Saturday, February 27, 2010

30 Day Raw Food Challenge

I'm not sure where I picked up that 30 days was a normal time to try raw food eating - but it has led to my current plan.

My first thought was that this would be easy. Fresh fruits and veggies - no real cooking involved. May even be a time saver.

Nope. What was I thinking? I must have been crazy.

Raw food basically means nothing you eat is cooked. Nothing boiled, nothing sauteed, nothing heated over about 110 degrees from what I have read. (I'm certainly no expert so don't take my word on everything here) To limit temptation in my home, my plan was to switch everyone in the home mainly to raw foods for the next month - with myself following a 98% raw food plan, and husband and children following it about 85% of the time.

Have you ever tried to make a meal out of all raw foods? Just think. What would you make? Post your comments I would love to hear them.

Today was day 1. I'm not sure what I was thinking. This has got to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I had no idea what to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I bought a lot of fruit and veggies - but I wasn't too sure how to combine them raw to make a meal. Yes, I know how to make a salad, but I couldn't possibly feed myself or everyone else salad 3 times a day for the next month.

To top it off my food processor broke a couple weeks ago, and I don't have a blender. Thank goodness for my new hand blender which is helping me get through this time until I get a new bowl for the food processor. But today, every recipe I found that I wanted to try needed either one of these appliances or included ingredients I didn't have or had never heard of.

As supportive as Tom's been - I'm also thinking he is going to decide I'm not feeding him if I hand him a green smoothie for lunch or dinner.

I struggled today...With caffeine withdraw and a headache. With general tiredness. With recipes. With how in the world to make a meals for my family and work until 7pm or later each night over the next 2 months. With how to feed the family raw on a monthly budet of $350 for food. Is any of it possible??

The only thing that gives me much hope is that I am now finally sitting here with a small glass of wonderful delicious coconut milk and a small date/nut bar. Finally...delicious and creamy. It makes me think maybe I won't be giving up all the foods I love after all.

Celiacs? Wheat Intolerance?

My last post gave some clues that we are seeing doctors, and moving forward on some infertility tests. Part of us moving forward extends into my diet.

I've learned over the years that the endometriosis in my body affects me in many, many ways. The backaches and cramps that I experiences nearly every day are horrible. After two laparascopies I know it is still there, I feel it.
There seems to be only one thing I can do to control it - and that is to control my diet. A couple years ago I found some information online that said many women who went on a special diet - mainly excluding gluten or wheat - had almost all their pain disappear.

About two years ago, I tried this. And it worked. Nearly no pain. But it is super hard to avoid wheat and I have done a poor job controlling my diet.

I mentioned this to our IVF doctor - he laughed. I mentioned it to my gynecologist - he nearly laughed.

Then, about 3 weeks ago, in my search for ridding my house of all white flours and sugars, I made a batch of muffins with whole wheat pastry flour. Within two hours I was very sick. I had a rash on my arm, I was nauseous, I developed a migraine, and had many other pains. I had to leave my desk at work and go lay down in the clinic - not a normal occurrence.

I suddenly came to the realization there was a good possibility I was dealing with - a possible case of celiac disease or gluten intolerence - that was leading to the endometriosis - that was leading to infertility. There is a lot that I keep thinking about here, but mainly I keep thinking that if I have an autoimmune disorder, I should probably see a fertility specialist that deals with reproductive immunology.

So I called my new primary doctor and finally had an appointment yesterday. She agreed; no laughing. What a relief. She said it was very likely that I might have celiac's or a gluten intolerance and I definitely needed to be tested. I went for the bloodwork. If it comes back negative, then I have to go see an allergist for a skin test.

And regardless of the test results, the bottom line is I know wheat has an affect on me. And this is one area that I have control over. And one area that might affect my fertility. So I am moving foward on new eating plan.

The recommended endo diet goes something like this - no meat, no wheat, no dairy, no coffee, no tea, no hydrogenated oils. I figured if I was going to follow this, I might as well try a raw food diet...more to come.

E-TEGRITY and Infertility plans

I haven't taken the time to update anyone in the blog world on the E-tegrity test that I was considering.

I considered, I postponed, and I finally did it.

It was not a very easy decision. There is a lot of controversy behind its usefulness. Very few doctors put much weight in it. But I decided to go ahead based on two peices of information.
1) I think part of our problem in our getting pregnant has something to do with implantation problems, and 2) the top fertility center in the nation uses it. At some point I decided those two reasons were enough for me to go ahead.

The results tell you if you luteal phase is correct and if you have protein that is common in the uterus during implantation time. I'm not going to go in to detail about any of it here. If you are interested in details because it's late and I'm tired - so if you want more information on the test look it up.

The uterine biopsy that had to be done for the test hurt like crazy. Literally. I clenched my mouth shut to keep from hollering. The best part was the pain last for about 2 minutes total, this total time included about 20 seconds of HORRIBLE pain, and then it was over. I had absolutely no pain following the biopsy.

The results are useful, maybe. It really depends on whether we find a doctor that uses it.

