Three Days of Thanksgiving: Turkey Take Two

Gonna’ have some dry turkey-bird staring back at you tomorrow night?  Yippee!  Yay!  Lunch for three days!  (Groan.)  How can I turn this into something that people really like?  Well, here’s a leftover turkey recipe for you!  It’s easy!  Fun!  Delicious (and nutritious)!  Go ahead–clip this one for the rest of the year, too!  Boiled chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken instead of turkey tastes absolutely fabulous in this simple dish.  My family loves it, and it is definitely a recipe I fall back on routinely.

I don’t mind either way, but if you liked the recipes from the last few days, they’re put together in a nice format in Holiday Cooking–A Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Celebration.  (But again, I don’t get anything from it.  And you know I’d share any of those recipes in that e-book if you asked.)turkeytake23

Turkey Take Two

3 cups of chopped, leftover turkey

1 small onion, diced

½ cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 ¼ cup mayonnaise

½ cup frozen peas

½ cup chopped fresh spinach (may omit)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 cup crushed potato chips or sweet potato chips


  1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2.  Mix all of the ingredients together except the potato chips.
  3.  Spread  into a medium-sized casserole dish and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
  4.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the potato chips evenly over the top.
  5.  Place back in the oven and bake 10 more minutes until the chips are lightly browned.

Family “gustar” report:  The score is 6 of 6.  Love this casserole.  I’ve made it and frozen it too.  It smells divine in the oven!

I wish you a very, very Happy Thanksgiving!  I am thankful you take time to read some of my posts.  Changing what we ate changed a lot in our family.  I can’t communicate that loudly and firmly enough.  I simply had no idea that food has real side effects which vary from person to person.  The holidays find me and the kids working hard to find that balance between food that we know keeps us feeling best and food that seems to call our names, even in our dreams.  It’s not until you drastically walk a different path in a healthy way with food that you realize how off course society as a whole has gotten with the required substance.

Eat well.  But think of your teensy, tiny little cells plugging away for you, all day, all night.  Give ’em the food they deserve.  You’ll feel better for it!


Other Thanksgiving recipes on the blog:

Cranberry Gelatin Salad

Sweet Potato Casserole

Pecan Pie (easy crust recipe included)

Green Bean Casserole


Three Days of Thanksgiving: Perfect Maple Pecan Pie and Pressed Pie Crust in a Pinch

Simply 100% pecan perfection!  Definite yum factor of “awesome!”  If you haven’t made pecan pie with maple syrup, you must try it!  Both pecans and maple syrup are native to the United States–pecans from the Southeast and maple syrup from the Northeast.  Maple syrup and pecans just go together.  I love this pie.

The only question left unanswered:  “Should I chop the pecans or leave them whole?” Try it both ways.  They’ll both be good.

As a bonus, I’ve also shared my pie crust recipe.  It’s kind of unique.  It is not a roll-out recipe, and it is really so much fun to make with kids.



Perfect Maple Pecan Pie 

1 9” pie shell, unbaked 

2 cups of maple syrup

8 ounces (2 cups) of pecans (whole, chopped, or halved–your preference)

1 tablespoon of tapioca flour or arrowroot flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons of olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes. It will get very frothy, so adjust the heat to make sure that it does not boil over. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Set aside.
  3.  In a small bowl, mix the pecans and tapioca flour together well.  Set aside.
  4.  In a large bowl, combine and beat together the reduced maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, salt, and  oil until well mixed.
  5.  Add the pecans and stir well.
  6.  Pour into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 15 minutes at 375˚F.
  7.  Reduce heat to 350˚F and bake for 20 minutes.
  8.  Let cool before serving.

The above recipe is in the Bite-Sized Guide I wrote up for Molly Green Magazine.  But I have a bonus recipe to share in case you forgot the pie shell!

Pressed Pie Crust in a Pinch

This is a fast, easy way to make a delicious pie crust.  My mom is known for her pies and especially her flaky crust recipe.  Humorously, the woman who gave her the pie crust recipe long ago was quite embarrassed about the recipe, because it’s not a roll-out crust.  She made my mom promise to never tell anyone where the recipe came from!  Crazy!  This adaption to gluten-free loses none of the simplicity but does lose some of the flakiness.  However, I still like it better than a store-bought crust.  It’s a GREAT recipe to do with kids because it’s so easy!

1 cup of gluten-free flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Pinch of salt

Milk alternative, 3 tablespoons

Olive oil (see below for amount, it’s kind of unusual)

  1.  Place the gluten-free flour in a medium-sized bowl with the pinch of salt.
  2.  The next step is kind of strange.  Read closely:  In a 1/2 cup sized measuring cup, place three tablespoons of milk alternative.  Then, in the exact same measuring cup with the milk alternative STILL in there, add olive oil to fill the cup up to the 1/2 cup mark.
  3. Add the milk/oil mixture to the gluten-free flour.  Mix well with a fork and then use your hands to mix it even better and form a nice dough.
  4. Break off little bits of the dough and scatter all around the edges of the pie plate and in the middle of the plate.
  5. Use your fingers and hands to smash together all those little balls you put in there.  And also to push the dough up high up and over the edge so you can flute it.  Press and press until the dough has no holes or gaps.
  6. Then, pinch the edges to make a nice little flute as seen in my photo.
  7. Fill with filling and bake!

