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Christmas Buckeyes (peanut butter balls!)

christmas buckeyes

Every Christmas that I can ever remember involved Buckeyes! My mom would have an assembly line set up for my sister and I to help dip the frozen peanut butter balls, and despite the brightly frosted Christmas cookies that crowded the cookie plate on Christmas day, the chocolate peanut butter balls were my favorite from very young.

In the beginning of my real food journey, I played the strict card on holidays. And to be honest it was for good reason. I had many food allergies I was working through, and to blow all my hard work on one cookie would not have been worth it. If you are in a spot of really needing to avoid certain foods while you heal your gut, I promise you it is so worth skipping the treats for one year.

After a couple of years of skipping out on my holiday favorites despite having successfully worked through my gut issues, I decided there had to be a better way. Because, really…the holidays are more than just about food, BUT it is enjoyable to have a once a year treat like a Christmas cookie or Buckeye! And think about it…your great grandparents made Christmas goodies without the Crisco – it can be done with less processed ingredients.

I started playing around with how to bake in a more real food way, and as it turns out it really isn’t that difficult to make some real food swaps for the really processed ingredients some of us grew up on.

buckeyes peanut butter balls

I’m definitely not glorifying this as “health food”- sugar is still sugar. But if you are headed to a party or have a gathering set for your house, having an option like this is definitely better than most. And these are SO good!

Christmas Buckeyes
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (if you use something that has more than just peanuts like salt, sugar, or oils added you will have to play around with the salt, sugar, and flour amounts for the right taste and consistency – it will still work – taste as you go along and you are looking for a stiff cookie dough consistency.)
  • ¼ cup soft butter (not melted though)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup organic pure cane powdered sugar
  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • 1 – 10oz bag Enjoy Life Chocolate chips or chunks
Instructions
  1. Combine everything but the chocolate in a medium mixing bowl using hand beaters.
  2. Roll the peanut butter mixture into balls and place them on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze for one hour.
  3. Use a double boiler method to melt the chocolate. (Or frankly a microwave works fine – it’s not like there’s much nourishment in the chocolate chips to be destroyed by the microwave! Just do 10 second increments and stir in between until melted)
  4. Use a toothpick to pick up the peanut butter balls and dip in the melted chocolate and then place the dipped peanut butter balls back on the Silpat lined baking sheet. If your chocolate begins to cool off too much and gets thick just melt it again.
  5. Freeze the dipped buckeyes for an hour to set the chocolate.

So keep me posted if you try these out for your holiday parties!

homemade peanut butter balls

 

Note from Donielle.

So. Do you call them Buckeyes? Or Peanut Butter Balls? 

When Renee said she wanted to do recipe post for buckeyes I had to figure out what she meant! And peanut butter balls were always a favorite of mine as well. Except I’m pretty certain my mom added wax to her chocolate. Ewww! I’m definitely making these to bring to a Christmas Eve party. (as an added bonus, they are gluten free.)

Gluten free coffee cake (easy peasy overnight cake)

gluten free coffee cake

One of my favorite parts of winter is the smell of baked goods in the oven. It can make the whole house smell comforting and warm. And the holidays are often times when our ovens are constantly filled with cookies, cakes and pies.

I love bringing baked goods to gatherings and I enjoy making deserts that people love. (I also love that I can bake something and people are totally shocked that it is gluten-free)

This coffee cake recipe is one that was passed to me from a woman I used to work with, she brought it to all of our work parties. I doubt she got to bring any home because I know I was not the only one that ate more than once piece!

homemade coffee cake

I’ve played with the recipe over the years as we moved from conventional baking to being gluten-free and it passes with flying colors. In fact, we have family come visit once a year and their request is always this cake, the last time they came I served the gluten-free version. Nobody noticed it was different.

Another thing about this cake that rocks is that it is an over night cake. That’s right. You throw it together the night before and then bake it in the morning. Who doesn’t love waking up to the smell of cinnamon and eating a piece of yummy cake with a cup of coffee?? This is perfect for those mornings you want something special but know you won’t have time when you get up to prepare something elaborate. 

I’ve used this for Thanksgiving morning when we have company. Everyone loves it. Plus, it totally frees me up to get the other food going. We all know how busy Thanksgiving or Christmas morning can be when it comes to food prep. This overnight gluten free coffee cake is perfect to handle the breakfast crowd.

