How we’re doing & how we’re doing it…

Disclaimer: I am not (in any way) a medical professional. Please seek out your own medical advice – this is simply sharing our own experience.  

Whew.  It’s been a weird sort of year. A roller coaster and pretty wild at times. Moments of fright, too. Yup, a roller coaster.

God made it abundantly clear we were to NOT do any expansion or real active homestead projects. We were pretty certain by April.  I pulled back from going to Haiti, too.

How We're Doing

I was diagnosed with Hypermobility Syndrome in December, which is a connective tissue disorder. Many people with this have it congenitally due to a gene mutation and I have gobs of reasons to believe this is the case for me. This disorder is not arthritis OR inflammation-based; it’s a mechanical issue with my muscular-skeletal system. Now, the mechanical issues might cause inflammation and makes me predisposed to arthritic pain, but inflammation and arthritis didn’t come first.  It’s important that I explain this FIRST, before I go into what we’re doing on our own because when people hear chronic pain their first response is to assume it must be inflammation or autoimmune in the real-food/natural community.  Treating those issues is just bandaiding it… not actually helping me get better. Long-term, I will manage it by avoiding injury, not holding hypermobile positions/movements, and attempting to strengthen ligaments and tendons (which is trickier than we thought when my muscles are so used to the job of compensating for them!).

My dear, rock-solid, healthy husband in the midst of my chronic pain was diagnosed with acute Lyme disease.  We are so thankful to have had a quick-thinking doctor — even though it didn’t present itself as typical Lyme disease after a tick-bite, he made a lot of good calls very early that I am certain saved my mate from unnecessary pain.  BUT. Long-term antibiotic use is no small thing.  The medical community is becoming aware that this destroys your gut flora, therefore making the rest of your immune system susceptible to other infections.  Basically, treating him for acute Lyme disease is going to crash his immune system.  He had to make the decision to not go to Haiti, either.

Now.  Aren’t we glad we didn’t throw chickens into this and intensive gardening/farming? Haha.

And of course, in the midst of that, there’s financial dilemmas, relational angst, ministry obligations … and then our oldest daughter fell and got a pretty serious concussion.  I’m looking back on these six months, thinking… it hasn’t been a whole year of 2017, yet?!

SO. Aside from getting medical advice, and being under the care of various doctors and physical therapists… here’s where we landed on this:

1.) LET’S TAKE CARE OF OUR GUT.

We are pleased to have a primary care doctor prescribe my husband a probiotic. (We would’ve done it anyway, but it was a treat to have a doctor come out on the side of gut flora!) In looking at our diet, we’ve been slacking. I suppose by many standards it’s still relatively healthy- not much prepackaged items, low GMOs, low processed sugar. But it’s still very high in carbs and low on vegetables. There’s virtually no fermented foods in our diet any longer (I used to make yogurt like it was going out of style!). Aside from probiotics, our research said you’ve got to fix these things, too, in order to recover from long-term antibiotic use.   This is the probiotic we’ve been taking here.

I found that I really love kefir more than yogurt- it’s sooo lazy. Aside from the temperature control at the beginning, you just let it sit on your counter and grow. Once it’s fermented, you refrigerate. When we want to drink it, I dump some homemade jam in it, shake it, and call it a win. No straining whey or trying to make it the “right” consistency of yogurt.

If you on to do your probiotic hunt, please read this post by fellow blogger Mommypotamus. Probiotics are not created equally, and not all strains can withstand the heat of your stomach. So if you’re not careful, you could buy into a system that never actually makes it to your intestines. Please do your research and make sure your strain stood up to testing!

We have decided to take a multifaceted approach by taking probiotics (via capsule) but also increasing naturally fermented items (yogurt and kefir… we’re not big sauerkraut fans!)… the way we see it is you’re giving yourself a wide variety of bacteria versus just one source. I read once that not every person needs every bacterium. I have no idea if this is true, and the information out there can be overwhelming… so our way of handling this issue is variety.

2.) TAKE CARE OF YOUR JOINTS.

This, too, is trickier than we thought.  The information out there is overwhelming.  However, since I am apt to cause inflammation/arthritis in my joints (and surrounding areas), and Lyme disease may cause long-term issues with my husband’s joints, we knew we needed to really amp this up.

