Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why I Stopped Pushing in Our Homeschool

When I first started homeschooling my daughter Alina nearly three years ago, I was very excited about all the things we would accomplish. I read The Well-Trained Mind and was enthusiastic to get into the rigorous, classical method of schooling. I relished planning our curriculum and was sure that I was going to give Alina the best education she could get.  

And yes, my daughter was only 4 years old. But I knew through the homeschooling we had done throughout her preschool years that Alina was ready to learn, loved learning, and loved doing worksheets.  So we dug right in and started rigorous classical schooling.

Fast forward awhile... Our rigorous classical schooling seemed to be working well.  Alina was reading 7th grade level books on her own at the age of 6 years old. Increasingly, I had to cajole her to do her math lessons, so I started incorporating more math games rather than worksheets. Alina was becoming increasingly resistant to writing, despite the fact that she had loved practicing writing back before we'd officially started homeschooling.

But wasn't the purpose of schooling my daughter having her master her academics as young as possible?

Our Enthusiasm Was Dropping

Even though I gave Alina lots of breaks and even though we were always done with school by lunch time, Alina's enthusiasm for school was waning. I was starting to have less fun with our homeschooling, since it was taking more and more creativity to get Alina to do her schoolwork without a struggle. I trolled the internet for new worksheets, since Alina was no longer interested in the plethora of workbooks we already had.

A Red Flag

A year ago, my kids had their tricycle and scooter stolen. As my kids struggled to understand the world that now seemed fearsome, they wanted to talk over and over again about what punishment the thieves would have for their misdeeds. Alina thought a just punishment would be for the thieves to have to do extra school work. A big red flag was waving at me.

My 6-year-old was now likening school work to punishment! My daughter, who had started out loving to learn and loving school, was now being pushed to do math and writing. And she no longer liked school or math or writing.

A Seed Is Planted

Shortly before my kids' bikes were stolen, I had started reading Thomas Jefferson Education. This book talks about the conveyer belt approach to schooling (which is the model used by the public school system and that which I was basing my own homeschool upon) as compared to leadership education. Conveyor belt schooling seeks to teach children what to think, whereas leadership education seeks to teach kids how to think.  A conveyor belt education wants to check off the boxes so that every child is taught the same things, whereas leadership education wants to help each child find their own unique mission.

Lessons From My Own Education

As I contemplated all of this, I thought about my own schooling.  I attended public school, then moved onto college, where I changed my major several times and finally settled on mechanical engineering.  I became an aerospace engineer working for NASA for ten years.  By most standards, my schooling was a success and I had accomplished what I should.

But while I was working as an engineer, I knew that something was missing.  I had chosen to be an engineer because I was good at math and so that I could get a "good" job. Once I had the "good" job, I was able to do it well and there were many aspects of the job that I enjoyed, yet I still found that the day-to-day grind of going to work was tiresome. 

I became a stay-at-home mother shortly before the birth of my son over 4 years ago.  At the time, I didn't have any further career aspirations; I just wanted to be able to raise and homeschool my kids. I had known for quite a long time that I had no true passion for being an engineer, no matter how well I could do it or how illustrious were the projects I worked on. I had no idea of what was about to happen in my own life.

2&1/2 years ago I found homeopathy. I was instantly hooked. I started devouring books on homeopathy, wanting to learn as much as I could. I didn't start learning about homeopathy with any intention of becoming a homeopath or finding a new career. I was just compelled to learn more and know more. Now I joke that homeopathy chose me, because it was almost as if I didn't have a choice.  It feels like I was made for homeopathy.

I now know what it feels like to find my own personal mission, and it is so different than going to school and picking a major to get a "good" job.  My passion for homeopathy is so far above anything I ever felt for engineering; they're not even in the same ballpark.  Every day I learn more about homeopathy, not because a teacher has assigned it to me, but because I want to and choose to.  And even though I am now juggling working as a homeopath with homeschooling, keeping house, and raising my kids, it all feels right.  I no longer have that sense that I am spinning my wheels as I did when I was working as an engineer. Instead, I know with full certainty that this is what I am supposed to be doing. 

What Do I Really Want for My Kids?

While I was reading Thomas Jefferson Education, I was seeing it's message right before my eyes. My daughter was liking school less and less, and the more I pushed her to do school, the worse it became.  Meanwhile, my passion for homeopathy was being ignited and burning with a bright flame. The contrast between my educational experience and that of my daughter was stark.

