Category Archives: Healthy Habits

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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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 $$. 

Favorite Ways to Save Kitchen Bucks

So there are really only a handful of ways you can make real food work in a kitchen:

  1. Save money by making a lot of it from scratch, but it will cost you time
  2. Save time by buying real-food shortcuts, but it will cost you money
  3. Somewhere in-between the first two options, using both as you can (this is me, although I tend towards option #1)

I recognize this can feel daunting. And as someone who’s been at this for Y-E-A-R-S there are seasons in life – due to schedules, motivation, health, etc… that sometimes, this real-food-thing doesn’t seem possible, effective, profitable.

I am not above vacillating. We’ll go backwards. I’ll allow just enough cheats and junk in the house… and y’all, we FEEL it. Colds we can’t kick. Digestive issues that are awful. And of course, hormonal imbalances and weight gain. So while I, just like the rest of this planet, falls into it… I’m here to say a) give yourself some grace and forgiveness (and let’s not forget this is not about rules, y’all! So when there’s freedom from rules…) and b) encourage you and give you a few tools in the toolbelt.

Because sometimes, this wavering is because of money and schedules and not just laziness. (Disclaimer: sometimes mine is just laziness, so no judgment here.) You’re not sure how you can get this done and it just feels better to cheat. And cheat frequently. There are some basic skills that I feel keep me away from full-out junk diets AND still save money and don’t cost an exorbitant amount of time.

So…. If you’re wanting some easy ways to cut your costs in your kitchen and still get nutritious food in, here’s some suggestions….

Easiest ways (assuming you own a VERY basic slow cooker):

Cook your own beans. Buy them dried, and let them soak/cook in a slow cooker. After they’ve cooked and cooled, I freeze them in tupperware to thaw as needed.  I recommend this method as shared by fellow blogger and as I discussed in my recipe for Cajun beans ‘n’ rice.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Oatmeal. Soak it and then cook in your slow cooker.  I detail my method over in my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal… I wrote up how to do it for plain oatmeal, and then tacked on how I made it with pumpkin (which is really just added flavor at the end).  I usually make a huge batch, then once it’s cooled, keep in the refrigerator to reheat throughout the week. It’s super cheap and easy, filling food in the mornings. I don’t do pumpkin all the time (maybe only a 1/10th of a time?). Mostly, it’s just cinnamon + sweetener because that’s cheapest and easiest.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Make your own broth. Of all my slow cooker methods, this is my favorite. Because most people just throw away chicken skin and bones and vegetable peelings… and this is using something you would ordinarily throw out! It’s like better than free! Haha. Shaye at The Elliott Homestead explains it best! I use this method ALL the time. I haven’t bought broth in probably over five years.

Make granola. Okay, so this obviously does not require a slow cooker, but an oven at minimum.  It’s easiest, though with a dehydrator (but please, oh please, don’t let that deter you!).  Method and recipe can be found here.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

If you have more time and/or right tools:

Make bread. I used to do this EVERY week. I now do this not out of obligation but for fun, and we buy our bread. This is a prime example of choosing to spend more money on something so that’s healthy so I don’t have to spend my time on it.  There’s loads and loads of great recipes out there, but due to my own gut/dietary needs, I rely heavily on Jovial Foods Einkorn Cookbook (check it out here… I raved about it in this post… and I still can’t say enough about it.)  It can be SUCH a rewarding experience, and there’s no taste or texture comparable purchased in the store.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Make yogurt. This feels like a science experiment or chemistry lab every time.  It’s a pretty fascinating experience learning about how bacteria grows (or doesn’t).  I learned a great deal from The Prairie Homestead here.  I use a dehydrator, now, for this – but you can do without it. It does take some time and patience… BUT WILL SAVE YOU GOBS.