First up… I am SUCH  a huge believer in gelatin/collagen.  My hair and nails grow CRAZY better when I ingest it (powder form, in my coffee) daily.  But guess what this girlfriend stopped doing over the last 6-9 months? YUP. I just stopped buying it. I’m not really sure it was an active decision, probably more laziness than anything. (Just bein’ real.) I can’t seem to find any medical trials or tests on this, but hypermobility (in its congenital form) is a genetic mutation/malformation of collagen… so doesn’t it make sense that consuming it regularly would help? My body would say YES. This is the collagen I’ve been consuming.

We have started taking glucosamine like clockwork.  One of the issues with Lyme disease is the potential (later) of knee arthritis, and glucosamine is known for treating this specific arthritis.  We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, y’all!  For me, glucosamine should assist with cartilage building. Because my joints are not held together in the right way, I can tell you FIRST HAND that I’m messing the cartilage up big time. This should help.
This is the glucosamine we’ve been taking here.

The last big thing we’re doing for our joints and pain level is actually in the next point…

3.) TAKE CARE OF OVERALL HEALTH WITH MAGNESIUM.

Anyone that’s done a little bit of reading knows that magnesium will help you sleep better and also assist with digestion consistency ;-)  However, did you know that it’s estimated much of America is magnesium deficient, it helps in a BIG way with chronic pain, and it even helps your body properly process carbohydrates? I read it several times over, but it was probably Danelle and Weed ‘Em and Reap (blog) who pointed first to magnesium when diagnosing chronic back pain (check out the great post here).

Last little tidbit that I have to point out is that it’s even related to proper insulin balance. (Huge news for me as PCOS sufferer!) I don’t want to necessarily oversell magnesium, but when you research what all this mineral does for you, it’s incredible all the organ systems it touches; consequently, it’s not hard to see a deficiency in this area would make you feel like you were dying. No joke.

So, we’re doing leafy greens to up our natural consumption, and I am in the midst of recipe testing breakfast cookies that include loads of inflammation-busting foods as well as magnesium. But I am also taking a supplement (in conjunction with vitamin D – but not at the same time as calcium – read why here by Food Renegade).  I have also begun regular magnesium baths (epsom salts!) with essential oils known for helping with nerve pain and inflammation (I pinch nerves like it’s going out of style). This (link here) is the capsule I’ve been taking for magnesium.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST:

Where I am I buying this stuff? I am an amazon affiliate, so the links above for specific items will link you back according to the specific items I’m using via amazon.  I don’t recommend anything I haven’t personally used.  I make a tiny commission off of any purchases made above.

ALTHOUGH – I have GOT to point out Thrive Market.  I am an affiliate there, too – but often, their prices beat out amazon (no kidding, do a little cross-comparing!) – but I do not get any payouts unless you are satisfied with your free trial and become a member.  And I don’t make any money on your purchases, so it’s really not a huge deal here.  If you sign up, you get 15% off your first order, and it’s free for 30 days.  My membership costs paid itself back in less than two orders.  I live in a very rural area, so I do not have regular access to many health food stores so online ordering is IT for me… although I’ve heard that even if you did live in a metropolitan area with access to a variety of sources, Thrive Market would still beat them out.  You can sign up with this link! —> http://thrv.me/foodiesgonereal

BY ALL MEANS I am a thrifty person FIRST so go where it best suits you!

SOURCES: (but not limited to!)

6 Probiotic Myths Everyone Should Know (Mommypotamus): https://www.mommypotamus.com/probiotic-myths/

Glucosamine Supplement (WebMD): http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/supplement-guide-glucosamine

Magnesium Deficiency (Wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_deficiency_(medicine)

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms (Food Renegade): http://www.foodrenegade.com/magnesium-deficieny-symptoms/

Magnesium in Diet (Medline): https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002423.htm

Natural Relief for Back Discomfort (Weed ‘Em and Reap): https://www.weedemandreap.com/natural-relief-back-discomfort/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

 

 

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Lovely Roasted Potatoes

I love, love, love roasted vegetables from a pan.

And my husband is such a good sport.  I know he loves them, too.  Without fail, when there’s extras on the pan after we’ve all eaten some, I ask, “Would you like some?” He always replies, “I know how you love them, so you can eat them.” Y’all, that’s L-O-V-E.

