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Archive for June, 2012

For today, I have some interesting offers to tantalize your shopping taste-buds! NaturOli is having an EXTREME sale (30% off already sale prices, up to 46%!!!) and it ends TONIGHT at Midnight! For those who don’t know, NaturOli makes wonderful, all natural, hypoallergenic, earth-friendly, skin-friendly cosmetics, spa products, personal care products, and cleaners. I am a proud affiliate of NaturOli, so please click on the following links so I get credit for directing you to their site (you will get a tracking cookie that expires in 21 days):

NaturOli product lines.

To check out how I use one of their products, Soap Nuts, see my page Soap Nuts To The Rescue!

[Helping of Hope Update: I apologize I have been away from my computer for a few days! I have some interesting recipes in the works, including a lacto-fermented, thirst-quenching Gingerade system that results in a yummy (and nutritious) Ginger cake, and some sourdough recipes that we use all the time. I’ve baked the goods, taken the pictures….but I haven’t found the time to write! Look for those recipes in the upcoming weeks (I’ll announce them here), as well as our personal journey “through” Fragile X Syndrome. I say “through” because it affects every member of the family, even if everyone doesn’t have it.]

If you think your friends would love to hear about guilt-free, all-natural products, make sure to share this post with them using one of the many options below. Thanks!

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The biggest contributing factor to poor health is sugar consumption.  As I discussed in my Faith article, The Most Dangerous Toxin, sugar ALONE is responsible for the epidemic increases in heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and obesity.  Excess sugar intake can cause depression, especially in the Winter, reduce libido and fertility, and otherwise make us generally miserable…except when we are eating it.  It is easy to point the finger at drug addicts, alcoholics, and smokers…but guess what?  We’re addicts too!  If we eat processed food (in jars, cans, and boxes) from a grocery store, we are most likely sugarholics!  Our body knows it and chances are we do to; we acknowledge it whenever we say things like, “I just don’t feel happy anymore.  I don’t feel like myself.  I’m tired all the time.  I don’t have the energy.”

So what can we do?  Here’s a helping of hope: your sense of taste will adjust to the level of sugar you feed it and you don’t have to quit overnight.  Here is the first step;  take it before Winter hits and you will be a whole new you.  Your future will be all the brighter for making this right choice!

STEP ONE: Avoid corn syrup & artificial sweeteners in the products you buy

Corn syrup has many names: if you see the words fructose, glucose, invert, syrup solids, avoid these products like the plague.  Artificial sweeteners are sometimes indicated on food with the warning “contains phenylketonics” (they contain phenylalanine).  There are five FDA-approved sweeteners: saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame.  Artificial sweeteners include sugar alcohols that are neither sugars nor alcohols, but similarly-structured carbohydrates.  Common names are sorbitol,  mannitol, xylitol, erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, HSH (hydrogenated starch hydrolysates), and maltitol.  Be wary of any product that says “sugar-free” or “reduced sugar” as they probably contain a corn syrup product or an artificial sweetener.

Right now we just want products that use regular sugar (called “sugar” with no other adjectives except “white”, “light brown”, “brown”, “demerera”, “turbinado”, “organic”, “coconut”, “palm”, or “maple”), evaporated cane juice, honey, or pure maple syrup.  This is a big change and may take you several months to get it down, so don’t rush.

Here are the little steps that will help you to accomplish this big step: (1) READ LABELS;  (2) IDENTIFY OFFENDERS; (3) FIND ALTERNATES; (4) MAKE YOUR OWN IF ALTERNATES AREN’T AVAILABLE/AFFORDABLE; (5) GIVE UP “ON-NOTICE” OFFENDERS ENTIRELY. 

It is unlikely that you will read the labels on all the products you buy and memorize them all (!), so chances are that depending on the product and how important it is to you, a combination of these little steps in a single process is more likely.

Here is what these little steps look like in practice as you attempt the larger goal of getting rid of corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.  If you already use corn syrup in your baking, throw it out and replace with honey, pure maple syrup, or a mixture of the two that gives the right texture to your favorite recipes!