I finally realized that our rigorous classical approach to homeschool was not working because I had misunderstood the whole purpose of education. The purpose of education was not to cram as much information as possible into my daughter's brain. The purpose of education was for my daughter to fall in love with learning so that she would want to learn on her own. In the end, I want my daughter to be able to find her own passion, her own mission in life, and then enthusiastically work to fulfill that mission because she wants to, not because she is being forced. 

A New Approach

Shortly after I read Thomas Jefferson Education (TJED), I decided to take a leap off the schooling conveyor belt.  I decided to stop pushing my daughter to do academics, and instead adopt the TJED approach.

TJED is kind of like a mix between classically-based schooling, unschooling, and Charlotte Mason. It is more structured than unschooling, but much less rigorous than Well-Trained Mind. TJED focuses on creating an environment where children are inspired to learn. Rather than forcing children to fulfill our own agendas for their learning, TJED allows children to develop their own interests and then pursue them passionately.  You can read about the 7 Keys to Great Teaching on the TJED site here.

There is also a huge focus in TJED on the parents focusing on their own educations, which serves as a great example for the kids to want to further their own educations. This really works. The more the kids see me doing my own reading, studying, and writing, the more they naturally want to do those things themselves, without any of the pressure that I was putting on them before. My daughter is learning huge amounts about things that are interesting to her on her own initiative, and I am getting to learn lots myself rather than focusing so much on her curriculum.

The TJED approach has worked wonders in our homeschool.  Now instead of dragging her feet and thinking of school as punishment, my daughter Alina loves our homeschooling. She has even come up with a name for our new school approach: awesome school! 

What approach do you use for schooling?  Do you want to know more about what leadership education looks like in our home?

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Transitioning Away From Plastic Children's Dishes

When my first child started eating solids, I purposely didn't buy any plastic dishes or cups, preferring instead to use glass dishes and metal sippy cups. As time went on and another baby came, some plastic dishes started turning up in our house as gifts and we bought some plastic cups that came with straws and lids for the convenience of letting the kids have drinks that wouldn't spill easily.

When we recently moved to our new home, I realized that I hated the plastic dishes because they seemed to create more work for me.  I never wanted to put them in the dishwasher, so they all had to hand-washed, and the plastic cups had a lip that would always remain full of water even in the drying rack, so they would never dry properly.  So I decided to take the plunge and get rid of all the plastic dishes.

Reasons Why Glass is Better

  • Smell: One of the things that always bothered me about plastic dishes was their propensity to grab onto the smell of foods. I could wash a plastic dish over and over in hot soapy water, yet there would still be a residual smell. Glass dishes never have this problem. 
  • Cleaning Ease: Glass is so much easier to clean than plastic.  If something is stuck on glass, I can use a scrubby pad, whereas with plastic I would worry about scratching up the surface.  And I love that glass can be washed in the dishwasher with no issues.

Won't Glass Break Too Easily?

Back when I was still working outside the home and pumping breastmilk for my infant daughter, I used glass baby bottles.  Frequently, people would express concern that the glass bottles would break too easily.  This was something I was concerned about too when we first started using bottles, but my fears were quickly alleviated by one experience: one of the glass baby bottles was accidentally knocked out of the dish drainer and fell down onto our ceramic tile floor; the bottle did not break or even crack. So I realized early on that some glass dishes are very strong and somewhat break-resistant.

Besides baby bottles, there are plenty of other break-resistant glass dishes as well.  At the dinner table, I don't worry too much about using our typical glass plates and cups. Early on, we taught both of our kids to be gentle with glass dishes.  But I do also have other break-resistant glass dishes that the kids use whenever they will be eating away from the table, such as when they want to take snacks out into the back yard.  

What About Non-Spillable Drinks?

For road trips or lengthy park days, my kids use stainless steel Thermos Funtainers, which have an integrated straw. These work great because they keep milk cold even in the summer heat.

Around the house, though, I don't let my kids use the Thermoses because I find them cumbersome to clean. The one type of plastic dish I was tempted to keep around was a plastic cup with tight-fitting lid. My kids used these cups frequently when they wanted to take a drink outside, and I liked not having to worry about them spilling their drinks. However, I have come up with a solution that works really well (although not perfectly spill-proof): glass mason jars with screw-on plastic lids. A 1/4-inch drill bit works perfectly for making a straw hole in the plastic lids. 

