Category Archives: GAPS

How Do You Eat That Vegetable? Rutabaga (Swede).

Rutabaga and Winnie the Pooh

Vegetable Series:  When we changed our eating two years ago, I resolved to be afraid of no vegetable.  Not knowing how to cut it or cook it was NOT going to keep it out of my cart.  For a long time I’ve wanted to do a series of posts on all the different vegetables we have tried and what we do to the poor things.  May you, too, vow to try any and all vegetables in your supermarket!  Go get ’em, tiger.

Ever try a recipe from this blog?  Check out this humorous story my friend shared with me.
My good friend’s sister:  “I made spaghetti squash spaghetti from your friend’s blog.  She said her kids loved it.”
My friend:  “Yeah?”
My good friend’s sister:  “It was horrible.  And she said it was one of her kids’ favorite dishes.  Mine didn’t look anything like hers.  I don’t know how that can be a favorite!”
My friend:  “Huh.”

Flash forward several months.

My good friend’s sister:  “You remember that spaghetti squash I said I made?”
My friend:  “Yeah.”
My good friend’s sister:  “Well, the rutabagas got put in the wrong spot at the store.  It was a rutabaga I made, not spaghetti squash.”

Well, that explains that bad recipe experience!  When I heard this story, I had not ever tried a rutabaga.  I decided to do Rabbit (from Winnie the Pooh) homage and prepare some rutabaga!  And for those that don’t know, that top photo shows a rutabaga, not a spaghetti squash.  (Wink.)

Rutabaga Mash

1 rutabaga
1 carrot
1/4 cup oil of choice (bacon drippings are our favorite, but olive oil would work, too)
2-4 cloves roasted garlic, depending on size of cloves
Olive oil, a drizzle
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Get the garlic cloves a roasting!  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).  Leave the garlic cloves in their skins and just drizzle with a tiny amount of olive oil to just moisten a bit in a small oven proof bowl, pan or ramekin.  When the oven is preheated, shove the garlic in there while you prepare the rutabaga.  Roast it about 10 minutes.

2.  Wash and peel the outer skin of the rutabaga with a potato peeler.  Wash and peel the carrot while you’re at it.

3.  Chop the rutabaga into about 1-2 inch (2.54-5 cm) pieces.  It’s easiest to cut it in half and then lay the cut half flat on the cutting board before attempting to cut the rest.  On its flat side, it won’t move around on you so much.  Taste some raw rutabaga out of curiosity.  Mmm, okay.  Not bad.  Cut the carrot while you’re at the cutting board into circles about 1/2 inch (1.3cm) thick.

4.  If you haven’t removed the roasted garlic already, do so!  Set aside and let it cool while you steam the rutabaga and carrot.

5.  Steam the rutabaga and carrot together until fork tender soft.  (You could boil them, but the mash is too wet for my taste this way.  I have one of those adjustable steamer baskets that fit into any pot size.  I love it.)

6.  Transfer the steamed, fork-tender rutabaga and carrot to a food processor.

7.  Time for the garlic cloves.  Make sure the garlic cloves aren’t too hot!  Hopefully by now they’re not.  Peel the skin off of the roasted garlic.  Place the roasted garlic in the food processor, too.  (I don’t cut off the little woody nub, but you could cut it off with kitchen shears if you want.  My food processor blends it in really well.)

8.  Add 1/4 cup of melted oil/fat of choice.  (Again, we like bacon drippings best, but olive oil, tallow, palm shortening, lard, or butter would work well here.)

9.  Blend until whipped in your food processor.

10. Serve warm as a side dish!.

Normally I give a family report as to how the rest of the family liked it.  But everybody else had eaten and I was cooking for me!  I liked them.  They were soft and whipped nicely.  Not as starchy as a potato or sweet potato.  More FODMAP friendly than whipped cauliflower.  A good side dish.  Kids will be more likely to eat this if you read about Rabbit’s rutabagas in Winnie the Pooh.  Or maybe when they ask what it is, blithely say, “Oh, some mashed carrots.”  Know your crew to plan your tactics.

Give us YOUR best rutabaga treatment!  And if you haven’t tried a rutabaga, throw one in your grocery cart next trip.  It’ll  keep a long time in your fridge until you get the energy and gumption to cook it up!

~~Terri

Cut rutabaga Roasted garlic Cut rutabaga and carrot Mashed rutabaga

 

More in the “What Do You Do With That Vegetable?” series:

Arthichokes

Jicama

Almond Flour Biscuits

This biscuit recipe is a great addition to your repertoire.  The biscuits are great with butter and jam!  Or just jam!  They can be sliced in half and made into Gluten free biscuitssausage sandwiches or used for biscuits and gravy! Crumble them up, top with your milk of choice and some lightly sweetened sliced strawberries, and you’ve got strawberry shortcake!

