Share the Love

As you know, I’ve had babies. Five times.  And whether you’ve had one, or five, or maybe even none but have ever gotten sick to the point that you’re bedridden for at least a few days, then you know what it’s like to be trying to figure out how to care for your household when you can’t DO anything.

It’s tough.

The very best thing, the biggest help I ever had, was having friends bring over prepared meals for my family.  Just knowing that we had  dinner already done took a huge weight off my mind, and I will always seek to do the same type of thing for others when the need arises.

I recently received some sad news of a friend passing away.  Another friend was coordinating help for the family, and what I saw was an amazing tool that I know will come in handy for so many people. It’s called Take Them a Meal. It’s a scheduling tool for coordinating meals for any family.  I was glad to see such a thing, and know that it would have come in handy; I’m sure I’ll find a way to utilize it in the future.

And then I got to thinking.  If having meals brought was such a tremendous help when I was sick, or after I’d had a baby….why not share that kind of help other times? I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE to have a dinner brought to us even on a regular old normal day, just to make my life easier.   And if I feel that way, then others must also.

I often wonder what I can do to give a gift or bless others, when my resources are  limited.  Well, this is something that I can do. Despite my lack of time or money, I know that I can make double or triple batches of something that I am already making, to give to a friend. (I also recommend freezing for your own use later on).

With this in mind, I decided to make a double batch of challah dough this morning.  The dough was so big as it rose that it went above the rim of my largest mixing bowl!  And I’m off in a few minutes to deliver a freshly baked whole wheat challah to a neighbor, just to say “thank you for being a friend.”

So much of the time I feel overwhelmed and needy, unable to give and too often asking for something to be given to me.  I need to remember that I also have the ability to give back; I just need to figure out how.

What can you do for someone else today?

Baking Soda Works for Me!

Yesterday I shared my new quest for a more simplistic lifestyle.  In doing so, I’m not only massively decluttering, flylady style to get rid of “extra” stuff, but I’m trying to go greener, cleaner, and all-around more purposeful. FamilyNatural style.

One of the ideas I’d been tossing around my head for awhile was going “no poo,” meaning not using traditional shampoo. I have begun that endeavor and will post about that soon (update: here’s the post), but the reason I bring it up now is that in doing so, I employ what is quickly becoming my new good friend: sodium bicarbonate AKA baking soda.

I’d also been thinking about toothpaste and wanting to make my own less expensive, all natural alternative, and also am using my new good friend: baking soda.

I’m seeing a trend here.

Just thinking of the things I won’t need to buy or store (because I can use baking soda instead) makes me feel inspired in an “I’m headed for a simpler life” – kind – of – a – way.

Here’s a great article listing 40 uses for baking soda. I can’t wait to try more of them out.

And as far as the toothpaste thing, all I did was mix some baking soda with a little sea salt. I dip my moistened brush in and use. It’s definitely salty tasting, but boy, does my mouth feel clean afterward! As soon as I can get my hands on some mint oil, I’ll add that in.

I like the looks of this recipe from Organic Body Care Recipes (Storey, 2007) By Stephanie Tourles.

INGREDIENTS
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
1 drop peppermint, spearmint, sweet orange, clove, or cinnamon bark essential oil
A few drops tap water

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with a toothbrush, your finger, or a small spoon until a smooth, thick paste forms. The paste shouldn’t be too runny; it has to stay on your toothbrush.

Dip your toothbrush into the paste and use as you would regular commercial toothpaste.

Baking Soda is one of those things that definitely works for me. What’s your favorite way to use it?

What Do You NEED?

Have you seen these tiny houses?

I have 5 children, 2 dogs, and a cat.  I grew up as an only child (own bedroom) with plenty of space to call my own.  Sure, I shared bedrooms in college, but for the most part I’ve had tons of space, always.

I’ve lived with boxes that I never unpacked from the last move, and then moved again.  Boxes of things that hadn’t been opened for years.

I’ve held on to shoes I never wear since they’re uncomfortable, because, well, I already have them, so…why not?

Why not is because the clutter taketh us over…..it’s time to simplify.

No more owning things we don’t use or don’t want.  No more shoving things just anywhere because they don’t have a place they belong.  You’ve heard of “living intentionally?”  Well, I want to own intentionally.

I want to be a family that will have no problem living in a small house (like this family) or, better yet, be mobile.  I’d love to be able to easily transport all of our belongings easily, and for us to be comfortable sleeping on our sleeping bags wherever we go, whether we’re indoors or in tents.

