3 Pharmaceutical Drugs That Ruined My Health (Part 2) – Birth Control Pills

Welcome to Part 2 of 3 Pharmaceutical Drugs That Ruined My Health.

Do you take birth control pills? Do you experience side effects? Do you know the consequences of long-term use? This post is for you!

3 Drugs that Ruined My Health Part 2

Birth Control Pills

In my early 20’s, I began experiencing irregular menstrual cycles and heavy hair growth on my face. No one knew about my strange periods but the excess facial hair was too difficult to keep hidden. In fact, it was quite embarrassing. I felt like “old aunt Edith” that everyone in the family talks about because she has a beard, except I wasn’t old and I wasn’t an aunt. My emotional distress led me to seek out an OB/GYN that specialized in female hormones. After a complete exam and normal pap smear results, he told me I had indicators of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) without any cysts. He believed the only way to decrease my facial hair growth, normalize my periods, and lessen my PMS symptoms was to take birth control pills. I wasn’t sexually active and didn’t plan on having sex until marriage, so why did I need birth control pills? He explained that the extra estrogen in The Pill would override my body’s irregular rhythms and establish normal hormonal function.

What do you say, when you’re a 21-year old college music major?

“OK, doc, whatever you think will help me.”

Unfortunately, I was not comfortable with my body or interested in getting to know the intricate details of my delicate hormones. I agreed to the doctor’s orders because I believed he knew what he was doing. The Pill produced spectacular results. I experienced regular, pain-free cycles and a resolution to my excess hair growth (along with several months of regular electrolysis treatments).

I took birth control pills for over a decade and not for the typical reason, the prevention of pregnancy. They offered me symptomatic relief, but did not solve my underlying hormonal problem. In fact, I believed they caused far more health problems, partly because I took them for so long! It was until my health crisis in 2008 that I began to study the long-term effects of synthetic hormone therapy.

In my case, I believe the excess synthetic estrogen in birth control pills:

Of these health problems, the most painful, was dealing with my uterine fibroids. They not only caused very long periods with uncomfortable heavy bleeding, but also infertility. Thankfully, I had successful myomectomy surgery one year ago this week. You can read Part 1 and 2 of my fibroid story in the following links. There is no guarantee that I will be able to bear children now that my fibroids are gone, but my chances have increased substantially. My husband and I are still praying for a “baby” blessing.

My Uterine Fibroids Journey: (Part 1) A Common Story

My Uterine Fibroids Journey: (Part 2) Surgery and Recovery

I don’t think that The Pill directly caused my fibroids. My original hormonal imbalance (including hypothyroidism), stress, gluten sensitivity, toxins, and other factors could have originated the growth of fibroid tissue. However, I do believe that birth control pills contributed to my estrogen dominance and rapidly increased the growth rate of my fibroids.

Since I didn’t experience any overt side effects from The Pill, I ignored my body for years. I just kept taking it as if there were no consequences. After all, I was just one of 150 million women in the world on The Pill. I wasn’t unique. I was quite “normal.” But what if what we accept as “normal” is actually inappropriate or a sign of misplaced priorities? Now, I wonder why I permitted a synthetic hormone to subvert my body’s own ability to regulate itself for so many years.

For some women, the side effects of birth control pills can include increase or loss of appetite, weight gain, constipation, bloating, decrease libido, headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, acne, and mood swings. Plus, long-term use increases the risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and breast and liver tumors. Wow! Some of my peers have also had a difficult time getting pregnant after ending The Pill. So, infertility can be an additional outcome, even if only in the short term.

I understand why women take birth control pills. I get it. They offer symptomatic relief and are very effective at preventing pregnancy. They are a simple solution. But what is “easy” and “effective” may not be the right choice, especially in the long-term, especially considering the above side effects.

Think about these questions in regards to birth control pills.

birth control pillsWhy do we artificially alter the wonderful design of the female hormonal system?

Why do we impose high doses of synthetic estrogen on our sexual organs?

Why do we want trick our bodies into thinking we are always pregnant?

I now believe that what we are doing to our female bodies is not normal.

A Better Way

There are better ways to regulate hormones. Since stopping the Pill several years ago, the best solution for me has been taking a natural progesterone cream the second half of my cycle every month. It not only normalized my cycles quickly and naturally, but it also offered a nice side benefit of deeper sleep. And natural progesterone has no negative side effects! In fact, not only are many women deficient in this essential hormone, but more progesterone is necessary to sustain a healthy pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.

There are also better ways to plan for pregnancy. Natural Family Planning takes effort and the willing cooperation of your spouse, but it has many benefits. You learn about your cycle and the regular rhythms that can help you plan for a successful pregnancy. It’s a beautiful thing to know your own remarkable body! I highly recommend the book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. You will appreciate the fascinating look into the inner workings of the female form. You will also discover why it is so significant and helpful for women to learn about their own bodies. Do you understand your body? If you still prefer to use some method of birth control, condoms or diaphragms are better choices, without the side effects.

Of course, no discussion about female hormones is complete without a review of other lifestyle indicators. If your hormones are “out of whack” and you know it, I encourage you to examine the following:

  • thyroid and adrenal function
  • vitamin D levels
  • emotional stressors
  • exercise (too much or too little)
  • toxic chemicals in make-up and skin products
  • genetically modified foods
  • possible food sensitivities (particularly gluten, dairy, and soy)

All of these factors have affected my overall health, as well as the expression of my hormones. If you don’t know where to start, begin with your digestion. I believe that optimal gut function is the foundation to good health. After all, you can’t nourish your sensitive sex hormones when your digestive system is under attack.

What’s your story?

Do you believe birth control pills are the right option for you?

I know this topic is quite personal for each woman and couple. If you decide that The Pill should be part of your life, consider taking it only for the short term. I encourage you to learn about your own body and make decisions that will give you a lifetime of good health.

_____________________

In Part 3, we’ll look at the most over-prescribed drug in the last century. The average child has received 17 courses by the age of 20!

Can you guess what it is? Stay tuned and learn more.

Posted in Drugs/Medication, Infertility, Recommended Supplements, Uterine Fibroids | 9 Comments

3 Pharmaceutical Drugs that Ruined My Health (Part 1) – Proton Pump Inhibitors

Have you watched TV commercials for the top pharmaceutical medications lately?

The Lunesta (sleep aid) ad depicts a lovely 40-something woman sleeping peacefully with cute little butterflies fluttering around her head. The Cialas (erectile dysfunction medication) ad shows a handsome 50-something couple in their amazing 3000-square foot ocean-front home about to engage in blissful forays in their bedroom. The Lipitor (cholesterol-lowering drug) ad shows a rugged outdoor fisherman catching the biggest fish of his life. Don’t some of these ads show women doing cartwheels? Seems like there is always a happy woman doing cartwheels in the greenest grass you’ve ever seen!

