Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Miracle of Magnesium, by Carolyn Dean

I've heard and read a lot about the importance of minerals in our diet.  And magnesium caught my eye specifically because some of our issues here seem to be directly related to the lack of enough magnesium in our diets.  Now, I believe we are lacking in most minerals that our body so desperately need, so I hope over time to be able to study the various minerals to see how they function in our body, and to make sure we are getting enough of them. 

The Miracle of Magnesium, by Carolyn Dean was a quick and easy read.  As I suspected, Dean was very down on the traditional, high-fat diet and very into supplements for magnesium.  But, otherwise, I enjoyed the read and learned a lot. 

The intro had this telling 'story': 'From the 74th Congress, 2nd session, Senate Document no. 264:  'Do you know that most of us today are suffering from certain dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until depleted soils from which our food comes are brought into proper mineral balance?  The alarming fact is that foods (fruits, vegetables and grains) now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain minerals are starving us-no matter how much of them we eat.The truth is that our foods vary enormously in value, and some of them aren't worth eating as food. Our physical well-being is more directly dependent upon the minerals we take into our systems than upon calories or vitamins or upon the precise proportions of starch, protein or carbohydrates we consume.  Laboratory tests prove that the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the eggs, and even the milk and the meats of today are not what they were a few generations ago.  No man today can eat enough fruits and vegetables to supply his stomach with the mineral salts he requires for perfect health, because his stomach isnt big enough to hold them!  And we are turning into a nation of big stomachs'.  Do you know when those words were spoken in testimony before the Senate?  1936!  Today farmlands are even more mineral-deficient and fertilizers still don't fully replace those minerals.  Magnesium is one of the most depleted minerals, yet one of the most important.  We imagine that medicine has advanced to the stage of miracle cures, yet it's not technology that we're lacking but basic nutrients tha power our bodies and give us our health....'

A few more quotes from the introduction:

'Magnesium regulates more then 325 enzymes in the body, the most important of which produce, transport, store, and utilize energy.'

'More than 75 years ago, scientists declared magnesium to be an essential mineral.  Each year since then, research has revealed more ways in which magnesium is indispensable to life.  Yet it is continually being lost from the natural food supply. There has been a gradual decline of dietary magnesium in the US, from a high of 500 mg/day at the turn of the century to barely 175-225 mg/day today.'

'Magnesium was first discovered in huge deposits near a Greek city called Magnesia.  Magnesium sulfate, known today as Epsom salts, was used in ancient times as a laxative, and still is to this day. '  Yes, yes it is, and I know that from experience. :)

So, after that introduction, one would certainly feel compelled to read about the various symptoms and benefits of taking magnesium supplements. 

The book is laid out by 'disease/symptoms' basically. And she gives a lot of examples, studies and science behind why a lack of magnesium can produce each symptom.

Here is a partial list of the symptoms:  anxiety, pain, migraines, strokes, head injuries, hypertension, high cholesterol, spastic heart, angina, arrhythmia, arteriosclerosis, heart attack, syndrome X, diabetes, sugar imbalance, PMS, dysmenorrhea, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, preeclampsia, cerebral palsy chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, environmental illness/allergies and asthma. 

She discusses each one in depth and explains why magnesium causes the said conditions.  I was esp interested in asthma, for Myia's issues. 

Dean recommends taking multi-vitamins, plus magnesium and sometimes calcium supplements (the ration of magnesium to calcium is supposed to be 1:2, but with the modern diet, she says we're generally more like 1:6, so most people should take more magnesium then calcium to help with this imbalance) daily for all ages. 

However, it seems to me that that would simply be adding to the toxic overload of the body, as most supplements do. So rather then approach it that way, I think it wisest to make sure you are getting solubable minerals in your diet daily. 

So, to that end, I am trying to make sure we take our swedish bitters daily, and also trying to get us all to take black strap molasses daily (the kids and hubby love it, I can't stand it), continue adding lots of celtic sea salt  and bone broth to our diets, and to make sure our guts are digesting foods properly so they can extract the magnesium from what we ingest. 

