I am very, very pregnant. Pretty soon hummingbirds are going to get their center of gravity confused and start orbiting my midsection, I just know it.
The thing about being this pregnant is that I am constantly confronted by limitations that are foreign to me. Let me give you an example of who I was before becoming a mom.
Daniel: I had a weird dream last night.
Me: Yeah? What was it about?
Daniel: You were wearing a shirt that said “One Man Army” across the front.
Me: Really? That’s cool.
Daniel: Someone in the dream thought so, too. But I just laughed and said “I’ve lost to that army.”
What I’m trying to say is that good or bad, I used to be a force to be reckoned with. At least I thought so. But you know what? Motherhood requires more stamina, determination and strategy than anything I encountered in the corporate world. It is in my role as a mom that I find I have truly discovered my limitations: time and energy. Sheesh . . . I’ve handled pr blowouts and written magazine articles with more ease than it takes me to put together my weekly meal plan.
Sometimes I get caught up in the passion of cooking, which is very real to me, and forget that delicious food does not have to be complicated. So for the past several weeks I have been experimenting with recipes that can be made in bulk, because as much as I love cooking I do not want to be there all day.
Basically, our family needs satisfying, freezable meals that are also nourishing. This 8 Layer Dip, which was inspired by Organic & Thrifty’s 5 Layer Dip, is AWESOME. It’s not exactly fuss-free, but you can easily make double batches of the meat/beans and freeze the extra for an easy meal later on.
Black Beans With Cumin
Preparing The Black Beans With Cumin
Preparing & Layering The Dip
The tale of how I came to shun toothpaste (even “natural toothpaste”) is a somewhat convoluted one. It started about ten months ago when, on our way back from a service celebrating Papaw Dessinger’s life, Katie’s front tooth broke.
No trauma. No fall. It just broke.
What had happened to my otherwise healthy, robust child? Turns out, Katie had a lip tie (same as my son’s) that caused milk to pool near her top four teeth in the front, causing a breastmilk version of “bottle rot.”
I felt horrible, confused, and embarrassed. You name it, I felt it.
Every time Katie smiled in public I felt the sting of the expressions I’d see on other people’s faces. How could I let my child walk around like this without doing something? The thing is, I wanted to do something, but I knew that although dental procedures could cosmetically correct the problem, they couldn’t strengthen her teeth. I wanted to know how we could correct the problem naturally, so I began researching ways to build up Katie’s teeth and bones. Food had been a healing force in my life and I believed it could do the same for my daughter.
After scouring the web I ran across someone who had been through the exact same experience with his own daughter. Ramiel Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay, had successfully helped his daughter’s cavities heal using food. I had never heard of such a thing! Apparently, the tooth structure that had decayed didn’t fully grow back it’s original structure, but the decay disappeared and new enamel formed to seal and protect what was left of the tooth. Amazing.
The days spent waiting for Amazon to deliver my precious package stretched my patience, but when it finally arrived I knew it had been worth the wait before I finished the intro:
“Decaying teeth can be a scary, painful process. When in a state of fear and panic, we disregard the most sensible decision we could make: to search for the real cause, rather than succumb to the easy and passive response of allowing a dentist to “fix” the problem for us. We have been taught, for the most part, that tooth decay is inevitable and that we have no choice in the matter. After reading this book you will see that this is far from the truth.”
The book is based on the research of Dr. Weston Price, a figure whose findings had played a prominent role on my own journey from chronic disease to vibrant health. Dr. Price was a prominent dentist that traveled the world in the 1930s to study why indigenous cultures have stronger teeth and fewer cavities than modern “civilized” cultures. Dr. Price was no quack. In fact, he was the first research director of the National Dental Association, which later became The American Dental Association (ADA).
During the 1930s, Dr. Price was able to document the sharp decline in health experienced by previously healthy people who came into contact with modern civilization. The revealing findings of Dr. Price, along with his telling photographs, bring home the fact that our modern food and lifestyle is a primary cause of disease.
Cure Tooth Decay, p. 24
Despite our zillions of toothpastes, mouthwashes, flavored flosses, etc. we are actually worse off than many “primitive” cultures when it comes to dental health. We have more cavities, more gum disease, and more need for braces.
How can that be?
Dr. Price found that traditional diets were significantly higher in fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E &K), calcium and phosphorous. As tooth enamel wears away these nutrients are needed to replenish it (often referred to as tooth remineralization). Unfortunately, since the modern diet is typically deficient in all of these that doesn’t happen. Keep in mind, this research was done back in the 1930s. Although refined sugar, canned vegetables and white flour had already been introduced just think how much worse it is now!
And if you don’t have tooth decay that may be why. However, I have unfortunately run into several real foodies whose children have similar issues to Katie. So what gives? Obviously, in Katie’s situation an undiagnosed lip tie played a huge role. But aside from that there are other practices that can interfere with tooth remineralization. Like toothpaste.
My personal experience has been that flossing and brushing do help limit tooth decay. The act of brushing may not be harmful, but the use of certain toothpastes (especially those with flouride) could create harmful effects and even promote cavities. Glycerin is added to toothpaste to give it its “pasty” consistency. Supposedly, glycerin requires 27 rinses to remove from the teeth. And this could create a barrier on the teeth that would prevent teeth from getting harder and stronger.