SUPER EASY!  And fun!

Family “gustar report”:  The whole family approves!

Wishing you a joyous and content holiday.


Three Days of Thanksgiving: Green Bean Casserole with Crunchy Onions

A bit of mushroom soup (homemade, of course).  Some green beans (home canned, if you have ’em).  And some hand-cut French fried onions.  (My kids call them onions from heaven.)  And Thanksgiving can proceed.  Right?  No cans needed!

If someone in your family needs to eliminate gluten, dairy, or preservatives, and they are very sad about giving up traditional Thanksgiving foods, then this recipe is for them.  It’s a little extra work, but love always is.  That’s what makes it special.

Take a look…


Does it look like you remember?

Traditional-Style Green Bean Casserole


  • 3 smallish onions, sliced very thinly
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoon salt, divided use
  • 1 ½ cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
  • Pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 cup of fresh, finely chopped Portabella mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot powder
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups cooked and drained green beans

French fried onion topping:

  1. For the topping, mix together in a medium-sized bowl the coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and ½ teaspoon salt.  Soak the onions in the mixture for an hour.  Stir occasionally.
  2.  Mix together Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large baggie.
  3.  Drain the onions well in a strainer and place in the baggie and shake to coat well.  Try very hard to break up clumps so all the rings are mostly coated.
  4.  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized saucepan until an onion dropped in sizzles and spatters.  If your oil isn’t hot enough, you’ll have goopy mess.  If it’s too hot, you’ll burn the delectable rings.  Use enough olive oil to come up to 1-2 inches high in the pan.  You may need to periodically add more, always waiting for the oil to return to the proper temperature.
  5. When the oil is hot enough, fry the onions in single-layer batches until they are light golden- brown.  
  6. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions to a paper-towel lined plate.  Set aside.

For the casserole:

  1. Saute the onion and mushrooms in olive oil over low heat for 15 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle with tapioca starch (or arrowroot) and stir.
  3. Add the chicken stock and stir until it just reaches a boil.  Remove from heat.
  4. Add in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper.  The mixture should be thick like soup.
  5. Place green beans in a large bowl, pour mushroom mixture over, and mix well.
  6. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.
  7. Cover with French fried onions and bake an additional 10 more minutes.  If using stored French fried onions (see below), you may need to bake longer, until the rings are just crisped up again.

Variations and information:

  • Canned green beans work well here.  No worries!
  • To save time: make the French fried onions ahead of time, storing them in a single-layer in the refrigerator on a paper-towel lined plate until needed for the casserole.
  • Use more green beans if you like your green bean casserole less soupy and less moist.  Eyeball it.  Maybe 5 cups.
  • I haven’t tried, but I’ll bet this will work with other gluten-free flours.  Mix up your own for 100% homemade!
  • Add a little garlic and/or onion powder into the soup mixture if you’d like.
  • Add a little cashew cream to the green bean mixture to make it richer.  (A recipe is in the Molly Green e-cookbook I worked on.)
  • I haven’t tried it, but you could try using the GF flour to thicken the soup rather than arrowroot or tapioca–but no guarantees since I haven’t tried it!

Family “gustar” report:  It scores a 6 out of 6.  Even the baby gets in on the action!  My husband says the fresh mushrooms make it the best.  My kids love the onion rings.  But there’s NEVER green bean casserole left.

There’s more recipes like this in the Molly Green Bite-Sized guide (e-cookbook) I helped put together for Molly Green Magazine.  I’ll be bringing you two more recipes in this little Three Days of Thanksgiving!  Then, I won’t bother your in-box for a while.  I hope you have a great day!


Do Slow Guts Need Loved?

Three and one-half years ago I started skeptically experimenting with alternative health ideas to fix my gut.  I feel a little “out there,”–yes, I do– but I can’t argue with success that exceeds Miralax, Metamucil, and Smooth Move Tea.  You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of my slow-to-stop gut story if you feel so inclined.  Okay.  Here we go.  Welcome to The Fites Medical Funnies, where nothing is intended to be used for medical advice and any appealing ideas should be run by your favorite healthcare practitioner.  Because yoga and gargling could be dangerous.

Alone Time First Thing in the Morning

The gut makes a large movement when we wake up in the morning, before we’ve even eaten anything.  I’ve found that if my gut is going to eliminate, it’s going to do so early in the morning when I’m sitting alone quietly.  If I hear my husband get up to shower, if I shower,  or if I decide to start breakfast early, the game is over for the day.  Rarely, if I get some time in the afternoon to sit and check email or something and the kids are quietly playing in the basement or outside–and Mars aligns with the moon– then, my gut may relax enough to move.

This tells me my gut can work and bring about normal defecation.  This also tells me that my sympathetic tone is VERY strong and easily over-rides the parasympathetic control of my gut. The sympathetic nervous system is what gets the body geared up and ready to go.  It is described as the system that kicks in “when you’re running from an ax-murderer.”  Your parasympathetic control is the “rest and digest” control system.  I’d say, in general, my sympathetic control system predominates my life.