In fact, the very first recipe I ever wrote was roasted carrots here.  And I wrote it out because I made it regularly, served to people, and they all said… UMMM HOW DID YOU DO THIS MARVELOUSNESS? (I know, not a word.)  So the truth is that the concept, overall, works for all root vegetables.

Lovely Roasted Potatoes - Foodies Gone Real

Come winter… we eat roasted carrots and THESE roasted potatoes at least once a week. Sometimes more often. Reasons are as follows, in order of importance:

  1. They’re freakin’ awesome
  2. They are SO EASY
  3. They are so cheap
  4. You can multitask (work on other dishes) if you please

And it bears repeating… they’re freakin’ awesome.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 small chopped hardy potatoes – think red, fingerling, yellow – NOT mashing kind (no russets!)
  • 3tbl+ Olive Oil
  • Dried herb of choice – 2tsp+
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste (my favorite part of the process, anyway!)

*NOTE: If you’re going to opt to use fresh herbs – which is an excellent choice! – I recommend reading the roasted carrot recipe here for measurements. It converts nicely to the roasted potatoes just fine.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 425*.

After your potatoes are washed and chopped, drizzle your 3 tablespoons of olive oil over your pan.

Dump your potatoes on the pan, and swirl, stir, etc… goal is to get them semi coated. If your potatoes aren’t all coated, add a little more oil.

A good dose of salt, pepper, and your herbs.  When you pull these out to test for doneness, you are also going to test for seasoning – hence the “2tsp+”.  Start with two teaspoons, and if you feel it needs more later, knock yourself out.  Our family’s favorite herb/spice for this is dried thyme. LOVE it.  Pictured here, though, I am using a combination of rosemary and thyme.

Stir/swirl again to coat all the potatoes with the spices/seasonings.

Lovely Roasted Potatoes

You’ll see here I’m baking them along with the Simple Mustard Chicken.  These two dishes go very well together!

Lovely Roasted Potatoes - Foodies Gone Real

Cook the potatoes for a total of 20 minutes, testing at about 15 minutes.  At the 15 minute mark, you’re going to use a spatula to turn/stir so the bottoms of the potatoes don’t over-brown. (Not that I mind the browning. Frankly, I love it.)  This is when you test the seasoning level.  If you bite into a potato and it’s crunchy… likely going to need more than another 5 minutes.  If it’s firm, or almost done, another five will help it evenly brown.

I don’t like to hold to specific times on recipes… it’s misleading for the following reasons:

  1. Gas and electric stoves heat differently
  2. Even different gas stoves heat differently
  3. The type of pan you’re using affects this. For example, a dark metal is likely going to brown it faster, stoneware (think pizza stone) might take longer, especially if not yet well-seasoned

So… you’re going to have to use a little bit of your best judgment here.

Lovely Roasted Potatoes - Foodies Gone Real

Once done… serve up, and serve up fast. Because, they’re worthy of it. But… just being real here… they taste just as awesome at room temperature. Or even cold. Yes… I’ve even eaten them cold out of a container from the fridge (on the rare occasions it’s not all eaten at dinner!).

Bon Appetit!

Lovely Roasted Potatoes - Foodies Gone Real

 

Simple Mustard Chicken

Sometimes, I just buy chicken breasts without a plan.

I’ve had to extend a BUNCH of grace to myself in the kitchen (read here). Unpredictable pain and the fatigue that settles in afterwards will do that. I am getting better on that front – read about that here – but it’s still something heavily managed.  Girlfriend’s gotta have major flexibility in what she’s planning.  (Haha… there’s a pun there… if you’re looking for it and you’re up-to-date on the health issues in the previous post!)

This means, many times, I cook up a storm in the kitchen. I’ll make a bunch of things at once to carry us over in the event my health issues or our schedules don’t align.  So, yeah. Buying chicken breasts without a plan.

This recipe is EASY for those nights without a plan. Aside from the fact it’s crazy easy to prepare, it never takes long to cook.

