Real Foods Pyramid Overview

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Nourishing Our Children

For those just starting out on a real food journey, I thought this article might be helpful. It’s a contribution I am making to a great local organization to educate and prepare women for the amazing motherhood experience. For more information and classes see: Roots Childbirth of Nashville

The Importance of Eating Real, Traditional Foods During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Real Food Pyramid Brief Overview by the Weston A. Price Foundation

“Please keep in mind that this is a brief overview and our food pyramid does not illustrate all of our dietary recommendations.  We propose that a healthy diet emphasize the foods that are most nutrient dense – those containing high levels of vitamins and minerals: wild caught seafood, and the organ meats, raw dairy,eggs and meat from animals on pasture.  That is why the foundation of our food pyramid pictured above includes some of these items.  A healthy diet consists of whole foods – specifically, whole, raw, milk and milk products that haven’t been pasteurized or homogenized nor reduced in fat content, as well as grass-fed meat with the fat. We would not recommend lean meats or skinless chicken breast, nor a diet that is low in saturated fats or cholesterol.  We propose that organic fruit be eaten more sparingly and that organic grains be sprouted or soaked before used in order to make them more digestible. We would discourage any consumption of trans fat, and margarine, however we do encourage the consumption of traditional fats from animals on pasture such as lard and butter.” – http://www.nourishingourchildren.org/Pyramid.html (Nourishing Our Children of the WAPF)

PROTEIN/FATS

As the primary building block to a Real Foods diet, looking at where the protein is coming from is vital. The quality of the protein will ultimately determine whether that protein source will be nourishing or detrimental to mother and baby’s health. Animals fed on an industrial food model (including GMO-corn and food/animal waste products) and living in unsanitary and harmful conditions yield toxic, nutrient poor proteins (meats, dairy, eggs). On the other hand, animals living in their natural habitats, living on a natural diet (out in the pasture) yield proteins that are superior in their rich, nutrient content. For more information see: http://www.nourishingourchildren.org/Home.html.

What to Look For in Protein Sources (dairy, eggs, meat, butter):

  • Grass-fed (or Pastured – meaning the animal lives predominantly on green pastures)

  • Organic (no use of GMO corn or soy)

  • Wild-caught (fish are caught in the sea/ocean and not raised on a farm, fed harmful ingredients)

Get Real Milk:

As with meat, not all dairy is raised equally in nutrient content and processing. Dairy that comes from an industrial dairy is ultimately compromised in its nutrient content and devoid of most of the nourishing factors that make this such a healthy product. Industrial dairy in the US is also pasteurized and homogenized – two processes that denature the proteins and fats in the milk and render the end product toxic, rather than healthful. Please read the following article on the difference between consuming organically raised, raw dairy over industrial dairy (and also where to find sources): http://www.nourishingourchildren.org/Milk.html. If one is not able to find raw milk, using fermented, organic dairy such as cheeses, yogurts, or kefir would be the next best option.

ORGANIC VEGETABLES

Finding in season, local, organic vegetables is a great way to get nutrient dense food into your diet. Studies have shown that organic vegetables have greater phyto-nutrient content compared to their commercial counterparts. Also equally important,  avoiding any toxins during this time only multiplies the health of the baby and herself.

GRAINS

Looking at the wide array of grain allergies and intolerances we have today begs a closer look at the grain products in the Western diet. Traditional cultures have always soaked, fermented, or sprouted their grains for proper absorption and digestion. Though they did not know it then, these methods also neutralize harmful anti-nutrients (this is the way the seed is designed to preserve itself from spoiling and be able to lay dormant until awakened with water and light) and toxins (one example being gluten) naturally found in most grains (and also in beans, seeds, and legumes). If you are not able to bake your own sourdough (the natural process to ferment flour) bread and grain products, finding a local source for real, sourdough bread would be ideal, or buying only sprouted breads (like Trader Joe’s brand, or Ezekial Breads). Buying grains in their whole form and soaking, then cooking them is superior to buying any already packaged flour/grain product.