I’ve served these when I host coffee for the homeschooling moms and at holidays in place of rolls.  They are easy enough that my daughters made them for me for Mother’s Day one year, placing them daintily on a lovely plate with the jam in an adorable glass bowl.

My sister requested the recipe yesterday and this is an easy way to share it, not only with her, but with you!

Almond Flour Biscuits

(Makes about 12 biscuits, depending on the size)

2 and 1/2 cups of almond flour (I prefer Honeyville, but Bob’s Red Mill or another blanched almond flour will work fine for this recipe.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).

Mix all ingredients together very well in a medium-sized bowl.  (Alternatively, you may feel free to mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, beat the eggs a bit in a different bowl, add the wet ingredients to the egg bowl, and then mix all the ingredients together well.  I use the one bowl, mix-well method and I’m happy with the turnout.)

Use a tablespoon to drop about 12-15 rounded mounds onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.  They don’t really expand out much so you can place them fairly close together without worry.  If you make them too large, they don’t get done in the middle.

Bake until lightly browned or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean.  Depending on how your oven bakes and biscuit size, this could take anywhere from 12-20 minutes.  Do not overbrown.  Watch closely.

Allow to cool before attempting to slice.

Variation for savory biscuits:  Add 1/4 cup of diced onion and a teaspoonful of garlic powder.

Family “gustar” report:  A very good report.  Everybody likes them, even a finicky brother-in-law who gets very nervous when he hears the words “gluten-free.”  (However, they don’t like the savory ones as well.)

Wishing you all the best in all the things that count! ~~Terri

 

Homemade Sausage and Warm Sauerkraut

Store-bought sausage is usually laden with all kinds of fillers and preservatives.  Just reading the ingredient list practically makes me throw the stuff back into the grocery’s freezer or refrigerator case.  Here is a recipe we use that we like for “homemade sausage.”  My kids say it tastes “just like Granny’s does.”  Granny’s is probably Jimmy Dean’s.  Just pick up some ground pork and a few spices.  I love to eat it with sauerkraut tossed in the warm leftover drippings.  I let the drippings cool down to just warmer than lukewarm so I don’t kill as many of the beneficial probiotics in my “live” sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut and sausage

Homemade Sausage with Warmed Sauerkraut

1 pound of ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 to 1 and 1/2  teaspoons ground sage (I am generous with sage because I love the flavor.  To me, sage makes the sausage.)
Dash of red pepper (My kids don’t like it very spicy so I err on the low side here.)
Sauerkraut as desired, preferably one that has live active probiotics in it (not the pasteurized kind)

 

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ground pork and all the spices by hand until well mixed.  Form into patties.  I usually make about five or so patties and squish them down so they cook pretty quickly.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat, flipping mid-way through cooking.  I like a light golden brown crust to form on mine.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Allow the drippings to cool to a still warm–but not hot–temperature.  Spoon in some sauerkraut (drain the sauerkraut juices if you want, but I don’t).  As far as how much of the drippings to use, you obviously don’t want your sauerkraut swimming in sausage drippings, but you want enough to flavor the sauerkraut and warm it.  I’m trusting your judgment here.  Drain drippings you want to save before adding in the sauerkraut.

Enjoy!  I do this also to sauerkraut when I make bacon.

Family “gustar” report:  All five members of my family eat the sausage very well.  It is a go-to for breakfast when I can’t think of anything else.  You can also make almond flour biscuits and make a sandwich out of them.  Or instead of making patties, brown up the pork and use in an egg casserole or soup.  Only one of my kids likes sauerkraut right now.

That’s it!  Take care!  Make the effort to simplify life.  You’ll be glad you did!  ~~Terri

Compare and Contrast Foraging

wpid-IMAG1085.jpgThis morning I sat down at the kitchen table to make my shopping list.  “What do I need?  What do I need?”  My shopping list has definitely changed over the last two years, much for the stranger.  And it just keeps getting weirder.

Am I Weird?  No!  I am a Modern Forager!

A week ago we visited my mom, dad, and sisters in Northern Indiana.  As always, I was “educating” my mom about this and that health-wise and food-wise.  She sullenly said, “Well, I don’t want to be a slave to food.”  That got me thinking.  Am I a slave to food?  I feel less a slave to food now than I ever have before in my life.  I tell you, before, I was definitely dependent on processed foods, dairy, wheat, and sugar.  Now, I can pass up donuts.  Yeah.  I don’t think I’m a slave to food anymore.

But this morning as I looked at my bizarre grocery list, I wondered if I was overboard.  Maybe Mom was right!?  (It’s always good to take stock of yourself.)  However, you see, each food on my list has a purpose!  A nutrient!  Then, I thought, “Well, what about other people who haven’t read about these nutrients.  Don’t have a medical background.  What are they to do?  How to manage?  Maybe this stuff I’m doing is all stupid.”

