Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More About This Crazy Diet, or Rather Just Sauerkraut

Sometimes I stop and think about life before the GAPS diet and I wonder how things changed so quickly and so intensely. I don't think of myself as a fickle person. I researched this change quite a bit and I really think we are doing the right thing, but when I think about what we put in our mouths more than three months ago, the difference is huge!  I don't even know where to begin with how much has changed. But basically I went from normal American to crazy hippy.  

 Yesterday was a big prep day for me, so I have lots of pictures to share, but after writing about sauerkraut, I realized this subject is just too big to share with the likes of liver paste, bone broth, soaked nuts or water kefir. Those pics will just have to wait.  Now on to the main event.

Sauerkraut was a HUGE success. I've been telling people all day how happy I am about my homemade fermented sauerkraut partly because of how shocked I am!  It was just too easy to come out well.  The best part is that the kids think it's awesome! They ate a whole jar of it yesterday. Here's proof (ok, it was a small jar, but still!)  Liam's bedtime snack:
"Mom, please stop talking about probiotics, it's going to make lose my appetite for this yummy sauerkraut."

Here's some information about it. You can also find another recipe here. Or here.

Sauerkraut (cultured cabbage) is very easy to make and it's so good for you so don't bother buying the stuff in stores.  It's has no nutritional value since vinegar is used to make it sour.  Cabbage is unique in that it has a naturally occurring bacteria that cultures beautifully in fermentation which makes traditional sauerkraut an excellent source of probiotics. Isn't this so interesting? Seriously, I find it fascinating! I bet you didn't know all this. 

Instructions for 1 cabbage’s worth of sauerkraut (approx. ½- ¾ gallon of sauerkraut)

Rinse your cabbage, removing outer leaves if damaged or dirty.
Cut the cabbage in half and carve out the tough core (stem)
In a food processors or with a sharp knife, thinly slice cabbage and place sliced cabbage into a big bowl.

Toss 2 tablespoon of course or fine sea salt (very important to use good salt. In fact, while you are at it, through out table salt and never use it for food ever again. It a mineral inhibitor where as REAL salt is actually very good for you and provides your body with much needed magnesium.  I used Himalayan) with the cabbage and allow to sit for 30 minutes to a couple hours to wilt.  I kneaded the cabbage off and on until my hands were too sore.  The cabbage will release lots of juice, which is needed for fermentation.

Once wilted, pack into jars, pounding down to release juice as you pack and adding filtered water if necessary to cover the top with liquid.
Cover with a  lid (I use a mason jar and lid, but just the liquid should be sufficient to promote fermentation so a lid isn’t very important), place jars on a tray to catch any liquid that escapes, and allow to culture at room temperature (allow to sit out) for 4-30 days, as desired.  You can taste it periodically to see if it's done to your liking.  Transfer to fridge once the culture is as sour as you desire.

Enjoy with every meal to help digestion! Viva good gut flora!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Lenten Journey 2012- Keeping it simple

I feel like every year, God is calling me (and our budding family) into a slightly different direction for lent. It's above all, a time for spiritual renewal and who knows what areas we need most renewal in, but God.  I try to let go of taking control of the season and let God direct our family.

Our Lent is far from rigorous.  Rather it conforms with the flow (or lack there of) of our hectic lives as parents of young children- already on a new journey of healthy eating that is changing the way we live our lives.   I have including some of that program into our Lenten journey- hoping we see it not so much a "diet" this 40 days, but a sacrifice we can do for Jesus (as I keep reminding myself and the children!).    Since there is no older children to help with all the kitchen preparing, cooking and dishes which take up much of the day and until late at night, we have little time for all the extra outings of daily Mass, stations of the cross and acts of charity that would also make a Lent holy. It's a sacrifice to be sure, but I try to make it a time of prayer by playing a rosary cd or having silence to reflect. 

