Sunday, October 7, 2012

A sacred meal

I've been thinking about crafting a sacred food ritual with mindful eating practices. So far, this idea is very rough, but I want to put it out there in the hopes that this will solidify into something. I would have all participants sitting at a table, with food laid out. We would invoke the 4 directions, thanking them for their role in providing for us. So something like this:

   We call to Earth in the direction of the North! 
   You give us ground to walk on and to grow in. 
   All of us are nourished by your bounty and cradled in your womb.
   Sustain us, bless us. Hail and welcome! 

And so on and so forth for Air, Fire, and Water as well.

Then a call to the Divine in all Things, as opposed to a specific deity. And finally, blessings on all of the food on the table, thanking the plants and animals for their supreme gifts of their lives to nourish us, the hard working farmers who grew/raised the food, and to whomever took the time to prepare it. Then, of course, would come the good part: eating. All would be instructed to eat slowly, mindfully...not to rush. People could pass the food and drink with the standard "May you never hunger/thirst." People could also talk about the relationship they have with their food and how they would like it to change. What it could be instead, as it were.

 So yeah, that's what I have. I'd love to have some feedback. I think this would be great for say, Lammas. I know it's almost Samhain, but I'm thinking ahead here.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Whole 30 Days 21-30


So I did it! I'm done:) And yes, I'll do it again, though probably in February or March, just to deal with post-holiday scariness. So yes, let me talk about the last stretch of the Whole 30. Honestly, it felt easy. I've been on a restricted Candida diet anyway, so this was simply no big deal. If I wanted to eat out, I went to either Boloco ( or b.good ( for some tasty, unadulterated food that I didn't have to worry about. Yes, I went over their ingredient lists extensively, but I found food that I loved. Plus, they are Boston-centric businesses that I had easy access to. A big win all around. This last stretch I made it a point to eat breakfast, even if it was super early. Lunch was something I could keep small. I even found a place that could make a smoothie for me out of coconut water, bananas, and pineapples. That was a one time treat as it was $7! But it was tasty and I could do that at home. My cravings for salt diminished. Once I realized that salted nuts were throwing my digestion out of whack, honestly, it was easy to cut out. I am still going to use nut flour from time to time, I think. I'll see what it does. But since it's already ground, that may help. I think it was more of a texture/surface problem than anything. Carbs are also not necessarily my problem. I ate lots of sweet potatoes and squashes (delicata is my new favorite. I'll have to post a recipe on what I do with it). And I still lost 6 pounds. The biggest issue that I've been dealing with a stuffed nose/ throat thing that WON'T go away. If it had, I would have worked out more. But it impedes my breathing a bit, so that was a basic non-starter. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- I did have ice cream last night. Real ice cream with real sugar. Pumpkin flavored. It was delicious. But it left a coated feeling in my mouth, so honestly, it was less exciting than it could be. That's a good thing!!!! And it did not impact my weight. Oh yeah, so my total weight loss on Paleo is 33 lbs. I had gotten down to 29 lbs lost, but drifted upward again when I was cheating so much at the end of the summer. Ah well. I am lower now than I was before. I honestly think I am very close to the end. I want to turn my attention to getting more fit and toned than I was before. If anything I'll only want to lose about 3-4 more pounds, but it's hard to say. I have some excess skin that hasn't snapped back yet, if at all. But I look pretty darn amazing, if I do say so. And other than this yucky cold thing that I have had all month, I feel amazing, too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Days 8-20 of the Whole 30!

I had forgotten to do a week 2 recap, then made one which was promptly eaten by the interwebz! So here I am doing it again. Eating Whole 30 style continues to be smooth. I've been this strict before, so doing it again is okay with me. My husband struggles a bit, but it's clear that he has major sugar craving issues that he knows he needs to correct for his own good. Some things I've noticed: Hormonal acne-my period did bring about some more acne on my chin, but at least it's isolated to there. Speaking of that, my cycle was actually an appropriate 28 day length. It usually has a very short luteal phase after ovulation, so it would end up at around 24 days. I used to chart when I was trying to get pregnant with my daughter, so I am very aware of how my cycle works. So this means that my hypothyroidism is not mucking up the works, so to speak, as it can. Having a short luteal phase is one cause of infertility and a sign of hormone issues, and I used to treat it with vitex before I knew my thyroid was in the dumps. That obviously helped as I was able to get pregnant easily. Now I don't want to have any more children, but being fertile, having my hormones do what they are supposed to be doing, is a good sign of health at my age. I seem to be a smidge smaller. I have a pair of tight pants that are well, less tight. Yay! An admission: I overdid a yoga routine, and I haven't done one since. It is my goal to get in at least 1 or 2, if not more in the next ten days. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of my Whole 30!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Week 1 of the Whole 30

I have survived the first week! I knew I would because I went cold turkey on so many food groups when I first was diagnosed with candida and leaky gut. But I have been slacking off lately, so I turned to the Whole 30 for some necessary structure. Plus, it helps that I have some friends going along for the ride with me.

