diet

Tips for Improving Gut Health with a Picky Eater

By on January 27, 2020

This entire blog was sparked when working to heal my middle son’s health issues by targeting his gut health. He is my canary in the coal mine. He is sensitive to many foods and environmental toxins. He has had a cold or virus almost every 3 weeks since August.

Something happened when Ezra turned 2. At his 2 year well-check his pediatrician said something along the lines of look out– you are entering the picky eating year. I was one of those moms who thought “that will never happen to me”– we eat a balanced diet, we only offer healthy foods and he loves his veggies.

Well… here we are, approaching year 3 and he has a very limited diet. Many times he refuses to eat rather than eating what we are serving. It is a control thing, not a palate thing. One day he loves asparagus and beans, the next day he will only eat bananas. It’s tricky.

It is “normal” for kids to catch 8-12 viruses the first year they are introduced to the public. My kid has caught them all. I do lots to help him fight them off, but how do I keep his gut in check when he won’t eat? It is a tough place to be when the nourishing foods you know will help are refused.

Something like 70-80 percent of our immune system is based in our gut. When our gut bacteria isn’t balanced correctly, our immune systems are compromised. Based solely on what my son *wants* to eat, I can see that his “bad bugs” want to be fed (fruit, crackers, etc) and no veggies. Even though fruit is “healthy” it still metabolizes as sugar. Nature’s candy, is how I like to think about it.

How do I help this kiddo out? How do I help support his healthy microbiome and immunity when what he will eat is limited?

  1. Prebiotic/Probiotic supplement. Taking a boost of prebiotics and probiotics support and balance out the microbiome. I have found a kids formula that tastes good and he enjoys taking. It is now part of our morning routine.
  2. Fiber supplement I choose one that contains fructooligosaccharides. Fructooligosaccharides are prebiotic fibers that are low-calorie, non-digestible carbohydrates which aid in immunity, bone health and the growth and balance of important bacteria in the digestive track. Simply put, it is what the good gut bacteria like to “eat”. These are found naturally in foods like asparagus, onions, chicory, etc. Since getting him to eat veggies is an issue, I have found a shake that he enjoys and I give it as a treat. The thing I noticed was that after giving him these two supplements together for about a week he started eating a better variety of foods (veggies and meats, woo-hoo). I will also add spinach, a scoop of green powder, or avocado in the shake so it is disguised.
  3. Grazing Tray another way I get him to eat a better variety is make a grazing tray and put it on our table with our art station. I put cut up veggies, proteins (like nuts), olives, cheese, dips and other things he often refuses. He will snack without thinking as much when he’s engaged in an activity.
  4. Limit Snacks Ezra eats the majority of his calories in the early part of the day. He also really enjoys snacking. After lunch, I limit snacks so that he has a healthy appetite at dinner time. This still doesn’t always work if he’s already decided that he doesn’t want our dinner.
  5. Continually offer and plate our normal meals. I cook nutritionally dense foods. He WILL often refuse, or just drop the food on the floor. However, some days he will eat it all without an issue. I also keep the fruit and crackers out of sight and only offer what is reasonable in a day.
  6. Being part of the process sometimes entices him to eat. He enjoying helping me mix or cut (soft) things and serve them on colored dishes that he chooses is an incentive. I praise him for how good his cooking is and often he will put a few bites in his “mouf”. I also let him choose between two veggies or will turn meal prep into a color, phonics or counting game. He’s very into these things right now, so it holds his attention.

These are my tricks these days for dealing with my toddler. This too shall pass, although his health is always at the forefront of my mind. Especially since he is in this phase of being a germ incubator. Feel free to comment or contact me and I will share what supplements have been working for us if you’re dealing with the pickiness and sickness phase.

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diet

New Year, New Focus

By on January 6, 2020

Let’s call 2020 the year of clarity. I think everything I have been doing over the past few months has brought me to this point. Yesterday was the day of decision, today is the first day of action.

Postpartum is tough for me. This time it has been “easy” mentally but physically I am having a tougher time bouncing back. I have been sedentary, and exhausted (remember my last post?) and our dietary habits and physical activity habits have gone to the crapper. I have known this and keep saying I’ll get there, etc. but time goes to my work and kids 99.9% of time time.

Yesterday, I ran into my OB who hasn’t seen me since my 6-week appointment, I realized I am exactly the same size and physical condition I was then and it’s 7 months later, and I saw a photo of myself that jerked me awake. I have reached my point of knowing I not making good choices and the habits are hurting me. My confidence is low, my energy levels aren’t optimal, and aches and pains are occurring more often than they should.

I blog these things to keep myself on track. I feel if I’m not transparent and showing my own struggles and changes how can I help others who read this blog and are looking for answers or inspiration. You, the reader, are my accountability partner. I will keep you updated on progress and habit changes over the course of this year– along with whatever goes on in my family that could be useful for others.

So– 2020 brings me back to a grain-free, sugar-free, traditional diet existence, with 30 minutes of exercise daily, and more blogging (it’s good for my health). I am adding in a couple of new gut-health supplements and a fat-burning, energy increasing natural supplement. Everything I am doing is breastfeeding friendly, so Mira is all good.

The other pressing things in my home life is that Gus is now working more out of the house so I am with all 3 kids alone, so my strategies and time management skills are going to have to be strict, Keenan has now started virtual school from home, and I am adding a new piece to my business puzzle. It is all fun and exciting and I’m ready for my soon to be 40th year of life. Crazy stuff!

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diet | recipes

Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup

By on March 17, 2019

1 lb grass fed stew beef

2 onions, chopped

2 leeks, sliced white and light green parts

6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/3 head cabbage, shredded

1.5 cups trimmed and cut green beans

2 carrots, sliced into rounds

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 c frozen corn

6 c beef broth

1 can diced tomatoes

Salt/Pepper and any herbs and spices.