It's fun to read about specific areas and realize that we are on the right track towards health. I used to read them and get all overwhelmed and frustrated.  Phew, this is so much more fun!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Myia and her Asthma

I know we should do the GAPS diet.  I know for any long-term healing of our bodies, from any disease or issue we struggle with, we need to start by healing the gut, and I believe 100% that GAPS is THE answer to that.  It's the right place to start anyway.

We have been working toward that end for 2 years. And I have seen definite improvement in our over-all health, as well as specific areas.  But, we are not where we need to be.

I can deal with cranky-ness, mood swings, red puffy eyes and runny noses.  They are a nuisance and a sign that your body needs healing. But they are nothing life-threatening at least.

But, in the last year or so, Myia has taken to doing this funny breathing thing, esp in the fall and spring.  And it FREAKS ME OUT!  As well as it should.  I don't know that it's asthma. I've never had her tested, and she insists she does not have a hard time breathing.  But, it sends me into a panic when she starts doing it subconsciously. 

I do not, under any circumstances, want to give my children steroids.  I believe that it will exacerbate the symptoms in the long-run and make true gut and full-body healing all but impossible.  Our guts are already too messed up, and adding steroids to that mix is deadly. But, if she stops breathing, what am I to do?  It's a sudden, life-or-death thing. 

So, I should stop whining and put us all on the GAPS diet immediately.  But, yet, I don't. :( 

I am encouraged, however, to try harder with the sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and yogurt.  And to consume less grains, even the properly prepared ones.  And to try harder to limit her diet when she is out.

That, my friends, is where the rub comes in for me.  It's the foods consumed when she is out that is so hard to control!  I can do it at home.  I mean, doing the GAPS diet would be super hard, esp the intro, which I want us to start with.  But, I know we could do it without turning our lives upside down.  But, how do I stop her from eating food at Sunday School, and at other people's houses?  If I could convince her it was life-threatening, I think she might choose not to.  But I'm not sure it's that bad-YET.

I do think I am holding it off by changing our diets to where we are now.  Raw, fermented dairy daily, liver and nutrient dense salmon weekly.  Lots of good quality fats.  Detoxing kombucha, digestion-helping bitters and blackstrap molasses minerals.   I do believe I am holding her intense issues at bay.  But, for how long, I don't know.  Will that heal in the long-run?  Sort of a modified GAPS over 10 years, instead of an intense 1 year diet?

I do hope, if she stops breathing, that I can use my supply of 'master tonic'  to get her breathing.  And you can rest assured we will immediately start the diet and will figure out what needs to be done as we go along for complete healing and detoxing.  I just hope it won't be too late!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Label Reading

I was talking to someone recently and was rather embarrassed when they asked me if I knew what a certain item on a food label was.  I could have probably answered them a year or 2 ago.  But I realized any knowledge I had on the subject was pretty much gone.

Being the nutrition freak that I am, I was a bit taken back by the whole thing.  I used to be really good at labels.  I used to read them all the time.  It matters what I put into our bodies.  And I still read labels now and then.  So what happened to my knowledge of chemicals that go into foods?  How could I lose this important skill?

After some more thinking, I finally realized what it was. And I was quite relieved.  Ok, so that shows my pride.  But, it also shows how far we've come.

The reason I can't read labels smartly anymore is because I buy so few things with labels these days.  Really and truly.  Now, I do manage to have waaay more recycle then I wish I had.  But it tends to be things like vinegar containers, olive oil and tomato sauce and canned fish containers.  Basically, one item things with nothing else in them, instead of highly processed multi-ingredient foods.

I remember when I first started reading labels I was appalled!  My expensive 'all natural whole wheat' bread cost $4 a loaf-and had 15 ingredients. All natural my ear!  It was truly eye opening to start reading labels.  So I did the research, trying to figure out what was what.  And after awhile, I got so that pretty much everything with a list of ingredients more then 5 items long, I just put back without even checking the actual ingredients.  Now things like salsa I would actually read to see, but otherwise, I wouldn't bother.  And from there, I found it easier to just make my own of most things.

