Goji Berries for Chronic Illness

I’ve written a bit before about my son, Gabe, and his health issues.¬† One aspect we deal with is the ups and downs that occur with his health.¬† He has allergies and a very sensitive immune system.¬† Allergens seem to have a massive systemic affect on him and of course, his skin problems.¬† He had been doing really, really well this summer but I was¬†dreading¬†this time of year because it has always been very hard on him.¬† Here, in Minnesota, the ragweed gets really bad through late August and September.¬† The ragweed affects him terribly.¬† So much that we have to shut up the house and run two big air purifiers 24/7.

As August stretched on and Gabe continued to go downhill, it dawned on us that he was in no shape to go to school.¬† The allergens triggered a big flare with his skin.¬† Areas that had been healed for a long time became red and flakey and painful again.¬† He deals with a lot of pain every day to the point that we have little bottles of children’s ibuprofen stashed around the house. ¬†Image may contain: 1 person

I signed him up for an online school, because I was not about the make him suffer through another school year.¬† Last year was pretty bad.¬† He spent so many days quietly suffering while trying to be a “normal kid”.¬† He had something crazy like 47 absences.¬† This year we are going to give him the break that he needs.¬† I’m his learning coach and his caregiver so I won’t have as much time to blog.

But I absolutely will continue to research all things health and natural wellness.  In an attempt to help my son (and myself!) and whoever happens across my blog.

What has been helping Gabe the most lately has been…*drumroll*‚Ķ goji berry powder!¬† I got mine¬†here.¬†¬†I actually bought it back in February but didn’t do much with it.¬† I was keto with a vengeance and once I realized it had carbs, it got¬†shelved. ¬†I was organizing my kitchen cupboards awhile back and rediscovered it and figured I should give it another shot.¬† I started making “recovery drinks” or post workout drinks with coffee, ice, collagen powder, a heaping tablespoon goji powder, a tablespoon of raw cocoa, pyure sweetener and a bit of milk.¬†20180913_1401202792594796765434391.jpg The shake is¬†so good.¬† Not only does it taste amazing but it’s jam-packed with antioxidants. and a bit of protein from the collagen.¬† I noticed I felt really amazing after drinking it and was experiencing less soreness after workouts.

So yesterday, when Gabe was just dragging and too tired to even do school work, I decided to whip up a fruit smoothie with a secret scoop of goji powder included.¬† He sucked down his smoothie (goji, while not super tasty on it’s own, blends really well with other flavors) and was¬†bouncing off the walls for hours. ¬†It was really wonderful to see him happy and full of energy again.¬† He’s had a really rough month.¬† He got all his work done and even some extra stuff.

It’s definitely something I’ll incorporate into his regular routine.¬† I’m also going to look into Indian Gooseberry, or “Amla” because it is like Goji berry on¬†steroids. ¬†

Here is some more¬†more info on the amazing health promoting effects of goji berries.¬† You can add it to coffee, yogurt, smoothies.¬† I even used it as the “flour” in some dark chocolate brownies.¬† They were¬†amazing and had a flavor like the brookside acai chocolates but richer and more complex.¬† Maybe I’ll post a recipe in the future ūüėČ

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.

 

 

 

 

Cheesy Keto Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

First; the recipe and then an update on how my kids are doing so far on keto. 20180714_1859348371197084850478944.jpg

This is a recipe I found at allrecipes and adapted to keto with a couple tweaks.¬† It’s supposed to be done on a grill but I cooked it in the oven instead.¬† It is pretty good, as you can imagine!

Cheesy Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf (keto!)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 diced yellow onion
  • 3 tbs. low sugar ketchup
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. parsley (I used dried spices)
  • 2 pounds grass fed ground beef
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 7 slices uncured bacon

First you want to take a long piece of heavy duty aluminum foil (long enough that it would be about the length of a cookie sheet¬†after¬†folded in half).¬† Line up the bacon horizontally in the middle of the aluminum.¬† (You’ll want to be able to shape your loaf on top of the bacon and fold it up over the sides.)¬† Using aluminum isn’t 100% necessary but it¬†really¬†cuts down on cleaning time.¬† Preset your oven for 375 degrees F.¬† Add the first 11 ingredients to a large mixing bowl.¬† I mix by hand (I find it easier) but do whatever works for you to get all the ingredients well combined.¬† At that point you can dump the mix on top of the bacon slices and form it into a loaf shape.¬† Wrap the bacon up over the sides.¬† Fold the edges of the aluminum up to form a makeshift loaf pan and transfer onto a cookie sheet.¬† Put that pile o’ meat on the bottom rack.¬† I baked mine for about 65 minutes.¬† You’ll definitely want to check it with a meat thermometer and make sure the middle is at least 160 degrees F.¬† When you take it out, let it “rest” for 5-10 minutes.¬† You can brush on extra ketchup, but that’s extra carbs and honestly, the meatloaf really doesn’t need it.¬†20180714_1907237275425801692758309.jpg

The bacon flavor really permeates the entire loaf without overpowering the other flavors.¬† It’s so good you almost feel guilty eating it!!¬† It was a big hit at my house.¬† I’ll definitely make it again.¬† It’s not the¬†prettiest¬†or most elegant meal to photograph but it is insanely delicious and filling and satisfying.¬† No midnight munching after eating this!

