Thursday, November 11, 2010

Propylene Glycol - Good or Bad

Propylene Glycol. Are you familiar with this ingredient? You might be if you read labels as much as we do.

Over the last 2 years, I've realized that we use many products with chemicals and ingredients that are harmful, carcinogenic and just plain old "bad" to use. Some additives most definitely are harmful and should be avoided ALL the time, whereas others are sometimes harmful - depending on individual sensitivity and then, there are those that are only harmful in certain quantities. It's frustrating to learn that "the government" would allow and permit this to happen. But, happen it does. If you don't believe me,  go grab some of your skin care or make up products and start reading the labels. When you find an additive or ingredient that you are unfamiliar with, just look it up on your favorite search engine, or look it up at Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Data Base.

Toxic personal care products... it just doesn't sound right, and - it's not.

In fact, not only can this be frustrating, but - it can be downright discouraging. Angering. Is angering a word? It makes me mad and very, very sad. Can't ignore the truth. I can't anyway. Can you?
My big question is, " How much is too much?"  I do not have that answer.

Let's learn about propylene glycol and then decide if we can ignore this ingredient.  

Ok - so what exactly is propylene glycol anyway?
A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In the skin and hair, propylene glycol works as a humescent, which causes retention of moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. The Material Safety Data Sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.  Ok, I swear I learned about this in cosmetology school back in the 80's...  duh.

Propylene glycol can commonly be found in:
  • makeup
  • shampoo
  • deodorant
  • conditioner or detangler
  • styling mousse
  • cleansing cream
  • mascara
  • soap
  • skin cream
  • bubble bath
  • baby powder
  • conditioner
  • toner
  • after shave
  • baby wipes
Also in:
  • Tire sealant
  • Rubber cleaner
  • De-icer
  • Stain removers
  • Fabric softener
  • Degreaser
  • Paint
  • Adhesives & glues
  • Wallpaper stripper

Somehow, these 2 lists do not seem to go together - and they shouldn't.  Right?

Just this week, I found propylene glycol on the label of coconut.  I made the macaroons anyway and served them at a Packer party last Sunday night.  They got rave reviews and I am not buying that coconut brand again.

This week, as I was arguing strongly discussing the ingredient tricolsan and reading labels with a friend, I found more propylene glycol.  I expect it on antibacterial soap, which is banned from our home, but - I do not want it in my coconut, just to keep it moist.  I'll get some new coconut tomorrow at Whole Foods.  Whole Foods rarely let me down!

I realize that most of us can probably handle eating propylene glycol, and most of us could use it on our skin too.  But, why would we?  Why would I want to eat natural gas?  *sigh*

For children with multiple allergies, sensitivities and other challenges, again I ask:  why would we?  During this time of "healing", I choose to limit what we are exposed to --  if I can control this exposure.

We buy and eat mostly organic food and try very hard to consume living food, raw food and pure water.  Why defeat this lifestyle with unhealthy chemical additives?  Really, I don't get it.  does this build up in our bodies?  Are there any (honest) studies showing the long term affects?  If PG is immediately absorbed and keeps things from drying out, what happens on a cellular level in our bodies and in our bloodstream?  I have never-ending questions, of course.  Why is this in wet/moist pet food?  Why are we using products with PG in them?

Wait!  I do get it!  Proplyne glycol is:
  • Cheap
  • Easy to make
  • Easy to get
  • It works - it does the job
  • Someone makes money off it!
Yeah - I get it...

If I weren't so tired from trying to regain our son's health, I would go back to school and further my education so that I can understand all the "why's".  For now, I will simply continue reading labels and making the best possible decisions for my family that I can.  What else can I do?  I do not have the answer as to whether this is a good or bad additive; however, I avoid it, if I can.

It's Veteran's Day...  say a prayer for those who are serving and those who have served.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oh Tomatillos - Where have you been?

Tomatillos.  They were new to me, until last week.  Now they are my friends.

Variety is the spice of life...  it's true.

I had never paid much (if any) attention to tomatillos in the grocery stores.  I thought they were just another type of tomato, or something...  Something is right!  They are something wonderful that my kids like to eat and this makes me very happy.

For most children and adults on the GAPS, Rotation or Feingold diets, variety is a key factor in controlling food allergies and also in promoting healing, especially in the gut.  But, let's face it, it is work. All the cooking and dishes and dishes and cooking...   and the fact that we no longer go out for dinner anymore, well, you know how it is.  Home cooking double meals each day, it's time consuming and -- it's exhausting.

