My favorite things (winter edition)

There are some items that I end up using so much more in the winter, what with the cold and dry air, I thought I’d share a few of my “must haves” with you all.

favorites_jan14

And seriously?! What’s up with this winter? January has been tough with all of the well below normal temperatures and we’ve been getting plenty of snow as well. And the snow wouldn’t be so horrible if it also didn’t come with wind that’s drifting over all of our roads, making some of them impassable. It got so bad a few times that our county pulled the plows off the roads after 5pm a few nights in a row because they simply couldn’t keep up!

There were even many days that Todd had to snowblow twice just to keep our driveway open. Only to get stuck trying to get to work the next morning due to the wind drifting it over again. I don’t think our old Toro snowblower has seen this much use in many years – just hoping it holds out until winter is over!

 

Hard lotion bars

Hard Lotion

Renee from MadeOn Lotion contacted me a few years ago now to review her products and I’ve used them ever since. They are solid bars made from a mix of oils and I love to have her au chocolat bar in my purse for when I’m out and about and need to moisturize my hands. It’s also great for protecting windblown cheeks. And the smell is fabulous of course, just like cocoa.

As an added bonus, it’s made with only a few ingredients and non-toxic.

I also used her DIY kit to make myself some chapstick and boy have I gone through it this year! Doesn’t help that my dog has also decided HE likes it, so I have lost a couple of tubes out of my purse to him. I’m guarding my last tube with my life before I find the time to make more.

 

Handmade soaps

madeonsoap

Also from MadeOn Lotion are soaps handmade using goat milk has been super nourishing for my skin this year! I love how it doesn’t dry my skin out in the shower. In true “MadeOn form” it’s also non-toxic and made using no synthetic fragrances. It lathers well and seems to last longer than other natural soaps I’ve tried.

 

Vaporizer

I know that cool mist humidifiers are supposed to be the way to go, but I love me an old-fashioned vaporizer!  I’ve been using it in our bedroom at night since the air is super dry, causing congestion and mouth breathing. (a.k.a. snoring – sorry honey!) I fill it only about halfway so that it doesn’t run all eight or nine hours I sleep since it tends to warm up the room a bit, but having the extra moisture in the air sure has been helpful in getting a full nights sleep.

I bought mine a few years ago from a local Pharmacy, but it’s very similar to this Vick’s one on Amazon.

 

Peppermint essential oil

The dark and dreary days of winter tend to get to me by this time in January, especially this year! We’ve had super cold weather for days on end and lots of snow as well. (and has anyone else notice we’ve followed the weather pattern from Little House on the Prairie?! From their grasshopper summer to our “Long Winter”?)

On days where I need a bit of a boost, I like to defuse or steam peppermint oil in the house. I also like citrus but it drives my cat crazy, like she howls at the doors to get out and paces everywhere, so I stick to simple peppermint.

I have a few different brands of peppermint essential oil, but I also plan on trying out Tropical Traditions new oils. They just released them and they list a lot of information about each oil which I appreciate, and they are affordable.

 

Minty-nilla lotion

mintynilla

Keeping my theme of taking care of my skin and loving peppermint, this Minty-nilla lotion from GetSmelly.com is fabulous. I love it for an all over lotion when I get out of the shower as well as after hand washing.

It’s also non-toxic so I feel extra safe having it in my home.

 

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode:

survival mode

9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life

Spending time reading is one of my favorite things to do and I sure wish I had more time to sit with a nice hot cup of chai and finish book after book. During the winter I tend to have more time since we’re often stuck inside or even stuck at home, so I’ve been reading a few books off my shelves.

I received a pre-release copy of Crystal Paine’s new book at a conference in October and just started reading through it this month. It’s full of great information and feasible steps to get out of survival mode so you can get through your day without feeling super overwhelmed. Much of what’s in the book I had to discover myself years ago when I first found myself floundering and beginning to deal with adrenal fatigue due to stress and man-oh-man I wish I would have had this resource back then!

Even now it’s been a great way to see things differently and I’m slowly starting to implement a few of her ideas.

 

 What are some of your favorite things this time of year?



