Dairy-Free, Dye-Free Fall Frosting

91vwsqbattl-_sy679_A little natural Halloween pearl for the curious, adventurous baker.

If you need to color some frosting a rich yellow or orange without artificial food coloring, try a dab or two of red palm shortening–and you’ll also pack in a smidge of vitamin E.

You’ll have to be willing to play with it though. My family made some cut-out cookies for our pumpkin carving night last week. I mixed together for the frosting: Spectrum “All Vegetable” palm shortening at room temperature (this is white and is not truly “vegetable shortening,” but palm shortening), powdered sugar, vanilla, and a dab of Nutiva’s red palm oil (which is a solid at room temperature) for color.

The ratios depend on how thick you’d like your frosting, how sweet, and the color you’re aiming for. My ratio was approximately 1 cup of Spectrum’s (white) “all vegetable” palm shortening to 1 cup of powdered sugar to 1 teaspoon of vanilla to about 2 tablespoons of red palm oil. All estimates. It will need played with. Taste as you add more red palm oil so that you don’t pick up any unwanted off-flavors associated with unrefined red palm oil. Mix with an electric mixer. This could be thinned by adding your choice of alternative milk.

Please note that there is controversy regarding palm-derived oils and the destructive clearing of land for palm plantations and displacement and endangerment of native animals.

Sustainable palm products do not completely eliminate these issues, but it is an important step at preserving land and animals while continuing the livelihood of the local people who rely on production.

I hope you all have a great weekend.



Can I Get That Banana in Pill Form?

YOU THINK YOU EAT vegetables, fruits, and plant matter just to get your daily dose of vitamin C or folate? Perhaps so, but since you can get those from vitamins and supplements, why go to the pain of cooking when you could pop a pill? Goodness, even boxed donuts are fortified with iron and B vitamins! So vegetables, fruits, and plant matter that nobody really wants to eat seem senseless anyhow.


No way.

Interruption: Thank you SO much to Molly Green Magazine for giving me a spot to share the medical value of eating real, whole food. My article here you’re reading today ran to help provide an alternative viewpoint to a ketogenic diet article running in the same issue. I just love that the editor loves to keep things balanced! And for the record, I absolutely see a place for ketogenic diets, but I am very wary of protecting the microbiome too.

In addition to my article, this quarter of Molly Green Magazine features articles on “Aquaponics: A Fishy Business,” “Duck Egg Delights,” “Strawesome: An Alternative to Plastic,” “SEO: The Key to Growing a Business,” and “Help! My Homeschool Teen is Being a Pain”—and other fascinating topics for exceptionally curious minds! Check it out! 

Bacteria and Macaroni and Cheese

You can’t have the easy way out! Nice try. The real reason to eat plant matter is for the trillions of bacteria living within you. It sounds strange, but our intestines are perfectly designed to function in sync with billions of bacteria living and giving inside of us—as long as we feed them properly. Unfortunately, the processed foods that we rely on, such as most breakfast cereals, macaroni and cheese, most store-bought bread, crackers, and pizza (and certainly white sugar), do not make it to the lower part of the intestines where these bacteria live. We are starving out some exceptionally friendly, essential bacteria that we need for our health.

The Case of the Missing Fiber

Those essential bacteria need fiber. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you loftily say. “I’ve heard of fiber. I eat lots of oatmeal and salads.”

No. That won’t cut it. It’s not enough. There’s one type of fiber that was naturally included in traditional, healthy cultures which is virtually absent in today’s civilized, processed diet. It’s called resistant starch. Yes, you’re reading correctly; the fiber that you need and probably are not getting is a form of starch. It’s not broken down by the body to be absorbed like other starch is (and thus you don’t get all those calories), so it makes its way to where the bacteria live in your colon.

When the bacteria there eat this resistant starch, they make beneficial, natural substances that bathe the colon cells and reduce colon cancer. However, the bacteria’s by-products also work to fight diabetes, boost the functioning of the brain (perhaps decreasing dementia), soothe the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and support a healthy metabolism. In fact, this kind of “fiber” is so important food companies are researching ways to add it to your food!

But there’s no need to wait and get it from a box or modified plant. Of course not. Real food always wins! Get the benefits of resistant starch and its power without spending any extra money on your food bill and without your family giving you dirty looks. I mean, they eat rice, potatoes, and bananas, don’t they? Yes! You’re in business. Health is on the way. If you want to get fancy, green peas, lentils, beans, and plantains can be added to the mix.

