Wednesday, April 30, 2014

GAPS... it's working!

As I told you last week, we jumped on the GAPS bandwagon with both feet. With very little reserve, we started. I think I also let you know last week, that it was pretty tough. The first few days especially was hard because that is when your body begins healing and ridding yourself of toxins.
Another thing we talked about was how my daughter was having very bad skin issues.
In the early part of January, she contracted strep throat. We didn't even realize she had it... the only reason we even considered that she possibly had it was that she developed scarlet fever with it.
The poor thing was covered with this terrible red rash and felt miserable.
After a long round of antibiotics (which is NOT our go-to thing to do... this was a special circumstance). She then developed this terrible rash on her face that would not go away. It would scale over, it would crack, it would bleed, it would branch out farther and farther. Going up her face. We tried SO many treatments. We tried coconut oil, which is one of my go-tos for skin problems. We tried essential oils. Even my salve I made helped some, but it did not take the problem away, nor did it get to the root of the issue.
 In the picture, you can see the crustiness of the upper lip, the red welt-y-ness of her face. It was just awful. Being only 9, she didn't fret TOO much about her face, but I knew that as she got older it would be a problem and I wanted to fix it NOW!

So there's where we started. GAPS!

I grabbed a chicken out of the freezer and plopped it in my crockpot. I added onions and celery to the pot. Salt and Pepper, and some of the fermented garlic I showed you about last week! Just cut some of that up and plop it in when you eat! It adds some more probiotics to your diet! We drank the broth the next day and ate on the meat. Throughout the first week, you drink broth before every meal and it is often part of your food preparations as well. As in, you may cook your meat for your meal with broth, or you may boil your veggies in broth. Soups are a big part of Stage 1 and Stage 2. One of our favorite was made with butternut squash. I was pleasantly surprised with how much we liked it. For that matter, we are having it with supper tonight!
I plan on giving a menu of what week one looked like for us in the next day or two.  In no time, we began seeing an astounding difference.
Just look.
My girl who was having a hard time drinking the broth, is now a broth champ! She says, "Mom, let's get our broth!" She is truly amazing. We are both feeling better, we are past the tough detox phase. We are enjoying the benefits this way of eating is bringing to our lives.

Along with Carlie's improved skin, her eczema seems to be fading. Her skin feels more smooth than it ever has. Her clarity of thinking has improved, thus making her schoolwork better! That brain fog seems to have disappeared! She told me that her breathing is different. When I questioned her about this, what I learned was because she has seasonal allergies, she is very congested this time of year. Since starting GAPS, the constant stuffiness has dissipated!

Friends, I will tell you... I am sold. I'm a believer. GAPS is working for us!
If you are interested in trying GAPS on for size, consider ordering the book from my affiliate link here!


Friday, April 25, 2014

GAPS: Week 1

After weeks and weeks, possibly months and months of thinking about trying GAPS and NOT wanting to do it. I relented. In a moment of desperation, but nonetheless, I gave in and we started this week. 
Let me tell you... It's pretty much kicked my tail, and my dumplins. :(
She was my main reason for diving in anyways. My Carlie has extremely sensitive skin. So much so, that we are seeing some issues that concern us, and not wanting to live a life on zyrtec or benedryl, I decided to do something.  
GAPS is a way of eating that begins with pulling you off ALL processed food and only eating very healing, nourishing foods. One primary thing you eat/drink is broth or stock. Cooking meat that is on the bone for a few hours with some basic veggies... carrots, onion, leeks, celery, etc. and drinking that at each meal time and if you enjoy it, even for snacks...
Let me tell you, honestly... I don't love it that much, nor does my daughter. 
But, I've been told, that may change eventually. I sure hope so.

It's not bad, but it's different. We are used to cooking. To having lots of flavor. Spices & herbs are not allowed on Stage 1. So only salt and pepper were what we had to work with in the beginning.

The reason for the broth is that GAPS focuses on healing the gut. Sealing it so it can work as it should. On a SAD (Standard American Diet) the body is depleting itself. Your body needs fat. One thing that we hear constantly from television, media, news, and doctors... fat is bad.
If it were so bad, wouldn't you think a nation of diet coke guzzlers and lean cuisine munchers would not have weight issues, right??? 

Anyhow, Once the gut is sealed, the body begins detoxing all the bad. Yeah, that part kinda stinks... it is rough. I have had a headache that was sooooo rough, that the only relief I had was sleeping. I slept a lot for the first few days. My Carlie did not really begin detoxing until yesterday. She is still in bed this morning, poor little thing. But, detox is a good thing. We are ridding our bodies of the yuck! 