Engaging those who question our choices

Pursuing natural alternatives to more traditional medicines and treatments is a deeply personal decision, and one which many of us do not take lightly. My husband and I often spend hours analyzing research and weighing our findings against our beliefs, our health history, and our personal preferences. Sometimes we decide that a more traditional medical approach is best, but most of the time we pursue more natural alternative therapies.

The thing is, no one raises an eyebrow if we mention that our doctor recommended such and such treatment. But you can probably imagine the looks and questions we get when we mention an herbal remedy, essential oil, or diet change that we’re trying for a common (or sometimes not so common) ailment.

I think sometimes people assume that because we choose a natural remedy or therapy, we are just crazy hippies stuck in the last century who must not have done our homework, and who are diametrically opposed to modern medicine and science. And sometimes I struggle with how to respond to questions from people who I know disagree with our decisions.

Oh but the need for grace pops up everywhere, doesn’t it? We stand in constant need of grace from others, and likewise, they stand in need of grace from us.

Engaging those who question or disagree with our decision to pursue natural alternatives    (www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com)

I’ve found three tips to remember when engaging friends and family members who disagree with, or question our decision to pursue a more natural lifestyle and alternative medicines:

1. Remember that just because a natural remedy or practice is best for me, it may not be for everyone.

When we’re faced with perceived criticism or questions regarding our health-related decisions, my husband and I strive to remember that our decisions and preferences are unique to us. We often remind our friends of this by simply stating, “We know this isn’t for everyone, but we’re pleased with our decision to _______.” Sometimes a simple acknowledgement that we aren’t trying to convert or convince anyone to do it our way helps keep the conversation peaceful.

2. Remember that for many, we’re the “expert” on the matter. But really, we’re not experts.

I’ll never forget the time I suggested to a friend to try essential oils for a migraine. I’d personally alleviated a migraine using essential oils, so I felt confident in recommending they try it too. Unfortunately I failed to consider that this friend had a long family history of debilitating migraines, while I’ve only had a few in my life. When they asked why essential oils would work, I had no answer for them. I just knew that they had helped me.

For many of our friends and family members, you and I are the most knowledgeable person they know when it comes to alternative remedies and practices. But very few of us are actually experts, and oftentimes our expertise is experiential (though many times there are loads of data and research to back up our great experiences). And some personality types just don’t give much credit to experiential testimonies, it’s not personal, it’s the way they’re hard-wired.

3. Sometimes people ask questions because they really want to know.

Unfortunately, often times when we’re learning something new we don’t know how or what to ask. The depth and strength of the relationship helps us gauge if someone is asking because they are interested in learning, or simply because they are interested in our story. Sometimes it is both, but very rarely is it neither.

I have friends and family members who are not interested in learning about alternative medicine and natural remedies, but they are deeply invested in our story. For these dear relationships it is so important to me to establish a mutual respect of one another’s medical and health-related choices. And a genuine respect results in genuine support, even when our choices seem to be so different.

What about you? How do you respond to questions or comments regarding your decision to pursue natural alternatives to traditional medicine?

 



What to do when you feel like a Hysterectomy is your only option for Endometriosis

What to do when you feel like a Hysterectomy is your only option for EndometriosisI have been in that place…..You are sitting in front of your Gynecologist after another year of struggling with Endometriosis, your pain has been unbearable and you feel like there is no hope on what you can do. You feel stuck. Stuck within your choices but stuck within your body, ironically too. Your Endometriosis seems to be returning every year and half and no amount of hormone treatments or good eating seem to be making a single bit of difference.

The Hysterectomy seems to offer some sense of relief in that moment. Like perhaps if you cut it all out, it will be all over, finished and never to return again.

It is however a tough decision and upon further research I discovered that even something so drastic is still no guarantee that the Endometriosis, will really be gone for good.