Gluten Free overnight coffee cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of gluten free flour mix (available on Amazon)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 1½ cups evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (can sub full fat sour cream)
  • TOPPING
  • ½ cup evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Combine the ingredients for toppings and set aside
  2. Grease and flour a 9X13 pan
  3. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy
  5. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with butter milk, beating well after each addition
  6. Spread batter into pan and sprinkle topping mixture on
  7. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight
  8. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes
  9. Serve warm

If you don’t have a favorite gluten-free mix, I have used a mix of brown rice flour, tapioca starch and xantham gum and it works well for this recipe.

Also, in a pinch, if you don’t have sour cream or buttermilk you can sour your own milk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to the milk. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes before adding to the recipe.

If you do not need to be gluten free, you may easily use your favorite flour instead of gluten free flour. 

There are a lot of ingredients but the cake comes together quickly. This is a big cake so it is perfect for gatherings! I promise everyone will love it. Serve with coffee and some fresh fruit salad and you have a wonderfully easy breakfast menu already laid out for you.

Holidays are a great time to start traditions, this is one of ours. I can easily see how this will continue on in our family.

Tell me, what are some of your traditional holiday breakfasts? 

easy coffee cake

 

Note from Donielle.

I know. This coffee cake totally has sugar in it and I’m expecting the food police to come out in full force! I don’t advocate eating this every day – or any other high sugar foods for that matter. But I also believe that we can learn to enjoy foods like this with our families on special occasions. My family and I have a tradition of baking cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning and it’s something we look forward to all year.

As an added note, Jessica is a local friend of mine and she brought this over last month. We ate a piece of coffee cake and sipped coffee while we chatted about health and nutrition. It truly is delicious!

Honey Cinnamon Gluten Free Granola

When I was in high school I started my day with a large fresh deli bagel and a soup bowl of cinnamon raisin granola with vanilla yogurt.

In other words, a sugar bomb.

And I could never figure out why I was sluggish yet shaky and starving an hour later, unable to eat anything until 11:40 lunch hour.

Around that time I began to nanny for a family who (gasp!) MADE THEIR OWN FOOD.

They made granola, baked bread, harvested basil when they wanted pesto, made birthday cakes from scratch and it not only intrigued me but completely lit me up.

The door to a whole new world opened up for me.

gluten free granola

First my family thought it was fun, then they thought it was weird (because I made them taste everything I made and it wasn’t always great), and for years now they have been inspired and quite willing to be the lucky recipient of whatever might come out of this little kitchen of mine….except for that notoriously bad stir-fry night.

My family and boyfriend (now husband) also thought it strange that I could eat any food at any time-versus only “breakfast” food in the morning, “dinner” things in the evening, and a sandwich for lunch.  I had started heating my dinner for breakfast and making omelets for dinner.  When I introduced my granola that was great to eat anytime, anywhere…they no longer thought this “healthy eating” thing was so strange.

This recipe is simple, easily adaptable and quite forgiving.  I’ve started to track every single time I make it because my husband will say, “That one!  Make that one again!” and I’ve found it’s easier to look back on my notes than it is to recall when I was in the kitchen a week ago and three recipe creations later.

Granola is an awesome and nutritious convenience food, and here’s why:

  • Almonds are a great source of riboflavin and L-carnitine, which are two brain nutrients vital to increased brain activity.  They are a healthy mono-unsaturated fat making them super heart healthy.
  • Cinnamon is long known to be a great blood sugar stabilizer.
  • Honey, locally sourced and taken at a few teaspoons per day is a fantastic way to boost your body’s ability to alleviate allergy symptoms.
  • Coconut oil has a high level of Lauric acid and medium chain fatty acid content helps to boost metabolism (among a myriad of other benefits).
  • These ingredients are often found in many pantries, making this recipe easy to put together.

This recipe is naturally gluten-free, but if you have celiac make sure to purchase oats that are certified gluten-free.

Honey Cinnamon Granola
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted and 1 tablespoon, set aside
  • 1 cup raw honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Oil the baking dish (for granola's I use my big Pampered Chef stoneware roasting pan) with 1 tablespoon coconut oil to avoid granola sticking to the bottom and the soaking after that goes along with it.
  3. In a small saucepan on low, heat the coconut oil and raw honey.
  4. Pour into the pain, the oats through cinnamon ingredients and using clean hands, toss them together. I love the cool feel of the oats on my hands.
  5. When honey and coconut oil are melted and blended together well, drizzle onto granola ingredients and stir to combine.
  6. Set in oven, stirring every 30-45 minutes until done to your preference. Granola should begin to turn light brown and will have a light crunch to it.
  7. Let cool before serving.

