Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blueberry Banana Spiced Custard Cake (nutrient-dense : GAPS : primal : gluten-free : grain-free)

Custard cake (also known as clafoutis) is perfect for breakfast or brunch, and can even be dressed up for dessert. This blueberry banana version is spiced nicely with cinnamon and ginger.  The blueberries lend a sweet-tart, juicy flavor while the bananas and spices meld wonderfully together. Blueberry banana spiced custard cake can be served warm or cold, and can be topped with sweetened whipped cream for a special dessert.

Blueberry Banana Spiced Custard Cake

Serves 6 generously
  • 12 Tb (1&1/2 sticks) butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 Tb mild-flavored honey
  • 6 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
  • 3/4 cup sour cream  
  • 1 Tb organic vanilla extract (or use homemade)
  • 3/4 tsp organic almond extract (omit if using almond flour)
  • 1&3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1&1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • rounded 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 5 Tb coconut flour* OR 1/3 cup plus 2 Tb ground crispy almonds**
  • 1 large ripe banana or 1&1/2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries***
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Turn off heat, add honey, and stir a bit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, vanilla, almond extract (if using), spices, and salt.  I like to use my immersion blender to mix it all up together, but you could certainly use a mixer instead.
  3. Add melted butter and honey to wet ingredients and mix or blend.
  4. Add almond flour OR coconut flour and blend until well-combined (or use mixer until smooth). Using the immersion blender is great because it further grinds the nut flour (which doesn't get particularly fine when I grind it in the food processor).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Adventures in Backyard Chicken Keeping

This article was originally published in the March/April 2013 issue of Real Food and Health magazine.

We Decide to Get Chickens

My family lives on a small suburban plot of less than 1/4 acre, and over the last five years we've dedicated more and more of our yard to growing our own fruits, herbs, and vegetables. In the hot, dry desert where we live, I'm not sure that gardening is any less expensive than buying local produce at the farmer's market. Much has to be done to improve our soil and frequent watering is required during the many warm months. Yet I feel that there is an intrinsic value in knowing how to produce our own food, and in observing the cycles of growth and decay in our own back yard. I want my children to know where their food comes from, and to learn the skills for producing their own food as they grow up. The next logical step was for us to get chickens.

I've never owned or cared for any farm animals, but with the encouragement and support of a chicken-keeping friend, we decided to take the plunge and get two baby chicks. Springtime comes with lots of baby chicks at our local feed stores, and we were overwhelmed by the loud sound of hundreds of baby chicks peeping. The baby chicks seemed unbelievably tiny and fragile, like irresistible little fluffballs. We selected one Plymouth Barred Rock (known to thrive in our desert climate) and one Araucana (known for their beautiful blue-green eggs). We drove home with the pleasant sound of cheeping emanating from a little cardboard box.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Most Important Tip for Making Enough Breastmilk

There are lots of tips out there for ensuring an adequate supply of breastmilk: drinking dark beer,eating oatmeal, taking herbal concoctions.  Sure, these may help, but there is one thing that is the most important to ensure an adequate supply of breastmilk:


Allow the baby unrestricted access to the breast.  The more the baby nurses, the more milk the mother will produce.

Supplemental feeding with formula, especially during the first 3 months of breastfeeding, can inadvertently sabotage a mother's milk supply. Additionally, bottle-feeding with pumped breastmilk can reduce the mother's milk supply.  Why?

Mother and baby have been perfectly designed to make breastfeeding work.  The more the baby stimulates the breasts, the more milk the mother makes. The more the baby is given something other than breastmilk, the less the baby is stimulating the mother's breasts, so the less milk that is produced.
Use of pacifiers can also result in a reduced supply of breastmilk. Pumping breastmilk does NOT stimulate the breasts the same way that a nursing baby does, so pumping rather than nursing can also reduce milk supply.  