Then, I thought, “No!  In our history, before food was readily available for purchase, humans DID make a point to forage for foods that were known to be necessary!  Women knew how to identify herbs and dig for tubers.  Families knew how to brew sauerkraut.  The organs were not tossed out, but they were prized.  Salt was traded and used as salaries.  Kids got cod liver oil from their moms and grandmas in the near past.”  In the past, they foraged for foods know to benefit them.  I am simply a modern forager!

So What’s on That List?

The list is not too long because we keep a pretty well-stocked freezer and pantry, but here is the list:

Dulse:  A seaweed I usually sauté or toss into a soup to provide iodine for my family and me.

Kombucha:  A fermented drink with probiotics in it that I’ve started using for a smoothie liquid since my intolerances do better with little to no dairy, nuts, and coconut products.

Organic greens such as kale, chard, spinach, and arugula:  Lots of calcium, magnesium, and identified and unidentified health benefits here.  Not to mention some fiber.

Oysters:  A great source of zinc and throw in some iodine, vitamin A, vitamin D, and B vitamins–and you’ve got quite a “good things come in small packages” going on here.

And the not so strange fruits:  oranges, mangoes, strawberries, apples, grapes, and bananas.

Water:  Oh, my goodness.  Yes.  Water. My Dad told me it would be a sad day when he ever paid money for water, but I think he’s got the deepest well in the state of Indiana filtering down through layer after layer of great Indiana limestone.  Not bad water.  But for me, must be sad times.  I still haven’t decided on a water filter, and in the meantime, I’d like to reduce our intake of fluoride, chlorine, and any pharmaceuticals that don’t get filtered out.  So we buy reverse osmosis water.

Just though you’d like to see the weird list.

Compare and Contrast Modern versus Historical Foraging

I realized that my grocery list was an example of foraging, not weirdness. Picking through the vastness to find what benefits my family and me!  It is NO different than what thousands of people long ago used to do.  Times may change.  Basic human needs don’t.  In my mind I started comparing and contrasting foraging today and foraging of long ago.

 

Modern Foraging

 

Historical Foraging

 

Knowledge of needed nutrients handed   down by medical/nutritional fields and scientists.  Nutrients are known by name and entity. Knowledge of needed nutrients perhaps   not “known” by name or entity.
Knowledge distributed by writing.  If it’s not in writing and substantiated by   research, it is often held in limbo or disdain.  (Old research has often been buried, although it contains some neat leads we should follow.) Knowledge distributed by an oral culture taught by the elder   generation to the younger.  Much   respect given to elders and their experiences.
Nutrient guidelines in flux and ever-changing. Nutrients/foods probably stayed pretty   consistent within a locale.
Grocery stores, farmers markets,   Amazon, internet, health food stores. Digging, planting, hunting, trading,   long trips to obtain necessary supplies/foods/herbs.
Discouraged and mocked by general   culture, including and especially medical culture.  Modern foraging has to fight cultural   norms. Necessary for immediate survival and   prolonged health.  The “medicine men”   would have embraced nutrition and herbs as key healers.  Foraging for known necessary foods was the   norm.
More convenient but sometimes more   expensive. Likely physically taxing, although not   expensive.  However, certain things   were traded among people and would have required some material expense.
Not based as strongly on local,   available food. Bulk eating would have been based on   local available foods, although travel of varying distances would probably have   been required as seasons changed, resources diminished, or known necessary foods   needed to be traded for.
For many, foraging results in a   realization of how enduring the human body is of assault by sugar and   processed flour products, and yet how responsive it is to nurturing with   real, whole foods.  Modern foragers’   foes are chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease,   cerebrovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and gastrointestinal maladies. Food was food and eaten for survival   and function; often, trauma and infectious disease were historical foragers’   foes.

 Closing

This was fun, and I think I could go on and on expanding it.  I am going to stop now and go do dishes and laundry and give thanks for a wonderful husband who took the kids out so I could have some peaceful time.

Some people embrace alternative health and nutrition changes, but I didn’t enter the realm really quite voluntarily–or without deeply embedded personal, professional bias.  I frequently find that I need to step back and make sure I’m doing all this for the right reasons and that I really have solid evidence behind me–at least as solid evidence as is available.  My family, friends, and professional training keep me with my right foot in the cultural norm, and my search for a normal GI tract and a way to not have a head so sensitive to certain foods  keeps me with my left foot straining and pulling to bring the right foot along.  Every day it’s all about checking and rechecking my work.  Liver is good to eat.  Is it good to eat?  Iodized salt is bad.  Is iodized salt bad?  Low carb is good.  Does it destroy your gut’s bacteria and your body’s metabolism?