 

What are your favorite granola ingredients?

Getting through the holidays with food allergies/sensitivities

holidays with allergies

When you are a person dealing with food allergies and sensitivities eating out can be like navigating a mine field. I’ve learned from the start that even well-meaning family and friends don’t always ‘get’ the allergy. “Oh, you can’t drink milk? It’s okay to have just a little cheese though, right? That’s not REALLY milk.” Sigh.

The holidays are a joyful time of family gatherings, often centered around a meal. For someone with food allergies this can be totally stressful. It is stressful  to worry about what you are going to eat but also how not to offend someone when you have to avoid certain foods like the plague.

Having to work around food allergies myself, I really have learned how to strike a balance as to not stress about food. It is damaging to the body and we have enough stress that we shouldn’t have added food stress to our lives.

Decide what is negotiable and what isn’t when it comes to your restrictions.

For me, I need to avoid almonds, gluten, dairy and eggs. That is a tall order. Of those things I absolutely cannot handle eggs. My reaction is too high. However, I know my body can handle a bit of butter and cheese so I don’t mind once in a while if my food has some.

I know this is not possible for people with full-blown allergies but for some of us, the stress of not being super restrictive during the holidays relieves a burden.

Tips for the holidays with food allergies

1. Eat well while at a home

Avoid the food that bothers you while you are at home! I know, it’s hard. Everyone is sending cookies and candies and treats, but save the indulgences (or negotiable foods)  for when you are out and about. You will enjoy the events more because you won’t be feeling icky.

2. Drinks lots of water

You should always keep yourself hydrated for every day health. When you are possibly getting food that might not agree with you, it is even more important to keep the water flowing as it will help flush out your digestive system. Adding a touch of lemon will also help as it will aid your liver in functioning.

3. Eat your veggies

I know it’s more difficult in the winter, but you really want to get your greens in! Have a smoothie to replace your breakfast on a day that you know you’ll be around food that you don’t normally eat. Starting the day off with a good portion of veggies is just going to help your body maintain homeostasis so much better.

If there is a salad or veggie tray around, load up on it! You don’t have to have junk to take part in sharing a meal if there is a vegetable tray available.

holidays and food sensitivities

4. Eat before you go the event

It may sound counter productive, but eat before you go! Eat just enough that you aren’t stuffed but enough that you won’t be tempted by  the food you can’t eat. There is nothing worse than be surrounded by food you can’t then being surrounded by food you can’t eat while STARVING! 

5. Bring a dish to share

Don’t even ask, just bring a dish to share. Bringing food that you know you can eat cuts down on the stress of not knowing what is going to be available. Just one item will give you the ease of not feeling funny about not eating when everyone is else is eating.

6. Make treats and freeze them so they are quickly available

If you’re feeling sad about passing up the cheesecake loaded with dairy, you can look forward to the nice treat you know you have waiting for you at home! I love being able to pull out some allergy friendly cookies when I get home. This is how I don’t feel deprived of dessert. We all know how important dessert can be. ;)

7. Keep up with your supplements

When you do stray off course with food, it’s really important to stick to your supplement routine. Your body needs those nutrients and too many changes can make for a miserable belly and weaken your immune system. (If you need some ideas on keeping your immune system happy, check out these ideas.)

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make sure you are eating extra cultured foods and beverages to add to your healthy gut bacteria.

So many times I get caught up in food issues that I had to take time to really think HOW I could deal with eating out and with others without the fuss. I have seen so many people alienate themselves over food and it breaks my heart that it comes down to that.

And I also know how important it is to keep your gut happy and healthy. Having a plan in place is going to help keep that gut happy and you less stressed about eating out.

I know I’m not the only one dealing with food sensitivities, what are your favorites tips when dealing with eating at gatherings? 

 

Do you believe there is an emotional connection with Endometriosis?

When you have been on this healthy wagon for a while  (picture me, with a piece of straw in my mouth, being carted off to pick apples! ) you probably have come across suggestions that every disease or condition has an emotional link and that we need to work on clearing those emotional triggers and pains in our body to truly release the disease we are experiencing.