Glass Dishes for Kids

The glass dishes I have found to be the best and most durable for kid-use are:
  • Porcelain ramekins - My kids use porcelain ramekins every day for most meals, along with kid-sized Oneida silverware.  Ramekins are perfectly sized for kid-size portions of food and, since they are intended for oven use, they are very durable and chip-resistant. My kids also use these bowls when they want to take a snack outside.
  • Mason jars with drilled plastic lids and metal straws - When a cup with a lid is desired (such as for drinking smoothies or when my kids will be taking a drink outside), I like to use 8-ounce mason jars.  Since they are intended for canning, mason jars are rather durable. For lids, I drill 1/4-inch holes in plastic lids (and the drinks won't really be touching the lids anyway unless the cup gets tipped over).  Since my kids like to use straws, we have a set of reuseable dishwasher-safe metal straws that fit into the drilled holes in the lids. If you prefer to buy a lid instead of drilling your own, there is also a Cuppow lid that can be used with Mason jars.
  • Pampered Chef or Corelle dishes - Having some break-resistant dishes on-hand can really help ease the worries over whether the kids will break the dishes.  We have some Pampered Chef Simple Additions plates and bowls that are very durable and chip-resistant.  Corelle also makes lightweight, chip- and break-resistant glass dishes that are great for kids.
  • Glass baby bottles - For babies, glass baby bottles work wonderfully. I pumped milk directly into these bottles and stored them in the freezer as well. We used glass baby bottles for 15 months, and none of the bottles were ever broken or cracked. 
  • Glass sippy cups - Once they were toddlers, my kids used this glass sippy cup which includes a silicone sleeve to prevent breakage. Most often, we just used the lid from this which would fit onto any standard mason jar. A newer, more affordable solution is the Cuppow lid, although I haven't tried it myself.
My kids have never broken any of these dishes.  Of course, you should use common sense to decide whether or not glass dishes would work well for your own kids, given their personalities and temperaments.  I love knowing that my kids are using healthy dishes with the convenience of being able to wash them all in the dishwasher. 

Do you use glass dishes for your kids? Please share any tips you have!


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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Is Sugar Really So Bad?

We are bombarded with messages about the evils of sugar.  Sugar is blamed for bad behavior in kids, diabetes, heart disease, cancer... the list goes on and on. But is sugar really so bad?

I was convinced that sugar was bad

I am the type of person who tends to act quickly and jump right in, so when I started learning about how "bad" sugar was, I immediately started to restrict it.  For over 5 years, I restricted my sugar intake, and took my family along for the ride with me. I thought that dessert was something to only enjoy once in awhile, and I still felt a little guilty about eating dessert even infrequently.  Over time, I kept reducing our sugar intake more and more, thinking that being even more strict would make us healthier. 

But guess what? Our sugar consumption was less and less, but we didn't become any more healthy.  And I noticed that my daughter was becoming fixated on sweets. In my quest to give her the best possible health, she was allowed to eat very little sugar her whole life.  But something definitely seemed out of balance since she was still getting sick very frequently.  When she was 4, I noticed my daughter was starting to hoard sweets, and she even exhibited some binge behavior by sneaking a large tub of raisins into her room and eating them all.

Did the experience of my 4-year-old hoarding and binging raisins wake me up? Nope.  I was still buying into the "sugar is evil" mantra. And by this time we were even strictly following the GAPS diet, because I was so sure that if I tweaked our diet enough we would finally find full health. I was wrong. 

My wake-up call

Two years ago I was hitting rock-bottom on the GAPS Diet I didn't understand how I could be feeling worse and worse when I was trying to eat so well.  I finally had a wake up call through learning about Matt Stone's Diet Recovery plan. Matt encouraged people to actually follow their body's cues on what to eat, and not to restrict any particular foods just because they were thought to be "bad". While this went against everything I thought I knew about nutrition, I was so desperate to find a solution that I gave it a try.

My body was asking for ice cream, lots of ice cream.  So I started eating lots of ice cream and was shocked at the results. I felt so much better and my body was showing signs of better health: a more normal menstrual cycle and increased waking body temperature.  My energy levels were so much higher, and I realized that I had been going through life half-asleep.