I experienced this myself with my firstborn since I was still working outside the home.  I pumped breastmilk for about 15 months so that my daughter would be able to drink breastmilk while I was at work, but it was very obvious to me early-on that I was not able to pump very much.  If my daughter was nursing, the milk would just keep coming as long as she nursed (as evidenced by repeated let-down sensations and her vigorous swallowing).  But with pumping, I was only ever able to get a small amount of milk at a time.


What does unrestricted access to the breast look like?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

GIVEAWAY - Two Copies of Diet Recovery 2 Book

Matt Stone from 180 Degree Health has generously agreed to give away two copies of his book Diet Recovery 2: Restoring Mind and Metabolism from Dieting, Weight Loss, Exercise, and Healthy Food.  One winner will receive the eBook format, and one winner will receive the audio book version 180 Platinum Collection). (which is not available for individual sale, and only normally available when you buy the

I bought this book for myself a few weeks ago, and am very excited to be able to share it with you.  In Matt's words,
Being healthy is a lot easier than you are making it out to be...
Diet Recovery 2 really is a “health book” too.  It contains a foolproof and fully up-to-date strategy for restoring optimal metabolic rate and overcoming the many health problems that can be caused by restrictive eating and attempts at forced weight loss.  Nothing, not even thyroid hormone drugs, are likely to raise your metabolism to the extent that following this general diet and lifestyle prescription will.  And it’s all very simple with no special foods to avoid, magic meal plans, “metabolism supercharging supplements,” or other crap.  Just the biggest results with the absolute smallest changes – none of them difficult or requiring willpower.  No wagons to fall off of.  No rebellious splurges right around the next corner.
With the help of Diet Recovery 2, you should not only be able to overcome your diet obsession and eat normally again, but you can also confidently expect to:
  •  Raise your body temperature significantly – most returning to the normal 98.6 degrees F or above in just a few weeks
  • Become “fat proof,” more or less incapable of gaining body fat eating whatever you want, in the quantity you desire, with or without exercise
  • See major health improvements in areas that were being impaired by the metabolism-suppressing effect of restricted diets
  • Learn how to make small changes in your diet to function properly in the main competencies of physical function – such as digestion, metabolism, sex drive and function, sleep, mood, dental health, and other primary places
  • Completely eliminate all strong cravings for any and every food 100% in just a matter of weeks
  • Eradicate binge eating, emotional eating, and other behaviors only seen when a person is consciously interfering with his or her food intake
  • Receive simple guidance to get the benefits of exercise you’ve never been able to get, with just a fraction of the time and effort that you put into it in the past
  • Actually see big improvements in how your body looks (more muscle, less fat, better proportions) a year or two down the road from having fully completed the diet recovery process
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 Tuesday April 9th.
I will randomly select 2 winners on Wednesday, April 10th. 

*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, April 2, 2013

Ways to Deal With (Our Own) Anger and Irritability

Before I became a mother, I rarely got angry and I almost never lost my temper.  Motherhood, with it's accompanying temper tantrums, lack of sleep, and near-constant demands, has shown me that I still have some work to do when it comes to dealing with negative emotions.  I struggle with irritation and anger much more often than I'd like. While I still have a long way to go, the following methods have really helped me in learning to keep my irritability and anger in check. 

