meat stock

New Year's Resolutions: Six Habits I Recommend on a Regular Basis

Happy New Year everyone!

In the last post, I shared about mindsets to have (or not) that will help with successful habit change. This week I want to share about some of the habits I think are most important to consider integrating into your family. This is not an exhaustive list! These habits are simple and sound. They are not flashy or trendy (necessarily), and they have stood the test of time. And remember, I am not suggesting you start ALL of these habits at once, or that these are the highest priority for your family. I am merely suggesting ones I think are important. For your consideration. Here they are:  

Six Habits I Recommend on a Regular Basis:

1. Eat More Animal Fat

This is my number one recommendation, and it is something you can incorporate into your food right now! Everyone should be eating more animal fat! Here's a post about why you should add more animal fat to your diet. Animal fats are butter, lard, tallow, ghee, chicken, duck and goose fat, bacon, and sour cream. This is where the money is! But what about avocados, coconut oil, and all the "healthy fats"? Those fats are fine and healthy (if they are good quality), but they cannot replace the amazing benefits that animal fats bring to your body. Those fats are fine to eat, but focus on increasing the animal fats. I recommend people work up to eating a minimum of 1/2 cup added animal fat per person per day. This includes children (they need fat for their developing brain!) This can be accomplished by adding fat to everything! Fry everything in butter, lard or bacon grease. Butter your steak! Eat butter cubes and dried fruit for a snack. Eat a tub of sour cream with a spoon! These are just some ideas to get you started. And if you are worried about fat and heart disease or obesity, I recommend you check out the book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride called Put Your Heart in Your Mouth, which explains the real reason for these epidemic diseases.

2. Drink Meat Stock Daily

Meat stock (not necessarily bone broth) is a liquid gold that I think every person can benefit from. To learn how to make it, view my post about it. I recommend that every person (children included) consume at least 1 mug of meat stock every day. With every meal is even better. This doesn't have to be in the form of soup—it can be a mug of the strained stock. And this is great place to add in extra fat (see previous point). And yes, there is a difference between store-bought and homemade—you can make something of infinitely higher quality than anything you can buy. And please, even if you use a microwave for other things, warm up your meat stock on the stove!

3. Eat a Fermented Food

Until the age of refrigeration, we naturally had some time of fermented food at least once a day. Either foods were fermented on purpose to preserve them longer (like sauerkraut), or during the course of a few days stored at room temperature, they grew some amount of mold, yeast, or bacteria on them.

Today, food in this state goes instantly into the trash (often container included), but for most of history food was rarely wasted due to a little mold! Now, I am not saying you should eat food that is molded or rotten, but our bodies function in a more healthy state if we regularly eat microbes. After all, a large part of our bodies are microbes! Here is a fun little video about how microbes work in your body. To help your body get or stay healthy, it's good to get these healthy microbes in us! You can do this by taking a probiotic, or eating fermented foods. There are different reasons why one is better than the other, and sometimes both are needed, but eating a ferment (or fermented food) is a great way to start out! 

You can buy your ferment (like live, refrigerated sauerkraut), or make it yourself. In addition to sauerkraut, beet kvass and vegetable medley are two of my favorites. When you start with any probiotic or fermented food, go slowly! Too much too fast can cause what's known as a die-off or Herx reaction. This is not fun, but can be avoided by increasing the amount you eat slowly! Start with one bite of sauerkraut, or 1 ounce of beet kvass. See how you feel for the next 24 hours, then use that as a guide to let you know how fast you can increase (or if you need to decrease).  

The last three habits are related to detoxing and cleansing your body.

4. Filter Your Water

This is a fairly simple change to make, yet it can reap large benefits. City water, most bottled water, and some well water contains chlorine in one or more forms. It is put there to keep species of bacteria, fungus and other microbes from multiplying to unhealthy levels. However, when we drink this same water the chlorine negatively affects the flora living inside us as well. And when we bathe and shower in it, not only do the chemicals dry out our skin and the fumes irritate our lungs, the protective barrier of our skin (maintained by skin flora) is damaged. You can largely prevent all of these things by filtering the chlorine (and some other things) out of your water. There are many levels of filters, and depending on how sick you are and what's in your water supply, a stronger filter may be necessary. But most people see benefit with simple filters for their drinking, cooking and bathing water. I use this filter or this filter for my drinking and cooking water, this filter for my baths, and this filter for my shower. You could get them all, or start with one and build from there.

