Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review: The Child Whisperer

In the 9+ years that I've been a mother, I've read many parenting books. Among the parenting books I've read in the last few years, one stands out far above the others: The Child Whisper: The Ultimate Handbook For Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children by Carol TuttleOver the last two years since I read this book, it has really improved my life and my relationships with my children.

What Is Unique About This Parenting Book?

Most parenting books provide one-size-fits-all guidance for raising children.  The Child Whisperer is different. Instead of giving guidance that can be applied to all children, it seeks to give parents an understanding of different types of children.  By focusing more on understanding each of the different types of children, this book lays a strong foundation that can be used for parenting children who are very different from each other. 

One of the things that really surprised me as a parent was how different my son and daughter are.   They move through life differently, they need different things, and they react to corrections differently. Techniques that work for one of them often do not work for the other. The Child Whisperer has finally given me the framework to understanding my children, and how they are different from each other as well as myself. By knowing more about who they are as individuals, I am able to parent them each uniquely, and am better able to meet their needs.

The Different Types of Children (and Adults, Too)

The Child Whisperer describes four energy types that apply to children as well as adults. For children, the four types are summarized as follows:

image from http://thechildwhisperer.com/getting-started/

One thing I love about using Carol Tuttle's four energy type system is that it is much bigger than just a personality profiling system.  When determining a person's energy type, a person's body language and facial features are actually used in addition to personality and tendencies. This method seems to really capture the essence of each person, and that allows for a much greater understanding of each other.

Practical Tips for Each Type

Once the foundation of each energy type is laid out, The Child Whisperer includes tips for parents in supporting their children by gender and at different ages (Baby, Toddler, Pre-schooler, School Age, and High Schooler). The Child Whisperer provides insights into the learning and developmental tendencies of each type, and provides guidance on how to help each type develop their own unique gifts. One of my favorite sections in the book is the list of the Top 10 Things each type needs from their parents.

Understanding My Children

Understanding my children's dominant and secondary energy types has allowed me to finally
understand them at a much deeper level so that I can support them as individuals. Previously, I would often get frustrated at certain aspects of both of their personalities, mostly because they were different from myself and the way I do things. Now I am able to look at them from a perspective of understanding who they are and how they move through life, and that makes such a huge difference in having a happy, well-functioning household.


Here are some examples of how The Child Whisperer has made me a better parent:
  • I am a Type 3 with a secondary Type 2 energy. With my dominant Type 3 nature, I tend to move through life with swift determination, and love getting things done. With my secondary Type 2 nature, though, I am emotionally sensitive and love connecting with family and friends.
  •  My daughter is a Type 1 with a secondary Type 2 energy. I used to get frustrated with the fact that she would start a gazillion different projects, but finish hardly any of them. I would often tell her that she wasn't allowed to start anything else new until she finished her other projects. Well, it turns out that Type 1's have a gift for ideas. Ideas are the Type 1's gift to the world! I was imposing my own nature (that naturally wants to finish things) onto her; in doing so, I was stifling her own gift for having many new ideas. Now, I allow her to start as many different projects as she'd like, and instead of trying to make her finish them all, I help her learn to determine which projects are important enough to her that she would like to finish them. 
  • My son is a Type 2 with a secondary Type 4 energy.  Before learning about the energy types, I would very often tell him to hurry up, and would get frustrated that he seemed to take so long with tasks such as getting dressed, eating, getting buckled into the car, and many others.  After learning about the energy types, I realized that my son naturally has a much slower movement than I do. That doesn't mean that either of us is "wrong"; we're just different. Now I make sure to give him plenty of time for tasks, and I make sure to find other things to do while I am waiting for him so I don't get impatient and keep hurrying him.
  • With her fun-loving Type 1 nature, my daughter likes to turn everything into a game. With my own get-it-done mentality, I was often frustrated by this aspect of her personality, and would tell her to stop messing around. Now that I know about the energy types, I try to give her more freedom to find her own fun ways to accomplish things. I definitely still have some room for improvement with this, but I'm trying to support her nature. 
  • With his Type 2 nature, my son naturally plans things out in advance. His plans are very important to him, and with his Type 4, more serious secondary nature, he does not take it lightly when his plans are interrupted. Obstructed plans were the main cause of many of my son's emotional upsets, but I didn't quite understand that until I read The Child Whisperer. Now I can respect his plans, and let him take part when those plans need to change (often after giving him some alone time to process that there needs to be a change). This has made a tremendous difference in the number of emotional meltdowns.
These are just a few examples of how The Child Whisperer has helped us. It has been a real game-changer. Our relationships are better and I am now able to help my children overcome the challenges unique to each of their types, instead of trying to mold them to be more like myself.  I can't recommend this book enough!