So, as we journey through this, I hope to keep you updated and let you know how our trek is going. I hope to see much improvement in our health and healing of my daughters skin, from the inside out. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fermenting Garlic

Last year, I grew a beautiful bed of garlic! I mean is was gorgeous! I was so proud. Around here, garlic does best planted in the fall and harvested around June or so. It was very satisfying to me to grow my own garlic. I had planted several times in the spring and did not have success... so for me, I will continue to plant in fall! 

Even if you don't get to plant your own, you can easily find organic garlic at farmers markets and in some grocery stores, or through bulk suppliers like Azure.
Fermenting your garlic takes your already super healthy garlic and intensifies it's properties, but mellows the pungent boldness of the garlic flavor! 

All you have to do is pop the garlic out of the peeling. It takes a little time, but it's not hard at all. Let the kids help you. Sit around the table and talk while you do. Just enjoy the togetherness. Taking something you planted and harvested and are now preserving... well, that is a special thing. Doing it with your kids, that makes it even nicer. 

Anyhow, just take your garlic out of the skins and drop into a clean quart jar. Once your jar is full to the neck. Add a Tablespoon of good salt and if you like a Tablespoon or two of whey (optional), and spices (again optional). The only thing you have to have is salt, garlic and water.... You CAN add the whey and spices. I've made it both ways. They both work, so it is up to you!!! Fill your jar full of water. Put a lid on it and let it ferment for several days up to 3 weeks before you put it in cold storage. It's very easy, and it's very good!

Once your garlic is ready, use it as you would fresh in any of your cooking or savory baking. We also use garlic for sickness. When a cold begins creeping in, we take a clove and mash it up and take a spoonful to ward off the problem before it escalates! If your kids are not fond of the garlic-iness ;) Add some to a little honey to make it easier to swallow. I've also heard eating a couple of raw almonds helps get it down without any harsh taste at all!

One MAJOR reason to make your own, if you ever have purchased preserved garlic in your supermarket you are cheating yourself. Not only is it heated to highly, which kills off garlics wonderful properties, but it also is preserved with formaldehyde. Another one of the absurdities of big market companies who care NOTHING about the health of our people.

Make your own! It's easy!
Here's to your health!

Have a great weekend friends!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sourdough Waffles

Say it with me now...
"I'm makin' waffles"
 I say this in Donkey's voice every. time. I. say. it. 
I can't help myself.

But it's true! I came up with a great sourdough waffle recipe and we all LOVED it!
I hope you do too!

So this is what you need to do. IF you are going to make them in the morning, today, get  out your sourdough starter and feed it. Let it set out and get nice and bubbly. Then this evening you will pull off part of it and mix up the first part of this recipe. 

Sourdough Waffles
(I'm makin' WAFFLES-Donkey from Shrek)
1 cup of sourdough starter
2 cups of milk kefir, milk, or buttermilk (I used kefir)
2 cups of flour (white, wheat, or mixture)
Stir til just mixed, cover and let sit all night on the counter til ready to make breakfast the next morning.
In the morning add:
2 eggs
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp oil (I used olive)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
Again, mix gently til just mixed.
Heat your waffle maker and make your family HAPPY!
Serve with butter and syrup... or your favorite fruit if you like.
I think these would be very good with blueberries in them! YUM!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roasted Veggie Soup

Sometimes you try something and it flops. Sometimes you try something and it ROCKS! This was the case in my Roasted Vegetable Soup! One night for supper I made a LARGE pan of roasted vegetables to go with our chicken for supper. Everyone ate well, but there was a goodly amount of leftovers! I got to thinking about the leftovers and didn't want to really serve them as-is again, so I thought about what I could do with the excess.
I decided to use them as well as the bones from my leftover chicken to make this delicious soup. 
Here's how I did it!
Also, there is not a lot of exacts in this... do it up your way!
Here we go...
I began walking around the kitchen grabbing any and all veggies that I thought would be tasty in this roasted veggie medley.

Daikon Radishes

You could add any of these, all of these or only one or two of these, more of one, less of another... whatever you like! The point is, fill your pan.

I cut them up into pieces, I plopped them into a 9x13 baker.
Drizzle them a little with olive oil (Maybe 4 Tbsp, give or take)
I sprinkled a couple of Tablespoons of 

A good sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Toss them in the oil and spices so they are all coated.
Cover the pan.
Put in oven and roast at 400* for about 30 minutes. 
Take out and stir
Put them back in for another 10 minutes or so.
You want them tender, but not mush.

As for my chicken. I left whatever wasn't eaten in the crockpot. I then filled the crock back up with water and put it on low to cook for a few hours. Probably around 4-5 hours.

I pulled off any stock and meat from the crockpot and added it a little at a time to my finished vegetable mixture. I added a stick of butter and using my stick blender, I pureed until smooth. Continue adding chicken broth until you get a slightly thick soup. Depending on the amount of veggies you have, you could use more or less broth. I ended up using all of what I had in my crockpot.
Again, do what suits you.
I even had enough room for about a cup of cream to finish it off.
Serve this soup very warm, but not hot. 
You don't want to curdle your cream.