Some things that I have noticed:

My skin looks much better. I always have some hormonal breakouts around ovulation and my period, but this last hormonal swing only brought two zits and they're all gone now. I'm glowing!

I *can* drink coffee with just my coconut creamer (which is coconut milk, coconut oil, and raw egg all blended). I used to have stevia with this, but I can go without it now.

I can pinpoint my cravings a little more. I definitely crave both salt and crunch, even over the sweet stuff. I had made some carmelized coconut chips with cinnamon and salt last night, which was great! I think I overate too much of them, but I didn't eat all that much yesterday.

I can go for longer periods without food. Since I'm eating nutrient-dense food, I have everything I need to fuel me for hours. I don't want to do that all the time, though. But good to know that I can and be okay.

I may be somewhat thinner. My waist looks smaller, but since I'm not allowed to measure or weigh myself, I'm not sure. Since I'm not allowed to measure or weigh myself, I need to be okay with that. Still working on it, really. That's harder than following the diet, almost! But it's a good medicine, so I'll take it.

Okay, so that's it. Stay tuned for week 2!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 1 of the Whole 30


This is my first Whole 30, so I'm sure that this will be very illuminating for me.

The first big change is that I drank green tea instead of coffee this morning...and then a second one at work. Coffee isn't forbidden, but I find that when I put coconut milk in it, I *really* need sweetener. Not so with cow's milk or cream. So, I'm going to give it a few days with the green tea and try again to see if it has become more palatable to me. An experiment!

Besides green tea, I had two ounces of smoked salmon (no sugar) for breakfast, which was almost too much. I work early, and usually my stomach isn't ready for food, and by the time I am, I'm teaching. Usually my coffee with coconut milk or coconut cream blend (coconut milk and oil,blended with an egg) is enough, but tea doesn't fill me at all. As it was, I was vaguely nauseous. But it passed.

For lunch, I had three black mission figs, broccoli, and pulled pork that I made yesterday. I can't tell you really how much I ate of that, but I was definitely satiated after.

I had a banana as a snack. It's been a long time since I had one, and it was so darn good.

Dinner is consisting of sauteed chicken, peppers, and onions in ghee, with lettuce to scoop it up.

I've also had lots of water today, so that can only help. I taught three classes today, so I was a bit parched with all of the talking.

Last not: I meant to weigh myself this morning, and then not do it for the next 30 days. But the digital scale went into wonk-mode (meaning either it's wrong, or we both suddenly lost 4 pounds each). So I decided to forget it. I know pretty much where I'm at. I did measure my waist at 29 inches. We'll see where it is on Day 31.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Countdown to the Whole30!

So after another weekend with my husband's family resulted in much cheating and the resulting intestinal distress, it firmed up my resolve: I'm doing a Whole30. My husband will be joining me, along with an online friend of mine. We're starting September 6th, but I'm ramping up to it now.

What is the Whole30? Well, take a look here.  This program, developed by the Hartwigs, is extremely strict. But as they say, it's only for 30 days, so it shouldn't be hard. Not like quitting smoking or beating cancer. So I can absolutely do this. It differs from my normal protocol in a few ways.

1. No weighing myself. This is hard because I use the scale to help me keep track. But health is more than the scale and I need to learn that lesson.

2. No white potatoes. They say it's arbitrary, really, but that avoiding potatoes will help balance hormones, which I need.

3. No artificial sweetener, not even stevia. Back when I was putting heavy cream in my coffee, I was able to forego sweetener. Not so yet with coconut milk.  Either I'll learn, or I'll just drink green tea in the morning. That's fine with me.

4. Ghee!!!! I *love* ghee. It's a dairy product, but since there's no whey or casein left in it, I'm going to trial it to see if I can handle it.

So it should be interesting. As I said, I'm working my way up to it. I'm still weighing myself, but I'm trying to cut out potatoes. I'm still sticking with my stevia, though, for now until the 6th. Wish me luck. When I get there, I plan on blogging about it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My favorite cookbooks and blogs!