So, when I find something yummy that is affordable and safe for the whole family -- I get happy.  Yep.  Happy.

We eat a lot of fresh, raw and living foods already, so this recipe was embraced and welcomed into our family as one of own.  This slightly sticky-skinned food is a bit on the lemony or tart side and the juice seems to thicken as it sets.  I swear it thickens in the fridge.  Interesting...

As far as nutritional value goes, tomatillos are low calorie, cholesterol free, low in sodium and contain magnesium* and iron.  This alone makes me a fan!

It's ridiculously easy...  only 5 ingredients in the salsa.

Portion-wise - serves 4 of us for lunch.

3 - tomatillos, cubed (sugar cube-sized)
1/2 red onion, chopped, but - not too fine
Big pinch of salt
Juice from 1/2  of a lime (lime juice)
Fresh cilantro to taste - I use about 1/4 cup

In a glass bowl, combine ingredients and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes, stirring often.  That's it.

Serve with chips.  I add black beans and rice -- and call it a side dish for Nicolas.  He eats it.  He likes it.  He does not react to it.  All good.

I know, I know, red onion can be a bit strong... BUT, wait...  something wonderful and magical happens when the fresh squeezed lime juice, tomatillos and red onions combine with the salt...  mmm.

Cost for tomatillos:  $1.19/lb.  Hubs came home with 2 lbs, which will last a long time too.

Test for ripeness:  The shell should be dry, light brownish -- at least for the green tomatillos we find in the city closest to us.  There are other varieties and colors, but - I cannot find them here in Wisconsin.

By appearance, tomatillos remind me of my grandmother's ground cherries, but - are not the same.  Not at all.  She made pies and jams out of her ground cherries.  We make salsa.

Tomatillos are called Mexican ground cherries and from the recipes I have seen, they are used in Latin American dishes/recipes.  For us, they are a safe and nutritious food for my family.

If you try these, let me know if you like them?

*Magnesium post...   ASD Experiment #1

Note - I have removed all supplements from Nicolas' diet since May, due to allergy testing.  

I am filled bursting with thankfulness, when I look back at the magnesium post and realize just how ill Nicolas was.  I knew he was ill and I remember that post clearly.  Very clearly.  Looking back, it scares me.  Yes, I am frightened to think of what could have been if I had not intervened in our son's life.  

We've made so many changes over the last 2 years, I cannot count them all...

I do plan to add some supplements back, starting in November.  We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

GF-CF-CF Mac and Cheese

It's been 2 years since Nicolas has had macaroni and cheese.    I  had given up looking for cheese at least a year ago and had lost hope of ever finding cheese again, that is gluten-free, casein-free and corn-free cheese -- until just the other day...

I found a new cheese at Whole Foods, and by all label appearances --  it looked acceptable.  I was surprised. 

Bought it.  Made it.  The boy loves it!

We've had it 3 times, in small amounts and it seems to be ok.  If we are having reactions, it too hard to tell because Hubs allowed Nicolas to have communion last Sunday.  Why did that man willingly allow havoc on his son's body?  To torture me, apparently.  Oh, yes.  Yes - yes, yes...  we had issues on Monday.

Anyway, back to the glorious cheese!

 Daiya - it's...
  • Cholesterol free
  • Trans Fat free
  • Dairy free
  • Free of all animal products (Vegan)
  • Free of common allergens including:
    • Dairy (casein and lactose), soy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts (excluding coconut)
  • Free of Artificial Ingredients
  • Free of Preservatives
  • Free of Hormones & Antibiotics

Here's our macaroni and cheese recipe.  It's delish.  I tried it.  I would voluntarily eat it.  Good stuff.

Mac n Cheese
  • 2 cups cooked Tinkyada pasta, we used spirals
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons Wildtree Butter Flavored Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 fresh, small garlic clove, pressed
  • pinch of lemon  pepper and a pinch of salt
  • 1  cup plain rice milk
  • 1 cup shredded American Daiya Cheese
Cook pasta according to directions.  Do not overcook.
In a saucepan, cook onion in oil until tender. Add garlic and then lemon pepper and salt.
Add rice milk.
Mix and stir well.
Add cheese. Stir until melted.
Stir pasta into cheese.  

