Tag Archives: whole foods

Thanksgiving Recipe Adaptation Tips and Links

sweetcashewcream-1Are you struggling with any Thanksgiving recipe adaptations? Have an awesome adaptation discovery you’d love to share? Please stop by today’s post!

My greatest adaptation tip is that most of the time, I can substitute olive oil for butter—-in baked goods, for topping steamed vegetables, and in casseroles. Obviously this won’t work for something like caramel! Another tip I’d like to share is to not give up on a beloved recipe; there’s almost always a way to adapt it. I have kept all my old recipes and over the last few years, I’ve been slowly adapting them as I learn new cooking and baking techniques and supplies.

Okay. Let’s look at how to adapt most of those Thanksgiving favorites.

Mashed Potatoes: I use tons of good quality olive oil, some full-fat coconut milk, and salt and pepper.

Tips: Don’t use too much coconut milk or they’ll taste like coconut. I use about a 50/50 oil to coconut milk ratio (heavier on the olive oil, more scant on the coconut milk), and my family is good with that. If you do get more coconut flavor than you’d like, it can be countered by adding some garlic, rosemary, and/or chives.

Gravy: Arrowroot flour/powder is my go-to thickener now. It works but it is finicky like a princess’s cat. I suggest that you do NOT add it to boiling substances or you’ll get a snot consistency. And when you add it, whisk like your life depended on it. Tapioca starch/flour is similar in nature, and I treat it the same. I have noticed that performance does depend on the brand! My higher quality flours perform better.

Procedure: I use about 1 tablespoon of arrowroot for each cup of liquid. First, I make an arrowroot slurry by mixing the arrowroot in the smallest amount of lukewarm temperature water as possible (maybe a tablespoon for a tablespoon), and I set that aside. Next, I bring my gravy broth to a boil, shut off the heat, move the pan over off the burner, THEN add the arrowroot slurry, whisking like crazy.

Green Bean Casserole: For this one, I make my own onion rings, dipping onions in a gluten-free flour and then frying them, and I make a homemade mushroom soup. It’s a lengthy process but my family loves it so much. Here is my recipe. I like it better than other ones I’ve seen out there because the onion rings are closest to the ones I remember from the can.

Cranberry Gelatin Salad: In place of Jello, I use plain gelatin and juice to make my own gelatin. I use maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. Everything else is just the same as the recipe has been handed down through the generations. Here is my recipe.

Corn Casserole: I haven’t adapted this one to reach the near 100% whole food mark yet, but I’ve adapted it for gluten-free, dairy-free. Everyone’s favorite family recipe is a little different, but you can find gluten-free, dairy-free cornbread mixes at the store. There are gluten-free, dairy-free brands of canned cream corn you can use. Use olive oil in place of butter. If your recipe calls for sour cream, you could try making some cashew cream as a substitute. (But plan ahead, you have to find raw cashews and soak them for several hours.) Have you perfected this adaptation?

Pecan Pie: Easily adaptable. I use olive oil in place of butter, maple syrup in place of corn syrup and brown sugar, and arrowroot in place of flour for thickening. Here is my recipe.

Pumpkin Pie: Another easily adaptable pie. I use maple syrup in place of sugar and any dairy-free milk for the milk.

Coconut cream, banana cream, and peanut butter cream pies: I’ve had success with adapting these using alternative milks (coconut cream is best for the consistency as it has the most fat) and arrowroot in place of flour.

Pie Crust: There are very pleasant gluten-free, dairy-free pie crusts available frozen in the store. My daughter makes her own crust using Bob’s Red Mill (I believe any gluten-free flour combination will work. We have tried just using arrowroot for this recipe. But it got stringy, so best to make it with a “combination” gluten-free mix.) I believe I also featured this recipe in my pecan pie post.

Granny’s Adapted Pinch Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup of gluten-free flour (tested with Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Follow these directions very closely. It’s not hard, but the wording is confusing!

In a 1/2 cup measuring cup, put in 3 tablespoons of milk and then fill, IN THE SAME 1/2 cup measuring cup with the milk still in it, up to the 1/2 cup mark with olive oil.

Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Whisk together to immerse. Add the flour and mix well. Use your hands to knead gently and briefly.

Push into the pie pan.  We do this by forming about 8 or so little balls and placing them around the pan. Then, we push them together, up the side of the pan, and a little bit over the lip of the pan Next, we use our fingers to flute the edge.

Use as directed in your recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole: We make the kind with the pecans and glaze on top. It is so good. Here is my recipe. However, there are some marshmallows you can buy now that don’t use any food coloring, if you need to do the marshmallow topping.