I started eating Paleo-ish sometime last year, fell off the wagon, and then returned to it this year after I was diagnosed with candida and leaky gut. My weight is under 140 for the first time since I was 18 years old (I'm 34 now), and even more importantly, I feel strong! I have a ways to go before I'm at superheroine status, but I am building quite a bit of muscle these days, which has led a few people to think I'm much lighter than I actually am.

Yeah, I guess you can say I'm on a diet, but the last thing I feel is deprived! My Gods, the food I eat feels downright decadent. How on earth do I do that? Well, I have to give props where they are due: to my favorite bloggers and their fabulous cookbooks! I will give you my top 3 bloggers with cookbooks that I use all the time.

Elana Amsterdam at Elana's Pantry was my first introduction to grain free living. I mainly use her recipes for sweet treats, which I use as my cheats. But I've used a few of her more savory recipes also; my favorite is her Matzo Ball Soup! She is currently looking for ideas on a new cookbook, but I love her Gluten Free Cupcakes. Check her out. She is an inspiration, beating back her MS with healthy living.

Melissa Joulwan at The Clothes Make the Girl is a real kick-ass kind of gal. Her recipes are a symphony of flavor. She put out Well Fed, and I'm telling you, my husband is always beyond excited when I make something from this. The only drawback? Sometimes it's a bit much flavor for my little girl, but I'm working on her. The Chocolate Chili is to die for!

Last but not least, Matt & Stacy, the Paleo Parents are fantastic for more kid-friendly fare. They would know how kids eat, since they have three boys! I bought their cookbook, Eat Like a Dinosaur, at the same time I got Well Fed. Elana Amsterdam did the forward! My favorite recipes are the beef and broccoli and the fool's gold nuggets. No links to those, have to go buy the book! But truly, they are real folks. They'll tell you when they fall and when they triumph.

Okay, so that's that. Use these cookbooks and you can eat like me. Know what it's like to have your body truly nourished and feel it sing! You won't regret it, I promise.

Monday, July 30, 2012

An Aha! Moment

Yesterday, I went to buy some clothes as many of mine no longer fit; what I have in my closet is extremely baggy. I was pleasantly surprised that I fit into smalls and even a size 6 pair of pants! I cannot remember the last time I wore a size 6 (though sizes may very well change-I still have size 10s that I bought recently that I fit into, so whatever). Still, this is much smaller than the 14s I was wearing earlier this year.

So after nearly 27 lbs of weight loss, I would say I'm looking pretty darn good. But here's the aha! moment. Last night, as I was digging into my dinner, I realized, I'm eating chicken cooked in *lard* and I am losing weight and overall, just feeling amazing. LARD!!! I've been a proponent of eating more fat for a few years now, but the proof, I guess, has been in the proverbial pudding. Or lard, beef tallow, schmaltz, or coconut oil. Needless to say, I'm thrilled.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Whole Chick-Fil-A Brouhaha

Let me just preface this by saying, yes, I have eaten there in the past. I was sort of curious what it would taste like, and quite frankly, I was not a fan. The food was edible, but I just didn't get the fanaticism that some people have about it. Then I noticed that on their mayo packets that the ingredients included High Fructose Corn Syrup. Disgusting. Why does *mayo* need to be sweet along with everything else? It doesn't. Just because of that (and because I wasn't thrilled anyway), I decided to never eat there again.

Here is the ingredient list of their basic chicken sandwich from their website. You tell me if this counts as Real Food or not:
Chick-fil-A® Chicken Sandwich
Chicken (100% natural whole breast filet, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika], seasoned coater [enriched bleached flour {bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, nonfat milk, leavening {baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate}, spice, soybean oil, color {paprika}], milk wash [water, whole powdered egg and nonfat milk solids], peanut oil [fully refined peanut oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and dimethylpolysiloxane an anti-foaming agent added]), bun (enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, folic acid], water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, contains 2% or less of each of the following: liquid yeast, soybean oil, nonfat milk, salt, wheat gluten, soy flour, dough conditioners [may contain one or more of the following: mono- and diglycerides, calcium and sodium stearoyl lactylates, calcium peroxide], soy flour, amylase, yeast nutrients [monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate], calcium propionate added to retard spoilage, soy lecithin, cornstarch, butter oil [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, TBHQ and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color]), pickle (cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, lactic acid, calcium chloride, alum, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1).

Does that look unappetizing or what? GAH!

Beyond this, the company has been donating miliions of dollars to organizations with the specific goal of preserving "Biblical Marriage." When I hear phrases like this, I admit to becoming snarky. Keeping wives and concubine as property is what they're going for? Now that's Biblical marriage!  What they really mean, of course, is keeping gay people from being gay or getting married to same-sex partners. The Marriage & Family Foundation, Exodus International, and the Family Research Council all devote time and money to steering political agendas against gay people and gay marriage (or as I'd rather refer to it, marriage).