Have you read The Child Whisperer? What is your favorite parenting book?



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Monday, June 20, 2016

Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are such a classic recipe, and for good reason. The chocolate is melty, in a chewy, sweet base of cookie dough. Mmmm.

I like baking cookies with Einkorn flour. Einkorn is an ancient variety of wheat that has never been hybridized. It is naturally lower in gluten and higher in protein than modern wheat. Combined with butter, sucanat, sugar, and chocolate, this is an stupendous cookie.

I like to make these cookies using a combination of sucanat and sugar for the sweetener, for classic chocolate chip cookie flavor. However, sucanat can be used exclusively if you prefer to stick with only unrefined sweeteners.

Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking soda, and Einkorn flour. Whisk it all together to break up any lumps.
  3. In another bowl (or stand-mixer), beat the softened butter, sucanat, and sugar together for a couple minutes, until well mixed and slightly lighter in color.
  4. In the meantime, combine the egg and vanilla extract in a small bowl. (I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works great for this because the pour spout makes it easy to add these ingredients to the mixer while it is running.) Do NOT mix up the egg at this point.
  5. Once the butter, sucanat, and sugar have become lighter in color, mix in the egg. With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in the egg while the mixer is still running.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is combined. Do not overmix this recipe, since there is gluten in the Einkorn flour and overmixing gluten results in tough baked goods.
  7. Mix in the chocolate chips. 
  8. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with exopats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon. Flatten the cookies slightly with the back of a spoon (or your fingers).
  9. Bake the cookies at 350 F for about 10-12 minutes. They are done when the edges are golden brown. Watch these closely, as extra time in the oven will make these cookies crunchy instead of chewy. If you have to cook subsequent batches on an already-warmed cookie sheet, start checking them for done-ness a couple minutes earlier.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
  11. Once cool, store these cookies in an airtight container.  They can be stored at room temperature or in the freezer if you won't be eating them all in the next few days.  When eating these cookies from the freezer, I like to re-warm these cookies briefly in a toaster oven, for ooey gooey chocolate yumminess. Storing them in the freezer will also remove the pressure of having to eat them all in a week or so, as they will last for months in the freezer. 


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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Homeschool World-Trip Without Leaving Home

Although we homeschool year-round, each summer I like to shift the focus of our homeschooling a bit. Some years, we have focused more on music and art, other years we have focused more on learning to swim, and other years we have focused more on nature study. This summer, I'm planning for us to take a trip around the world, but we'll do it without leaving home.

Taking a World Trip Without Leaving Home

To accomplish our world trip, I will be bringing together elements from different cultures around the world.  I plan to incorporate books, art, music, and recipes for each destination on our world trip.
This should be an engaging and entertaining way for us to learn about different cultures around the world.


Books That Highlight Different Cultures

The inspiration for our Homeschool World Trip came from three books that have recently come into our home:
  • "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats" by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio - This large book, filled with full-color photographs, shows what people around the world eat. While it focuses specifically on each family's weekly groceries, it also includes family recipes and a glimpse into the culture in each country.  
  • "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" by Peter Menzel - Like "Hungry Planet", this is a large book filled with full-color photographs. Instead of focusing on food, though, this book highlights the possessions and living conditions of people around the world. 
  • "Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time" by Jamie C. Martin - This book contains a wealth of information about books that give kids global perspective.  It includes over 600 children's book recommendations, categorized by different continents or areas of the world.
With these three books in-hand, it seemed like the next logical step to go on a virtual world tour with my children.  Each week, we will focus on a different country or region of the world. I will focus on places that are highlighted in "Hungry Planet" and "Material World", and will choose children's books from "Give Your Child the World" to supplement each location that we are exploring. 

Music and Art From Around the Globe

To broaden our perspective, I will be including art and music from around the globe during our world tour. I will feature international artwork in our ever-changing living room Art Appreciation display. We will also be digging further into art using Khan Academy's Art History resources, which include videos about art from many areas of the world. For music, we'll be relying on the World Music CD's available at our local library.

 

Recipes from Around the Globe

To get a taste of foods from around the world, we'll be trying out some of the recipes from "Hungry Planet", checking out books from the library about world cuisine, and sampling some of the international foods that are available at local restaurants. This will be a fun way to try out new foods, and perhaps find some new family favorites.