I don’t have a nutritional heritage to fall back on much, although I have a few pieces my mom gave me–like butter and sauerkraut.  Mostly, though, my mom sold out to boxes.  So I will have to use what I can to rebuild a nutritional heritage for health for my family.

I will not sell out to boxes.  I will not sell out to sugar.  I will not resort to processed flours.  I will incorporate unusual foods known for their nutrients.  I am a modern forager.  Are you?  What are some unusual foods you incorporate in your foraging efforts and why?

~~Terri

PS:  I am continuing to work on one (if not “the”) of the last butyrate posts, our fourth grade curriculum posts, and I’d like to also post about vitamin K2 and iodine.  Maybe something in there will interest you.

Why Resistant Starch Is Probably Not Enough

This is for those interested in resistant starch, which I posted about awhile ago as a source for butyrate production. Not fast reading but fascinating. Remember, though, resistant starch is NOT the only way to increase butyrate in the gut. I try not to get hung up on one path, and I hope you don’t either. Butyrate then resistant starch really helped my GI motility–until pregnancy in its typical fashion assumed all control of all functions. Regards~~Terri

Money Bribes for Liver

wpid-IMAG0656-1.jpgI am often asked how I get my kids to eat certain things.  Overall, they’re pretty good eaters, and I simply do what it takes.  I firmly believe in a multi-faceted approach to most things in life, including my kids’ nutrition.  So one technique doesn’t cut it.  Today I used money.

Do you pay your kids money for grades?  Do you pay your kids money for chores?  Do you pay your kids money for back rubs?  I do none of those.  Heck no!

But today I paid one child $2.50 to eat a bite of liver.  I tried to go lower, but it wasn’t happening.  The next child accepted $1.00.  The last child liked “the chicken,” needed no money, and asked for seconds.  (What?  Each child got a different amount?  You betcha’!)

Some favorite tools to get my kids to eat what I feel they need to eat:

1.  Small, small portions of undesired foods.  I’m talking one to two small bites here.  Over the years, they’ll get more accustomed to the sight and taste.  They’ll adapt.  They’ll eat it.  I cringe when I see parents shoveling heaps of veggies they know the kids won’t eat onto the plate. A painful experience for their child and dinner companions (me).  I hate that–watching the drama at the end of the plate when the kids wants to be excused to play.

2.  Feed them myself.  It started as a joke, but now it’s for real.  My oldest (now 10) was quite finicky and would not eat what I started serving two years ago when we underwent nutritional overhaul.   (“When are we going to get off of this STUPID diet?”)  I asked her if she wanted me to feed her, and she poutingly said “yes.”   So I sat right next to her and did the “airplanes are coming in” that you’d do with a two-year old.  We giggled and got most of the food down.  Two years later, when a meal is tough for the kids, I plop down next to them, sigh, and fly in the bombers.

3.  Minimizing snacks.  A great pediatrician I trained with always told sleepless mothers of 6 month old babies, “Physically, there is no reason this child can’t sleep through the night without nursing [or bottle].”  I figure if the liver has enough glycogen stores to get an infant through ten to twelve hours of sleep at night, it has enough to get a child through the three to four hours between meals.  Do we snack at my house?  Of course–but not too close to an upcoming meal and not as a substitute for a meal someone chose not to eat!  Also, I try to keep the snack well-placed and nutritionally beneficial (nuts, veggies, fruits).

4.  Sweet bribery.  If the kids want dessert, they eat their meal.  Period.  You know what?  Yes!  There have been times when a child watched their siblings eat their ice cream because dinner didn’t suit them.  Not often though, and if dinner sucked that bad for them, I usually will offer something that I think is nutritionally equivalent that doesn’t require me to cook.  Something like carrots or leftover meatloaf, and if they can get that down, I allow them to have their dessert.  But in our house, dessert often is all it takes to get the whole meal down.

5.  Money.  Today was a new one.  I have never offered money before, but I have been learning lots about fat soluble vitamins.  How we are deficient in them.  And great sources of them.  Liver just seems to be the tops.  I know many of you don’t like liver.  I don’t either much.  But I do like feeling and functioning well, not taking supplements, and not being wasteful.  A friend from a large family told me that her mother always made every kid eat liver once a week.  I thought if this mother of six could make all of her kids eat liver, so could I!!!!  Today I did.  I’m hoping the price comes down as the taste becomes more familiar.

6.  A little maple syrup.  Yesterday it was a drizzle of maple syrup over sautéed Brussels that got the youngest one to eat them.  Eventually, she’ll drop the need for maple syrup.  I used to have to have cheese over my broccoli as a kid or else there was no way on Earth I would eat it!  Once we were out of cheese, and I pitched a fit.  Poor Dad.  But the point is, I liked broccoli, and as a teenager and adult, I adjusted just fine to broccoli without cheese!

“This is not a diet.  It’s the way we eat now.”