But they told us that my luteal phase was correct, AND that I am MISSING the protein (beta 3 integrin) that is common during implantation - this is "a glue-like protein necessary for implantation to take place" according to the website.

So, I guess you could say its good news. We found a problem.

The website says that treatment is 3 months on Lupron. I have no idea if this is indeed what we will do.

Our only decision to date is to have more tests done with the belief that the more we know, the better decision we can make. So, we contacted a local fertility specialist who opened an office here in town recently - and they are helping us with getting all the remaining tests we want to have done.
And then maybe we will decide something.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Point Of Light Reception

We had the chance to go to the Governor's Mansion for the Point of Light Reception. Just thought I would share the photo we received in the mail this week. This is us (with my husband looking like Wyatt Earp with a big 'ol mustache), Governor Crist, the president of Heart Gallery of America, and some folks from the Governor's adoption office that I work with frequently.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Science Experiment

This week at our house, Petra had her first impromptu science experiment.

It was a relaxing Sunday; I was trying to get lunch fixed before laying the children down for a nap. Now first of all, you must understand that usually this time is not relaxing. The bad thing about Sunday is by the time we get home from church, it is already past nap time. Then add on to this the complications of having to cook and eat, and usually the children end up laying down about 2 hours past their usually nap time. This whole equation looks something like this: hungry + tired = CRANKY and screaming.

But this Sunday was different. Jasper had fallen asleep on the car ride home. And Petra appears to be getting old enough that an hour here or there in change doesn’t really affect her moodiness.
So while I was making a quick lunch of spaghetti, Petra wandered off and found a box of tea in my overflow stash. Quietly she lay on the floor and began the process of trying to take the plastic off the box. This took a good 5 minutes. I was absolutely relishing the quiet time. By the time she did open the box, I figured I better take it away from her so that I didn’t have a zillion tea bags thrown on the floor. So, I swooped in and grabbed the box, leaving her with one tea bag to investigate.

She looked a little confused as she studied it. She took off the paper. She tried to open it. I am sure she wondered the purpose behind it all. So I grabbed two clear glasses, filled them both with warm water, and sat her down to investigate further. She dipped and dipped the tea down in one glass and we talked about the changes in the water. Then we compared the two glasses —the one with the clear water, and the one with the stained water. And then we tasted the difference between the two. It was all in all a very simple, but fun experiment for a two-year-old and her mom.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lving Frugally - UPDATED

This post seems well timed considering that Thomas and I are making decisions everyday to live more frugally. There are several reasons why we are doing this. But most importantly I think its to assure that our family stays focused on the things in life that are most important. In addition, we are working hard to pay off debts so that one day, we will be debt free.

We have made small adjustments over the last year.

For instance, we are making all of our cleaning supplies. (That of course was spurred by Jasper's allergy to detergents) And since we bought our home we are gardening more and trying to grow more of our own food. We have looked for ways to cut our budget so that we are living on less. And it is really tricky.

To date, we have probably saved the most on groceries. Through couponing and just being very conscious about what I buy and why, we have cut our grocery bill down to about $350 a month. And I will striving to get that down even lower.

Our small adjustments are gradually turning into larger adjustments. This year the garden will be bigger than ever before. And, we have turn off our cable....completely. This will be my last post from the comfort of my own home. We don't watch much TV at all so that won't be the issue, but Thomas and I can be addicted to the computer at times. We check our email very often. We surf the news. We surf blogs. And honestly, not only does it take away time from our family, but it is expensive. It has a lot of perks to let it go - it will save us about $850 this year, and we will have more time with each other. And truthfully, we both have access to the internet during the week at work so we should be able to handle this change. But in some ways, I still feel like I'm cutting off my right hand.

In the future, anytime I update my blog or any website, it will probably be from some store that offers free access. So, there will definitely be fewer posts in the future.

A good friend this week asked for a list of suggestions to save money when grocery shopping. I thought I would share what I sent her.

I have harvested my idea from a million of sources: books, website, etc. But my favorite book for cost savings ideas and inexpensive recipes is Family Feast for $75 a week. A link to Mary's blog called Owl Haven is on this site.

... so maybe you all do these things, but below are some of the ways I have saved money.

  • Our dinners usually cost us about $4-5. Plus there is almost always leftovers for lunch the next day - so aim for this.

  • Make a price list – so that you can see the costs of goods and compare prices across stores. This will help you keep in check so that you don’t spend more than you should on an item – esp at bulk stores where things can be deceiving. To make a price list:

· Gather several of your last grocery receipts and circle your most expensive items to see where you are spending the bulk of your money - start with these

· Keep your receipts and add them to a spreadsheet/book when you get home – start with a few items and gradually add more

  • You usually save more by making things from scratch, rather than buying prepackaged foods.

