Let’s talk about ___, baby.

That’s right, we’re talking about fiber today folks.  Fiber.  You know, the stuff many a doctor will say you need more of to have healthy stools.  As usual, the topic isn’t at all that simple. cereal bran sticks

This weekend I attended a fantastic conference, and got to hear Konstantin Monastyrsky speak on his specialty: gut health. What I heard was perhaps the best explanation I’ve heard yet of fiber and how it can hurt or help our digestion.

Fiber attracts water and turns into a glue-like substance in your digestive system.  It also absorbs water.

Fiber supplements, such as Metamucil & psyllium , are designed specifically to absorb water.  When taking these supplements, its always necessary to drink  more water.

But Mr. Monastyrsky make a very good point with this explanation, which applies equally to children and adults.

Fiber is just like a roll of toilet paper, which is just fiber and glue holding it together.  What happens when you throw a roll of toilet paper in water.  It triple or even quadruples in size.

Imagine your gut.  You have mild constipation for a variety of reasons including stress and an over-packed schedule, so you take some Metamucil.  In your gut, this means the fiber you’ve just taken has absorbed water in your system and has triple or quadrupled….. INSIDE your digestive tract!  Ahk!  This makes for bloating, and larger and larger stools.  it man at toilet

The anus is about the size of a quarter, and is designed for stools of roughly the same size to pass through.  Stools larger than that are hard to pass and require straining.   In the beginning, as you drink lots of water, you may pass some stools easily.   Even if you don’t, you push through this (pun intended!), knowing the importance of elimination.

With the continued bulking of your stool due to the fiber and an increase in necessary straining, you may still think you’re a bit constipated, so you take more Metamucil.  Perhaps you even consult a physician who recommends it.  You get even more bloating and even larger stools, perhaps stomach cramps.

You of course to manage to, painfully, pass some stools, enough to not worry too much in spite of the increasing effort it takes.

In the meantime, the backed-up stool is leaching toxins into your body, and doing damage to the thin mucus lining of your digestive tract.  This thin mucus lining is also where loads of good bacteria live and thrive.  Once this lining is gone, your digestive tract is vulnerable to a variety of diseases.  Once this lining is gone, you’re good bacteria is also and harmful bacteria and fungus can run rampant, further exacerbating the problem.

A few years later, you notice some more cramping and discomfort, maybe even some diarrhea..  Eventually you go to a doctor who tells you have irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or one of many other digestive disorder.  And so begins a journey down a potentially fatal road.  With too many, this road ends with colon removal.

Don’t do it folks! I suggest consuming only fiber from natural sources, nuts and veggies, and not too much.  Fiber added to bread/cracker/pasta/rice products is denatured and has nearly zero nutritional content, and can also be damaging to those with sensitive digestion.

You don’t need very much fiber at all.  Some is good, but too much can cause problems.  In fact, some digestive disorder patients may be best on a no-fiber diet until their digestive tracts have healed.  If this might be you, contact me for more information.

Do you know whats good for moving your bowels?  Three things: 

1. Reduce Stress.  Stress can cause the body’s regular functions to slow down or halt.  After all, how you can you have healthy digestion if you eat on the run, and quite literally don’t have a spare few minutes to relax in the bathroom.  Slow down, and your digestion will thank you.ghee in jar and spoon

2. Healthy fats!   Healthy fats are easily absorbed by the body and naturally slide through the digestive system.   A diet rich in healthy fats, and low in bulking foods will result in smooth flowing.  Healthy fats include:  coconut oil, pastured butter, lard and tallow from well-raised animals, and olive oil.

3.  Fermented Foods.  Good bacteria folks.  Good bacteria allows all of your body systems to function properly, including the digestive system and immune systems.  With good bacteria, you’ll get sick less and move those stools with ease.

I hope your week flows well!

 

Advertisements

You need to make these.

squash squaresAwesome.  These are just lovely, delicious treats that get squash into your family in a new way.  Inspired by my friend Jenna’s recipe over at Whole-istic Living, these little squares unexpectedly made my day.

I had leftover baked squash in the fridge and a whole bunch of nuts.  I scoured my recipe books, and didn’t find anything good.  Without internet access for the morning (what horror!) I was unable to look up a recipe online, yet I remembered Jenna’s so I tried to recreate it from memory.  Here’s what I ended up with and loved.

