Archive for the ‘health’ Category

I hope you like some of these blog posts, which I have enjoyed recently. I love to follow links from blogs I read.  It is fun to see what inspires other bloggers.

A great post with terrific advice, What to Do when you don’t feel like cooking supper at Yes They’re All Ours

A yummy-looking recipe for Homemade, Healthy Poptarts at Heavenly Homemakers.  Did I ever tell you that while I was pregnant this time, I suddenly craved poptarts?  It was a huge let-down when I actually bought them, from the sweet, warm, crusty, pie-like goodness that I dreamed up in my head to the bland, chemical concoction that they really were.  I’m looking forward to trying these.

Making Homemade Natural Chapstick at Passionate Homemaking.  This looks like lots of fun!

And, a lovely post entitled, “Giving Your Children the Best Day” at Steady Mom.  It was a bit of a tear-jerker and a wonderful inspiration.

Have a blessed weekend!

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Child climbing

Image Courtesy of AndiH

Today, my 12 year old son gave me a narration of a portion of Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves, entitled, “Esquires of the Body:  Restlessness and Rest”  (Part 1, chapter 3).  The concepts are very simple, but incredibly profound considering many of our society’s problems today.  She often gets ideas right on target for today in spite writing 100 years ago!  In the Charlotte Mason realm, we often say she was ahead of her time.  It always impresses me to see the truth in this.

Below, I have shared with you the ‘Restlessness’ portion of my son’s narration.

Restlessness is one of the most helpful esquires of the body. It doesn’t want you to sit around and do nothing for too long.  Even babies have lots of restlessness.  If you see them awake, they never want to lie still.  They are always flopping their arms around and making noises.  So, restlessness keeps us healthy and it is good not to sit around for too long.  It is not that we should never sit around, we just shouldn’t be spending our whole day resisting restlessness.

(12 year old son’s note:  Sometimes when I am downstairs playing video games, I get all fidgety and actually can’t stand to sit down anymore.  Mom’s note:  After playing video games, his body goes berserk and we need to make sure he has a healthy outlet for his restlessness!)

Restlessness can sometimes be a hard master. You shouldn’t overdo your activities because sometimes you will start to not be able to stay doing one thing at a time and will always have to be doing something different.  Basically, people just give in entirely to restlessness and can’t concentrate.

While he was narrating to me, I was in awe of the timeliness of Charlotte’s words.  What happens when we have a bunch of children who have given in entirely to restlessness, through continual exposure to entertainment, combined with expectations of constantly resisting restlessness by sitting at desks for hours at a time?  We get a nation of children who must be drugged to keep them inactive.  What happens when children continually resist or are forced to resist the natural restlessness in their bodies (combined of course with modern ‘food’ — and I use the term loosely here)?  Childhood obesity.

Charlotte Mason is my hero.

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A few things I have enjoyed recently, which you might like, too.

Make Your Own Powdered Sugar with Sucanat over at Heavenly Homemakers.  I also think this would be a great kitchen skill to know for times when you are out of powdered sugar and want to avoid a trip to the store.

Finding Quiet Time at Owlhaven, written by a Mom of 10.  If she can find quiet time surely we can, too!

Why Memorize Scripture at A Holy Experience with a unique and wonderful idea for motivation.

A lovely post at Passionate Homemaking on Christian Literature for Children 0-8 years.

We love to use natural remedies in our home whenever possible, so I really enjoyed Using Homeopathic Solutions for the Family at Keeper of the Home.

I LOVE herbal teas, so I was thrilled to see Celebrate the Harvest (herbal tea) with Georgiann’s own recipe at The Garden Gate for a tea she calls Cottage blend.  I think I’ll whip some up tomorrow!  (Hi Georgiann!)