Bottom-line:  The parasympathetic nervous system promotes defecation.  My sympathetic tone responds quickly to any perceived task, even if it’s as simple as saying “good-bye” to my husband in the morning or changing into clothes for the day.  (Yeah.  I know.  I’m working on it.)  Getting up before everybody in the house wakes up and sitting quietly promotes movement of my gut.  It’s almost a necessity in the equation.

Ileocecal Valve Massage, Gargling, and Gagging

Hey.  This may be whacko at its finest, but it’s cheap, safe, and easy to do.  About seven months ago, I started thinking about something called small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO) hard.  If a person has SIBO, constipation can be an outcome, particularly if the “bacteria” make extra methane.  I suspect I have a mild case of SIBO but have never tested myself for SIBO because 1) it’s one more test 2) nobody in my area tests for methane predominant SIBO that I know of 3) there’s no good treatment for it 4) I’d already tried the treatment for it a few years ago (and it helped a little with bloating but not for long) and 5) my symptoms were/are not that significant to me (and my constipation has been life-long and I feel it led to my SIBO rather than SIBO causing it).

But, I thought, if I have SIBO, the only way I’m going to get that better is if my ileocecal valve (a “valve” which separates the small intestine from the large intestine) is opening and closing the way it should.  AND if my vagal tone (parasympathetic tone)  to the gut is promoting sweeping forward and peristaltic motions as it should be.  With my long-term history of constipation, I figured this indicated that my gut does not sweep forward like it ought to, allowing bacteria to migrate up inappropriately through the ICV to the small intestine, leading to my middle-aged SIBO symptoms.  To get my gut moving forward better and to stop the retrograde flow of bacteria, I felt I needed to work on my ICV and my vagal tone.

Mmm.  Yes.  You following this crazy?  So, with some internet research, I decided to rub my ICV.  (It’s in the right lower quadrant, kind of above the hipbone but over a bit toward the belly button.)  This usually ended up being about 2-3 times a day:  when waking up in the morning, when going to bed at night, and during the day if I could steal a second to lay flat.  I noticed that my ICV was actually quite tender, like a sore muscle or “trigger point.”  I also noticed that my gut started gurgling and growling after massaging the ICV.  Just for the heck of it, I then, after massaging my ICV continued to massage the colon around.  Really.  You can find this all on the internet.

Okay, if rubbing ICVs and colons is not cutting edge enough for you, I proceeded to work on vagal tone.  When I brushed my teeth, I would stimulate the gag response five times and call that enough.  I would also then gargle water at the end.  When I showered, I’d also gargle and try to gargle periodically through the day, for example when I’d use the bathroom.  Gargling and gagging stimulate the vagus nerve.

I’ve been doing this for quite some time now, and I get no immediate response.  None.  But I’ve kept doing them at least once a day for about six months.  My SIBO does seems much improved, and my gut is moving a lot better.  This could be so many things, but these are easy things to do and try.  I have nothing to lose in trying these things.  Obviously, you shouldn’t throw up your food or hurt yourself gagging.  Duh.

Bottom-line:  These are simple things to try.  My ICV is rarely sore anymore, but it does seem when the bloating flares again, it is more sore.  Whatever.  I’m going to keep this routine going longer.

Core Exercise

I have a very weak core due to having a pretty large umbilical hernia and diastasis recti from having four kids.  During the summer, I thought, “I’m going to fix this hernia.” and I tried a program called MuTu at the recommendation of a friend.  I liked it a lot, and my core definitely got stronger.  Could this have contributed to GI improvement?  Maybe so.  Don’t know.  I haven’t done the exercises for three months now, and my gut kept on working.  I have exercised plenty in the past (and continue to do so), so I don’t feel like exercise in general moves my gut.

Changing Perception

Over the last four years, I’ve observed that my food intolerances and gut do better when I’m less stressed.  I’m a pretty intense person, and I walk around looking for stuff to do, even if it’s just folding a blanket nicely on the couch.

If my vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system are going to function optimally to help me get off of all supplements for my gut, then I’m going to have to do some major brain rearranging.  My brain has to stop sometimes and/or I have to learn that I don’t need to always listen to my busy brain.

In light of this, I have a good friend who teaches therapeutic, problem-focused type yoga.  It was time to sign up for some individual work.  Like with acupuncture, when I quietly worked with her on breathing, stretching, awareness of body and thoughts, meditation and learned some of the techniques she taught, my tummy would sit there and rumble during the class.  It’s like my gut is singing, “Hel-loh-oh.  I like this stuff.”

Bottom-line:  I’ve been doing this yoga/meditation/self-awareness jazz for about four months.  The last two of those four months were completely normal bowel movements.  Is it the acupuncture?  The K2?  The butyrate?  The resistant starch?  The gargling?  The yoga.  The mediation?  Who cares!  I’ll take it.