Some other little things we have added are:
  1.  Free printable Lenten Reflections for Children
  2. Salt dough crown of thorns
  3. Lenten Journey coloring page (from Catholic Icing)
  4. Wooden candle holder to show journey
  5. Lenten children books and books on Sacred art for Lent
The things I have chosen as my personal sacrifices and charity are really minimal.  I think that is a very personal decision. I don't feel God calling me to make any more sacrifices and acts of charity than the two I have decided on.  I think God knows I am already spread thin...just making the daily acts of charity and sacrifices a true offering would be more meritorious than anything extra sacrifices I could do for these forty days.   I think God calls us each to make different degrees of sacrifices, acts of charity, alms giving and penance. It's important I don't compare myself to others and despair in my humble offerings.  It's easy to do while reading blogs about what everyone else is doing!

Perhaps above all, God is calling me to patience with myself.  My life will not be the perfectly scheduled, perfectly organized, and perfectly clean life that I would like it to be. It's not the time for that. It's the time for messy babies who need to be changed after every eating, floors that don't stay clean for more than 30 minutes, books that never stay on the shelf, dishes that don't clean themselves, children who are always in need of something.  This all can make a very meritorious lent.  It's what I do with it that can bring a stressful situation or the crown of glory.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Hippy Adventure-What I've learned so far

We are into about week three of our GAPS diet and things are getting au natural around here.  That up there is horse manure. It was taken from a friend's farm, put in our recycling bin (which was emptied out for this occasion)  Then the recycling bin was put into our van where some manure escaped. It was then shoveled into our new garden and the rest in our backyard. It smells lovely- not really. Thankfully it is most decomposed and it has the consistency of saw dust.  Another fun fact- it's hot (you can see it steaming in the picture). Hot decomposing manure in my van. Thankfully I have not smelled it today so I think it's all gone.

Eric was undeterred by last year's attempt at growing his own vegetables. The three tomato plants he planted in pots last year yielded about three tomatoes- all together.  This year, he's reading a couple different books on gardening and decided to try a more serious attempt. He built two 4x4 squares to plant his garden and has started some seeds inside the house already.  I love this little hobby of his and I'm so glad he's taking all this on. I cannot even think of adding one more thing to my list of to do's.  We are hoping it will help with the grocery bill- at least for the summer months.

Here are some more au natural things I have been learning these past three weeks...

How to make yogurt! 

The yogurt making is in full swing and we are now enjoying homemade yogurt twice a day.  This yogurt is so easy to make.  But my first batch failed miserably. I didn't read carefully on the directions to leave it culture in glass container.  Also, I think it was the raw milk that just didn't do well for a pure starter culture.

To make this yogurt (purchased from here) I just take a tablespoon of the culture (previously made yogurt) to one cup milk. Stir, cover, leave for 24 hours in 70-78 degree place.  We flavor ours with pureed strawberry, banana, mango, and raw honey.  Nothing processed.  We might freeze it and have frozen yogurt or put in a smoothie with organic peanut butter, raw honey and banana.  Homemade yogurts are best because commercial yogurts are not cultured long enough (an hour or less!) so they do not have all the probiotics that are so important for good health.  Also, they contain many unnatural additives and thickeners. More on that here.

Another thing I have been learning about is how to make a good bone broth.  
We've been drinking this miracle drink twice a day- once plain, and once in a soup.  It contains many vital nutrients that are easily absorbed by the body. It is the magical medicine that heals and seals the gut.   This broth above is chicken broth that was simmer for 24 hours.  The beef broth simmered for three days!  There was a little bit of learning curve with the broths as well.  My first chicken broth turned sour (I still haven't figured out why) and my first beef broth lacked serious taste. But I am determined to make beautiful broth. I've been singing to "Wanna be broth star" to myself.  I can't believe I just admitted that on the Internet.  More on making broths here.