To be honest, when I first heard this it made me feel very upset. It made me feel powerless and attacked. I mean, who are these people to say that my issues are worse than theirs? Surely, we all have “stuff” from our past that influences our present life and why did my “stuff” have to supposedly present itself in the form of Endometriosis. Right? Besides, hasn’t Endometriosis been directly linked to Dioxins found in pesticides and fungicides which we have been spraying on our foods for years?

emotions and endometriosis

The funny thing was that the more I got told that my Endometriosis and my struggles with it were somehow linked to my emotions, the more it seemed to get my back up and make me angry. I think the reason it made me so angry was that I felt like people didn’t understand how much I had already been through with the condition and suggesting that I had created it seemed somehow daft and unfair. I especially hated suggestions that my Endometriosis was linked to a feeling of low self-worth. This one really got to me because surely we have all felt this on some level before and yet, we don’t all have Endometriosis.

One night I got really angry with a friend of mine who suggested that perhaps there was actually some truth to these statements I kept reading about. She suggested that I should allow it to be considered as an option because she knew a way I could clear that emotional feeling from my body which wouldn’t hurt or be horrible. She simply said, I should listen to my body and thoughts that come up when those kind of statements come up.

This is what came up for me:

  • I felt powerless
  • I felt like I was a victim of my own thoughts
  • It made me feel guilty
  • It made me hate myself and my body
  • It made me feel weak and pathetic
  • I felt like I could never get rid of it
  • It felt bigger than me and out of control

Wow! Those were scary thoughts and feelings and I could see why I had resisted ever considering that my emotional pain would have anything to do with my Endometriosis being there or playing a part in it getting worse.

emotional connections with endometriosis

Emotional connections with endometriosis

I think many of us with Endometriosis get upset and angry when others suggest that we could be making Endometriosis by our own thoughts and emotional connections – our “stuff”. We already feel like a victim for having Endometriosis and the thought or possibility that it could actually be something we are doing to ourselves, is horrible. It is so much easier to focus on changing our diet, doing Yoga and getting that sense of control you get when you get to choose what you put in your mouth. With thoughts, they feel uncontrollable and so linked to our past. It is like our emotional stuff comes up when it feels like it and dominates us, without us having a say in it.

I recognised a few key things with my personal emotional connection and Endometriosis:

  • Statements like “I am not enough” and “I am not worth it” created a feeling of pain in my body. Not specifically Endometriosis pain but when I heard those statements, I felt they were true on some level and made me feel sad.
  • When I felt really stressed and that “I can’t do this” stuff came up, my Endometriosis definitely flared up.
  • During extremely low points in my life, where I felt unsure and unhappy with myself, my Endometriosis got worse.

I also did an exercise where I looked at my past and when the Endometriosis developed and it was during one of the hardest times of my life. My father was shot and I had lost a relationship I was deeply committed to at a very young age – 19 years old.

 

The thing is, we will never really know how much Endometriosis and our emotions are linked. I believe they are and have found it interesting how much I hear stories which tie in with Endometriosis.

As much as I never wanted to admit or confront these emotions and feelings…. I eventually did and when I free’d them, it was amazing how much my Endometriosis pain and symptoms magically disappeared.

There is truth to this stuff. We just have to be willing to confront it.

Because of my experience, I have gone on to develop a program which fully supports women with Endometriosis and releasing their emotional pain from the body.

 

Do you believe there is an emotional connection with Endometriosis? Do these kinds of statements and suggestions get your back up? Feel free to share your thoughts.

How to avoid the afternoon energy slump

avoiding afternoon energy crash

Avoid the afternoon slump with energy boosting lunches, ladies!

You know the drill.

You sleep in because of the late meeting the night before (er, dancing with your girlfriends).

Since you didn’t work out (see the line above), you figured there’s no need for the protein drink so grab a coffee from Starbucks on your drive in instead.

As your stomach begins to grumble and growl on your way to the 10 a.m. meeting and you’re grateful when your boss shows up with bakery muffins in hand (they are even gluten free!)

You’re so tired that productivity isn’t happening and you’re determined to turn that around.

So you skip lunch.  Or grab an apple.  And more coffee.

By 3pm you’re falling asleep and attempt a jog to the water cooler, urging those endorphins to kick in, pleading with adrenaline to wake you up and breathe a sigh of relief when you see your BWB (Best Work Buddy) dropped a dark chocolate bar on your desk while you were out (for a jog).

What happens next is why Sumo wrestlers are so successful.

And huge.

You get home after a long day of work where you got nothing accomplished, you open the fridge and invite yourself to your version of the Old Country Buffet.

And tomorrow you make better choices to make up for today until your friends call you to join them for drinks or a late night movie again…

This isn’t to make you wrong about the choices you’re making.