So fine. If that's your thing, go ahead, keep eating their chemical-ridden "food" and some of your money will go toward these organizations (and not nearly enough to the workers, who are probably making a pittance and stuck in the middle of all of this, but I digress). I'd rather make my own chicken sandwiches, with red pepper halves as my bun and almond "breading" I made myself. At least I know that my sandwich is chemical and hate free.

This blog and many other great ones can be found at Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mindful Omnivorism and Pagan Spirituality

In case you haven't noticed, I'm an omnivore. And here's a secret....we all are! That means something different to everyone, but basically, humans can freely consume animals and vegetables, whatever we choose! Wow! Now, many people shun animal -based food out of respect for the lives of animals. Others do it for health. I can completely understand both of these ideas, even though I personally disagree. Today, I'm going to talk about my personal standpoint on the matter. Feel free to chime in if you want to!

Point 1: all living things eventually die.
Death is not an option for anyone. It happens to all of us in the Great Cycle of Life. We are born, we grow up, and then we die. And it starts all over again. I personally believe in reincarnation also, so this cycle continues beyond this plane of existence. As above, so below, as it were.

Point 2: as all living beings are part of this cycle, we are all part of the Divine.
I could be better described as a Pantheist rather than a Polytheist (though I do think the Divine has many aspects as shown by the Gods). So, broccoli is as part of the divine as much as a cow is. Because of this, I don't believe there's any difference eating broccoli over a cow. And if something were to eat me, well, then, fine (not my personal preference, obviously). But I don't really put humans above animals above plants. We're all in this together, and we all have to eat something to survive. We all consume the other, as we're built to do.

Point 3: eat mindfully because we can.
I don't know if plants and animals eat mindfully, as I cannot ask them. But I know I can personally eat mindfully. So I do not choose my foods whether they be plant or animal; rather, I choose my foods based on how they were raised or grown. I think food tastes better and is better for you when love and care was given while the animal or plant was living, and preferably also in its death. I want my food supply to be local, organic, and/or pastured. I want it processed as little as possible so that it doesn't lose its benefits. And I thank my food before I consume it (most of the time, anyway. I'm far from perfect.)

Eating omnivorously has always been what my body craved. I've flirted with vegetarianism before as it's touted as superior ethically and healthfully. But my body disagreed. I am moving toward my body's highest potential eating omnivorously (even with all of my restrictions). I am losing weight, gaining muscle, and resolving hormonal and digestive issues. My skin glows. I am finding my inner Goddess. She was always there, but She's coming out now! Isn't that truly Divine?

Find this post and other great blogs at Fight Back Friday hosted by Food Renegade!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Religion, Politics, and Food

Ahh, these three topics are the ones I enjoy the most. But, naturally, they are probably the most controversial ones out there. So anyway, here are my personal stances on these topics and how they relate to each other. If you don't like them, well, that's fine. Just give me your reasons. I'm willing to read them, even if I don't agree with you. If you agree with me, wonderful.

I am a Neo-Pagan, but I come from a Christian background. I was raised Episcopalian (with a small jaunt as a Lutheran), attended a Pentacostal school for three years as well as a Catholic one for three years.  I am well-versed in many Christian theologies. However, one aspect of Christianity I never agreed with was Creationism, especially of the Young Earth variety. I can buy that God set off the chain reaction that made our universe the way it is, and I can even buy the belief that there was more to it than that (though that is not my belief), but I cannot and will not buy that dinosaurs and man roamed the earth together and that the earth is only 5000 years old.  So why am I bringing this up? Because it pervades the Real Food movement, that God is somehow compelling us how to eat, that the Paleo diet subscribes to the theory of evolution and is therefore wrong. I could go on and on. In all my years as a Christian with religious education, I never was taught this pseudo-science, and now it's everywhere I look for information on Real Food. To me, as soon as I see a mention of Creationism, the author loses all credibility for me. Mythology exists to teach us spiritual truths, not to be a science primer. Genesis is a myth. Adam and Eve did not exist as such. Nor did Hercules, Thor, Genesha, etc, lest you think I'm just picking on Christians. Anyway, I'm not out to change anyone's beliefs, but I have to say that science CAN be trusted, and people don't have to take the Bible literally to be a good Christian. Science can and will support Real Food. That's why I eat it! It's the ethics of it that relate to my personal spiritual practice, but more on that later.