Language, Geography, and Science

We will also be spending a little time learning about the language, geography, and flora/fauna of each region that we visit on our World Tour. My daughter's eyes lit up when I asked if she would want to learn some simple phrases in the different languages from each region, as she thinks it will be so fun to speak to each other in different languages. I'll be relying on the internet to give us simple phrases in the languages spoken in each area. For geography, flora, and fauna, I'll be relying on library books. I generally find that the books in the adult section of the library are the best for finding beautiful, large pictures.

 

Putting It All Together

Our World Trip will be a fun way to expand our horizons this summer. I'll likely need to spend an hour or so each week planning out our world explorations for the coming week, but it should be well worth the time.  We're looking forward to the fresh, new experience of our summer World Tour.

Let me know if you are interested in seeing which specific resources, recipes, books, and CD's we end up using for each destination on our Homeschool World Trip.

Are you going on any trips this summer? What do you do differently during the summer in your home educational environment?

 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Peach, Goat Cheese, and Basil Appetizer (grain-free : gluten-free)

With summer in full swing here, we are starting to find locally grown summertime fruits at the store. Early peaches have arrived, much to our delight.  I have crafted a very simple, delicious appetizer that combines peaches, fresh basil, and chevre (goat cheese). Yum!

Peach, Goat Cheese, and Basil Appetizer
  1. Slice the peaches and pick some basil leaves.
  2. Place one basil leaf on each cracker. Top with a couple crumbles of goat cheese and a slice of peach.
  3. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Add a small drizzle of honey if the peaches are not very sweet.
  4. Serve and enjoy!


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Friday, June 10, 2016

Why I Purposely Eat Both Refined and Whole Grains

There is much hype these days about eating whole grains. Breads, crackers, and cereals are covered with labels about their whole grain content. Amidst this, why do I purposely eat a combination of refined and whole grains?


Whole Grains in Traditional Diets

Weston A. Price's research into traditional diets around the globe showed that people who eat  nourishing, traditional foods have much better health than those who eat modern foods.  Rami Nagel's more recent research has increased our knowledge of traditional diets, and has uncovered the fact that, in traditional diets, much of the bran and germ from whole grains was actually discarded when the grains were ground into flour. It seems that the people knew, not from scientific research, but perhaps through experience and intuition, that there are parts of grains which are not nutritious and even act as anti-nutritients. Nowadays we have a name for the anti-nutrient in grains that is of most concern: Phytic Acid.
image from ask.com

Phytic Acid - Whole Grains' Dirty Little Secret

Whole grains are touted to be higher in nutrients than refined grains, and it is true that they do have more potential nutrients than refined grains. However, whole grains also contain phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient because it can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. This is why, in some cases, eating a lot of whole grains can actually have a detrimental effect on health, and lead to increased cavities.

Yet, traditional peoples the world-'round knew to discard much of the bran and germ from whole grains, thereby reducing the phytic acid content of their food. By reducing the phytic acid content of grains, they were likely able to assimilate more of the nutrients in their food. In Rami Nagel's research, he found that "the calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium in diets made up with 92 percent flour (almost whole wheat) were less completely absorbed than the same minerals in diets made up with 69 percent flour (with a significant amount of bran and germ removed)".

Sprouting, Souring, and Soaking to Neutralize Phytic Acid

image from wildyeastblog.com
In addition to discarding much of the bran and germ from whole grains, people in traditional cultures purposely used techniques such as soaking, souring, and sprouting in the preparation of grains. Now, we have scientific research which clearly shows that soaking, souring, and sprouting whole grains reduces their phytic acid content. The bottom line is that, in ancestral diets, people purposely discarded parts of the whole grains, and they used soaking, souring, and sprouting to increase the nutrient value of the grains they consumed.

The vast majority of "whole grain" foods sold in stores are missing these vital steps which would reduce the phytic acid. When whole grains are consumed without these special preparation techniques, it is possible that the phytic acid in the grains can actually lead to worse health, as the vital nutrients in food won't be able to be used by the body. So instead of having increased nutrition due to their whole grain content, such whole grain foods can actually lead to nutrient deficiencies!