Whipped cream: I make a sweetened cashew cream. I haven’t posted the recipe yet on the blog, so I can’t link to it. But it’s very similar to the ones that are out there on the internet if you care to Google it. Or ask below, and I’ll type it in the comments for you.

Stuffing/dressing: I don’t have this one adapted yet. My family doesn’t miss it too much. But there are some great recipes out there. Do you have one?

Need to be egg-free? Following an auto-immune diet? Lastly, I highly recommend The Curious Coconut and her autoimmune recipes for more rigid food restrictions. I don’t know her at all. But I have purchased her holiday e-cookbook and it is amazing! I recommend trying some of the recipes ahead of time because they’re a little tricky and can give unexpected results! We have made a couple of the dinner rolls, and they looked so cute in her photos…

What questions do you have about adapting recipes? Are you stuck on one? Are you scared to try? Do you have an AWESOME one you’d love to share?

Choose food that doesn’t make you sick and doesn’t make you overeat. Best wishes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Terri

 

 

Money Talks: Part One

 

2015-05-23 15.38.48 (1)I can’t eat that way.  It’s too expensive.

I’m going to tell you.  Anything that really hits you over the head and makes you think it’s important, I mean really important, you’ll get it done.  You’ll overcome your excuses and slap them down flat.  They’ll pop up and knock you down again, but you’ll stay at it till you find success.  You just will.  If it’s that important.

A lot of us say things are important.  We think things are important to us.   But our actions clearly indicate that they’re just not.  Barriers exist and we just can’t make the effort to overcome them.

People tell me all the time that money was not the barrier they thought it was going to be to eating whole, real food.  They skipped the soda pop and snack purchases.  They ate at home.

The barriers that really pulled them back into the abyss?  Socialization.  Time.  And self.

Today, let’s look at money.  The barrier that most people find they can tear down or walk around when it comes to eating real food.  Where will you save money, or at least break even, to make eating for a fully nourished body sustainable?

Garden

Two little boxes of plants and seeds will feed my family of six for five months.  With plenty to spare for friends.  Even if you can’t garden, two pots on the patio or front step can get you lettuce and tomatoes.  If you don’t have them planted yet, it’s not too late.  There’s time left!  In fact, you’ll get an even better deal since garden plants are going on sale right now.  Even the scraggliest plant in the greenhouse can make a comeback when plopped in a pot with soil and water.  Growing your own saves money.

Buy bulk nuts and dried fruit

I never had stuck my hand in one of those bulk bins at grocery stores until we switched our eating a few years ago.  Strangely, I was a bit intimidated by them.  Now, I’m shocked at myself!  I know I’m not the only one who wasn’t aware of the savings of these little nut cases.  When I made pre-school snacks for my pre-school daughter’s school, I’d ask parents to bring in sunflower seeds, almonds, raisins, dates, and dried cranberries.  Nearly every time, a pre-packed item was sent in, like Sun-Maid raisins or Planter’s nuts.  Buying bulk nuts and fruits for snacks saves money.

Buy non-organic if it’s a deal breaker

Some organic things give me sticker shock, like organic grapes.  We don’t eat grapes very often, but if my kids needed grapes to stay on this path because it’s their favorite fruit, then I’d buy non-organic.  The goal is to eat whole foods.  There’s still more nutrients to help the body nourish and detoxify itself in those grapes than in those fruit snacks.  Organic or non-organic should not be the cost that sends Dad to a second job.  Buying non-organic saves money; do it if it’s a deal-breaker.

Ease into “perfect” slowly

Some people who do it, dang it, they’re going to knock it out, bang it up right!  They buy only organic, only grass-fed meat; only on-GMO produce; only non-BPA cans; only glass containers; only wild caught fish; and only free-range eggs.  You get the idea. They’re a nightmare and probably have nightmares.  You’ll figure out the best olive oil and where to get it eventually if you want to.  You’ll figure out the egg thing.  But the number one idea, bar none, is to get started eating real, whole food.  Day in.  Day out.  Meal in.  Meal out.  Let the experts figure out whether grass-fed butter is better for you.  Right now, you’re still wrapping your head around the idea that butter is even okay to eat.  Figure out exactly what whole, real food is first.  Then, you can iron out the details that are important to you later.

Buy meat on sale and freeze

When I see meat that we eat go on sale, I buy it and freeze it.  Sometimes I may have to divide it into suitable portions at home, but the savings are impossibly incredible.  A time to be thankful for living in the age of freezers.  Don’t pass up meat on sale just because your meals are already planned for the week.  You can save a fortune buying meat when it goes on sale and freezing it.