This experience made me re-think my conclusions about sugar. If eating more sugar could make me feel so good and improve my body's indicators of health, maybe sugar wasn't really so bad after all.

Some surprising facts about our bodies and sugar

As I started researching more about sugar, I learned that the body actually prefers to use glucose (sugar) as a fuel, and the brain prefers to use ONLY glucose as a fuel. When there isn't enough glucose in the diet, the body undertakes the process of gluconeogenesis, whereby the adrenal glands send messages to the liver and kidneys to convert protein and fat into glucose. These messages from the adrenal glands come in the form of cortisol, which is one of the body’s stress hormones. The body sees a lack of sugar as a stress, and in the long term this can be detrimental.

When the body is deprived of sugar for an extended period of time, the adrenal glands can become overworked since they have to keep sending signals for gluconeogenesis over and over again.  Not having enough sugar in the diet can also lead to other problems because the body is constantly in a state of elevated stress. 

Breastmilk and sugar

One of the things that makes humans different from other animals is the size of our brains.  And given that our brains prefer to use only glucose (sugar) as a fuel, it seems like we would naturally need to consume more sugar than other species.  Guess what? Human breastmilk contains twice as much sugar as milk from other mammals such as cows.  In fact, the food that most closely resembles breastmilk in nutrient composition is full-fat ice cream. No wonder so many kids crave ice cream!

Letting my kids have more ice cream

I'm not advocating that we eat sugar all day every day, but I am convinced that sugar is a healthy part of our diets. In our home, I am finding the middle ground when it comes to sugar. Instead of looking at sugar as an evil that must be restricted, I am valuing sugar as a part of our diets. When my kids want to eat ice cream, I let them. I am making sure that they have access to homemade sweets, a few storebought treats, and even some juice a few times a month.

When my 4-year-old son asks for maple syrup in his raw milk, I go ahead and stir a little in. I know that our bodies do need sugar, and his natural desire to make his milk more-closely-resemble breastmilk makes sense. I hope that never again will one of my children feel so deprived of a food that they start to hoard and binge. I am learning to trust our bodies and their guidance with regards to which foods we eat.

I prefer to use unrefined sweeteners, such as sucanat, local raw honey, and Grade B maple syrup. I do still avoid high-fructose corn syrup and agave nectar. But I am also feeling a little freedom, and not stressing about a little white sugar here and there.

Do you restrict sugar intake in your home?  Have you found a place of balance with sweets?

Want to read more about how sugar may not be so bad after all? Check out these posts:
Sugar: Prisoner of War by Elizabeth Walling
Sugar: Pure, White, and Awesome by Danny Roddy 

If you want to try some homemade ice cream, check out these recipes: 

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Beef, Sweet Potato, and Veggie Stew (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

I love sweet potatoes, but my family doesn't generally enjoy them unless they are fried.  While my kids love broccoli and peas, there is something about sweet potatoes that they just don't like.  So when I first made this stew, I didn't tell anyone that it had sweet potatoes in it. They all just assumed the orange pieces were carrots.

I watched with anticipation to see if anyone would make a face or complain that they didn't like the soup.... nope. Both of my kids consumed it with glee! Now everyone knows there are sweet potatoes in the stew and no one minds. They all eat it anyway.  And me? I love, love, love this stew! It is my new favorite stew.

Beef, Sweet Potato, and Veggie Stew 
Serves 6-8
  • 2 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
  • one large yellow or white organic onion
  • 2 stalks organic celery
  • 3-4 medium organic carrots
  • 1&1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably from grassfed cows
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme OR 1.5 tsp fresh thyme
  • 3.5 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 cups filtered water (or use more broth is using store-bought since the flavor of storebought broth is much more mild than homemade broth)
  • 2 medium organic Garnet sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium organic Yukon Gold potatoes
  • celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • frozen organic green peas (optional)
  1. Chop the onion.  Melt the butter in a 4- or 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bay leaf, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and saute for 5 minutes. A bamboo spatula works great for putting this recipe together.
  2. In the meantime, chop the celery and carrots. Then add them to the pot and saute for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Crumble the ground beef into the pot.  Sprinkle with 1&1/2 tsp salt and about 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper. Add the cumin and thyme.  Stir to combine with the veggies. Increase the heat to medium-high and brown the meat for a few minutes. (There is no need to fully cook the beef during this step.)
  4. In the meantime, peel and chop the potatoes and sweet potatoes. (I love my Rada vegetable peeler.) I leave the peel on one of the Yukon Golds and remove the peel from both of the sweet potatoes.  Since the sweet potatoes can oxidize (turn brown) rather quickly once peeled, chop them last and throw then straight into the pot. 
  5. Add the broth, water, and potatoes to the pot.  Bring to a low boil and skim the foam.  Discard the foam.
  6. Reduce the heat to bring the pot to a low simmer. Scoop out a bit of the broth and taste to see if any more salt or pepper are needed. Cover the pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked.Turn off heat.
  7. Since my kids love green peas, I add a few frozen peas to their bowls before serving.  These thaw nicely once the stew is added, and they also help cool the stew down to the perfect temperature for eating.  My husband and I prefer this soup without the peas.
  8. Ladle into bowls and serve!