I recently stopped using shampoo (more on this in another post).  I’m the guinea pig, but I hope to get the rest of the family on the program once I get the hang of it.  Besides being better for our health (and our finances), think of the simplicity of being able to use only household products (like baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and eggs) for our hair and not needing to buy or store (or move, if we’re traveling) shampoo, conditioner, and hair gel.  Less stuff, simpler life.

I’m planning to get a Kindle soon and then we can have books we like to refer to and re-read every so often on one little device, and not need to store (or carry, if we’re mobile) so many books! We LOVE books. But do we really need to OWN so many of them?

Less stuff, simpler life.

I know we’re too many people to fit into one of these. But looking at these pictures is inspiring to me.  To me, this says: SIMPLICITY.

What changes have you made, or would you like to make, to simplify your life?

Meal Plan for the week of May 2, 2011

I’ve been sort of out of the planning mode lately, but that’s got to stop. Especially while gearing up for major life changes (like moving), I need all the brain space I can get, and I can’t afford to waste energy trying to figure out what’s for dinner each day. Plus, I need to make sure we use up the food in the house before we leave it and not let it go to waste.  In case you aren’t sure why you’d take time to plan your meals, you can read my enlightening explanation here.

Otherwise, on we go:

Monday- Pancake dinner with fresh peaches and bananas

Tuesday – Tuna Noodle Casserole (with various veggies thrown in)

Wednesday – Moroccan Chickpeas with Red Sauce, couscous, salad

Thursday – Mexican Casserole (in honor of Cinco de Mayo)

Friday – baked fish of some kind, steamed green beans, rice, challah, brownies for dessert

Saturday – quick and easy granola with fresh cashew milk  for breakfast, this new lentil soup recipe & salad for dinner

Sunday – some kind of hotdog casserole (I have a bunch to use up), salad. Hmm…just realized it’s Mother’s Day

Monday – (Israeli independence day) -BBQ burgers, fresh coleslaw, potato wedges

Check out other menu plans at Organizing Junkie Hope you have a fantastic week!

On Considering Vaccinations

When considering vaccinations, there are 2 main questions to ask:

1) Are they effective  and 2) Are they safe.

Even before question 1, stop to consider whether the disease in question is one that you actually feel the need to prevent. Most childhood diseases are not life-threatening in most cases, and actually strengthen the immune system. In other words, they are actually beneficial. However, when an adult contracts the disease it can be much more serious (for example: chicken pox). So, it’s much better to have the illness as a child (which provides lifetime immunity), then to avoid it when young, only to be much more susceptible as an adult.

Other diseases are more serious to young children, and unlikely to be contracted over the age of 5 (for example: whooping cough), and so getting a vaccine to prevent it after that age is likely to be useless (even if your answer to question 1 is yes).   And yet another thing to consider is the likelihood of coming in contact with the disease in question. For example: Hepatitis B is transmitted by body fluids (blood, semen) and Tetanus can only reproduce in the anaerobic condition (of a deep puncture wound).  Are these really things that you expect to be in contact with?

So, on to Question #1: Are they effective?

I don’t believe their efficacy has been proven. In fact, many times the patient will develop the very disease for which he has been vaccinated against as a result of the vaccine. There is much evidence against their efficacy, you can do a search and find out for yourself.

Even if you are believe that vaccines are in fact effective, and that you do indeed desire to prevent the disease in question, you must continue on to question #2: Are they safe?

I believe the answer to that is emphatically NO!!

Vaccinations are not safe. They contain many toxic chemicals that have no business being in your body, such as formaldehyde and thimerisol (mercury). They tax the immune system, making it weaker, not stronger. They stress the nervous system, and I believe there is plenty of evidence that they are linked to autism as well as a host of other health issues.

There are pros and cons to everything. IF vaccinations were effective, you’d have to ask yourself whether the toxins and their effects are worth that protection. If they aren’t, then it’s a no-brainer.

My 5 year old recently fell on a rusty nail and got a deep puncture wound. He had not been vaccinated for tetanus. He probably was not in danger, but we decided to get him the TiG (tetanus immunoglobulin) shot after the fact. Remember that there are treatments and solutions if and when a child does get sick. If my other children never get a deep puncture wound, they might never be in a situation where it is even a consideration to get them such a treatment, and they never need  have those chemicals in their bodies.

A great resource for vaccine information is the NVIC.

Conspiracy “Theory” a Reality

I came across this article in the Natural News and just had to share it. If you’ve never doubted the honesty, sincerity, and flat out good intentions of the United States Government, this might just open your eyes a little bit.  When it comes to our good health and the right to be able to pursue it freely, I feel passionately about things like this.