Deep freeze 

If I had to pick one thing that saves money for us, it would have to be our deep-freezer.  It is money up-front and costs a bit to run, but buying food at its peak season and then freezing it, well, I can’t even begin to tell you how much money that has saved us.  Summer fruit is a dime a dozen.  When fruit is free from the tree or 99 cents a pound, it freezes.  Going in on a whole cow or lamb really trims the budget.  So much freezes!  Avocados on sale freeze:  Scoop, mash and freeze.  Milk and butter freezes.  Bones for broth freeze.  Buying food at its peak nutrition, which is usually its cheapest price, and freezing it becomes is not only frugal, but nourishing!

Don’t be afraid to ask a health nut where they get such and such

Who cares if you think they’re crazy or over-the-top?  They’ll know usually where to get some of the best prices if they’ve been doing this long enough.  Muster up the effort to track down their phone number or pull them aside at church.  Don’t do this alone!  Drawing on the experience of those who have gone before you is down-right brilliant.  Sometimes they’ll tell you Wal-Mart and sometimes they’ll send you on-line.  Save yourself money by asking where the best place is to buy what you need.

Closing

Oh, there will be barriers.  There will be excuses.  But with persistence, there will be SUCCESS.  So tell the bread-earner and the budgeter in your house, tell them–It can be done!  Because if it’s that important to you, it can be.  I hope that someday, not too far off, that it will be THAT important to you.  Is there anything I can say to put you closer to that realization?  Any question I can answer?  Any doubts you have?

Tune in next time for more on how to save money and eat real, whole foods.

~~Terri

Female Doctors in the Trenches of Home

Medieval_kitchenThere were four of us in medical school who studied together, drank coffee together, went to movies together, and ate at McDonald’s together.  Medical school was almost fun because of these girls.  We keep in good touch still.  They all work, trying to shuffle life, kids, and gainful employment.  When I stumbled upon dietary changes (big changes) to treat disease, I immediately shared my experience and research with my friends.  There is one in particular who I harped and harangued on, in no gentle terms (I was meanly blunt), to change her eating and her kids’ eating due to a family history of celiac and dementia.  She thought I was OVER THE TOP, and anyhow with working and moving, she just didn’t have the time. A year ago, she finally took the bull by the horns, caught THE KITCHEN ON FIRE WITH COCONUT OIL, and is as impressed as I am.  We are working on a third medical school friend now, Dot, trying to help her see what this diet stuff can “cure” for her.  On Monday, January 5th, Dot started “eating this way” as a two-week trial (Only two weeks?  I’ll take what I can get.), and she recruited a friend from her residency, Hannah, to come along.  All of us have been in communication by text and e-mail to support, cheer, and share ideas and recipes.  Here is a letter my friend wrote to encourage Dot and Hannah in their endeavors.  I am so proud of her!  It is not easy to work, raise four kids, and put low inflammatory foods on the table!  Or to defy the straight-jacket grip of traditional medicine.

Maybe the change in medicine’s stance on nutrition will occur in the home!  One mom, one family at a time.

I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to read her letter.  It may be the encouragement you need to eat better and to convert your family.  I wish I could share all of our texts and letters to keep you motivated, too.  But this will have to do.  This letter is shared with permission, changed names, and some italics/bolding/underlining/coloring/capitalization to perk it up for aesthetic purposes.

HEY ALL!

Try not to get discouraged. Yes, sugar withdrawal is real! At least for me! In fact, Terri will remember that early in my journey I concluded that it was not the gluten that I was addicted to, but the sugar! I personally can’t believe how much I’m noticing it just from the holidays, even though in all reality I didn’t consume that much sugar (compared to years past) because so many treats have gluten, which I never eat, and dairy, which I try to avoid as well…

I know you guys have kind of gone COLD TURKEY on everything, which in some ways is easier, but in other ways it’s harder. I personally prefer a “WEAN” period before I go cold turkey…it seems to make the absolute a little easier for me. But, the fact of the matter is, somehow you just have to make it through a few weeks, and then the cravings get much, much better!

When I first started a year ago, my main goal was to completely eliminate gluten, processed foods, and all refined sugars, using only honey and maple syrup. I have antibodies and am considered “sensitive,” my sister has celiac, and another sister is like me. Both of my daughters have the same gene for celiac as my sister and at least one of them most likely has celiac–unfortunately in retrospect we didn’t do antibodies in kids, just genetics, prior to d/c gluten, making it too late to check antibodies now. Both of my boys most definitely have issues with gluten and stopping gluten has eliminated a multitude of medical issues, including 8 and 10 years of GERD requiring PPIs [proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec]–which they are now off of, headaches that were occurring several times a week, and some neurological weakness in my oldest.