  • Create an “On Notice” list for the items that you are keeping for now, but will need to replace or get rid of in the future.  Keep it accessible at all times; put it on the ‘fridge and write on it as soon as you get back home from the grocery store.
  • Start by reading the labels on the canned goods you buy.  If they say corn syrup (or it’s other names) or artificial sweeteners, find another can that doesn’t.  For example, if the soup you’re buying has corn syrup in, find a brand of soup that doesn’t.
  • Once your cans are corn-syrup free, move on to your jars/bottles (including condiments).  Read the labels: if you can’t find a jar/bottle that has corn syrup in (like barbecue sauce), keep it for now but put it on notice (!) and use sparingly. If you are feeling up to it, you can click here for healthy sauce and condiment recipes and products.
  • Next are boxes and bags (mixes, baked goods, pasta, snacks); these are the most egregious offenders because we like the texture that corn syrup brings to breads and cakes.  Do your best to find alternates but chances are the only way to avoid corn syrup in breads and cakes is to make your own. If you can’t find or afford alternates, keep them for now but put them on notice and buy as infrequently as possible.  This is a good area to consider giving up certain items entirely, especially your favorite snacks; find a healthy alternative like all-natural kettle chips made with potatoes, olive oil, and salt.  Buying fewer cookies and snacks will save you money and your health.
  • Finally are tubs (dairy, ice cream, spreads).  It is best to switch to butter, non-hydrogenated organic vegetable shortening, or refined coconut oil for healthy fats that will help you to get rid of your body’s sugar-fat.  Yogurt is the worst offender for being artificially sweetened.  Find a plain yogurt that contains one ingredients: cultured Grade A milk.  You can add fruit, honey, or pure maple syrup to it later.  If you can’t find or afford alternates, keep them for now but put them on notice and buy as infrequently as possible.
  • FINAL STEP: by now you should have replaced most, if not all, of your products with healthier alternatives.  Your health should have improved and you have been successfully weaning your body off harmful sugars.  Now you need to tackle the “on notice” list!  Take the plunge: determine to NEVER buy anything with corn syrup or artificial sweeteners ever again.  As you replace each item permanently, you have three options: (1) find an affordable alternative, (2) make your own, or (3) give it up entirely.  Organic products are the easiest way to find corn-syrup- and artificial-sweetener-free foods, but they are expensive.  Making your own foods is surprisingly easy, but you have to find the right recipe for you which can involve a lot of trial and error (very worth it and so empowering).  Giving up corn-syrup- and artificially-sweetened foods is surprisingly easy once you have reached this stage.  By now you realize that it isn’t worth wasting all your effort to get healthy on compromise.  If it’s not a food group, you don’t need it or you can at least put off using it until you learn to make it yourself.  You are a well-educated consumer with hundreds of right choices under your belt and you CAN take control of your health.

A Word of Caution: right now you are on a different track to everyone around you.  They are probably (1) oblivious of the dangers of corn syrup and artificial sweeteners; (2) moderately aware but not sure how to proceed; (3) they’ve heard about the dangers but have no motivating factors to want to change; or (4) opposed to making any changes whatsoever.  Here’s the thing: you will be eating with them at some point.  Here are some recommendations:

  • Receive what they give you with thankfulness.  It will not kill you instantly 🙂.
  • If you have an option to avoid certain products, do so.  If someone asks you why you don’t want barbecue sauce or pop, for example, keep it simple: “I’m trying to avoid corn syrup and artificial sweeteners”.  If they press further, share more.
  • Share what you are learning about food when others are interested; if you sense resistance, don’t get argumentative.  Let what you have said up to this point sink in; maybe you can say more next time.
  • Others will become interested in the changes you are making if they see a benefit to what you are doing, so keep “living the life” and be ready to share at all times even if you don’t get an opportunity to do so.
  • Try to talk in generalities and avoid talking critically about the food you are eating at the time.  Stay positive: things that have worked for you, products that are helpful, benefits you have seen in your health.
  • Consider having a serious talk with people you are close to, especially if they have health problems or chronic illness.  The tips above are best suited for people who don’t know you very well.  Love dwells with the truth; we need to warn those we love, but with gentleness and respect.  The dinner table might not be the best place to do that; it might come across as disparaging.
  • If others are actively trying to undermine what you are doing through discouragement or sabotage, avoid being around them as much as you can (get new friends, avoid discouraging members of your extended family).  It isn’t worth the risk to your health.  If that someone is in the same house, respect his role; if it is a parent and you are his dependent, don’t use food as an excuse to disobey or rebel (do as much as you can and keep learning until you get your freedom).  If it is a spouse, don’t allow food to undermine her in front of your children or use it as a means to invalidate her.  Agree to healthy boundaries, even if it means you make your food separate from the rest of the family (making large recipes will help you to have enough food to freeze so you can easily reheat for yourself.  The convenience of having it handy might encourage your spouse to change her mind if she gets peckish or doesn’t feel like cooking)  It is fine to push in negotiation (fair point: If I’m doing the shopping/cooking I think I should have a say in what we eat), but a peaceful resolution must be reached.  Be a tranquil and respectful “witness”: the biggest weapons you have to convince your family are (1) to not be riled up by opposition and (2) be firm on your convictions as far as your own behavior is concerned.  Stay consistent, demonstrate the benefits, and others will be more willing to make the same changes!

I hope you enjoyed this Transformation Tuesdays’ Helping of Hope!  If you think others would benefit from reading this post, please share it through one of the many options below.  Archived Transformation Tuesdays are available under the “Food” Tab above.

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Ooops, I accidentally uploaded a page as a post…so if you got a fruit pizza recipe, that was premature!  Since the cat is out of the bag, here is the Sprouted Grains & Legumes page with three sprouted wheat berry recipes and a how-to explaining just how easy it is to maximize your nutrition this Summer.  Bon Apetit!

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On Mondays I’d like to give a tip for parents on how to “create room for hope”; strategies and techniques to simplify life and clear the way for making right choices.  This is the first installment of what I’d like to call “Mama Mondays”, not that it is just for female parental units, but because it is from this “Mama” to you!

Simplification Idea #1: Do less laundry (bed-wetting solution).