Then you get to the SIDE EFFECTS WARNING at the very end of the commercial:

May cause day-time drowsiness, liver failure, blindness, loss of limb, and even death!

What? OK, maybe I’ve over exaggerated slightly. But I’m not that far off. Let’s look at the side-effects for a few of the most popular selling drugs of all time.

I took these lists directly from Web MD. Only the commentary in parenthesis is mine. :)

Side Effects for Popular Medications

Sleep aid medication, like Lunesta:

Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs, changes in appetite, constipation, diarrhea, difficulty keeping balance (bad if you are a gymnast), dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth or throat, gas, headache, heartburn, impairment the next day (impairment of what?), stomach pain or tenderness, uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body (tough to deal with in public, oh and which part of the body would that be?), unusual dreams, weakness

Erectile dysfunction medication, like Cialias:

Headaches, dizziness, flushing of the skin, indigestion, diarrhea, congestion, runny nose, hearing changes, loss of vision, and erections that last more than four hours (oh, my!)

Cholesterol-lowering medication, like Lipitor:

Headache, difficulty sleeping, flushing of the skin, muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting (not my favorite), abdominal cramping or pain, bloating or gas, diarrhea, constipation, rash, memory loss, mental confusion, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes (wow, you can give yourself another disease!)

These lists may seem entirely improbable and ridiculous, even laughable. But it’s actually the opposite. The side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs are very serious. When you take a drug for long enough, you can acquire an entirely new disease condition for which you need new drug treatment! And the vicious cycle begins and never ends.

Sometimes, medications are necessary and life saving. A type 1 diabetic will die without the appropriate dose of insulin. I would never tell anyone to go off their medications without the consent of their physician! Please do not mistake this post as medical advice. Always talk to your health-care provider about your medications and dosage.

However, I do want Americans to start asking questions about the drugs they are currently taking and wake up to the fact that there are natural lifestyle treatments that can and do resolve health conditions without the use and side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

I know the word “ruined” sounds final, but I don’t intend it in that way. My health was ruined for a time, but I have improved greatly with diet and lifestyle changes, targeted herbs and supplements, and integrative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic care. I believe my readers can recover their health too. In many cases, there is hope without drugs. That is one of the main reasons I blog and share my stories with you!

3 Drugs that Ruined My Health Part 1

3 Pharmaceutical Drugs that Ruined My Health

“Better living through chemistry” was once my motto. I thought that medications were the answer to my health problems. I took prescriptions and OTC meds without thinking twice. I believed what my doctors told me. They said, “Take this drug and you’ll feel better.” They were right, but only for the short term. That “better” feeling was only temporary. What I did not realize is that the drugs were only covering up my symptoms! My health continued to worsen underneath the drug therapy.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

My major digestive problems began in 2005. I dismissed the initial symptoms, believing they would pass after I recovered from ending a stressful 60-hour a week teaching job. Instead, they got worse. What started as belching and gas after meals turned into almost constant nausea and debilitating fatigue. At the behest of my mother, I saw my primary-care MD, who referred me to a gastroenterologist. He performed an endoscopy and told me I had non-ulcerative dyspepsia. In his opinion, my stomach produced too much acid. I had a “medical” diagnosis, now I needed a solution.

He immediately prescribed a proton pump inhibitor called Nexium to lower my stomach acid output. Within two weeks, I started to feel better. My nausea gradually went away, my energy came back and I thought I was cured! I could not have been more wrong. After taking Nexium and a similar drug, Prilosec, for almost three years, I had a major health crisis in 2008 that I believe was directly tied to taking these drugs.

In my case, I believe proton pump inhibitors:

  • Covered up my true condition of gluten sensitivity
  • Led to iron deficiency anemia
  • Caused malabsorption of nutrients, including B vitamins and magnesium
  • Led to intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome
  • Caused my multiple food intolerances
  • Contributed to a three-month long period of anxiety, depression and panic attacks

Why?

I can best describe the dangerous effects by referring you to my purple pill story called, The Purple Pill: The Untold Perils of Proton Pump Inhibitors. I encourage you to read the entire post. It’s quite compelling, not because I’m so special, but because my story is all too familiar! PPIs are one of the best-selling drugs of all time. Millions of people are taking them and subjecting themselves to untold health perils. What’s worse is that almost all proton pump inhibitor medications are now available over the counter!

Prilosec imageIf you are already taking acid-reducing drugs, I encourage you to discover the true source of your digestive problems. What is causing your acid reflux? Is it gluten sensitivity (like in my case), lactose intolerance, over-consumption of refined flours and sugars, job stress, family troubles, or a common condition called hypochlorhydria (too little stomach acid)? Once you’ve found the root cause of your acid reflux, then work with a qualified practitioner to wean yourself off the medication, since it has addictive properties.

_____________________

Read the next installment in my series. It’s personal! Yes, we’re talking about birth control pills. I took them for more than ten years, but not for the typical reason. Learn why and the profound effect they had on my health.

3 Pharmaceutical Drugs that Ruined My Health (Part 2) – Birth Control Pills

Posted in Digestion, Drugs/Medication, Gluten-Free Living | 14 Comments

8-Minute Baked Collard Chips

We’ve all heard of kale chips. Kale is the super green that everyone raves about. What about it’s cousin, collard greens? Poor collards, they are also a cruciferous vegetable, just as chock full of nutrients. It’s time to give collards more press, and not just in the typical Southern-style fried with bacon recipe.

8-Minute Baked Collard Chips

We’ve been receiving lots of lovely collard greens from our CSA lately. I sometimes steam them with other vegetables. I sometimes cook them in chicken soup. Both ways are delicious. This time, I wanted to experiment with baking them as chips. Turns out it is super simple! With about eight minutes of prep and eight minutes of baking, you’ve got a healthy alternative to store-bought, factory-processed chips. Why not make something tasty and good for you at home!

collard greens

When I made these collard chips, I couldn’t stop eating them, they were so good! Forget the sweets. Give me salty foods any day and I’m happy.

8-Minute Baked Collard Chips

Ingredients

  • 6-8 collard leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
  • sea salt to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Melt the coconut oil at the same time.
  2. Cut or tear the collard leaves into chip-sized pieces and place them on a large cookie sheet.
  3. Drizzle the melted coconut oil and sprinkle the sea salt.
  4. Bake for 8 minutes until crispy and slightly brown.
  5. Serve hot or cold. Double or triple the recipe to serve to party guests.
8-Minute Baked Collard Chips
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6-8 collard leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
  • sea salt to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Melt the coconut oil at the same time.
  2. Cut or tear the collard leaves into chip-sized pieces and place them on a large cookie sheet.
  3. Drizzle the melted coconut oil and sprinkle the sea salt.
  4. Bake for 8 minutes until crispy and slightly brown.
  5. Serve hot or cold. Double or triple the recipe to serve to party guests.
Notes
Keep a watchful eye during baking, because these greens cook quickly! Also keep in mind the more oil you use, the more brown the chips will turn.

collard green oil and salt

Enjoy my 8-Minute Baked Collard Chips!