Soaking Basics (for beans too):

  • Cover grain with filtered water (leaving about 3 inches extra water standing on top)

  • Add a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar, or fresh lemon juice

  • Allow to sit, loosely covered for 12-24 hours

  • Rinse and cook

HEALTHY TIDBITS:

Lastly, a final note on sweets, salts and oils is important to touch on. Avoiding refined products makes a definite impact on the health of mama and baby. Here is a simple list of healthy options as well as those ones to be avoided.

Healthful Sweeteners, Oils and Salts:

  • Raw Honey

  • Stevia

  • Real Salt, Celtic Salt, Pink Himalayan Salt

  • Coconut Oil:  expeller-pressed

  • Real, extra virgin Olive Oil

  • Sesame Oil – expeller-pressed

To Be Avoided:

  • Refined, white salt

  • Corn syrup – or any syrup other than Grade B Maple Syrup

  • Refined, white and brown sugar

  • Canola, Peanut, Soybean, Corn and all “Vegetable” Oils

LEARN MORE ABOUT REAL FOODS

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t panic! Many resources, tutorials, and videos are out there to help you make  transition to a Real Foods diet.

For a great place to start go to:  http://www.nourishingourchildren.org/Resources.html.

Josiah’s Birth Story

Josiah is two months now! I suppose that is long enough to procrastinate writing another blog post and his birth story. His birth was quite unexpected and different from the others…

We had just finished a long week of VBS at our church. To top off the busy week, Isaiah (the second oldest) just had his 12th birthday. Finally, I thought, now I can relax and get ready for this baby. At 39 weeks along, I honestly didn’t think it would be another few weeks, since I have a track record of being almost two weeks late.

At 2am though, my water broke. Completely surprised, I jumped out of bed (about as quick as a 9 month pregnant mama can get) and ran for the bathroom. Had my water really just broke?! This never happens to me, I kept saying to myself. Excitedly, I told Aaron. He groggily responds, “Are you sure?” Yea, I am sure 🙂 I phoned the midwife, hoping not to wake her. She was at another birth and responded that she would call me back when she was done. Since the contractions weren’t painful or regular, I just went back to bed.

A couple hours later my midwife calls back. She’s finished at the other birth and wanted to come over. I figured she could just rest here instead of driving all the way home and then coming back out again. So, over she came. It was a little bit of a blur. We all just tried to get some rest. When the contractions became too uncomfortable to sleep, I got up and walked around. I was at about a 7 sometime early that morning. The kids were waking up, and we needed to get the birthing pool ready. My labor kind of fizzled out and started to slow down. I think being preoccupied with everyone else’s needs didn’t help the progression. After getting all the kids out the door to a good friend’s house, I felt like I could relax, a little. Throughout the labor, I felt very watched and on a time clock. When your water breaks at home, midwives are under a lot of pressure to take you to a hospital after 24 hours if you don’t deliver. With my labor stalling out, I was getting a little worried.

In my haste to hurry things along, I tried doing herbal tinctures, some oils, massage, walking, praying, anything I could think of to get my labor going again. Nothing seemed to work. Finally, very discouraged, I went to bed and tried to take a nap. After an hour or more, contractions were back and I was ready to get this baby out!

We refilled the pool again and tried to keep the temperature just right. For some reason though, I just didn’t have the urge to push. That urge is caused by adrenaline which is produced by the adrenals. Near the end of my pregnancy, I had been experiencing adrenal fatigue. I didn’t realize all this until after the birth. Looking back now, I can see how having your body systems in top shape is so critical to having a natural, healthy birth – especially at home.

After laboring in the pool for a while, I gave up and got out. All those Swedish Bitters I had tried to get my labor going were taking serious effect :/ After laboring in the bathroom for a while, I wandered around the house, trying to find a good place to birth. Since the pool was too dirty and cold now, I couldn’t birth there. I had no back up plan! After trying different positions, I gave up and went to my bedroom. Still feeling a lot of pressure to hurry up and birth this baby, I think my emotional system was incredibly stressed and without the adrenals to help with the stress, I just couldn’t remember how to push this baby out!