Anyways, when I stopped the gluten,I LITERALLY DREAMED OF MUFFINS AT NIGHT.  I mean seriously, I am not making this up. It lasted about 2-3 weeks and then no more. It took several weeks to months and really the addition of no dairy to really feel better. My kids showed some improvements immediately (one daughter’s unexplained rash was gone within 3 weeks) and others over a longer period of time. I can absolutely tell when my kids get into food they shouldn’t. It’s way more noticeable now because it is a lot easier to pinpoint, and the behavior changes, etc are so much more pronounced. Food dye should be banned! I know Terri will second me on that! It’s waaaay worse than sugar, which I don’t worry all that much about with my kids!

It probably seems hard to do this forever (and the cooking is a pain in the butt, I will not lie) BUT eventually you will seriously feel so much better. And, you will likely bring your family along on your adventure, and they too will feel better. And, more amazingly, you will start to change your taste buds and actually prefer to eat this way! Terri and I comment all the time that we don’t realize how “weird” we eat. (Ok, for the record Terri eats way weirder than me! LOL!) We forget how far removed from the norm we are.

The craziest thing I’ve noticed is that despite complaints about too many vegetables and no junk food (total lie on my kids part, we have junk food, it’s just different than before!), MY KIDS ALSO PREFER TO EAT THIS WAY!!!! And, my oldest (11) will actually acknowledge he feels better (when he’s not being too sassy and disagreeable…). My kids do not eat very much at my parents or in-laws, and they normally pound the food at our house. We seriously think it’s because they now prefer fresh, unprocessed foods prepared the way we do (and don’t even get me started on our parent’s “attempts” at healthy…) Also, do not be discouraged if you have picky eaters! All 4 of mine would have qualified as EXTREMELY picky a year ago.

And, I might add that at the beginning dinners could be painful. HOWEVER, they seriously eat the food I fix. Now, not all of them eat all of what I fix. Everyone has their like and dislike list. However, they all eat way more vegetables than I could have ever dreamed of a year ago. When we first started, dinner every night was a meat and two vegetables. They didn’t have to eat both, but had to try one bite (occasionally I caved on the trying part) and then they could pick the one they wanted. People always say, my kids won’t eat that stuff, blah, blah. Guess what? Mine wouldn’t either, until there was NOTHING else to eat! Now, my oldest who hated broccoli (and still doesn’t like it) eats it without complaint. One day I commented on this, asking him if he’d grown to like it. His response, “well, I’ve had a lot worse.” Ha! He REALLY hates Brussels sprouts! It is a long process, and we so aren’t there yet at all in my house. I’m continually attempting to improve things. Just hang in there. It really does get easier.

And, Dot, no worries about the cookie bribery with your kids! I absolutely have been known to bribe veggie eating with dessert! In fact, especially at the beginning, I made quite a few almond flour cookies, muffins, etc, because I needed to keep my kids on board with this. And, I wanted the older ones to be willing to say “no” to the gluten treats at school, ballgames, etc, by providing non-gluten alternatives at home. I believe Terri has even been known to pay a kid to eat a vegetable! THE GOAL IS TO GET THEM TRYING THINGS, AND EVENTUALLY EATING THINGS.  My kids actually eat a much larger variety of food in general now than they used to. And so do I for that matter! When my kids complain something is awful, that I agree really isn’t very good (my recipes do flop sometimes) my response is, “You’re right. It’s not the greatest, but is it edible? Then eat it. We can’t always be eating our favorite foods!” We are most definitely still evolving though.

I will text you guys pics of a couple of recipes that I have used this week. I think they fit the parameters of your diet, but not positive. However, they are very kid friendly, not that complicated, and “normal food” if you’re cooking for the whole family. We had sloppy joe’s last pm (I serve on romaine lettuce boats, some kids prefer eating with a spoon, or for a real treat I serve with a few “Boulder canyon” potato chips for dipping, which are just potatoes, avocado oil, and sea salt) and a beef roast in the crock pot tonight, that is a very easy recipe and several of my friends whom I have made it for after babies, surgery, etc have liked, and they are used to eating a “normal American” diet, so your families should approve!

Hang in there ladies. I will have to admit that you guys are motivating me. I actually got my butt on the treadmill for 30 minutes yesterday, and plan to do the same again today. (I realize you do not know me Hannah, but I hate exercising more than I love sugar! LOL)

Good luck with your cooking!

X

From Terri (me):  So what do you think?  Can you overhaul your nutrition?  These medical doctor mamas are!  I’m doing my best, in a very slow manner I know because my own family comes first, to provide you the research to back it up.  To help you explain it to a spouse or a friend.  I wish I could be faster.  I try to remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  The research is there.  Eat real food.  Stay away from sugar and processed flours.  Funnel in produce, fresh meats, and seafood.  I know it’s hard.  I know it’s expensive.  But we cut costs when we quit buying junk food.  Quit eating out much.  And stopped paying like 12-15 copays a month.  You can do this.  ~~Terri

Salmon OCD Dip

 

Today’s recipe is my take on a delightful appetizer made by a mysterious, black-haired, smokey eyed, Romanian gypsy who weaves her Eastern Romanian fare with Italian and Camaroonian accents.  With her help, I have learned to appreciate wpid-IMAG1331.jpgtraditional foods full of nutritional goodness.  I could sit all day and listen to her stories of growing up in a Communist state.