5. Take a Detox Bath

A detox bath is an excellent way to help your body get rid of toxins that have accumulated there. There are three factors in a detox bath: water temperature, time, and amount of detox material. You can adjust all three of these to find your perfect bath! Common detoxing materials are Epsom salt, baking soda, and raw apple cider vinegar with the mother. And as we just discussed, dechlorinated water is preferred. The goal of a detox bath is to make you feel lighter, clearer and better. If you go too high on any of the three detox bath factors, you may get nauseated, a headache, increased heart rate, brain fog, muscle cramps, irritability or other like symptoms. If this happens during your bath, no worries! Just get out of the bath right away, drink plenty of water, and your symptoms will usually disappear in a few minutes. If they don't, lie down for a little while to let your body rest and recover.

  • Water temperature: you want a warm bath, but if it gets really hot, your body can jump to that other level of detoxing that will give you all the undesirable symptoms. This temperature will be determined by you, and may vary slightly day by day.

  • Time in the bath: to detox, most people need to stay in the bath about 20 minutes. You can stay in longer. But sometimes staying in more time can cause you to start having symptoms. If that happens, bath time is over! It's time to get out! Shorten your bath time by a few minutes the next time.

  • Amount of detoxing materials: for each bath, you want to use one of the detox materials listed above. Amounts vary between 1/4-1 cup. Test and see what works for you. It's good to rotate the material, using all three at different times, for a more comprehensive detoxing.

Enjoy your bath!

6. Walk Outside in the Sun

This is actually a two-for-one! Sunbathing (with nothing on your skin) is a great way to detox AND increase your levels of vitamin D. Of course, different seasons will have a different influence on vitamin D levels, but talking a walk in the sunshine has undeniable benefits (and probably ones we don't even understand yet!) The full light spectrum can help fight daytime fatigue, which in turn helps our hormones to balance. And you are getting gentle movement exercise on top of it! This will stimulate blood flow and increase your body's ability to remove toxins, as well as stimulate lymph movement, which does the same. It's important to expose your skin to the sun without any barrier, including light barriers such as coconut oil. Commercial sunscreens should be avoided altogether as they contain many known carcinogens. If your skin is not ready for the amount of sun exposure it's going to get, it's best to cover up with clothing, and/or gradually work up the time in the sun. As a side benefit, the more animal fat you eat the less likely you are to sunburn! So use this winter wisely! By the time spring and summer come, you should be able to increase your sun time gradually without problems! And yes, this includes you blondes, redheads, and fair-skinned people!

So there you have it!

The top six changes I recommend on a regular basis. Let me know which one you tried out first, and how it went!

Onward!

Immunity: The Best Defense is a Good Offense {Part Two}

Last time we talked about the first two ways to support your body's immunesystem. In review, there are four ways or areas we can strengthen our immune system.

  • Eat a diet rich in nourishing foods

  • Support the good microbes in your body and environment

  • Detoxify to give the inflammatory arm of the immune system a break

  • Use essential oils and herbs to support your body's natural defenses

To read about the first two on the above list, check out the previous blog HERE. Today we are going to discuss the other ways you can prepare your body to be ready for environmental attacks. This is a longer post. Hang in there, and bookmark this so you can come back to it for reference.

Detoxify Your Body

Detoxification may not automatically come to mind when you think about supporting your body's immune system, but a high toxin level in your body can lead to an overwork of your immune system. How?