Confession: this is based on a recipe that once existed – where? I do not know.  I know I scoured my pinterest boards, googled, and everything… and I ended up making my own recipe for this over the last few years since I can’t seem to locate the original. So while I cannot take credit for the creative idea for this dish, I can for instructions, measurements and pictures – that is all my own.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cuts of boneless (here is 1 breast cut to tenderloin and 3 thighs)
1/2 c whole grain mustard (dijon will work ok, too)
salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Grease your pan. If you use well-season stoneware, you won’t need much. Otherwise, do it well. Or grab some parchment paper. I usually drizzle, then use my hand to finish spreading. (Olive oil is a great moisturizer! And it now means other stuff won’t stick to my hands as I continue to work with the chicken.)

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

I found this awesome mustard at Aldi’s. Man, I love that store. You can find neat stuff there. (Read my ramble on good finds at Aldi’s, here.)

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

Use a spoon, spatula, and probably a finger or two to smear the mustard all over both sides of the cut of chicken.

Note about the cuts: I’ve never tried drumsticks, but I gotta imagine you’d have to lower the temperature and cook for much longer – bones do that, ya know.

Salt and pepper the chicken.

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

I wish it looked as good as it tasted.

Cook in oven at 425 degrees for a total of 15 minutes – I recommend flipping the cuts at about 10 minutes.

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

The mustard does something wonderful about keeping the moisture in, I love it. They also come out nice and golden.

I served this with roasted potatoes (recipe soon!) and green beans cooked with bacon. (You can do those green beans up with a easy step, here! Veggies never go wrong with bacon!)

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

All of these three items cook simultaneously in about the same time – aside from preheat, I don’t think I spend more than 15 minutes active cooking all of this and voila! Masterpiece!

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

Perfect… and simple.

Simple Mustard Chicken.

Washin’ The Laundry.

I am a little crazy about saving money (no really, I ramble about it here and here), and one of THE EASIEST WAYS is detergent. Just honestly, even if I could afford the most expensive green and clean detergent, I doubt I’d buy it.

Washin' The Laundry - Foodies Gone Real

It’s probably me and my fanatic brain on saving money, but there is SUCH a satisfaction I get when I make another batch of this. I haven’t calculated the cost, but seeing as buying all the ingredients costs me less than $15 and seems to last me forever, I gotta imagine it’s cents to do a load of laundry.  I’m also saving a ridiculous amount of money by using vinegar as softener (no really, it works! AND, it helps deodorizes naturally and cheaply!) and hydrogen peroxide as color-safe bleach.  Yes… as in the 99-cent bottle from the first-aid section of your store.  I line-dry, too (I love it, soooo much) as much as weather, time, and health will allow… and when not doing that, please for the love of all things that are good CONVERT TO DRYER BALLS.  Please, oh please, oh please do NOT use commercial dryer sheets. They’re nasty for you and the environment.  I have also been experimenting with a spray stain remover from Mommypotamus – the recipe is here.  So far, I’m loving it!

So, for the sake of posterity, here’s a summary of my laundry routine:

  • this homemade detergent
  • vinegar for softener (which deodorizes and helps break down the washing soda)
  • hydrogen peroxide for color-safe bleach, as needed
  • line-dry as much as I can
  • use dryer balls when I can’t line-dry

 

Washin' The Laundry - Foodies Gone Real

Here are the ingredients:

2 c washing soda

2 c borax

1 bar of soap, grated (this is where you can be picky)

1.5 c dye-free, fragrance-free oxiclean

30 drops Essential Oils (optional… current favorite combo is lavender, geranium, and sweet orange)

Washin' The Laundry - Foodies Gone Real

INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix together well.

For each load, I recommend two tablespoons. If it’s really gnarly stuff, or stinky, or muddy… throw in more.

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FURTHER NOTES:

Some people will make this into a liquid. I don’t bother because frankly, I don’t have the time. I’d rather spend that time canning on prepping some other food.  So I keep it in the dry format and it works BEAUTIFULLY.

Also… it does suds up. Not a ton, but it will. This is important to know if you have a front loader and/or high-efficiency machine.  I have both, and the suds/low-water has never been an issue.

BAR OF SOAP NOTES:

Washin' The Laundry - Foodies Gone Real

I love Trader Joe’s oatmeal and honey soap. It’s a four-pack and it’s cheap.  I grate it up and pull from as needed.

Now go suds up!

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

Is it Cottage or Shepherd’s Pie?