1. Sauté beef, onions, leeks and garlic in instant pot, until beef is browned.

2. Add carrots, celery, green beans and cabbage and sauté until veggies start to soften.

3. Season with salt and pepper and any herbs/spices you enjoy.

4. Add broth, tomatoes and corn to pot, stir and set on “soup” setting for 30 min. Quick release when complete.

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diet | recipes

Instant Pot Bone Broth

By on February 3, 2019

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I recently posted my Instant Pot bone broth on Instagram and had a few folks wanting to know the how to’s. I am becoming happier with my Instant Pot, now that I have found a few staples and am happy with the time and effort it takes to use it.

Bone broth is one of our staples. I like to make a few batches and freeze so that we have it for soup bases. I am also going to make a few batches to have for postpartum. Soups and bone broths are warming and healing for the postpartum period. I recently purchased the book The First Forty Days, and although I was not wowed by the book and recipes, the philosophy of nourishing the mother with warmth, vital nutrients and  minerals is a concept I can grasp.

So, how do I make Bone Broth in my Instant Pot?

I make a whole pasture-raised chicken about once a week. We save the bones for broth. Sometimes just in the fridge, but sometimes I will freeze for a later time.

 

Bones from 1 chicken (can also use beef, fish, or lamb)

3 stalks of celery

3 carrots

3 bay leaves

an onion

a couple of tablespoons of peppercorns

2 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar

2 tsp. grey sea salt (I buy French Grey)

  1. Put all ingredients in the Instant Pot.
  2. Fill Instant Pot 2/3 full with filtered water.
  3. If you have time, allow to sit for 30 min. before cooking (I rarely do this), but it will allow the ACV to break down the marrow in the bones a bit before cooking.
  4. Set the soup/broth setting, low pressure 120 min.
  5. Allow the pot to do its thing, allow to natural pressure release.
  6. Strain the veggies/herbs and bones from the broth.
  7. Store in glass containers in fridge or freezer.

When we clean and cut veggies for other recipes, I will often save the ends of carrots, celery and onions in a freezer bag and just use all of the scraps in my broth making.

 

 

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diet | recipes

Simplifying Dietary Changes

By on January 17, 2019

The Struggle is Real

The holidays are over and I am still having trouble getting back on track with my diet. These are the thoughts that have been floating around in my mind:

Carbs taste good, I’m pregnant, just one more day, it’s just “social” eating, one more treat, I’m tired of cooking, cleaning, planning, purchasing.

There ya have it. All excuses to not be my best self. Have you ever had that dialogue floating around in your mind?

I KNOW changing my diet changed my life. I found a healthy, stable weight, my periods returned like healthy clockwork, my son’s medical issue resolved, my feelings of anxiety released, and countless other benefits.

Why, oh why are bad habits so hard to break? Why is convenience more important than health?

Last night, I really had to give myself a reality check. I’m going to deliver a baby in just a few short months, and I do not want a repeat of my last birth experience. Plus, I want my body to bounce back so that I’m not telling another story of postpartum depression or healing difficulties.

Three Tips to Simplify

Simplifying the diet is key. I’ve had to adapt so that I’m not cooking and cleaning all day, or having to run all over the state finding appropriate ingredients.

How have I simplified?

1. Shopping in bulk and mail order has been #1. I found a local source for high quality meat, and place a big order about every 2 months.

Our Costco membership has also been amazing and saves quite a bit of money. We can find compliant cheeses, vegetables, grain-free products in bulk, nice cooking oils, avocado oil mayo, almond flour, compliant salad dressings and several other staples. Scheduling this every 4-6 weeks keeps our pantry stocked and minimizes our trips to run out for just an item or two.

Amazon Prime or Thrive Market are excellent sources to find items that aren’t as accessible in the mainstream market. For me, I would have to drive an hour to a grocery store or health food store that carries compliant baking items.

2. Meal planning is also important. I used to be able to replace a meal with a protein shake to lighten my cooking load. Being pregnant has required that I eat 3 meals and only use shakes for protein rich snacks. Have you ever tried planning 21 meals a week? Its laborious.

Batch cooking and freezing is a good method to lighten the load or just having a plan for dinner by 10 am tends to work for me. Unthawing meat, knowing what veggies need prepped and just general timeline can make the task easier.

Cooking enough food to have leftovers for lunch is also a time saver, or cooking a bigger batch of a favorite that can be eaten over the course of several days for lunch.

3. Instant Pot

I have had my instant pot for about a year and wasn’t sure if I loved it or not. It is not something I use daily but it works wonders to cook a good, healthy, nutritious meal very quickly. I love it for soups and stews or to cook a perhaps frozen chicken very quickly to use for multiple meals.

These are just my tips and tricks that help me stay focused and on task with what I’m putting in my body. I am going to share one of my favorite lunch, batch cooking recipes. I make enough for several days and serve on a bed of greens with a few Simple Mills grain-free crackers. It’s both healthy and satisfying.

Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad

2 lb. pasture raised chicken breasts

3 stalks of celery, diced

lemon juice

4 Tbs chopped, fresh tarragon

avocado oil mayo (Chosen Foods brand, I buy at Costco)

handful of dried, unsweetened cranberries

1. Drizzle chicken breasts with avocado oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 min.

2. Cool and dice chicken breasts.

3. Add diced celery, tarragon, salt, pepper, and enough mayo to coat thoroughly. Approximately 1/2-3/4 c. Mix well. Add 1-2 Tbs. lemon juice and cranberries and mix again.

4. Chill and serve.

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