Loving My Body’s Limitations

So I read about this woman who cured her autoimmune disease by choosing to love it.  Yes, my brain sang “Hoakie.” (Singing loudly is supposed to stimulate the vagus, too.)  But I’m in a place where I’ve tried it all, and I’m totally game to try something that’s free, painless, and completely safe!  So for a time, I would lay in bed as I woke up or went to sleep or at my yoga lessons, and I’d tell my colon it was doing a good job.  That it had a hard job digesting and moving all that food under the conditions I gave it.  That we, the rest of the body, would do whatever it took to help the colon do its job better.  And even if it never did its job any differently, we loved it as a part of this wonderful body.  We told it thank you.  We told it good job.  We quit telling it sucked.  It was broken.  It was harming the rest of the body.  It needed fixed.  It was ugly and gross and dysbiotic.

Did it work?  Well, not directly.  But whatever.  I tried it for a month.

Bottom-line:  Worked for some other chic but not for me.  But it still was a very nice thing to do for my colon.  And why not be nice?  I think it was worth a try.


What do I eat?  My diet is usually pretty clean, and I’ve tailored it over the last three and 1/2 years with an elimination diet to where I feel the best.  I started with GAPS diet and have branched my diet out (or unbranched it, in the case of some GAPS allowed foods I avoid eating).  I try to avoid completely adhering to dogma now (for example, never eating legumes or dairy or sugar or grains for the theory of it) and instead prefer to use close scrutiny (which usually leaves me avoiding legumes, dairy, most grains, and sugar for the reality of it! :-) ).  I eat lots of vegetables, both cooked and uncooked–all kinds.  I eat meat about once a day, sometimes twice–to satiety.  I eat a lot of seafood, and also lamb, beef, and pork.  I eat fruit about once a day, about 1-2 servings unless it’s summer and something I love is in season.  My gut now likes nuts and moves fine and actually very well on them, but my headaches don’t like them.  So I have to go easy on nuts and seeds, even though I seem to think that things like hemp, seed-based granola bars, etc promote gut movement for me.  Potatoes and rice seem to go well for me, especially when eaten cooked and cooled, and I make a point to try to eat either cold rice, cold potatoes, or green banana daily for resistant starch.

Besides the rice, I don’t eat many grains.  My gut always slows for a few days after I try to re-introduce gluten, so I keep it off the menu.  As far as dairy, I don’t eat it much, but for a time, I seemed to be doing fine with sheep and goat cheese and my homemade yogurt from a local Jersey cow.  I don’t eat eggs unless they’re long-cooked in something, and even then I use extreme caution.

I’ve played around with carbohydrate levels, fat levels, protein levels, calories, raw foods, all cooked foods.  Baby, I’ve tried it.  I seek out the freshest, most stable fats I can find to use, usually fresh olive oil and drippings from cooking meats that I save.  I usually eat organic, but it’s not usually a deal-breaker.

There is NO doubt in my mind that my diet change plays a HUGE role in relieving my constipation.  And I think a good elimination diet is nothing short of miraculous.  I know my gut would not be moving if I hadn’t watched, listened, and felt closely.


I’m in a good place now, and it has taken three and 1/2 years.  Maybe doing it my way took longer, but when I tried to ask for help, of both conventional and alternative providers, it cost a lot of money and didn’t make my gut work much better.  So this is where I am.  Don’t use my story as medical advice.

If you’re still reading, I think you must have a vested interest in constipation.  Good luck to you.  If my symptoms flare up again, I’m not worried.  There’s a few more tricks out there to try when I’m no longer nursing.  But no matter what, my gut can now move with the simple help of magnesium.  This ought to save me from a colectomy, and for that, anyone can be truly grateful.


Maybe Slow Guts Need Poked

Everyone tells you its simple.  Everyone tells you, “Oh, if you’d only try this, then…”

You don’t know whether to feel stupid or insulted and mad.  Then, rashly, you fork out money to try X, Y, or Z sometimes–which fails–and then you feel stupid AND mad.

I’ve got today’s post and one more on my personal story on severe, chronic, idiopathic constipation.  I’m not here to tell you it’s simple or even that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to constipation.  My blog is not for medical advice anyhow.  (It’s to make you wonder what kind of person would type about this.  Is she normal?  Or not normal?  Hmmm…)  If you missed them, I wrote this post first and this post second in my personal update series on trying to cure my refractory, lifelong constipation.


Smooth Move Tea and Laxatives

A few years ago I went to a gastroenterologist for my constipation.  She recommended that I stop the magnesium preparation that I was taking and sip Smooth Move Tea (a senna product). I didn’t like this recommendation so I didn’t do it.  I’d tried senna products before, and they never worked for me.  I felt the doctor clearly wasn’t listening to my story, so I found a different doctor.  I mean, I’d told her I had given up pizza and bread and ice cream to try to beat my severe, chronic constipation–did she really think that sipping a simple tea was going to work?  Like she blew me off, I blew her off and did not try that blasted tea.  Last year, however, after having the baby, my constipation had some bad spells.  So I decided to get off my high horse and try the stupid tea.  The tea did nothing but cause severe cramps. (Point: Patients usually know their bodies.)  I also tried some other OTC laxatives, but they also did nothing but cause cramps and create no bowel movement.

Bottom-line:  These products don’t work well for me.  They never have, and they still don’t.  I get terrible cramping and little to no bowel movement.  To get a bowel movement, I have to take like 12 or more pills of whatever.  I’d better stick to giving up pizza.