Thank God for my sweet midwife. One of my dear friends suggested to her that she put pressure on the place where I need to be focused on pushing at. That did it. She only had to place her fingers down there with slight pressure for me to know what I had to do. With a couple of good pushes, little Josiah finally came out. Now all the after birth hormones were going nuts, and I was delirious, happy, in pain, unbelieving that I actually pushed a little person out of my body. God’s design just takes my breath away.

I started to bleed a bit too much; so my midwife had Aaron give me a shepherd’s purse tincture. It stopped the bleeding almost immediately. I believe the bleeding was caused by doing too much of the black and blue cohosh (one of the herbs I was trying to get my labor started again). Won’t be doing that again. I had read a long time ago that shepherd’s purse stops internal bleeding and had a bag of the herb on hand, intending to make a tincture out of it. I still need to do that, but I am so thankful that my midwife had one on hand!

Josiah Adin (meaning God saves, and pleasantly – both of Hebrew origin),  as we named him (after 8 days), was just beautiful! Weighing in at 7 and a half pounds, he was almost 2 lbs smaller than my last baby. I was elated that he had finally arrived and I was not 42 weeks along!

I learned much from the birth experience: like the importance of being relaxed and laboring in your own way, at your own pace, and on your own terms. I also have been working on building up my adrenals and other body systems that were weakened this time around.

Here are some of the ways I am nourishing my body back to complete health after baby #8:

  • praying for God to resolve and heal certain organs and areas of weakness
  • drinking homemade broth, 3-4 time a week
  • taking probiotics daily
  • taking fermented cod liver oil (Green Pastures)
  • taking 4 tsp of Moringa powder each day
  • juicing 1-2 times a day
  • eating a diet of mostly raw foods (including dairy, nuts, etc.)
  • enjoying sourdough bread and gluten free grains in moderation
  • having limited amounts of natural sugars only (like sucanat, or coconut sugar) – using mostly raw honey for sweetening
  • eating my main caloric intake during the early afternoon, and not in the evening
  • taking food enzymes as needed
  • using essential oils topically to strengthen various problem areas (Orange on pancreas, Lemongrass for lymph, DiGiz for stomach, Myrtle for thyroid, Lemon for gallbladder/liver)

It is a slow process and I need to learn to be patient with myself as I continue to heal and regain strength again in all areas. Once my baby fat starts falling off like crazy, then I will know that my body has repaired and no longer needing to reserve all energy for healing. Holding on to stored fat is a sign that the body is in a healing crisis and needs to restore its body systems to a reasonable level of functionality. In my case, it’s a combination of my thyroid, stomach, pituitary and pancreas that have to get it together before I am able to shed the extra pounds from the pregnancy.

I also experienced some serious panic attacks a week or so after the birth. I believe this was from the weakened state of my pancreas and adrenals combined. I prayed for God to heal me in those areas and release all anxiety, replacing it with trust, peace, love and joy. He is ever merciful, showing me what I need to do to heal and restore this temple back to its original design. Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully created – knit together with such love.

Thank God for another wonderful blessing to add to our family. I am grateful and humbled by the great task that lay before me in preparing another soul for His kingdom.  Welcome to Our Father’s World, little Josiah.

Making Nutrient Dense Tea Easy

I love the benefits of herbal teas, but don’t always feel like brewing up a batch. I have been trying to get in as much red raspberry leaf as possible the past few weeks, because I know how amazingly good for me and baby it is. Last night I decided I didn’t feel like warming up hot water to make a big batch of tea. Instead I filled a half gallon jar with about 7 cups of filtered water, added my herbs, shook it well, and left it on my counter all night. The next day, I strained off the herbs and sweetened the tea with a bit of raw honey. It was just perfect. I left it in the fridge. It was gone by dinner time. The kids love any herbal tea around here. Here are my proportions:

Raspberry Mint Tea

  • 1 cup red raspberry leaf
  • 1/4 cup peppermint or spearmint leaves
  • 6-7 cups water
  • stevia or raw honey to taste

That was it! I am now making up various teas the night before for the kids, so they will stay out of mine. I try to keep the proportions to about 1 1/2 cups of herbs to  6-7 cups water. Some of my favorite combos so far are:

  •  1 part red raspberry leaf
  •  quarter part hibiscus
  • quarter part rose hips

or

  • 3/4 part chamomile flowers
  • 1/8 part lavender flower
  • 1/8 part fennel seed
  • 1/4 part lemongrass
  • dash hibiscus
  • dash orange peels

Have fun and experiment with what herbs you have on hand. I like to look up tea combinations from my favorite tea suppliers and then copy their recipes to my tastes. If you’re looking to build an herbal cabinet: grow them yourself or order from Mountain Rose Herbs, Azure, Frontier, or the Bulk Herb Store. I started ordering just a small $20 order here and there as I could, Eventually, you’ll build up enough of a stock that you can try many different, healthful combinations. Have fun experimenting and enjoy!

Digestive Issues During Pregnancy

Each pregnancy seems to bring about its own cluster of health challenges. I say challenges, because I have found them to be just that. A difficult time that forces me to do more research, try different ways to heal, pray for answers, and focus on the positives instead of “complaining” to myself and God. This being my 8th pregnancy, I have dealt with all kinds of discomforts – starting with my low thyroid to poor circulation, to pre-diabetic conditions, gallstones to digestive problems. I have with God’s help and grace healed most of the conditions I have faced – through His provisions in nature only. I do have weakened areas that I still have to stay on top of through supplementation (like my thyroid – I take TW from Pure Herbs, an herbal sea vegetable tincture). One day, if God permits, when I am not nursing or pregnant, I plan to do a juice fast and help speed the healing on any other weakened areas. But all in God’s time. Each precious life is well worth the short pains and challenges I have overcome.

With every new adventure, God gives new perspective, and a compassion and empathy for others in similar conditions that I would not have had prior. I do believe that every experience God permits our way is not only for our benefit and betterment, but then to use to help those around us. In this spirit, I would like to share what has worked for me and the symptoms and causes for some digestive issues experienced this pregnancy.

At the beginning of the pregnancy, I attended a WAPF conference in Georgia, where I was first introduced to the Leaky Gut Syndrome. I listened intently to the talk given about gluten, celiac, and this Leaky Gut issue. It impacted me so greatly, and I felt so impressed that this was a major cause of many of our family’s digestive sensitivities and allergies, that I put together a workshop and formed a juice fast for our natural health group. (For more information, please check out the link for the notes.)

I put myself on the GAPS diet for about 2 months, while I also took LOTS of probiotics, food enzymes, and fermented cod liver oil/butter oil. We also juiced several times a day, and had soup as much as possible, from homemade stock. We also prayed and worked on releasing toxic gluten from our systems.

This made a huge difference in my own health and for those in my home; but also for the ones who went on the juice fast in our health group. They all experienced healing and cleansing; feeling great at its completion and looking forward to doing another one.

After experiencing this, God sent me through another trial of indigestion. I couldn’t figure out why I was experiencing such terrible cramping, gassiness, and pains in my stomach area each day in the early evening. After some muscle testing, we found I had h. pylori in the stomach that had done some damage. Getting rid of that with colloidal silver, I now was dealing with low hydrochloric acid (HCL).

HCL is very important to digestion. Without proper levels you can’t absorb minerals and other vital nutrients from the foods that you eat. And even a couple days of little mineral absorption wreaks havoc on all the body systems. For me this showed up in my thyroid weakening again such that I had to triple the amount of supplementation for it. I also started gaining almost a pound a day while we were trying to figure out what was going on! Any extra weight put on during pregnancy just makes it that much more uncomfortable and difficult to get around. I definitely wanted to resolve this!

I had already incorporated taking probiotics each day. This is very helpful in encouraging good stomach digestion. I also started taking a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in the morning and in the evening. I got some HCL supplements from Nature’s Sunshine (called PDA). I continued taking my food enzymes when needed. I even bought some Swedish bitters to help out. I found a dry mix of the herbs online, and am making my own, which should be ready next week. The herb safflower also helps aid in digestion and the production of HCL. So, I have taken this in capsule form (through Nature’s Sunshine). These all will aid in stomach acid production and healing the stomach lining to produce its own proper amount.

