Better Than Grandma Used to Make- Catalog Winter 2012-2013
Better Than Grandma Used to Make
My Journey to Healthy Eating—Even on Holidays!
I love Thanksgiving. My fondest memories revolve around spending that holiday with my mom’s parents. It embodied southern charm, and the table overflowed with a spread fit for any home and food magazine. I loved the sights and smells, the joy and laughter. The holidays have always been the highlight of my memories. Perhaps the best they have to offer is knowing you will be with people who love you.
These warm memories prompted one of my biggest fears on the journey to genuinely healthful eating. I was afraid I would have to give up the holidays as I knew them—not just the specific foods but the warm fuzzies that come with them. I feared that having a healthful holiday meant not having a happy tummy. Would my family’s fare be sterile, maybe even un-appetizing? I worried they wouldn’t have the same cozy, satisfying memories of holiday meals that I did.
Holiday Health Crisis
On December 20th, six years ago, a sweet, precious boy was born to my husband and me. Due to lack of good planning on our part, I ended up alone in the hospital that night with our newest love. We had lost one baby and then found out we were expecting another, and throughout my pregnancy, I had struggled with conflicting emotions. I wanted to be thoroughly excited but waded through fears and anxiety over possibly losing another child. I don’t think I truly relaxed until that night in the shadowy darkness of my hospital room. I barely slept, watching that little self, snuggled next to me. I relished our night alone before the reality of now having a family of four hit home the next day.
That little man-to-be is the one who launched my journey to healthful living. (I’ve told many of you parts of my story on the phone or through email, so I apologize if my article is redundant, but this holiday season has gotten me thinking about how grateful I am for my life.) It wasn’t long before I knew he had some health issues. We discovered that his projectile vomiting after every feeding was caused by idiopathic reflux. Doctors assured me that it was perfectly normal for a child to be colicky and have bad skin breakouts, and that treatment would be “no problem.” We could try each of three medications to see which would best handle the condition. We would then continue whichever was most effective until he was old enough to walk . . . or maybe a bit older . . . or possibly his entire life. That didn’t sound like “no problem” to me, but I bought the first prescription and sat in the drugstore parking lot, bawling my eyes out. How could I give my four-month-old baby a life sentence to medication? By the next day, I had decided to find a better way.
New to True Health
Trained as a nurse and steeped in standard medical ways, I knew virtually nothing about the world of genuinely healthful living. I began researching the reasons for colic, reflux, and eczema. Although information available on the topics has exploded in the last five years, even then I found some really cool stuff, which catapulted me toward a new lifestyle. But I had no idea how radically I needed to change my thinking about food and nutrition. At that point, I still thought I could heal my little boy while we continued to consume fast food, processed foods, and the other aberrations of the modern American diet. My entire paradigm needed to change.
We started with little steps that seemed right for the baby. I cut out dairy since that seemed to be linked to a big offender for his disorders. I fed him homemade formula that was less than lovely. It contained carrot juice and stained all his clothes orange during the transition period in which he was still spitting up a lot. We endured making formula daily for our little tyke and saw his reflux disappear. He gained about five pounds in a month and started sleeping better as well.
As the months past, we still struggled with the eczema and frequent illnesses. So we began intense probiotics. I’m beyond thankful for Tummy Tuneup and its ease of use with little ones! We sprinkled a partial capsule in his bottles and on his food until he was old enough to swallow the capsules, did yeast cleanses, eliminated all toxins we could and corn syrup specifically (major!). His once cracked and bleeding feet became supple and soft. The eczema disappeared from his scaly, itchy legs after consistent, multiple daily applications of Miracle. But the best, most rewarding part was that his moodiness and behavior problems began to melt away.
Although my son will eat a plethora of raw fruits and veggies and likes plainly prepared meals, he is picky about ferments and bone broths, which I knew were a key to his (and our) healing. But as we got the yuck out of our diet and replaced it with healthy alternatives, he was willing to try and accept foods he previously rejected (still working on the nutrient-dense sauces, though).
As we made changes little by little, became more convinced about the rightness of our new path, changed and grew, I looked back and realized we had made a huge lifestyle shift. Our whole family benefited from it! My husband’s persistent sinus and allergy problems became less frequent. He went from being the first to get sick to often escaping the entire round of family illness. His taste buds changed as well. Instead of sugary cereals and Coke, he happily chose yogurt for breakfast with just fruit for sweetening. My oldest daughter stopped getting sick as frequently, and recovered noticeably faster when she did get sick. My youngest two, who really benefited from our lifestyle change (both before birth because I was healthier and after because they haven’t been exposed to as many toxins and “fake” food), are fairly robust and typically bounce back from health setbacks quicker than the rest of us.
