Natural Remedies

Anyone who knows me probably thinks I’m a bit crunchy. Not all-the-way crunchy (no cloth diapers yet), but at least a little. As a result, I get into homeopathic remedies for our family’s little aches and pains and colds and flus. Since some of them have proven to be quite useful this past year, I thought I’d share!

Homemade Cough Syrup

Homemade VapoRub

Homemade Neosporin – for this I have just used tea tree oil slightly diluted with water or coconut oil.

Homemade Cold Remedy (My kids even drink it! Seen below…sorry for the bad pic.)

Some that I haven’t yet tried but are on the list just in case are:

Homemade Pedialyte

Natural Strep Throat Cures

Homemade Head Lice Remedy

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Living with Less Inflammation

elimination diet

In Spring of 2011, my husband and I decided to do an elimination diet. We also found out that most folks (like us before we decided to do one) don’t understand what an elimination diet is. While Tom and Ali give a very nice overview of their elimination diet plan here, I can tell you a few things about it:

1. An elimination diet is designed to help you recognize any food sensitivities you might have.
2. An elimination diet is not easy and will require time and dollars and sacrificing things you want to eat.
3. An elimination diet will, in the long run, help you avoid foods that cause inflammation in your body (and these are different for everyone).

To say it was an undertaking is an understatement. I cooked for probably an average of 2 hours per day. But we lived to tell the tale, and I highly recommend the process. After going through the entire diet, there were still several foods I was “iffy” about…couldn’t decide if I had really reacted to them. So this February we did the entire thing again! Call us crazy, but it was helpful. I indeed tested sensitive to bananas and potatoes. And things that I’m still not sure about are yeast and gluten. My reaction wasn’t very strong, but I feel like there was a reaction there. So who knows? Someday we may need to do it again.

This elimination diet also has a couple pleasant side effects:

1. I feel better than in any other time of my life physically and mentally. Even though I have been struggling with insomnia for over three years, when I eat like this I still have enough energy to tackle the day.
2. Weight loss. Unless you were already eating a ton of veggies, legumes and gluten-free grains, you will be full (there is no caloric restriction on this diet) and shed weight. The first time around I lost about 5 lbs and my husband around 9. This time I shed 8 lbs and my husband 11! Without really trying!

Even if you have no interest in the elimination diet, I cannot recommend enough the cookbook in which it is found. Tom has a Master’s in nutrition and certification in functional medicine. Ali also has a degree in nutrition and is a cooking instructor (it shows….her way with spices and food combinations is amazing). We have only found two recipes in the entire book (and we’ve probably tried over 100 of them) that we didn’t like. That is better than any other cookbook or website’s record for our family! They recently came out with a second cookbook full of more gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free recipes, and I bought that, too. I’ve already found several winners in there as well.

Eating healthy takes dedication and time to adjust, but in the long run, it’s worth it. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Giving our bodies the proper fuel will help them to function optimally.

Meal Planning – Seasonal Suggestions

I had an epiphany while I prepared supper last night.  While I am a huge proponent of meal planning, and there are many methods to it (this being closest to what I do), I realized that I rarely prepare a meal more than once or twice per year.  I have a binder that is full of favorite recipes I’ve pulled from magazines, websites, blogs, and as it has grown, I have so many “favorites” (meaning I’ve prepared it more than once and we’ve all liked it) that we eat a very wide array of dishes.

There are a couple of stand-bys that use ingredients I always have in my pantry, meals I can whip up on a moment’s notice or put into the rotation on a busy week.  Those dishes I will make probably once every month or two.  They include:

  • Pasta with red sauce and italian cheeses
  • Pancakes and eggs with fruit/veggies
  • Eggbake (breakfast-for-supper is just so easy!)
  • Chef salad
  • Chicken and biscuits (comfort food)

Another idea that I think is fabulous if you are just learning to meal plan is having “theme nights.”  I’ve never done this, but I feel like it would limit choices, thereby making it easier.  For instance, Monday is Mexican night, Tuesday is Crock Pot night, Wednesday is pasta, Thursday is salads, and so on.  Plus then you will usually have a pantry well-stocked for these themes.

If you are a seasoned meal planner and looking to shake things up a bit and add some new ideas to your routine, I thought I’d post a few of our seasonal favorites here, ones from my binder.  Some of the recipes could easily be included in multiple seasons, so go for what is local, fresh, seasonal and incorporate it.  Enjoy!

Winter:

Spring:

Summer:

Fall:

Easy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

I keep cooked and diced chicken in 1 1/2- to 2-cup containers in the freezer.  When the chicken is already diced, it thaws much faster in the refrigerator (one day versus 2 or 3).  Here is a quick, easy go-to recipe I use when I have a lot going on during the week.  It’s not super-healthy, but if you serve it with a salad and some fruit and use whole grain tortillas, light sour cream and Campbell’s Healthy Request soup, it’s at least not terrible.

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Cherry Pie

We got some sour cherries in our CSA box, so I made this pie.  I think it was my first cherry pie.  The crust seemed sticky and the filling took forever to thicken on the stove (I even drained off a little juice and added a couple more teaspoons cornstarch), but the finished product was quite delicious!  As you can see, I don’t really take time to make fussy edges or beautiful lattice on my pie.  Husband called it the “melting ghost” pie.

070210 Pie

Cake-Eater

As if the pickles weren’t enough to try this week, I also made PW’s brisket (3-pounder took almost as long as her 8-pounder took, fyi) and Joy the Baker’s cake.  Father’s Day, you know?

Both were delicious, but I didn’t take photos of the brisket, so you just get to see the cake.  Funny thing about the cake–neither Husband nor I were overwhelmed with excitement about our first piece.  But over the next day, something in the frosting “settled,” and it tasted less sour and more creamy amazing.  I encourage you to try it!

Also, my glaze didn’t dribble nicely down the sides of the cake like hers.  It sat on top like a giant, fat slug, so I took it upon myself to spread it all over the cake.

Cake 1

Cake 2

I Can Can!

I’ve long been afraid of the world of canning. But after I saw Darby’s recent pickle job, I decided I could do that. So I did.

I followed the recipe (without her edits), but made the following changes:

used regular cucumbers
used black peppercorns and 1 tsp. dried mustard powder
1/4 c. more ea. water and vinegar
Reduced sugar to 2/3 c. (I like ’em more dilly than sweet)
Added a clove of sliced garlic to each jar–yum!

Before adding liquid:
Pickles 1

“Pickling” in the fridge:
Pickles 2

Super-easy, and even yielded some pickled onions for Husband to use on his sandwiches. Next time, I’m going to up the water content and reduce the vinegar content a little, and maybe only use 1/4 to 1/3 c. sugar. They were a little zingy, even for Husband, and that boy likes his zing!