And the few things that I do buy with labels, I buy regularly and know what to look for (I do occasionally read them to make sure they have not changed since the last time I bought them).

And for 'treats' that we are going to eat anyway, I don't let myself even read the ingredients, because otherwise I couldn't enjoy them. 

So while making almost everything from it's original ingredients is somewhat time consuming. I must say, it does beat reading every label and trying to remember what is what in the 'fake food' world.  :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast and supper options

Lunch is served with Kombucha, Swedish Bitters and Fermented Cod Liver Oil

This week's meat is stew meat.

Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday:  Stew Meat Stir Fry
Wednesday:  Super Afghan Liver
Thursday:  Fried rice and meat
Friday:  Salmon over rice
Saturday:  Beef Stew
Sunday: Leftover beef stew

Friday, September 17, 2010

Forgotten Skills of Cooking, by Darina Allen

Forgotten Skills of Cooking, by Darina Allen

I really enjoyed reading through this really big, thorough book.  I was encouraged to try some new recipes (esp with eggs and meat) and excited, even more, about the idea of finding and preserving some meat through sausages, etc.  I love the idea of having a large quantity of prepared meat on hand. Probably because it's the only thing that really seems to keep us from being grumpy, hungry and craving every junk that comes to our mind.  Beans are great, but they don't do it for us right now.

It's the kind of book I wish I could just tear out certain recipes. I really don't want such a large book on my shelf, when I know I won't use the vast majority of the info in it (although I'm glad I read it to acquaint myself with it all).  But there are some recipes that I really want on hand. But too many to type out.  

Darina Allen runs a 'Forgotten Skills Cooking School' in Ireland.  I'd LOVE to attend.  Of course, it will never happen, but it sounds like a lot of fun.  She wrote this book to offer much of what she teaches to the general public. For people like myself who will never make it to her class, but still desire the information she has to offer.

It was encouraging to hear how many time she happy recounted the growing number of 'young' people who are interested in 'back to the basic' food preparation. I'm glad I'm not the only one. 

She covers the following topics by chapter: foraging, fish, game, beef, dairy, eggs and poultry, pig, lamb, vegetables, herbs, and salad, preserving, desserts, cakes and cookies, bread, household tips, resources.  She did succumb to the popular idea of low-fat being better. But she also acknowledged that this phobia is relatively new, so she did not have many low-fat recipes. 

I especially enjoyed the chapters on fish, eggs and pig.  She even told how to keep a few chickens at home.  Her chapter on preserving was a great overview of the whole process.  I've read on the subject often, but don't have much to experiment with.  I keep hoping if I read the basics over and over, when I am gifted with a glut of something, I'll have a pretty good idea of what to do. 

Some recipes I want to try after reading the book are: cottage cheese, quiche, pickled eggs, souffles, bread sauce, sausages, salami, chorizo, 

She was big on using every part of the animal.  She was witty and anecdotal.  She really made you want to go give her a big hug!  All in all, I really enjoyed reading through her book and feel a little less peculiar for wanting to feed my family the 'old-fashioned' way.  I would highly recommend anyone wanting to learn to cook more traditionally to peruse her book.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spiritual Lessons Learned (John MacArthur books)

It's always exciting to me to be able to look back and see growth in my life.  Esp spiritual growth.

I had the opportunity to read two books by pastor and author John MacArthur last week. It was very humbling and exciting, all at the same time.

Drew read 'A Tale of Two Sons' first and was so excited, I had to read it also.

 The book is about the prodigal son parable from Luke.  Or, rather, it's about the 3 characters in that story.   He gave a ton of background information, historical, contextual, etc. It was a very humbling book for me.  I don't know that I could have read it much sooner without being angry and prideful.  But God knew I was ready for it, and I'm so excited!

I was able to see myself in the prodigal son.  But, I've always known that I was the older son even more then the prodigal.  My pride and independence have always been fierce.  I was discouraged to realize how much I was still like the older son.  But, at the same time, God brought to remembrance how much I have grown in that very area.  It never hurts to be reminded of one's humanness and fallibility. :)  Esp if you're being reminded, at the same time, of God's entirely free grace and love for us.  It's an amazing combination. Ok, painful, but amazing.