(NaturalNews) It used to be that when you talked about Big Government conspiring with Big Pharma to use human beings as guinea pigs in bizarre medical experiments, people would look at you as if you were some kind of loon. “Oh, the American government would never do that,” they’d say, smug in their self assurance that they are somehow ruled by compassionate, honest government operatives and corporate do-gooders who are always looking out for the public’s best interest.

Imagine their shock when the thin veil of disinformation was lifted with last Saturday’s announcement that the U.S. government was apologizing for intentionally infecting innocent Guatemalans with diseases so they could study the effects of antibiotic drugs (http://www.naturalnews.com/029920_U…).

All of a sudden, all those people who somehow thought medical science was all about protecting people found themselves stunned — and even ashamed — to learn that their own government would conspire with the medical industry to intentionally engage in such behavior.

Welcome to the real world, folks. In the real world, governments are the great mass-murderers of our world. Throughout human history, more human beings have been maimed, tortured and murdered by governments than by any other type of organization on the planet. And virtually all of that activity has been justified under the excuse that they were working to “make the world a better place.”

That’s the same line Big Pharma uses today. All their medical experiments on innocent children, expectant mothers, blacks, prisoners and soldiers are all designed to “help them find new cures,” they claim. See the full list here: http://www.naturalnews.com/022383_N…

Setting the record straight on government-pharma conspiracies

With this recent admission firmly in mind, let’s set something straight on the issue of government-pharma collusion.

It is now an admitted fact that the U.S. government conspired with the pharmaceutical industry to conduct medical experiments on innocent victims. (This has actually been known for a long, long time, but only now has the mainstream begun to admit to it.) Thus, the U.S. government really does engage in “conspiracies” with Big Pharma. And this means reports of such conspiracy theories can no longer be blown off as mere “conspiracy theories” — a term thrown around by skeptics who try to pretend there is no such thing as a conspiracy in our world.

A “conspiracy” simply means two or more parties working together in secret to accomplish a particular agenda. Once you understand that, it becomes clear that virtually everything Big Pharma does these days involves a conspiracy of one kind or another… a conspiracy to manipulate the data, a conspiracy to achieve FDA approval, a conspiracy to hide the negative studies, a conspiracy to bribe doctors, and so on. Most of what is called “modern science” is actually made up of multiple layers of devious conspiracies that have yet to be fully uncovered and exposed.

Now that we know the U.S. government has engaged in conspiracies with Big Pharma (because the Guatemala incident is just one of a great many such conspiracies), we can ask the question: “Is the U.S. government still conspiring with Big Pharma today to achieve some particular agenda?”

The medical science conspiracies continue

The answer to that seems obvious to those who are paying attention: YES it is! You see this quite blatantly on two significant issues:

#1) Vaccines
#2) Public water fluoridation

In both of these cases, the government conspires to exploit the American people as if they were human guinea pigs. For both vaccines and fluoridation, there is absolutely no hard science to support these toxic chemical interventions as medically beneficial for the masses, and in fact both the fluoride suppliers and seasonal flu vaccine manufacturers will readily admit there have been no legitimate scientific studies conducted that show their products to be either safe or effective. Instead, they are being dumped onto the population as some sort of grand medical experiment to see what happens (and to make a buck).

The U.S. government, as you well know, is fully behind this effort. So are most state and local governments. You see, not only does the U.S. government knowingly use the American people as guinea pigs for medical experiments; it now combines these medical experiments with outrageous propaganda campaigns to try to recruit more people into the experimental pool. Hurry and get vaccinated, everybody! We want to find out what happens when a hundred million gullible people allow themselves to be injected with viral DNA fragments grown in rotten eggs and diseased animals…

Actually, they don’t seem to care much what happens to the test subjects (that would be you and me). What they really want to accomplish is the confiscation of obscene profits for the pharmaceutical companies and chemical companies that make such products. The experiment, you see, isn’t actually pointless. It has a purpose: To collect more money! Read the rest of this story here.

And the story about the US deliberately infecting Guatemalans here.

Gender-Bending Chemical on Receipts

You’ve probably heard of BPA. If not, here’s a one minute lesson: Bisphenol A, also known as BPA has been known as a synthetic estrogen since the 1930’s.

“Bisphenol A is used primarily to make plastics, and products containing bisphenol A-based plastics have been in commerce for more than 50 years. At least 8 billion pounds of BPA are used by manufacturers yearly. It is a key monomer in production of epoxy resins and in the most common form of  polycarbonate plastic.  Polycarbonate plastic, which is clear and nearly shatter-proof, is used to make a variety of common products including baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, CDs and DVDs, and household electronics. (Wikipedia)

The problem is that it’s bad for our health. Not just bad like toxic and so we need to detox, but bad like it disrupts our endocrine systems because it mimics estrogen. So kids who are hitting puberty at earlier ages have BPA at least partly to thank for that. What ore other health effects of BPA?