Herbs and Spices

I use a lot of herbs and spices when I cook, both fresh and dried.  I’ve tried increasing these over the last several months.  Nothing has seemed to jump up and shout that it is making my gut move specifically.  But they taste good and have many great properties.  Could they be doing slow magical work?  Sure.  I’ll keep using my herbs and spices:  turmeric, Ceylon cinnamon, cardamom, fresh-pressed garlic allowed to sit ten minutes, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, saffron, fresh cilantro, fresh parsley, rosemary, and so on and so forth.

Bottom-line:  Herbs and spices are worth adding in for overall health even if they don’t clearly seem to make a definable difference in my GI motility.

Diverse Fiber

I’ve read some fascinating anecdotes about people who tanked up on diverse fibers and reversed their GI, SIBO, and food issues.  (Fiber is a VERY complex term.  Please consider reading about it here.)  Fiber in the forms of legumes, Metamucil, and whole grains has never worked for me.  But as I’ve researched, I’ve come to find that I’m not needing the “skin” fiber of foods that I thought I needed for bulk–or even “soluble” or “insoluble” fiber.  There are other, less definable, carbohydrates that the bacteria in our guts may chomp on to produce by-products that stimulate and repair the gut.  So I devoted a couple of months to trying high dose “fibers”:  glucommannan (cramping), FOS/inulin/beta glucan (no change), psyllium (no increase in movement but more bulk), and oatmeal/blueberry/potato starch smoothies three times a day (no change).  I had no significant set-backs from these attempts, but I still needed tons of magnesium.

The “fiber” that seems to do me best is resistant starch “fiber” via green bananas (in smoothies), cold cooked rice (as in rice salad), and cold cooked potatoes (great over a salad topped with vinaigrette).  I also occasionally pop a bit of raw potato.  I do feel these “fiber” foods help me if consumed daily.

Also, over the summer I inadvertently upped my raw vegetable intake with delicious Israeli-inspired salads a good friend taught me to make.  Raw vegetable intake at the beginning of my journey killed my bloating problems.  Not anymore.  Once a gut’s environment is improved, I think raw vegetables and fruits are important.  Maybe the addition of these salads helped.

Bottom-line:  I can’t be 100% sure, but I do think that the resistant starch foods eaten daily and the salads play a role in the recent progress of my gut.  (And these are amazing salads!  Not the kind boring ones I used to make.)  The powders and supplements I tried didn’t work for me. (Too easy.)


I tried some triphala.  No luck.  Nothing bad.  But nothing improved, and although it is listed as safe in some places for nursing (and other places not), I thought my baby had looser stools when I titrated up the dose.  So I ditched triphala.

Essential Oils

Oh man.  I love the way these smell.  Some people swear success in helping their constipation with essential oils.  I’ve tried two different times and no go for me.



Japanese_kudabariI told a medical school friend, who is married to another medical school friend, that I was trying acupuncture for my gut.  She laughed and jokingly said, “I won’t tell Jeff that you’re trying that.  He’d never let me talk to you again…”

Anyhow, I have received acupuncture now for about 5 months (with some quite extended breaks for traveling).  When those tiny needles poke me, you can hear my gut start rumbling.  It’s a little embarrassing.  Sometimes after a treatment, I will have to go to the bathroom.  Usually not.  However, in the several months of acupuncture I’ve had, my gut has improved. The acupuncturist I go to only does acupuncture, but he draws on chiropractic, ancient Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic principles, and kinesiology.  When we first started, I asked him, “So, do you think you’ll be able to fix me?”  He was super honest and said, “Well–you’ve had this a long time–but we can try.”  I love that answer!  I have the utmost respect for what he does, but I do have to say it feels like “voodoo” at its finest to a conventional doctor.

I think that acupuncture has been a piece of the progressive improvement of my gut (but only as a part of the plan).  For the first 6 weeks, treatments were weekly.  Then, he spaced it to every two weeks.  And then slowly we are stretching it out further.  It does seem to help.  On the down side, it is not cheap.  In fact, it’s expensive.  Some insurances pay for acupuncture, but mine does not.

Here are some links to check out about acupuncture and constipation:

Efficacy of acupuncture for chronic constipation: a systematic review.:  This is an abstract to a positive Chinese study on acupuncture for constipation.

Use acupuncture to treat functional constipation: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial :  Here is a full-text summary of the study protocol for the above-linked study, in case you want to take it to your acupuncturist to see what points were used.  :-)

Acupuncture for functional constipation: protocol of an individual patient data meta-analysis : And here it looks like the British Medical Journal is gearing up to explore acupuncture for functional constipation.

Bottom-line:  Acupuncture definitely seemed to add some motility to my gut.


I will try to wrap up this long story in the next post which will cover things like yoga, acceptance, meditation, getting up early, and my favorite topic–diet.  It seems like a lot of stuff to try–and it is–but I know these things will impact my marriage, my parenting, and my life forever.  Here is a funny thought:  I am a better person because of my constipation.  Oh, my.  Did I just type that?Insane.

I appreciate the comments you’ve all left.  And I like to hear of people doing well and what and who they used to achieve that.  Have a super week.