Toxins that are loose in the body cause damage to tissues, interfere with hormones and neurotransmitters, and in other ways increase the overall inflammation in the body. This is not a problem when it is happening on a small scale—in fact, our body was designed to handle this very thing—but when the toxins increase, so does the damage. This means that inflammation (a branch of the immune system) has to become more and more active to address the increase of damage from toxins. The more active it becomes, the more resources it needs. The "resources" of the immune system are nutrients (like cholesterol, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, etc.), energy from metabolic production, and different (specific) immune cells. Many of the same resources are needed both to fight infection and to deal with inflammation. So if toxin damage is high, causing increasing inflammation, then the resources will be directed to the inflammatory branch with the purpose of reducing inflammation. This is good, until a pathogenic microbe decides to invade the body. Then the infection branch of the immune system finds itself understaffed and under-resourced. Without enough resources to fight off the invaders quickly and efficiently, the immune system does the best it can, but it often takes a longer time to restore the body to health and balance. Sometimes the immune system cannot remove the invading threat, and that microbe finds a "corner" to take up residence in. If this happens, these microbes stay in the body and put a constant, low-level drain on the immune system that is constantly fighting to keep them in check. And when the immune system is weakened, these microbes may surface, causing more obvious and acute symptoms.

You can help your immune system out by detoxing.

A simple way to support your immune system is by reducing the amount of toxins, which then reduces the amount of inflammation in the body. There are some simple ways to detoxify your body. Walk in the sunshine!

Sunshine (on unprotected skin) initiates detox through one of your body's normal pathways for detox. Getting enough sun can be challenging in the colder months, but try to expose as much skin as possible, depending on the weather. And you will be able to stay outside longer if you are moving! And movement is not just about staying warm: when your muscles are worked your lymphatic system pumps stronger, as does your heart, which also help your body to remove the toxins.

Drink plenty of water!

I am not a huge fan of the "8 glasses of water every day" rule, because each individual body is going to have different water needs at different times, and this will likely change several times a day. Sometimes 8 glasses are too many, and sometimes it is not enough! Listen to your body to know what "enough water" means. To get you started, enough water means that your urine is pale yellow and does not have an odor, your lips are not dry, and you are not thirsty. When detoxing, it's very important to drink enough water to allow the body to flush the toxins from the body.

Get enough sleep!

Did you know that your body does most of its detoxing and repairing while you are sleeping? And this is not just sleeping whenever... actually your body heals the body more before midnight than after. In the words of Joseph Antell, a Clinical Nutritionalist and a Certified Herbalist, "Every hour [of sleep] before midnight is worth two hours after midnight in terms of healing..." So get to bed! Your body needs to rest. If you have problems sleeping, which is common in many health conditions, doing things like detoxing, eating nutrient-dense foods, turning off WiFi and leaving electronic devices out of the bedroom, and using natural sleep remedies like essential oils, herbs, or even a warm bath or warm milk can help your body get into a pattern of sleeping.

Support the Body's Natural Defenses

Sometimes our body needs some extra help. Maybe you just started eating nutrient-dense foods. Maybe your body's defenses were weakened by a stressful day, or not enough sleep. Maybe the microbe that is trying to invade is especially strong, or one your body hasn't seen before. Or maybe your body is doing a fine job fighting off the invaders, but it will appreciate any outside help you can give it. When you feel sick, do all the things we have talked about so far. Drink lots of meat stock. Avoid sugar, even from fruit. Double up on your fermented cod liver oil dose. Get lots of sleep and drink plenty of water. You can go out in the sun if it is sunny, not too cold or windy, and you are well wrapped (including your head and neck). In addition to all these, there are things provided in nature that support our bodies through the natural course of being sick. This is a large topic in itself, and today I will just introduce some of these to you.  

Foods:

  • Candied Onion: Cook in lots of butter, ghee or lard, then topped with a fried egg boosts the immune system and soothes a sore throat

  • Fermented Garlic (or raw): Raw or fermented garlic boost the immune system and can kill some pathogenic microbes

  • Honey: Raw, unfiltered honey has immune-supporting properties and is effective as a cough suppressant

  • Unpasteurized milk: Raw milk contains the active form of calcium (calcium lactate), which kills pathogens. Will help reduce a fever

This is not an exhaustive list of food!

Essential Oils:

  • Lavender: This is an antihistamine, so it will help calm inflammation from allergies or invading microbes

  • Oregano: This is a powerful antibacterial. It is a very hot oil, and should always be diluted with a carrier oil if applied to the skin

  • Protective blend: This is a blend of essential oils with antimicrobial properties, like clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary. It also supports the body's natural immune system

  • Respiratory blend: This blend contains things like eucalyptus, peppermint and lemon, which help to open up the airways and sinuses

  • Tea Tree: This has antiviral and anti-fungal properties, and can be helpful to support the body in fighting these types of infections

  • Many other essential oils support the body in a particular circumstances, but they are too specific to write about here

Important Note: I only recommend therapeutic grade essential oils. Essential oils bought at a health food store, or Walmart, are likely synthetic, diluted, and/or manipulated. To find out about the essential oils I recommend, and how to purchase them, click HERE.  