The Value of Leftovers

Wait. This is too good. You know there has to be a catch. Well, there is a small one. Resistant starch is a bit fussy and might go away as a food ripens or when a food is cooked, at least when it’s cooked and hot the first time around. It’s related to some fascinating physical chemistry. Although Grandma didn’t know the physical chemistry, when she served leftovers or made a potato salad, bean salad, or rice salad, she was serving resistant starch.

For potatoes, resistant starch is available in raw potatoes, but most people don’t like those too well. (Did you know that despite what people say, eating raw potatoes is not toxic? Green potatoes are potentially toxic, and cooking does not inactivate the toxin.) Cooking potatoes changes the resistant starch to available starch, which is nearly all absorbed so your gut bacteria don’t get any food. However, cooling the cooked potato in the refrigerator re-forms resistant starch. Eat the potatoes cold (as in potato salad) or reheating them up at this point still preserves the resistant starch.

When it comes to cooked rice, cooling it down also allows resistant starch to form; fresh, hot, cooked rice has little to no resistant starch. Lentils and beans (especially navy beans) contain some available resistant starch when cooked, but they will also form more as they cool down in the refrigerator, too. Grains, nuts, and seeds contain some resistant starch, but potatoes, green bananas and plantains, and legumes contain more. As for bananas and plantains, resistant starch is found in green fruits. As the fruit yellows, the starch becomes plain starch which feeds you more than your bacteria.

It’s Not about Roughage

For people who are on low-carbohydrate diets, such as for weight loss, diabetes, or to control other health conditions, it is vitally important to eat fiber, including resistant starch.

Unfortunately, when people think of “fiber,” they think of “roughage.” It is so much more than the “rough” matter in the vegetables and fruits we need! The roughage may be the least important part because the bacteria do not create beneficial substances from it! If our gut bacteria are not fed properly, the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract can be compromised, the colon cells will not receive the beneficial substances formed by the bacteria, and the rest of the body’s functions will be affected.

It’s a little confusing how bacteria living in our digestive tracts can affect the neurons and myelin sheaths in our brains—or how they can regulate our blood sugars and body size. But research is proving this to be true, and science is backpedaling as it realizes how far off base we have gotten in our modern eating habits.

A diet rich in whole, real plant matter feeds us not only our vitamins and minerals, but also feeds our gut bacteria important substances like resistant starch. Maybe health doesn’t come in a pill after all. Eat whole. Eat real.


Hypoallergenic Food

Listen, you’ve heard the term hypoallergenic as it relates to your jewelry, your skin care products, and your laundry detergent, but have you ever thought about the food you eat? Have you ever thought about if what you eat is hypoallergenic? No, no. NOT sterile. Hypoallergenic doesn’t mean sterile!

You don’t blink an eye when a friend says, “Oh, I can’t wear cheap earrings. My ears get sore.” You get that! We can all relate to people needing hypoallergenic jewelry or skin products. But have you ever thought about the food you eat and whether or not it’s hypoallergenic to your system?

Yes, indeed! Just like these external substances can lead to immune reactions, so can the food you eat! However, the food you eat leads to a chain reaction of internal immune system activation that doesn’t just sit right there at the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

You have immune cells lining the intestines which sample the foods you eat and decide whether or not they like it. Whether you like the food doesn’t matter. Whether the food you eat is healthy or not doesn’t matter. If the immune cells sample it and don’t like it, they are going to send out signals (histamines, prostaglandins, interleukins, interferons, and other cytokine signals) in the blood stream which can affect any organ system in your body: you stomach, your brain, your skin, your reproductive system, your lungs, your connective tissue (joints, as an example), your thyroid.

My Oligoantigenic (What!?!?) Diet

When I first started down this fascinating nutrition avenue a little over four years ago (from a classic diet of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pizza or pasta for supper), one of the first things I learned about and tried was an “oligoantigenic diet.” I had read that some people with the same gastrointestinal malady that I suffered from had been treated in a medical research study with an oligoantigenic diet!

What in tarnation is an oligoantigenic diet? I’d never heard of that! Basically, it is a strict, hypoallergenic diet that allows only foods which are accepted to be very mild on the body’s immune system. Once I figured out that I could think of an oligoantigenic diet as a type of “hypoallergenic” diet, I got it! Choose foods which cause the least known reactions! For those of you familiar with a strict elimination diet, you know what I’m talking about here too.