Posted in Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Real Food, Recipes, Vegetables | 9 Comments

Worry or Faith? My Responsibility and God’s Role

In all life circumstances, you have two choices: worry or faith.

Which one will you choose?

Worry or Faith

In my post Worry is Not Your Friend, I shared about my troubles with worry. I still worry at times, even to the point that it affects my digestion and sleep. I could easily make excuses and say that worry is a nebulous outside force that plagues me, when in reality it’s my vain attempt to control my circumstances. I have a gift for the analytical and solving problems, which most of the time, serves me well. I’m thankful for that gift. But worry takes over when I feel like I’ve lost control (for example, when things don’t go as I planned) or I can’t figure out how to fix a problem.

That’s when I need reminding I’m not God!

I can’t solve world crises, like bringing peace to Ukraine, imprisoning ISIS terrorists, or protecting unborn babies from abortion. I can’t easily deal with my own problems either, like my long-time struggle with infertility, or my lead poisoning scare, or the recent death of a good friend in a car accident. There are so many real-life problems both abroad and close to home, we could spend days, months and years worrying.

In that post, I also shared the solution for worry by focusing on God’s amazing provision. He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins, including our sin of worry. How much more will He meet our daily needs and give us peace that transcends all fruitless worry? Just dwelling on His attributes of love, joy, peace, goodness, and kindness helps relieve my worry. Notice I didn’t say the problems go away. They usually don’t. But God supplys peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

In this post, I want to offer a different take on worry by focusing on the things that are my responsibility compared to God’s role. This unique point-of-view was recently brought to my attention when reading Paul Tripp’s excellent book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. On page 250, Tripp lays out a helpful graphic that I’ve adapted below.

To understand this perspective on worry, we first must accept that God is in control of everything. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is sovereign over the nations, as well as the very hairs on my head.

Isaiah 40:13-15 says,

“Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge,
And informed Him of the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.”

Luke 12: 7 states,

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

In that rule and care, God has also called you and I to be responsible for certain things in our lives. As a wife, sister, choir director, lay counselor at my church, and even as a blogger, I’m called to faithfully serve in my roles. These things are called My Inner Circle of Responsibility.

The outer circle represents things that are of concern to me, but are beyond my reach. They are solely God’s responsibility. These things are called My Outer Circle of Concern.

Circles of Responsibility and Concern

The arrows demonstrate times that I sinfully worry by enlarging my role. These are the times I overstep my boundaries. I try to do God’s job and seek control over circumstances or people that are not supposed to be in my influence.

Do you understand how worry can be viewed as taking control over things that are not rightly my responsibility? Take a look in these three examples.

Worry Example #1

I will offer a personal example. I desire to be a woman of peace, but when I try to take over God’s job, then worry grips me with fierce abandon. I recently received tests results about high levels of lead and thallium. As you know, heavy metals in any amount can be toxic to the body. I wrote about my fears in Where is the Lead Coming From? For several weeks off and on, I was quite worried about my own health and the health of my future children. Many “what if?” thoughts bombarded my mind. What if my blood lead levels are also high? What if can’t tolerate chelation therapy? What if I can’t detox enough to have children? I had lots of questions with no answers. We eventually discovered some answers, which I detailed in Getting the Lead Out! My Detox Program. During that waiting time, my job was to trust God for what I didn’t understand. Instead, I tried to figure out every angle and potential scenario, what we were going to do if this or that occurred. My Outer Circle of Concern became a HUGE mountain of anxiety. The Holy Spirit convicted me that my over-analyzing was really worry! I sought forgiveness. I’m at peace now, not to mention sleeping better.

Worry Example #2

Parents of high school teens are certainly prone to worry – about their child’s choice of friends, college, career, mate, and much more. As children reach an independent age, parents can pray and advise, but ultimately a seventeen or eighteen year-old teenager must make their own choices. At this point, the child is moving from an Inner Circle of Responsibility to an Outer Circle of Concern, beyond your control. It does not help to worry about them. It only makes you more nuts! :) If this is your situation, remember your teenager is in God’s hands. He loves them even more than you do. Hard to imagine, I know.

Worry Example #3

A long-term employee of a large company watches his co-workers get laid off due to budget cuts. He worries about his position, so much so that it affects his work performance. To preserve his job, he even begins to manipulate his boss. This man has wrongly expanded his Inner Circle of Responsibility. It’s not his job to save his career; his job is to work faithfully as unto the Lord (Ephesians 6:5-8). He needs to entrust his position to God’s care, pray for his daily needs, and stop worrying about his future.

What are you worried about?

This graph could apply in many circumstances – concerns about your health, marriage, children, parents, friends, pets, finances, home, food, and so on.

In each specific situation, think about the things that are your responsibility. Then, think about things that are your concern, but beyond your ability. Draw two large circles and write down each in the appropriate circles. Once you identify what things belong in the circles, pray about how you can faithfully fulfill your responsibilities and entrust your concerns to God’s care.

I love what Psalm 37:8 says.

“Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.”

It’s true. Worry only leads to more worry. It’s an endless cycle of swirling thoughts that can engulf you. What starts out as a insignificant concern can turn into anxiety, insomnia, and stomach ulcers. The key is to take captive and confess small worries before they become large upsets. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

We all need to hear this word about worry, including me. I’m so thankful that God is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. (Psalm 145:8) I’m so grateful that he graciously forgives my unbelief and give me more faith. He wants you and I to live in joyful victory, not loaded down by worry.

Lay your burdens at His feet and trust Him.

He’s got this one. And the next.

Both for me and you.

Posted in Rest, Spiritual Health, Stress, Worry | Leave a comment

Get the Lead Out! My Detox Program

In January, I wrote an alarming post about high lead and thallium results in my stool. Read Where is the Lead Coming From? Surprised and concerned, I was determined to discover the source for my heavy metal exposure, as well as appropriate methods to detox. This post sums up my past month of research.

Get the Lead Out

First, I must share the good news!

My latest lab results are encouraging. My blood lead count (the amount that is circulating in my blood) is 2 mcg/dL. While I would a prefer 1 or zero, a number of 2 is fairly low. According to the CDC, anything over 10 mcg/dL in adults and over 5 mcg/dL in children is cause for concern. Above these thresholds, doctors and patients need to examine possible acute exposure and consider treatment. Immediate chelation therapy is administered in marks over 45 mcg/dL. My results indicate I don’t have to be worried. Thank goodness! This means my body is eliminating most of what I have been exposed to.

Now, the bad news.