Serve immediately with lightly steamed broccoli.   This is a very flavorful buttery/garlicky/cheesy dish and it smells as good as it tastes.  Yum!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Preventing Chaos

Most of us know that it is so expensive to buy food for our kids with food allergies and intolerances.

I used to think it was hard to find food that was:

free of artificial colors, sweeteners and MSG, etc.

Oh, how we wish we could purchase everything we need from one store or retailer... or better yet, order it online from just one place!  Dreaming...

Well, back to reality.  Ain't happening.

But, I did find a website called Gluten Solutions that has some of the items we use -- and they were on sale too.  Big time! 

This muffin mix does concern me because it has xanthan gum and we usually use guar gum. but - for $1.99, I am willing to try it, and ordered only 1.
In hopes of preventing some chaos, I placed my first order, selected the least expensive shipping and got a whole box of special food for my special child!  I plan to save most of these items for upcoming events, such as birthday parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving and maybe even Christmas.

I don't  get a lot of Nick's food online anymore, although I love the $4.99 shipping option at VitaCost. I just do not like buying in bulk, since we have reactions pretty often again.

The closest city to us has a Hy-Vee grocery store, which carries many wonderful products, which are all 10% off on Thursdays.  Apparently, Thursdays is "health market day" at our local Hy-Vee.  If I am lucky, I'll go on Thursday and use a few coupons too.  Never thought I'd be a coupon clippin' mama, but- I never thought my precious child would be thrust in a world of intolerances and allergies either.

Frosting?  I've not given Nick frosting in 2 years.  Usually use fresh fruit or GF-CF chocolate chips.  Very excited to try this product, without cornstarch. 

Anyway, I am very pleased to have the foresight to prevent some chaos during the upcoming holidays, by having some special baking mixes and frosting ready.  The weather is forecasted to be cool this weekend, so I will likely bake up some cupcakes to freeze and have on hand, just in case we get invited some place special.  Nick has done remarkably well in his classes where treats and candy have been passed out.  I am so proud of how far he has come the last 2 years.

Two years ago, using Fruit Loops to play bingo with would have completely whacked him out.  He handled it today in his music class.  This is good.  I'll end on a positive note.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Adventures in Autism: CDC Vaccine Recommendations in Childhood Hits 70.....

Adventures in Autism: CDC Vaccine Recommendations in Childhood Hits 70.....: "Ding! Ding! Ding! America wins a prize!!! CDC wants your child to have 70 vaccines by the time they are 18 years old! 70! ...50 of those..."

I have been meaning to post about this...  it still shocks and disturbs me.  It's been almost 2 months since this news came out and I am still weak in the knees.  

ACIP  =  The  Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices

Now that my summer bloggie break is over, I am re-acquainting myself with the feelings of sadness, shock, disbelief and some fear.  Might as well admit it -- it's scary!

Yet...  there is still hope.  Without knowing all this "stuff",  I would be just as ignorant as the next person...  and, my real hope, my very, very real hope is in God.  Yes, all this "stuff" that we learn about is heavy - really heavy.  Using an old word -- burden...  or in this case, burdens or worries.  Or maybe even call them concerns...  whatever I call them, there is an action I take, in my heart.  I have to try to let go of the worry and ask God to take it from me.  Turn it over, let it go, turn the burden over...  it all means the same thing.

I am but a mere mortal mom and cannot carry the weight of this negativity.  I do believe that the Maker can though.  The following old hymn goes through my head sometimes.  Reminds me of when I was a child and sat next to my grandmother on Sunday mornings, in a little country church... just like you hear about. . .  and old hymns bring comfort to me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Wondered About This...

I've been wondering how the unused flu shots were disposed of. I know that some people wonder about health care, about political parties, about the oil flowing... and I know many people do not worry or even bat an eye at questioning the safety of vaccines.

I guess that I don't either... now. Now I know. I have known the last few years and I know who my child was, is and I know we cannot go back in time, and "un-do" the damage to his immune system. Oh there's just a lot I could say, but - really, I just want to share this post from over at Age of Autism, by Ginger Taylor.

Ginger is an amazing mom. I've followed her blog on and off over the last couple of years. I have to say it again: she is amazing.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Goodbye Summer - Hello Chaos

For the first time in our 8 years of home-educating, I took some time off, away from what is considered "formal" homeschooling of Nicolas.  I needed the break.