We had heaping ladles-full with a large dollop of sour cream.
So, so, so, soooooo good and nourishing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring is here, 2014

Spring is really showing up around here. With the change of the seasons, comes birth, growth, and a time to refresh some chores that are usually only done once or twice a year.  
My Nannie Red's irises are blooming along the side of the house. They are so beautiful and they are such a deep purple, truly reminding me of her... Purple was her favorite color.
The task of cleaning up the front flower beds is always a chore to be done when spring shows up. Pulling out stubborn weeds that actually made it through the weed barrier and laying down another layer of barrier and a thick layer of mulch. It looks so nice when it is finished! 
I don't know if it is the same where you are, but our closest Lowe's has mulch for $2 a bag. 

Next on tap will be cleaning out the deep litter in the chicken house. We let it build through the fall/winter as it creates a heat to help keep the house a bit warmer for the hens. Because we layer the shavings, the poo actually breaks down through the winter. Composting while in the coop.  That way when spring comes along with nice weather, we clean it out and it is ready for use! 

The garden clean-up is beginning (well, not today... it's raining). I have big plans about rearranging the garden beds. Putting down a MUCH stronger weed barrier under the beds and putting the beds closer together so they are more uniform. I also want to move things around a little so I also have a garden spot to plant directly in the ground this year. We will try to get as much done as we can, in hopes to get as much yield as we can from the garden. 

We are excited and hoping to add some new animals to the homestead in the coming weeks/months. I will let you know if it pans out. I'd hate to say they are coming and then it not happen... but it's something I'm hoping for!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nannie Black's Banana Pudding

Growing up there were a few things that my Nannie Black (my Dad's mom) cooked that NO one could compete with. 
Her biscuits... I still can't make them as good as her... 
Egg Pie... my mouth waters thinking about it...
Banana Pudding... I have succeeded in that recipe though! Woot!
Most of the time when you go to church dinners, pot-lucks, or such, banana pudding makes an appearance! Although it is good, it is cold. 
Not the way my Nannie used to make it.
Not the way I make it today.
(Btw, you may be asking, Why in the world does she call her Nannie Black??? When I was a little girl, I was the only grandchild on both sides of the family. I called both of my grandmother's Nannie. To distinguish the two, I called one Nannie Red, because she had red hair, and my other Nannie Black, because she had black hair. True story.)

This is our way.

1 box of Nilla Wafers
1 box of shortbread cookies
1 bunch of bananas (about 4-5)

The pudding
4-5 egg yolks (I tend to use 5 mostly)
1.5 cup sugar
4 cups milk, cream or a mix of the two
2 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
1/4 cup arrowroot powder

Reserve egg whites to make meringue for top of pudding.
Once whites are stiff spread on top and broil til just browned.

The way my Nannie said to do it is to put ALL (except vanilla) pudding ingredients in a blender. Then blend til smooth and the blender is full. She did not give me any measurements at all.
This is the closest measurements I can account for, they are pretty exact and honestly, it is not going to make a huge difference if you use 4 eggs or 5. I like the pudding rich and creamy and we have a TON of eggs right now, so why not add 5!?!?!

Like I said, Nannie just put everything for the pudding in the blender, blended it and poured it into a pot to cook til thick. I don't. That is one step I do differently. For me, it was just another dish to clean... And I surely don't need any more of those. 
I just add everything to a pot and whisk the dickens out of it. I also keep stirring til I have a nice thick pudding. It will take a little bit and you don't want your mixture to stick, so hang with it.
 It's worth it, for realz.

Layer your wafers, cookies and bananas in a big bowl until everything is used. Once your pudding is ready pour over your cookie/banana mixture. 
If you like, top with meringue and brown.

This recipe makes my memories FLOOD back. It makes me think of dinners at Nannie and Popa's house. I guess with Easter coming, it really hits home. Both of my Nannie's have gone on to be with Jesus. It makes me miss my family and my grandparents and it makes me want to make memories with my family all-the-more...
I hope you enjoy it and it becomes a family favorite for you too! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Homemade Achy Muscle Salve Recipe

At Christmastime, I made gift baskets for my family. I filled them with homemade salves, cough syrup, soap, chai tea, etc. One of the salves I included was an achy muscle salve. It works very nicely, and has a cooling effect afterwards. Again, I am blown away by what God has put in nature, if we just figure out how to use it! 
First thing you need to do is make some arnica oil. Arnica is a flower that is known as 'the healing herb'.  It is great for using on sore muscles, bruises, arthritic joints, sprains, etc.
So no wonder, it is the main ingredient in my salve! 
Take 1 cup of arnica flowers and place them in a mason jar. Take a good olive oil and cover the flowers and allow to steep for about 2 weeks or longer. 
Once your arnica oil is ready, strain the oil from your flowers and you are ready to make the salve!