Slow Guts Need Tenacity

256px-Pieter_Lastman_-_Jonah_and_the_Whale_-_Google_Art_ProjectTenacity.  Word for the day.  Word for a season.  Word for life.  I can hear mom’s voice even now, “Oh, Terrrr-rrrri.  You have a one-track mind.”  She said it like it was a bad thing!  Pshaw.  But, tenacity got her to buy me some black parachute pants; I think it’s restoring my gut too.  I’ve worked very hard to get this gut moving.  Very.  I’ll be laying out all that I can think of that I tried and how I think it affected my gut and me.  There is no ONE thing that worked for my colon regularity and stool consistency.  Geesh.  What would I have to write about if it was that easy?  I’ve turned down more cookies, cakes, and cheese platters than you can even imagine.  I’ve made myself go to bed early more than I’ve ever made my kids go to bed early.  I’ve attacked my gut on all fronts that I can.  Tenacity.

I’m starting out by writing about the supplements I’ve tried.  That does NOT mean that the supplements are the most important.  Just that I’m postponing talking about acupuncture and gargling and chakras.  I’ve already mentioned vitamin K2 in the last post.  These posts will just keep rolling.  So let’s continue.  Don’t use this as medical advice.  It’s my story.  If it gives you ideas to try, talk about them with your doctor.  Be SAFE.


I’ve taken iodine for about two years now. I don’t have much in the way of a reliable iodine source in my diet, so I supplement. Iodine comes to a conventional diet via egg yolks, dairy, seafood, and iodized salt.   Iodine didn’t seem to have any particular impact on MY constipation, although other people have reported to me that when they started taking iodine it did seem to improve their constipation; I experienced other positive benefits from taking iodine. I was able to have my thyroid labs followed to make sure I was safely supplementing. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) causes constipation. I was never categorized as hypothyroid. However, iodine supplementation did slowly drive my TSH down over time, which was medically interesting to watch.

Bottom line for me: Iodine did not seem to make my constipation better, but it helped other things for me. I think that a TSH needs periodically checked and symptoms need closely monitored if a person is going to take iodine.  In case you’re counting, this is the second supplement I take routinely.

Probiotics and Probiotic Foods

I’ve tried dozens of probiotics. Not A DOZEN—but DOZENS. There is no probiotic that makes my motility improve directly. I’ve tried soil based. I’ve tried VSL. I’ve now tried the Japanese kind. I’ve tried Klaire Labs. I’ve tried pickles, pickle juice, sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice and kimchi. I’ve made my own fermented pickles, sauerkraut, and beets. I’ve tried 24 hour homemade yogurt. I’ve tried homemade coconut yogurt. Tenacity.  There is one probiotic source I haven’t tried, but I’d like to try: Mutaflor. It has studies showing it helps constipation. However, it’s only available in certain countries, and the USA isn’t one of them.

Probiotics aren’t the “cure” for my STC.  I’ve tried many kinds, and I’ve tried driving up the doses.  Tenacity.  In fact, for a couple of months this summer, I even stopped probiotics completely!!!!  I suffered no ill GI effects and my gut still moved! Why did I stop them? I think that I have a mild case of small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO).  (Why not test?  1) I already eat a tailored diet.  2) Things are improving.  3)  I’ve tried antibiotics before for it, and it came right back.  And now, I won’t take antibiotics because I’m nursing.  4)  My case isn’t that bad.)  I now waffle between probiotics and no probiotics.

What is SIBO?  This is where the bacteria from the colon track up into the small intestine in larger numbers and/or with different species than those that should be there. It leads to significant bloating, distention, bowel movement changes, fatigue, and other symptoms. There is a dispute in the SIBO arena about whether one should take probiotics with this disorder. Having no vested interest and an open mind, I could see both sides. So since I’d tried probiotics like crazy for years, I thought I’d try without. (Another aside: I have not always had SIBO symptoms. They started at about age 35. I think it was a result of chronic non-movement of my gut.  I think to effectively treat SIBO, a person HAS to address the underlying issues.)

Bottom-line for me: I tried coming off my probiotic. My gut still moved off the probiotic! However, my gut also moved normally for a couple of months before I got pregnant a couple of years ago and I was ON a probiotic. So for my body, I’m not yet sure whether it prefers a probiotic or not.  LOTS of people swear by probiotics for constipation.  I have been trying to utilize normal portions of Bubbie’s pickles, Bubbie’s sauerkraut, and eating my home-grown produce.


Butyrate has kick-started my gut twice in my life now. In 2013, I started taking it after a big dose of magnesium and immediately I had normal bowel movements daily. I then titrated up resistant starch using potato starch (which leads to natural butyrate production) and came off of the butyrate pills. I then titrated up food sources of resistant starch (green bananas, plantains, cooked and cooled potatoes and rice, raw potato and sweet potato sparingly) and stopped the powder forms of resistant starch.