Of course, we did not stop learning -- Nic asks dozens, if not 100's of questions each day and we participated in our local library's summer reading program.  Yes, our special boy is a reader!  And yes, he is obsessive with his reading too.

Gold belt test day!

Throughout the summer, we focused on continuance of our strict dietary intervention with him and added karate to his schedule for the summer.  Tomorrow is his last day, and I wish we could continue with karate.  I could write an entire post about all of the emotions I felt (and still feel) just watching Nic participate in a sport without me, and be able to listen and follow instructions...  just like other kids...  well - without intervention or freaking out about some unknown something or other.  I have walked on eggshells all summer, hoping he wouldn't have a meltdown.  And he didn't.  Not one meltdown at karate.  Isn't that amazing?  It is nothing short of a miracle.
I think it's partially because the situation is controlled by the owner, who is absolutely amazing with children.  I'd rank him right up there near "the saints", if you will.  Anyway...  karate was a positive experience for us!

We will be starting our school year on Wednesday.

Will it be chaos?

I already know the answer.

Goodbye summer, hello chaos.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scary Prayer

Not sure what I think about this... but - it is something to think about, when I am not crushing supplements or pulling weeds out of the garden.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Our Newest Food I

The last couple of years, I have been on so many bandwagons and tooted so many horns - and tried so many new recipes!  Some we love and others are short-lived phases or temporary addictions.

At first, it wasn't easy to find gluten-free and casein-free foods... but, when we added yeast, vinegar, MSG and CORN to our list of forbidden foods, it did get a little bit trickier.

Now days, not such a big deal...

We deal with it. What other choice do I have? None.

The last couple of months, we have been doing something new!

Ready? Sprouts!

Yes, we sprout. We sprout just about anything than can be sprouted.

Why? Well, for many reasons, but - the biggest is that sprouts are tasty, full of vitamins and antioxidants and Nicolas loves them. And did I mention antioxidants?

We've learned so much about living foods, raw foods and our powerhouse antioxidant sprouts, that I just might have to do another post about how to sprout.

And, since I really need to shed some pounds before summer, I am eating sprouts too. We eat them raw, stir-fried, baked and often, just simply added in with our baked breads, muffins and scones. (Anytime my muffins don't turn out, I call them scones now...)

We sprout grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables, etc. And my goals is to keep 2 - 3 kinds of sprouts going at all times. Why? Well, because they all harvest at different times and are eaten/enjoyed in different ways.

Right now, we are sprouting broccoli sprouts. They look similar to alfalfa sprouts that you often see on salads and sandwiches, but - they are not the same. These little darlings are amazing!

First of all, broccoli sprouts are in the brassica family. Sound familiar? They should. Seems everywhere I look I find new information about broccoli being an excellent cancer inhibitor - at least the natural kind that we eat. 

From what I read, broccoli sprouts are also the highest known dietary source of the potent anti-cancer phytochemical, Sulphoraphone (antioxidant), and they contain 50 times more than the mature broccoli head. Yes - the little guys are better for us than the big heads! (That really sounded odd...)

The whole family is getting used to jars on the counter, growing our little sprouts.

I am just a newbie at this, but - it is going well and I hope to be sprouting for a long, long time.  Nicolas does not react to sprouts, and this is good news - especially considering that the boy is always hungry.  I am very aware that we need a variety of foods for him, and I need to keep them rotating.

After the last year, I will take all the good news I can get.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Posting We Will Go... First: Dr. Wakefield

The web, tv and papers are full of autism information this month.  Or - should I say misinformation?

Been a while since I have even had a chance to blog...  I do not know how I get so busy, but - the kids have to remain my priority, so - the blogging often gets set aside.  Since blogging is my therapy, and I do still get a little overwhelmed, I am back to blog, or at least today I am.

I recently saw this video and have been wanting to share it all day!  I wish it was good news or a "reversal or miracle cure" for what's already happened, but - it is worth sharing.

You really should head over to Dr. Mercola's page and read the full post here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Greedy Do Not Surprise Me Anymore

Read this over at The Age of Autism, this morning.  I am not surprised and I have my own thoughts about why things happen.  ((The love of money!))  I am living with my own thoughts each and every day, in our created chaos.  I am living with an ill child...  and sometimes I am so close to the situation, that I forget what "normal" or "usual" are.  Really, broken pencils are the usual.  Yelling, crying, huffing and puffing are the usual.  So on and so forth...  my own thoughts resulting from the life I now live.