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I love drinking herbal teas and especially love drinking them during pregnancy.  I am bewildered by the fact that herbs are not used more for general health since they can be a phenomenal source of much-needed nutrients and when prepared as a tea, the bioavailability of those nutrients is wonderful.  I read a terrific article about this in a free newsletter and I will contact the author for permission to share it with you.  For now, I’ll share the recipe I use particularly during pregnancy.  I also like to serve this all winter to my family when there aren’t as many fresh fruits and veggies available.  I greatly prefer it to vitamin/mineral supplements!

Pregnancy Nourishment Tea (but not just for pregnancy!)
From The Natural Pregnancy Book:  Herbs, Nutrition and Other Holistic Choices  By Aviva Jill Romm 

2 parts red raspberry leaves
2 parts dried nettle
1 part dried oatstraw
1/2 part rose hips
1/2 part dried alfalfa
1/2 part red clover blossoms
1/4 – 1/2 part dried spearmint leaves
* A note on ‘parts’. Use any measurement you like (tablespoons, cups or ounces or grams), just be consistent throughout the recipe.

Combine in a nice big jar.  To prepare, use about a 1/4 cup or so of somewhat packed leaves (I stuff a large tea-ball full) to a teapot of boiled water (about a quart or so).  Steep for 20 mins to 2 hours.  Serve plain or with a little honey (or, gulp, sugar like me) and a squeeze of lemon if you like.  A great way to drink this tea in the summer is to prepare as above and then add an equal part of apple cider for a delicious, refreshing and highly-nutritious drink.  My kids love it!

I like to try to follow the suggestion to drink 1 cup a day in my first trimester, 2 cups a day in my second and three cups a day in my third.

Two of my favourite places to get herbs in Canada:
Judy’s Organic Herbs
Richters Herbs

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Going Green

Before you start groaning, it’s not the regular, trendy type of going green I’m talking about.  Of course, all the cool kids are doing this, though.  I’m talking about Green Smoothies!

Gotta love that green moustache!

What is a green smoothie?  It is a freshly blended drink crammed full of raw greens and usually featuring fruit as well.  The basic premise is that we need many more fresh greens than we normally consume and this is a super-easy and tasty way to incorporate them into our diet.  The drinks are a beautiful GREEN colour.

Green Smoothies have intrigued me for a while, now, so when the book I had on order at our library, Green Smoothie Revolution by Victoria Boutenko, came in I was very excited.  As I flipped through this short, easy to read book, I settled on a planned approach to testing out some of the recipes.  I picked 5 recipes that I wanted to try and listed the ingredients I would need to prepare them.  Then,  I simply added them to my weekly shopping list and we were all set! 

Boutenko suggests starting out slowly.  Sometimes gung-ho newbies will try to dive right in with supergreen smoothies (ones that often feature large quantities of strong-tasting greens) only to be turned off.  She advocates using the ‘beginner’ recipes first to get yourself accustomed to the taste of green smoothies.  Using plenty of tasty fruit, even sweetening with dates if necessary, is important so that you look forward to your morning smoothie.  (She says you will quickly find yourself craving more greens in your drinks.)  I have tried sometimes in the past to toss a little spinach or kale or romaine into our morning smoothies.   Sometimes, the result was good and sometimes not.  I was looking forward to using actual recipes and we were not disappointed.  The recipes we tried to were delicious and the greens, rather than tasting out-of-place, blended right in and seemed to ‘fit’ in the smoothie.

I took the approach Boutenko suggested with my children.  The drink was there if they wanted it, but no one had to have any.  I found that my four youngest (8 and under) all asked for smoothies each day.  Baby Guy, at two years old, had multiple helpings, which made me very happy as he has not been a huge veggie fan up until this point.  I don’t know if it was co-incidence, but yesterday, he had THREE helpings of salad at dinner when he has not wanted any in the past before.

I’m looking forward to making lots more of these smoothies in the future.  I may even invest in the book…or perhaps just drive my librarians crazy by taking it out over and over.

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How about some yummy and very easy Homemade Chewy Granola Bars from Heavenly Homemaker?

A simply beautiful post that you must go and read, What a Mother Must Sacrifice at A Holy Experience.  I had the great honour of hearing Ann speak at a homeschool conference this weekend and the tears will be flowing for weeks as a result.  What a gift she is to our world.