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Creamy White Pizza Sauce (nutrient-dense : gluten-free)

Often on Friday nights, we have pizza for dinner.  Looking for a change from our usual pizza sauce, I came up with this creamy white pizza sauce.  This sauce has a great flavor from the basil and garlic.  It makes a delicious base for our favorite pizza toppings.

White Pizza Sauce
Makes sauce for one 12-inch pizza

  • 3 Tb butter, preferably from pastured cows 
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup whole milk, preferably from pastured cows
  • 1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil OR 1 Tb fresh minced basil
  • 2 Tb white rice flour*
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Let the butter start to brown a bit (but make sure it doesn't burn).
  2. Use a garlic press to mince the garlic.  Add the garlic to the melted butter and saute for 20-30 seconds, just until the garlic is fragrant. 
  3. Stir in the milk. Add the salt, pepper, and basil. 
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook for about five minutes. Stir frequently so the milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Carefully remove ~1/4 cup of the hot liquid from the pan and pour it into a glass cup. I like to use a glass Pyrex measuring cup for this. Whisk the rice flour into the cup of  milk. Once it is well-combined, whisk the rice/milk mixture into the saucepan.  
  6. Continue to simmer the mixture for 5-10 more minutes, until the sauce has thickened considerably.
  7. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
  8. Spread the sauce over a pizza crust of your choice**. Top with your favorite toppings and bake.  We topped the white pizza sauce with sauteed mushroom, nitrate-free salami, green onions, and plenty of cheese. 
  9. Slice and enjoy!
*Wondering why I use white rice instead of brown rice? Check out this article to find out.
**We are currently loving Against the Grain Gourmet brand pizza crust, which is sold in the freezer case at our local healthfood store.  It is composed primarily of cheese, milk, eggs, and tapioca starch. My only complaint with the ingredients is that there is a small amount of canola oil in these crusts, but since the amount is small I have decided not to worry about it.  I know some of my blog readers have reported that my Cheesy Bread recipe also works well as a pizza crust, but I haven't tried that yet since my family just devours the cheesy bread every time I make it.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

WINNER of Naturally-Tinted Balms and Herbal Salve

There were 41 entries to the giveaway for the Bessmess Naturally-Tinted Balms and Herbal Salve! I used a free random number generator to select the winner.  The winner is: Michelle Sopa, Hubertus, WI.

Congratulations, Michelle!  Please send me your e-mail address at nourishedandnurtured@gmail.com no later than February 28th so I can send your contact information to Bessmess. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Naturally-Tinted Balms for Lips and Cheeks Plus an Herbal Salve

On Monday February 24th, I'm giving away some wonderful natural beauty and health products.  Bess Taylor, of bessmess on Etsy, has generously offered to give the winner a choice of 3 tinted balms for cheeks and lips plus a 1-oz herbal salve (containing chamomile, lavender, and calendula).

practical meets pretty, items inspired by nature

In Bess' words, here are descriptions of the tinted balms and herbal salve:
tinted balms [made with calendula-infused sweet almond oil, mango butter, beeswax, alkanet root powder and/or annatto seed (for the tint), vitamin E, lime essential oil, & love]: I choose organic ingredients that will add a beneficial quality to the end product. The beautiful colors come from infusing the oils with a variety of different roots and seeds. This product can be applied with one swipe of your finger for hydration or if you would like a bit more color, scoop a bit out and apply with your finger or a lip brush. I am a very practical person, but I also believe that practical things can be pretty, so I used watercolor to paint the original labels to represent the shade in each tin. As mom on the go, I love a multipurpose product: this product pulls double duty as lip and cheek color. The resin coating makes the tin more lasting, as you can use it to hold small items once your balm is gone.

herbal salve (made with chamomile, lavender, calendula, kokum butter, avocado oil, beeswax, & love): I always have a tin of this go-to salve in my purse: helps with a number of things including dry skin & mild itching to fly away hair and removing mascara smudges. This salve has a soft floral scent derived naturally from the herbs.