The more complicated modern life gets, the more we yearn for the simpler lives of yesteryear.  Why were their lives so simple?  I suppose we could point out the evils of technology and the information age…but that would sort of invalidate what we are doing here!  I’m sure our ancestors would have loved the internet, just as we do…think how much time it saves to send communication and share ideas (although it can be hard to prioritize information with how much of it there is out there.  I understand.)  I think the biggest reason lives in the past were simpler is because they had less stuff.  There was less to take care of and fewer distractions from spending time with people.  Moving on to laundry, we have so many clothes and sheets; they all have different washing instructions on them because of the variety of fabrics they are made of.  We would rather buy 50 garments that are cheaply made than 5 garments that we repair and keep for a long time.  We discard stained, shrunken, out-of-date clothes and bag them for Goodwill, and then go out and buy a lot more.  We spend ages folding, ironing, hanging, freshening…a lot of money and a lot of time later, we and our homes look “good” but our lives are that much more complicated!  To uncomplicate your detergent/softening routine, click here.

This is what I have to deal with on a weekly basis… too many sheets!

For our family, our laundry situation is made worse by the fact that we have a Fragile X Syndrome (FXS)  child.  FXS children can take much longer than their peers to learn to use the potty (some learn at 10-12 years old) and they can become unsettled by changes to their routines.  Repetition and practice are the only ways to help them make the connections they need to acquire more skills and it is often a painfully slow process.  So child #2 wets the bed.  Often.  We used pull-up diapers designed for older children for a long time, but that only made it too comfortable to want to change.  So now we take short naps in our underwear and wear diapers at night.  Overflows happen all the time, even with diapers, even with no eating or drinking 1 hour before bed (although it really does help).  I often have to change the sheets twice a day.  This is exhausting and I finally realized something: I don’t like sheets.  I can cut my laundry in half if I didn’t have to wash two sheets, a blanket, and sometimes a pillowcase twice a day.

Much better! A solution the kids and I can live with!

If you have a bed-wetter in your family I think you can benefit from the following tip: get rid of the sheets and buy your kids a sleeping bag!  Sleeping bags are lots of fun and come in many cool designs.  PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW IF YOU KNOW OF AN ALL-NATURAL MATERIALS JUNIOR SLEEPING BAG.  We bought child #2 two, inexpensive 100% polyester sleeping bags from a local grocery store (don’t forget the waterproof mattress cover, and wash them with Soap Nuts to get the manufacturing chemicals out).  One to put on the bed and one to switch when the one on the bed gets wet.  Problem solved!  Three items that need to be folded and stored replaced with one that I can roll up in the linen closet!  Child #2 loves her sleeping bag and child #3 wants one too…my laundry routine is about to get a lot simpler.  I wonder if there’s a pretty sleeping bag for adults….

Another way to make laundry simpler is to share the load!  Have your young children develop their coordinating senses, learn to categorize, and identify colors by helping you sort, load and unload the laundry; older children can learn responsibility and develop family team skills!  What other tips do you have for simplifying your laundry routine?  What have you gotten rid of that you really never used or needed?

I hope you enjoyed this Mama Monday post.  If you know of busy parents out there who could benefit from reading this post, make sure to share it with them through one of the many options below!

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So I’m slowly figuring this blogging thing out and I have decided that when I can actually get to my computer on a Saturday, I will try to post about a product I like that will be a right choice to brighten our lives a little!

This week I’d like to feature my sister Kara’s jewelry stores.  She makes everything by hand.  In Michigan.  The items she makes are creative, gorgeous, unique and well-crafted.  If you want to help an American small business, a fellow FXS family, or just support her work because it is so amazing, check out her stores under the “Fun” > “Products” Menu Tabs on my blog.  To take a look at them now, click on the following hyperlinks:

For one-of-a-kind unisex jewelry

For upscale jewlery and fashion items

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What makes things taste good, look good, and keeps things around much longer than they should be?  What doesn’t satisfy, doesn’t deliver what it promises, and causes parts of our lives to break down without us recognizing the process?  Follow this link to discover The Most Dangerous Toxin of all.

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See how a nut can help you with your chores!

Since discovering we have FXS / Autism in the family I have become a lot more cautious about trusting the cleaning companies to make safe products.  Whether it is with store-bought food or commercial cleaning products, we are loading our immune systems with toxins.  “Safe” levels of toxins are determined without knowing the overall exposure of each American to additional hazardous substances or his ability to eliminate them (those with compromised immune systems may not be able to do so at all).  While exposure to artificial ingredients may not cause Autism, it can overload an already troubled system and make symptoms worse.  In addition, many of the toxins in cleaners are carcinogenic, meaning that they increase everyone’s chances of getting cancer.  Yuck.

So other than grabbing our washboards and heading for the river, what can be used to get clean, soft laundry that’s hypoallergenic and toxin-free?

SOAP NUTS!

Soap Nuts are hardened berries from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree and contain high quantities of the all-natural soap Saponin.  The best part? Soap  Nuts replaces laundry detergent AND softener.  Talk about saving money!  How would you like to spend less than $12/year on laundry soap and softener?

Learn how to use Soap Nuts.

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