While reading that book, a friend highly recommend a short book by the same author 'God's high Calling for Women'.  She lent it to me on Sunday and it took me a few hours to read it through.  It was great timing, as it was an exegesis of I Timothy 2:9-15.  And I have spent the last month reading I Timothy every day. 

God has been showing me, over the last 5 years, how important a 'homemaker's' job is.  I truly disdained the concept until a few years ago and have only recently come to truly believe it is a 'high calling'.  How sad is that?  I did grow up in a Christian home.  My mom loved staying at home, raising her family.  And yet, I succumbed to the world's idea that working outside the house has more prestige and excitement.  I can honestly say I see the negative effects of that attitude in my kids today.  I hope and pray that God changed my heart early enough to reverse that influence and help them to see the amazing role that God gave to mothers/women. 

After realizing what an 'older brother' I still was, it was refreshing to read a book that showed a specific area that God has really worked on my heart and truly changed me in ways only He can.  I'm a work in progress, and will be until I have my glorified body.  Even so, come Lord Jesus.

I love this quote, which is what I've come to believe.  'A Christian wife should attract attention to her godly character, not to her clothing. She should show by her dress and demeanor her love and devotion to her husband.  She should demonstrate a humble heart committed to worshiping God.'

Boy, if I had read that a few years ago, I would have been so angry by it!

I also enjoyed these quotes:

'A woman cannot claim to fear God and yet disregard what His Word says about her behavior. She cannot contradict God's design for her in the church and yet claim to love Him.'

'Women must stop believing the devil's lie that the only role of significance is that of leadership. People usually desire places of prominence-not to humbly serve others, but to boost their own egos and gain power and control.'

Aren't they great?I have spent the last few years trying to learn what 'God's design for women' was, and I have come to see it more clearly lately.  

 Growth is very exciting!!  :)  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast and supper options

Lunch is served with Kombucha, Swedish Bitters and Fermented Cod Liver Oil

This week's meat is brisket from the farmer's market.

Monday: Brisket and frozen veggies
Tuesday:  Egg Salad Sandwiches
Wednesday:  Super Afghan Liver
Thursday: Brisket and gravy over mashed potatoes
Friday:  Fish Cakes
Saturday: Brisket Salad
Sunday:  Roast and Veggies

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier

The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier.

Oh my, I so want to own this book! I will definitely keep my eyes open for a copy to own.  She has an older version that is cheap. But I want the new one as she mentions some recipes that are new that I am interested in. 

I've not been real keen on essential oils, as they seem quite powerful, expensive and dangerous if they are of questionable quality. I like to keep my life as simple as possible, and I find vinegar and baking to do so much of what I need for cleaning.  However, I have been frustrated with my laundry and dish detergent for some time.  The less toxic ones are expensive and not as effective. Which is really frustrating.  She uses a lot of the cleaners I already have and like, but adds and mixes some oils/herbs in for added zing and power.  Perfect! 

I need my dishes to be cleaned of oil! Traditional cooks use a lot of good quality fats and oils. And they are a pain to get off of dishes and clothes. 

According to this book, there are oils that do just that. 

I also like that there are anti-bacterial oils.  I think that germs are good in general for our body.  But for times when we are sick, I like the idea of having them around for helping our body to heal more quickly. 

I also like the idea of having herbs around the house for the calming effect they have.  We definitely could use some of that around here!  :)

She tackles the kitchen, bath, laundry, wood care, cleaning metals, walls and carpets, clearing the air, the garage and basement, the garden and landscape and the home office.  One per chapter.  And she is brilliant, intelligent and witty. So it makes for a fun read, as well as practical. 

