oils-morning

Our before-school morning routine

Weekday mornings are always a bit of a rush, but there are a few things I make sure to do every day to help ensure our kids have a successful day. By successful day, I mean avoiding sickness as much as possible, being kind to others and respectful to teachers, paying attention in class, and staying calm and anxiety-free.

- probiotics and cod liver oil: the kids line up before breakfast to get their dose of high-quality probiotics (we use this one) and spoonful of cod liver oil (here is ours). Probiotics help populate the gut with beneficial bacteria and are a natural immunity booster. Cod liver oil is excellent for brain health, focus, and overall nutrition.

- nourishing hot breakfast: I want to fill the kids’ bellies with a nourishing, good-fat-filled, protein-rich breakfast. Here is what I typically make.

- essential oils: while they’re eating breakfast (or sometimes afterward if I’m busy), I put various EOs on the backs of the kids’ necks and/or behind their ears. Here are the ones I usually use:

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  • Vetiver – we use this to help with focus and ease anxiety/nervousness, and I believe it helps Nate keep his hands to himself because it calms him.
  • Valor – a fantastic oil blend (Spruce, rosewood, blue tansy, and frankincense in a base of coconut oil), Valor is one of my personal favorites because it helps with my neck pain (I heard someone call it a chiropractor in a bottle!), but I use it on the kids, too, because it is thought to help boost confidence.
  • Thieves – I use a roller fitment and roll this oil on the bottoms of the kids’ feet before they put on their socks. Helps with immunity, and the feet are a very good place to put oils!–distributed into the body and also not a skin-sensitive area.

If I have time or if there seems to be a need, I also use these:

  • Joy – I put this one over Lucy’s heart and on her earlobes to help calm her emotions. She loves it.
  • Cedarwood – another oil good for helping with focus that I put on Nate.
  • R.C. or Raven – these are two good oil blends that contain eucalyptus. If anyone has a stuffy nose or slight cough, they get a good rub-down with one of these!

- final Thieves spritz: right before the kids get out of the car at school, I spray their hair and shoulders with Thieves spray, helping to provide a barrier against lice! Already this school year, each of my kids’ classes has had a lice outbreak, and we have not brought it home at all (knock wood)!

To sign up as a wholesale Young Living member and get oils at a 20% discount, comment or click here.

Vetiver

My favorite essential oils

Today I want to share my current three favorite essential oils. I have many favorites, but these are the ones I’ve been using most often! Vetiver (second one down) is a newer favorite. And you know what’s especially great about that one?–it lasts. Because it’s a thicker oil, when I put it on I can still smell it (and reap its benefits) hours later!

If you are interested in learning more, comment with your email address. If you’re ready to sign up as a wholesale member and get oils at a 20% discount, click here!

Peppermint

VetiverThieves

31 Days: my favorites

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Welcome! Today is the last day in the 31 Days writing challenge, where I’ve posted every day (except three) for the month of October. Here are my favorite posts from this month:

Raising chickens to overcome fear of animals – I loved this post because I got to put up pictures of our chickens when they were cute little chicks, but also because this was a real issue with a real solution we experienced in the last year.

Food at school – I like being able to give practical, easy-to-implement tips like in this post. My favorite “treat” recipe is also included in this one.

Nourishing recipes worth taking time for: broth – broth is such an important part of natural, whole foods nutrition!

Recipes that saved my sanity – more practical tips, links, and recipes.

A nutty treat – I rarely make up recipes, but I’m proud of myself for this one!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’ve detailed our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries.

Why I write

I must admit, I thought I would have at least a few people read and comment on some of my posts this month. However, that wasn’t my main motivation for writing every day. My hope is that, by writing our experiences, I might help someone, at some point. I know my blog isn’t the fanciest, doesn’t have lots of photos, isn’t expertly designed, but if it comforts or teaches or helps another family going through similar trials, it’s a success! I would have been so encouraged to have found another mom like me when we were in those first couple of years of diagnosis and therapies with Nate.

So in that vein, if you are here for the first time and are dealing with a new (or old) autism diagnosis, try these posts:

Intro to treating autism

2014 check-in

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Q&A time

I’m enjoying this 31-day journey of writing every day, compiling our experiences, and thinking through what has become important to us nutrition-wise over the years. Is there something I haven’t covered that you are wondering about? Leave a comment, and I’ll answer your questions in another post!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Eating well when eating out

Dining-Out-Healthy-Way

It’s certainly possible to dine out and eat well, and there are many posts that already exist on this topic! Here are a couple:

The Primal Blueprint Guide to Dining Out

Dining Out, Paleo-Style

Cooking at home will almost always be more nutritious than dining out, of course. And yes, we want to be prepared with quick-to-make and easy-to-prepare nutritious meals in our pantries at home. But sometimes we just have to eat out! When those times occur, I think it’s mostly about common sense and grace. Use our common sense when looking at a menu or asking about ingredients, and then stick to the most whole-foods options we see. Then have some grace on ourselves when we have to choose something less than ideal.