I myself have tried Bess' tinted balms, and they work great.  My daughter has very much enjoyed having her own tin of makeup that she wears on occasion, and I love knowing that it is safe and natural for her to use.

about Bess

bessmess started when my papa labeled all of my childhood "work papers" as bessmess. From then on, any craft I was making was known as bessmess to all.

My newest endeavor of tinted balms started with the beauty of a beet & is an accumulation of 5 years of science lab classes, 10+ years of professional makeup artistry, living through a period of severe chemical sensitivity,
a renewed love for painting (my labels), being a Reiki Master (adding love to all of my products), and a mom of an active 3-year-old little boy (multipurpose products that give color in a natural way).

how to enter the giveaway

 There are three ways to enter this giveaway:

  • Leave a comment below including your location and your first and last name. Entries that do not include this information will be excluded from the drawing.*
  • Pin this giveaway on Pinterest and then leave another comment to let me know that you have done so. 
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook, and then leave another comment to let me know that you have done so.  
This giveaway will be closed to more entries on Sunday February 23rd.
I will randomly select 1 winner on Monday February 24th.

*In one of my previous giveaways, multiple people claimed the same entry.  To prevent that from happening again, I am requiring people to include both their first and last name, as well as their location.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blueberry Muffins Dusted with Cinnamon Sugar (nutrient-dense)

Up bright and early a few Saturdays ago, my husband and some friends spent a few hours doing the hard work of moving a very heavy shed from our old house to our new place.  I made these muffins as a nice treat for when their labors were over.  Everyone loved the muffins, and I've since been requested to make them again.

I used a combination of flours for these muffins: coconut flour, ground crispy nuts, and einkorn. Einkorn is an ancient variety of wheat that has never been hybridized; as such it is naturally lower in gluten and higher in protein than modern wheat.  The thing I have found the most surprising about Einkorn is that my daughter can eat it in moderate amounts with no issues (whereas even a small amount of modern wheat will lead her to have behavior problems).  Currently I'm using white Einkorn flour, since we have had some problems digesting whole grains. I think that, when consumed in moderation, white flours can be a healthy part of the diet. (Did you know that, in traditional cultures, much of the bran and germ was actually discarded after the whole grains were ground into flour?)

This recipe is bursting with flavor: moist blueberries, the bright flavor of lemon, and a sweet crispy top from the cinnamon sugar.  The combination of flours results in muffins with a wonderfully crispy yet chewy top.  Even people who aren't real foodies have raved over these muffins. 

Blueberry Muffins Dusted With Cinnamon Sugar
  1. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.  (I prefer If You Care Unbleached Baking Cups because the muffins do not stick to the sides of the cups.)
  2. Combine the einkorn, coconut flour, ground nuts, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Whisk it all together to break up any lumps.  
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Combine the butter, sucanat and sugar in a large bowl (a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer works great for this recipe). Cream together for a couple minutes until the mixture turns slightly lighter in color.
  5. In the meantime, combine the eggs, vanilla, and almond 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 eggs at this point.
  6. Once the butter and sucanat/sugar have become well-mixed, mix in the eggs one-at-a-time.  With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in each 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. (It is okay if the mixture looks a bit curdled during this step.)
  7. Add the sour cream to the wet mixture and mix it in well.
  8. Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time.  Because the Einkorn flour does contain gluten, make sure not to overmix or the muffins will be tough.  The batter will become rather thick, but don't worry about it.
  9. Stir or mix in the blueberries.
  10. Use a 3-Tb scoop or large spoon to scoop the batter into the muffin cups.
  11. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, sucanat, and sugar for the cinnamon-sugar dust. Use a spoon to sprinkle this mixture over the top of the muffins.
  12. Bake the muffins at 350 degrees F for 27-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out dry.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before serving.
*Except during our local berry season, I find that frozen blueberries have far superior flavor to the fresh ones sold in grocery stores.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Photographic Evidence that Homeopathy Works

he started out with numerous growths 
that were multiplying over time

One of the things I often hear about homeopathy is that it can't possibly work.  People say that because the remedies are so diluted, there is no way they could actually have an effect.  Often, people will say that any positive changes must just be the placebo effect (whereby the mere act of thinking that a treatment will work makes the person get better even when they are just given a sugar pill). I'm excited to share with you some evidence that homeopathy works.

