bill actually has gone down since we changed our eating habits. Because I am no longer buying premade, prepackaged food, I use that money to buy staples such as flour (for breadmaking), sucanat/raw honey, etc. I can make many more meals from staple foods than I can from boxes, thus saving me money. Wherever I save, I can put that savings towards organic foods that cost a bit more.

With just a little time and effort, you can feed your family "good fuel" and give them the best chance at a healthy ever after. Isn't that kind of what us parents are supposed to be doing anyway????

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Stuff We Teach Our Kids About Food

Growing up in the 80's, I was a product of the "convenience" generation. Drive thru's, frozen meals, diners on every corner. I never had to wait for food because it was always available.

If you had asked me then if I thought I was eating real food, I would have said "Of course it's real. Can't you see it?!".

Ahhh, the days of being blissfully unaware of what I was eating...

They say once you see something, you can't un-see it.  The same is true for what you learn about food. I have seen the conditions cows, hogs and chickens live in on "factory farms". I cannot bring myself to buy that meat at the store. Every time I stand in the meat section, I just want to cry...and vomit. That isn't food the way God intended.

For the past two weeks, my husband's teenaged cousins have been visiting along with his Aunt (their grandma). Because the girls spent almost all their time at our house, eating our food, Aunt Rose brought over a bunch of food. Lots of cheese. I love cheese. She also brought over a gallon of milk that the girls hadn't finished. Since we can't get raw milk here, I buy only organic whole milk. The stuff she brought over was 2% milk that you find in any grocery store. My kids wouldn't even touch it. Now, my kids will eat pretty much anything but they are starting to realize that food is fuel. Bad fuel is bad for the body. I have been doing a lot of reading on milk lately because I really want to get a dairy cow. Did you know that decades ago, skim milk was considered waste material by dairy farmers? It was pretty much used as hog feed because it was better than just throwing it out and it put a lot of fat on them. Now it is marketed as a way to lose weight???? Yeah, tell me how that works.

The oldest cousin has a lot of food misconceptions that I find are very common with teens her age. First of all, they think butter is bad. She is always amazed when she comes to visit that we use butter. We use it a lot. And we are healthy. She has been following Weight Watchers with her dad because he has some serious health problems. According the them (WW), butter is bad and we should all be eating margarine. Not happening in this house! She has also been trained to think that bacon is the worst food ever. Now, we don't go around eating bacon every day (I am pretty sure I could eat it every day though!) but if we want some, we pull out a package of uncured nitrate/nitrite free bacon and we have some. If I was better organized, I would be saving the fat from the bacon to use in other cooking but I never think about it. There is nothing unhealthy about fat from healthy animals.

If we are going to demonize food, let's demonize the right food! Let's call out the gmo, processed, fake foods that we have been feeding our families for far too long. Let them take their rightful place among the list of "foods" that we aren't going to consume anymore. Let's stop driving our kids through the drive thru or picking up pizza most nights of the week because we are "too busy" to cook a nourishing meal. Let's fill our families' bodies with good, wholesome, REAL foods like grass fed beef, pastured pork/poultry, organic fruits and vegetables, butter and whole milk (raw if you can find it).

Think you can't afford whole foods? Next post I am going to tell you why you are thinking incorrectly.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cutting Off Laziness at the Knees

I hear the following phrase all.the.time. "I don't have time to (fill in the blank)". I hear it a lot coming out of my own mouth, too.

Funny, everyone gets the exact same 24 hours in a day but some accomplish so much and some accomplish nothing. I am embarrassed to say that I have fallen into that second category on more than one (million) occasion.

When I first became a mom, I believed the hype that I could have it all. I had a job I loved and was extremely good at, I had just gotten married and became a mom to 3 great kids and we built our first home. Yeah, I was living the dream. So we ate out a lot. I mean how could I spend all day at work (usually at least 10 hours) and come home and cook something. It was just easier to go out. As time went on, we all gained weight and any time off from work was spent in front of the tv. At least we were all together, right?

Over the years, we added twins to the family and moved to Georgia. Prime farm country. Our kids were gonna spend all day outside taking care of the farm and being farm kids. Or maybe not. I was still working and we were still eating out a lot. Hubby and I had packed on more pounds than we cared to say. Still, nothing changed.