Do what it takes to add in the nutritious food.  Keep working on minimizing food that has been enriched and “Botoxed”–like cereals, crackers, breads, bagels, muffins, juices, juice boxes, and boxed foods in general.  My oldest still whines and fusses.  Today I heard her say in the grocery store when she was looking at cereals and I shook my head no, “It’s MY body.”  But I will not give in.  As my husband says, “This is not a diet.  It is the way we eat now.”

I will not feel bad that when I don’t have time to make breakfast, my kids are eating fresh fruit.

cropped-hsd-line-drawing_edited-1.jpgTerri

Our Fourth Grade Homeschool Curriculum: Grammar and Writing

Today is a homeschooling post.  I love homeschooling.  It is the tops.  I’m not very patient, and homeschooling elementary school has been challenging for me.  Crafts and finger plays not appealing.  Teaching handwriting like pulling teeth.  “Whatdya’ mean you don’t remember what a contraction is?”  I’ve decided that you don’t have to have patience to homeschool, but if you don’t, you’d better have some self-control/self-discipline.

Fourth grade, however, is turning into fun because the topics are becoming more advanced and the student more independently capable.  But no matter what, the whole homeschooling ride is one I wouldn’t trade for the world.  Up now–grammar and writing.  Last homeschooling post was math.

Easy Grammar:  Grade 4

Love Easy Grammar by Wanda Phillips, PhD!  We have used it for three years in a row now.  Simple, straightforward presentation of grammar without any fluff, just the nuts and bolts and good stuff.  I thought figuring out what to order was a bit confusing!  Daily Grams?  Workbooks?  Teacher editions?  Test booklets?  What?  Here’s what I ordered and I’ve been exceptionally pleased:

  • Daily Grams  The daily grams are one page, cumulative worksheets, reminding me of the cumulative concept of Saxon Math.  Capitalization, punctuation, Easy Grammar Textadverbs, adjectives, prepositions, objects of the preposition, complex sentence formation, and more–they are all reviewed throughout the year so the student doesn’t forget the concept even if they learned it on day 1.  Daily Grams are designed to do one worksheet a day, requiring maybe five minutes or so.  For second grade, I used ONLY the second grade Daily Gram book for the entire grammar course that year.  When third and fourth grade came, I wanted more focus and explanation of each grammatical concept with more practice than the Daily Grams offered.  So I bought the Easy Grammar text.
  • Easy Grammar:  Grade 4  Okay.  There are three books you can buy:  Easy Grammar Grade 4 teacher’s edition, Easy Grammar Grade 4 Student Workbook, and Easy Grammar Grade 4 Student Test Booklet.  I purchased only the teacher’s manual.  However, the cover of the book I bought doesn’t say “Teacher’s Manual!”  It only says “Easy Grammar Grade 4.”  The teacher’s manual contains the grammatical explanation text, worksheets, reviews, tests, answers, and teaching tips all bound together in one book.  My daughter works from the teacher’s manual.  One very minor glitch in this is that the answers are on the left side of the page and the worksheet/ test on the right side of the page.  We cover the answers with a sheet of paper and have no issues.  Alternatively, you could copy the assignments ahead of time from the book so the answers aren’t tempting your student.  Another minor glitch with using the teacher’s manual for the student textbook is that they can read the author’s tips to the teacher if they wanted to.  No biggie to me.

Easy Grammar Daily GramsPoints to know:

  • It’s all black and white.  Often this can be a deterrent, but I feel in this case it is a strength.  Wanda Phillips, Ed.D. runs such a tight ship with the books.  Seriously, she manages to get what you need in there with nothing extraneous to distract and frustrate!  It’s a clean, concise machine.
  • Work usually can be completed independently without much, if any help.  I love this.
  • The author teaches a prepositional approach to understanding sentences, allowing easy recognition of the parts of a sentence.  One of the hardest parts of the book is having the kids learn the required prepositions at the beginning–after that they then look for prepositional phrases  and can exclude them from searching for subjects and verbs.  Makes understanding the parts of the sentences much simpler, but they have to do a little work up front which can seem intimidating.  We memorized them over a few weeks and continued on.
  • Pages are not perforated in the teacher’s manual or Daily Grams.  You cannot tear them out easily, which can be a problem if you only buy the “all-inclusive” book I bought, as the answers for the worksheets are sitting right on the next page.
  • At the end of every chapter, there is a chapter review, a cumulative review, and a cumulative test.  I did not make my daughter do all of those as it was way too much busy, repetitive work if she understood all the concepts!  However, we usually did the chapter review and the cumulative test.  I really appreciate the cumulative nature of this text!
  • The difference between the Daily Gram Worksheets and the Worksheets is that the worksheets pertain only to the material being learned in the current chapter.  The Daily Grams are cumulative and very quick and concise.  I did both because I like repetition and always having the brain presented with what it learned in the past, so it doesn’t forget.  However, I do think we could have gotten by in fourth grade without the Daily Grams.
  • There is no writing practice.  This text doesn’t try to incorporate writing skills with the grammar skills–EXCEPT she does have the kids practice combining simple sentences into complex sentences in the Daily Grams.  My daughter can make nice, complex, grammatical sentences because of this text, but it does not offer writing practice.
  • She provides enough teacher instruction without making you googly-eyed trying to sort through it all!  Her tips are valid and thoughtful.

