Saturday, September 27, 2008

Celebrating changes, looking ahead

Around here, we are finally feeling ready for a big purge and reorganization. There is too much stuff, and we're ready to simplify. In some cases, the stuff we will toss (or recycle, or Freecycle, or sell) just doesn't reflect how we live anymore. I keep thinking that once I get rid of all the clutter associated with shortcuts we no longer take, I'll finally have the space and time to invest in more involved ways of living with respect to food, health and medicine, housekeeping. And work -- writing, editing, tutoring. I spent way too much energy trying to clear a space -- literally and figuratively.

I wanted to create a list of goals for the next year but thought I should first celebrate the changes I have made in this past year.

Things I've started doing since last summer:

-Made chicken stock from scratch regularly and used it to cook vegetables and rice. (I'd made stock before occasionally before but didn't know about getting it to gel, and I didn't use it for cooking everything like I do now)

-Gotten on a coop to get a good price on coconut oil, so I never run out

-Gotten in a coop to get pastured eggs, grassfed meat and real milk for my husband

-Learned a little bit about flower essences and started using them

-Learned a little bit about essential oils and started using them. Also set up an auto ship account with Young Living Oils so that I build up my collection through monthly shipments

-Started using Miessence skin products

-Researched skin product safety for sunscreen and replaced what I had (which I thought was safe) with less toxic kinds (and other skin products)

-Started drinking kombucha regularly and eating cultured veggies more often

-Started soaking nuts and drying them and sometimes sprouting them

-Started making waffles from gluten-free flours and nut flour or from coconut flour and then freezing them (instead of buying Van's)

-Did a cleanse that succeeded in helping me feel better and clearing up my psoriasis

-Recovered from a sprained ankle; trained for and ran a half-marathon

Things I've stopped or greatly cut back on doing that seemed detrimental to my health

-Eating tons of nut butter addictively

-Eating rice pasta, rice tortillas, rice crackers as often

-Eating goat milk cheese -- even the raw seemed to affect me negatively

-Using plastic containers to store food

Things I hope to do in the coming year, in addition to purging the house of what we don't need and creating workable spaces on all three levels -- office and basement storage and play area, kitchen, living room and play area, well-organized and clean (tiny bathroom), bedroom for my son, parent bedroom without two mattresses next to each other on the floor

-Establish a sense of rhythm and routine with respect to home life, exercise and wellness practices (like meditation and yoga), and work. This will include regular bedtimes (before 11:30 p.m.) and waking times (not sure yet)

-Focus on possibilities rather than shoulds and take action to get past emotional blockages when I feel thwarted in my attempts to follow through on the more mundane goals outlined below

-Eliminate paper towel use in our home

-Establish a cleaning schedule and make cleaners I feel good about

-Become knowledgeable about herbs for healing, some basic Ayurveda, and homeopathy and delve deeper into essences and essential oils

-Replace current herbs, salt and pepper with new, mineral-rich, fresh

-Make my own ketchup regularly

-Culture my own veggies regularly

-Try making water kefir and possibly other fermented drinks. Research fermented beverages in general

-Tend the compost consistentely

-Tend the garden and yard such that weeds don't get out of control and plants don't die. This includes figuring out a good hose and/or sprinkler system.

-Get rid of all plastic dishes and containers and replace with items I've researched and feel good about

-Make chicken stock weekly

-Make beef stock occasionally and roast grassfed meat regularly

-Soak rice when time allows

-Soak and sprout beans

-Make ghee

-Learn about GF baking

-Get refined sugar back out of diet, possibly including another carb-free, fruit-free (possibly legume-free) cleanse

-Learn about the best source for chocolate if I'm going to eat it

-Learn more about non-supplement forms of calcium and other vitamins and minerals and EFAs

-Possibly do a cleanse if my son weans before we decide we are ready to try to have another child. If I have this time, I would also use my infrared sauna and chi machine, which are of questionable safety while breastfeeding

I actually started this post over a month ago and found it helpful to return to it again before publishing. I look forward to having this info accessible whenever I need a reminder!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gluten-Free Baking

I took another great cooking class last night with Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well: Cooking for Well Being. This one was on gluten-free muffins and quick breads, which were delicious!

We did a touch test to feel the difference between three types of rice flours: Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills, which were very grainy, and Authentic Foods, which was super silky. We are going to look into their growing practices as they are not organic -- want to make sure they're no-GMO and at least sustainable practices.

I had no idea that shaking/fluffing your flours could make such a difference with texture! Monica's mixture, adapted from Analise Roberts' Gluten-Free Baking Classics, is 6 parts rice flour, two parts potato starch and one part tapioca flour Make a big batch and have it on hand so you can bake on demand!

Take Monica's classes for fun, education and yummy treats!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Giving up the Goat

I really hoped we could tolerate some goat cheese, my son and I. We bought some of the same kind we were eating a year ago until the chiropractic neurologist muscle-tested us and said "Absolutely not," literally tossing the morsel I'd brought aside. "I just adjusted him!" she exclaimed, as though eating something his body couldn't handle would mess with all that energy work.

Well, he did turn around after that first visit last October -- stopped biting, transitioned better to me separating from him, and just generally seemed to feel more comfortable in his own skin. I was adjusted on many levels that day, and I went from weepy to dealing pretty well with life. So I think she was onto something.

But I figured now that I'd cleared some other issues, maybe it was worth a try again. My sister was bringing her daughters to town, one of whom doesn't eat gluten, and I thought it was a good time to try a GF pizza crust. (I'll post a link when I get to confirm the brand. It was good, but tough for those of us sensitive to yeast!)

I told E, "We're going to try this cheese and see if we like it, if it makes our bodies feel good." The next day he remembered and went looking for it in the fridge. He loved it. He told my visiting sister with gleaming eyes, "I ate cheeeese!" (I think it might be this Shiloh Farms Raw Goat Cheddar, but I'll have to check next time I'm at the store.)

I loved it, too. It was creamy and rich. I'd missed that texture and taste. There weren't any obvious stomach problems right away, but I just think it made both of us kind of off. E got a runny nose for the first time in I don't know how long. It didn't last but for two days, perhaps in part because I took Thieves oil from Young Living (and he's still nursing) and gave us both the Respiratory, Immune and Lymphatic MBP solutions from Perelandra. But still, it was a runny nose, and his behavior seemed a little challenging.

My neck started to get very stiff. I used to feel like this all the time but just haven't seen I've been on an allergen-free diet and especially since last October when I saw that chiropractor.

I hope that maybe some day I will be able to tolerate raw milk, or at least raw goat milk, that I can try to culture myself into yogurt or kefir. Cheese, I'm told, isn't the best way to get raw dairy, which is believed by some to be so much better than pasteurized because it retains the active enzymes. See the Campaign for Real Milk from the Weston A Price Foundation.

I did enjoy a lovely (pasteurized) honey goat cheese that my friend gave me a few days later. I figured once I was trying one new thing and realizing it wasn't optimal, I might as well go all the way. I could stand to do more research on the subject and will share what I learn when I do.

Now that both cheeses are gone, I'm not planning to buy any more. E did not ask again for the cheese after we had the pizza. I was surprised because he's usually pretty relentless about remembering stuff that he likes and wants. Maybe he knows it's just not right for us right now.