I am not sure what the catalyst for major change was but I started to think that I was letting my family down by not doing my job. Not the one I got paid for but the one that should have been more important, the one that should have taken priority. Hubby and I started looking at where we were and where we wanted to be and they were no where close to each other. We knew something had to change. God slammed put it on my heart to quit my job and stay home. I argued with Him. How in the world could I afford to stay home? We had bills... lots of them. I liked my job. What would I do with myself if I was home all day? Arguing with God is truly pointless (yet we still do it). I "retired" from my job and became a full time stay at home mom. Things were tight. Very tight. But we managed. The twins were still in private school at the time so my days were spent doing things that I shouldn't have been doing, like watching soap operas and channel surfing. I wasn't really accomplishing much even though I now had "time". Then God shoved pushed me to home school our kids. I know for a fact that idea came from Him because I hated it. At first. Then I thought and prayed about it and we did it.

Now my days were full again but I felt something was missing. It was about this time when I started to fell like I should be doing something more for my family. I took good care of them but there is ALWAYS room for improvement. I felt like God was telling me something and I just wasn't listening. I still can't remember if it was a single incident or a series of them that got me to look at our eating habits. I was disgusted by what I saw. I started to do some research on the subject of nutrition. If you want a study in contradictions, then study nutrition. One "expert" will say to eat this for health. Then another "expert" will say the opposite. This happened over and over and over. I was becoming frustrated that I couldn't find the information that I needed. However, certain things were made very clear to me. One was quit looking to the doctors for health. Now, before I get raked over the coals for that, let me state that I have the utmost respect for doctors, nurses and so forth. They have saved countless lives, including those of my twins. BUT medical schools teach our doctors to treat symptoms. Treating symptoms does not cure the problem. So I fault the medical schools for this. That being said, if you go to the doctor with a complaint, chances are you will walk away with a prescription for something but no real knowledge of the cause of your problem.

So if I am going to ignore the experts, what do I do now? Then it hit me. I have always said that the Bible was God's instruction manual for us. Maybe that is where I will find my answers. "Seek and ye shall find"! There is not one mention of artificial sweeteners, pasturized homogenized milk or high fructose corn syrup in the Bible. Hmmm, maybe if God didn't mention it, I shouldn't eat it? Yes, that is a simplistic view but think about it. God designed our bodies to work in a certain way with what he provided. What happens when you put diesel in a gas motor? Lots of problems! (and no I haven't done that!)I think the same thing happens when you put something unnatural in your body.

So all of this being said, it still took a bit of effort to pull me out of my processed food comfort zone. I can cook. I am a pretty good cook if I do say so myself. But I had gotten so lazy with meals from a box that I almost forgot HOW to cook a real meal from scratch. Cooking from scratch is going to look different to everyone. For me, there are no more "boxes" in my pantry. They have been replaced with spices, flour, home canned (and some store bought cans) of goods like tomatoes and tuna, a freezer full of pastured chicken, grass fed beef, venison from hubby's hunting and some wild hogs.
There are no boxes of Kraft anything in my pantry. No hamburger helper. If I want mac and cheese, I make it myself with noodles, cheese, milk and so on. It took a little surfing the web to find out how to make some of our favorites from scratch but now that I do, I no longer have to buy it at the store. And I no longer have to wonder what is in them!
Some of my homemade from now on things are:
BBQ sauce
Salad dressings
Bread-sandwich, french, hot dog & hamburger buns, crescent and dinner rolls and the best buttermilk biscuits.
Laundry Detergent, fabric softener and non toxic bleach
All cleaning products-seriously they are so easy to make and so much better for your house!

Those are a few of my everyday kind of things that I make myself. Your list may look very different.
I still have so many things that I want to add to that list like homemade shampoo/conditioner, shaving cream, soap and toothpaste but all of this needs to be done in baby steps. If you jump in and try to do everything all at once, you will quickly burn out and miss the benefits of being more self reliant. Pick one thing and stick with it. Perfect it as much as possible and give it time to become part of your normal routine. Once it is second nature, pick something else to try. Before you know it, you will be bypassing many aisles at the grocery store. That is a GOOD thing!

I still have my days (sometimes weeks) of not doing a great job at keeping the pantry stocked. Right now I am out of bread and a wee bit lazy about making more but I will do it because I now cannot stand the taste of grocery store bread anymore. I have to make the commitment to my family to do my best at doing what it takes to keep us all as healthy as possible. I have embraced my calling as a mom and wife and God gives me such grace to hold my ground and push forward because I know my family is counting on me. I have come to the realization that minor discomfort for me is worth it if it is in the best interest of my family!