I cannot find exact sources for the lead and thallium pollution. We have researched everything from water from contaminated pipes, to food from poor soil, to bone broth from tainted animals, to crock pots containing lead, to past Terminix ant treatment sprayed around our house. Not one of these potential sources has come forward as the culprit. We haven’t been able to say, “This is it! This is the source!”

I have come to the conclusion that these heavy metals have been accumulating in my body in small amounts for months, and probably years.

Why? Two reasons.

1) We live in a toxic world and it’s difficult for our bodies to keep up with so many toxins.

2) I have both MTHFR gene mutations, C677T and A1298C. (Read more in this helpful post from Wellness Mama, What is an MTHFR gene mutation?) In simple terms, my body is handicapped when trying to eliminate toxins. Since my detox pathways are impaired, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins do not leave my body as quickly as they should.

In August, I began supplementing with methylated B vitamins (the natural form your body can absorb, for example – folic acid is synthetic and folate is methylated), which is excellent treatment for those with MTHFR mutations. I believe that’s when my detox system got a kick start! I also believe that’s why my heavy metals stool test showed high levels of lead and thallium in December. My body started dumping toxins. At least, that’s my theory. There’s no way to really know this now, since I can’t go back in time.

What does this mean in practical everyday terms?

My liver, kidneys, and lymph system need extra TLC. Since I still have some lead (and mostly likely, thallium) in my blood, my goal is to reduce all potential exposures and help support my detox system.

Now, to the nitty-gritty. (Does anyone say that anymore? :) ) Here is exactly what we have done in the last month. I hope this comprehensive list will help reduce your toxic load as well.

Contains Lead

What am I doing to avoid lead?

  • We installed a new Multipure water filter, to clean up our drinking water. We actually had our water tested by a local company, Alexin Analytical Laboratories. The result: no lead in our water. I was amazed. I thought there would be even trace amounts of lead, since we have original 1970s galvanized pipes with lead solder in our home. I’m still concerned that lead could leach into our water during the summer months when the pipes get hot. In addition, our local water supply has had higher levels of lead (close to the EPA limit) in the past. The bottom line: we could have been drinking lead in our water, even in small amounts. The Multipure filters out chlorine, heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides.
  • We switched to a Hamilton Beach slow cooker. Before, we used two Crock Pot brand slow cookers. If you do an online search for “lead in slow cookers”, you will get articles across the spectrum. Some say that it’s a major problem; some say that the ceramic glaze protects your food from contamination, even if the actual pot contains lead. The more I read, the more I was convinced that some slow cookers really do leach lead. The safest option is buy a pot without any lead whatsoever, as with the VitaClay Slow Cooker. The next best option is to purchase a Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, which almost every article I read said that it had little to no lead every time it was tested. The pot that seemed to have lead most often, if any, was the Crock Pot brand. I encourage you to do your own research on this topic, since there is conflicting advice.
  • We are using bones from organic animals exclusively for our bone broth and soups. With the rising popularity of bone broth, there is some concern that animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) and fed GMO grains store lead in their bones. When the bones are cooked for bone broth, lead leaches into the water. For several years, I’ve been conscientiously following the GAPS diet, which incorporates a lot of broth. We have always purchased beef bones from animals raised on 100% grass pasture. However, to save money, we compromised and used conventional chicken meat and bones for chicken broth and soup for several years. Now, we only buy organic chicken when it’s on sale and the more expensive pasture-raised chicken on occasion. I still believe in the healing properties of bone broth, but we are drinking less of it now that we’ve moved to using only one slow cooker. We used to have two going all the time.
  • We stopped using Earthpaste, a more natural clay toothpaste. Unfortunately, even “all-natural” ingredients from the earth can contain small amounts of lead. For a couple of years, we had been using Earthpaste. I dismissed the warning on the label, believing the company’s line that this particular composition of lead could not be absorbed by the body. But further research by the Lead Safe America foundation shows that it could be a problem, especially if swallowed. Even though this may be more of an issue for children, I’m not taking any chances. For now, we’ve switched to a fluoride-free version from Trader Joe’s, containing similar ingredients to Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Toothpaste.
  • We may test our soil before planting a summer garden. We eat a lot of vegetables, especially root vegetables such as turnips, rutabagas, and carrots from our garden. They are easy to grow and healthy. However, they also more readily absorb heavy metals from the soil! We want to know if our beautiful garden veggies are being contaminated by tainted soil. We have only lived in our home for three years, and we have no idea what the previous owners did to the place. We do know he was an alcoholic. Not so encouraging. A & L Western Laboratories does soil testing here locally in the Portland area.

What am I doing to detox?

  • I’m continuing my methylated B vitamin supplementation. (I take Thorne Research Methyl-Guard Plus.) As I mentioned, my body needs extra support in the detox department. I also notice increased energy when taking methylated B vitamins. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, I highly recommend you take folate instead of folic acid. Folic acid can become toxic to the mother with MTHFR mutations, since the body cannot absorb it.
  • I’m taking activated charcoal, two to three times a week away from meals. (I take Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal.) Activated charcoal binds to metals and other toxins in the GI tract and pulls them out of the body. I take my charcoal in the middle of the night when I wake up. That way, I know that I’m not interfering with absorption of any vitamins or my thyroid medication.
  • I’m taking detox baths regularly, three to four times a week. Yes, baths take more time, but they are relaxing and healing, especially if combined with a detox agent, like Epsom salts, Himilayan salt, baking soda, or clean bentonite clay. Here are some ideas for detox bath recipes. I’ve also noticed that baths do wonders for my skin.
  • I’m trying to sweat more often. That means a good cardio workout at the gym or a fast stepping dance DVD at home. Sweating is a great way to release toxins through the pores of your skin. Last night, I participated in a Zumba class with my sister. We were tired, sweating, and smiling by the end of the hour. Detoxing can be fun too. :)
  • I’m starting a weekly intravenous (IV) glutathione treatment at my naturopath’s office. (Not the same as chelation therapy.) Glutathione is known as the body’s master anti-oxidant. Not only is it essential for eliminating free radicals, it also supports detox processes. Boosting glutathione levels is also beneficial for people with auto-immune conditions, like me. I have auto-immune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s).
  • I’ve also been encouraged to eat more detoxifying foods, like cilantro, sea algae, and sulfur-rich foods, such as garlic, eggs, cauliflower, and broccoli. These compounds in these foods have detoxifying effects by binding themselves to metals.

More detox ideas that I’ve already integrated into my life:

  • Do not use non-stick pans for cooking
  • Do not drink from plastic water bottles
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products
  • Avoid toxic hair and make-up products (that includes most popular brands!)
  • Switch to an aluminum-free deodorant (or don’t wear any at all – you won’t stink if you eat a clean diet, I promise 😉 )
  • Have your mercury dental fillings removed by a qualified holistic dentist                      (Dr. Larry Bowden of Aesthetic Dentistry did an excellent job of removing my amalgams.)