She made this appetizer for a get-together and served it with Belgian endive leaves.  I told her I think she is a great cook.  She attributes it to the fact that, because she has been many places besides the United States, she has no preconceived idea of what she “needs” to make to please people.  So she is free to “just make.”

I think this would be a great dip to take to a Super Bowl party.  It is called Salmon OCD Dip to help you remember why it is so good for you.  Omega-3.  Calcium.  Vitamin D.

Salmon OCD Dip

1 can of salmon, 14.75 ounces (I use wild-caught, intact salmon, meaning the bones and skin included.)
1/2 tin of sardines
10 capers or more
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
1/4 cup of softened palm shortening or leftover bacon drippings
Juice of one lemon
1/2-1 teaspoonful of salt
Optional:  2 small, thin anchovies

Put the salmon in a food processor, blender, or mini food processor.  Don’t look at the disgusting mixture.  Just think and repeat “omega-3, calcium, and vitamin D.”  Process well.

Add the sardines, capers, onion, palm shortening or bacon drippings, salt and lemon juice.  (And the anchovies if desired.)    Process well.

Transfer to serving bowl.  I prefer to serve this with fresh carrots and sliced apples.  My friend served it with Belgian endive which she had separated into “boats” and arrayed on the serving platter.  Lovely.

Family “gustar” report:  My kids won’t try it.  If your kids love seafood a lot, it may go.  If they don’t, probably won’t.  My husband and I both think it’s great.

I wish you health and hope that you will consider what intensive nutrition could do to help you attain it, even if it seems like a problem that would have NO nutritional connection.  You may be very surprised.  I was.

Terri

Thoughts on Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin

“Are you taking a prenatal?”

Picking a prenatalIdeally, we would all get our nutrients from foods.  However, with food intolerances, food aversions, soil depletion, lack of access to high quality food sources, and food processing, some argue that this just isn’t possible in today’s world.  I won’t argue either way.  All I know is that doctors like it when women who are trying to conceive, pregnant, or nursing take a prenatal vitamin, but they aren’t always helpful in recommending one or up to date on the latest nutrient information.

I have delivered four babies in four different states, and my four different obstetricians never once had a firm prenatal vitamin recommendation.  Often, I just cycled through samples they gave me at different visits or some Walgreen’s over-the-counter product.  The question at OB check-ups always was, “Are you taking a prenatal?”  And my answer usually was, “Yes.”  The doctor’s simple response was, “Okay.”   (Or–“No, I am not taking a prenatal.  I feel too sick.”  “Well, just make sure and get some folic acid.”)  End of conversation.  Never once did the OB request, “What kind?  Let me see it.”  However, I think obstetricians/practitioners need to know of any supplement put in their patients’ mouths so they can have the opportunity to offer guidance.  They may even have some great recommendations and samples based on a patient’s health history needs.  (Or not.)

Anyhow, after the last few folic acid/folate posts, I received a few questions and comments about choosing a supplement for pregnancy.  So I put my fingers to the keyboard and was reminded of what I already knew from my search many months ago for myself at the beginning of our surprise pregnancy.  Choosing a prenatal vitamin supplement is a real bear.  A real maze.  A twisted, contorted game.

The Dilemma

If you read my recent posts on folic acid versus folate, you probably think that it’s probably high time to ditch folic acid in favor of a natural folate in prenatal vitamins (and vitamins in general).  Great.  Now you know.  Now I know.  But what good is knowledge if you don’t know how to act on it in real life?  I tried to pinpoint a good prenatal vitamin with L-methylfolate for myself to take many months ago, but it wasn’t as easy as that.  Let me say it again.  It was not as easy as that.  If I liked the vitamin content profile, then I didn’t like the extra ingredients, for example the use of soy, oats, artificial colors, or vanillin (an artificial vanilla flavor).  If I liked the clean ingredient profile, it didn’t meet the minimum recommended iodine requirements.  Or it didn’t have any DHA.  Or it used ergocalciferol (a plant-based vitamin D) rather than cholecalciferol (the better utilized animal based).  Or the vitamin B 12 was not the methylcobalamin form.  Or it didn’t have any vitamin K2.