So I started on a (miserable) diet consisting of three foods which don’t seem to rile up people’s immune systems too much: lamb (I didn’t even like lamb), plain sweet potato (I had only ever eaten those as fries), and white rice (which I had never eaten plain). Did I mention it tasted miserable? But persistence led me on a food journey of a lifetime (for a lifetime).  And as I’ve heard it said, “I didn’t know I was feeling so bad till I started feeling so good!”

An oligoantigenic diet (or hypoallergenic diet) is NOT meant to be a long-term diet. A person starts with a small group of 3-5 foods and builds from there, learning to observe signs and symptoms that tell him or her that a particular food category raises immune reactions (by observing for headaches, GI changes, spikes in fatigue, skin rashes, and other clues).

The Pesky Foods

Never once going through pharmacy school, medical school, residency, and hundreds of hours of continuing education did I ever hear about a hypoallergenic, oligoantigenic diet or even an anti-inflammatory diet. (I was served plenty of donuts, bagels with cream cheese, and pizza, though.) It took me going after my own health to learn about nutrition.

Since my oligoantigenic diet, I’ve done a lot more reading. What I’ve found is that the same foods that doctors KNOW are immune provoking because they cause true, life- threatening food allergies, are the same foods that can be removed to lighten the load of a body stressed by health problems. By removing known immune-provoking, inflammmatory-producing foods, the body gets a rest from the prostaglandins, histamine, interleukins, interferons, and other cytokines that it makes in response to something it thinks is harmful.

Although any food can cause allergic and sensitivity issues, there are eight foods that are medically known to cause the majority of the reactions. Why? These foods have what I call “pesky proteins.” They have proteins in them that have very, very strong bonds, making them difficult for our digestive tracts to break down. The better food is broken down into its smallest parts in our intestinal tracts, the less inflammatory it is to us.

The pesky eight foods are:

Tree nuts
Milk products

These are the common drop-dead if you eat them allergenic foods. But I’m not talking about drop-dead allergies here. I’m talking about you and me and Mr. Smith walking around with headaches, bloating, fussy guts, allergies, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, depression, fatigue, puffy eyelids, puffy faces, coronary artery disease, increasing forgetfulness, dry and itchy eyes, chronic sinus problems, joint pain–do I HAVE to keep going? I sure can. Sometimes by simply eliminating the above food categories (with NO cheating), a person can gauge how much food is affecting their health.

Enter Anti-Inflammatory Diets

Since trying my three ingredient, hypoallergenic diet, I’ve discovered a whole world of anti-inflammatory type diets, which aren’t as strict as an oligoantigenic (hypoallergenic) diet. I find it fascinating that these diets often eliminate the Pesky Eight foods, capitalizing on what we know about the immune system and health! However, anti-inflammatory type diets incorporate and expand further on the idea of the immune system and inflammation in the role of health problems.

Each named anti-inflammatory diet (sometimes called autoimmune diets) has its own unique quirks. In general, though, these diets do three things.

  1. Eliminate most of the Pesky Eight foods (although seafood is usually encouraged if a person knows they are not truly allergic) and a few other problematic foods which don’t make the top eight. (Things like corn, any gluten grains, beef, chocolate, citrus, tomato, and beans)
  2. Eliminate processed foods, refined foods, including sugars.
  3. Include abundant vegetables and fruits.

Anti-inflammatory diets (autoimmune diets) seek to eliminate the most common food problem causers and also try to bring in food problem solvers.


Diets in general can be overwhelming, and when they talk about restricting food groups, diets can be downright terror-provoking. As I’ve journeyed away from an oligoantigenic elimination diet, my own diet landed very similarly to many of these anti-inflammatory type diets. It wasn’t by choice and planning. That’s just how it fell. I can’t eat many of the Pesky Eight foods and feel good doing so. My body likes hypoallergenic food best.

I hear a lot of people say that no good diet restricts food groups. I really, really understand what they’re saying. However, LOOK AT THE PESKY EIGHT! They are good, healthy foods!!!!! But if the GI tract immune system triggers a cascade that sets the rest of the body on edge, you’re not going to feel good.

So please, when someone says they can’t eat dairy or wheat, give them a break. When they say they can’t eat eggs or beef, give them a nod. It’s just as frustrating for them as it is you. And if you have any nagging health problems, talk with your doctor about a dietary referral to see if an oligoantigenic food trial helps you gain control of any of your issues.

Don’t use anything on my site as medical guidance or instruction. I hope it sparks curiosity to help you want to learn more. And, oh yes, I like to think that for most people, autoimmune type diets can be expanded with a whole health approach.