For our family, there are a few places we go regularly. Chipotle is one of my favorites! For the kids, we get a salad (the boys have their lettuce pushed to the side because they don’t like everything mixed together) with carnitas and guacamole, no dressing. Lucy also gets the pico de gallo on hers. I love that Chipotle lists all their ingredients on their website, including GMOs (which their tortilla chips do contain). We also eat at Chick-Fil-A. The kids get the grilled nuggets and a small fry (a treat!). Finally, In-n-Out gets a large chunk of our eating-out money. The kids get either plain meat patties (the boys) or a hamburger protein-style with grilled onions and tomatoes only (Lucy), plus they share one order of fries. Are these choices the absolute best? No. But they are much better than what we used to do. Also, when we do go to a sit-down restaurant with the kids (which is rare), we can usually find a few things to order: plain hamburger patties (check there is nothing added to the hamburger and ask it be cooked with no extras besides salt and pepper), plain steak, side of avocado, side of steamed vegetables, etc.

It’s certainly possible to stick to nutritious eating when you go out. I often find, though, that the price tag for the kinds of foods I want to order for the kids dissuades us from eating out as much as we used to!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

A recipe worth the wait

This is my favorite patience-trying recipe, worth it in so many ways.

Making it this way preserves the raw garlic benefits (mostly from allicin, which is formed from garlic when a compound called alliin in garlic comes into contact with the garlic enzyme alliinase when raw garlic is cut, crushed or chewed. When you heat or cook garlic, alliinase becomes inactivated, preventing the production of allicin).

Pickled garlic

Fresh garlic cloves (several bulbs worth)
Apple cider vinegar
Honey, raw
Jar with lid
Wax paper

Carefully peel the cloves of garlic without nicking them. (If you nick them, they will look funny but are still usable). Peel enough to fill a jar. You can use any size jar.

Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar. If the jar’s lid is metal, cover the mouth of the jar with wax paper and then screw on the lid. (I’ve found it easier to use a glass jar with plastic lid.) Place a label on the jar. Keep at room temp and shake daily for 6 weeks.

After 6 weeks, pour off half the vinegar. (Save this for using in cooking). Add honey to fill to top. Re-cover and shake. Shake daily for another 6 weeks.

The garlic is now ready to eat! You can eat them as a treat or take at the first sign of illness.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

A nutty treat

Do you soak your nuts? :)

Soaking nuts is a good way to make them more digestible, since it neutralizes the phytic acid that naturally occurs in them. Of course, after soaking, they’re all bloated and moist–yuck! So then it’s time to dehydrate them! I have a dehydrator (love it and use it mainly for nuts), but you can also use your oven. This may sound like a lot of work, but it makes the nuts so much easier on your body and also makes the nutrients in the nuts more available for absorption.

Here is a quick rundown on soaking and dehydrating, and then I want to share a delicious recipe. To soak your nuts, put them in a large bowl and cover with filtered water to 2 inches above the level of the nuts. Then add sea salt (quantity depends on how many nuts you have; for a Costco-sized bag of raw walnuts or almonds, I add 2 Tablespoons of salt). Let soak overnight or at least 12 hours. Drain and give a quick rinse. Then spread your nuts out evenly on your dehydrator trays or on cookie sheets. Set dehydrator according to directions, OR put in your oven at the lowest possible setting (150 would be great) for 8-12 hours. I find almonds take longer than walnuts. (After 8 hours, take one out and eat it; is it crunchy or still a bit moist? You aren’t trying to cook it, but you want it to be dried through.) After you’ve dehydrated the nuts, now you can use them to make nut flours, nut butters, or other treats!

Here is a fun and very delicious thing I did this week with some of our dehydrated walnuts.

Chocolate walnut butter

2 cups soaked/dehydrated walnuts

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

2 Tablespoons raw honey or grade B maple syrup (or 1 T of each)

Put the walnuts into a food processor or blender:

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Process until the walnuts turn into nut butter! Here is what they look like after a few pulses:

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And here they’ve clumped together enough to be nut buttery (don’t worry if it seems dry; the honey/syrup will help):

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Now add your cacao powder and honey/syrup:

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Process:

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Scrape down the sides, and process one more time:

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Now enjoy your delicious, healthy chocolate walnut butter! You can do this with hazelnuts to make an even-closer-to-Nutella version. This is good as a fruit dip or eaten straight on a spoon!