Other Options:

  • Flower essences (work with a practitioner or look in reference books)

  • Food-based supplements (like Acerola Cherry Powder, Indian Gooseberry, Calcium Lactate, etc.)

  • Herbs and tinctures (including Elderberry syrup, Echinacea, etc)

  • Homeopathic remedies (work with a homeopath or look in reference books)

As you can see, there are many specific ways you can support your body's immune system, both before an infection, and during one. Every body responds a little differently, so try different tools to see what works best for you and the members of your family. But don't forget to start with the basics!

If the immune system doesn't have enough resources or immune cells, or if the body is overwhelmed by inflammation, or if you aren't drinking enough water for things to move quickly, additional support can only help you so much in your sickness. And don't get overwhelmed with how much you could do! Just pick one thing and start doing it. Then keep going, and keep learning. You are going to do great!

Onward!  

This post contains affiliate links. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend products that I trust.

Immunity: The Best Defense is a Good Offense {Part One}

Fall is coming! I hope you have been enjoying the cooler nights (and sometimes day) like I have! The onset of cooler weather also means that cold and flu season is coming!

Is your immune system ready? We often respond to illnesses defensively... waiting until we catch something before we take care of it. But there is another way... a way to go on the offensive and give your immune system a running start! The food we eat (or don't eat), our obsession with cleanliness, the frequency medications are prescribed, and the environmental toxins we are exposed to can lead to our bodies being run down, and our immune systems functioning below peak performance level.

In fact, it's pretty amazing that we have any immunity left! I'm thankful for the incredibly complex design of our bodies, which allows them to compensate and continue working, even in sub-optimal conditions. Here is a fun video that explains the workings of the immune system. But doesn't it seem like a good idea to support our bodies—and our immune systems—the best that we can? The good news is that there are ways to support our immune systems!  

  • Eat a diet rich in nourishing foods

  • Support the good microbes in your body and environment

  • Detoxify to give the inflammatory arm of the immune system a break

  • Use essential oils and herbs to support your body's natural defenses

Today let's talk about the first two, and next time we will talk about the other two.  

Nourishing Foods

Eating nourishing foods is a topic I talk about often. If you haven't heard much of what I have to say about this yet, you can check out some other posts like this one and this one. Today I'm going to share with you the nutrient dense foods that your immune system LOVES!

Your immune system is a very hungry organ. It is overseeing the entire body, and needs lots of little soldiers to work properly. For a strong, well-staffed immune system, the body needs to be well supplied with cholesterol, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and more. These nutrients can be found in the same nutrient dense foods that I am always recommending... meat stock, butter, fermented cod liver oil (source), liver (you can get it in a capsule), caviar, egg yolks, full-fat yogurt or kefir, grass-fed beef, and some others. Important minerals can be found in whole salts (sources).

When these types of foods are consumed on a regular basis, the immune system will have enough building blocks to make itself strong. While you are increasing the amount of nutrient-dense foods you are eating, it's a good idea to decrease the amount of empty, processed foods you eat. These foods are mostly empty calories, and any food that contains processed sugar depresses the immune systems for hours after it's eaten. As you fill up with real, whole foods, phase any sugar-containing, processed food out of your diet.

Support Good Microbes

Another reason why our immune systems are struggling is because we have declared a war on microbes. Since the days of Louis Pasteur we have been sterilizing and pasteurizing everything in sight. Even if you don't take antibiotics, you are still getting exposed to them through the food you eat, the water you drink, and often even the soap you wash your hands with. Additionally we obsessively use hand sanitizer, bleach and other cleaners that kill 99.9% of germs. But these sanitizers aren't just killing germs.

They are killing the good microbes as well—microbes that keep balance, and even health, to our bodies and the world around us. Another theory emerged around the time of Pasteur, and with our growing knowledge of the human microbiome, it seems to be the more true of the two. Antoine Bechamp created the cellular theory, with the main hypothesis that it is the environment that causes disease, not the germ. A short recap of these two theories can be found here.