Six months from now, I’d like to test my whole blood lead levels again and see if they have dropped. I’m aiming for 1 or zero! In the meantime, I will keep on keeping on. It seems that I’m doing the right things. And now that I’ve incorporated more detox protocols, I hope that my body will have a chance to catch up. I pray that my liver will become less congested with toxins and more full of healthy cells that flourish. I’m getting the lead out, both figuratively and literally!

Do you have experience detoxifying from heavy metals?

What methods, foods, or supplements did you find effective?

Posted in Heavy Metal Toxicity, Recommended Supplements | 10 Comments

Sauerkraut in My Washing Machine

No joke. This story is true, a real foodie’s hilariously strange nightmare.

Who else could end up with sauerkraut in their washing machine?

Why me, of course! My story will demonstrate I know a lot about cultured foods, but nothing about plumbing.

It all started with a lazy Sunday afternoon and twelve quarts of fresh sauerkraut. But first, some back story is necessary to make any sense of this crazy tale.

Sauerkraut in My Washing Machine 4

For several years, I’ve been faithfully eating according to the GAPS protocol, trying to heal my gut lining with nourishing foods. Consuming ferments is a major component of the diet, since favorable bacteria restore intestinal cells. So, I learned to make water kefir, homemade yogurt, and crock sauerkraut, of which cabbage is the base ingredient. Not only did we consume cabbage in the form of sauerkraut, we also ate it a couple times a week for dinner, and three to four times a week for lunch in soup.

About two months ago, my nutritionist diagnosed me with a strong sensitivity to cabbage, in addition to other food intolerances. When you have leaky gut syndrome, like I do, your immune system can over react to any food or chemical, especially when you are overexposed. Yes, I ate too much cabbage. Too much of a good thing is still too much! Alas, my beloved sauerkraut that everyone raves about was now off my approved foods list. But by this time, I had already begun a huge new batch, more than 12 quarts.

Fast forward to Sunday. After three months of fermenting, this latest recipe was ready to harvest and share with all my non-cabbage-sensitive friends. :) (Learn how to make it from my post, Superb Crock Sauerkraut.) I scoop out the kraut spoon by spoon, into half gallon and quart jars. Then, I run out of jars! What to do? Oh, yes. I’ve got several quarts of old kraut sitting in the fridge. I decide it can be discarded, so I can make use of those jars. This is where my story goes awry. I proceed to put at least four quarts of sauerkraut down my kitchen sink garbage disposal, carefully washing it down with hot water.

Who’s bright idea was that!!??

(Important side note – we have battled a clogged main drainage pipe for three years, ever since we moved into our 40-year old ranch-style home. The kitchen drain, dishwasher drain, and washing machine drain are all connected close together! That must have been a popular design feature in the 1970s, along with yellow-stained windows and green-colored toilets. We have managed to open the drain several times with a 50-foot plumbing snake.)

Where is my husband while I’m putting large amounts of sauerkraut down our kitchen sink? Blissfully listening to an audio book and working on a puzzle, not paying attention to the impending doom.

Guess what happens next! You’re right; the kitchen sink begins to back up.

I sheepishly call Jim over to take a look. I’m starting to realize what I’ve done. He decides to thread a 5-foot snake down the sink, in attempts to disrupt what might be a small clog.

Then, the U-shaped trap pipe under the sink breaks and water and sauerkraut immediately gush out, with a big “woosh” sound. Now we have a bigger problem. Jim grabs the pipe with his hand to stop the flow and tells me to hand him a large bowl to catch the remaining water. I gladly comply.

broken trap pipe

He takes apart the pipe, leaving it completely open and heads to Home Depot to find the correct part. But before he leaves, he starts the washing machine on a tub rinse cycle, believing that will help flush out the trapped sauerkraut. Sounds reasonable, I think. (This is the point we forget that all the drains are connected and we still have a major clog underneath the house.)

I get out some rag towels and begin wiping up the floor. Meanwhile, while Jim is gone, the washing machine commences its spin cycle and starts draining. Oh no! I hear more water flushing from the kitchen sink pipe. I race to our laundry room and pause the washing machine. Whew, I think I’ve averted a worse disaster. But now we have even more water and sauerkraut on the floor, this time flowing into the dining room. I get out some more towels. (It’s a good thing we have linoleum!)

wet towels with words

Ten minutes later, the washing machine starts its cycle once again, and now I can’t stop it! It won’t pause! I run around literally screaming, “I don’t know how to stop the water!” (Unplugging it would have been a good start!) Now the water draining from the washer is flowing onto our laundry room floor, as well as the kitchen floor! I pull out the drain hose, quickly grab an empty trash can nearby and let the rest of the water drain out of the machine. After my heart stops racing and I come back to my senses, I unplug it and open the washer lid. I survey the damage.

Now there is sauerkraut in my washing machine!

It must have backed up from the main clog underneath the house. Oh dear!

Jim returns to find me almost in tears. I keep a fairly clean house and this is quite disturbing. I have water and wet towels all over the floor. I can’t use the kitchen sink or dishwasher. I have sauerkraut in my washing machine. I have a 15-liter fermenting crock half full of fresh sauerkraut sitting on my counter. And I can’t even eat it! (Are you laughing yet?) All I wanted was a few extra jars.

Bless his heart, my dear husband calmly goes about fixing the trap pipe and reminds me that our predicament is only temporary. I hover over his shoulder while looking at the messy floor.

But wait, it’s not over. “Jim,” I say, “there’s another leak.” This time it’s a different pipe coming from the garbage disposal. It’s after 8pm and Home Depot is closed.

Now what do we do? I text my mom! Mothers always have brilliant ideas in the midst of a crisis. She calls back and suggests we try Fred Meyer for plumbing supplies. Good thought. We have a few laughs over the phone and my parents pray for our sanity to hold fast into the night.

Jim returns a second time with a second pipe and fixes it too. He then makes a valiant attempt to unclog the main drain pipe through the laundry access using the 50-foot snake. This time, it doesn’t work. What’s next when you can’t fix your own plumbing problem? That’s right. Call a professional, a real plumber.

We finish wiping up the floors. I find a few small clean jars to pack up the rest of the fresh sauerkraut. The main drain pipe is still clogged, but at least I can walk around with dry feet now. We both conclude that a plumber is what we need. I will call tomorrow. We can live with a clogged pipe, at least for one or two nights. It could be worse; at least we don’t have a sewage problem. Thankfully, the bathrooms and shower work just fine.

We finally eat dinner at 10pm and go to bed exhausted. I lay my head on the pillow and then remember…

I still have sauerkraut in my washing machine.

I leave it there, too tired to think about it till tomorrow.

That was Sunday.