  • Paying close attention to my own emotions to see when I am starting to get irritated. It is amazing how hard it can be to recognize the signs in myself that it is time for a break, and to be willing to actually take a break. When I don't pay attention to the escalation of my internal emotions, I may end up at the point where I boil over, resulting in two crying kids and a regretful mom. When I can recognize that I am starting to get irritated, taking a quick break can keep me from getting to my boil-point. My kids are getting old enough now that I can tell them why I need a quick break and they are okay with that (as they know it is better than the alternative of me losing my temper and yelling at them). *Fortunately*, I get plenty of opportunities to practice this every day. 
  • Ringing the peace bell. In our dining room/kitchen, we have a bell that makes a beautiful sound when you strike it. Whenever I (or the kids) are starting to feel grumpy, frustrated, or irritated, we can ring the peace bell. The idea is that, when the bell is rung, everyone else will be quiet for a moment and take a nice, deep breath. My 6-year-old daughter, especially, likes to use the bell, particularly when she notices that I am getting grumpy. (I'm pretty sure the idea of using a peace bell came from a Thich Nhat Hanh book I read a few years ago.)
  • Daily afternoon quiet time: I absolutely could not survive without our daily quiet time. Every afternoon, we have quiet time for about 2 hours.  Each kid goes to a separate room with some quiet toys to play with, and I have time to de-stress through meditation, prayer, yoga, reading, or even folding laundry in blessed solitude. My 3-year-old can usually last 30-45 minutes playing on his own during this time, and then I help him settle in for his afternoon nap (and take a quick snooze myself since he is still wakes during the night). My 6-year-old daughter spends her quiet time reading, playing, coloring, or listening to music.  This time is essential for all of us to recharge and relax.
  • Accepting rather than rejecting negative feelings. One thing it took me a long time to realize (and that I still struggle with sometimes) is that I have to accept my negative emotions.  Trying to deny these feelings or ignore them is a sure way to set myself up for a big blow-up. Realizing that it is okay to have negative feelings has made a big difference for me. This doesn't mean that I welcome negative feelings, but it does mean that I don't need to feel bad for having them.  I try to keep in mind that, although I may have negative feelings, I am not these feelings and I don't have to act them out.  Often, just being willing to acknowledge these feelings is a big outlet for me.
  • Remembering my kids at their best. One good technique I learned while reading Simplicity Parenting is to think about my kids at their best. Payne writes,"remember the ordinary moments of the day, the moments with your children that meant something to you.  This simple exercise is like a spiritual corrective lens.  In your vision of your kids, it helps to restore the prominence of 'who they are' over 'what they need to do' or 'what they need to work on.'... Relive those moments and give them their due." I find this technique to be particularly beneficial on days when my kids have been especially difficult to live with. Remembering good moments from the recent past (and even their younger years) can help me keep perspective on my kids and establish a more positive tone.
  • Limiting my screen time. I find that I am more likely to snap at the kids when I am interrupted while trying to read something or finish one more thing on the computer.   We are all happier when I can impose restrictions on my own screen usage. Limiting my computer usage to those times when the kids are otherwise actively engaged or in quiet time can help me keep from becoming so easily irritated.
  • Communicating with the kids about the "Red Zone" and "Quiet Zone". When I am having anger issues, I tell the kids I've reached the "red zone". They know this means that an eruption is imminent, and that they can help prevent it by playing nicely and being polite instead of whining. I also declare "Quiet Zone" in whatever room I am in at those times when I start to get overwhelmed by the constant kid noise. Anyone in the Quiet Zone has to talk in whispers and be very quiet. The kids are are allowed to stay in the Quiet Zone with me if they can abide by those rules, otherwise I ask them to go to another room. The kids have gotten so used to this now that they will often happily run along together to play somewhere else whenever I declare Quiet Zone.
  • Constitutional homeopathic care. My irritability and anger were actually some of the main reasons I decided to undergo constitutional homeopathic care for myself.  Both of these problems developed about midway through my second pregnancy, and it is clear to me that there was some sort of shift at that time because I never had issues with anger and irritability prior to then. Through constitutional treatment (which is still ongoing), I have seen some light at the end of the tunnel and I am hopeful that I will one day return to my old, cheerful self.  I have already seen some big gains in my irritability and anger, but I still have a ways to go.  (Constitutional treatment is not a quick fix solution; it takes months or even years for the treatment to be completed.)  Because constitutional treatment allows the body to heal itself on the physical, emotional, and mental levels, it is an amazing way to come back into true health on all levels of the body.  
  • Being willing to change my plans. It helps me to keep in mind that there will be bad days (or weeks), and that it is okay on those days to slow down and relax.  I periodically need to just throw away the to-do list for a day, and hang out with the kids instead.  This often will actually turn a bad day into a good day instead.   
Some more ideas on dealing with anger are here and here.

Do you struggle with irritability and anger?  Are there any techniques that help you deal with it effectively rather than losing your temper?