What do you do?  You do the best you can.  You choose the best you can.  (And you make EVERY BITE COUNT.  More on my personal experience with that in a subsequent post.)  There is no perfect prenatal out there.  There just isn’t.  I’ll tell you what I looked for.  But this is the story of my thoughts and learning.  Not my medical advice.  Please don’t use my blog posts as medical advice.   You’ll have to figure out for yourself with your practitioner’s help what you need for sure and also where you’re willing to compromise on your prenatal vitamin.

Things I looked for in my prenatal vitamin:

  • Does it use folate or folic acid?  I prefer L-methylfolate or another biological folate.
  • Does it have the recommended dose of iodine?  What is the source of iodine?  I prefer it to have iodine since my iodine sources are limited (I don’t tolerate eggs and dairy well.) and haven’t yet sorted through which source I feel is best for iodine.
  • Does it have selenium to accompany the iodine?  If iodine is taken, then selenium needs to be sufficient as well.
  • Is the vitamin D source from ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) or cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)?  I prefer vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
  • Does it have any vitamin K2 in it?  Vitamin K2 is difficult to consume from foods, especially on a dairy-free diet, yet it is very important for health and fetal development.  Many supplements lack this.
  • Does it have the methylated form of vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin)?  I prefer this.
  • Does it have any DHA?  (A type of omega-3)  None of the prenatals I looked at contained DHA.  I made a point to eat DHA-rich foods, and if that wasn’t happening, I supplemented.
  • Does it have biotin?
  • Does it have choline?
  • What extra ingredients does it have?  I don’t see any reason for artificial colors and artificial flavors (like vanillin).  In addition, I am always on the lookout for soy, dairy, and gluten in any supplements due to some sensitivities.  I scan ingredients, also, for added probiotics or FOSs which may not agree with tummy issues.
  • What are the amounts and types of other minerals, like iron, calcium, and magnesium?  Many prenatals don’t have the recommended allowances of these, which can be okay.  However, women need to make sure they know how much of these minerals are in their prenatal vitamins so they can get their needs elsewhere if required.  Some women rely on their vitamins because of food aversions and nausea.
  • What is the vitamin A source and how much is in there?  Striking a middle ground here would probably be wise.  Not too much.  Not too little.  If you eat a lot of vitamin A rich foods, lean on the lower end in the supplement.
  • How many pills need to be taken?  Sure.  One is ideal but probably not optimal for absorption and maximizing nutrients.  For example, the calcium needs of the body cannot be absorbed in one sitting.  It needs to be spread out through the day.

Putting Criteria into Reality

I don’t have a good prenatal to recommend.  Like I said, nothing met all of my criteria.  My most recent obstetrician didn’t mind that I didn’t take a prenatal vitamin as long as I took a “folic acid” supplement.  This was a surprise pregnancy, and by the time I started looking for a prenatal, I was overcome with pregnancy maladies.  (Read:  I am making excuses for not selecting a good prenatal.)

Initially, I took a vitamin B complex with an active form of L-methylfolate made by Designs for Health along with some fermented cod liver oil since we were in the dead of a brutal winter (which would provide vitamin D, vitamin A, and DHA/EPA).  Then, I switched to a Designs for Health multi-vitamin that I already had in my cupboard which would provide some vitamin K2, iodine, zinc, biotin, and choline for baby and me, but it recommended 6 pills per day!  Right.  I was not very compliant with that.  So I eventually picked up a pre-natal from the local health food store, Rainbow Light, and made do with it, but it did not meet all my criteria.  My nutrition overall was strong and well thought out, and I felt the prenatal was more of a safety blanket for me.  Like perhaps to cover my low intake of iodine until I recognized a weak area in my diet.

I went back this week and looked at some prenatal vitamins after reading up on folic acid/folate, and I wished I had had the energy to investigate them all early in that first trimester.  But I didn’t.  So here are some of the vitamins I looked at this week that met a lot of criteria I find important.  I also listed Rainbow Light since I took it and saw a lot of women commenters on other sites mention it.

Do not use this list as a recommendation list.  Use it as a place to start looking, comparing, and contrasting which vitamin might fit you best, and always enlist the help of your physician to make sure you’re not overlooking something.

Nutrient 950 with Vitamin K by Pure Encapsulations

This is not the prenatal from the same company.  The prenatal has folic acid, not folate.