So while I am not out of the woods yet, these steps are greatly helping me to improve and heal the low stomach acid issue. Many pregnant women experience heartburn or low stomach acid. The misinformation that is out there says that it is caused by too much stomach acid, and the remedy is antacids. This only makes the problem worse in the long run. Antacids hinder the stomach lining from producing HCL, which of course will only make the condition worse. The problem is that the pressure from the baby, a pinched nerve, a misalignment in the spinal area, or even the bacteria h. pylori (among other causes like taking birth control pills, antacids, or antibiotics) can cause low stomach acid. It takes prayer and patience to find the root cause, fix it, and then begin healing and repairing; all the meanwhile supplementing until the production is back to normal.

I will continue to post any other helpful methods I experience along my road to maintaining a healthy pregnancy. God has been good! This will be my 4th home birth. I love that God introduced me to natural childbirth through a good friend. It has made all the difference in experiencing the miracle of birth. Children truly are a blessing. I accept God’s timing and planning for our family and its members; knowing that motherhood is the most amazing calling, that all life can only exist from God, Who knows us before we are even conceived. Praying God’s blessing to you and yours.

Mama Power Smoothie

Everyone seems to have a different time of the day when they are the most hungry. For me, that’s right in the afternoon, the middle of the day – definitely not in the mornings. So many things take my attention in the mornings, that breakfast is not big on the list. Thank God for smoothies! I can hide just about anything in them, make them an all-in-one meal that will last for hours. Kind of like soup – I could live on smoothies and soup.

Some tidbits about my smoothie ingredients:

I have in the recent months come across the amazing superfood of the Moringa Oleifera tree. The nutritional content of the leaves from this tree far outweigh any whole foods supplement. And the fact that it comes only from 1 plant instead of being put together from various food sources means all that more nutrients will be absorbed and utilized by your body. Needless to say, I have replaced all my vitamin supplements with this raw leaf powder. I can buy it in 1 pound increments for about $20; and it will last my entire family of 9 for over a month. The servings are: pregnant/lactating mama’s – 3 tsp twice a day; adults – 2 tsp twice a day; children 1 tsp twice a day. There are several places to buy this powder. I ordered from znaturalfoods.com but you could also order it on ebay of all places! I would of course contact the seller and ask about processing and source information.

Another tip for smoothie variety are the wonderful uses for frozen cubes. I have been pouring kefir into my ice cube trays, freezing them, and then storing in bags in the freezer. I have also frozen yogurt, fresh raw juices, water kefir, and even left over chocolate smoothies in cubes. These are great to use instead of frozen fruit or ice cubes. You can also cut up any fresh fruit and freeze it to add in the smoothies. So if you find organic fruit on sale, stock up!

Since I am doing the GAPS diet right now to heal my gut, my smoothies have coconut milk powder in them. I can’t wait to have my raw, fresh milk again though! I use the coconut powder because I have found that the canned coconut milk contains aluminum, which causes all sort of problems – including allergies, mental disorders, immune dysfunction, and more. So, yea, I just avoid any and all exposure to getting it into my system. I bought my coconut milk powder from the same place as the moringa, but there are lots of places to get it.

All ingredients go directly into my Magic Bullet; love fast results with minimal clean up. Here are some of my “green” smoothie concoctions:

Coconut Blueberry Smoothie

serves 1 adult, or 2 children

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1- 1 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 ounce Thai-Go (or other super berry concentrate) optional
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup coconut milk powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 raw egg yolks, from fresh, pastured well cleaned eggs
  • 3 teaspoons Moringa leaf powder
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of raw honey
  • 1/2 banana or papaya pieces (optional)

Chocolate Coconut Goodness Smoothie

serves 1 adult, or 2 children

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 frozen ice cubes or kefir cubes
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup coconut milk powder
  • 2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 3 teaspoons Moringa leaf powder
  • 2-4 Tablespoons raw honey or pinch of stevia powder
  • 1/2 banana, organic (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher gelatin, 2 fresh, pastured egg yolks, or 2 Tablespoons fresh whey (optional)
Tropical Punch Smoothie
serves 1 adult, or 2 children
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup fresh mango, pineapple, or papaya
  • 1 banana
  • 3 water kefir cubes
  • a couple frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup filtered water (or a little more if too thick)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk powder
  • 3 teaspoons Moringa leaf powder
  • 2-3 Tablespoons raw honey
  • optional add-in proteins: 1 Tablespoon kosher gelatin, 2 raw, pastured egg yolks, or 2 Tablespoons fresh whey
Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. I enjoy these while taking care of little ones, doing school with the older children, or finishing up some morning chores. Have a healthy day!


