“Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy and spirit you possess or takes away from it.”
― Ann Wigmore
I am so proud of myself right now! I have been consistently meal planning for several weeks now and I am definitely seeing the fruit of my labors! I have several weeks of meals either printed or written down, saved and tried & tested! I am now able to rotate those meals, adding a new one every few weeks or so to keep it fresh and not as repetitive. PLUS, my stress level is way down and my budget is reasonable. We are eating healthy, whole foods that are also gluten free and grain free (most of the time). **I also credit this to doing the bulk of my shopping at Costco, if you don't have a membership and you have one near you, I highly suggest you get one! It is a money and time saver!
I can find so many healthy, organic, gluten free and whole food options there and with my large family it is saving me money and many things are lasting us 2 weeks! #bonus I make a short trip to a smaller grocery store for some incidentals that I can't find at Costco, but they have about 95% of what I need.
So, what are we having this week? I'm glad you asked!
#TacoFries You just roast some potatoes in the oven to get them a little brown and crispy *(If you have an air fryer, then use it and save even more time and have less mess!) While the potatoes are cooking, I cook my ground beef, or chicken, and season it. Vegetarian or Vegan? No problem, sub some yummy black beans with all the seasonings! You can use regular potatoes OR sweet potatoes. If I roast some sweet potatoes, then I season them with salt, pepper and some child spice blend! #YUM Once my potatoes are done, the toppings go on! The meat, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, avocado, cheese, sour cream, cilantro! You could do black beans, corn and salsa! So delicious!
Sloppy Joe Hash & Kale Salad Roast those sweet potatoes and while they are cooking, make some Sloppy Joe mix with your ground beef instead of taco seasonings. Top the roasted sweet potatoes with it and a little cheddar cheese. Serve with some slaw or a kale salad! Your tastebuds will love you! and so will your body! Sweet potatoes are so good for you! We are actually having this, this week too! I like simple, but healthy meals!
I'm in a mood for soups! My family LOVES Potato Soup so I'm making some this week. The best part is the Instant Pot does the hard part once I'm done adding all of my ingredients! It's so good and so filling! To make sure we get some veggies I serve with a side salad. I keep it simple: Romaine, Arugula, Tomato, Hard Boiled egg for some protein and a vinaigrette dressing of olive oil, lemon vitality essential oil, some ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar), salt and pepper. So good! **I've also been known to put some kale and/or spinach in my food processor and get it really find, then add to my soups. Extra nutrition and the fam doesn't even notice!**
I add the following to my large 8 quart IP:
Potatoes to just below the max fill line. I like to use Yukon Gold potatoes. They give the best flavor and texture.
It needs some liquid so I add some canned coconut milk, organic chicken broth (or bone broth if I have some on hand) and some organic cream. Usually equal parts of these three things and you need enough to mostly cover the potatoes.
I chop up a medium yellow onion and add it in as well.
My seasonings are: Salt, Pepper to taste. Garlic, about 2 TBSP, Oregano, Thyme and Basil Vitality oils.. approximately 2 drops each. This just MAKES the soup POP! Those flavors go so well with the potatoes!
While my soup cooks, I have some bacon in my oven for topping it off! You can also have things like sour cream, chives and cheese to add to your bowl! So good! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
I'm also making a Taco Soup for next Tuesday (or maybe on Sunday because FOOTBALL STARTS and my husband and one of my sons are serious Pittsburgh Steelers fans and this would make a great meal for that night!) I'll serve this with some rice and Cauli-Rice, but tortilla chips are also an option if you are not grain free but want to remain gluten free.
Anyway, this one is going in the large crock pot I have. Here's what you need:
2 lbs Ground beef, grassfed is best!
Brown it in a skillet, just add a little salt and pepper while cooking it. Drain and add to your crock pot. **You could also do shredded chicken or chorizo!
Then add the rest of the ingredients:
1 large can of Tomato Sauce
1 container of organic Beef Broth
One medium onion, diced
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 TBSP Smoked Paprika
Several heaping spoonfuls of Green Chilies, I get them at Costco and they are so good! **(Picture below!)
3, or more, TBSP of Garlic! It's so good in this!
2 TBSP of Cumin
Cream Cheese... this is what MAKES the soup! Rich, creamy and delicious!
Dump all of the above in the crock pot, along with the cooked meat and set on Low for 4 hours on on High for 2 hours.
Garnish with some diced bell peppers, cilantro and cheddar cheese!
Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers are on the plan this week! I cut mine in half to make it easier to eat. Bell Peppers are on sale this week at Fresh Thyme market so I can get plenty for this meal, plus my Taco Soup and Taco Fries!
This is another super easy meal! Brown your favorite sausage then add add onion, mushroom, Cauli-Rice and chopped kale. I add these at the end so they don't get mushy in the oven after I stuff my pepper halves. I stir in a just a bit of heavy whipping cream. I don't want it runny, so maybe 1/3 cup or less. I want a thick mixture. Once it's done I spoon this onto the pepper halves that are waiting on a baking tray (I love these stainless steel ones from Amazon!) After they are all filled, I top with some Parmesan cheese and bake until done. So yummy!