This is what helped me to move past a place of pain and lack of decision and avoid a Hysterectomy:

 1. I gave everything 150%

Up until this point my diet was good but not brilliant,  my exercise was kinda there but not consistent,  my stress levels were high and I had done nothing much to resolve those – even though I had promised myself to do more Yoga and Meditation and slow walks. I had done some things and yes, it was more than most but the truth was I wasn’t really giving it my all. I knew I could try harder. I could cut out all grains and eat more fruits and vegetables, I could cut out all chocolate and sugars, caffeine and impulse purchases from the confectionary counter. I could make a point of really nourishing my body with the best foods I could get and get completely focused on the ultimate forms of healing tools for my body. I could avoid anything that made me swell up and become inflamed – including my favorite M&M sweets!

The biggest change I made was discovering that food could be a real source of healing for my body. I stopped viewing food as my “restrictive diet” and recognised that it was in fact an ultimate tool for nourishment and healing.studied and developed my own diet, which I have found incredibly helpful within my healing journey.

 

2. I explored more Alternative Therapies

When I first discovered Alternative Therapies, I really thought that everything was all about diet. I hadn’t considered Homeopathy, Herbology or Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. I knew I had to feel comfortable with them and it couldn’t be too “wacky” but I had never actually really tried them for myself. My friends and relatives had suggested them but now it was time for me to really try them for myself.

 

3. I set myself a deadline

I think for me, this was important. I needed to feel like I was aiming for something, that all of these challenges and changes had some kind of ending. I gave myself 6 months. I would give everything 150% and really explore Alternative Therapies and then if it still didn’t work…. then I could look at getting that Hysterectomy. It made it easier for me to work towards a goal and to feel like in the end, the Hysterectomy really was the best decision and that I had really tried everything else.

 

What started to happen was that because I had set myself to work at this goal, somehow answers seemed to appear. It was as if I was being guided on some level! I felt like it was all do-able and achievable. I found out more about the foods I was eating and how they were impacting my pain with Endometriosis, I discovered acupuncture and how it would free up blockages in my abdominal cavity, I discovered that when I reduced my stress and told myself every day, that everything was going to be okay…. that it was!

I discovered the amazing powers and how much nature provides within our food. Wholesome real food, without preservatives or being over-processed! Food was such a healer and could provide my body with so much nourishment!

I felt empowered and strong. I felt like I could finally make decisions about my own body and it’s health. I felt like it was finally up to me and I didn’t have to wait and simply hope that a pill would come along and save me.

 

My pain decreased. Initially, it took some adjusting but eventually after the 6 month deadline was reached, I no longer suffered with pain every day. I felt in control and like I could cope with the minimal pain from the Endometriosis. I no longer wanted or needed that dreaded Hysterectomy.

I know it sounds simple but nature really provides all the tools we need to heal and re-balance our bodies.

I learnt so much about food and real nourishment along my journey. I discovered the difference between simply avoiding certain foods and really providing for the body.

I hope this gives you hope and makes you rethink that hysterectomy.



How to make croutons

I went years and years without ever attempting to make my own croutons, most of the time going without because I stay away from boxed foods whenever possible. Sometimes I’d purchase them if I really, really wanted them on my soup but then we went gluten-free at home and I’d have to take out a loan from the bank to buy GF croutons.

For realz, they are crazy expensive.

Then one day it hit me, why not make my own! Surely I was the first person to ever think of this right?

Alas, the interwebs abound with recipes on croutons, and I may just be a bit slow when it comes to ideas in the kitchen.

croutons_02_112911

 

It’s so simple I can’t even begin to call it a recipe. But they are also so good on homemade soups that I just must tell you how to make them.

Good bread makes good croutons! I like to use my basic GF bread when we don’t use it all in a day or two and I’ve also used my GF sourdough bread with great results as well.

How to make croutons
Author: 
Recipe type: Soups
 

Ingredients
  • 2 cups day old bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • salt and pepper

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place bread cubes and butter into a large bowl and stir to coat.
  3. Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring two to three times during baking to make sure they don’t burn.
  4. Let cool and use sprinkled over soup or salad

Notes
You may also prepare these in a skillet on the stovetop, just pour the coated bread crumbs into a medium hot skillet and stir occasionally until golden brown.

 

croutons_05_112911



Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

One of the reasons I’m such a fan of soups is because they are, more often than not, a one pot meal. They also reheat well and it’s super easy to make a double batch to have some always at the ready in your freezer for quick dinners or super easy lunches.