Pregnancy Herbs Tincture Recipe

Nourishing your body during the time when it is building a new person can be an overwhelming task. Keeping a clean, toxin free diet that is nutrient dense is the main part of the battle. However, it is vital to nourish those organs that are working over-time for those 40 precious weeks. Getting a good pregnancy tea with 5 cups in every single day can be a bit challenging at times. I decided to condense this process and put the herbs I know to be essential for a healthy body and baby into a tincture so all I would need is a tablespoon each day.

Check out some material about using herbs while pregnant. God placed these green plants here for a reason.

Pregnancy Tea Tincture

Makes about 1 half gallon of tincture 

Ingredients:

  • 3 parts red raspberry leaf
  • 3 parts red clover tops
  • 2 parts stinging nettle leaf
  • 1.5 parts blessed thistle
  • 1.5 parts alfalfa
  • 1 part fennel seed
  • 1 gallon steam distilled water
  • 1 cup vegetable glycerin
  • 1 cup brandy

Method:

  1. Measure out ingredients using the same measuring cup – for me I used 1 cup as 1 part. Put them all into a large crockpot.
  2. Add about 1 gallon of steam distilled water (the “dead” water will soak up the minerals and such from the herbs better then a mineral full water, like filtered from a Berkey where the minerals are all intact).
  3. Set crockpot on “Warm” with the lid on.
  4. When crockpot is warmed up, mix the herbs well so that they are all wet. Leave the lid off.
  5. Leave crockpot overnight or for about 13 hours.
  6. The next day, strain the herbs with a fine strainer into a bowl. Make sure to press down on the herbs as you go to get all the liquid out. Toss out the herbs in the compost as the strainer gets full and repeat until all the herbs are out of the crockpot and have been well strained.
  7. Let herbal concentrate cool to room temperature.
  8. Pour concentrate into a half gallon jar. You should have about 1 quart of liquid.
  9. Add your glycerin and brandy. Put a lid on and shake well.
  10. If you want to bottle the tincture into smaller, dark bottles you can at this point. Make sure to label and date them. I just pour enough into a 4 oz bottle to keep on the counter for daily use and put the rest into the back of a cabinet.
  11. Store your tincture in a cool, dark place for optimal potency.
  12. While pregnant, take 1 tablespoon a day.

I will probably post a nursing tincture recipe as this little’s arrival gets closer. In the meanwhile, enjoy your nourishing herbs!

 

Red Raspberry Citrus Pregnancy Tea

I have been using a blend of red raspberry in a mother to be tea for the last four pregnancies. After reading and researching the benefits of this amazing herb during pregnancy and afterwards, I have found it imperative to have each day. But I must say I tire of the typical blend of herbs found in a the pregnancy teas. Since the main herb that I want in the blend is red raspberry, I have decided to just throw it into whatever blend I decide to make up that day. Recently on our date night, my husband and I happened into Teavana. You know, the uber-expensive-all-about-tea store? After smelling just about everything I could imagine would be lovely, I took home one of their pamphlets that contained a list of their teas and their ingredients (along with my cup of tea I tried out). I was going to try to copy some of their delicious concoctions. Here is one of the blends I have made that I truly enjoy, even with the red raspberry leaf in it:

Red Raspberry Citrus Pregnancy Tea

makes about 2.5 strong cups or 4-5 not so strong cups

  • 2 parts red raspberry leaf
  • 2 parts red roobios tea
  • pinch of hibiscus
  • 1 part dried organic orange peel
  • 1 part dried organic lemon peel
  • 1 part dried figs, chopped
  1. I usually measure out about a teaspoon as my “part”. So, add each of the ingredients with into your tea pot (or other loose leaf holding tool).
  2. Pour in boiling, filtered water.
  3. Let steep for about 7-12 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!