How we did grammar this year: 

This year, I decided to actually double up on her grammar lessons in the first semester.  She did two Daily Grams every day, and I mapped out the Easy Grammar:  Grade 4 text/worksheets/tests so that we finished it in one semester.  Even doing this double-pace, she rarely punked an attitude about grammar!  Whew!  I chose to do this so she could begin focusing on writing in the second semester–rather than combining them together throughout the year.  I thought she’d do better focusing on one side of “writing” at a time–grammar first and then actually putting together ideas.  So far, I’m very pleased.

IEWInstitute for Excellence in Writing (IEW):  Student Writing Intensive

This will not be a comprehensive review because I’ve only used the Writing Intensive Level A and that only for a 2-3 months.

We began Institute for Excellence in Writing for my daughter’s writing curriculum in the second semester.   I’ve heard great reviews on IEW, and we have enjoyed our last couple months with it, as well.  Again, what in the heck do you purchase?  Reading all those descriptions on the web-site gets really confusing!  I bought Package A:

  • Student Writing Intensive Level A  This came with DVDs to watch, a binder, lesson plans, and passages to practice the writing techniques taught.  It’s what I needed for sure.  (Although I wonder if I couldn’t have gotten by with a  theme-based book and learned the same things and had my child learn a particular topic area, too.  More below.)
  • Teaching Writing:  Structure and Style  I also bought this because I thought I might need it;  it was part of the package.  I have not watched it yet!  I plan on it, but we have had NO problems doing the Student Writing Intensive Level A assignments just based on watching the DVDs and following the lesson plans.  I don’t know when I’ll get around to watching this.  Money could probably be saved by not purchasing this.

Points to know:

  • Perhaps it was pregnancy brain, but I thought the binder/planner could have been organized just a wee bit better.  We got it figured out.
  • Students learn by watching a DVD and then applying what is taught to passages provided in the binder.
  • The DVD is not divided up into lessons so you have to thumb through the planner and figure out when you need to stop the DVD.  Basically, the DVD is just Mr. Pudewa giving his presentation live in a workshop to a group of children; it rolls from beginning to end.  You or your child (if you’re trying to prepare lunch) has to know when to stop it.  Minor complaint, but I wish they’d break it up according to their lesson guides.
  • My daughter really liked this program at first because Mr. Pudewa was funny and it was new and exciting.  As she has been required to write more and more, she doesn’t like it so much anymore.  She hates the physical act of writing and she now transfers that on to poor Mr. Pudewa.  But I still think it’s one of the best programs to get her to do writing.
  • IEW teaches writing by using existing written passages/stories and outline formation.  I was ecstatic to see outline formation taught to her at such a young age!  It will serve her well throughout the rest of her education!  She keeps asking when she can “write her own story,” so she does have a sense that she is not really writing with this approach.  We are not yet through the complete program, and this may come later–I don’t know.  If not, no biggie.  I’ll just have her write her own story!
  • I saw a friend had the Ancient History based writing lessons!  This is a part of IEW’s “them-based writing.”  As I looked through it, I realized that it was teaching everything that is taught in the Writing Intensive A!  We will definitely be purchasing some of these themed books to use for writing after we finish the Writing Intensive.  I would suggest you look, read, and ask around because you may be able to skip the Writing Intensives and just do these nicely bound theme-based books without missing out!  They looked awesome and it really seemed to be teaching the kids the same writing concepts as watching the DVD!

I guess that’s it.  That’s how we’ve opted to handle grammar and writing this fourth-grade year.  How about anyone else?  What do you think?  What do you use?  Love?  Hate?  And after deciding on a curriculum, does anyone else have trouble sorting through exactly which books of the curriculum you need to buy!!?

I hope you are having a wonderful day!  ~~Terri

Look On The Inside

Put The Label On The Front, Please

A friend and I joked the other day about how food labels should be on the FRONT of every package!  Show thyself, you traitor!  (The food that is, not my friend.)  Let’s look at a few labels.

Simply GoGurt  Healthy, right?  Used to always be in my cart two years ago!  I make yogurt with TWO ingredients:  milk and cultures.  That’s it.  If I want it thick, I sit it in a strainer with a coffee filter and let the liquid (whey) drip out.  If we want it sweet, the girls add maple syrup to taste.  If we want color, we add blueberries and strawberries.

wpid-IMAG0822.jpg


Did you do an analysis?  What reasons did you come up with to leave this out of your cart and out of your kid’s mouth?