Adding rice to our soups has also been a great way to keep them gluten-free, but also giving us the bit of grains that we desire. I know there are a lot of paleo folks out there who would argue with me, but over the years, and after trying a strict paleo diet in which I did everything “right”, I find that my body does best with a bit of grains here and there. And the wild rice mix in this soup is super pleasing to the eye as well.

chickenwildrice

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
 

Ingredients
  • 3 cups shredded roast chicken
  • 1 cup wild rice mix
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped leeks (about 3)
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Saute onion, leeks, and carrots in butter until onions are transparent.
  2. Add in minced garlic and saute for one minute.
  3. Add the chicken, wild rice, and broth to the pot, bring to a boil and then let simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
  4. Slowly add in the milk and season with salt and pepper to taste, letting it simmer for an additional 10 minutes to thicken slightly.
  5. Remove from heat and serve.

 

I’ve also been known to add spinach or kale into the pot during the last few minutes of cooking. The greens are not only great for you, but add extra color to your bowl!

Creamy chicken and wild rice soup   (www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com)



Do you consume enough protein without powders?

There tends to be a lot of misunderstanding/misinformation about protein out there right now. Most of the time recommendations are anywhere from 50 – 80 grams per day, some at each meal, and those are usually the guidelines I go with as well depending on lifestyle and current activity. (This need goes up of course during pregnancy, so make sure to check out the Brewer diet for guidelines) And protein is super important for overall health, being one of the three macro-nutrients, and it’s involved in many of the body’s processes. Plus it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels during meals, so a bit of protein with every meal or snack is really important!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have a really hard time getting in the protein my body needs, especially in the winter. I’m not able to get as many good eggs as I can in the summer and we’re limited to how much milk we receive from our farm share so I can’t make yogurt and kefir near as often. Sometimes I need a bit of help to see outside the box a bit and figure out how to consume other good sources of protein.

Anyone else get stuck in a food rut like that?

If you do too, my blogger friend Tiffany from Don’t Waste the Crumbs just released a new ebook called High Protein, No Powder that you might want to look into.

Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase.
High Protein, No Powder:  Protein Bars and Smoothies Made with Real FoodThis ebook contains 150 pages that helps explain the problems with commercial protein powders and supplements while also teaching you how to make your own high protein snacks and smoothies using only real food.

As an added bonus, the recipes in the ebook can be made free of most common allergens (dairy, soy, corn, wheat).

Before reading this book, I didn’t figure protein powders were “that” bad. Especially the ones found int he health food stores. But Tiffany makes a great case against them. And since Todd tends to lift weights most of the year, extra protein in some form needs to find a way into his diet. Sometimes he’s gone the powder route just to be able to make sure he’s getting enough.

“Of course fitness and health fans will benefit from this book, but it’s also for moms who have a hard time getting their kids to eat protein. It’s for dads who don’t like eggs and bacon. It’s for families looking to replace processed foods with real, wholesome foods. It’s for vegans and vegetarians who are trying to eat more protein without eating animal products. It’s for those who want to get the additional health benefits from raw and uncooked foods. It’s for anyone who needs a little extra oomph to get them through to the next meal.” – Tiffany

The recipes in this book are simple, as frugal as you can make them (cheaper than commercial protein supplements), and the few that I’ve been able to try so far are delicious. I’ve made my own snack bars before, but Tiffany has now given me a lot more choices and different ideas to add to them! And the list of smoothie recipes is great as well – a lot of flavors I’ve never thought to try.

I’m also pretty picky about the books I do promote as many of them aren’t up to par. This ebook on the other hand was well thought out, includes tons of information (especially for those of you just getting started eating a whole foods diet), and the recipes are formatted in an easy to read way.

Tiffany is also extending a coupon code to NFW readers. So you can purchase the ebook for 30% off until the 28th! Just use the code: PROTEIN30

So make sure to check out High Protein, No Powders*. Cheers to tasty smoothies and quick, healthy snacks!