Make your own bars. Granola, larabars, fruit-n-nut, etc. I will confess I’m still learning this… in that I haven’t done as many.  Granted, it’s still cheaper to buy generic store brand granola bars… but don’t look at the ingredient list if you do. If you do, and want a cleaner option… then you’ll likely end up with an option that is closer to $1 (if not over) each.  I’ve collected quite a few recipes at my pinterest board here.  My current favorite are these blueberry bliss bars.  YUMMO.

Make waffles. This is no surprise to you, right? I’ve raved about waffles and the Einkorn recipe posted here is a top sought post. It obviously requires a waffle iron (special tool)… but you can get them inexpensively.  I usually double (sometimes triple!) the recipe and freeze 7-10 in bags so I can pull them out as needed, akin to the waffles you can buy at the store. I promise… THIS SAVES MONEY. Serious money.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

There are other options, too, for overall savings.

Overall stewardship of resources can make money spent in the kitchen possible, too.  (More info on that concept here.)  Here’s some other ways I save money:

Swagbucks. I earn swagbucks points on Swagbucks that converts into gift cards, which in turn gets used mostly for Christmas shopping.  Check it out here. I combine those gift cards with Black Friday savings (and other deals around that time of year) and make out like a bandit. No joke. With swagbucks and deal-hunting, the net worth of those gifts is often quadruple the amount of money I actually spent. I do not lie, I can show you the spreadsheets for proof! :)

Cleaning Supplies. I buy very, very little cleaning supplies. I have managed this between baking soda, vinegar, and Norwex.  Norwex products are mostly cloth-based and you combine them with water, clean whatever it is that needs it… and done. Yes, that simple. You wash the cloth and do it all over again. I use Norwex for dusting, wood, glass, toilet bowl, make-up removing, floors, just to name a few. Those are all areas of my home I’m not longer spending money on products that get consumed and I have to repurchase.  This isn’t even touching on the issue that there’s no chemicals and you don’t have to worry about toxicity.  Check out Norwex here.

Laundry Detergent.  I make my own … recipe forthcoming.  It’s a basic combination of washing soda, borax, dye-free oxiclean, bar soap (that’s been shredded).  There are loads of other options online.  I still buy some detergent, too… because we only have so much time. Sometimes, I need to buy it because I just don’t have time to make it and I’m running low.  However, it’s much cheaper to make it than buy a clean/green detergent… so it’s back to that basic choice of money versus time.

Reusable Bags for Snacks & Sandwiches.  I love, love, love these things.  They save money on the plastic bags, I’m no longer buying a consumable. I’m not contributing to the plastic-consumer-driven economy, either. They wash well with dishsoap.

 

So….

What do you do? How do you balance your time and money?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 $$. 

Hard Stuff & Freedom

This year was HARD.

We raised meat chickens (butchered them ourselves). Settled into a home. Fundraised and WENT to Haiti for a week. Struggled with high drama in several relationships.  Oh, and at work, I consistently put in 50-60 hours. Per week. For months.

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So yeah…. hard.

Call it disease, call it stress… it almost doesn’t matter… my body has been on a slow decline for the last year. We’re in the process of figuring out a plan on how to deal with these medical issues, but for now… I’ve had to slow down. Which again… is hard. (Did you read the list of hard stuff? No room for slowin’ down there.)

I went gluten-free to deal with one issue, and in some ways – along with medical intervention – that one specific issue has improved.  But it didn’t eliminate any migraines or any other ailments.  In fact… it all just continued slowly to get worse.

I’m going to be honest, it’s incredibly frustrating.  As someone who doesn’t even let soy come into her home, as someone who has sanitized GMOs from her family’s diet… I feel a wee bit cheated.  I feel like I did the right thing by our diets, and I’ve had new issues creep up instead.

I didn’t want to come here and write about all the success I’ve had in the kitchen.  Well, because I HAVEN’T. Aside from my enthusiasm and proselytizing about healthy food being reduced, I positively didn’t have the energy. My kids have eaten so many sandwiches it’s ridiculous.  I gave up making bread.  I just COULDN’T anymore.  My body didn’t have it in me.  It’s a struggle to muster up the energy to do anything but the bare minimum… and I’m talking also about cleaning toilets and washing clothes. And this isn’t even touching on writing.

