Birthday Cakes and Icy Lakes

Yesterday was my 32nd birthday. I went on a roadtrip to visit my mom’s side of the family for a reunion in Wisconsin.

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*Pretending to do lakeside Yoga*

My husband gifted me some pretty sweet bowflex select tech dumbells.  He knows the way to my heart!!

It was fun and included an iced dark chocolate mocha, french fries and an ice cream sundae. #noregrets

But today is going to be a fasting day.¬† I just got done watching most of the “Skinny on Fat” series and¬†Supercharged¬†the movie.¬† The series really should have been more condensed.¬† Each episode was over 2 hours long and there was a lot of repetition.¬† The Supercharged movie was pretty cheesy (low carb!) but had some good info.¬† But again, mostly just more of what I already know I¬†should be doing. ¬†

I say “should be” because the two things that stick out to me are two things that most human beings are pretty resistant towards- fasting and purposeful cold exposure.¬† #notfun¬† But if you want to get the best results, as far as being healthy, lean, and staying young- you have to embrace some discomfort.

One thing that sticks out to me is that now science is backing up practices that people have been embracing for health reasons for eons.¬† Fasting as a religious practice has basically always been practiced.¬† When I read about other people’s struggles to get into ketosis, it taking days and being very uncomfortable, I was surprised.¬† I got into ketosis the first day and it really wasn’t a difficult process.¬† Now I chalk that up to the fasting I’ve done over the years for spiritual purposes.¬† If you go extended lengths abstaining from food you¬†will¬†go into ketosis even if you don’t mean to or have any idea what that means.¬† At that point you have more fat-burning flexibility.¬† Your body is much more adept at transitioning.¬† Fasting has been embraced as a powerful spiritual tool throughout human history but now we can appreciate the truly amazing¬†benefits .¬† Fasting is probably the closest thing to the fountain of youth that we currently understand.

Up here in Minnesota we have what’s known as the “Polar Plunge”; where people will cut a hole in the ice (on a lake, of course) and jump into the freezing cold water.¬† I used to live by a dentist who swore by this and would jump into our icy lake often.¬† I thought these people were nuts.¬† Nuts, maybe, but now we know the amazing health-promoting¬† properties of exposing your body to intense cold for brief periods.¬† It’s even better if you can alternate hot and cold.¬† Like they do in Scandinavian countries- go from the sauna to the ice.¬† If you don’t have access to a frozen lake you can always mimic this in the much less cool (but still effective) basic ice bath.¬† Or even just cold water bath.¬† I think there’s one in my future that I am currently psyching myself up for.

Why go through all of this?¬† Well, I am 32 and I want to get better and feel better with age.¬† I spent a lot of my 20’s feeling horrible and I have a lot of life I want to live.¬† Oh, and I also want to look great while doing it. ūüėČ

So here is to living life.  Enjoying sundaes and fundays but also getting out of your comfort zone to tap into powerful, ancient health-rejuvenating powerhouses!!

Growing Kids and Lectins

Having your kids on a keto plan means that you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen.¬† A lot.¬† Cooking, baking, cleaning, oh my!

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Michael, with his 2nd keto brownie 

My plight is perhaps even worse because of the fact that my oldest child is growing like an inch a week and always hungry.¬† He’s only 13 and he is almost 5’9″!

They’ve been getting sick of eggs in all their different forms. so I’ve been making a lot of chocolate shakes for breakfast.¬† I just blend up half and half with peanut butter, raw cocoa powder and my monk fruit sweetener blend.¬† They really like the shakes and get a gazillion calories to fuel their weed-like growth.

We agreed that Friday would be a “cheat” day were they could eat whatever.¬† I figure it’s a good bribe to keep everyone happy and they are still getting the benefits of ketosis while getting a good dose of carbs once a week.

My daughter spent the weekend with my mom.¬† I wasn’t about to try to make her follow the keto plan at grandma’s house so Shiloh had a weekend full of fun and gluten.¬† I just got her back this evening and…wow.¬† What a difference.¬† She’s burst into tears no less than 10 times.¬† I had to take her to the grocery store and it was like trying to herd a stray cat through a maze of frenzied shoppers.¬† I guess it really serves as confirmation that at the¬†very least¬†she is benefiting greatly from a gluten free diet.¬† On the keto plan I have seen her become¬†way¬†more calm and focused.

I’ve been watching Naomi Whittel’s¬†documentary series on the ketogenic diet.¬† One really interesting thing that I’ve learned is that mankind actually shrunk a foot when they transitioned from a hunter/gatherer lifestyle (think paleo) to and agricultural one.¬† One reason is, many of the grains we consume today are high in lectins– effectively an anti-nutrient produced by plants as a defense against getting eaten.¬† It’s the reason that if you eat beans that aren’t fully cooked you can get very ill.¬† The lectins are tearing up your gut.¬† They cause the gas, bloating, lethargy and poor absorption of nutrients that many people just live with.¬† The two main ingredients that make up the bulk of processed foods- wheat and soy (which are also mostly GMO) also happen to be the highest in lectins.¬† I’ve noticed going keto has really improved my digestion.¬† So when I occasionally eat a treat that is¬†definitely¬†not keto or healthy, it doesn’t affect me nearly as much as it used to.¬† I suppose my gut is healing on this much less inflammatory diet.¬† Since gut and brain are intimately¬†connected; it makes sense that a flexible keto approach to eating would be a wise choice for growing kids.