  • Couponing - Remember some stores double, and others let you stack coupons so you can stack a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon, buy when items are buy 1 get 1 and use a coupon for both items

  • Don’t buy lunchmeat – it costs at least $5/lb – instead buy chicken breasts – I can get chicken breast with bone in for 99¢/lb or less on sale and then cut up for sandwich meat. Or make chicken salad out of it. So I end up paying about $5 for 4lbs of meat, rather than $5 for 1lb of meat. Even if you buy boneless chicken breast at Sams for $1.99 lb you are still saving a ton of money. Or buy tuna when it is B1G1 at Publix.

  • Buy beans, rice, oatmeal, popcorn, flours, and spices in bulk – you can cook beans ahead of time and freeze so that if you need on a moment’s notice they are already cooked and ready to go.

  • Make your own hummus with the beans you buy in bulk

  • Make 1 batch of muffins each week from scratch – the cost is very minimal – and it will be an easy breakfast item or snack through the week. I recommend Morning Glory muffins - they are fabulous and have vegetables in them.

  • Make 1 batch of cookies/brownies each week from scratch for treats

  • Only buy fruits and veggies that are on sale that week - we only eat grapes when they are 99¢ per lb (my only exception to this is that I buy bananas every week for the children)

  • Stock up on onions and peppers when they are on sale – cut them, sliced or diced and store in freezer until you need them for a recipe. I love it when I can find peppers for 50¢ each!

  • Stock up on meat when it is on sale – try to get enough to last until the next sale time – our meat sales repeat every 4 weeks for some items, every 8-12 weeks for others. I just can’t afford to buy organic meat – but I really have considered at buying half a cow – it is cheaper than buying organic at the store but still more expensive than buying sale priced regular meat. I really need some friends who would be willing to go into this with us. (Our best prices in town are $1.49 per lb for ground beef (20% fat, so I must drain and you can even rinse the meat to get off the fat), 69¢ lb for chicken leg quarters, 99¢ lb for split chicken breasts, $1.69 lb for boneless chick breast, $1 roll of sausage, $3.99 lb for ribeye or NY strip steaks)
  • Today I bought the following for $52: 2 lbs sausage, 3.5 lb beef roast, 5.5 lbs ribeyes (6 thick steaks), and 13 lbs of ground beef. It’s a lot to spend on just meat in one week – however – it will be enough red meat for this month plus probably some for next month. My most expensive meal with this will be the steaks – but once a week if we pay $9 for a steak dinner for the family it’s not that big of deal – esp. when you compare to what it would be if we ate out. The total before savings was $100.

  • I rarely buy anything special for a recipe – sometimes I just exclude an item – but most of the time I just avoid recipes with lots of little ingredients. I’m currently putting together a list of recipes that has items that I usually keep in stock – my plan is to sort them with an index by ingredient that is quick and easy for reference. Or buy the cookbook I recommended above, the recipes are really made from mostly those handy items you always keep around.

  • Make all breads and muffins and pie shells from scratch. I made 4 loaves of bread for $6 this past month – the bread had no hydrogenated oils, no white sugar, no white flour, and had additional benefits from things I added. It did take about 1 hour of my time.

  • I buy canned veggies when they are on a great price since they aren’t really that good for you – but the ease of them is wonderful. So I buy when they are about 35¢ a can. And then I stock up on our favorites, i.e. green beans and creamed corn for cornbread.

  • I almost always buy Publix brand organic milk in a gallon – it’s cheaper than any other varieties of organic milk here in town

  • Use cloth napkins and kitchen towels whenever you can – the only time I regularly use paper towels is for grease

  • Reuse Ziploc bags…unless you stored raw meat in them – I even reuse bread bags.
  • There is no reason to buy sour cream or buttermilk - unless you can get it super cheap - both are fairly easy to make from either milk or yogurt
  • Buy a freezer so you can stock pile effectively – the savings you create over 2 months will most likely pay for the freezer
  • Check ethnic stores and meat markets for better prices on items – for instance sesame oil & soy sauce you might could find cheaper at oriental market (I'm planning to check a meat market soon ... should be interesting!)

  • Grow fresh herbs – just a couple should be fairly easy if you have a good window – or you can put them in a flower bed outside – I would recommend parsley, basil and rosemary for starters(and any others you really like.)

  • Grow some of your veggies – you can do some in pots in a sunny spot. For container gardens consider tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, bush beans, and onions.

  • I spend a ton of money on organic milk, and eggs – I don’t have a solution for this – we’ve talked about getting chickens and a dairy goat. Obviously I can’t have a goat where we live– but we are allowed chickens (not roosters). I still have to do a price comparison on this - but we usually eat at least 6 eggs a day.
  • The Church for the Latter Day Saints encourages their members to save food for emergency purpose and even has stores across the county where you can buy in bulk - some are open to the public. Prices are outstanding. For instance, you can get $25lbs of oats for $7.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Christmas 2009

Our busy time at work has officially started. So I will not be home as much over the next few months which really limits my time with the children and the time I can spend taking pictures of everything we do. Daddy and the nanny are both doing a great job keeping them happy and nourished.

So, here are some more photos from Christmas 2009 that I thought I would share.