Scientists have linked bisphenol A (BPA) to a higher incidence of heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities in adults as well as brain and hormone development problems in fetuses and young children. Other tests have shown that bisphenol A can promote human breast cancer cell growth, decrease sperm counts in rats, and cause erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems  in men. (Source)



OK, here’s where I was suprised, and hence decided to write this blog post on the evils of BPA. I found out another place it’s found almost all the time, and we who go out and about buying things from stores get on our hands….RECEIPTS. Yes, receipt paper. Almost all receipt paper from gas stations, fast food restaurants, etc contain bisphenol A.

And while it is too big a molecule to be absorbed through your skin, (only small molecules can get into skin cells) if you touch your food with BPA, the chemical gets in you. This happens when you eat canned food or touch your burger bun after taking your receipt. Just one receipt has more than 1000 times as much BPA as baby bottles or canned foods. (source)

The good news is that all you have to do is wash your hands after handling a store receipt before touching your mouth or handling food. Also, one company is starting to produce BPA-free receipt paper.

The tougher thing to do is to eliminate plastics in your environment. While it’s virtually impossible to get rid of all of them, there are many that we can live without. I recently came across a few individual-sized glass water bottles. Since I seem to get water spilled on my laptop, I have a new rule of no open water containers near the computer; this is a good solution for me since I need to have water nearby to drink.  I’ve also been trying to allow myself to feed the children on ceramic and glass instead of the plastic kids’ dishes we have; it does mean more broken dishes though. Definitely not as convenient.

Of course limiting or eliminating the use of canned foods (BPA in the lining definitely contaminates the food you eat) is a good thing; with some planning you can eat fresh or fresh-frozen veggies instead. They have more nutrition and taste as well.

What steps have you or could you take to eliminate some of the plastics or other BPA containing products  in your environment?

Nightshade Foods: Should You Avoid Them?

I recently posted a new favorite soup recipe I found for Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup. I received a comment which asked about eating nightshades, and whether or not they should be avoided.

You may be wondering what a nightshade is and picturing something you put over your eyes to block out the light–I was too.  (By the way, I LOVE my bucky eyeshade. If you need one, I highly recommend it.)

Anyhoo, nightshades are a group of plants called solanaceae (officially) and the potato family (unofficially).  I’m sure you’ve heard of the potato. And I don’t mean the one that looks like this:

Nightshades include the potato, tomato, eggplant, bell pepper, cayenne, tobacco, belladonna, petunia, and others.

Apparently these nightshade foods are rich in alkaloids which affect nerve-muscle function and joint health.  However, usually only people with gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and other joint problems are sensitive to these alkaloids. They may see a reaction after eating these foods.

Many people eat these things with no problems; I feed them to my family and have enjoyed them for years, also with no problems. So, to answer the question: “aren’t nightshades bad for you?” I say NO. They are not bad for ME.

But they might be bad for YOU.

In other words, if you have a bad reaction to nightshade foods, then you should avoid them until you’ve healed and therefore would not have such a reaction.  And yes, I’m saying that even a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis can be healed through proper detoxing and nutrition.  But that’s not the point now.

I want to caution people against what I call “medical mindset logic.”

It goes something like this: A man has high blood cholesterol levels, which are supposedly caused by a high fat diet. The man goes to his medical doctor and is given a prescription for cholesterol-lowering drugs and told to avoid all fatty foods. INCLUDING AVOCADO.

The absurdity of this is that raw avocado, like any other raw fruit or vegetable, is one of the most healthful foods a person could eat. High cholesterol does not come from eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables; animal products and processed foods are the ones to watch out for. Most health authorities now agree that avocado need not  be avoided. But this was actual advice given by a medical doctor to a patient with high cholesterol.

That’s because “medical mindset logic” only seeks to affect symptoms, and not necessarily to find the cause of the problem.  So while a person with gout or rheumatoid arthritis may be affected negatively by certain nightshade foods, that doesn’t mean that the answer is to simply avoid those foods while continuing to take drugs to manage symptoms, and continue this for the rest of her life, assuming there is no other answer.

There is another answer. Get to the bottom of the problem. Detox. See a naturopath. Get your body working properly, and then you won’t need to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to enjoy Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup or Eggplant Torte. You will.

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=62

http://www.suite101.com/content/nightshades-a59252

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

I know I’ve mentioned that I love making soups for a filling, healthy, and inexpensive meal. I love even more that it’s SO easy to make a double (or triple) batch and freeze it for a ready-made dinner whenever it’s needed.