Be well. Be curious.


A Letter To My Kids About Food

Dear Kids,

I love you so much. I see all the amazing things you are going to do and all the amazing people that you, as amazing people, are going to touch. I see all the brilliant, creative, and even practical ideas that you daily produce and will continue to produce for yourselves and the world. You are each precious to my heart. I often wonder how God can love each one of us human beings as special entities–and yet none more special than the next–and here, in my heart, I feel a meager bit of that bottomless capability. When compared to each other, you are each so different, but in my heart, you are loved with the same love.

What I want for you is to live boldly and freely, living up to your potential. Over the last four years, I have learned that for me to do so I must eat a real, whole food diet adjusted for some food sensitivities I have picked up (or maybe I was born with, I don’t know). You know how persistent I have been in keeping our diets clean, real, and whole. I do this because I see the effects it has on our allergies, our headaches, our stomach aches, our bowel control, our joint aches, our asthma, our skin rashes, our immune systems, and even our moods and concentration.

In essence, I persevere because I know now that what we all eat contributes to how well we can participate in life. And I want you all in.

Dear daughters, I want to tell you what I have told myself as I feed you to go do your work in life. Maybe it will help you when you have your own kids. Maybe it will help you now.


    Encourage and provide tons of vegetables and fruits.

Pay attention to which ones the kids like and how they like them prepared, making sure to keep those in the food line-up, while introducing new ones to stretch the taste buds.

Make it a goal to not buy pre-packaged foods. Give extra effort to buy whole foods without labels.  

I’ll admit we almost never reach our goal of “no labels,” but having this goal makes us very aware of our purchases and motivates us all to read labels. I love it when you pick up something packaged, and then put it down, saying, “Oh, we can make this. We don’t need to buy it.”

Don’t keep a lot of snack foods on hand other than nuts, vegetables, and fruit (seaweed is fun too), but respect kids’ needs for snacks.

I know the human liver was designed to certainly give three to four hours’ worth of glucose streaming in with no trouble. Perpetual snacks are not necessary in a healthy individual doing regular activities. However, sometimes, lunch was too small. Or supper not to the liking. Or volleyball camp consumed extra energy. Or friends are over. You name it. A well-placed snack is a good snack. But constant, mindless snacking is no good for the body.

Most kids like sweet stuff.

I’ve noticed you eat much better overall when you don’t feel deprived. I’ve also noticed you love a good smelling kitchen. Keeping you on track is easier when I prepare a dessert or sweet every now and then. How often? I honestly can’t say. I watch cues, and I know.

On vacations and certain occasions, step out of the way, letting kids enjoy the moment and the time with family and friends with abandon.

Sure, in the long haul, if a kid never ate ice cream or birthday cake or drank a soda pop, it’d be healthier. And there are probably some kids who will strike that path because of their parents’ rules. Then, there are kids who will just sneak it. Eat it with guilt and shame. Or break free at 18 from all the confinements. You can lie to your parents, but you can’t lie to the body. So eat some, then let it rest. For most people (not all), the body can handle an occasional gluttonous feast.

Do not equate food with body size or self-image. At the most basic level, food is eaten for the body to work right. (Most of the people we love most aren’t skinny.)

It seems like no matter what, somehow, everyone wants to bring it back to size and fat and how you look. I’d be lying if I said society doesn’t care about that. I try not to lie to you. But think about it. Most of the people we love the most aren’t skinny, so love and skinny can’t be equated. (It’s okay, you skinny friends. We adore you too!) Function is the most important, and whole, real food provides nutrition to keep those we love hiking and walking with us—and the processed foods keep them from doing exactly that.

Model real, whole food eating as a parent.

     Sometimes, you just have to say no.

One pediatrician I trained with always told parents, “If they’re told ‘no’ at 2, they’ll accept it at 16.”

I’ll tell you, once Halloween hits, the sugar bliss doesn’t want to stop until after Easter. I’ve seen the effects of all that stuff on your skin, stomachs, and noses. Sometimes, I have to be the meanie and say no.

Realize that even “healthy” things aren’t healthy for all people.

Food sensitivities are everywhere. For some, dairy is very health-promoting; for others, it flares up asthma. For some, whole grains lead to great energy; for others, grains, including whole grains, lead to listlessness and headaches. Sometimes, a parent will tend to think that how they eat is best, which may not actually be best for everyone, including their children. You know that I have a daughter who thrives on meat. I have another who doesn’t. Forcing one into one pattern and the other into another pattern could be highly detrimental to your lifelong eating patterns and health. Best to encourage you all to keep it real, not processed, and as fresh as possible, with awareness of food sensitivities.