And I’m not just talking about YOU. I can say this because it’s a life I lived to a certain degree, and I think it’s one every woman dabbles in-for a little while anyway.

Let me share with you how I avoid the afternoon slump with the right kind of foods.

eat for afternoon energy

Components of an Energy Boosting Lunch:

1. Healthy Fat

This could look like nuts, nut butters, seeds, mayonnaise, avocado, full fat coconut milk, olive-coconut-or grape seed oil.

2. Protein

We don’t usually think of eggs as a lunch item, but boiled on a salad or a piece of quiche is a fantastic option here.  Nitrate free deli meats are another easy way to go.  A current favorite of mine is a turkey wrapped pickle-or four.  Re-heat last night’s dinner of grilled shrimp kebabs or steak fajitas. Chicken soup is another great choice for getting in some protein.

3. Carbohydrates

What makes us so tired is the wrong source of carbs.  When we think of carbs we think of bread and pasta.  But when I think of carbs I think of a rainbow of color.  Our plates should be colorful when we look at them (not the paint, the food itself).  We want to a void the browns and creams of a carb filled plate of half a bagel with peanut butter and a bit of pasta salad.  Instead we want fruits and vegetables, with a heavy emphasis on the veggies.

Don’t forget to take a walk on the wild side with those veggies-we seem to stay in the safety zone of carrots, celery and perhaps cucumbers.  Roast a pan of colored veggies: beets, potatoes, red/yellow/orange/green bell peppers, green onions, and cut carrots with some olive oil, herbs and garlic and you’ve got something you can scoop into and add to your lunch every day for nearly a week.

With the above combination you’ll meet your needs nutritionally, give your brain the boost it needs and keep your blood sugar steady, which will allow you to be productive, alert and full of energy.  It’s in this space where time and opportunity magically appear for you feel so great and being you feels effortless.

So tell me ladies, what are you putting in your lunch tomorrow?

6 Things to do daily that boost your immune system

how to prevent the flu

written by contributor Jessica

As summer comes to a close, it’s time to look forward to fall and winter weather. Yup, I know, it feels like summer just started didn’t it??  I really do love each season, but I could do with winter being a tiny bit shorter…or less cold….or at least less snow.

The transition time between summer and fall  is the time I start to look at what herbs, supplements, and oils I want on hand for the cold and flu season. I don’t like to be caught off guard and like to be prepared with things to reduce cold and flu symptoms. (Nobody likes to be sick or running to the store when you are sick. Blah!)

But, my motto is, ‘prevention is best’ when it comes to just about any ailments. Besides looking at what I like to have around when we are sick, I like to look at what we need to help prevent us from being sick. Those range from herbs, supplements and oils when symptoms start, to things that I like to make part of our daily routine.

There are so many things you can do to help boost your immune system to help ward of those germs. Most of them are pretty easy to incorporate into your day! (I promise- because if it isn’t easy, it doesn’t happen at my home either!)

1. Keep your gut happy

80% of our immune system is in our gut so if your gut isn’t up to par, your ability to fight illness will not be either! Cold and flu season is the time to buckle down and eat well. Cut out the foods you know bother you, back away from the Doritos (I know, I know!), and cut down on your sugar consumption.

Feeling like you’re having trouble digesting? Take enzymes with your meals or use herbal bitters. These items will help you digest your food and will make it is easier on the system. This makes for an overall, healthier gut.

Also, feed your gut some good bacteria. Incorporate fermented foods and drinks into your daily diet. They range from kefir, kombucha, to sauerkraut and sour dough bread. Full of healthy bacteria and they taste good.

Is that not your thing? Then get a good quality probiotic and take it daily. (you can find good probiotics at health food stores or online at Beeyoutiful)

2. Get to bed on time

Sigh…this one is hard for me. I like to stay up when the house is quiet. However, this is not good for my adrenals or my immune system.

The body needs to get rest and sleep. Sleep is when the body recharges and works on repair. If you are not getting the sleep you need, your body is not building up the way it should. Now a late night here or there isn’t what gets you…it’s when you make a habit of going to bed late. If you’ve been exposed to an illness, then it even more important to get those hours of sleep logged in. Your body needs to fight those germs!

For me, I try to get to bed at a good time five night out of the week. It’s best to start by turning off those screens and doing something relaxing. A good book and a soak with epsom salts and essentials oils (which is also great for building up the immune system!) sets the tone for me to go crawl in bed and tune out the world.