A cool thing about drinking this broths is that even though I have stopped taking my vitamins (because they are no longer needed with this diet) I stopped getting leg cramps!  I used to have leg cramps all the time, so I would take 2-4 Caltrate vitamins a day- and still get cramps.  Now that I am drinking bone broth- which has a ton of calcium and other essential minerals and vitamins in a more absorbable form than pills, I have not gotten any leg cramps.  I guess the vitamins I was taking before weren't being absorbed very well.

The only supplement we are taking is fermented cod liver oil with vitamin K butter.  Both are "sacred" foods that traditional cultures prized for good health and healthy babies, but it tastes horrible!  Dr. Natasha (GAPS author) says it's very important, so I'm trusting the doc on this one.  When I took it out and tried it for the first time, I thought there is no way the kids are going to eat this.  I was half expecting it to be our right rejected or thrown up! My baby actually likes it. There's a cinnamon flavored one and a chocolate flavored one. I swallow the gel caps- thank you Jesus for those!  But I spoon feed the kids' to them.  Liam tolerates it but Analee has to be heavily coaxed.  I purchased mine here if you are interested.

This is reason for this diet:
My children. Especially my sweet daughter. I have already seen an improvement in her eating and behavior, not mention her vibrant face!  She is more happy, cooperative and I think she even looks healthier.  She started loving avocados, sardines, broth and tomatoes. She didn't eat any of them before this diet.

Next up- lacto fermented sauerkraut and more fermented foods and a fast from honey and fruit for lent. Need. more. probiotics.  Now I need to get back in the kitchen and clean those mounds of dishes!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Link Up: 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

Allison, over at Rambling Follower, my long time bloggy friend is doing a link up about 10 things you probably didn't know about me.

  Here goes!

  1. I loved our home growing up, but I hated living in the 'boonies' in rural Minnesota. I've always dreamed of what it would be like living a city full of excitement.   I really like the location of our house now- sort of city, sort of not with a nice big back yard and old house. 

    2. Because we lived so far away from the city or big towns, there were very little job opportunities for a teenager aside from rock picking, detasselling corn, and babysitting (all of which I did for years).  I wanted to be a waitress, but I now I know I would have been terrible at it!  

    3.In a desperate attempt to get out of the house, my senior year, I drove 40 minutes to St. Cloud were I found a job telemarketing for Kerby vacuum cleaners and selling Cutco knives- NOT a step up from rock picking!

    4. During all this time, I made clay beads and rosaries which I thought was a very unglamorous occupation since I could not leave the house for this sort of work.  Now I am so thankful when I don't have to leave the house for work.  It's funny how God works!

    5. I am very strong willed, which has been a source of a lot of trouble, but also it has been my saving grace.  When I make my mind up about something, it's very hard to change it.  I made my mind up about the Catholic Church when I was in 9th grade and have never had doubts about it since.  I have learned a lot since then, but there is nothing that could change my mind about the Catholic Church.  It's the one true church!

    6. I am a very thorough person- not a perfectionist, but thorough all the same.  I like to do things the right way or not at all.  I've read so many parenting, marriage, spirituality, diet, homeschooling, and education books, that my brother makes fun of me. He says parenting is not a science! Well, no, but there still is a right way and a wrong way to do it- as well as many other ways in between and different styles.

    7.  I have a terrible habit of focusing in on things that I am doing and ignoring everything else.  I often get lost in my work.  When my husband tries to ask me questions while I am focused on the task at hand, I say something blankly like "yes" or "no" or "Ok, that great" without knowing what he even said.   He patiently says, "Sarah, do you even know what I said?"  Now my daughter is starting to do the same thing!  bad, I know.

    8.  My husband and I have our date nights (in) on Wednesday and Thursday.

    9. Our date nights (at home) have gotten better since we only get two nights a week together. It makes it more special and we usually drop all other work just to hang out together. 

    10.  Probably no surprise, my love language is quality time together. No amount of words, gifts or physical touch comes close to sharing a good conversation, a laugh or even some tears together.  I also love this when it comes to friends, but I am finding it so hard to do these days.

    Now your turn. 