     Teach what you know in the kitchen about cooking and actually talk about nutrition.

Life is not about food. It’s about living with your whole heart.




When Homeschooling Goes Bad

sign_slow_15_mph_000_0080Is your homeschool havin’ a bad, bad day? Every day? I’m not going to say it’s okay or that you should just be calm and relax about it. I don’t relax much about anything. Ha! No way! I’m a constant problem solver.

But I am going to say, “You’re not alone!” Oooh, doesn’t that feel nice? You’re not alone! I’ve had my share of bad homeschooling days. All of last year was a bad homeschooling dream. I remember Googling homeschooling blogs to see what other moms did when they had a toddler underfoot. What I walked away with was, “It’s okay, Sugar. Your kids will learn. Being together, happily singing, babysitting, and doing housework is more important than fretting.”

Just like I can’t sit with too many bad homeschooling days, neither can I chill like that. Here’s my top five suggestions for dealing with a homeschool gone bad.

1. Change up the curriculum: It’s not “the best” curriculum, but it works for us.

Who has TIME to use Susan Wise Bauer’s First Language Lessons? Or Charlotte Mason’s “living books” idea to teach?  I think it was another life (the vision is cloudy, but more like ten lives ago, actually) when I cozied up on the couch with two little angels (er, maybe it was another universe) flanking me on either side to read aloud. Twenty lives ago we used to cut and paste crafts and lapbooks. Maybe that wasn’t me at all! Maybe that was some pretty dream I had thirty lives ago!

With four kids, our curriculum needs have changed. Whether I like it or not, whether the kids like it or not, we have to move towards each child, young ones included (you should see our baby clean toilets!), doing more independent work. I feel like some of my homeschooling ideals have been compromised because I teach less, but since my top ideal is a lifelong love of learning, we’re safe. That’s intact.

I’ve had to mostly ditch my self-designed, teacher led spelling curriculum for my third daughter, who is an exceptionally motivated young student. My choice? An Evan Moore spelling workbook. Is it “the best” workbook? No. Is it “the best” spelling program? No. Will she be a fine speller? Yes. And I don’t have time to do all that spelling jazz, nor does she need me to.

We’ve ditched Institute for Excellence in Writing for a time, maybe a very long time. I just couldn’t get read up on the lessons anymore to assign them their work. So I found some journal writing prompts on-line and now they write these several times a week, while I check it for grammar. It’s my Institute for Sanity in Writing.  (Interestingly enough, this has been lots of fun! Their creativity has taken off, and they often let me be privy to some very deep, personal thoughts and dreams!)

Other things I’ve done in our curriculum include: not trying to do too much grammar and writing at the same time, taking breaks from Saxon math for focused worksheets, covering less subjects at a time.

2. Put your third hand down: The phone. The phone. The phone is on fire.

The phone. The phone. The phone. You know it. I know it. We’re both looking sheepish. The phone must go. Set it on “do not disturb” and check it at set times each day. Yes, it feels good to be needed. It is fun to get hot news off the press. Heart lifting to hear from an old friend. But I’m pretty sure the phone has killed more grooving homeschool lessons than there are dust mites in my pillow. (That’s a lot. Since we have allergies, we use dust mite protective cases, wash them on sanitize, and dry them on hot. Unrelated. Sorry. My husband says I always share too much information…but maybe it will help you?)

3. Schedule appointments in the afternoon: “No. I can’t come to that appointment! Do you have a three o’clock?”

I’ve finally accepted that any appointments need to be in the afternoon. That was bitter for me to swallow, because I like to get the early appointments when the doctor may still be on schedule. I thought by getting the appointment in the morning, we’d get it over with and school would rock on. It never happened that way. I’ve found it best to keep our morning schedule (that’s when we do “the hard stuff”) the same and fiddle with the afternoon schedule. School goes well that way, and we get our appointments in.

4. Find some childcare or housework help: “Get the baby off the top of the refrigerator!”

Last year, I struggled through the year with a toddler. It was not a new experience for me. I have four kids; I’ve taught with a toddler underfoot before! Of course, I didn’t like it then either, BUT at least then I was not trying to teach algebra, long division, and more advanced writing skills.