1 cup arnica oil (see above for directions)
2 oz beeswax
10 drops of wintergreen essential oil
6 drops of cloves essential oil
5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.

The process is the same as for my other salves and ointments. 
You melt the beeswax or other hard oils in a mason jar inside of a pot of water first. You need to get them to a liquid state, but don't boil. Again, you are working with herbs and natural oils, so these do not need to get TOO hot or you kill off some of the good.
Once the wax is melted, add your arnica oil.
Feel the mixture, if it is HOT, give it time to cool slightly. 
Only mix in your essential oils when the jar is comfortable to the touch. 
Add in your essential oils and stir well.
You may want to stir several times as the cooling process happens. You want to make sure everything stays incorporated throughout and no settling happens. 
This will harden into a firm salve, but will melt and absorb into the skin when applied. 

Happy Healing!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Moma's Copycat Chinese Honey Chicken

My eldest asked me a couple of nights ago if I could replicate some chicken that ALL my children adore at a local Chinese restaurant. One that we seldom go to anymore because it is just too stinkin expensive now that my kids are being considered 'adults' when we go out to eat. 
I knew exactly which chicken she was talking about. I had the sauce in my mind... and I knew it was pan fried pieces so I went to work.

I had Cameo cut the chicken up into small chunks.
We then dredged the chunks first into arrowroot powder and then into egg.
Have a couple of inches of oil in a pan heating, you want this hot enough to fry. 
We like coconut oil.

We fried the pieces of coated chicken and then laid them in a baking dish.

Once you have all your pieces fried, btw... we used about 4-5 breasts cut up for my family of 6.

Grab a medium bowl and whisk up some sauce.
You will need:
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup fermented soy sauce or regular soy sauce
1/2 cup tomato paste or ketchup if you are in a bind
1 T arrowroot
1/4 cup brown sugar or sucanat
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp of minced garlic or garlic powder
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Whisk this together and pour over your finished fried chicken bites.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for about 20-30 minutes. You may need to stir once while baking.
Your chicken is already done from the frying, this is just to coat and heat everything through.

Serve with fried rice or as a dear friend suggested, slivered cabbage! YUM!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

All natural anti-fungal cream

As you know I am working on my all-natural health care products into my apothecary cabinet. That includes herbs, oils, essential oils, syrups and salves. Some of which I come up with.
I have an achy muscle salve that I keep on hand, an eucalyptus chest rub, an all purpose anti-bacterial salve, and to go with it... yesterday, I made up an anti-fungal cream.

I truly am amazed at the healing properties of all natural items. I get excited when I research and learn how to use them in new ways. After some reading, I chose all these oils and butter in a combination that I think will work very nicely!

Shea butter is EXTREMELY nourishing to the skin. It is excellent for those who have dry or sensitive skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties, it protects against UV rays, and it's an antioxidant! 
Avocado oil is one of those oils that if you have any type of skin irritation, grab the avocado oil. It is FULL of good fats and great for the skin, as is Olive Oil!
Vitamin E Oil is another oil that is incredible for the skin. I remember as a young girl that my Mom would recommend to get some vitamin e capsules and squeeze them out to rub on a scar that I had on my leg. She knew that vitamin e was great for healing the skin...
Tea tree is anti-fungal, but it is STRONG! You wouldn't want to use it straight up on anything. So that is why I chose the other oils to use as a carrier. Lesson learned, the hard way, sometimes. 

I used:
4 Tablespoons Shea Butter
1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Vitamin E Oil
10 drops of Tea Tree Oil

(I made a double batch)

First, take the shea butter, avocado oil, olive oil, vitamin E oil and put it into a pint jar. Put the pint jar into a small pan filled with warm water. Use this like a double-boiler.
Just gently warm the water and stir the butter and oils.

Stir until everything is liquid. Take the jar out of the hot water and set it on the counter. Once the oils have cooled down 'just warm' stir and add your tea tree oil. Don't add your essential oils to extremely hot liquids because it will destroy the healing properties. 

Stir your cream several times as it cools so the oils will stay mixed. You don't want them to separate. 
Once cooled, label and store in your own apothecary cabinet. 

Here's to your health... Naturally! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kombucha Mayonnaise

I was just saying on Instagram and Facebook how my chickens took forever to start laying again, but when they did... I mean, look at that yolk! Amazing, huh?
I had just read about making Kombucha Mayonnaise.
It just so happened that I poured off some kombucha today and I had some great eggs!
It's easy peasy and it adds another level of probiotics in your diet. 
Just in case you forgot. 

Kombucha Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Kombucha
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onions powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix kombucha, egg yolks, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt with a stick blender or in a food processor. Slowly pour in olive oil while blending. Continue processing until you have a thick, creamy consistency.