Now it’s Tuesday. We found a reputable plumber to replace ten feet of drainage pipe underneath our home. It was nasty clog, filled with grease, oil, hair, and of course, sauerkraut. But it’s fixed! And according to the professional, we should have no more problems. Thank you Lord. No more sauerkraut in my washing machine.

This experience has taught me to be thankful for the little things in life, like adequate plumbing and working appliances, and the big people in life, like my sweet husband. I have so much to be grateful for, both the conveniences and relationships I often take for granted. By the way, my washing machine still works. The beneficial sauerkraut bacteria must have given my washer a good cleaning.

Here’s to my friends who have the privilege of eating my latest batch of sauerkraut. It’s really tasty, at least my husband says. Here’s the recipe: 4 large green cabbage, 8 large carrots, 8 leaves of kale, and 1 butternut squash.

I promise, it has not been through the washing machine. :)

fresh sauerkraut

 

Posted in Fermenting, Real Food, Rest, Stress | 15 Comments

Winter Thyme Meatloaf (Gluten-Free)

Meatloaf is the all-American comfort food. It conjures up good memories of homemade cooking. It makes grown men more thankful for their mothers and wives. It brings families together, in the sense that most people like meatloaf. I appreciate meatloaf year round, but it’s especially warming in the winter time. Do you agree?

Winter Thyme Meatloaf 6

I prepare meatloaf many different ways, experimenting with various flavors by mixing herbs and vegetables. But every meatloaf recipe I’ve created has three things in common – I never use bread crumbs since I avoid gluten, I always use vegetables because I love them, and I don’t measure anything – until now! I tend to cook “by feel and smell” but I figured I should catalog one version for my readers to enjoy.

The key to making Winter Thyme Meatloaf moist and flavorful is using two different kinds of meat. The best combination, in my opinion, is ground beef and lamb. The higher fat content in lamb makes it so rich. If you can’t find lamb, then substituting ground turkey works fairly well too. I highly encourage you to purchase your beef and lamb from grass-fed pastured-raised animals. Get to know your local ranchers and make sure the meat you consume is humanely treated, before it ends up on your plate.

As far as preparation, you can chop the vegetables into tiny pieces or cubes using a large knife. That’s what you see in these photos. For faster prep, use a food processor and shred the vegetables instead.

One of my favorite herbs is thyme! This recipe is aptly named for the season and herb.

Winter Thyme Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef and 1 pound ground lamb (the beef-lamb mix is my favorite) OR 2 pounds ground beef and 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 of a butternut squash finely chopped (about 1 and 1/2 cups shredded)
  • 2 small carrots or 1 large carrot finely chopped (about 1 cup shredded)
  • 1 small turnip (about 1/2 cup turnip shredded)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons thyme
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Coconut or olive oil (to grease your loaf pans)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease two loaf pans with oil (to prevent sticking).
  3. Put the ground beef and lamb (or turkey) and eggs in a large bowl.
  4. Using a large knife, chop the butternut squash, carrots and turnips into small pieces. For faster prep, shred in a food processor. Place all the vegetables into the bowl.
  5. Measure the thyme, parsley and salt into the bowl.
  6. Using your hands, mash all the ingredients into an even consistency, and then place in the loaf pans. Use your fingers to flatten the top of the meatloaf.
  7. Cook for 40-45 minutes, until the meat is done throughout.
  8. Enjoy hot with roasted vegetables, squash, rice or potatoes. Yum!

Winter Thyme Meatloaf (Gluten-Free)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground beef and 1 pound ground lamb (the beef-lamb mix is my favorite) OR 2 pounds ground beef and 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ of a butternut squash finely chopped (about 1 and ½ cups shredded)
  • 2 small carrots or 1 large carrot finely chopped (about 1 cup shredded)
  • 1 small turnip (about ½ cup turnip shredded)
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons thyme
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Coconut or olive oil (to grease your loaf pans)
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease two loaf pans with oil (to prevent sticking).
  3. Put the ground beef and lamb (or turkey) and eggs in a large bowl.
  4. Using a large knife, chop the butternut squash, carrots and turnips into small pieces. For faster prep, shred in a food processor. Place all the vegetables into the bowl.
  5. Measure the thyme, parsley and salt into the bowl.
  6. Using your hands, mash all the ingredients into an even consistency, and then place in the loaf pans. Use your fingers to flatten the top of the meatloaf.
  7. Cook for 40-45 minutes, until the meat is done throughout.
  8. Enjoy hot with roasted vegetables, squash, rice or potatoes. Yum!

 

winter thyme meatloaf without knife

I hope my Winter Thyme Meatloaf makes you feel good and keeps you warm this winter. It’s gluten and dairy free, perfect for a grain-free Paleo meal.

Now go thank your mama for making you meatloaf! :)

Posted in Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, Real Food, Recipes | 7 Comments

Beat the Winter Blues with this Flu-Fighting Vitamin

It’s flu season!

Touch no one.
Wash your hands regularly.
Get your flu shot.

We hear these recommendations almost daily during the winter months. What if there was a better way to prevent the flu? What if you could build your immune capacity to the point that no viruses could touch you? What if there was no such thing as flu season?

Beat the Winter Blues with Vitamin D

These questions aren’t a dream. I believe they could be reality. If you and I could understand how our immune system works, we would treat it like royalty. We would honor it for it’s amazing skills to ward off attackers. The problem is most people don’t understand what it means to have a strong immune system. They run on high stress, eat inflammatory processed foods, and avoid the very things that could strengthen their immune cells, like sleep, exercise, garlic, and most important, vitamin D. Instead, they fear getting the next “big virus” and don’t realize that in most cases, their body could easily defend itself with the right tools.

I say, forget the flu shot and take vitamin D. (After all, the CDC has admitted this year’s flu vaccine is not effective.) I’m convinced that having adequate vitamin D intake during the winter months is crucial to health, more than any other vitamin, vaccine, or medication.

Doctors are recommending everyone from babies to the elderly increase their vitamin D levels, and for good reason. There has been a tidal wave of research in the last decade. Vitamin D regulates over 3000 gene processes. When vitamin D is lacking, the immune system becomes compromised and leaves the body vulnerable to viruses and contributes to conditions such as depression, anxiety, asthma, psoriasis, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. Some researchers believe that 50 percent of the population could be deficient in vitamin D. Read more about symptoms of deficiency from The Healthy Home Economist and Everyday Health.

Do you experience the winter blues? You could blame it on vitamin D deficiency. Why? Because our first source for vitamin D is sunshine! When the sun is lower in the sky during the winter months, you have less direct exposure to UV rays. The farther north you live, the less vitamin D your skin can make. In fact, we manufacture practically no vitamin D from October to April where we live in Oregon. Never mind the fact that most of us stay indoors when it’s cold outside!