3. Move lymph fluid

The lymph system helps carry things out of your system. You want your lymph system to be moving and healthy to beat off illness. There are a lot of ways to do this and picking just one a day is going to help keep your body healthy and happy. One of the easiest ones for me has been dry skin brushing.

Skin brushing involves getting a natural bristle brush (available on Amazon) and brushing your skin before your shower or bath. The bristles stimulate the lymph and help it move through the proper channels. (This is also awesome for stretch marks and cellulite!) Check out this video on the more specifics of how to skin brush.

The truth is, any type of physical movement is great for keeping the fluid moving. Rebounding and TTapp are really awesome for this as well.

4. Keep up with the water

Yes, something as simple as drinking water helps keep the immune system healthy. Water helps to flush our bodies of toxins. It is so easy in the winter time to not drink enough water. But, it is really important to remain hydrated so your body is functioning at its best.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important vitamin in our body. Keeping up the proper levels will help the immune system function better. Increasing the amount you take if you start to feel symptoms can some times be enough to stop that illness right in its tracks!! My favorite way to get vitamin C is in citrus fruit, but there are a lot of good supplement out there to have on hand for daily use.

For an herbal vitamin C boost, reach for rose hips or hibiscus. They work well for daily tea infusions and are fully of vitamin C. (you can find them at Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herb Store)

echinecea for immune system

6. Herbs

One of my favorite topics, so I saved it for last. Herbs are amazing for helping reduce cold/flu symptoms but did you know that there are herbs that are great at boosting the immune system? Yes, there are!

Medicinal mushrooms like chaga and reshi, are great in tincture form to give your system a daily push. The best part about the medicinal mushrooms is that they help modulate the immune system, not just boost it. Basically, they help give your system what it needs.

Astragalus is another great herb for daily use. It can help repair and build the immune system without stimulating it. (This is a great option for those with autoimmune conditions)

Echinacea, while a great boost to the immune system can be too much for daily use. (You can also grow immune to it) It can also over stimulate your immune system is your system is already compromised.

You can find all of these herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs.

 

See, as promised, the above steps are so easy to make part of your daily routine to keep your immune system fighting of the winter yucks.

So, tell me, what are your favorite tips and tricks to keeping well over the winter?

 

 

Rainbow Baby Thoughts : pregnancy & post partum after miscarriage

rainbow baby thoughts

This post is written by contributing writer, Renee.

“You’ll get pregnant again.”

“Don’t worry, you have 2 other babies so your body knows how to get pregnant. You’ll have another baby.”

“I’m sure you’ll get pregnant again – this just wasn’t the right timing and it will be just perfect next time around.”

Certainly not the most helpful of things to say to someone right after miscarriage.

And yet, I did long to get pregnant again. And while I spent the next couple of months learning a new normal, trying to figure out how to grieve the loss of a baby I never met, and healing my body, without much thought, I found myself staring at another positive pregnancy test.

Only this time, the tears were out of fear instead of happiness. My heart racing was out of anxiety instead of joy.

It was really hard to type that. How could I possibly admit that I was not excited about being pregnant?

Because the emotions were still so raw.

Because the nightmares were still happening.

Because the feelings of being alone and scared staring at a blank ultrasound screen when there was supposed to be a little bean with a heartbeat there were still so vivid.

Because being discharged from the emergency room and told your “never really a baby” blighted ovum was already gone, and you will probably just have some bleeding like a period for a few days was so far from true. When labor pains started so intense it reminded me of my first delivery, and my husband stood by my side wondering how this could be normal, I have never been so frightened. When the contractions were ramping up and down like every other labor I had, I never felt so alone.

There I stood. Never being told that I would probably pass “tissue” in the primal form of a real baby, I was not prepared for what I saw, and I still get chills thinking about it today.

So how could I possibly move on to prepare for another baby when the grief from the miscarriage was still there, and the fear of going through it all over again was in the front of my mind?

One day at a time.

Some days were pure joy. Seeing an ultrasound heartbeat at 6 weeks and then hearing it again at 10 weeks. Pulling out the maternity clothes, feeling the baby kick, and finding out we were having (another!) girl.

Other days I could hardly get out of bed. Friends that had been pregnant at the same time I miscarried having their babies. The day that would have been my baby’s due date. The days following that due date wondering how things would have been different.

The pregnancy was more of a roller coaster than I want to admit. I never truly experienced relief from grief. Or ever really admitted grief for that matter. And yet…I think I connected to this baby in a way that I never knew could exist.