If Pastuer were right, then our bodies should do better and better as we "cleanse" and reduce the number of bacteria and other microbes. But we have found that the opposite is true. Research has shown that those people with fewer species of microbes in their gut are actually more prone to illness and disease, including chronic disease like obesity, autoimmunity and cancer. So stop killing things! Get rid of your antimicrobial soap and Clorox spray! When you need to clean your hands, wash them instead of sanitizing. And expose yourself to the good and helpful microbes that help keep the bad ones in check. you can do this by eating fermented foods, taking a probiotic, and getting into the dirt sometimes. Eating the nourishing foods we talked about will also support helpful microbes in your body.

That should get you started, but come back to learn about the other two ways you can support your immune system. Remember, the best defense is a good offense!

Onward!

Lovely Lard

Eating animal fat is important to our body's health. But eating enough fat can be challenging, especially when there is a dairy allergy. Lard is a great alternative to butter, and its taste is more mild than that of tallow. You can buy lard at the store, but it is expensive and may be hydrogenated or of poor quality. Making your own lard is simple and easy, and can be done for a fraction of the price. To make lard, you first start out with pig fat. This can be obtained from a butcher, or even trimmed off of fatty cuts of pork like the Boston butt. The process of turning fat into lard or tallow is called rendering. In this post I describe rendering lard, but the process for rendering tallow (which is fat from beef, bison, deer, lamb, or elk) is the same, although for tallow it may take a few more hours.   There are two kinds of pig fat. Leaf fat is from fat surrounding the internal organs. It is very mild in taste and used to be reserved for making pies and pastries. Body fat is from the layer of fat beneath the skin. This has a slightly stronger pork taste, and is better used in cooking meat and vegetables. Along with a different taste, there is a different look to the two types of fat. Body fat is in large pieces, and appears more dense and flat. Leaf fat is in smaller pieces, has a fluffier texture, and may contain membranes. The fat you get from a butcher may contain both types of fat. If that is the case, I recommend separating out the two types of fat and rendering them separately so you can use them for different purposes. However, there is no problem in mixing them and rendering them together. (The fat I have pictured below is leaf fat.)  

Making Lard:

First, cut up the pig fat into small 1-2 inch sized cubes. If using leaf fat, remove as much membrane as possible.

Put the fat cubes in a medium saucepan on low heat. You may use a crockpot, but it must have a very low setting or the fat will burn. Stir occasionally and watch closely. Don't let the lard smoke!

With time, the solid pieces of fat will get smaller, and the liquid will increase.

After a few hours, when the lard is liquified, set up your strainer and cloth.

Below you see pictured a jar, jar funnel, and metal strainer. Metal is best because the lard is hot! To finish it off, place a cloth. You can use an old napkin or other cloth, or several layers of cheesecloth.

Pour the liquid into the strainer. The liquid will go into the jar and the cracklings will stay in the cloth.

Squeeze the rest of the liquid out of the cracklings.

Cracklings separated from the liquid lard. Salt and fry these. You can eat them like bacon bits, or just plain.

Allow the jar of lard to cool on the counter.

When the lard is cool you can move it to the fridge, or leave it on the counter.

If you are careful not to contaminate the jar, the lard will last for several months, even left out at room temperature. Use the lard in your cooking— it is a wonderful thing to fry up vegetables or meat and add fat to your diet. Bon appétit!

Onward!


How to Make Lard

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

instructions:

How to cook How to Make Lard

  1. First, cut up the pig fat into small 1-2 inch sized cubes. If using leaf fat, remove as much membrane as possible.
  2. Put the fat cubes in a medium saucepan on low heat. You may use a crockpot, but it must have a very low setting or the fat will burn. Stir occasionally and watch closely. Don't let the lard smoke!
  3. With time, the solid pieces of fat will get smaller, and the liquid will increase.
  4. After a few hours, when the lard is liquified, set up your strainer and cloth.
  5. Below you see pictured a jar, jar funnel, and metal strainer. Metal is best because the lard is hot! To finish it off, place a cloth. You can use an old napkin or other cloth, or several layers of cheesecloth.
  6. Pour the liquid into the strainer. The liquid will go into the jar and the cracklings will stay in the cloth.
  7. Squeeze the rest of the liquid out of the cracklings.
  8. Cracklings separated from the liquid lard. Salt and fry these. You can eat them like bacon bits, or just plain.
  9. Allow the jar of lard to cool on the counter.
  10. When the lard is cool you can move it to the fridge, or leave it on the counter.
  11. If you are careful not to contaminate the jar, the lard will last for several months, even left out at room temperature. Use the lard in your cooking— it is a wonderful thing to fry up vegetables or meat and add fat to your diet. Bon appétit!
Created using The Recipes Generator

Making New Ruts

We often get stuck in ruts. It's easiest to keep doing the same thing—once a pattern (good or bad) is established, we tend to keep doing things the same way. One of my deepest ruts is how fast I live my life. How much I try to squeeze into each day to live up to my own expectations. How hard it is for me to be okay with down-time. I have been consciously making different choices to try and get out of this rut for the last 3 years, but because it is so ingrained, it has been slow going. Of course there has been progress! I have become so much more okay with slowing down, saying no, and doing things just for fun. But a recent event has given me the opportunity for some concentrated time in the new ruts.

The event? Being sick! Sicker than I have ever been in my life. Sick and recovering for 2 weeks! Sick enough that all of my energy went just to taking care of myself.

It was hard to do. Taking care of myself is something I have only really learned to do in the last few years... when I found the GAPS protocol. It was then that I started to believe that it is important, and right, to take care of myself. And I began learning how to do it. I have been a slow learner... being busy and productive was so deeply ingrained in me that it has required a lot of purposeful energy and conscious thought to make choices that take me out of that rut.

I still considered myself a beginner at self-care. But after these two weeks I may be about to level up!

I had to let go of so many things as I allowed my body to heal. And I mean really let go. I could not catch up, make up, or push through like I usually can. I was focused on one thing: me. And that focus was obligatory, I had no real choice in the matter.

As I canceled my schedule day after day, I had to remember that my worth was unattached to my productivity or presence.

As I thought about everything on my to-do list that was not getting done, I had to remember that God is in control of growing my business.

As I gave my body the best support I could using herbs, essential oils, vitamins, and meat stock, I had to remember that healing is complex, and our bodies are amazing!

As I wondered at times if my body was strong enough to handle whatever was going on, I had to remember that it was okay to ask for help, and to receive it.

I was sick enough for long enough that I also needed time to recover. That means I couldn't jump back in a full speed once I was feeling better. I had to evaluate my important tasks, and be realistic in what I could accomplish in between naps. Part of me thinks that I will go back to how I was before. But most of me doesn't want that. Slowing down is refreshing and freeing. Tasks are so much easier when I let God carry the burden, instead of trying to bear it on my shoulders alone. I don't know if I can stay out of my old ruts, but I pray that I can. I want to keep making these new ruts deeper.

As I go, Onward!

Take Courage

I had an interesting week last week. For the first time in a while, my body stopped me in my tracks. I'm not saying that I've had symptom-free days every day for the last few months. I have had the occasional headache, been sick with colds, and felt the effect of too much detox or too little sleep.  

But this was a little more.

For four days I was out of commission, only doing the bare essentials. I cut out all the “extras" in my diet, ate foods only on GAPS Intro Stage 1, and increased my fat and desiccated liver intake. I went to bed hours early, took naps during the day, and still felt exhausted. I drank enough water and took enough detox baths to dry up a river, and I applied essential oils liberally. Nothing really helped, beyond occasionally providing a few minutes of partial relief.

I am still not sure what exactly was going on, but as best as I can figure, it seemed to be some kind of significant detox reaction. I had a headache that wavered between annoying and a migraine, sore muscles, tinnitus, nausea, VERY tired eyes, and a brain that simply would not focus. None of these were fun, but what brought me to tears was not any of these symptoms.  

It was fear.  

Fear that I had missed something (since I wasn’t sure why I felt so awful).

Fear that I had pushed myself too hard (although I had been pacing myself).

Fear that my headache would never end (this did seem logical at the time).

Fear that my eyesight was failing (my vision was fine two days before).