She explains the difference between detergents and soaps.  She is keen on Dr. Bronner's, which I have already found myself to love.  And she even has a section on how to grow, harvest and prepare herbs. Where to purchase good oils and other products.  And some great lists, tips and explanations.  I love to clean and organize.  Did I mention how much I enjoyed the book?  :)

For the dishes, she essentially has you taking castile soap and simply adding various essential oils.  Which not only add a nice smell, but cut the grease like I want them to.  I can't wait to try some! 

For laundry, I want to try the Perspiration Stain Remover-Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 4 drops lemon, lime or eucalyptus essential oil and 1 tbls baking soda.  Mix together and rub on stain with a toothbrush. 

She had a bunch of great suggestions for carpet cleaners and sanitizers. I don't like carpet.  I can't keep a vacuum in working order for the life of me.  And our carpets get so nasty!  I want wood or cement floors with wood carpets that I can clean outside on a regular basis, but stay hypo-allergenic in-between.

I also really want to try some of her sachet, herbal mists and potpourris. All fun stuff that can add to the quality of our lives. 

All in all, a great book, and in my opinion, worth owning!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Lost Art of Real Cooking, by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafzinger

The Lost Art of Real Cooking, by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafzinger. 

This was a fabulous and easy read.  It's a small book, but packed with some great, simple kitchen wisdom.

They covered the following subjects:

1.   Ferments of Vetetables and Legumes
2.   Fresh Vegetables and Legumes
3.   Fruits and Nuts
4.   Grains and Pasta
5.   Bread
6.   Meat
7.   Fish
8.   Poultry
9.   Dairy Products and Cheese
10. Fremented Beverages
11. Pies, Pastry, and Other Confections

Most of the book was based on traditional ways of preparing foods.  And they were down on any electric machines being used in the kitchen.  All of their recipes used hand-powered tools, which was kind of refreshing.  You could figure out how to use your labor saving devices.

I was most interested in their vegetable ferments, tortillas, sprouted bread, sourdough bread and sausage making.  They make it all seem so simple and do-able for the average joe.  And they were keen on 'templates' more then recipes. Which I prefer.  Giving the general principles and then suggesting other options and encouraging imagination. 

I love this quote from the introduction: 'It's time to take back the kitchen.  It's time to unlock the pantry, to venture once again into our cellars and storehouses, and break free from the golden shackles of convenient, ready-made, industrial food.  It's time to cook supper.

Have no fear. Whether you were raised on boxed mac 'n' cheese or suckled by a vending machine, you can learn to fend for yourself in the kitchen.'

'The premise of this book is a simple one.  For the past half century, Americans have been convinced that cooking is drudgery, an odious task to be avoided at any cost, so that time might be freed up to do other more Important things.'  But they make the point that cooking is fun, cooking is what we DO for entertainment and survival.  And that sums up the book quite nicely.

So if you're looking to start switching your kitchen into a more traditional one, but find it overwhelming, this is a fantastic book to read.  It makes it seem doable and almost a guilty pleasure!  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast and supper options

Lunch is served with Kombucha, Swedish Bitters and Fermented Cod Liver Oil

This week's meat is hamburger.  It's going to be a strange week, as Drew is going to work a lot of overtime, so I have to have 2 meals and a snack ready for him to take to work by 10.  Not something I'm accustomed to.  But I am going to spend the day today preparing the foods for the week so he'll have them easy to grab when he leaves.  And the kids and I will eat them as 'leftovers' as well.   Helps to be flexible! :)

Monday: Sloppy Joe Cornbread Meal
Tuesday: Liver and Onions
Wednesday Meatball Soup
Thursday: Meatloaf
Friday:  Fish Cakes
Saturday: Leftover Soup
Sunday: Roast

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Scripture Reading Plan

I was inspired by my cousin to write more of what God is showing me in my spiritual life.  Not to boast or preach, but to 'think out loud', and for myself to see my growth more clearly. 

I came to the realization about 7 year ago that no matter what else I did with my life, my foundation MUST be firm, and that foundation had to be the Bible. Now, I'd read through the Bible and memorized lots of verses and knew all the stories.  But I didn't really KNOW the Bible.  There is a difference you know.