 

 



Mexican Chicken Lime Soup

Everyone has a friend that has “THAT” recipe. You know the one, the recipe that is soooo good that she has to give it out wherever she goes or people don’t leave her alone? All of my friends (and I) absolutely love my friend Kerry’s Tinga recipe and awhile back I meshed it with a Mexican soup we already loved.

And all was well in the world.

Mexican chicken lime soup   (www.naturalfertilityadnwellness.com)

 

Mexican Chicken Lime Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
 

Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken (you can also used leftover roast chicken)
  • 2 onions
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ head of green cabbage, sliced in small strips
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce + 2 Tablespoons of the sauce (the canned ones from San Marco are the best)
  • 3 fresh tomatoes (or 1 cup of tomato sauce)
  • 2-4 bay leaves
  • juice of one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional toppings – sliced avocado, sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions
  1. Place the whole chicken in a pot of water with 1 quartered onion and 4 garlic cloves. Heat until boiling and then let simmer until the meat falls of the bone, about two hours. (You can also use leftover roast chicken if you have it, but you’ll also need 4 cups of chicken broth as well) Reserve the broth.
  2. Shred the chicken. You’ll be using approximately 3 cups of chicken so you can reserve the rest for another meal or freeze it for future use. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a large pot and saute the onion and cabbage on medium low heat until they are wilted. Add in a bit of broth if needed so that it doesn’t burn.
  4. Add the garlic and continue to saute for 1 minute.
  5. Puree the tomatoes, chiles, and chile sauce in a food processor or blender until smooth. (This is one of the few times I use a canned ingredient, but the flavor of these really make the soup.)
  6. Add the tomato and chile mix, bay leaves, and the chicken, to the pot with the onions and cabbage.
  7. Using either the reserved broth from cooking the chicken, or broth from a previous batch you’ve made, pour about 4 cups into the pot and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Before serving, salt and pepper to taste and squeeze in the juice of one lime. Let simmer for a couple of minutes for the new flavors to blend, take out the bay leaves, and serve.

Notes
If you are sensitive to spice, use only one chile, and if you like things hot, add another one.

 



Roasted Garlic and Onion Soup

The ground here in Michigan is still covered with snow and my winter hermit self is loving the afternoons spent quietly in front of the computer with a hot cup of chai or decaf coffee. I can stay indoors (huge bonus to working from home in the winter!) and watch the snow swirl around in my backyard as I work. As we’re headed for another round of super cold weather next week I’m just trying to remember that the snow and cold are great for crops in the summer.

Sigh.

Summer, how I miss thee.

During the last blast of cold and snow I don’t think I left the house to even go outside for three or four days! I kind of felt bad for Todd, going out in below zero weather and snow blowing our drive at least once a day, sometimes twice, just so he could get to work.

Over the years I’ve learned to break away from canned soups and have begun to really enjoy homemade versions. They really come in handy on these cold winter days and get rid of that “chilled to the bone” feeling.

Roasting the garlic and onion really bring out the flavor in this soup! As an added bonus it also makes your home smell divine. It also works well as a base for other soups and is perfect for soothing the body during bouts of a cold or flu.

roasted garlic and onion soup   (www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com)

Roasted Garlic and Onion Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
 

Ingredients
  • 2 head of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 2 large onions (yellow or white)
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup cream
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place whole, peeled garlic cloves and onion in a pan, cover with melted butter and stir. Roast for approximately one hour, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.
  3. On stovetop, heat chicken broth and add roasted garlic and onion.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (you can also transfer the soup in small batches to a blender or food processor but be careful of hot liquids)
  5. Add the sage, thyme, and balsamic vinegar, let simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the cream, serve.

 

This soup also freezes well, and since it’s a pureed soup, works great in a mug or insulated thermos if you need to bring it to work.

 

*recipe adapted from Cheri on Ice



5 Healing Benefits of Soup Making and Action Steps to Make It Happen

If you would have told me 8 years ago that I would be making soup from scratch for my family on a weekly and monthly basis I would have *laughed* (hard!) at you.

I did NOT know how to cook.

But as it turns out, learning how to cook, and specifically soup making, was key in healing just about every aspect of disease that I was experiencing at the time.