How My Family Eats Refined and Whole Grains

Grain-based foods form a significant part of my son's and my diet.  (My husband and daughter both still do best eating little or no grains, so they only eat grains occasionally.) Given unlimited time and resources, I would do as they did in traditional cultures by grinding fresh whole grains, discarding much of the bran and germ, and then soaking or sprouting the grains prior to cooking them. But the reality is that, over the last few years whilst homeschooling and practicing homeopathy, I have chosen to spend less time in the kitchen. There are too many competing priorities for me to spend hour upon hour preparing food each day. (Been there, done that, during the GAPS Diet, and I do NOT miss spending an average of 6 hours per day in the kitchen.)

So, instead of making all of my own bread and grain-based foods, I often rely on storebought items. I still try to roughly replicate what was done in traditional cultures, though, by doing the following:
  • My son and I eat a combination of refined grains and whole grains, so that the overall balance is more similar to what was consumed in traditional cultures.
  • I ensure that most of the whole grains we eat have been prepared with sprouting or soaking to neutralize the phytic acid anti-nutrient.

 

Our Current Favorite Grain-Based Products

The storebought grain-based items we currently rely on are:

In my home-prepared, grain-based foods, I rely on the following:
I feel like I have found a happy medium between the techniques used by traditional cultures and our modern-day lives. Within this framework, I don't worry much about getting things perfectly right. Stressing out over food is likely just as detrimental to health as eating poorly, so I strive for a relaxed attitude within our mostly-nutritious diets. 

Do you eat grains? Did you know about phytic acid - whole grains' "dirty little secret"? What have you found works best for you? 

 

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole (gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

A few of you asked me to blog the recipe for Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole, so here it is! This simple recipe combines hash brown potatoes, cheese, and gravy into a yummy casserole.

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole is my husband's current favorite lunch to take along to the office. I make a large batch and freeze single-serving portions in 2-cup glass Pyrex storage dishes, which he then re-heats in a toaster oven at work. He eats this as a main course for lunch, but it also makes a delicious side dish at any time of day.

Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole
Serves 8-10
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter, preferably of the rich yellow nutrient-dense dense type
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped small
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade 
  • 1&1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp fine-ground celtic sea salt
  • 6 Tb white rice flour*
  • 16 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Two-16 ounce bags of organic frozen hashbrowns (regular and southern-style both work fine; I use either Cascadia Farms or Sno-Pac Southern Style Organic has browns) 
  1. Melt the butter in a very large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and saute for about 10-15 minutes, until the onion is translucent and soft. I like to use a bamboo spatula to saute the onion. It's okay if the onion takes on a bit of brown, caramelized color while cooking.
  2. In the meantime, mince the garlic. Shred the cheese using the large side of a box grater.
  3. Combine the milk and broth in a large bowl.  Whisk the liquid while pouring in the rice flour. Whisk it well, so there are no lumps.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. When the onion is done, add the minced garlic and saute just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Whisk the broth and milk mixture into the pan with the onion. Whisk in the salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. This mixture will get rather thick because of the rice flour, but that is just what it should do. Turn off the heat.
  7. Fold the frozen hash browns into the onion/gravy mixture. If you did not use a very large skillet, you may need to use a large bowl for this.
  8. In a 9X13 glass baking dish, layer half of the hash brown mixture, then half of the shredded cheese, then the remaining hash brown mixture, and top with the remaining cheese.
  9. Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes, until bubbling and lightly browned. If desired, the broiler can be turned on for the last 3-5 minutes to brown the cheese, but watch it carefully as it can burn easily with the broiler on!
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
*If you want to know more about why I use white rice instead of brown, check out this article.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

My Family's Spring Diet

When I blogged a few months ago about My Family's Winter Diet, I promised to share what our Spring, Summer, and Fall diets look like as well. We are still primarily eating a nutrient-dense diet, but rather than aiming for perfection, I am aiming for an unstressed, maintainable diet that my family can eat for many years to come. We do eat somewhat seasonally, so our diet changes a bit with the seasons to reflect which fruits and vegetables are in season.  

Each Saturday morning, I spend a few hours in the kitchen preparing baked goods for the coming week. Typically, this includes making one custard cake (clafoutis), one or two batches of muffins, and perhaps some cookies or waffles to freeze. By preparing these items on the weekend, our breakfasts throughout the weekdays are very quick-and-easy. Here is a snapshot of our Spring diet.