Specifically, why the CDC and FDA allow our children to be injured...  (Sigh)  But, it's already a damp, foggy day here - no need to make it worse.  Not going to focus on that right now... here's the story though:

NBC 11 Atlanta Reports: Vaccine Researcher Flees with $2M

Jayne Watson of Atlanta had this story last night.

ATLANTA -- A Danish scientist who was a lead researcher in two studies that purport to show that mercury used in vaccines do not cause autism is believed to have used forged documents to steal $2 million from Aarhus University in Denmark.

Friday, February 26, 2010


For years, we have had pencil problems. We = Nicolas. It's just another one of those things that would be odd in someone else's home. Here, it's the usual. Notice I didn't say it was the norm!
This is my dream pencil sharpener! Just look at this - it's a thing of beauty. Ahhh...

There is not a day that goes by without a pencil getting broken. Usually it's just the lead, or should I say it is always the lead.

Every single day - Nicolas breaks the lead in his pencils. It has been driving me crazy for the last 2 years. Still is.

I have decided to break down, and buy a new pencil sharpener. Electric... maybe.

We have gone through 3 in the last few years and they're not a cheap item! The good sharpeners are upwards around $80.

I seriously am considering a manual design for $15. Either way, I will have to listen to it make a noise while it is sharpening. Maybe the arm exercise would be good for Nick?

This may sound silly, but - it is just one of the "things' that adds to our created chaos. Broken pencil leads. Sharpening pencils...

Maybe I'll check out some of the office supply stores online ads and find out if they have any on sale?

No matter what I do, we need a new pencil sharpener asap. It's really hard to do schoolwork without a sharp pencil.

We did try mechanical pencils earlier this schoolyear. Nope. No can do. Too thin and went through all the lead in about a day... Hey - I tried!

Can't wait for garage sales so that I can stock up on pencils again. Seriously. This pencil lead thing has been going on for long, it's part of "normal". Ha.

Wish me luck! Pencil sharpers here I come.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Food Label Lies

More food label advice - for all of us, not just our affected kiddos. Same stuff I've been squawking about... imagine that.

I've been thinking about adding more fresh and raw foods in our diets again. Thinking and doing -- not the same thing though...

Can You Trust That the Ingredients are What They Say They are?

You need to realize that some foods, particularly those making low-fat, low-carb or no-sugar claims, can contain drastically different nutrients than are listed on the label, and food products that say they contain milk, fruit or vegetables may not contain the real McCoy at all.

For example, some blueberry muffins do not contain actual blueberries, but rather artificial blueberry-flavored bits. Other products that list milk on their label may actually contain non-fat powdered milk, palm oil, sugar and additives, instead – the chemical “equivalent” of milk.

There is also the potentially daunting task of deciphering what certain ingredients really are. For instance, if you were trying to avoid corn (which is genetically modified in most cases these days), you would have to avoid not only anything listed as “corn,” but also:

Malt Baking powder
Malt extract and syrup Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Sorbitol Maltodextrin
Food starch Starch
Dextrin Confectioner’s sugar
Fructose and fructose syrup

All of these items could potentially be made from corn, but unless you are specifically aware of what to look for it would be easy to overlook these items when looking for corn on an ingredient label.

Here's the article from Dr. Mercola.

Can't Sleep

I can't sleep.

Found a video that I have never seen before... I see quite a few.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Haircuts, Dark Circles and Grumpy

I need to complain.

Not about the CDC, FDA or vaccines. Not about GMO's or crappy HMO's. Not about food labels, chemicals or ingredients... or any of the other negative things I deal with on a daily basis.

Haircuts. I took Nicolas to get a cool little new hair style. He needed one and although he is 8 years old, he has only had 2 other haircuts in his life that I didn't cut. Being a former cosmetologist, I can give him a decent haircut, but - the other day I was feeling kind of happy and decided to splurge and get him a professional salon cut. She did an awful job, didn't listen to me and I hate Nick's bald head! I'm mad he has a crappy hair style and a poor cut for his head size, hair texture, etc.

Nick has very dark circles under his eyes again. We saw his DAN! doctor last week...all is progressing; however, I am still discouraged about the raccoon resemblance though.

And lastly, I think I sometimes feel mad that I am mad. And that's makes me even more mad.