Many of my creamy soups end up tasting sort of similar, so when I find a new and interesting soup, I’m excited.  This is one of those soups.

As soon as I read the recipe, I was intrigued. With the unusual combination of flavors and no unhealthy ingredients, I was enticed. And when I tasted it, I was in love. Well not really, but it was GOOD.

Here it is, from Martha Stewart:

Serves 6

  • 3 pounds plum tomatoes, (about 12), cored and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 large eggplant, (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
  • Toasted rustic bread, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. with racks on top and bottom. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together tomatoes, carrots, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer, with tomatoes cut sides down. ( I didn’t have enough tomatoes, and I didn’t worry about them being in a single layer or having cut side down. )
  2. On another rimmed baking sheet, toss together eggplant, chickpeas, curry powder, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer. Place both sheets in oven (tomato mixture on top rack). Roast until tender, tossing mixtures halfway through, about 45 minutes.
  3. Using tongs, peel off and discard tomato skins.  ( I skipped this step and included the skins) Puree tomato mixture (including juices) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large pot. (I didn’t have enough tomatoes so I added some canned crushed tomatoes at this point). Stir in eggplant mixture; thin with 3 to 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkled with cilantro (the flavor of the cilantro really complements the soup); garnish with bread, if desired.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Roasted-Tomato and Eggplant Soup – Martha Stewart Recipes

The Not So Happy Meal

You may have heard about the recent ban in San Fransisco on restaurants offering children’s toys along with meals containing too much fat and sugar. If not, you can read more about that here.  The main offender in this is McDonald’s with their famous Happy Meal. The ruling says that a restaurant may offer a toy as long as the meal contains fewer than 600 calories.

I’m sure many of you enjoyed these toys as a child, as I did. Although we didn’t go often, it was a treat once in a while, and let’s face it: the toys are FUN. The problem is that our society as a whole, especially children, is becoming more and more obese and developing conditions which kill (like type 2 diabetes).

For many who are counting our pennies more carefully these days, McDonald’s provides a cheaper way to fill the belly at a place that kids love.  The problem is that THE FOOD THERE WILL KILL YOU IF YOU MAKE IT A REGULAR PART OF YOUR DIET.

Was that a little strong? Oh. Good.

Have you ever seen the movie documentary Super Size Me? It’s very interesting. It’s all about McDonald’s and follows a man who commits to eat there every day for a period of time, documenting his health changes as they occur. Here’s the beginning of it:

This ban is a good thing. Your children being enticed to eat at McDonald’s by the toys they receive there only helps them to become addicts at an early age. After that, the warm fuzzy feelings will be overtaken by the actual, physical addiction that occurs when high amounts of hydrogenated fats, processed sugars, flavor enhancers (MSG and other excitotoxins) are consumed.

Did you realize that these foods are addictive? Not from just this but any fast food restaurant, as well as packaged “junk” foods you buy at the grocery store and then serve at home? Your body was not designed to eat these chemicals and so will crave them again instead of what would be a naturally healthful choice.

I’m glad this law was passed. Unfortunately, though, it really is up to parents to change how they feed their kids for it to do any real good.

I understand the temptation to save money and time by going to the golden arches. I really do. I’d like to leave you with some thoughts on these two points.

  1. You aren’t really saving money. What I mean is, the “food” you get there is not really food. It does not satisfy your body’s need for nutrients. Your brain will tell your body it needs to eat again soon (that is, as soon as the chemicals from the food wear off), and the sicknesses you will encounter will cost far more than a more expensive real food meal would.  An apple and a handful of raw nuts would be far more nutritious (think: cost-efficient) than a happy meal and probably cost even less.
  2. You can prepare a home cooked meal without too much time involved with a little bit of planning ahead.  If you work full time and arrive home with no time to prepare, you can prep ahead and leave your crock pot doing the work for you before you leave in the morning. There are many resources to help you plan meals; you can read FamilyNatural’s post about menu planning here. An apple and a handful of raw nuts would be even faster to prepare than taking a trip through the drive through.

Are you seeing a trend here?

Remember, it’s up to you to train your children’s taste buds. However you teach them to eat, they will likely continue to do as they grow. My children are very happy having smoothies for breakfast, salads and whole grains, beans, etc. They are also very happy when they get a hamburger. If I gave them a choice of fast food, they would take it. But they are perfectly happy and MUCH healthier without that option.

Other related posts:

Here’s my post on How Chicken Nuggets are Made

and a chart showing Everything You Need to Know About Fast Food