BINGO. I thought I was a diet-controlled constipetic and the story was over! (I always told God I was going to stop blogging when my constipation was cured.  Never tell God what to do or what you think YOU’RE going to do.  Instead, when you hear “Jump.” from the Big Man, you say, “How high?”  Got it?) But I got pregnant in 2013 and I’ve been chasing GI rainbows ever since. Finally, late this summer of 2015, I decided to get back on butyrate. I took a good dose of magnesium to try to propel that butyrate deep into my intestines (just in case that would help, you know).  BAM.  My gut has been doing pretty well since then. Knock on wood. And I’m working on building back up my food sources of resistant starch again and working on other areas I’ll elaborate on through these posts (like stress management, core strength, etc). THIS IS NOT A SIMPLE QUICK-FIX JOURNEY. You want that? Go somewhere else.  Tenacity.

I KNOW butyrate does NOT work for all people. They’ve told me. More people have told me that butyrate did NOT help them than people have told me that butyrate DOES help them. I’d like to also point out that during pregnancy and post-partum, my gut kind of stopped working and I was on high dose magnesium. Butyrate did not work at this time—even though this summer I tried again and it did! This leads me to suspect that hormones play a huge role in constipation—which I already suspected and this simply pounded into my heat that I need to make sure and learn about this (and hopefully write it up too—although I must say the other day in my research, I saw a new review article that was downplaying hormones…).

Many people write to ask what butyrate I take. I simply tell this as part of my story. Listen. I do not support this brand, other than it has worked best for me out of all the ones I’ve tried. I don’t pretend to think this brand or even butyrate will help you. Heck, it may even set YOU back, while it sets me forward.  I use Body Bio Mag-Cal Butyrate 600 mg (two three times daily, usually, but not always with a meal). If you decide to try this, flash it to your doctor so he/she can make sure it’s going to be fine for you. A commenter, Vicki, has noted that Body Bio has received some reprimands. You may read about this by scrolling down to the comments and looking for an interchange between Vicki and me.  Sometimes, I have a strange feeling that some bottles work better than others.  I don’t know, though.  I have NO proof of that.

Bottom-line: Butyrate has some good evidence supporting its role in promoting gut motility.  I have many posts on that in my butyrate series.  Some people have tried it and found that it helped their food intolerances and gut motility. Others have tried it without success—and with a loss of hard earned cash.  If your’e counting, this is the third, and final, supplement that I currently take routinely.

Magnesium (Natural Calm)

What did I take during pregnancy and post-partum when hormones gripped my gut so tightly? I took three tablespoons of Natural Calm magnesium citrate in a tall glass of water nightly–every night. This is WAY too much magnesium. I am well aware that most of us are magnesium deficient, but this is a lot much! One electrolyte at a high dose is not good for the other electrolytes and their balances.  So even though this got things moving (diarrhea), this is not a good place to live for the rest of my life if I can help it.  Tenacity.

I tried some different forms of magnesium because the taste of this, although the unflavored is really okay, is becoming repulsive after four years or so of using it. The other forms, both topical and oral types of magnesium, just don’t work. And Epsom salts bath, although relaxing, don’t do anything at all for my GI.  This is the only brand of magnesium that has worked for me.  Again, I’ve no vested interest in this supplement, and I’m not saying it will work for you.

At my best right before pregnancy and also the last two months now, I was able to get off of the magnesium.  I still had/have to use it about once a week, and usually at a much lower dose– a heaping tablespoon.  But I only use it when I skip a day or things are too hard.

Bottom-line: Calm magnesium citrate now can keep my gut going (although with diarrhea) through thick and thin. Before I changed my eating and lifestyle four years ago, high dose magnesium did not work. So the fact that it works is great! But I still want off of it entirely! I am currently down to about once a week.  So I guess, if you are a nickel and dime counter, we would call this 3 and 1/2 regular supplements—since I only have to take it as needed and this only about once a week now.


I am going to stop now.  I have LOTS more to say.  You will be so bored by the time I finish.  You’ll think I talk and think about nothing but moving GI tracts. But, finish I will.  Tenacity.  Get those parachute pants.


Click here for Slow Guts Need Care, the first post in this series.


Slow Guts Need Care

“Colectomy rates for constipation are rising, are associated with significant morbidity and do not decrease resource utilisation, raising questions about the true benefit of surgery for slow transit constipation… (1)”

Whew!  From second chakras to acupuncture to triphala, I have been taking this alternative medicine front by storm to cure my slow gastrointestinal (GI) transit.  If all conventional medicine has to offer is a colectomy, then there is no shame in yoga and Squatty Potties.  Where do I stand?  Pretty good.  Pretty good.  Not yet cured.  Definitely have some ups and downs, but overall, my gut has totally reversed itself.  Knock on stinking wood.  Or incense sticks–or something–just so my gut doesn’t fall back again.  (Which those with this problem know is quite easily possible.)

Constipation isn’t talked about.  But it should be.  Colons are cut out because of it (seriously–see opening quote).  And people go to the ER for it (quite embarrassing, quite).  Not to mention hemorrhoids and anal fissures and horrible cramping (ouch).  Sometimes all it takes is simple diet maneuvers to get things back on track.  Other times, like in my case, it takes exploring your sanity and motivation.  (For the record, I am completely sane.  I ask my husband and friends every day.  Although I question some of my friends–so maybe you ought to wonder about me…Which brings me to the necessary disclaimer that this is only my story.  It is not medical advice.  You should absolutely discuss anything you try for your health with your doctor.  I am not your doctor.  I quit that jazz for Oz and its Munchkins.)