What I mean to say is that sometimes, most times - lately, I catch myself feeling discouraged. That's all - I am just tired this week. Maybe it's because it snows every other day around here? Or maybe not.

I am pretty mad about the haircut. I can't say I have never messed up a haircut in the last 25 years, but - dang... Nick doesn't need to look goofy.

I'll be over this in a few months, once my bald child has grown his hair out... I hope. Maybe I should just cut his hair for the rest of our lives. Yup - that's it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Peking Acrobats

Earlier this week, we went to see the Peking Acrobats, in the city. As always, it was entertaining and the announcer told the audience, of mostly children - to be sure to NOT try any of these tricks at home.

Last year, we had great seats! Second row, to be exact.

This year... ugh - the top row. Way up in the back...

The girl never minds waiting. She's happy just being with me!

Back to the announcer's warning about being a Peking Acrobat... and not trying to do the stunts at home.

At home? My kids didn't even get out of the building before trying!

After messing around in the building for a while, with some friends, we headed over to their house for lunch and we got to meet their pets. One of which is named "Beardy", a bearded dragon. Nicolas was thrilled and I have to admit, holding a beardy on my bosom is not the same as holding a fussy, warm-blooded little rodent, like our hamsters.

All in all, it was a fun day. Nicolas plays well with kids both his age and younger. He doesn't really have any friends who are older, so I don't know how that dynamic would work. But - on some days, it's a real gamble as to whether or not he is going to "behave". He did pretty good on this particular day... for Nicolas, that is. I really love having the freedom to homeschool and take field trips... we needed it this week.

And yes, I know that my nails are getting too long again. Makes typing a lot of fun.

Monday, February 8, 2010

GF CF Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I gave up trying to find affordable granola bars without corn syrup. Sometimes I would find gluten free bars, and sometimes even gluten free and dairy free... but - the CO$T was a bit staggering, for me - especially considering how much an 8 year old boy can eat!

So, we now make our own. I have 2 different recipes, but - this sweet, crunchy one is our preferred granola bar these days.

Don't they look yummy? Ok - you have to get over the fact that these do NOT have frosting. Your heart and butt will thank you later...

Yup - they're peanut butter and chocolate, but you can substitute ANY nut butter.

The girl even likes then when they're warm! Mmm...

This one is mine!

It took a couple of attempts... but - we succeeded and now have this very yummy granola bar recipe that we make almost weekly. Best part if that it is gluten free, casein free and corn free and not too expensive to make at all. I would also call it "forgiving", meaning that it's pretty adjustable/tweak-able" too. Plus -- it makes a wonderful aroma coming out of the oven and the house will smell great.

I think the idea is to cut them in long rectangular bar shapes, but - we don't. We cut them as if they were brownies, but - any shape will do. They're granola bars, for goodness sakes and they don't last long...

There's basically 2 parts: the dry base and the goo base. Easy enough, right?

We never use the same exact ingredients in our dry base mixture, but - have found that the following seem to please our palette:

Flax seeds
Raw almonds
Raw cashews
Raw sunflower seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds
GF CF chocolate chips
Organic dried cranberries
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal
Gluten free cereal - we used Arrowhead Mills Maple Buckwheat Flakes

If you've never made granola before, you must know that it makes all the difference in a nummy, nutty toasted crunch flavor if you lightly toast your nuts, seeds and oatmeal before using in the recipe. It's about as easy as it gets too... just place your dry base without the cereal on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 6-8 minutes at 400F, or until you see the oats turning light golden brown.

While the dry base is in the oven, we make the "goo". It times out perfect and this recipe is quick to make, bake and clean up. Win - win, win!

If we have these little morsels in the pantry, we add these over the top, just before placing in the oven.

The recipe goes like this:

1. Using Spectrum Shortening, grease 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish very well.

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚.

3. In a saucepan, on the stove - over medium heat, combine: 1/2 cup GF brown rice syrup OR raw honey and 1/4 cup brown sugar

4. Stir until sugar is dissolved and it begins to bubble, about 5-8 minutes, depending on how hot your medium is... Then stir in: 1/2 teaspoon or up to 1 teaspoon glycerin based GF vanilla.

5. Turn heat off and stir in: 1/2 cup Better N Peanut Butter (more stirring)

6. After it's stirred well, pour it over the dry base (still warm), which should total 4 to 4 1/2 cups. Stir to cover and coat all the warm oats, nuts and seeds, fruit - then "pour" into that baking dish.