My toddler can be so loud and obstinate when she knows what she wants. And she wanted her sisters! This didn’t work well for my distractible child, who couldn’t focus with the toddler’s screaming, or my bleeding heart child, who hated to hear the screaming from the pack-and-play (where the toddler goes when she won’t stop fussing). I just couldn’t win.

It wasn’t working. Not for me. Not for the kids. Not for the toddler. So I got help this school year. I know we can’t all afford help, but any help will do. If you can find a way for someone to keep the toddler busy so you can teach the others for even an hour without an interruption, you’ll feel so much better! A woman from church? Another homeschooling pre-teen? Swapping kids back and forth with a homeschooling friend; she takes your littles one day so you can teach the bigs and vice versa. Or even having someone come in and do a load of laundry for you or prep some meals.

With the help, our school is feeling nice again. I actually have time to print off some worksheets from the internet. I have time to write down a lesson plan. I have time to drill flashcards. If you can, get help. Then, you can breathe. Breathing helps. Breathing is good. Trust me. (And here you’ve been wondering why you’d been feeling so bad…🙂 )

5. Get some real help: You can’t do it alone and there’s a lot at stake!

Sometimes, more than you need help with laundry or impetuous, climbing, dangerous-to-themselves toddlers, you need help understanding and relating to one of your emerging older children. The anger outbursts, the seemingly laziness, the insolence–it’s overwhelming you and completely impeding learning. (Read here and here and here for my take on dealing with adolescents. Oh, and here when they say they hate you…)

Sure, sending them away to school is an option. It’s the option of least resistance, which does NOTHING to change coping mechanisms that are being set FOR LIFE.  Or does nothing to change your mechanisms which have been set and need changed so your family can live harmoniously together. As much as we like our friends and we need them, it is the family unit which all so much crave to have intact and at peace.

Don’t be afraid to get professional counsel. Alcoholics, borderlines, depressives, manic depressives, abusive adults—they don’t happen overnight. They happen with the pressures of life. Give yourself and your kids a chance to learn new coping skills when you see they’re needed. Ask a pastor or counselor for professional help!


You can do it! I ran out of time for more, but leave your best tips in the comments for others to learn from!

And also, if you decide you simply can’t do it, then don’t be silly and beat yourself up! There are tons of things you can do that I can’t! It’s what makes life fun! Do your best and learn when to let go! Now, go hug your kids today. Mine are milling in the kitchen, so I’m off this box!


Image credit: This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Betacommand. Found on Wikipedia.

Cleaning the Kitchen

398px-gray_vacuum_cleaner-svgCleaning up your health (and life) is like cleaning up the kitchen.

If my kitchen is a disastrous trash-dump mess, and I only unload the dishwasher, is the kitchen clean?


If I proceed to sweep the hair and crumbs off the floor but leave the watermelon sticky-juice, is it clean then?


Well, what if I wipe the bacon grease off the stove top, too? Then is it clean? I mean, come on! I have swept the floor, unloaded the dishwasher, and now the stove top is clean.

How much more must I do?

Counters? Tables and chairs? Mop? The inside of the refrigerator? Sort through those bills and catalogs I’m never really ever going to look at?

Gee. Slave driver. I’d hate to live with you.

Deep Cleaning

People frequently tell me, “I’m trying so hard, and I just can’t [insert phrase such as lose weight, feel happy, be nice to my husband].”


Think of the kitchen. Have you “cleaned the kitchen?”

When it comes to something you really want, you can leave no stone unturned. No refrigerator door left unopened. No backsplash unwiped. The kitchen isn’t really clean till you’ve opened every cupboard, wiped down each sticky light switch face plate, put the shoes all away.

If you’ve not reached your health goals (or life goals), then ask yourself, “Is my kitchen really clean?” Is there an area I’m leaving unchallenged?

Sleep. Check.
Eating vegetables and fruits. Check.
Avoiding sugar and processed foods. Check.
Outdoor activity. Check.
Strong relationships. Check.
Forgiveness of yourself. Forgiveness of others. Check.
Minimizing alcohol and caffeine. (And cigarettes and other substances Mother Teresa might frown on.) Check.
Acceptance of an area in your life. Check.
Sunshine and fresh air daily. Check.
Getting your sweat up every now and then. Check.
Taking alone time daily if needed. Check.
Minimizing your schedule. Check.

And so on.

Warning: The Closet Effect

Don’t get sidelined by the closet effect.