Breakfast

  • Since I wake up early, I often eat two breakfasts. My first breakfast is generally simple, followed by a more substantial breakfast a couple hours later. 
    • My second breakfast is most often sprouted whole wheat or white sourdough toast with eggs and frozen veggie mix sauteed in butter, usually with a glass of raw milk. I have a dose of extra-virgin cod liver oil with my second breakfast perhaps once a week (as determined by when I feel a craving for it). At this time of year, I spend so much time outside that I don't seem to crave cod liver oil as much as I do during the winter months, so I reduce how often I take it to match my desire. 

 

Lunch

  • My husband takes frozen homemade leftovers to work for lunch everyday, which he re-heats in a toaster oven.  This Spring, his favorite leftover lunches are:
  • This Spring, the lunches my children and I are eating most often are:
    • Cheesy scrambled egg sandwiches, with mayonnaise, served on sprouted whole wheat bread or gluten-free waffle
    • Lunchmeat rolls with cheddar cheese, homemade honey mustard, and fermented pickles, with a side of avocado oil chips or crackers (Absolutely gluten-free flatbread is a great, grain-free option that we all enjoy)
    • Leftover soup (from the freezer)
    • Canned sardines, served with buttered crackers or sourdough toast (or waffle for my daughter)

 

Snacks and Desserts

  • The only snacks my kids are allowed between breakfast and lunch is fruits or veggies, which they have to get for themselves. That makes it where they are certain to be hungry at lunch (whereas previously when they were allowed more-filling snack options, they often didn't eat well at lunch). In the spring, their fruit and veggie snack options are:
  • My husband typically has one of the following snacks while at work:
  • Perhaps 40-50% of the time, the kids will have a small snack after our afternoon Quiet Time, usually consisting of nuts, fruit, or cookies (such as butter shortbread or chocolate macaroons). I am always ravenous when I wake from my daily nap, so I always have an afternoon snack such as plain whole-milk yogurt, butter shortbread, apple and cheese, etc.
  • The kids and my husband have a snack before bed every night; usually fruit, fried fruit, yogurt, or applesauce. About twice per week they will have dessert such as ice cream or cookies. I'm not generally hungry after dinner, so I don't usually eat anything before bed.
  • Perhaps once a week, my husband and I will each have a package of Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

 

Drinks 

The drinks we consume the vast majority of the time are:

 

Dinner

  • I make a from-scratch dinner meal about 2-3 times per week (and I always make a large portion so there will be enough to freeze for my husband's lunches, or for us to have as leftovers). I can't stand eating the same thing two days in a row, so I plan to eat leftovers a few days later, or freeze them for a future use. This Spring, as the temperature is warming up, we move away from soup and onto other foods. The dinners I'm making most-often are:
  • Side dishes I've been making most often this Spring are:
    • Butter smash boiled potatoes (I haven't blogged this recipe, but I will if there is interest)
    • Coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, and celery (I could blog this recipe, too)
  • On days when I don't make a from-scratch dinner, we have leftovers or dinners which include some already-prepared ingredients (which I consider to be compromise dinners). The ingredients in our compromise dinners aren't absolutely perfect, but they are pretty good, and incorporating these items into our diets allows for busy days when I don't have hours to spend in the kitchen. Our most commonly-consumed compromise dinners this  Spring are:
    • Pizza made with Against the Grain crust, quick-and-easy homemade pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sauteed mushrooms
    • Nitrate-free sausages such as kielbasa or hot dogs, served with frozen sweet potato fries or chips, and fermented pickles
    • Tuna salad or chicken salad sandwiches, made with canned tuna or chicken, served with kettle chips and fermented pickles
  • We eat out at a restaurant about 2-3 times per month. We also often eat Sunday dinner at my mom's house, and are often blessed with leftovers to often bring home which will make for an easy meal some other day of the week.

 

 

 

Do you find it helpful or interesting to see what we're eating?  What are your favorite Spring meals? 

 

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Parmesan Fried Chicken (grain-free : nutrient-dense : gluten-free : primal)

I am very excited to share this recipe for Parmesan Fried Chicken. With a crispy crust and juicy meat, this amazing recipe has quickly become a family favorite in our house. The ingredients are simple and nutritious: the chicken is coated with a grain-free mixture of Parmesan and arrowroot, and fried to perfection in a combination of butter and coconut oil. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