7. "Spread" as well as you can - it will be a bit sticky and "press" down in to the bottom of the pan, even if it seems like it should be more condensed or stuck-down, it' s ok. Do your best and try to press the granola together without crushing it to crumbs. Every time we make these, we think that they're not pressed enough, but - they always are. Bonus! Easy-peasy... If you use chocolate chips, sprinkle them on top now, before baking.

8. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.

Let them sit out and cool down a bit before cutting, but - not too long. Most recipes will tell you to let them cool completely before cutting. I have no idea why! It's like chiseling a tree if you let them cool. Then you end up with granola, not bars. Cut them while they are still warm - ok? They come out of the pan very nice while warm!

Nicolas says he likes the brown rice syrup much better than raw honey, but - we have made these with raw honey too.

I happen to be out of raw honey because we use it all the time, and have cut way back on using Agave Nectar, thus we use a lot of raw honey. There's a little natural food store about an hour from here I really want to go shop at!! They have a natural meats farm and I'd love to grab a couple of roasts! Oh, and jam without corn syrup... and soaps without chemicals... and lots of cool stuff! Yes, I do make my own, but - it's winter... and I am tired. Winter lasts so long... Maybe I will try to get there later in the week and blog about it... I love the products I have bought from them at trade shows. We'll see. There's 8 - 10 inches of snow forecast for tonight and tomorrow... ain't gonna be any road trips for raw honey happening!

Back to the bars...

I'd like to try them with blueberries sometime... pistachios and maybe pecans. Walnuts left a "bitter-ish" flavor in the bars when I tried using them a couple weeks ago... so I would suggest a different nut, unless you are a sold-out walnut lover!

Speaking of nuts, I have a new carrot muffin recipe I am trying tomorrow. I'll let you know if they turn out. Ok?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Keeping the Love Happenin'

It's February - love month.

Hubs and I went to a truly wonderful marriage seminar last weekend.

Oh don't choke! It's wasn't boring at all... in fact, I laughed my face off!! I didn't realize how much we needed to laugh. There's a fair amount of "bad" stuff in our lives: reading labels, looking for "bad" ingredients, a.k.a. chemicals Nicolas is allergic to... and we've realized that many of the things that are bad for Nicolas, aren't good for us either. Anyway, it was good to get away, laugh and get some perspective.

I think I will focus on positive "stuff and junk" this month... with all the love in the air!

Here's a sample from Laugh Your Way to A Better Marriage.

I Can Fix A Lot of Things...

It's true - I can fix a lot of things. I am pretty versatile (if I don’t say so myself).

And it is true: I can fix a crooked haircut, a broken fingernail, broken toys, lots of broken or imperfect items. As a parent, I am always fixing and maintaining THINGS. I can put air in my tires, mow the lawn, weed the gardens, groom the dogs, clean the windows, put salt in the water softener; and even make my wrinkles and gray hair disappear (with software).

I remember the first time I heard,
"I can fix a lot of things, but - I can't fix stupid". I thought it was a little crass or insensitive. Do I still? Well... I kinda like that little saying now, actually - especially when I consider that most people are ignorant of just what vaccines can do to their children. Their ignorance is what keeps them "safe"; but - are they? ((Sigh))

People want to save the whales...

They want to save the seals...

Save whatever is cute and squeals.

But - delay immunizations?

((Deer in the headlight look...))

Or, consider that there might be a connection to food and your child's behavior?

Yeah - right. ((Oh, I feel some attitude coming on... don't you?))

It's never important until it happens to you...

More than ever before, my need to pray is great. It is time-consuming and most of all... it is absolutely necessary. No matter how hard I work or manipulate situations, I cannot make things work out. And, it's tough.

It's been well over a couple of years since Nicolas' "change" and 15 months since our intervention. I am encouraged by his progress and as much as it hurts to look back at what has happened to him, I look forward to getting him even healthier this year. With God's help, we continue to go forward and heal. For today, I will only worry about the things I can control and fix. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Excited - what?

Hello class. Our word of the day is "excitotoxins".

Along with MSG (monosodium glutamate) and MSG-like food additives, aspartame is in another class of compounds known as "excitotoxins". Can you say "excitotoxins"?