 

Emerald Labs Multi Vit-A-Min Prenatal

  • This has L-5-methyl tetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF), vitamin D3, iodine (although a lower amount), selenium, methylcobalamin, and biotin.
  • No DHA or choline.
  • The dose is 4 capsules.
  • With the recommended dose, one does not obtain the recommended daily doses of magnesium and calcium.
  • The ingredient list should be inspected for a person to see if there are any sensitivities to included ingredients, like quinoa and FOS.
  • One source of vitamin A is vitamin A palmitate, rather than simply relying on beta-carotene.  A reader may want to research this a bit.  Especially if they eat many food sources of vitamin A.
  • http://www.ultralaboratories.com/emeraldlabs/Prenatal%20Multi/index.php

 

Thorne Research Basic Prenatal

  • This has calcium folinate and L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF), both biological folates. It also uses vitamin D3, iodine, selenium, methylcobalimin, and biotin.
  • There is no vitamin K2.
  • Calcium and magnesium do not reach the recommended daily doses.
  • The source of vitamin A is also palmitate (and carotenes).
  • The dose is 3 capsules.
  • https://shop.thorne.com/products/womens-health/basic-prenatal

Designs for Health DFH Complete Multi

  • Designs for Health Complete Multi has vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin K2, natural folates (5-MTHF and 5-FTHF), methylcobalamin, biotin, choline, iodine, and selenium.
  • The calcium and magnesium are less than recommended allowances.
  • There is NO iron and no copper.
  • Its vitamin A source is carotenoids.
  • The dose is 6 capsules.
  • http://catalog.designsforhealth.com/DFH-Complete-Multi

Optimal Prenatal Vitamin/Vitamin Powder

This vitamin is out of stock reportedly due to popularity, but there is a protein powder designed to be interchangeable.  They are working to get the vitamin back in stock.

Rainbow Light

Rainbow Light is a food-based multivitamin, vegan compliant.  It is what I landed on for a prenatal vitamin due to chance, and it gets good reviews on-line.  It misses some of my criteria.  I landed on it, but I don’t think it’s the best.

  • It’s vitamin D source is D2 (ergocalciferol).
  • It has no vitamin K2.
  • It does not have the methylated form of vitamin B12.
  • It uses folic acid.
  • On the other hand, it does have iodine, choline, and biotin.  It also contains iron.
  • The calcium and magnesium content, like the other brands, is less than the recommended daily doses.
  • It has some added ingredients, like red raspberry leaf, ginger, spirulina, probiotics, and digestive enzymes for readers to investigate.
  • http://www.rainbowlight.com/multivitamins-prenatal-one-multivitamin.aspx

 Conclusion

I think this is a good list of prenatal vitamins/multi-vitamins to start to check out.  Do readers have any others (and thanks to those who gave suggestions)?  Remember, it’s all a game of checks and balances.  Start with a good, strong, well-planned pregnancy diet and make sure your supplement does that–supplements the gaps in your diet.  Run all of your supplements by your doctor.

All the best to you for a happy, healthy family!

~~Terri

 

 

 

Fabulous Folate Smoothie

Green smoothie rich in folate

Putting Knowledge Into Action

So the last two posts have been about folate versus folic acid.  (First post and second post.)  Lots of science to explain why the folate from real foods is better than folic acid from enriched, processed foods and vitamins.  But let’s put it into action!  How can we get folate into ourselves and our families?  Smoothies.  Everybody likes a smoothie.  Right?

Smoothies are deceptive foods.  A banana.  A spoonful of nutbutter.  Some yogurt.  A little chocolate.  A splash of sweetener.  Taste.  Needs more banana.  Oops.  A little bit more of nutbutter.  Add some ice.  Taste.  Dang.  Overshot.  Needs a little more sweet.  Have the kids taste.  Needs more chocolate.  How about some vanilla?  Perfect.  Kids drink half theirs.  I drink all mine and all their leftovers.  So much for a “healthy” snack.  Guarantee I’ll have a carbohydrate crash nap after about an hour.  Zonk.

But a well-placed smoothie with a purpose.  Now that’s a shaker.  That’s what I like.  To reach dietary folate goals, I started drinking green smoothies during pregnancy.  My kids weren’t too hip on them.  The greens can really impart bitterness.  But I didn’t want to give up!  I get tired of chopping up vegetables for a folate rich salad the family will all eat or cleaning the skillet from sautéed greens.  I deserve a break–in the form of a blend!  Well,  finally, here is a recipe that I and my kids can all agree on.  (In fact, my daughter made the photo design for this post.)

Fabulous Folate Smoothie

1 cup of loosely packed spinach (Any greens will work but spinach has the best folate profile.)
1 well-ripened large mango which is about 1 generous cup (Mangoes are a fruit rich in folate.)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon maple syrup (Or use honey or Stevia to taste or whatever you use for sweet.)
10 ice cubes (I use two single handfuls.)
Enough liquid to blend, if needed (Choose one of the following:  your favorite tea, Kombucha which will add even more folate, orange juice which will add even more folate, or your favorite kind of “milk”.)

Place into blender and blend until smooth.  I put the greens in last so the mixture blends evenly.