  • Sugar:  Kids get WAY too much sugar, especially in these hidden food products.
  • Preservative (Potassium Sorbate):  What are all these preservatives doing to the good, healthy bacteria that we absolutely have to have in our GI tracts?
  • Modified corn starch:  Why is there corn starch in yogurt?  You’d never figure out if the child had a corn sensitivity or dairy sensitivity if they ate this and you were unaware of the corn ingredient!
  • Gelatin:  Not inherently a bad thing.  It’s a thickener.  But why use gelatin and carrageenan to thicken?  Why thicken it at all?
  • Carrageenan:  This is extracted from seaweed and acts as a thickener and binder.  Health nuts will tell you it may cause cancer or colitis.  Bottom line here in GoGurt is it’s not needed.
  • Natural flavor:  Always an ambiguous term that can imply many things.  A gray cloud.
  • Vitamins:  You may or may not care.  But most vitamins are now produced in China.  I’m not too pleased with their track record on these things.
  • Tricalcium Phosphate:  Adds calcium and regulates acidity.  I don’t know enough to say any more.  But I do know it doesn’t have to be in there!

For you health-nuts (I do hope you know I’m laughing at myself when I type “health-nut”–as if I don’t belong in this category– I’m full, fair, square in the thick!), I’m sure you’re all over the fact that it’s not grass-fed dairy and it’s low fat dairy.  Good points, but we’re saving the world in medium-sized steps at a time here.  For this to work, it has to appeal to the masses.

Cereal  Once in elementary school I had an argument with my best friend on the bus about which was healthier, her breakfast of Life Cereal or my breakfast of Fruity Pebbles.  We made up over brownies at lunch.

Whole grains only is our goal here.  No sugar.  No preservatives.  Let’s check it out.

wpid-IMAG0806.jpg

wpid-IMAG0805.jpg

What did you come up with?

  • Sugar:  Ingredient number two!  Put it down.  If you want your kids to have sugar, save it for dessert.  Not breakfast.
  • Preservatives (BHT):  Your body needs the naturally occurring bacteria that live in our guts.  Preservatives have the job of stopping bacteria.
  • Colors (yellow 5 and yellow 6):  I can see NO good reason ever for colors to be added.  Color is added  because “all that glitters is gold.”  They want you to think it looks pretty.
  • Vitamins and minerals:  The original grains have been stripped SO badly of their vitamins and minerals during processing, that in order for this box of cereal to have ANY nutritional content (besides calories), the vitamins and minerals must be added back in artificially.

And the die-hards are saying they don’t touch grains with a ten-foot pole.  Another faction of die-hards are worried that it’s not organic and it’s not sprouted.

Garlic  The last one we’ll have time for today.  When I went gluten-free, dairy-free to fix my GI tract (and then I had to go A LOT further nutritionally), I didn’t realize the extent of ingredient mixing!  Wheat-protein here.  Dairy there.  Soy here.  I used this garlic as a short-cut in cooking.  This was an introduction to the philosophy of reading EVERY LABEL, EVERY TIME.

wpid-IMAG0936.jpg

wpid-IMAG0937.jpg

I know it’s hard to read so I’ll retype it:  organic garlic, organic canola oil, sodium lactate, whey (milk), sea salt, dextrose, glycerin, ascorbic acid to protect color and flavor, citric acid, calcium chloride, xantham gum.

What do you think?

  • Canola Oil:   Oil/fat choices are olive oil, coconut oil, tallow, lard, butter–to get us started (the topic does get a little–lot–deeper).  Canola oil makes me unhappy with my choice.  Briefly, canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oils, and other processed oils are high in a type of fat called omega-6.  Omega-6 is easy to come by in our diets and so we have exorbitant levels of it!  Omega-3s are not so easy to come by (seafood, certain nuts, pastured meats, plus a few other sources), and so we have a detrimental mismatch of omega-6 to omega-3.  This allows certain types of prostaglandins and cytokines to be formed which increase inflammation in our bodies (think allergies, eczema, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, headaches, etc).  There are also some processing concerns with canola oil.
  • Whey (milk):  Now if I was buying cheese, I’d be satisfied with this.  But what the heck are they doing putting whey in my garlic?  No wonder so many dairy-elimination trials, wheat-elimination trials, soy-elimination trials fail!!!!!  And two years ago I was clueless and missed this until I started label reading.  Every label.  Every time.
  • Dextrose:  A type of sugar.  So now I have sugar and milk in my garlic.  Again–put it down and walk away.
  • A bunch of hobbledy, gobbledy:  Xantham gum, citric acid, glycerin, calcium chloride, sodium lactate.  I don’t know what all that stuff is in my garlic for.  I kind of know what the stuff is, but I don’t have it in my kitchen.  My kids can’t pronounce the words.  Just a bunch of junk.