I am hopelessly in love with soup, not just because it tastes good (and when you do it right it *so* does!), but because it was pivotal in my healing. I am hoping by the end of this post to spark a fire of hope in you that this simple practice of soup making can start a healing in you. Please use the comments section to ask questions – I have made this work in every season of life and it very much can be done! I want to help – let’s talk it out!

5 benefits of soup making and action steps to make it happen   (www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com)

1. Bone broth is incredibly healing to the digestive system.

“All disease begins in the gut” as they say. If you have any diagnosis, you can start the healing process by addressing your gut. The gelatin that is leached from the bones helps digest food and is a source of protein, and the nutrients in bone broth heal gut lining. I’m coming to realize that just about everyone needs some sort of gut intervention. Even myself, after years of working on gut healing successfully, I find that having bone broth in my weekly (if not daily) menu just keeps my digestive system in tact so I am not susceptible to getting sick. It almost never happens.

Also, if you have a tender digestive system, eating your veggies in a cooked manner is just easier in general on your digestive system. I find that in the winter months I just do better eating my veggies in soup form, and I save eating raw veggies for when veggies are in season in the spring and summer.

2. Bone broth is an excellent source of vital minerals like magnesium and calcium.

When you prepare broth in the correct way, you are pulling the minerals right out of the bones! So you are getting these minerals in the proper proportions – the way nature intended. Our soils are so depleted of minerals, and in order for our hormones to function properly, we need these vital minerals at work in our body. The nutrients in bone broth are also very easily absorbed by the body. Supplements have a time and place, but getting nutrients straight from the source like this is just easier and quicker for the digestive system to absorb.

3. You can get a variety of vegetables in, all at once, and make it taste GOOD!

Listen, veggies don’t top my list of things I just *love* the taste of. Right? I mean, I love a good raw salad or veggies right out of the garden in the summer, but let’s be real. It’s kinda a drag to have to figure out how to get them in everyday – and into your family. Enter soup flavor basics 101! See action step #4 below for my secrets to making EVERY soup taste good. Take advantage of having an immersion blender and make soup purees. The soup will be creamy without adding in a bunch of other stuff.

4. Making your own soup is time saving.

What?! Making something from scratch takes less time that opening a can of soup?? Well, not really – but that can of soup is NOT going to fill you up like real soup will – so you will be having to fix yourself something more to eat in addition to, or later on. The key is making batches of soup. Make one day a week (or even one day a month) “soup day”. Stock up your freezer – you can even freeze in single cup portions so you just have to pull it out and take it with you. If you don’t have the freezer space, then make one batch every week – it will keep for a week in the fridge. I don’t usually have to think about what’s for lunch – it is normally some sort of soup from my freezer. No meal planning here. Just grab and go.

5. Making your own soup is extremely economical.

If I haven’t gotten you on any of the above points (although I hope I have!), maybe the frugal monster will get you on this one?! One of the reasons I feel like I have had to walk through periods of time of financial lack is to prove the point that you can still eat real food and be on a very (*very*) tight budget. Soup allows me to “stretch” my meat budget. My family could eat an entire chicken on its own in 2 dinners – but I can make an entire chicken last a week or so by putting the meat in soup. The broth is full of protein so I don’t worry about my family not getting enough meat protein – it is built right into the soup!

So here are some action steps to get this party started (like today!):

ACTION STEP 1: Find a source of pastured chicken or beef.

Ask around at farmer’s markets. Check in your area for places that sell raw milk – 9 times out of 10 these farmers also sell pastured meat products. Or find a local health food store – be still be sure you know where the meat is coming from. It can say “organic” all you want but if the bird or the cow was not on pasture eating bugs and grass it is not as superior.

ACTION STEP 2: Once you find a good source let’s make some bone broth!

Make your own chicken stock or beef stock.