Fear that I would feel like this forever, I would never again feel well, and I was wrong to think that I could be a “healthy” person. 

And just fear. Fear about nothing.

But these fears were overwhelming my thoughts and reason.

My overwhelming fear only lasted a short time, because I have a great Friend who does not leave me alone. He gives me hope (see post), and I really couldn't do life without Him. He walked with me in that dark moment and let me know He was with me, and that it was going to be okay. That brought me peace, even though I still believed that my headache would be a constant companion for the rest of my life (honestly, I really did).

While it was not all rainbows and unicorns after that, the paralyzing fear was gone. It was good to remember how hopelessness feels, a feeling I have often experienced on my health journey. When it feels nearly impossible to believe that anything could change, that better health could be possible. It's good to be reminded, so I can be grateful, and so I can better help you. It takes courage to go to another practitioner, change your diet yet again, or make another lifestyle change. It takes tremendous courage and strength to keep striving for better health, when health seems to be an impossible goal. If this is where you are at right now, you are so very strong and courageous. I want you to know that.

From years of experience I know that it takes courage to be sick. But over the last few months I have learned that it also takes courage to be well. It takes courage to live outside of the awful (yet familiar) limits of a health condition. Courage to eat a food that is now okay for you, order off a restaurant menu, or eat a food your friend offered without grilling them about ingredients. Courage to let your just-in-case prescription run out. And it takes tremendous courage to live your life in freedom, even when facing (like I did last week) a short illness, detox reaction or bad day. Courage to push the limits because you refuse to be intimidated by them anymore.

And...

...sometimes you melt in the middle of the floor, in tears, because you think your health has collapsed and you're probably going to be blind soon!

That’s okay too!

Courage is not the absence of fear. In fact, without something to fear, there can be no courage.

Don’t be ashamed of your fear, but don’t let it rule you, either. Remember, you are strong, and you are made for more.

No matter where you are in your health journey, take courage!  

As we go, Onward!

Say No to Bone Broth!

Bone broth! It’s all the rage right now! But I don’t recommend it for most people. Find out why, and what I recommend doing instead.

Why avoid bone broth? Bone broth is good, and contains high levels of minerals and amino acids, including glutamic acid.

But large amounts of glutamic acid can be a problem for some people, especially those who have a leaky gut. Although some people can tolerate bone broth right away, it is advisable for everyone to start with meat stock, and then slowly add bone broth.

If you want more details about the differences between stock and broth, and what things like glutamic acid are, Biodynamic Wellness wrote a wonderful article that you can read for more information!

Important note: you can get a die-off reaction from both meat stock and bone broth. This is a sign of healing, but care should be taken to slowly increase the amount as the person is tolerating. You should always discuss issues with the practitioner you are working with.

How to make Meat Stock:

Ingredients:

  • Meat (80%) and bones with joint(s) (20%)

  • Organ meats (optional, but recommended)

  • 2-3 carrots

  • 1-2 celery stalks (on early GAPS, remove the celery before eating)

  • 1 onion

  • 4-6 whole peppercorns

  • 3-4 quarts filtered water (approximately)

  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley

Directions:

  • Prepare your meat

    • cut up chicken to expose the joints

    • braise or roast the beef/buffalo/pork meat briefly (for added flavor)

  • Add meat and bones to stockpot or dutch oven

  • Add filtered water, enough to just cover the meat (3-4 quarts)

  • Turn on the heat, bring to a boil

  • Cut up onion, carrot and celery

  • When water comes to a boil, reduce the heat and skim the scum (foam)

  • the scum is impurities, dirt, blood, bacteria, etc

  • if you miss this, it's ok but it does make it taste better!

  • Add chopped vegetables and peppercorns

  • Simmer for 1.5-3 hrs (chicken) 2-4 hrs (lamb & pork), 3-5 hrs (beef, etc). Do not cook longer than 6 hrs, this will increase the glutamic acid

  • Add the parsley to the simmering stock 10 minutes before it's done

  • Allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge

  • Enjoy the delicious and nutritious stock that you made yourself!

  • If you are new to this, start by making a pot of stock every week, consuming a little of it daily. You could make different soups with it, or just drink some stock (hot or cold) as a beverage or snack.