My History

I’m going to take a few posts to lay out what I do or have tried for my slow transit.  Let me briefly get you up to speed on my gut history.  I’ve had constipation all of my life.  As long as I can remember.  It worsened, just like the medical texts said it would, every decade of my life.  Until I was pooping once a month WITH Miralax, fiber, and a probiotic.  (Magnesium simply did not work at all.)  This was about age 35, and I had to start cranking on the stimulant medicines (which until this point I had only used as needed for the most part).  Not only was this ineffective, the high doses led to ouchy cramping.  I knew something else had to be done, so I turned to the halls of the internet clinic (because my doctors didn’t have any good answers for me–I mean, how could they?  I didn’t have any for myself!) after I quit working to homeschool my kids and I had “time.”

Now I must say, there have been three times, each lasting a mere few months, in my life where I have had what I feel are completely normal people bowel movements with little to no use of supplemental pills or powders. Once in my twenties after being treated for ulcer type symptoms with a PrevPac (involves amoxicillin and clarithromycin). Second time was two years ago just before getting pregnant.  Pregnancy and lactation proceeded to undo the hard-earned success I had achieved using diet, lifestyle changes, and focused supplementation. Finally, the third time I feel my gut has been reliable has been the last few months.  So, here I am with about daily Bristol 4 stools.  I’ll admit, I’m nervous going to bed each night, wondering, “Will I go tomorrow?”  Thinking the next day will be the beginning of the end of my GI success.  Unless you have a very bad problem with constipation, you may simply just not get this.   But I’m hoping if that’s you, I lost you at the first paragraph.

Getting to the Details

I have tried A LOT of stuff.  Since pregnancy and nursing, it has been focused on things that are safe to my baby.  I am still nursing, so I am still careful about what I try.  Let’s get started with more of my story.  There is a lot to write, and I will break it up.  If you have severe constipation and you expect a quick-fix, you may need to reset your expectations.

I am going to start with the supplements I take or have taken.  Some I don’t even take for the constipation, but I have to wonder about the role they play in my gut progress.  I only have room to cover vitamin K2 in this post.  MUCH more to come.  And, please, supplements really need to pass the approval of your doctor.

Vitamin K2

Briefly about:  Vitamin K2 is a relatively recent health-related discovery. It helps shuttle calcium where it’s supposed to go, whether we’re talking about shuttling it TO the bones or shuttling OUT of the heart blood vessels where it doesn’t belong. Getting enough vitamin K2 in our modern diet is tough for anyone because our meat, egg and dairy sources are not eating what they would eat if turned out of the pen. Vitamin K2 is present in the egg yolks of birds who eat worms, seeds, and other things they peck at in nature; the fat of grass-grazing animals; liver; and the milk-fat products of grass-grazing animals (butter and full-fat milk). It is also formed by bacterial action on milk-fat when cheese is being made or by bacterial action when natto (from soybeans) is being made. One last rich source is fish eggs. Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin, and therefore likes to be in fat and is best absorbed when eaten with fat.

My story:  I started taking vitamin K2 because I realized with my dairy and egg intolerance, I was not getting any K2 to support my bones, blood vessels, and gums/teeth. (Vitamin K2 plays a large role in the structure and health of the oral region.) (Aside:  Vitamin K2 is supplemented in conventional chickens and so it is a source of vitamin K2; I strangely can’t eat chicken either.) I don’t know if vitamin K2 has helped my STC or not as an individual agent. However, it is a supplement I have taken daily for the last four months or so.

Is there research that may lend itself to the idea that vitamin K2 may be helping my gut move forward? I found an abstract in which bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) helped improve slow transit constipation. Vitamin K2 does impact BMP 2:

Mol Med Rep. 2015 Nov;12(5):6547-54. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2015.4297. Epub 2015 Sep 7. Bone morphogenetic protein 2 regulates the differentiation of nitrergic enteric neurons by modulating Smad1 signaling in slow transit constipation. Liu X1, Liu S2, Xu Y3, Liu X4, Sun D1.


And then here is a connection linking vitamin K2’s effect on BMP 2, a vitamin K dependent protein:

Oman Med J. 2014 May; 29(3): 172–177. doi: 10.5001/omj.2014.44PMCID: PMC4052396. Vitamin K Dependent Proteins and the Role of Vitamin K2 in the Modulation of Vascular Calcification: A Review. Margueritta S. El Asmar,1 Joseph J. Naoum,2 and Elias J. Arbid2,*

Bottom line for me: Vitamin K2 modulates BMP2. BMP2 may help slow transit constipation. MAYBE my vitamin K2 supplement is helping my slow transit. (Big question mark.)


Next post will have lots more.  It’s a long, long story.  Eat right.  Sleep right.  Look up the second chakra.  Love your gut.  Question your sanity.  Keep going.  :-)




  1.  Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Dec;42(11-12):1281-93. doi: 10.1111/apt.13415. Epub 2015 Oct 1. Colectomy for constipation: time trends and impact based on the US Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 1998-2011. Dudekula A1, Huftless S2, Bielefeldt K1,3.