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This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Details from a day in the life: dinner

This week I’ve been detailing what our typical breakfasts (all about efficiency), lunches (all about nutritious taste), and dinners involve. Today let’s look at dinner!

Since dinner is more about variety, I don’t have a “typical” dinner that we eat. However, my tried-and-true, make-them-at-least-twice-a-month meals are lettuce-wrap tacos, spicy honey chicken and sweet potato rounds, and oven-roasted chicken.

Lettuce-wrap tacos

I used to think making taco meat meant using one of those spice packets, but have you looked at those ingredients? You can easily make your own spice combination, or simply brown ground beef with salt, pepper, and 4-5 minced garlic cloves. Then dice and/or prepare your other desired ingredients: tomatoes, avocado (a must for us!), green onions, cheese (if your fam does cheese), salsa, etc. Peel lettuce leaves, and use them like tortillas. Easy!

Spicy honey chickenspicy honey chicken with honey

This is our family’s favorite dinner recipe, hands down. I make a huge batch of the spice rub and have it on hand all the time.

You wouldn’t think that a spice rub would make that big of a difference, but MAN does it. Also, I think chicken thighs taste much better with this recipe than breasts. Grilling also adds that extra deliciousness factor, but I have made this on the stovetop before and it does still taste good.

Sweet potato rounds

This recipe evolved from when I used to make sweet potato fries. Cutting the fry shape gets pretty laborious, so I tried doing it this way, and we all love it!

Preheat oven to 375. Slice sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds (not TOO thin or they’ll burn). Coat both sides in coconut oil, then spread evenly in one layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Put in oven for approximately 45 minutes. They should be crisp (and delicious) like fries.

Oven-roasted chicken

I like this recipe so much! I like making a whole chicken, because we can use the leftovers for multiple things, and then I use the bones to make broth.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Details from a day in the life: lunch

Like I mentioned Monday, lunch (specifically school lunch) around here means good foods I know my kids will actually eat. I like to include a hardy protein (+ fat), a fruit or vegetable I know they’ll actually eat, and a “treat.” Hardboiled eggs, leftover meat, vegetables and hummus, apples, oranges, and bananas all make it into lunches every week.

Now let’s get to the details about those treats!

This recipe is one of our all-time favorites. I started making these before I knew about soaking grains, but now that I do that, I add an extra couple steps. Soak the oatmeal, then dehydrate it if possible. Then proceed with this fun recipe!

Energy balls adapted from the recipe at Smashed Peas and Carrots

1 cup gluten-free oats

1/2 cup raw almond butter or cashew butter (or–better yet–a nut butter you’ve made)

1/3 cup raw honey (to make vegan, which I’ve done when making these as gifts for teachers, substitute grade B maple syrup)

1 scant cup unsweetened coconut flakes/shredded coconut

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything in a medium bowl until incorporated. Let chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then roll into balls. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

For schools that do not allow nuts, the above recipe can also be made with sunflower seed butter.

Another treat I like to give the kids is healthy cookies. I’ve yet to come across the perfect recipe that all three children love (usually two love something and one doesn’t!) AND that are nut-free. Here is our favorite easy cookie recipe that does include nuts.

Almond-coconut-chocolate cookies

1 cup raw creamy almond butter

6-7 Tbs raw honey

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (can make your own by grinding oats)

1 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk almond butter, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add oat flour, cacao powder, and baking soda. Stir until combined. Scoop dough into balls and roll in coconut flakes. Place on baking sheet and press down with a fork, forming a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Yields 12 cookies.

Finally, sometimes I like to put a piece of bread or a waffle into the kids’ lunches. HereIMG_2737 is a good coconut flour bread recipe I’ve made a couple of times (nut free!) from The Paleo Mom, and here I posted our favorite waffles.

Paleo Bread

4 eggs

4 Tbs butter or coconut oil

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 baking soda

1.    Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 7.5″x3.5″ loaf pan with wax paper.  Grease the wax paper with coconut oil.
2.    Melt the butter (or coconut oil if using) and let cool slightly.
3.    Beat eggs until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and beat again until smooth. Let the batter sit for a minute to thicken.
4.    Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Spread it out so that the surface is even. Bake for 35 minutes.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.