Parmesan Fried Chicken
Serves 5

  • 5 skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 tsp finely-ground celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • one egg, preferably from pastured hens
  • 1 Tb whole milk
  • 1 Tb grassfed butter
  • 1 Tb refined coconut oil
  1.  Debone the chicken thighs. There is a simple tutorial here that shows how to remove the bones.
  2. Grate the Parmesan cheese. I like to use the small holes on a box grater to grate the Parmesan.
  3. In a pie plate (or other wide-bottomed dish), combine the Parmesan, arrowroot, salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir to combine with a fork.
  4. Break the egg into a medium bowl. Add 1 Tb milk, and beat with a fork until well-combined.
  5. Set up the work-line with chicken, followed by the bowl of egg, followed by the Parmesan mixture.
  6. Dip each chicken thigh into the egg mixture, and then into the Parmesan mixture. Coat all sides of the chicken with the Parmesan mixture.
  7. Once all of the chicken is coated in the Parmesan mixture, melt 1 Tb each of butter and refined coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. I use a 12-inch stainless steel skillet for this recipe.
  8. Once the butter and coconut oil are shimmery-hot, add the chicken to the skillet.  My skillet is large enough to cook all 5 chicken thighs at once, but if your skillet is smaller, you may need to cook a few at a time. If desired, cover the skillet with a splatter screen to cut down on the mess on the stovetop.
  9. Cook the chicken for about 8-10 minutes, until it has developed a nicely-browned crust. Then flip the chicken and cook the other side for 8-10 minutes. Do NOT move the chicken around much once it is cooking, as that will prevent the crust from cooking properly and make the chicken more likely to stick to the skillet.You may need to reduce the heat to medium if the skillet starts to get overly hot.
  10. Use a probe thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of a chicken thigh. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. This is an important step that ensures the chicken will be cooked perfectly.
  11. Remove the chicken from the skillet and allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving. The rest time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. 
  12. Serve and enjoy! I love to serve Parmesan Fried Chicken with potatoes and simple buttered veggies or coleslaw.





































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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Taste-Testing Storebought Soups

My family hasn't bought canned soup in about a decade. When we transitioned to a nutrient-dense diet, storebought soups and frozen dinners were removed from our diets and replaced with homemade foods for their superior taste and nutrition. Until recently, I've had no intention of re-introducing canned foods into our diets, but then...

My whole family had the flu. And we all had it bad. And it lasted well over a week. We did manage to make-do with leftovers and lots of simple foods while we were sick; thankfully, I had roasted a bunch of chicken and cooked a large batch of potatoes the day before I came down ill. But this experience did lead me to the realization that there is a place for some easy, off-the-shelf foods in our pantry. While I don't intend for them to become a significant part of our diets, I now plan to keep our pantry stocked with at least a small amount of canned foods for those times when cooking just isn't possible.

Thus, my family has embarked on a taste-testing experiment with organic canned soups. I'm focusing on brands and flavors that are locally available. So far, we've tried 9 different flavors, from 3 different companies. Some of the soups have been unbelievably horrendous; others have been decent and will have a place in our pantry.

None of the soups we've tried have been anywhere near as good as my homemade soups, but I didn't expect that they would anyway. Our goal has been to find some decent canned soups to have around for extra-busy times and extenuating circumstances. So while none of these soups rival our usual homemade fare, there are at least a few soups that I can keep on-the-shelf.

Our Soup Taste-Testing Methodology 

To give each soup a fair taste-test, we've done the following:
  • We try a few different soups side-by-side, so we can compare them.
  • In-between trying different soups, we make sure to clear our palates with a neutral drink or food such as milk, lemon water, crackers, etc.
  • Salt can be added to taste.
  • Soups that contain a large-proportion of ingredients that certain family members (ahem, my husband) dislike are not tried by those family members.  

So far, we have not found any particular type of canned soup that is well-liked by all four members of our family. That is pretty standard, though, as even a fair amount of my home-cooked food is loved by three and tolerated by one (and that one who doesn't love it is not always the same person). So, no big surprise there. Let's start with the worst.

The Worst

The Worst Soups are those that were hated by a majority of our family.

Pacific Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
This soup was the only one hated by all four of us.  It was an unappetizing gray color, it smelled unpleasant, and it tasted awful. Everyone tasted it once, and then the rest was thrown into the chicken-scraps pail. 0 out of 4 liked it. 

Amy's Organic Soups Hearty Minestrone with Vegetables
This soup combines beans, lentils, and vegetables.  Although that sounds like a promising start, there was a flavor that we didn't like, seeming to come from the spices.  Only one of us finished our small portion of this soup, and that one portion was not enjoyed much. 1/2 out of 4 liked it.