They’re sweet, but not too much.  They don’t pretend to be a brownie or kitchen sink bar.  They are what they are: maple-syrup sweetened buttery squash sitting nicely on a rich pecan crust and topped with crispy flaked coconut.  Rich and delicious as a stand alone healthy snack full of a balance of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, protein, and trace vitamins and minerals.

These were a hit in my house.  My kids don’t usually eat squash or nuts, yet my 4 year old loved the top, and my 2 year old loved the nut crust.  Together it makes a great after-school snack, and they’re also firm enough to withstand lunch-box travel.

Perhaps the best part of this is that it uses only 1 piece of kitchen equipment!  Hurrah for easy cleanup!

Enjoy!

Crust

2 cups pecans

1 pastured egg

1 tbsp organic butter

pinch of salt

Squash Filling

4 cups cooked/skinned butter nut squash

2 pastured eggs

1/2 cup of real maple syrup (you can substitute raw honey if you prefer)

4 tbsp pasture butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch of cloves

pinch of salt

For the crust:  Put nuts in a food processor and grind until smooth.  Add in the egg & salt and grind some more.   With your clean fingers, spread the butter around an 9 x13 pyrex baking dish until it’s well covered.   Then spread the pecan mixture out evenly over the butter.

For the filling: Put all of the squash into your food processor.  I didn’t bother to clean mine after the pecans, as I figured a few stray pecan bits in the filling would be just fine.  Once the squash is pureed, add in the eggs, syrup, salt, cinnamon & cloves.  Mix until blended.   Spread evenly over the top of the pecan crust, and sprinkle unsweetened coconut flakes over the whole thing.  Bake at 3:50 for an hour.  Baking this low and slow will allow the squash to firm-up without burning the crust or coconut.

Let cool and slice into bars.  These keep very well in the fridge.

Want more recipes and ideas on how to get healthy foods into your life?  Check out the great deal I’m offering only through Friday!

 

 

 

 

Let the Kids Get HUNGRY.

Wait, what?  Aren’t hungry kids emotional, dramatic, and hard to control?  Is she crazy?!   Isn’t childhood hunger a local problem, as well as a global issue?  Aren’t well-nourished children more likely to do well in school?Adorable baby girl eating fresh vegetables

Yes, yes, yes.   Now let me explain.

As you might have realized by now, I feed my children well.  We buy high quality meats and vegetables.  We cook creative foods and require them to try everything.  We involve them in the cooking process to get them interested.   But still, sometimes my kids are picky.  They won’t want to try something if it the smell is too different, or they don’t like the color of a sauce, for example.

The other night, however.  Something amazing happened.  It was time for the kids to take their fermented cod liver oil (FCLO), which is caramel flavored and I cover with raw honey, and they “chase” with a chocolate chip.  That’s how chocolate chips are distributed around here, after FCLO.  My son hemmed and hawed, not wanting to eat it.  But my daughter eagerly said, as her brother glared at his full spoon, “my turn, my turn!”  She gobbled up the spoonful of oil and honey, popped in her chip and said “more, more!”   She wanted another spoonful of FCLO, which I readily provided.  This has never happened before.  Ever.

As she wandered away happily, I stood there in awe.  How?  What?  Then I thought about it.  She hadn’t eaten in about 4 hours.  I was about 30 minutes away from serving dinner, so I didn’t want them to eat anything.  So my beautiful two year old, in her youthful wisdom, took whatever nourishment she could get.  Amazing.

She also proceeded to eat more dinner then I’ve ever seen.  No complaints about the leftover sauce (which was shunned the day before), or the veggies she’d previously never tried.   And just when we were out of leftovers, they asked for cheese.  What?  More?!  Yes, more nourishing food!  That little body had had a busy day, not enough of a nap, and needed nourishment.  That I waited four hours, didn’t give them a snack after school, and provided healthy options led to some amazing and beautiful food choices.

From now on, I’m going to let my kids get hungry so I can watch their little bodies gobble up nourishing foods at mealtime.

What are nourishing foods, you ask?   Do you think you might need a bit of a crash-course in how to feed your children well, and easily.  My new eCourse does just that.  It takes you from the harmful habits of the standard American diet through the process of eating healthy, whole foods.  Step by step, this guide will get your diet where you want it to be.   Through October 31, I’m offering an amazing discount so take advantage!  Here’s the link again!

 

 

Ta Da!

Real Food Transformation ImageHave you ever worked hard on a project, focused time energy and funds to something that you truly believed in?  If so, then hopefully you’re also familiar with that giant sigh of relief when it’s done.