Sometimes, as changes are made, things feel temporarily worse. It’s like when you clean out the closet. (I know it’s time to clean a closet when things fall on my head. You know that feeling when everything in your house seems to be falling on your head? I hate that feeling.)

Have you ever cleaned a closet and torn everything out of it? There are piles all over the place, and somehow, cleaning the closet made THE WHOLE HOUSE a mess! How does that happen? Some things to Goodwill. Some things to your sister. Some things to the trash. (Ooh, I’ll keep this Def Leppard tee-shirt.)

In order to REALLY clean the closet, you’re guaranteed to make a bigger mess. Guaranteed. Why in the heck did you decide to clean the closet, stupid? (Because of that breathless sense that makes your heart sing when you open the door, not to chaos, but to competency and efficiency and order.)

So when the going gets hard, when you feel like you fix one thing only to have another break, don’t despair! Slowly, like a gutted closet or a nasty fridge, things will come around if you persist and seek the right things.

When it comes to health, the body cleans out a closet, only to make a mess downstream. So you have to help it out in that area too. It’s like tailoring a suit to fit you. Nip and tuck.

Norwex Power To You

Today, whatever it is, I encourage you to not give up. Motivation. Attitude. They count. They are truly the difference between success and failure. As you move through challenges in your diet, life, exercise plans, relationships, look for those little areas you can clean up a little.

Then, scrub on. (Anyone use those Norwex cleaning cloths?)

Keep it whole. Keep it real. Keep it simple.


Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gray_vacuum_cleaner.svg




A Real Fiber Challenge

256px-annibale_carracci_the_beaneaterI have just completed the most fascinating 30 day food experiment. Well, actually, my husband and kids requested that I cut it short at 29 days, so it was actually just a mere 29 days. I’ve read that what we eat affects our brain, and I believe it, but during this “30 day” experiment, I lived it! It was very uncomfortable, like how I picture walking around hypo-manic would feel.


My goal was to eat 50 grams of fiber from real, whole foods, supplementing if I had to with supplemental powders for 30 days. Nothing was counted except fiber grams, and only those as listed in a nutrition facts count on any given internet site or on any given label. No resistant starch was included to get me to the 50 gram mark, so I am sure with resistant starch included, I was definitely exceeding 50 grams of fiber daily.


I realized very quickly how hard getting 50 grams of real, whole food fiber was going to be, and that my normally vegetable rich diet wasn’t going to get me but less than half of 50 grams! THAT was a SHOCKER!  I love red cabbage and broccoli, but at 2 grams of fiber a cup, I couldn’t eat enough of that stuff to get me anywhere close to 50 grams! (Most fruit is the same way! About 2-3 grams per cup!)

I didn’t have a set list of foods. I just looked for the highest fiber counts I could. What did I eat all month?

  • Beans about daily
  • Avocado about daily
  • Chia about daily
  • Bananas very commonly
  • Sweet corn in season
  • 100% whole grain/seed buckwheat, quinoa, and seed-based soaked and fermented homemade bread
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Flax
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Peas
  • Dried fruit: figs, apricots, dates
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Berries
  • Plantains
  • Sauerkraut
  • Peanut butter
  • Cocoa powder/cacao nibs
  • Bulleted list is getting too long: Broccoli, red cabbage, kale, cabbage, cilantro, parsley, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, rice


Appetite: After my mid-morning 25 grams breakfast/brunch of the above foods, I was not hungry. The first week I had pretty intense cravings for sweets, but these calmed down by week two. By week two throughout week four, I was NOT hungry. Nothing sounded good. It was hard to cook for my family because nothing sounded good. I just wanted to hand them more beans and say, “Supper’s ready!” I forced myself to eat more because I wanted to try to hit the 50 gram mark. I literally couldn’t do it. So about every night I had to top off with about 10 grams of chia seed or inulin powder.

Weight: I started with my appetite rather than my weight because some people will find the weight gain disturbing. I started at about 138 pounds, and I ended up at about 146 pounds. I believe my weight went up because I forced myself to eat. Had I let my eating follow my appetite, the numbers may have been different. HOWEVER, my husband gained 5 pounds this month! This is one reason he feels he gets a veto on any diet I experiment on myself (and subsequently my family) with. He didn’t like the high fiber diet. Isn’t that strange he gained weight? I thought so!

Endocrine: My two-hour postprandials ran in the 90s. This is where they ran before this experiment as well.