Amy's Organic Soups Chunky Vegetable
This soup should have been good. It's ingredients were just vegetables, salt, and pepper, with no spices. Yet, inexplicably, it tasted rather bad. 3 of us hated it, and 1 disliked it. No one finished their portions. 0 out of 4 liked it.

Pacific Organic Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
This soup combined chicken, wild rice, and vegetables. It didn't look or smell very good. Two of us hated it, one of use disliked it, and one of us thought it was tolerable but not good. 1/2 out of 4 liked it.

Simply Balanced Organic Tomato Basil Soup
This soup actually tasted okay for the first couple bites. 3 out of 4 of us thought it started out okay. But then, we all noticed that the flavor seemed to deteriorate and an off-flavor developed. To me, the off-flavor had a sweet-ish metallic flavor (which is surprising since this soup was in a paper carton, not a can).  None of us finished our small portions. 0 out of 4 liked it.


Pretty Good Soups

Pretty Good Soups are those that were liked by greater than half of our family.

Amy's Organic Soups Lentil Vegetable Soup (Light in Sodium)
This thick soup was a nice combination of lentils with vegetables and potatoes. Since my husband doesn't like lentils, he didn't participate in this taste-test. This soup did need extra salt. 2 out of 3 liked this soup quite a lot. And it was even tastier with some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese on top. 


Simply Balanced Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
The flavor of this soup was reminiscent of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, which my husband and I both loved in childhood. This soup did need added salt. All four of us actually liked the flavor, but one lamented that the chicken was "too dry" (and it was, because the chunks of chicken were somewhat large and overcooked as most canned soup meats are). This soup did have one ingredient I generally try to avoid (canola oil), but only a small amount.  3&1/2 out of 4 liked it.

Amy's Organic Soups Chunky Tomato Bisque (Light in Sodium)
This soup had a beautiful red color and nice aroma. It was the only "Low Sodium" soup that did not need added salt. The chunky tomatoes gave it a better consistency than the usual pureed tomato soups. 3 out of 4 liked it. 

Amy's Organic Soups Minestrone (Light in Sodium)
This soup had a nice combination of beans and vegetables.  Straight from the can, it did need a lot of added salt. But once salt was added, this soup was okay. 3 out of 4 liked it.

The Best

None. A Best Soup would be one that was well-liked by all four members of our family. So far, we haven't found any Best Soups, but I'm still hoping to. We'll keep trying.



Do you stock any canned soups in your pantry? Which ones are your favorites?

 

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Real-Life Examples of First-Aid Treatment with Arnica

Arnica Montana is homeopathy's most well-known remedy, and for good reason. It is a most-excellent remedy for first-aid of a variety of different conditions. I've blogged previously about many uses for Arnica, but this time I wanted to share some real-life examples of Arnica being used to treat my family.

Arnica is the first-aid remedy that gets used most often in our household. While we can easily go weeks without needing any at all, there are also weeks like last week when every member of our household benefited from the amazing healing properties of homeopathic Arnica. It was a week that had me feeling grateful for Arnica, for sure!

Hypersensitivities Call For Modified Treatment

From a homeopathic perspective, all four members of my family are hypersensitive. People who are hypersensitive can be identified as those who exhibit any of the following:
  • sensitivities to noises, lights, and/or odors,
  • food sensitivities,
  • sensitivities to environmental influences such as detergents and lotions, and
  • sensitivities to conventional medicines and/or anesthesia.

Because of our hypersensitivities, we all have a propensity to having aggravations (overreactions) from homeopathic remedies. So, whereas a person with normal sensitivity could take multiple dry pellets of homeopathic Arnica in a first-aid situation, my family does better with smaller doses, lower potencies, and more-conservative dosing. Thus, the incidents described below are describing how we dose with Arnica given our hypersensitivities. I've also included some guidance for dosing without hypersensitivities in each of these examples. 

Disclaimer: The uses of homeopathic remedies described in this article are provided for educational use only. 
 

Scooter Injury

I was in the house one late afternoon when I heard a loud wailing outside. I ran out to find my daughter, who had been riding her new scooter in our driveway, crying hard and holding her leg. A quick examination showed a horizontal bruise forming across her shin, where her leg had landed hard against her scooter. Arnica is renowned for its ability to prompt healing of bumps and bruises, so it was the remedy of choice to use. Because I know that my daughter is prone to overreacting to even minor injuries, I started her first-aid treatment with only an application of homemade Arnica lotion.