That’s where I’m at folks, I’ve completed my Real Food Transformation eCourse and it’s already changing the way people look at food.  Through videos, documents for you to print and use, journal assignments, and daily emails, this course will help you change the way you look at food and your body.  This course will walk you at your own pace, step-by-step through changing your diet and changing your life.

I’m in that lovely place of having a finished product, wanting to share it with the world so badly that I’m nearly giving it away.  If you take this course with me one-on-one, you’ll pay over $400.  However, I’m offering the eCourse at the incredibly discounted rate of $70.   That’s right, just $70 until October 31 when the price will go up to the regular (and still low) price of $95.

Share this with your friends and family.  This is an awesome way for anyone who’s interested in nutrition to get started on healthy eating.   Join me for the ride!

 

 

 

Things are happening….

Can you feel it?  The creativity in the air that the falling of leaves bring.  We turn inward in the fall and winter, and that often brings about ideas, creation, development.  We grow, nourish, comfort.Gena Jan 4,14

That is what has been happening around here, and I feel energy and so much more to come this fall.  I have several irons on the fire, and I’m so excited about all of them!  You’ll be hearing about them soon, so stay tuned.

For now, I’ve got a new class open to the public in my events section.  Autumn Soups!   Take a look and let me know if you’re interested.  It’s one of my favorite classes to teach, always lots of fun, and always extremely delicious.

As always, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter here for some freebies and more news from Nutrition Basics!

Air.

It’s freezing, in comparison to the weekend.  On Sunday, it was warm enough that I was wishing the professional-installation of fans included the installation of the blades (seriously?!).  Three days later, I’m several mis-matched layers of clothes deep (where are all my pants?!), blanket piled on my lap as I type.  I gaze around for a hat nearby, but decide to tough it out in lieu of getting up to find one.

It’s not really cold.  We’re New Englanders after all, and its only early October.  This isn’t even the beginning of what’s to come.  It’s just a cool rainy fall day.

In our house however, it’s raw.  I have three blankets on each of the sleeping kids, and I was able to talk our two-year-old into napping with a hat on today.  The windows are thrown open in all rooms, though I did stuff wrinkled curtains into the top to the kids windows to reduce the breeze and water coming in.  Someday I’ll install curtain rods.  I just can’t bring myself to close the windows, with the stank of polyurethane permeating everything and everyone.  I guess four days of airing out wasn’t long enough.  The smell has to be coming off of me, like the cloud that follows smokers around their lives.

Each day, I unpack two to four boxes.  Put stuff in new places, throw some away, put some in a pile to donate.  Yet it seems as though, while the boxes await their turn, they breed.   I trip over boxes that couldn’t possibly have been there the day before.

Yesterday, our plumber unnecessarily walked with his muddy boots through my bedroom to fix our shower, while I was downstairs getting the kids a snack.  I successfully did not strangle him.  If he doesn’t finish the work tomorrow, I may not be so successful.

Laundry piles up because I can’t find a laundry basket to put it in, and I’m not quite desperate enough to use a box to hold our dirty/clean laundry.  And the dog food is currently being stored in front of the washer, creating yet another obstacle/excuse.

After school yesterday, the kids and I found ourselves gravitating to the kitchen.  With only barely-controlled chaos that our home is these days after the weekend move, we all tend to want something grounded and homey.  Something warm.  So what did I do, when I was darn close to melting down with the stress of it all?

I made broth.  I let it bubble in the crock pot all night, served up steaming bowls of it this afternoon along with dinner.  The kids were wiggly and whining with the “mama, I’m coooolllddd” mantra that I wasn’t letting myself say out loud, yet somehow the moaning halted as they slurped and made messes of warm soup sliding down their arms, the little one sucking the soup off her fingers.   The aroma of cooking broth covered up the chemicals that cover our beautiful old floors, filled our room with that oh-so-familiar warmth and homeyness.  In our only moderately-controlled chaos, food grounds us and keeps us sane.

This new kitchen is ugly, compared to our old one.  Yet it’s cozy and warm and I hardly notice the musty smell still lingering in the cabinets.  We’re coming up for air in our new neighborhood, ever so slowly.  I’m dying to make some bread here and dive into the warm loaf with tons of butter as I gaze around the new view.  I only fear that my husband might be less happy to come home to home-baked bread than he’d be to find the elusive box with his shoes inside.