These excitotoxins basically excite brain cells until they die. Meaning that eating MSG or aspartame has the potential to cause a little bit of brain damage, which (I think could) become cumulative and could eventually lead to Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's, or other neurological diseases. Hugh - neurological diseases? Did I say that?

Aspartame is especially controversial, and - I don't really understand why, because laboratory tests BEFORE it was approved-- showed that it caused brain lesions, cancer, death, and a number of other serious health problems. Aspartame was originally rejected by the FDA, but - since its approval, brain cancer rates have risen, although a portion of those cases may be due to the explosion of cell phone usage at around the same time. Cell phones... another topic for another time.

From what I have read, Aspartame and MSG are the substances the FDA receives most complaints about, with a range of known side effects including birth defects, cancer, and death. Dear me. Why do most ob/gyn's tell pregnant women to avoid aspartame? Why do DAN! doctors advice their patients to NOT consume any aspartame?

And, the question that really makes people angry (defensive): Did you know that aspartame isn't good for you?

That question seems to make people go bizerk. Why is that? Do they simply want to remain ignorant or do they want to commit suicide? Ok - that's kind of harsh... but - so are ASD's!

Do people not want the truth so that they don't have to deal with it? It's ok if they don't want to. Who cares. It's a free and ignorant country. But - can we let it go at that? We should. And I do something else too. I pray. I pray that if someone needs to know about excitotoxins, that someone else would come in to their life and speak the truth as well. Shame on me, but - I am tired. Tired of all the bad news...

Sometimes, for some of us - we need to keep seeing something or hearing about it over and over and over and over... before we "get it". Remember, truth has the potential to release and heal you. Although "the Truth shall set you free" is referring to Jesus Christ, it is a coined phrase that also holds true. Don't get mad at me! I used to eat food that had aspartame in it. And, I used to have a lot of migraines.

Speaking of migraines... let me tell you about my former migraines... I used to get them 4-8 times per month and they never lasted longer than 4 days or less than 2. I kept food diaries and logged everything that happened in my life and there was no connection. Doctor after doctor. ((sigh)) I did not know about MSG and aspartame at that time, just a few years ago.

So - let's summarize, shall we?

Excitotoxins - not good. Must try to avoid them, if at all possible. Why? I'll attempt to explain what I read when we first began healing Nicolas... from what I recall, it is my understanding that: excitotoxin is a substance, often an amino acid, that reacts with specialized receptors in our brains in such a way as to lead to destruction of certain types of brain cells. Glutamate is one of the more commonly known excitotoxins.

MSG is the sodium salt of glutamate and I believe, an amino acid as well as a normal neurotransmitter in our brains. In fact, it is the most commonly used neurotransmitter by the brain. Common, I hear...

Money hungry or ignorant defenders of MSG and aspartame question us: “How could a substance that is used normally by the brain cause harm?” Well, because - glutamate, as a neurotransmitter, is used by the brain only in teeny, tiny concentrations. True - BUT, when the concentration rises above this level the neurons begin to fire abnormally. At higher concentrations, the cells undergo a specialized process of cell death. So, what I understand is that they can get so excited that they die. Death does meaning dying.

It is also my understanding that our brains have several fancy means to prevent MSG from accumulating in our gray matter. First is the blood-brain barrier, a system that impedes glutamate entry into the area of the brain cells. But, God created us with this system to protect our brains against occasional elevation of glutamate - as would be found with non-processed food consumption. (That means fresh foods...) I doubt that it was not designed to eliminate very high concentrations of glutamate and aspartame consumed daily, or more -- several times a day, as we see in our current society.

Get this: I've read on several websites -- of experiments that have shown and concluded, that under such conditions, glutamate can by-pass this barrier system and enter the brain in toxic concentrations. In fact, there is some evidence that it may actually be concentrated within the brain with prolonged exposures. There are also several conditions under which the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is made incompetent. (What a word to use - eh?) Before birth, the BBB is incompetent and will allow glutamate to enter the brain. It may be that for a considerable period after birth the barrier may also incompletely developed as well. And, in the case of our son, who was a 30 week preemie... I have to wonder. In fact, as we get older, it seems the barrier system becomes more porous, allowing excitotoxins in the blood to enter the brain. So there are instances where excitotoxin food additives can enter and damage the brain.

Blah... ((sigh))

If you want to drink a Diet Coke or consume MSG, then go ahead... just don't give my children your poison.

Oh, I have a bit of an attitude... walk in my shoes and you might too.