I felt as if I couldn’t come here and talk about these things because a) it wasn’t food related and part of the whole “eat-better” message I’ve been so intent on and b) it wasn’t encouraging.  One of my biggest gripes about social internet presence is those that use it just to complain and garner pity. This wasn’t going to be what the blog was about.  So, instead… I just chose not to write.

I miss it, though.  I miss putting all my thoughts together into one space. Woven into all my past posts was my heart.  Things I was enjoying.  Things I was doing.  The problem of course is that I just wasn’t cooking as much in the last several months (almost a year) and I didn’t know how to relate my writing to the mission of encouraging those around me to eat well.

So, this blog is going to change.  I’m not going to delete it and undo anything.  But I feel it needs to be relabeled, and to include a mission and title that’s more about me, my heart, and not so specific on food.  (Don’t worry, as much as the energy level has decreased, I still LOVE to eat!! So food’s still up there.)  I also have other things beating in my heart… I often end up writing tiny blurbs on my personal facebook page, but I think it makes more sense to combine this all in a blog.  And Foodies Gone Real doesn’t necessarily fit.

I want to do what God’s called me to do well.  I have never doubted He’s called me to write encouragement.  Things will change because I want freedom – freedom to write as God calls, and not just bound up on what type of diet encouragement.

And don’t we all want freedom?

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I’m not a chef for every dish.

We eat boiled broccoli, potatoes that were “baked” in the microwave and pan-fried chicken topped with a pre-bought BBQ sauce.  (I do make a great homemade one.  But I’m not making it all the time.)

Bourbon Maple BBQ Sauce - Foodies Gone Real

Yes, you read that RIGHT.

Did you know we also eat cereal in this house?  And I, on occasion buy FRUIT SNACKS.

I know there are probably real gasps, real shudders, and real giggles.

The giggles come from other people that are pushing through the same kinds of things I am: an overabundance of information, often conflicting information on what’s good and what isn’t, a schedule that is stuffed full of LOTS of other things, and a food budget that is constrictive.

You can either have extra time and extra money, but you will sacrifice your health because you’re eating cheap stuff.  You’re to have “extra” health (a.k.a. good health) and extra time, but no extra money.  (In other words, you spend a lot of money on convenient healthier foods to maintain health and time.)  You could have extra great health, and extra money, but it will be at the expense of your time.  (Last example: you will have a healthy diet, and not use all your money on your healthy food, but it’s because you’re spending your TIME in the kitchen making stuff from scratch.)

So do you see this conundrum?  As my wise husband says, “You can have what you want, but you can’t have everything.”  This is this tricky balance of healthy foods, money, and time.  And I can’t win all the time on everything, and neither can you.

I L-O-V-E to cook.  Cooking is a hobby for me, but it’s not gourmet all the time every time.  Who can afford to spend all the time they want on their hobbies?  Yeah, me either.

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You don’t have to eat all these meals that take hours to create in order to eat healthily.  And I know this because I DO THIS.  I have only so much time, only so much money.  And I intend to demonstrate it… I bringing back the meal plans, y’all.

This is just as much for me as it is for you.  Way back in the day, when I posted these weekly, I was held accountable.  I felt that I needed to keep my word.  And I need that kind of financial and health accountability back.

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And it’s for you… because you need to know and believe that real food CAN be purchased, made and consumed with limited time and money.  This isn’t the sphere for just the rich and free-of-time.  It’s for the average-day people trying to do the best they can with what they have.

…..

And yes, sometimes that means fruit snacks.  (Ok, so they are the “healthy” ones, but really, y’all… fruit snacks will probably never be a health food.  Just sayin’.  Unless you make these.)

Much Love,

Sarah

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