She would move the instant I would start fearing miscarriage to reassure me. In fact she started kicking the earliest of my girls, and the relief of feeling life and movement at 14 weeks was more than I could hope for. She would be still when I just needed sleep. The name God chose for us to call her means “pure trusting faith” and every time I would worry, I could sing her name to her.

Her delivery was probably the most enjoyable and relaxed experience I have ever had. Beautiful home laboring and practically fell out at the hospital with a half push. She latched right on, gazed directly into my eyes and put her hand on my heart. She is the most beautiful miracle rainbow baby. Her smile is as big as the ocean and she has stolen our hearts.

And while she has absolutely “completed” our family…I still have days where I am definitely not complete.

She did not “replace” the baby I miscarried. She isn’t the one that “made up for” losing a baby. There are days that I stare at the “forget me not” gift my mom gave me after losing my baby and cry. There are days where I scold myself for being selfish for wanting both my miscarried baby and my sweet rainbow baby.

What I have learned in the 9 months of being pregnant, and the subsequent first year of having a baby after miscarriage is…you never forget that baby. And since you never forget that baby, it is so important to grieve her. The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and move on” mentality is more crippling than anything in this world.

So crippling that as I sleeplessly rocked my 1 month old to sleep on September 25 of last year, I was not thinking about if I should change her diaper. I was re-living the nightmare of that night in the ER. I could still hear the voice of that ER doctor taking my vision of a baby away and making it into a lifeless tissue that was never a being.

miscarriage memorial tulips

So crippling that as I chased around my newly toddling and cruising 8 month old outside by the sprouting tulips I was not thinking about catching her next fall. I was heartbroken as I remembered planting those tulip bulbs with my oldest in anticipation of them blooming right about when that baby was supposed to have been born.

Don’t get me wrong. I have enjoyed every milestone, snuggle, and smile. In fact, I probably savored them more than I did with my other two girls sadly. It is impossible to take those things for granted after going through that kind of loss. If I could go back I would allow myself to not just “pull it together” and get on with life.

My sweet rainbow baby turned 1 on August 28th. In the year since her birth I have learned the importance of allowing myself days to grieve and process what would have been her big sister. Letting myself make our angel baby a part of our family has helped make my family feel more complete.

My scars are still healing. Because when you keep pulling off the scab instead of just letting it take the time to heal underneath, it always takes longer.

tulips miscarriage and rainbow baby

5 Things you probably don’t know about Endometriosis

endometriosis

I remember the first day of finding out about Endometriosis. I was sitting across from my Gynaecologist and he attempted to explain exactly what the condition was to me. Words like cysts, adhesions and things being in places where they shouldn’t be, kinda started swirling around in  my head. They were swirling because only a week ago, I had received my first Laparoscopy and I was still feeling the tenderness of the operation – combined of course with all the pain-killers I was on at the time!

Initially, all I understood about Endometriosis was that it was made worse with excess hormones in my body and by taking a synthetic hormone like the pill, Danazol or any other options my doctor presented to me, I would be able to stop it from growing. To me, stopping it from growing sounded good. Ultimately, the pain was made worse by these adhesions and cysts so I just wanted those to reduce and stop. Perhaps this is all you understand about Endometriosis at this point too…. a hormonal imbalance?

After 15years of trying all those hormonal treatments and trying to “stop the Endometriosis from growing”, I have learned a few things about Endometriosis, which I wish someone had told me about, in those first few days of finding out I had Endometriosis.

 5 things you probably don’t know about Endometriosis

1. Our hormone imbalances stem from somewhere

I just kinda accepted that hormone imbalances were just part of having Endometriosis. I never truly understood what they were or how they might influence Endometriosis. I can tell you that most of us with Endo, suffer from excess oestrogens in the body, which means…. in simple terms, we tend to encourage more growths in our bodies. These excess oestrogen reactions are often in the form of xenoestrogens which are environmental pollutants which our bodies perceive as hormones. Things like plastics, cosmetics and household cleaning products contain them.

Obviously we can avoid many of these environmental toxins but the key thing we want to do is figure out a better cleansing system within our bodies to flush them out. Which leads me onto my next point…..

 

2. The liver regulates and flushes out excess hormones

When we clean up our liver – reduce bad fats, excess sugars, eating more dark leafy greens and doing some good cleanses, our hormone imbalances substantially reduce along with it. The liver regulates our hormones and when it is stagnant (I reckon 80% of Endometriosis Women have a stagnant liver), then these hormones don’t leave the body and are simply recirculated.