We know vitamin D is significant, but what do we do with it? I’m glad you asked! Let’s test your knowledge and see how much you really know. Don’t worry; I’ll provide the answers too. :) These facts are compiled from the Vitamin D Council.

Vitamin D Quiz

1. Vitamin D is measured in what kind of units?
A. Millileters or mLs
B. Teaspoons
C. International units or IUs

2. What form of Vitamin D is readily absorbed by the body?
A. Vitamin D2
B. Vitamin D3

3. How many minutes of sun exposure does your skin need to make adequate vitamin D?
A. 20-30 minutes
B. 45 minutes
C. 60 minutes

4. How many IUs can your body make in one day?
A. 5,000-10,000 IUs
B. 10,000-20,000 IUs
C. 20,000-30,000 IUs

5. Sunscreen with SPF of 8 can block up to 95% of Vitamin D production in the skin.
True or False

6. What is the recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for adults?
A. 600 IUs
B. 2,000 IUs
C. 5,000 IUs

7. What are good food sources of Vitamin D?
A. Cod liver oil
B. Animal meats
C. Fatty fish
D. All of the above

8. What is the Vitamin D blood test called?
A. 25-hydroxyvitamin D
B. 50-hydroxyvitamin D

9. What are healthy Vitamin D serum levels?
A. 20-50 ng/mL
B. 50-80 ng/mL
C. 80-100 ng/mL

10. What other vitamin and mineral co-factors are important to Vitamin D function?
A. Magnesium
B. Vitamin K
C. Zinc
D. All of the above

Vitamin D Answers

1. Vitamin D is measured in what kind of units?
C. International units or IUs

2. What form of Vitamin D is readily absorbed by the body?
B. Vitamin D3 is the natural form your body can use. Vitamin D2 is the synthetic form.

3. How many minutes of sun exposure does your skin need to make adequate vitamin D?
A. 20-30 minutes in summer sun if you are fair skinned. If you are dark-skinned or African-American, you need up to six times more sun exposure!

4. How many IUs can your body make in one day?
B. 10,000-20,000 IUs, depending on the amount of summer sun exposure and your skin color

5. Sunscreen with SPF of 8 can block up to 95% of Vitamin D production on the skin.
True! It’s vital to allow your skin some sun exposure before applying sun protection – creams or clothing.

6. What is the recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for adults?
A. 600 IUs is the daily dose according to the National Institutes of Health. However, government recommendations are far too low! Adults often need up to 5,000 IUs in the winter months to maintain adequate levels. I take 5,000 IUs daily and my December vitamin D test result was 60, right in the normal range. Children need up to 2,000 IUs daily. (Do not take more than 10,000 IUs daily, unless directed by your doctor.)

7. What are good food sources of Vitamin D?
D. All of the above! Cod liver oil, animal meats, and fatty fish can provide small amounts. However, sun exposure is still the best way to get your vitamin D.

8. What is the Vitamin D blood test called?
A. 25-hydroxyvitamin D

9. What are healthy Vitamin D serum levels?
B. 50-80 ng/mL (or nanograms per millileter) is a healthy range. Anything below 50 is considered a deficiency. Levels between 80-100 ng/mL can be helpful for people undergoing cancer treatment.

10. What other vitamin and mineral co-factors are important to Vitamin D function?
D. All of the above! Magnesium, vitamin K, and zinc all contribute to the healthy absorption of vitamin D. That’s why is important to eat a variety of foods from quality sources – nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, eggs, pastured-raised meats and wild fish.

What is your current vitamin D level?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, I highly recommend you ask your doctor for a vitamin D test. It’s a simple blood draw.

If you live in a northern climate and you are reading this post during the winter, first get your vitamin D tested and then start a daily regime depending on what your results reveal. Ask your doctor to advise you. If you are severely deficient, then you will need at least 5,000 IUs a day (and probably more until your levels rise). My personal testimony – I’ve had far fewer colds since I began supplementing with vitamin D.

As far as brand names, your local health food store or pharmacy can recommend quality sources. I generally stay away from ingredients obtained from China, because they often contain additives and heavy metals. Look for supplements made in the United States. Also, consider purchasing from Amazon or iHerb. You can find quality brands for less online. We prefer NOW Foods Vitamin D3 as capsules and THORNE RESEARCH – Vitamin D3 Liquid as liquid drops.

Again, if you have never had your vitamin D tested, run to your doctor’s office today! You could have a vitamin D deficiency and not even know it. For more information, the Vitamin D Council is an excellent resource for all things vitamin D.

Have I convinced you that vitamin D is crucial for health? I hope so!

Maybe the sunshine vitamin is just what you need to beat the winter blues!

Posted in Drugs/Medication, Recommended Supplements, Vitamin D | 6 Comments

Where is the Lead Coming From?

“Thallium? Can you spell that please?” I asked my naturopathic doctor over the phone.

I know about lead, but I had never heard of thallium. I’m definitely not a chemist. I was a music major!

Where is the Lead Coming From 3

Yesterday I received a call from my ND about preliminary results from a heavy metals test I did a month ago. She explained to me I had “off-the-charts” lead and thallium in my stool. I was both shocked and relieved. We have been searching for years for my unanswered health problems. Why won’t my leaky gut heal? Why are my thyroid antibodies so high? What is the trigger for my red, itchy, dry skin? We have ruled out parasites, Lyme disease, Hepatitis and more. I’ve been on the GAPS diet for over two years and seen improvement but not near as much as I had hoped.

Maybe now we know. Why did I wait so long to take a heavy metals test?

The shocked part of me is still shocked. Thallium is an expensive rare metal. Where is the world did I get exposed to that? And where is the lead coming from? Is it in our drinking water? Leaching from our slow cookers? I know we don’t have lead paint in our home. It’s been tested twice before. The last 24 hours, I’ve read countless blogs that say there are NO safe levels of lead. Yes, I get that. How do I get it out of me? Apparently, my mercury levels are low. It seems the proper (and expensive) removal of my dental amalgam fillings a few years ago was really worth it.

Heavy Metals Test Results

Right now, I have a thousand questions with no answers. I usually like to write well informed blog posts with helpful references for my readers. This is not that post. This is more an emotional vent and cry for encouragement.

It’s good that I’m eliminating these metals in my stool, but more tests are necessary to determine how much is in my blood and tissues. Oh my, what if it’s in my brain? Maybe that’s why I forget what I’m doing when I walk into a room! 😉

We so desperately want answers now, but we must wait. My husband is transitioning to a permanent full-time position (thankfully) but we don’t have comprehensive insurance coverage this month. That means no doctor visits, no tests. We have to wait till February to even consider more testing. We have to wait to see if I need chelation therapy to draw the metals out of my body.

So for now we wait.