Then I watched how my daughter progressed for the next 30 minutes. She was limping badly, and wincing when she put weight on the injured leg, so I could tell this injury could benefit from more than just Arnica lotion. Upon examining the injury again, a definite lump was forming over the horizontal bruise, and it was very tender. This prompted me to take her first-aid to the next step by giving my daughter an olfactory dose of Arnica 30x from a wet solution, which I keep on-hand in the kitchen cupboard for just such instances. (I make my wet solution of Arnica by dissolving one Arnica pellet in half a cup of water and then adding several Tablespoons of vodka to act as a preservative. The vodka makes this wet solution shelf-stable for months.) My daughter's olfactory dose of Arnica was administered by having her inhale one large sniff of the liquid solution through her nose.

(If my daughter was not hypersensitive, I would have given her one dry pellet of Arnica 30x or 30c by mouth upon my first examination, instead of using only Arnica lotion at that time.)

My daughter continued to limp on her leg that evening, but was in noticeably less pain. Before bed, I applied Arnica ointment, preferring it over lotion because it is thick and would be able to work overnight on the injury. When my daughter woke the next morning, there was no longer any pain, swelling, or bruising! As the day wore on, a small amount of bruising started to return to the injury, so some more Arnica lotion was applied. Nothing else was needed because the injury was no longer causing any pain. This injury healed rapidly and with much less pain because of the use homeopathic Arnica.

 

Landing Hard on the Head

My children, my mother, and I visited White Sands National Monument last week. While my son was sliding down a very steep sand dune, he lost control of his sled saucer and flipped over, landing hard on his head. He was crying and holding his head, saying it hurt on both sides. My son had already crash-landed on the dunes several times with no tears or crying, so I knew this was more serious since he was very upset.

Arnica excels at treating head injuries and is a great remedy for use when there could be a concussion, so I quickly got my first-aid kit from the car (where it had been kept cool with an ice pack). I administered one pellet of Arnica 6c by mouth to my son, and allowed him to suck on it for about 30 seconds before asking him to spit it out. (If my son was not hypersensitive, I would have used a higher potency, such as Arnica 30x or 30c, and I would have allowed him to finish the pellet rather than having him spit it out.)

After his dose of Arnica, my son quickly settled down and stopped crying. Within a few minutes, he was feeling well enough to climb another sand dune and continue playing. I checked in with him a few more times that afternoon and evening, and he reported that his head felt fine and there was no pain, so no more Arnica was needed after that first dose.

Smacked in the Face With a Bike Pump

I needed to pump up a wheelbarrow tire, and my daughter was helping by getting the bike pump. As I was about to pump up the tire, my daughter let go of the bike pump and it fell, with the handle hitting me squarely on the bridge of the nose. It hurt so bad I thought surely there must be blood (but there wasn't). After I made an (overly loud) exclamation of pain, I asked my daughter to get the Arnica lotion. I applied the lotion right away. By the next day, while there was still a small amount of pain if I pressed on the area, there was absolutely no bruising. Arnica really feels like a magical elixir sometimes, as I had feared I would have a large bruise on my face, and instead there was no visible trace of the injury.

(If I was not hypersensitive, I would have taken a pellet of Arnica 30x or 30c by mouth instead of just applying Arnica lotion.)

 

Overworking in the Garage

My husband was working hard at installing some new ceiling shelves in our garage. He was feeling rather fatigued near the end of his work, and we know from past experience that he tends to get very sore after such weekend exertions. I administered one Arnica 6c pellet by mouth when he was almost done working, and asked him to spit it out after about 30 seconds. (If my husband was not hypersensitive, I would have used a higher potency, such as Arnica 30x or 30c, and I would have allowed him to finish the pellet rather than having him spit it out.) Additionally, once my husband was done showering, he applied Arnica lotion to the areas that were feeling fatigued.

By the next day, my husband was feeling only mild-to-moderate soreness, instead of the strong soreness he tends to experience without using Arnica.


An Indispensable Remedy

Homeopathic Arnica is a wonderful first-aid remedy that soothed our injuries and overworked muscles. Certainly, we could have gotten by without using Arnica, but the healing process would have been longer and more painful. With Arnica, healing was quick and nearly painless. I hope these examples have helped you in understanding better how to use Arnica in your own family.

Do you use homeopathic Arnica? Do you have any success stories to share? 

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or licensed healthcare professional. I am a homeopathic practitioner whose services are considered complementary and alternative by the state of New Mexico. The uses of homeopathic remedies described herein are provided for educational use only.  

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