    Link up with Allison

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hey Girl

Ginny posted her own "Hey Girl" and I couldn't resist posted my own too- the Clay Rosary Girl edition, of course.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Princess Turns Three

My little Analee is three today (and feeling much better, thank you!).   This picture if her with Cinderella has a sweet little story with it.  Last time we went to Disney World, both the kids were scared to death by all those stuffed creatures that have the Disney logo sewed on their butts. Pooh, Eeyore, Mickey, Minny, you name it, my kids shreaked in terror if their were within 20 feet of them.  So all those long lines where you can stand and wait for your kids to take their pictures with one of the Disney characters, I happily passed by. 

This year, Liam as not scared, but Analee still was very scared. She was even unsure about seeing the princesses whom she loves so much.  One night we got in line to see the three princesses after she agreed to go inside.  She changed her mind twice while we waited and as we got closer, she didn't want to go.  Then it was her turn to go and talk to Cinderella- her absolute favorite.  She was shy at first, but thankfully Cinderella was quite charming and got her to warm up quickly. 

It was not hard to get a picture of her smiling this time. She was beaming from ear to ear and didn't stop until we were done with all three of the princesses' pictures.   Then as we were walking away from Cinderella, Belle, and Sleeping Beauty, she says, "Now I want SNOW WHITE!"  Eric and I just laughed. The shy little girl, who didn't want any pictures with any princess, was getting greedy!

She is my shy little girl, but she is so sweet and head strong- which I know will come in handy...someday!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What I Learned

I'm thinking about trying to this new thing called: "What I learned today" posts.  As you may have noticed, I've stopped trying to compose posts on what I know.  It was short lived since I really don't know that much to begin with.  But what I don't know, boy, I could go on forever.

So what I'm learning today: how to make bone broths.  According to several sources (Dr. McBride Campbell, Weston A. Price etc), they are really healthy and used to be the backbone of many civilizations' diets.   I have two broths going right now: a beef and pork mixture, and a chicken broth that will be used tonight for soup.  Hoping it will help my kids get over the food poisoning I probably inflicted on them. Which brings me to my second "What I learned today"...

Don't leave chicken fat out for several hours and then cook something in it.  My traditional eating one track mind got ahead of me and I thought it would be ok since it was mostly coconut oil anyway.  NOT such a good idea.  Lesson learned.  Refrigerators are my friend even if they weren't used a hundred years ago.

That's it for now. I'll save the other hundred things I've learned today for another post. Like how to clean up multiple vomit spills in less than 1 minute with a baby on my hip.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Our Vacation

Here are tiny tidbits from our Disney World Vacation.  My Father in Law, who is equally great in his love for Disney as is his generousity toward his children and grandchildren, paid for all 17 of us to go to Disney World.   It was great vacation and we are very thankful. 

The kids had just as good of time being with their cousins that they seldom see as they did on the rides! It was fun to see them play along so well even though they see each other only a couple times a year.

After spending 10 days in the parks, and 12 days all together in the Fort Wilderness Cabins (which was a fantastic location if you are ever thinking about which resort to stay in), this mamma was ready to come home.  The kids were very sad to say goodbye to grandparents and cousins, though.    

Now I have read the entire GAPS book (thank you, hubby for that extra down time in Disney World) and am even more sold on this diet for saving the world (that and Jesus) as I was before I read it. I wish I could afford to buy everyone I know and don't know, a copy of their own.  
We are starting this diet (or rather, lifestyle) as much as I can right now.  Good buy bad gut bacteria, hello good gut flora! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rosaries for Sale

My shop is now open for business for the season! I have several rosaries for sale and will be adding more rosaries, chaplets and jewelry soon.  I just got back from vacation, so I will be putting up the chaplets, bracelets, etc. shortly.   For now, if you try to go to the chaplets or jewelry pages, you will get "password protected".  That just means it's not for sale and I cannot give access to pages of items that are not for sale.

Vacation pictures coming soon too!