These photos are of a 1-year-old, who I will call Daniel*.  Because he is so young, it is not possible that the placebo effect caused the changes shown in the pictures. I first evaluated Daniel homeopathically when he was 17 months old.  At that time, one of the symptoms his mother noted was that Daniel had numerous small growths in his right underarm.  These growths started to appear at 6 months of age and had continued to multiply over time.

In classical homeopathy, the totality of a person's symptoms are used to select a remedy that best matches ALL of the symptoms.  For Daniel, his complete symptom picture included:
  • frequent colds
  • a demanding yet playful nature
  • being very attached to his mother and afraid to be alone
  • poor appetite for foods along with voracious nursing
  • desire to be carried
  • underarm growths
  • right-sided complaints
  • physical appearance including a thin physique with a head that seemed a bit large for his frame
I selected the remedy Lycopodium clavatum for Daniel because it matched the totality of his symptom picture. Within a couple weeks of starting to take the remedy, Daniel's mother noticed that the growths under his arms seemed to become inflamed (at which point she decided to take a picture of the growths), and then the growths started to shrink.

She continued to administer the remedy to him (given from a wet solution), and over the next two months the growths continued to shrink smaller and smaller until they disappeared entirely.  (Previous to the homeopathic treatment, the growths had just continued to multiply over a period of 11 months.) As is typical when the correct homeopathic remedy is chosen, Daniel's other symptoms were also affected by the remedy: he became more easy going, less demanding, less afraid to be alone, with a better appetite and deeper sleep. Nonetheless, with emotional or mental improvements people may rationalize that the improvement was just a coincidence. In Daniel’s case the obvious physical improvement of a long-standing issue left no question that homeopathic treatment was the source of the cure.

These photos show very well how homeopathy can work wonderfully and gently.  With conventional approaches to skin problems (such as eczema), each symptom is treated individually.  When the skin problems disappear through the use of cortisone and other topical applications, it is thought that a "cure" has taken place, when in reality the underlying disturbance is still in place.  The skin no longer manifests the symptom, but often a more serious, deeper-rooted problem takes it's place.  For instance, when eczema is suppressed, respiratory problems such as asthma often follow.

Through homeopathy, the true underlying cause of the symptoms is addressed, and all of the symptoms are taken into account to find the one remedy that matches ALL of the symptoms.  In the end, the skin symptoms are healed, but also the mental, emotional, and physical  symptoms are all improved. With homeopathy, not just one symptom is eradicated; rather the overall level of health is increased, and the person is left more balanced.

the growths were completely healed in two months

*This is a true story, but I have changed the names to protect privacy.
**I am not a physician or licensed healthcare practitioner (as there is no licensure available for homeopaths in the state of New Mexico). The information I provide is intended to educate, and should not be construed as a prescription.  Please do not try to self-treat chronic conditions through homeopathy; while homeopathic self-treatment of acute conditions can work well,  the treatment of chronic conditions requires the skills of a classically-trained homeopath.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Cookbooks are on Sale 30% Off - Happy 2014!

Happy 2014! My eCookbooks are now on sale for 30% off.  This sale runs for one week only, and ends on January 29th.

My Cookbooks

My two eCookbooks, Nourishing Eats and Nourished Cooking, include a total of over 120 nutrient-dense recipes.  My recipes are gluten-free, most are grain-free, and all are free of refined sweeteners.  These cookbooks are perfect for those who eat:
  • traditional, real foods
  • whole foods
  • gluten-free diets
  • grain-free diets
  • Primal diet
  • GAPS™ Diet
  • Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Coupon Code

The coupon code will apply to only one item in your cart, so if you want to order both of my cookbooks, make sure you add only the Cookbook Bundle to your cart. To get my cookbooks for 30% off, make sure to enter this coupon code on the order page:


Click here to go to the info page where you can learn more and buy my cookbooks.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday and Real Food Wednesday!