Here is how I make it work with a crazy schedule and 5 mouths to feed in my family: Every other week I roast or crockpot a whole chicken or two. I use the meat for the next week or 2 of meals and/or freeze some of the meat for quick pull out meat from the freezer. I throw the bones right into a crockpot or my big roaster oven and make my stock. This way I always have chicken stock available. I make beef broth every other month or so – I make a huge batch and I do 2-3 “rounds” of broth – meaning after I strain out my broth, I put the bones back in the crockpot with more water and do another “round”. Beef bones are huge – there is a lot of minerals to leach out of them – don’t let them go to waste! I freeze my stock in jars and store in my deep freezer. BUT! You can make this work if you don’t have a deep freezer! For years I lived in a small apartment and I still did this. On a little smaller scale since I didn’t have so many mouths to feed, but it still works. Freeze your stock flat in freezer bags or get some nice stackable freezer containers to make the most use out of your freezer space.

ACTION STEP 3: Every time you make some soup get your basics in first.

HERE IS HOW TO MAKE *EVERY* SOUP TASTE GOOD! Warm up your pot and use *liberal* amounts of friendly fat (butter, coconut oil, tallow, lard) for cooking in. I’m talking a good 3-5 tablespoons depending on how big of a batch you are doing. Get those onions and other hard veggies (such as carrots, celery, or cabbage) in there with generous pinches of sea salt and let them go to town for a good 10 minutes on medium heat. The salt and heat bring out the natural juices in these veggies and they will sweeten up and become more flavorful. Add in lots of garlic for a minute and then you are ready to add your stock and other veggies. It’s really that simple – every soup, every time.

ACTION STEP 4: Play around with different veggie combos.

If you get the base of the soup from above down pat, really any soup is going to taste good! Make a different veggie combo soup every week! If you make soup day on Saturday or Sunday, you can make enough for your lunches to work all week.

Here are some soups to try to get you going!



Is Your Non-Stick Cookware Safe?

Is your cookware safe? (www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com)

Debate abounds about non-stick (coated) cookware and it’s safety.

Here’s a bit of history on non-stick pans, and what I chose to do about it at my house.

1.  History of the Non-Stick Stuff

The slippery substance that pans are coated with is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is a polymer.  A polymer is a large molecule made up of smaller molecules of the same type.

This substance was invented accidentally in 1938.  In 1956 a French engineer figured out how to adhere to aluminum, and non-stick cookware was born. (Source:  Howstuffworks.com)

2.  Is it Safe?

It’s safety is still debatable, and mainly stems from the substance perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which is used in the making of PTFE. PFOA is known to increase incidence of certain tumors, and remains in the body a long time.  We can be exposed to PFOA in drinking water, ski wax, dust, carpets, the workplace and probably a bunch more places.  All of us are carrying around some level of this substance in our bodies. (Source:  Cancer.org)

However there is a very low level of PFOA exposure when we use coated pans, as the final product, PTFE, that coats the pans does not contain it.  Heating the pan on high heat without food in it can increase off gassing.  You may have heard that some birds have been killed when exposed to off gassing non-stick pans.

3.  What Should You Do?

The concentration of questionable chemicals floating around in my body (and that of my family) is something I want to avoid.  A small report by Environmental Defence showed 137 chemicals found in the cord blood of newborns, most of these cancer-causing or neurotoxic. (Source:  Theglobeandmail.com )

There are lots of ways to reduce your exposure to chemicals, and it’s important for your fertility and wellness.  Since we’re talking pans today, I’ll try to stay on topic!

At the minimum, non-stick pans need to be kept scratch-free (no metal utensils or abrasive cleansers) and cannot be overheated without food inside.  You also should not use non-stick cooking spray on them.

Personally it seems impossible to keep these pans scratch-free, and I find other pans just as easy to clean.  We also want you to be cooking with nice saturated fats like coconut oil, ghee (available on Amazon), butter and pastured lard, so why bother with the non-stick?

I recently replaced the last of my non-stick pans and here’s what I got:  Cuisinart stainless steel and Calphalon hard anodized aluminum.

I got these at pretty good prices at TJ Maxx. (they are also available on Amazon)

Cast iron, enamel and pyrex are also  good options.

Don’t feel you have to run out and replace all your pans at once, but do get knowledgeable about your toxic exposure in general and get less and less of it over time.  A great resource on the topic of toxins is Donielle’s book Naturally Knocked Up, available on this website or on Amazon.

 

 What pans do you use for cooking?  What others ways are you reducing your chemical exposure?  Please share below!



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