Sorry guys, I don’t have nutritional info as I kind of threw this together today.¬† It does have 7-8 good size servings with a very small amount of carbs.¬† Serve next to a low-carb veggie (with butter, of course!) for a perfect keto dinner.

So…. we’ve been doing keto as a family now for two days.¬† I feel like it is going really well so far.¬† The second morning my oldest woke up and was hungry and shaky.¬† My youngest actually vomited.¬† I think it is because with their fast metabolisms they were going through the keto flu period at an¬†accelerated rate.¬† I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, making nummy food for them.¬† I made a keto cheesecake and two batches of my chocolate keto muffins so far.¬† They (inspite of some complaining) mostly like the food so far.¬† They seem like they are doing pretty well, aside from that first morning when their bodies were obviously still struggling to adapt.

There isn’t much information about how to do this diet for kids online.¬† I’m just going to have to discover as I go.¬† That’s one reason I feel like it’s important to blog about our journey.

 

 

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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Body Image Tips from Victoria

I am trying not to sound like a sarcastic skeptic¬†but¬†I was rolling my eyes big time when the latest model comes out claiming the industry gave her an eating disorder.¬† She’s apparently a model for Victoria’s Secret and was told to lose weight when she was obviously already thin.

Gag. me.¬† Seriously.¬† Parents- don’t let your kids grow up and be models.¬† Or child actors.¬† Or singers.¬† Just give them a normal upbringing and don’t let them go into careers were their living depends on fitting into an unattainable beauty standard.

It’s a good publicity move.¬† I’ve never heard of her until this week.¬† She got two days worth of headlines because she also apologized for misleading her social media followers by claiming she was stick thin as a result of healthy lifestyle and she was giving impressionable people tips while promoting her frail body as a model of health.

Forgive me if I’m not being sensitive enough.¬† It just irritates me.¬† Of course Victoria’s Secret promotes unhealthy, unattainable beauty standards.¬† The real secret is under-eating and breast implants.¬†¬†2E8A8B7C00000578-3322752-image-m-2_1447797528275Of course the blame doesn’t lie with the particular model.¬† She’s just a cog in the massive beast of a system.

The problem goes back to a lack of common sense.  We need to do better for our daughters.

My little girl is only 5 but you can bet when she gets older I’ll do my damndest to keep her from being exposed to messages that tell her that her¬†intrinsic worth as a human being¬†depends on her ability to be sexually appealing or ridiculously thin.¬† She will not be on social media or read trashy magazines until she has the sense to be able to differentiate truth from fiction.; real beauty from stinking bullsh*t.

As someone who has struggled with body image issues myself, I feel a real responsibility to ensure that my daughter grows up with healthy self-esteem.¬† I don’t make remarks about the size of her body.¬† I don’t make remarks about my weight, or any other women’s weight.¬† I don’t tear down or criticize my appearance or anyone else’s.¬† I tell her that she is¬†strong.¬†¬†She is¬†brave.¬†¬†She is¬†smart.¬† She is¬†kind.¬†¬†And she knows that her parents adore her.

My kids see me eating healthy and lifting weights.¬† Not the pink kind, either.¬† Not that there’s anything wrong with that- we all start somewhere!¬† But I work out to get stronger.¬† I eat healthy to nourish my body.¬† I care a bit about my body fat but I care¬†more¬†about the fact that I have great bone density.

Things aren’t going to change until we stop feeding the beast.¬† Don’t buy overpriced, uncomfortable underwear.¬† Don’t read fashion magazines.¬† Stop the negative self-talk and build other women up.

Our words become our mantras.  Our mantras become our beliefs.  Our beliefs become the foundation of who we are.

When I see my daughter conquering a fear and quietly whispering to herself, “I can do it, I am BRAVE.”¬† I know I’m doing my job.¬†29513277_10160291168480074_8974072131688246731_n

I hope we can reject the destructive messages that would seek to undermine our value as human beings, and women.  I hope that we would instead choose life.  That we would pass onto our daughters messages of strength and worth that put enough steel in their backbones that they can reject the lies and embrace their true intrinsic worth as well.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25