I was blessed to have a woman's Bible study that was doing Kay Arthur's Precepts studies.  I did 4 or 5 of them over the course of 5 years and was amazed at how much more the Bible had to say, once you scratched the surface.  After learning the general principles of Bible study, I decided to implement them on my own.  So after reading through the Scripture over the course of a year and praying and reading, I decided to take the next 4 years to study it again, using the John MacArthur method.  I don't like methods as a rule, but they are great for hints and tips.  I can't seem to find it on-line anywhere.

But, his method, based on his own study (my FIL also used it and highly recommended  it), is basically this:

Every day, I read 3-5 chapters of the OT. Reading it straight through, with normal life interruptions, I should have read it through approximately 3 times in 4 years. During that same time, I also read from the NT.  For that, he has you pick a shorter book, or a portion of a longer book, and read that daily for a month.  And he suggests switching between long books and short books, just for the change.  And doing that, I should read through the NT entirely (30 times each section) in the 4 years.  I love that idea.

I find I spend approximately 30-45 minutes in the Word daily.  And I am a morning person, so I enjoy doing it when I first wake up, while doing static exercises on my exercise ball. 

I feel it will give me a good overview of the Bible, which is where I really feel I need to be right now.  And then I hope to dive into each book/section more thoroughly.  But my brain needs the big picture first.

So, while I have not been as faithful as I wish I was, I am happy with how I am progressing.  Rather then worrying about getting it all done in a certain time, I just want to see myself being disciplined and growing spiritually and heading towards my goal.  Progress is good!  I started in November of 2009.  I love that I read the NT and OT daily, while getting more acquainted with the NT and it's theology.  The OT tends to be more stories (tons of theology, don't get me wrong), so it's an ideal study format for beginning Bible studiers like myself. Yes, I consider myself a beginner. 

I also have as resources, these two books and I read about each book before I start to read the actual Bible.  I find it helpful. 

The MacArthur Bible Handbook

Talk through the Bible (mine is an older version)

I look forward to getting to know the God of the universe better, as I read and study His book to all mankind.  As a friend said, his love letter to me.  :)  What woman in love does not read and reread a love letter from her lover and best friend? 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bird Watching-the TJE Way

You wouldn't know it, but I hate groupies and titles.  But I use the TJE thing a lot, I know.  I really don't believe it is the be-all to end all.  But I could have wrote the book, well, it was what I would have written if I'd done his research anyway. :)  I also implement many others styles and things that I see and read. That is what I love about TJE though. It encourages specific instruction for each individual, and I can refer to it and have people know what I"m talking about. Rather then having to explain every detail every single time.

So, that said, I have to share this specific area that we have used lately and loved, and that is book based.  It's awesome!

My church has a school, and the library is often giving away old books it no longer wants in circulation.  I have picked up some awesome books from them.  One of them being 'Tony's Birds by Millicent Selsam'.  I loved it the first time I read it (which was probably over a year ago). I knew it would be a classic for us, and spur us on to higher learning.  And it has.  I'm so excited to share!!

Ever since reading it, we've talked about buying a bird guide and using our binoculars to go bird watching, just like Tony and his dad do in the book. This summer I finally got out the binoculars. And I found a small bird guide for 50 cents at the thrift store. I need to buy a more complete guide, but for the NJ area specifically, or it would get overwhelming.  But the kids have had so much fun with it!

They have brought it to the beach and identified the birds there. We have gone on some bird walks in the neighborhood (mostly black birds, sparrows and pidgeons) and they have sat on the front step and looked at birds.  It's so cute! They even will describe what it looks like, beak size, color of breast, head and feathers, size, etc.  It's so fun to see them get interested and excited about God's creation and learn to really look closely at things.

It's my dream that we do this more regular and get good at it. Hopefully finding a mentor and/or class in the area to help us.  And that someday, we'll see some rare bird and rejoice over the joy of being allowed to see it.

Bird watching is one of those things I've never understood or cared to do, but really wanted to 'want' to do it.  :)  Now we do.

I love classics/mentor learning.  It's so exciting and alive.  It works, it really does!