 

Keto Kids

We started Keto as a family last Thursday so today would be day 6 of our “keto adventure”.¬† Well for everyone except my husband who is still sneaking foods like triscuits and heavily sweetened “coffee”. *eyeroll*

So, what have I noticed, other than a lot of complaining?

It’s hard to tell for sure but two instances stand out.¬† My daughter and I were shopping at Target yesterday.¬† Not a get in an out kind of trip, more like “I need to get of the d@mn house before I lose my mind” kind of trip.¬† Lots of meandering.¬† Midway through I glanced down at my daughter, Shiloh, with the sudden realization that she was being good.¬† Very good.¬† She quietly and calmly walked right next to my side¬†through the entire store.¬†¬†

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My Little Capuchin!

Then I remembered how eerily well behaved she was yesterday when we took my MIL to a huge antique store.¬† We were nervous bringing her into a cramped place jam packed with breakable items.¬† But she was borderline angelic the entire time.¬† Which, yes, is a huge improvement from her norm.¬† Running off, grabbing stuff, tantrums… oh my.¬†¬†In my opinion, it’s still to early to tell.¬† The real test will come when they go back to school.¬†¬†20180718_0809016013263692184364662.jpg

I did pick up some keto test strips yesterday for the first time.  I tested my daughter this morning and she is definitely in ketosis.  The reading was very high, which I attribute to the fact that she was in a fasting state after having just woke up.

I don’t know if I’ve noticed an improvement in either of my two sons though.¬† My middle child, Gabe, is my little sugar baby and has been¬†very¬†vocal and cranky about the diet.¬† He’s always loved his carbs though.¬† That kid could live off of bread alone.

 

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He’s SO dramatic, I have no clue where he gets it from…

If I don’t see any benefits for my two boys, of course I won’t make them stick with the diet.¬† It is, however, a great way to reboot and kick sugar addiction.¬† Even if I ease up I think it will be much easier to limit sugar and junk because they will have so completely changed their eating habits.

 

 

 

 

Lurching into Keto

I know I blogged that we were going to go keto as a family probably well over a month ago…but life.

I’ve really been wanting to start but hemmin’ and hawing over the whole thing.¬† I decided to just bite the bullet and start.¬† The start of any new diet needs some sort of a grocery haul.¬† Of course, I went to costco.¬†20180711_1559527856548830844102775.jpg

Today was day one.  After my oldest had cereal for breakfast (dope!) I decided all contraband needed to be boxed up and hidden away in the basement.  The thing about keto is that it really eliminates 95% of processed, junky foods.  We boxed up a lot.

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our super bare pantry!

There was a LOT of kid whininess going on.¬† A lot of resistance.¬† “What do you mean I can’t have fruit or candy?!?!”

I just feel like we owe it to them to at least try.

I really hope that the therapeutic effects of ketones can reverse the autism/ADHD symptoms present in my oldest and youngest child.

I think my middle child could greatly benefit in his anxiety and hopefully with his skin condition.

Thankfully I feel like I am pretty comfortable with the diet, since I’ve been doing this for 7 months.

This is officially the start of our trial to see how the ketogenic diet might help us as a family.

I am a bit overwhelmed but much more excited.¬† I would really love to get my 6 year old daughter’s autism diagnosis removed.¬† I would love just more calm in our home.

I know it won’t be perfect but that’s ok.¬† My daughter managed to get ahold of a triscuit and cram it into her mouth before I could stop her.¬† All three of them were showing signs of sugar withdrawal and the start of the fat-adapting process (crankiness, excessive thirst).¬† We’ll just take it one day at a time and see if the benefits prove to be worth it.

 

Keto Family

I posted awhile back about wanting to try the keto diet for the whole family.  20180524_181823894515596.jpg

Reasons being, I now technically have three special needs kids.  One with severe eczema/TSW, one with aspergers, and my youngest now with autism and/or ADHD.  All three struggle with anxiety to some extant.

One unexpected perk I experienced going keto was a drastic reduction in my own anxiety, along with an increase in mental clarity and focus.

They are all three very thin so this would technically be a therapeutic approach and I’d have to monitor their weight to make sure they weren’t dropping any.¬† It’d be wonderful if we were able to avoid perscription drugs for my youngest, and get my oldest¬†off¬†of his.¬† I really believe in the therapeutic value of ketones for brain health.¬†¬†keto for ADHD

Either way, it can’t hurt to cut out refined sugars and empty calories.

We’ve been slooowly easing in by having keto-style dinners.¬† Thankfully, my kids generally like veggies and meat.¬† I decided, for the sake of my sanity, to wait until school was out before going full-bore.

A high fat diet is great for¬†¬†developing brains.¬† Not to mention fresh veggies and good protein.¬† Admittedly, it’s probably going to be a tough transition so we’re just doing a trial period to see if the potential benefits are worth it.