Sure, we are going to get our water tested to make sure our old 1970s galvanized pipes aren’t leaching lead into our drinking water. We’re also considering buying new clay-pot slow cookers that are lead-free. After all, I believe bone broth and soup are among the healthiest foods you can eat. But if my crock pot is poisoning me, I’d rather not keep it, thank you.

But until we know more, we wait. Waiting is no fun. But I know it’s a part of life. And I know that God uses it for my good. It’s just not what I had planned for this month or next month or 2015 for that matter.

In the long-term, I know I’ll be healthier once we can remove my lead brain. OK, I do want to keep my brain, just take out the lead. Who knows, maybe my Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid condition will even go into remission. I wonder how long my poor liver and kidneys have been fighting this lead and thallium. Years? Maybe this is not an acute incident, but slow exposure over time. I already know my detox pathway is interrupted. I have both the MTHFR gene mutations that cause methylation problems. I only started taking folate and extra B vitamins several months ago to kick-start my detoxing processes.

I’ll keep you informed of my progress. Maybe I’ll even turn this into a series, so we can all learn about the dangers of heavy metal toxicity. For now, I leave my circumstances in God’s care. Even though I don’t have the answers I seek yet, I know I can “cast all my cares on Him, for He cares for me.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Have you or a family member had lead or other heavy metal toxicity? Did you undergo chelation therapy? I’d love to hear your story. It would be an encouragement to me.

Now, thallium, how do you spell that again?

_________________

Update 2/27/2015: Read my most recent post about my lead blood test results and what I’m doing next in Get the Lead Out! My Detox Program.

Posted in Heavy Metal Toxicity | 10 Comments

Beginner’s Guide to Butternut Squash (with Recipes to Try!)

Squash is a staple food in our home. We follow a grain-free diet most of the time, particularly because I feel better eating that way with an auto-immune thyroid condition (Hashimoto’s). We eat spaghetti squash, acorn squash, red kuri squash, and blue hubbard squash. In fact, we grew all of those squash in our garden last year! But the one we eat the most often is butternut. It has many wonderful qualities.

Beginner's Guide to Butternut Squash 3

Butternut squash…

  • has a lovely sweet flavor.
  • is simple to prepare as a main course, side dish, or in soups.
  • is fairly easy to find at your local grocery store year round.
  • is effortless to grow in the garden, as long as it gets plenty of sun.
  • is not outrageously expensive like some squash (hubbard).
  • is chock full of vitamins and minerals.

butternut squash cubed

The other advantage is winter squash stores very well over a long period of time, as long as it stays cool and dry. The remaining squash we have from our September harvest are still happily resting in our garage just waiting to be eaten in the next few weeks!

If you are not familiar with butternut squash, then this beginner’s guide is for you!

If you’ve never tried any type of winter squash, I’d encourage you to start with butternut.

Butternut squash can be prepared in many different ways, as you will see in the recipes below. But first I’d like to share with you how we eat it most often in our house. To save time and make life simple, our favorite way of eating butternut squash is to cut it up, steam it, and then add butter or coconut oil and sea salt. It’s simple, but tasty.

steamed butternut squash

Steamed Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • One butternut squash
  • Filtered water
  • Butter or coconut oil
  • Sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • Parsley, rosemary, or your favorite herb (optional)

Directions

  1. With a sharp knife, cut the rounded end of the butternut squash off and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
  2. Cut the remaining squash into small cubes and place in pan. (If you decide not to steam the entire squash because of it’s large size, wrap the raw squash in a plastic bag and place it in the refrigerator to use later.)
  3. Fill the bottom of the pan with about an inch of filtered water, cover with a lid, and turn on medium heat.
  4. When the squash is tender to your liking (about 20 total minutes for us), remove the pan from the stove top. Your pan and stove top may cook more quickly, so check the squash more often at first.
  5. Pour off the excess water into a glass for drinking or into a soup pot for eating later. (This way, you still receive benefits from the vitamins and minerals that leached into the water.)
  6. Add a generous amount of coconut oil or butter and gently stir in.
  7. Add a few teaspoons of sea salt or Himalayan salt to your taste.
  8. Sprinkle your favorite herb on top for extra flavor and color. (optional)
  9. Enjoy hot as a side dish or snack.
Steamed Butternut Squash
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • One butternut squash
  • Filtered water
  • Butter or coconut oil
  • Sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • Parsley, rosemary, or your favorite herb (optional)
Directions
  1. With a sharp knife, cut the rounded end of the butternut squash off and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
  2. Cut the remaining squash into small cubes and place in pan. (If you decide not to steam the entire squash because of it’s large size, wrap the raw squash in a plastic bag and place it in the refrigerator to use later.)
  3. Fill the bottom of the pan with about an inch of filtered water, cover with a lid, and turn on medium heat.
  4. When the squash is tender to your liking (about 20 total minutes for us), remove the pan from the stove top. Your pan and stove top may cook more quickly, so check the squash more often at first.
  5. Pour off the excess water into a glass for drinking or into a soup pot for eating later. (This way, you still receive benefits from the vitamins and minerals that leached into the water.)
  6. Add a generous amount of coconut oil or butter and gently stir in.
  7. Add a few teaspoons of sea salt or Himalayan salt to your taste.
  8. Sprinkle your favorite herb on top for extra flavor and color. (optional)
  9. Enjoy hot as a side dish or snack.
Notes
Choose a butternut squash without bruises or soft spots. Grow in your own garden, shop at your local farmer’s market, or buy from your favorite grocery store.

Do NOT peel butternut squash. It’s not necessary. During cooking, the outside layer becomes quite soft and you won’t notice it. Plus, it’s extra fiber! :)

Steamed butternut squash is also delicious cold for a take-to-work lunch the next day, especially combined with other vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, or lettuce. Add some chicken or turkey sausage and you have a complete meal!

More Butternut Squash Recipes to Try!

It’s my privilege to share the creative kitchen talents of my blogging friends. Please click on the links or photos below to read about their butternut squash recipes, including ingredients and instructions.

Let me know which ones you try and like!

sqash-soup-1-titles-1024x682Simple Squash Soup with Sage – Well Fed Family

Garlicky-Baked-Butternut-Squash1

Garlicky Baked Butternut Squash – Whole Intentions

Cold-Kicker-Chicken-Soup-505x800

Cold Kicker Chicken Soup – Family, Home, and Health

Squash-Soup

Simple Butternut Squash Soup – Intoxicated on Life

Creamy-Butternut-Squash-Pasta-Sauce-with-Bacon-and-Rosemary

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Bacon and Rosemary – Nourishing Simplicity

butternutsquash

Baked Garlic and Butternut Squash and Freezer Tips – Melissa K. Norris

butternut-custard-300x225

Butternut Squash Custard – Well Fed Family

I hope this Beginner’s Guide to Butternut Squash has been helpful!

Savor butternut squash. We do!

Posted in Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, Real Food, Recipes, Vegetables | 5 Comments