Extra Tips:

  • Meat stock should be a meal--eat it as a basic soup, or add other vegetables and spices to change it into something completely different.

  • Don't throw out the best parts! If you are dealing with picky eaters (including yourself), you can blend the parts of the meat you don't want to eat (skin, joint cartilages, organ meats) with a little stock liquid. It will make your stock slightly thicker, but it will also increase the nutrition--meaning you will heal faster!

  • DO NOT THROW OUT THE FAT! This is a vital food for healing. You can keep it on your stock and mix it in as you consume it, or put it aside in the refrigerator and add it to your food one serving at at time.

  • Most people debone the meat after the stock is cooked. When you do this, you should be left with just a pile of bones--everything else is considered meat.

  • Store the bones in a freezer bag and when you have a full bag, you can use them to make bone broth later--when you are ready for it!

  • You can strain the stock into jars (it’s easiest to do this when it is warm) and use it as a base for other soups. Eat or freeze the meat. Again, meat stock is a meal, all the components can and should be eaten.

  • If you want to freeze meals ahead of time, it's easier to freeze soup instead of stock. Stock tends to expand and can crack the container it is frozen. Soup is less likely to harm the container it is frozen in.

  • This is only the basic recipe. Use other vegetables and fresh herbs to make a variety of different soups.

  • It is best to add salt to each serving of soup or stock, instead of salting the entire pot. Salt should be consumed as desired. Always use a whole sea salt (Celtic, Real Salt, or Himalayan).

Still Healing

Hi everyone,

I realize I have been absent on the web for the last little while, and I would like to share why...

I have been recently reminded that my body is still healing... I have felt so great over the last few months that I forgot that I am healing years and years of sickness and imbalance, and that does not magically disappear overnight, or even over a few months. I'm glad that I am where I am--in so many ways and for so many reasons. I am glad I am healing, even when it takes so much energy to do so. Even though I have to slow down... maybe I'm glad because I have to slow down.

... maybe I'm glad because I have to slow down

I'm glad to be reminded about what I am healing from. Some "flare ups" and detoxing that I have been experiencing the last couple weeks have reminded me what my "normal" used to be. I'm glad it is not my normal anymore. Some of this flair up has been out of my control... some crazy things have happened to people around me that has made my life busier, because I have been helping them out. But most is in my control. A little more sleep, a little laziness in not getting up when I remembered I forgot to take fermented cod liver oil. Giving in to eating a little to much fruit, and not enough stock because it's easy. Because it's what I want in the moment, not prioritizing investing in what my body needs. __And____________Down_________________________I__________________________________Went  

Down and out!

Focus on sleep, rest, time out from the world and the busyness of life--whether or not I could "afford" to do so. My body was starting to wander from the path of healing and wellness. Since I was not giving it foods to heal, it was making me slow down physically, taking the energy it needed.

...which is good...

I appreciate the human body so much more than I ever have, and the amazing ways it compensates and presses on even with little to work with. But there are certain foods that help it heal and function well, and I know what they are. And with my knowledge comes my responsibility. To my body. To myself.

Also, I was letting my neighborhood run down--and unsavory characters were gaining strength in my gut. They were starting to dictate what I was craving again. And adding toxins to my body to further slow me down. And it becomes hard to fight all that. It is discouraging that I have to keep fighting to correct the bad that has been happening for years. And hard that it can so quickly slip away. It is hard to remember that I am still recovering, and not very far away from the time when I was very sick.

So the choice is there--fight again, or go back to how I was. I was functional, but also so cautious. Not able to make a mistake without miserable consequences like migraines, stomach aches, and more. I could go there--it sure is easier than GAPS, and I would be fine, probably, for a while...

But I have a bigger goal--not just to be alive, survive, exist. My goal is to heal. To be well--as well as I can manage to be with my imperfect body in this broken world. To be in a state of living!

Thankfully I took action early. It only took a week to get my trajectory back on course. I've almost regained that lost ground--almost. But I have gained something else that is very valuable. A deeper resolve to continue. To invest and expect a return, even when that investment is a little uncomfortable, and a little inconvenient. So forward I go--not perfectly or without faltering. But I know which direction I want to go, and I know that which lies in that direction is worth the journey.

Onward!