But boxes bore me and he has one pair of shoes available, so in all likelihood we’ll have some fresh bread this week as we come up for air and relax upon the surface or this fabulous 100+ year home that we happen to adore.  And soon, I’ll get back in my grove of work and newsletters, so be sure to sign up here!

So. Much. FUN.

I need to take a minute folks, to gush.   Not about how fantastic my kids or dog, family, or even my clients are.  They are wonderful, of course.

This past weekend was for me.  Food for my soul.  Two days at the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) Wise Traditions Regional Conference in Southbridge, MA.

Compared to the huge conference-on-crack national event, this regional weekend was more relaxed.  There were maybe 400-500 people in attendance, listening to a series of talks, perusing vendor tables, and enjoy the outstanding, high-quality food these conferences are known for.   Rare is the restaurant I can go to a feel good about the quality, yet here I was at a two day conference eating my heart out and not thinking twice.

To top it all off, my talk went very well.  Attended by Sally Fallon, the founder of the WAPF, I covered a variety of issues regarding feeding children nourishing foods.  Beyond that, several people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for the talk and said it was one of the most helpful ones at the conference.  I wanted to hug them all.

Perhaps the best part of this weekend was the energy of the place.  Hundreds of people who share my joys and struggles, who have found health through a high-quality diet.  Some have been on GAPS, most have not.  We’re from all over New England, all looking to be/stay/get healthy and feel our best.  We’re all looking for great raw milk, driving long distances for raw cream, look for high-quality meat in bulk.  To be able to talk to so many people who are looking for help, or who have been helped by eating real food is inspiring. I’m honored to have been a part of such a wonderful event.

Moving forward, I have some great news!  I’ve been working on a project all summer that is designed to help you.  It’s pretty exciting, and I plan to launch it next week, so stay posted for news (and likely a great deal)!

For now, please sign up for my newsletter here.  If you sign up, you get some great things: free video & recipes on “Dressings & Sauces” and “Bone Broth”!  I’ll be starting to send out a newsletter about once or twice per month, and you don’t want to miss it!

Americans

We’re all working hard.  All of us.  Mom’s, dads, farmer’s, chefs, activists, healthcare leaders, lawyers and doctors.  We’re all wearing 3+ different hats a day working at our professions, caring for kids and our homes, and perhaps, every now and then, taking a moment or two for ourselves.  And the latter is rare, I probably don’t need to remind you.

I read about parenting.  Attachment parenting, the Ferber method, time outs, and personal space.   I read about a child-centered life, and the potential pros and cons.  I think about what’s best for my kids.  I read about how American’s parent past and present, how the Machiguenga parent, how the French parent.  Evidently, American’s are the worst of all time.  We help our kids put on their shoes, we cook for them, we even (gasp!) do their laundry & get their silverware.   And sometimes, don’t tell anyone, I lose my patience with my little cherubs.

Don’t get me wrong, I too can frequently get tired of waiting on my kids.   I wish when I asked for help in the kitchen, my four year old would say “yeah!” with the enthusiasm he used to have.  Perhaps I pushed him away one two many times.

I read a ton about food issues.  How we, as Americans, are messing up the world.  Large corporations have enough financial influence to basically control politics, and so our food supply is comprised of low-quality food best left to nobody.   Many states disallow raw milk, and government representatives harass Amish families.

I lived abroad for quite some time, and in those years I had to do a whole lot of explaining about American foreign policy, our voting system, and why we don’t up-rise.  I also had to point out many, many times how split down the middle our country is politically.

The average American diet is a buffet of sugar, highly processed grains and fillers.  Our children are sicker than ever, more often then ever.  They can’t function in schools that have very low standards compared to their developed world counterparts.  We’re fat, stupid, and too lazy to vote.  Does that sound about right?

My answer- NO!  I’m tired of hearing about how badly we’re all doing.  I work hard at my job, and work hard as a parent.  Not to fill my kids with shit food and stand them in front of network TV so they can watch commercials and then  scream at me in the store to buy the toy they saw on TV as they develop a sugar crash.   That’s not my life, those aren’t my kids.  Why is there hardly a literary article that ends without getting at least one jab in at American feeding or parenting styles?

My husband and I make a point to be conscious.  I garden so my kids can see pumpkins and tomatoes grow, and so that they can pick them daily.   I let weeds run ramshod so they understand that mother nature hates a void (or at least, that’s the reason I give them).   I take my kids to our CSA farm and show them where real food comes from.  We go to the farm to buy raw milk, so they know where their milk and cheese comes from.  We buy a slaughtered cow each year, from a sustainable farm, not from some CAFO.