Neurological: Three days into the diet I developed a severe headache which didn’t go away until on about day four I took an Aleve. I used to take Aleve about three times a week before I changed my diet (four years ago). I now take it maybe once or twice a year. Also, by the third day, brain fogginess and tiredness had set in.

I could have tossed all this onto a stressful life heap, but what was new was a tremor! By about the third day, I developed a fine tremor which made buttoning buttons difficult. I just felt tremulous throughout. The tremor lasted until about week three, when it slowly receded. In this time, I tried changing my coffee, because it felt like you feel when you have too much coffee.

Psychological: Flat. Flat. Flat. Edgy. Edgy. Edgy. Go. Go. Go. OCD. OCD. OCD. Forgetful. Forgetful. Forgetful. (Because I literally felt like my mind was on speed.) My kids wanted me to stop the diet. My husband wanted me to stop the diet. I wanted to stop the diet, but I wanted to see where this would take me. My husband said, “Maybe you’re depressed.” I felt like my face would crack if I smiled, and I said, “I don’t think I’m depressed. I don’t feel like I’m depressed.” So I watched some hilarious YouTube videos and laughed my socks off. I wasn’t depressed.

But my brain was bad. It had a motor and it wouldn’t shut off. My whole body had a jittery motor! No meditation. No prayer. No sitting watching TV. No whatever—would make my brain shut off. I corresponded with some people during this time, and I know they think I’m a raging lunatic. I accept it that I have some of those qualities above, or at least have some of them at various times; they make me me! I like a clean house. I like my to-do list done. But this was taking all those traits and raising them to the 50th power all at the same time!

With that tremor, headache, fogginess, racing mind, edginess—I just was a mess. The second reason my husband says he gets diet veto power!

Gastrointestinal: I usually cruise along happily on what I eat, but occasionally, I get it in my head that it’s time to try something new to see if I can get off of magnesium, which I see no end in sight of. I’ll be on it till I die. (Don’t get me wrong! I’m happy that it works! That’s more than many people with severe slow transit have!) My constipation flared up after three days into the experiment (along with that horrid headache), and I had to up my magnesium. Then, I overshot, of course. Then, distended anal vessels flared up from the overshoot and from the increased abdominal distention. Ouchie.

Usually, I take my magnesium about every third day, and it still works “daily.” On this experiment, I had to take magnesium every night. Bummer.

Bloating was very bad the first week. Then, by week two, it actually decreased to less than my normal baseline! That was nice! It came back for some reason the last week of the experiment.

I checked a UBiome right at the start of my little experiment, and then the kit was in the room where they baby was sleeping. So no UBiome after.

Reproductive: At the end of the first week, I was having hot flashes at night and very restless sleep, along with the tremor I already mentioned. These went away by the end of week two. I had Mittelschmerz that woke me up one night, which I’ve never had before, although that’s maybe not fair. I’ve had it during the day a couple of times before like that.


At the third day of week one, things were uncomfortable: headaches, brain fog, flatness, irritability, jittery, tremulous, bloating, constipation. I hung in there this way for two weeks. At that point, I decided maybe I’d have to take a day off this challenge. So, I fasted and my head and tremor seemed to improve dramatically late morning and early afternoon. Then, at 3 pm, since I felt good, I decided to get back at it.

All my symptoms returned by late evening. I took to eating a late breakfast/early lunch to have some moments of clarity. By the end of three weeks, I could feel, and my husband noted too, that I was having increased moments where I was more “me” again, even after eating. What was surprising was that this week was a very stressful week in our home, with a common childhood disease making the rounds of the house. Yet, I was feeling calmer. Still not baseline (which, lol, isn’t all that calm to begin with!).

I’m two days off the high fiber diet, and I’m feeling like me again.

Go ahead and criticize my self-study. There are flaws. I DIDN’T put it on the internet to bash high fiber in any way, shape, or form. I am putting it here for us to maybe learn something together. I’ve come up with a differential in my head. What do you come up with? (But be nice. My kids read my blog stuff.)

I’ve decided that I won’t jump into high fiber suddenly. That was pretty painful.

With respectful regards and voracious, healthy curiosity,


PS: Always be careful! Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider before you make any big changes. Don’t use internet information to experiment without your doctor or healthcare provider knowing and being on board.

Addendum: After thinking on this more and more, I’m thinking that my poor results stem from either sensitivity to the foods I started consuming more of (chia, non-gluten grains, legumes) or dysbiosis of my GI tract leading to these symptoms. I do not believe it was the “fiber” per se.

Image attribution: Annibale Carracci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain, PD-Art.