Most people call this dish “Shepherd’s Pie”. Period.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

There are food purists out there that will argue you on this, though… and here’s the real titles, as far as my research shows:

COTTAGE Pie= beef

SHEPHERD Pie = lamb

FYI… This is cottage pie.

This is common fare for us in the winter, and especially in the month of March around St. Patrick’s Day.  I know, I know… shouldn’t it have been corned beef and hash? Alas, this is probably where the other parts of my genetic make-up take over. Can’t stand corned beef.  So I this is a classic dish, British-Isles-Ish, that I feel good about eating on March 17th.

And yes, I’m late posting it. But I’m making it again in a week or so… so see. You don’t have to only eat it for St. Patrick’s Day.

I also love it for the following reasons:

  1. Cheap. It can be as cheap as you need it to be… however…
  2. You can definitely “take it up a notch.”

I would argue that “taking it up a notch” doesn’t really keep true to its roots in the British Isles, BUT, it does seem to better appease our American taste buds.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds Ground Beef
Potatoes – about 4-6 russet potatoes, preferably, peeled and chopped
2 tbl butter, 1/2 c milk (for making mashed potatoes)
2-3 tbl Butter (for saute veggies, as needed)
Sprinkle of ground sage
1 tsp thyme
1 Onion (small), chopped
4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups Peas
Splash of whiskey (for deglazing, but you could use additional broth instead)
1/4 c broth (or water)
Salt/Pepper

TAKIN’ IT UP A NOTCH…

One small can of tomato paste
Shredded cheddar cheese – about 1/2 cup

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400*.

Brown your beef and chop your veggies.  This is almost always my first step, because I like to use the fat leftover from your beef to saute the veggies… I’m big into waste not, want not.

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While your beef is browning, bring a pot of water to boil for your potatoes.  Once it’s boiling, drop in your peeled chopped potatoes.  You are making mashed potatoes to top off the pie.

After the beef is browned, use a slotted spoon to remove.  If you can do it quickly, you don’t need to reduce to heat (keep the fat simmering).  Then, plop in your onions, carrots, sage, and thyme.  You may need to add more butter to prevent sticking.

After they’ve sauteed for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper generously, but if you plan to use salted broth for deglazing and/or later in the recipe, just go easy if you don’t like things over salted.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the onions and carrots are tender, put the beef back in with the onion, carrots and herbs, and splash your whiskey (you can use broth if no whiskey).  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of your pan.  This makes the food divine.  I do not joke. Do not skip this step of deglazing!

I like to think using whiskey makes it more authentic. I mean, we ARE trying to tie ourselves to Irish, roots, aye?

Now add your peas. Fry up for a few minutes until they start to thaw.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Add your meat and broth (or water) Bring to a boil and you want to ensure your peas are cooked all the way through if you’re using frozen (which is pretty much what I always do).  If you used canned you probably don’t want to cook as long as they don’t turn to complete mush.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the liquid is reduced some, peas are cooked, dump your veggie beef mix in the largest pan you have.

Now, about this time, those potatoes are tender and falling apart in your pot.  Strain them, mash ’em up with butter and milk.

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This is the only tricky part to the recipe: Dollup the potatoes around the beef and then spread it out, as if frosting a cake.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Cover your dish and cook for about 20 minutes.  Peek at it.  If you’re using a clear glass dish, you should see the liquid boiling inside.  This is a good sign.

Uncover the dish, and put it back in the oven.  Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.  This is really for however crispy/browned you want your mashed potatoes.  (The good news of course is that all the ingredients are actually cooked before you put it in the oven.  It’s entirely safe to eat, if you like.  This is just more about “melding the flavors.”)

TAKING IT UP A NOTCH:

Right before putting your beef+veggie mix into the pan, mix in one can of tomato paste.  Probably not authentically Irish, but I llllooovvveeee the flavor it adds.

After you’ve spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

For THIS time, I added the cheese.  We can’t go wrong with cheese in this house.

This is what it looks like, pulled out of the oven after a total of 25 minutes (5 uncovered).

fter you've spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

This is what it looks like served, and about to be devoured, like the true Irish woman I am. I adore potatoes (check out this and this and this if you don’t believe me). I love them sooooo much.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

 

 

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