This recipe made the above two glasses full you see in the photo.

 

Smoothie Folate Content and Recommendations From the National Institute of Health Fact Sheet

The folate content of this green smoothie is about 160 micrograms.  Recommended folate intakes are as follows in the table taken from the National Institute of Health Folate Fact Sheet.  DFE refers to dietary folate equivalents.

 

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Folate [2]
Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
Birth to 6 months* 65 mcg DFE* 65 mcg DFE*
7–12 months* 80 mcg DFE* 80 mcg DFE*
1–3 years 150 mcg DFE 150 mcg DFE
4–8 years 200 mcg DFE 200 mcg DFE
9–13 years 300 mcg DFE 300 mcg DFE
14–18 years 400 mcg DFE 400 mcg DFE 600 mcg DFE 500 mcg DFE
19+ years 400 mcg DFE 400 mcg DFE 600 mcg DFE 500 mcg DFE

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Smoothie Carb Count

The carb count for those interested is about 71.  If I’m the only one drinking this, I will often use only half a banana and Stevia instead of maple syrup.

Closing

Eat real folate!  It’s good for you!  Try to get your nutrients from food if you can.  Make every bite count!

Do you drink green smoothies?  Do your kids?  Does your spouse?  I’m converting mine over finally!  Two years.  Two years into this.  It’s not a fast-paced game to convert your family to this way of eating!  But it is worth it!

Have a great day!

~~Terri

Hobos

The Favorite HoboHey there!  How are ya’?  Good to have you drop by!  Do you make these?  Hobos.  Probably my kids’ favorite summer meal.  Super easy and leaves the kitchen pretty darn spotless.  Not to mention a great way to work through the ground beef you have boatloads of when you buy beef in bulk!  It is also a GREAT recipe to let the kids help with, layering on vegetables, sprinkling on spices, tearing off aluminum foil, and folding up the foil.

We use onions, potatoes, carrots, and ground beef.  But you can use sweet potatoes, green beans, chicken, pork, or mix and match!  We do these on the grill for great flavor and low mess, but you could also do them in an oven, too!  My kids don’t eat sweet potatoes all that well, so I usually opt for potatoes.  I peel them, which deprives them of some of the mineral nutrients, but right underneath the peel are “lectins.”  Lectins can lead to increased intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”) and some people have sensitivity reactions to lectins.  Since I’m working hard to reverse some of these issues (with finally some fair success, I think), I choose to peel them if I eat potatoes.  Also, for a make-ahead meal, these could be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to cook.  Or cooked ahead of time and reheated in the oven.

Here is how we make our hobos or “hot pockets.”

Hobos

This makes five packets for me, but it could EASILY make more!  I just get lazy.

2 pounds ground beef (grass fed beef imparts some extra health benefits)
1 and 1/2 onions, sliced into circles or as desired
1/2-1 potato or sweet potato per person, sliced
1 carrot per person, peeled and cut into coins, not painfully thin, but not so thick it takes them forever to cook
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder, optional
Onion powder, optional
Olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the vegetables
Aluminum foil
Parchment paper, optional (I recently learned to use it to minimize aluminum transfer to foods cooked in foil.  Compliments of salixisme.wordpress.com)

1.  Mix all of your vegetables together in a large bowl.  Toss with just a little olive oil to coat, and sprinkle if desired with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders.  I found if I don’t use a tad of oil, the vegetables want to stick to the foil or parchment.

2.  In a medium-sized bowl, place your ground beef.  Season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste.  I probably use a teaspoonful of salt, 3-4 shakes of ground pepper, and a couple shakes each of garlic and onion powder.

3.  Lay out large rectangles of aluminum foil and line with parchment paper if desired!

4.  Place a pat of ground beef (remember this makes 5 pats for us, but it can easily be divided into more) on each rectangle of aluminum foil.  I push the pats down into irregularly shaped patties.  Top with the mixed vegetables.

5.  Fold the packets such that all the contents will stay enclosed, or draw up all the sides like a “hobo” bag.

6.  Place on hot grill for about 20-30 minutes.  (Sometimes I cheat and open one up, checking to make sure the beef is done as I like it.)  If you make them in the oven, it takes about twice as long.  You just want to make sure your carrots and potatoes are tender and the beef is done.  Steam escapes when you open so be very careful!

7.   Remove from heat, and serve in packet or transfer onto a plate.  I usually divide one in half for each of my kids.

8.  My kids like to top with mustard and ketchup.

Family “gustar” report:  100% success (5/5 of us)!  When a friend asked about what in the world to do with all of her ground beef, I suggested these.  Her family of six loved them, too!

Certainly hope you’re having a great week!

photo (7) Hobos

~~Terri