That's it for this week as we have a dinner out one night--Yay for a night off! We will have some leftovers from all of this as well. (I hope! Hahaha!)
Happy, healthy eating!
If you haven't read the first part of this series, you might be a little lost if you start with this one. Read my first blog post about my family's journey to wellness here.
I left off in my last blog entry talking a little about my third child's diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, some food experimentation, changing out diet, the results and seeking more natural ways to keep my family healthy.
During the same time all of this was going on, I experienced a miscarriage and had 2 more children. My 4th living child was diagnosed with Asthma at 6 months of age, while all of this stuff was going on with his older brother. To say that added to my stress is an understatement. I still don't know quite how I made it through those years. Something else just took over. There is no other explanation other than God sent me the Holy Spirit as my helper because I did not have a physical person there to help me through those days. Lonely, would also be an understatement as a description of those days, weeks and years of my life. I know there are moms out there who can relate to feeling isolated and lonely when your kids are young and very needy; They need naps, lots of attention, guidance, instruction and supervisions. That is true for every child. When you add in challenging behaviors that go along with ASD and then medical issues that you can't seem to get doctors to understand PLUS another child who has a medical issue needing daily attention and medications so he can breathe effectively PLUS just all the regular mom stuff----I was STRESSED, anxious and tired. I didn't sleep well and I certainly didn't take care of myself. It wasn't even a thing I thought about. I just performed. (**Stress LEVELS of moms of kids on the Autism Spectrum are equal to that a soldier in combat. See here for the evidence. We also experience traumatic events more frequently and become hyper-vigilant. Read more here.)
I stayed home most days. I didn't have the money, let alone the energy for outings. It was too much work, too much effort and outings were stressful for a young child on the Autism Spectrum--it wasn't worth the issues I'd have to deal with and getting out of the house presented it's own challenge. We lived in poverty at the time and used some public assistance to make ends meet. Gas money was for therapy appointments, doctor's appointments, grocery store trips and attending church. Period. Looking back, I wish I'd had the presence of mind to consider what all of this was doing to my other kids, but I didn't. It wasn't that I was only thinking of myself but I was blinded to how this was all effecting my son's siblings. I can see it now. I know they also struggled, suffered and felt lonely too. Relationships didn't get much attention and feelings were never discussed. I'm trying to change that now, but it's been a lot like trying to get a toddler to try a bite of broccoli---almost impossible. But, I'm stubborn and don't give up easily.
***If I could get one piece of advice across to moms in a similar situation or any mom--TALK about your feelings with someone you trust. Find a therapist to go see once in a while. Don't stuff them down and don't hide from them. The feelings aren't bad or wrong---they can't be. But they will have side effects if you don't deal with them in a healthy way. My avoidance of them led to a lot of anger, resentment, bitterness, victim mindset, taking frustration out on others, unhealthy eating habits/weight gain, headaches, anxiety and sleeplessness. Those feelings will have physical manifestations, it's not if, it's WHEN. The chronic stress is not goof for the body or the mind. ***
Staying home became a way of life, for the most part. My "social life" was nonexistent mostly by necessity. Even if I'd had the funds to go to a movie with friends or lunch--- I didn't have the energy or the mental/emotional capacity to do it---I also didn't have friends so therefore no invitations to attend much of anything. There were occasional wedding or shower invites, etc.. but with no money and 5 kids--- that wasn't happening.
At some point during everything that was happening in my life I was told that my attitude, lack of a smile and overall demeanor drove people away (paraphrased). At the time, that drove a sadness, grief and sense of despair through my heart. I don't know if the person that said those words to me thought it would jar me into behaving differently or what--but it had the opposite effect. I walked away feeling so discouraged and rejected. Ashamed. And shame can do a number on a person. It's that feeling that you are unworthy of love and acceptance, that you don't belong unless you act or are a certain way. I definitely felt unworthy and unloved. I also wondered where did I belong??? Did I belong at all? I was in such a bad place emotionally that I needed some love and understanding. It would be a very long time before I would find it.
I guess I sort of just put my head down and did what needed to be done. There is certainly some advantage to that, but the detriment was that I didn't see or notice a lot of other things that needed my attention. My vision was somewhat single minded: Keep my family healthy and help my son be the best he could be. That tunnel vision also blinded me to the pain my other kids felt because of their brother's diagnosis and the distance that created between them and him and all of us. I didn't see that until many years later.
While emotional healing would be a long time coming, our physical health was improving rapidly. Behaviors, sleep, focus, learning and general health all improved for my son on the spectrum. His younger brother needed the inhaler and nebulizer less and less. I lost some weight. I had a bit more energy. I could definitely see improvements from changing what we ate and adding in supplements like Vitamin C, Zinc, D3 and a multi-vitamin to support our health. I had purchased a few homeopathic remedies and some herbal products to support our health during times of illness which was far less frequent by the end of 2013.