 

3. It is an auto-immune condition

Endometriosis is often described as an inflammatory condition. Inflammation is a way our body protects us from danger. Tissues become inflamed to draw extra nutrients and blood to the area. With Endometriosis, the body is exaggerating this response, which is why many of us experience bloating and a heightened sense of inflammation in our abdominal area. Much the same way our bodies over react to pollen, the same can be said for an over reaction to these dispersed cells in the abdominal cavity. We can naturally reduce this response by the body by reducing inflammation and by minimising this auto-immune response.

 

4. Candida is closely related to Endometriosis

Candida is a fungus that lives in the digestive system and can live there, quite comfortably without causing any harm. In cases of Endometriosis it is believed that Candida has become systemic (has entered the blood stream and spread to other areas of the body). This is why many women with Endometriosis often experience thrush and digestive issues. You can send Candida packing with a plant rich diet, plenty of natural sunshine and herbs you can drink in a decoction or tea.

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5. Surgery as a treatment plan

I went through 7 operations with Endometriosis and believed that this was my best option for reducing it spreading. It was only after years of research that I discovered that with every surgery, the body will repair internal damage with more adhesions and scaring. Over years of having operations, this could be making pain and inflammation worse as the body is in a constant state of repair more. You can read more about this through the articles on my site: Adhesions with Endometriosis. 

 

The good news with all of this is that you now have a whole range of approaches to try for Endometriosis. There is more choice to feeling better than just hormone treatments, surgery and pain-killers! Try focusing on the liver, candida and reducing inflammation in the body.

 

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Endometriosis can seem like an incredibly complex condition but I like to approach it from different angles using nothing but holistic approaches.

It gives us an endless selection of things to try to explore – certainly taking away any of that feeling of helplessness :)

 

If you have endometriosis, what things have you done to reduce your pain and symptoms?

Gluten-free apple crisp

A recipe by contributing writer, Jessica who blogs at Simply Healthy Home.recipes for fertility

While I always find it a little bit sad to end a season, I can’t help but love some of the transitions. My favorite being summer turning into fall. The excitement as the air is a bit cooler at night or you start to hear the crunch of leaves as you walk across the grass, fall is beautiful.

Autumn is also probably my favorite time to bake. With the fresh bounty of new vegetables and fruits, the oven warms the house on the slightly cooler mornings and evenings. Squash, pumpkins and apples become readily available and I love to take advantage of the times when I can eat and use fresh, local produce.

Apple time is a busy time, but a fun one. We love to go apple picking and come home to make all sorts of goodies…applesauce, apple pie, dried apple rings and one of our all time favorites, apple crisp.

Apple crisp is less labor intensive than pie, but always yields a  happy response from those that get to enjoy it. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got something good going on! The crisp is easy to throw together and it’s not picky so even the less experienced baker can enjoy making this treat!

homemade apple crisp

With the apple crisp being a little less particular, this recipe was also super easy to convert to be gluten-free. Awesome, right? While the directions below are for a gluten-free apple crisp, you can sub exactly one cup of flour for the rice flour and tapioca starch.

Need a bigger serving? No problem. If you double this recipe, it fits well into a 9×13 baking dish, which is the perfect size to bring to potlucks and family events.

Are you dairy-free? That’s easy to fix. Just substitute coconut oil for the butter and an extra pinch of salt to make up for using salted butter with the topping.

gluten free apple crisp

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten-free apple crisp
 
A fall recipe for gluten-free apple crisp.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of peeled, sliced apples
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • ¾ cup evaporated cane juice crystals (easily found on Amazon)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
Instructions
  1. Grease an 8 inch baking dish and preheat oven to 375
  2. Melt butter and set aside
  3. With a fork, work eat into flour mixture and set aside
  4. Peel and thinly slice apples
  5. Place apples in greased baking dish
  6. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the apples
  7. Drizzle butter over the whole mixture
  8. Bake for around 45 minutes, until the top is a golden brown.
  9. Serve warm (With ice cream!)

I can guarantee, this simple recipe will quickly become a favorite. I have brought this to plenty of events and I never return home with any left in the baking dish.

I also love to make this as a dessert when bringing a meal to a family in need. Apple crisp tends to be a favorite among people of all ages.

With the fall season approaching, tell me, what are your favorite ways to use apples? I’m always looking for new ideas to try!

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