There’s one week of school so I have time to start meal planning.¬† I’ll post as we go!

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Unlocking DNA

Who I am

For Christmas (after many obnoxiously heavy-handed hints), my husband got me a 23 and me genetic testing kit.  I was so super stoked about it.  Not only was I excited to learn about my ancestry, but also gain insight into my health and genetics.

I finally got my results back!!!

I was surprised to learn that I am 100% European.¬† We were told that our Maternal Grandfather was part Native American.¬† I have no idea where that belief originated because apparently it isn’t true.¬† #mindblown¬† I wasn’t shocked that a solid 50% of my DNA is from the British Isles.¬† My dad is 100% Irish American.¬† The other half was a mix of German, French, Scandinavian, general “Northwestern European” with less than 1% being from a distant Italian and Eastern European ancestor.¬† I was hoping for a little more diversity.¬† Though apparently I’m more Neanderthal than 76% of people.¬† Beat that, ya’ll.¬† I might just club you.

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All I need is a cave and a fire

The tests also rightly predicted that as a baby I was bald as a cue ball, my second toes are longer then my big toes, I have light hair, I’m a light sleeper, I have a high caffeine tolerance (hecks yeah!) I have a risk for celiacs disease (yep), and am lactose tolerant (bring on the cream and cheese!).¬† It was fun to pore over my results, until I discovered that I have both genetic variants they test for indicating a risk for developing macular degeneration with age.

This is scary because one of my biggest fears has always been losing my sight.

The great thing about getting this test done is that now I know.¬† Knowledge is power.¬† I’m going to research the heck out of this and do everything I can to prevent this condition.¬† And if it still happens, well, my husband promised he’ll take care of me.

People have always wondered about where they come from, how they fit into the fabric of human history.¬† There is something almost magical about finding out the secrets previously locked and hidden in your DNA; the things that make you who you are.¬† Now I know why I’m drawn to all things Celtic and feel an urge to draw on cave walls. ūüėČ

I really recommend getting the test.¬† If nothing else, it’s interesting.¬† I discovered a 2nd cousin who was adopted and looking for answers into her birth relatives.¬† You might discover valuable tools and insights into how to tailor your lifestyle.¬† Or, like me, be able to work to prevent a condition that may not manifest for another 30 years.

 

A Tale of Two Soups

Here in Minnesota winter is stretching on and on… this is my current view.¬†20180203_121256.jpg

Ice, flurries, and air temp of 12 degrees F.

One thing that I love to do on cold, crummy days is make a huge batch of homemade soup.¬† It’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’s a clever way to get vegetables into my little angels (cough*brats*cough)…

I usually stick with the local favorite, chicken & wild rice soup.¬† It’s so good there is absolutely no need to try anything else.¬† Plus my kids love it.¬† This stuff is manna from Heaven.¬† Seriously.

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Those little blacks things aren’t bugs, ya’ll.¬† That’s Minnesota Wild Rice!

Don’t drool, you’re embarrassing yourself.

Well, the soup, wonderful as it is, is NOT keto-friendly with the big golden hunks of potatoes, carrots and a flour roux.

So this morning I made soup for my hyperactive little darlings and a low carb soup for myself as well.¬† It’s Saturday so I can ignore my kids and putter around in the kitchen in peace for two hour stretches while my husband gets to deal with, er, enjoy quality time with them…

I split up the chicken stock I had made overnight into two pots.¬† It’s super easy to make stock.¬† You just cook a whole chicken, debone it, and cook the bones, giblets, and neck in your crockpot (covered with water) overnight on low.¬† It’s one economical way to wring every bit of flavor and nutrition out of a poor little chicken.¬† You can eat the chicken with a side for dinner one night, then turn the leftovers into soup the next!!¬† That’s a lot of meals out of one $5-7 dollar chicken.¬† Stock is also super easy to make, a delicious base for soup, and incredibly¬†healthy.

So getting back to my tale… in my smaller stock pot I tossed some broccoli florets and diced asparagus into my broth on medium heat.¬† In a separate sauce pan I melted 1/2 stick of butter along with a cup of heavy cream and the random leftover cheddar cheese I hunted down in my fridge (about 1 1/2 cups).¬† I brought it to almost boiling and whisked it into a delicious butterery, cheesey, low-carb “roux” for my soup.

I dumped it in to my stockpot along with some leftover chicken.¬† I added a good amount of salt, pepper and seasonings.¬† Sorry, people, I don’t really measure anything.¬† One of the great things about soup is that you can throw in just about anything and it comes out great!

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Seasonings that help the magic happen

I then let the flavors meld together for about 20 minutes while I made the¬†other¬†soup, the one with carbalicious veggies we won’t mention again… ūüėČ

Then voila! 20180203_121702.jpg

Hearty, rich warming soup that is both filling and delicious and gloriously low-carb!¬† You’ve got collagen from the stock, a bit of protein from that poor wrung-out chicken, fiber and nutrients from your veggies, and phyto-nutrients from the herbs.¬† One bowl will have about 475 calories, 40 grams fat, 21 grams protein and only 5.8 gram carbs.

Plus it warms the cockles and steels the soul against the long, dreary winter!