4 Items You Don’t Need in Your Bathroom was a really interesting post at Passionate Homemaking.  Some excellent suggestions for alternatives.

Jen, a mom of 10 who blogs at 11th Heaven’s Homemaking Haven, shares Looking Good Minutes After Labor and Childbirth:  Why and How.  I’ve bookmarked this one for future reference!

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Gluten-Free Guests

Having lots of friends who care about their health means that many are acutely aware of the impact of diet on well-being. Nowdays, there seems to be a growing awareness of the way gluten can have a negative impact on some people’s health.  Aside from the other reasons people might need or choose to avoid gluten, the Canadian Celiac Association estimates that 1/133 people are affected by Celiac disease.  They simply must not have gluten.  How can someone, like me, who is not on a special diet make gluten-free friends feel cared for and welcomed in her home?

While making goodies without gluten can be intimidating to those of us used to eating whatever we want, I actually find it a fun challenge to make special treats for my friends who are gluten-free. As a basis for my baking, I stick to two basic things that I keep in stock at home: coconut flour and ground almonds.  I like both of these because they are relatively ‘normal’ foods and since I know very little about special gluten-free flours, these have been a fairly safe bet for me.

Almonds are something I would keep in stock in reasonable quantities for our own family, anyway. When I want to make a gluten-free goodie, I simply grind up what I need in the food processor.

Coconut flour, though, is not simply ground dried coconut. It is actually a by-product of coconut-milk making.  For recipes calling for coconut flour, it is important not to substitute ground dried coconut or you will not get good results.  Coconut flour soaks up tons of liquid, so you will notice that recipes using this ingredient will actually call for very little of it compared to the number of eggs and other liquids.  Definitely don’t simply substitute coconut flour for wheat flour in a favourite cookie recipe!  A gluten-free friend of mind did this and she said when she served her family the dessert, it was like eating the desert!  With each bite, she said if anyone breathed in, they would start coughing.  Ha ha!

Ground almonds, also, cannot be substituted directly for wheat flour. If you are looking for something that can be substituted directly, you’ll have to do some homework and visit a baking or health food store.  There are flour blends available that will allow you to create gluten-free options with your favourite wheat recipes, but I haven’t used them.  I’d like to share with you two of my favourite recipes.  Both of these treats are eaten enthusiastically by my non-gluten-free children and taste very ‘normal’.

Thumbprint Cookies adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

1 1/2 cups almonds
1/2 cup softened butter or coconut oil
1 cup arrowroot powder (sometimes called arrowroot flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t. sea salt
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
1/4 cup naturally sweetened jam; raspberry is especially good

Place almonds in food processor and process to a fine meal.  Add remaining ingredients, except jam, and process until well-blended.  Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place on buttered* cookie sheets.  Bake at 300 degrees for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven, press cookies down slightly to make an indentation and fill with jam.  Return to the oven for about 15 more minutes, until set and slightly golden.  Let cool completely before removing to cookie jar.  Store in refrigerator.

Chocolate Brownies adapted from Cooking with Coconut Flour by Bruce Fife

3 T. butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 T. coconut or whole dairy milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. vanilla
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 t. baking powder

In a saucepan at low heat, blend together butter and cocoa powder.  Remove from heat and let cool.  In a bowl, mix together milk, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla.  Stir in cocoa mixture.  Combine coconut flour with baking powder and whisk into batter until there are no lumps.  Pour batter into greased mini-muffin cups.*  Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until set.  Makes about 24 brownies.

*  For all my baking, if I am not using my stoneware pans (that generally require no greasing), I use a miracle combination of 1 part oil to 1 part liquid lecithin.  I keep it in the cupboard in a jar and give it a quick stir before brushing it onto my pans.  You only need a very small amount and it works beautifully to keep almost everything from sticking.

Well, I’m off to get my haircut and then I need to get baking for my gluten-free friend who will be blessing me with a visit today!

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