We are deliberate about our parenting.  Nobody gets smacked around here, tempting though it might sometimes be.  Our children do have some minor chores around the house, and we are careful about our consumption.  No excess toys; indeed, our son has been obsessed with shooting rubber bands from store-bought broccoli for the last week or two.

We swim in lakes and ponds, go hiking in the woods.   We show them the moon, the simple pleasures in life and let them chase ants with flashlights well past their bedtime.

Our kids are patient, say please and thank you, and almost never tantrum in the stores.

We eat well.  I make almost everything we eat from well-sourced ingredients.   We are deliberate and conscious of our food choices.  Yet we eat out from time to time, and I let go.  I too need to breathe.

I’m tired of hearing or reading about how we’re doing it all wrong.  I manage a farmer’s market, and I see people coming to buy their organic vegetables with food stamps.  I see people taking their kids to say hello to their neighbors, to pet a dog, and to help and old lady get off the bus.  We must be doing something right.

People cook for women who just had babies.  We pick up each other’s CSA shares when another is away, the same for our gardens.  We watch each other’s kids and dogs when necessary, and offer a helping hand when we can.   We’re conscious of our waste and our consumption.  We organize informal preschools for our kids to meet their needs when the system doesn’t, we’re creative about our careers and incomes and are ever-changing and evolving.

I know activists who work hard, all day every day for the greater good.  Fighting for food rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights, forest conservation.   People voice their opinions about injustices around the world and at home, doing something whenever we can.  We fight so that our kids have a better future, and so that perhaps children from distant lands might also.

We’re also happy.  We find sources of joy every day, relax in the presence of friends, and hug often.  Our kids are secure and comforted.   Perhaps they’re not particularly tough or self sufficient, but they’re healthy and well and learning and improving.

Are we privileged compared to the struggles of the rest of the world?  Of course many of us are, but all of us are not.    I realize this complaint might sound trite, but I’m tired of hearing just how bad we are, and how we’re really messing up in a new way now!    I know we’re not perfect and there are a bazillion ways we can improve, but I just can’t hear about it all the time.  I think we’re doing a pretty damn good job at this business of living.

I’ll stop reading the internet now, as all I ever find is criticism of an America I don’t know.  They write about an America full of zombies who consume whatever Monsanto, McDonalds, and ABC/NBC/FOXnews/CNN/MSNBC/Hasbro/Fisher-Price shove down their throats.  I’m sure those people exist here in this huge country, but I don’t know them and can’t relate to their experience.

My America is wonderful, full of beauty.  It is full of community, of people who care about the world and the greater good.  We volunteer and clean our streets, and get up early to see sunrises.  We take care of animals, the planet and each other.  We are aware of the evils of the world, but are conscious about our role in it and the people we are raising, what we’re feeding them and how our actions affect it all.   We’re sustainable, conscious, and thriving.  We’re a growing population, this America of mine, and although we get little press, I think we’re here to stay.  Maybe I’ll write more about that, about just how well we’re doing in spite of it all.

Throwback…. Wednesday?!

It’s National Breastfeeding Week!  With a bit of sadness, I can’t participate this year.  My good ole’ milk factory is closed. How did those years go by so fast?!  Two of them are weaned, and one of them is, gulp, starting school in September.  He’s so very ready, while I’m having a bit of trouble with the idea.

For me, nursing my kids was huge.   Huge for bonding, nourishing, loving, sleeping, comforting, growing.    Now with my 2.5 year old weaned just 6 months ago, I miss it.   I long for those quite moments together, just me and her.  Doing our thing, giving her what she needed.  Our time.  Now when she comes into our bed, she sucks her thumb and snuggles.  It’s sweet and luscious, but it’s not the same as the instant connection.

Just a few days ago my little girl watched a friend of ours nursing her newborn. She then took her doll and put it under her shirt.  I almost cried while cooking and watching them in my kitchen.  Damn. Those moments, years even, are so darn fleeting.  Cliche, I know, but I feel it truly this week.

Here’s a shout out to all your nursing mama’s out there, and all of you who join me in longing for those moments once again.

Here’s a little something from National Breastfeeding Week, one year ago.

https://holisticnutritionbasics.com/2013/08/03/milk-in-the-eye/