Moving on...I've said this before, but I am a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal. I'm a Bernie Sanders, socialist kind of liberal. That said, I like regulations, just not stupid ones. I don't want small government or big government; I want SMART government that isn't pushed around by corporate money. I want the freedom to buy raw milk, but I do want it tested regularly to make sure my farmers aren't cutting corners. I want GMOs and artificial flavors and colors banned by the FDA. I want real and thorough gold-standard testing on medicines and vaccines before they are approved for the market, instead of all the fast-tracking and lack of long-term study. Taking corporate money and lobbies out of government will force these changes. Many of my fellow Real Foodies take the opposite approach. They want hands-off government, and quite honestly, I'm a bit sympathetic to that, but only because our current system is the way it is. I don't want to make government smaller, I want it BETTER, but until then, I feel like a bit of a renegade. Lucky for me that I live in Massachusetts, where we haven't had FDA raids on raw milk farms (what a waste of taxpayer money!) In my opinion, the FDA would do better by spending its time and money on actually doing proper testing on foods and medicines without kowtowing to Big Pharma and Big Ag.

In another post, I will address my omnivorism as it relates to my spiritual practice. Stay tuned!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's been a long time since my last post....

and I'm sorry! Being a mom, a wife, a teacher, an avid reader, well, all the these things have been taking up my time.

But on with the present, shall we? I've made some changes to the way I eat, and I am reaping the benefits! After much thought, and some prodding from a local mom friend, I changed doctors. I've never been a fan of straight Western Medicine. I like the complementary/alternative medicine. I go to a chiropractor, I use some herbal and homeopathic remedies, and I'd do more if my wallet would allow. So this doctor I now see practices what is known as Functional Medicine. She has an M.D., but she is very accepting and even will prescribe these kinds of CAM if she feels they will help. Perfect, if you ask me. So I went to an initial appointment several months ago, where she spent over an hour talking with me as well as administering the full exam.  She ordered a battery of tests, and spent a good long time with me explaining my results with me. Amazing! She's kind, not dismissive like my last doctor. And, more importantly, she knows her stuff.

So anyway, while many of my markers were good, if not great, I'm a bit stressed out. I also have this condition called candida. Basically, it's a systemic yeast infection, which, let me tell you, is not fun. So I needed to go on a medication called Diflucan for 6 weeks to kill the yeast and am now on a few supplements that keep any remaining yeast at bay. I also take some adrenal support supplements, as I am so stressed out. My thyroid medication was upped a bit, too. All these issues have made me sluggish and not vibrant like I should be at my age (34, if you're wondering).

But even better, I changed my diet. I had been mostly doing WAPF, although gluten free because I was (and am) sure that gluten does me NO favors. So before that meant I would have meat, grassfed (and raw) dairy, veggies, legumes,tubers, and gluten free grains and goodies. While my last cholesterol readings were awesome (take that, lipid hypothesis!), I needed to rid all sources of sugar so as not to feed my yeast. That includes anything that could ferment in my gut. My doctor gave me a list of restrictions; basically, I needed to eat a Paleo diet, which was fine with me.

I have removed dairy (including butter, which does make me sad), all grains gluten free and otherwise, legumes, most high-sugar fruits, vinegars, and added sugar. The only sweetener I use is stevia. Okay, yes, this may seem restrictive, but my sweet tooth has been tamed, and honestly with the kinds of foods I've been making lately, my decadent side is satisfied. Thanks to cookbooks like Well Fed and Eat Like a Dinosaur, and websites like Mark's Daily Apple, the food is obscenely delicious.

And you know the best part? I feel amazing. I feel like I'm younger than 34. My blood pressure is outstanding (96/75 is a typical reading). And I've lost over 21 pounds. I feel like I've found the answer. Do I miss treats? Sure, sometimes. Sometimes I do indulge because I can't be a saint 100% of the time, but I'm healing my body, so I don't want to derail it completely.

I suppose I could have done GAPS, which many people feel is the answer. I'm sure it works, but it's far too organized and restrictive for me. I know myself too well to know that I can't do that successfully. I'm sure as heck not ever going to do Matt Stone's RRAF/180 Degree Health (which is the current bandwagon that many WAPF bloggers seem to be jumping on). It looks like a recipe for a giant butt more than actually healing anything. The only thing it seems to be good for is to not stress on what we eat so much, but honestly, food doesn't stress me out. I just eat food that I like and likes me. I'm not linking those diets, by the way, because I don't want to endorse them. You all can Google them on your own, if you like.

So yeah, there we go. That's where I am right now. I will try to update soon.