I wasn't quite satisfied though. One of the remaining issue that my son had was allergies. For about 9 months out of the year he was miserable and so were the rest of us. Allergies for him didn't just mean a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and maybe a slight cough. It meant a DRASTIC change in his behavior. And sleep. He became more argumentative and he would fixate on certain things, becoming very OCD-like and he would be up until the wee hours of the morning, mostly checking baseball, football or basketball scores depending on the season. He would become extremely uncooperative, belligerent and defiant. My normally kind, cooperative, quiet, helpful boy would change almost overnight. The only time he had relief from this was during the coldest months of the year when everything was dead.
It was so bad that, at times, I considered hospitalizing him because of his very agitated state and his somewhat aggressive physical behavior. I would occasionally be afraid of what he might do to himself or others. Thankfully, it never came to that. However, it was still very stressful 9 months out of the year. I had gone back and tried pharmaceuticals, I added in some natural histamine blockers and supplements to help his body deal with the allergens. Some relief was seen but it wasn't enough.
Answers were coming soon, though. I would find out just how important the food my son was eating is to his well-being and health. I'd also find some answers I seekded in one of God's creations: Plants.
Watch for my next blog post in this series: Seeking Health
Fall starts in 22 days. This usually also has people rushing to the stores to get fall candles or to get there leftover ones out of storage and light them up. I get wanting to have my home smell good, to enjoy those warm and welcoming scents--plus the cozy glow of a candle, but there are health risks that we aren't told about.
In this study, they surveyed some "selected scented consumer goods" found that they emitted over 100 VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds). Many are classified as toxic and harmful to humans. They tested products that were labeled as "natural" or "organic" and found some of those same harmful chemicals!
Over 25 different types of products were tested, many of them popular, top selling brands. Everything from laundry detergents to air fresheners, dryer sheets, lotions, shampoos, and more. All of these contain an ingredient called "fragrance". However this is NOT a single additive like we would think and are led to believe. Fragrance is made up of a mixture of many chemical compounds in order to re-create a specific scent. The companies call it proprietary so they don't have to list each of the individual components, which can be as high as 350 separate chemical products.
These products emit hazardous and even cancer causing chemicals into the air that we breathe every time we use them and candles are no exception.
Candles that are made with 100% pure beeswax, or another natural wax like coconut, hemp or soy are much safer, but most are made with paraffin wax, which is toxic. Scented candles, which are made with paraffin wax, give off dangerous vapors like benzene and toluene. The wicks can contain heavy metals that become airborne and are easily inhaled when burned. In addition, the scents and dyes used to make scented candles release harmful chemicals that can cause a variety of health issues like hormonal, behavioral and general health related issues.
Other scented products like air freshener sprays, plugs ins, etc. also post similar risks.
Several studies have confirmed that residual chemicals from plug ins can accumulate in the human body over a period of time. As these chemicals accumulate the amount stored in the body increases. This has health consequences. A plug in type product relies on something called heat induction technology and special heat-activated gels. This is what causes the scent to be released. There is an enormous number of toxic compounds in these gels. Plug ins contain the same chemicals as aerosol sprays (shown below), and in addition, they contain Naphthalene. This one has been found to cause cancer in the lungs and tissue damage in lab studies which leads experts believe it likely has the same effect in humans.
Scientific studies have shown that one-quarter of common household air fresheners contain chemicals that are potentially harmful. Our lungs have been designed to filter out toxins, but we are exposed to an enormous amount of chemicals on a daily basis just by walking outside! There are so many things we breath in that we don't know about and definitely can't see. We can't control what's out there, but we can be the gatekeepers for our homes and take steps to reduce the exposure.
People who have existing lung conditions like asthma, COPD and young children who are still developing are at the most susceptible to the effects of these chemicals, but really no one is immune to the dangers of these synthetically scented products. In this article from The Lung Association, they outline the risks to our respiratory health.
Here is a brief list of the chemicals that may be present in aerosol sprays:
(In addition, cleaning products have cancer causing and lung damaging ingredients. Read more here.)
Diffusing essential oils is a much better, healthier and safer way to cleanse the air, make your home smell fresh and maintain wellness too! An essential oil diffuser enhances the environment by spreading the aroma of herbal, woodsy or citrus essential oils throughout the air. The small molecule of the essential oils permeate the air in your home. Diffusers have therapeutic and aesthetic purpose and help provide many health and wellness benefits for those who use them daily.
I'm going to share some of the ways having and using essential oils in your home can be useful and helpful, while also enhancing your health and well-being. They are definitely much safer and better for you than candles, plug ins, gels or sprays!
I'd love to help YOU get started living a healthier, more chemical free lifestyle! It's easy to get started with Young Living and become a part of my oily family, Essential Living Community. I have a private, members only, group on Facebook and send out a monthly email newsletter plus other goodies!
If you're ready to fill your home with the amazing benefits of essential oils, go here to get started! I'll send you a welcome letter and gift!