Look On The Inside

We teach our kids to look on the inside of people.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Appearances are deceiving.  If they’re mean to you, walk away.  You don’t need them.

Let’s teach them to look on the inside of food.  Beyond the box.  Beyond the commercial.  Beyond the “one-liners” on the front:  “All-Natural,” “Whole Grain,” “High in Fiber,” and “Organic.”  Read the ingredients together.  When they ask you why they can’t eat this or that when Suzy is, make some absolutes.  “We don’t eat food with added colors and preservatives.” OR  “We don’t eat food with sugar unless it’s dessert.”  I can’t tell you what is going to work, and although the health-nuts (yes, I’m included in here again) think THEIR diet plan is best, the truth is we just don’t know.  BUT I DO KNOW IT STARTS WITH REAL FOOD NOT PACKAGED FOOD.

Just like you need real friends, you need real food.  (Hey–before we get to know each other, can I see your ingredient list… 🙂 )

~~Terri

Paleo Wraps Just Got Better

We tried Paleo Wraps.

Hot Spots of Today’s Post

1. Paleo Inc, the makers of Paleo Wraps (a.k.a. My-Wrap-Is-Healthier-Than-Your-Wrap), stand behind their products.

2.  Paleo Wraps were discovered to be $6.99 at my sister’s local supermarket, much less expensive than the quoted Amazon price in my original review.

3.  Today’s post is a follow-up from Review From An Amazon Sucker:  Paleo Wraps.

My Blog Finally Fed Me

An excerpt from an e-mail that showed up early the next morning after the Paleo Wrap review posted:

Thanks for the nice review of our Paleo Wraps! After reading it though I became concerned when you mentioned the Paleo Wraps partially cracked. That is not suppose to happen and typically they are very soft and never break…We would also love to send a free replacement pack to you for any wraps that were like that…Please e-mail me back your address so we can send the replacement pack (s)…

Heath Squier/Owner

The e-mail further requested some packaging information, my home address–my height, weight, and eye color, along with my children’s ages and gender–and offered to send a replacement package to my home.  It appeared completely legitimate–but sure–Mr. Squier.  Sure you’re Mr. Squier.  I don’t know about giving my address out.  My husband said, “That might be a ‘Phisher.’  Are you sure it’s okay?  Don’t do it.”  He painted pictures of kidnappings and body bags in my head.

However, I kindly e-mailed back the information he requested minus the address and personal information (which he never asked for in the first place).  I called the company’s phone number printed on the package (which I had extracted from the yucky trash when I got the e-mail) a week later when my pregnancy nausea and headache allowed me off the couch, and the phone was answered by a real, live person!  She verified that Heath Squier was the owner and had indeed sent me that e-mail.

Within two days of that call, I had two more packages of Paleo Wraps.  No cracks.  Smooth and supple.  Super pliable.  Super pliable.  (That wasn’t a typo.)  Heath Squier was right; they shouldn’t crack.  My other wraps were good, even with the cracks.  These new wraps, I can see, are how they’re supposed to be.  I guess my ones from Amazon just weren’t quite right.

To further elevate my opinion of Paleo Wraps, my sister found them in her local supermarket for $6.99 a package.  That keeps them at about the $1.00 per wrap I was shooting for.

Forget Nutrient-less Bread

Lastly, due to pregnancy, I succumbed to buying tapioca-based bread (after two years without bread–go figure).  My kids just want to inhale it plain, at the expense of other well-needed nutrients.  The whole package in one day.  This is quite an amazing, interesting, fascinating phenomenon to watch.  How kids deprived of bread, any kind of bread, but not deprived of good, delicious food will still preferentially steer towards bread!  I’ll bet I’m not the only mom who has embarked on a whole/real foods journey who has observed this.  (You want some soup?  No, I ate some bread.  Want some stir-fry?  No, I ate some bread.  Want an orange?  Nah, I ate some bread.  Want some bread?  Yes!)

Because of my experience with Heath Squier, his company, and his excellent product, I will happily be sourcing Paleo Wraps for our home.  My kids enjoy them, I will be supporting a quality act, and I can stuff them with tons and tons of vegetables and nutrient-dense goodies (those wraps can handle it!).  May Paleo Inc be successful and blessed in their endeavors.  Seems like they deserve it!  (Now, if you’re reading this one Mr. Squier, could you come up with plantain wraps for people who don’t tolerate coconut?  There’s a niche for that.  Those poor people are out there…)

Food is like a drug.  With side effects particular to each person.  Take only those foods which benefit you and cause no harm.  Choose to leave the rest behind.  Eat whole, real foods.  Listen to your body.  Not the diet book. ~~Terri