But the most dramatic change occurred in yours truly. I would never have considered myself a “sick” person or that my health was less than prime. Yet at 29, I had begun to take seriously what people said when they warned that “things change in your 30’s.” I could not believe I should be so tired all the time and feel as horrible as I did. I struggled to keep up with the children, even while taking vitamins. My head was in a fog much of the time, and I suffered from extreme migraines. In a good month, I got by with only one severe headache, but in bad times, I had as many as 20 in a month with double and triple migraines in a day. I had suffered from them as a teenager but had a reprieve after getting off aspartame. Once I had children, though, they came back with a vengeance. After six long years, it seemed only to be getting worse. I lived in constant fear of my next headache and was unable to care for my children when a migraine landed me in bed.
At first, our moderate diet changes didn’t help. Then I completely eliminated MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and food dyes. I also went gluten-free (which did not affect my headaches but did improve my overall feeling of health, and I had fewer sinus problems and less brain fog). I did not stay gluten-free because I am not intolerant of it, but now, as a family, we simply limit our exposure.
With the addition of Magnesium Citrate, CoQ10, and B-Better, my migraines have disappeared entirely. It has been just over 20 months since my last one, and I had only one in the ten months before that. I believe migraines are a complex syndrome triggered by a variety of factors, including deficient magnesium levels, poor gut health, toxins, foods that block absorption of magnesium in the body, and stress. As I have become more healthful in our lifestyle and with the addition of several key supplements, though, I have not only had no migraines, but my energy levels are high, and I function well throughout the day!
My healthy patterns are now fairly well set for the family: whole foods, extremely limited processed foods, grass-fed meats, raw milk from pastured cows, sprouted grains and beans, and all-organic “other.” I drink kombucha and kefir, and love to eat sauerkraut. My pantry has slowly transformed from grab-and-go or scoop-dump-mix-and-warm to ingredients that require time and attention but are the best things you ever put in your mouth. I rarely implemented more than one change in a day, and typically any significant shift was a few months in the making.
Now I cannot imagine going back to the other—even on holidays! What about warm, fuzzy, yummy family times? We limit processed foods to those produced by thoroughly trusted organic, full-disclosure companies. We use funny sounding sugars like rapadura and turbinado. I don’t even own a product like Crisco anymore. We use healthy, farm-fresh lard. Our eggs and milk come straight from a farm, as does most of our meat. And we absolutely will not allow any high fructose corn syrup, MSG, or food dyes in what we eat. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well I have acquired skills to re-create favorite dishes using healthful ingredients, and now they taste even better than the original ones my grandmother used to make! To my further surprise, the extra prep time is neither laborious or a drain. It is really quite a lot of fun and something my little girls happily participate in. The best part is that now I’m passing down healthful traditions of my own.
Our green bean casserole is not only the best, float-you-to-food-heaven-and-back recipe you’ll ever want (see sidebar), it is also good for you. Sweet potatoes still put a smile on our faces but don’t give my son eczema. Cranberry sauce still dances on our tongues but doesn’t mess with our livers. Charlotte, our favorite dessert, tastes like lying in a hammock with a cool breeze hushing you to sleep on a quiet fall day, yet is a nutrient-dense treat. (I still make my grandmother’s refrigerator rolls, but since they are only a twice-a-year occurrence, we let that slide.)
I look forward to the holidays even more these days because I don’t feel hung over from compromised foods. In 20 years, I intend to be the grandma who continues old traditions and shares stories from days gone by over delicious, fun, nutritious food my grandchildren dream of all year long!
Mary Ewing is a wife and homeschool mother of four exuberant kiddos and the fifth on the way! She began her journey into health after quitting her job as a registered nurse to stay home with her children. After realizing their health was not being helped following the typical American lifestyle, she used her research skills to begin to radically change their lives. She is passionate about research and understanding the “way we tick” and fascinated by the immense gifts God has given us in nature to heal ourselves. She is grateful for the last four years that she has worked for Beeyoutiful and the opportunities it has afforded her to allow her to learn more! When not working or taking care of kiddos, she can be found knitting, sewing or dabbling in gardening!
Green Bean Casserole
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma catalog)
8 shallots, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1 lb of Baby Bella mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 chopped shallot
1 cup bone broth
1 cup heavy cream (I use raw)
2 lbs of green beans (I use whole frozen green beans)
- Coat thinly sliced shallots in mixture of flour/gf alternative mixed with salt and pepper to taste. Then fry in lard until crispy but not burnt. Set aside.
- In large skillet, sauté mushrooms and shallots in butter until golden brown. Add approximately ¼ cup of flour or arrowroot to skillet and coat veggies. Slowly add chicken broth, mixing well between drizzles. After all broth is incorporated, add the cream slowly, stirring as it thickens.
- Combine beans and sauce in a 9 X 13 pan and bake at 375 for approximately 25 minutes or until bubbling on the edges. Add onions at the last minute, and serve hot!
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup 100% cranberry juice (the tart stuff!)
1½ pounds fresh cranberries
Pulp from two oranges
1 cup maple syrup
¼ cup pecans
Combine juice and maple syrup in the pot until it boils; then add cranberries and oranges. Cook for approximately ten minutes, stirring consistently. Once the cranberries begin to burst, lower heat, and stir until most of the cranberries have burst open. Do not overcook because it will not set well. Then stir in the pecans. Chill and serve.
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