Cure Tooth Decay, p. 123
According to Nagel, remineralization occurs both through direct contact with nutrients when food is chewed and also through digestion/uptake via the bloodstream. By coating our teeth we prevent one of the two ways teeth are designed to remineralize and harden.
In addition, products like tooth whitening gels strip the teeth of their enamel and make them more vulnerable. Manufacturers say whitening products don’t harm enamel, but I have used them and experienced enamel loss firsthand. My teeth did get whiter, but they also lost their sheen, which is the outermost layer of enamel.
So, if tooth brushing is beneficial but toothpaste is bad, what do we use . . . tree bark??? Yes and No. If you’re teeth are really suffering there are some very beneficial herbal blends that contain bark (White Oak, Prickly Ash, Bayberry and Slippery Elm). But I am getting ahead of myself. There are basically three options: tooth soap, baking soda or herbal tooth powders:
For natural tooth whitening, Nagel makes this recommendation:
Dab a small amount of organic peppermint essential oil on your finger (much less than a drop), rub your finger on your toothbrush, and then brush normally.
My dentist friend and his wife are going to be horrified when they read this, but things got worse with Katie’s teeth before they got better. She got two cavities in her bottom molars. Although I am not a dentist and never had one confirm that she had cavities, I worked as a dental assistant for my friend for a brief period during college and I’m 100% sure that she had two.
When I found them I decided to hold off on an exam and order both of the herbal formulas I mentioned. Katie hates them both, but she hates Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Tooth & Gum Powder less. Since I began using it one cavity has healed completely (with new white enamel over the top) and one has gone from a scary black spot to a light brown one that looks better all the time. Overall, the quality of the enamel on her teeth has also significantly improved. They went from looking slightly translucent at the tips to being more dense looking.
We still have a ways to go, but I think that’s mostly because I can only get her cooperation part of the time when it comes to eating certain healing foods. Overall, though, I feel very strongly that because of Nagel’s book she will suffer no long term effects due to my previous ignorance. Her baby teeth may not be as perfect as some other childrens, but her bones and adult teeth will be strong and healthy.
Personally, I have seen significant remineralization with my own teeth since switching to toothsoap, but I have more stains that I’d like. I think I’ll try the peppermint oil and see how it goes.
For an insightful synopsis of Dr. Price’s research with photos of the cultures he studies, check out this post at Nourished Kitchen.
For more in-depth info visit The Weston A. Price Foundation
Photo credit: Julia Freeman-WoolpertRead More »
There is a reason why women forget . . . I am convinced of this.
Unless they intentionally practice the art of forgetfulness (i.e. forgiveness), most women can probably tell you who called them “peanut head” and stole their Snoopy pencil in the second grade.
There is this one thing, though. Childbirth. For some reason we forget THAT.
Last week Daniel and I took a refresher course for expecting moms. One minute I am chatting about due dates and birth photographers, the next I am watching a slideshow that plunges me headlong into the most intense flashback I’ve ever had in my life. As my body argued over whether to puke or faint, my consciousness struggled to control the emotions that had tears flowing down my face.
To you first-time moms in my birth class: I am so, so sorry. I did not mean to terrify you.
The truth is, I was scared. Not so much of the pain, but how the pain leads to full disclosure. How it strips away inhibitions in a way nothing else can (not even booze). The thing about an unmedicated childbirth is that there is absolutely no pretense. In the midst of soul-splitting pain it is impossible to be anything other than exactly what I am.
It’s not that I’m intentionally deceitful on a regular basis, but sometimes I’m pretty good at deceiving myself and/or ignoring my own baggage. In some ways, labor is like a near-death experience. I’m sure you’ve heard off that “moment of clarity” . . . the huge spotlight on the forgotten rooms of your soul. That’s what I felt. It’s a gift, really. A very painful blessing that reminds me of this scene from Jim Carrey’s movie, Liar Liar.
Well, that was what was going on inside of me the first time, but on the outside it looked more like this:
If I knew that in one week I would wake up like Fletcher, I would do a heck of a lot of self-assessment ahead of time. I would want to know what’s in my heart before it flies out of my mouth. Essentially, that is what is going to happen. The first time it caught me off guard.
Not this time. Although I loved my birth experience with Katie, this birth holds new promise. Last time my “moment of truth” was about me alone. I found a strength within that I never knew I had. For this birth, I want to let Daniel in. I want to have the courage to reach out to him in a way that few married people do after they experience the humdrum tediums and disappointments of married life. I want this to be our moment of truth.
I know that may sound overdramatic. What can I say? I’m 31+ weeks now, which in essence means I am one walking hormone.
But what I mean is this: We’re not the same people we were when we got married, or got our careers going, or became parents. In fact, who we are individually and as a couple has changed dramatically in the last year and I often have a hard time getting my head around it. Things have changed so gradually I barely noticed, but sometimes I don’t know who we are anymore. I *think* we are more solid and real with each other than ever, but we haven’t faced any huge challenges that can confirm that for us. Last weeks class reminded me that we have an opportunity to test out the newfound depth in our marriage. I feel motivated me to work on the loose ends I have been ignoring, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
It took more than a few days, but it was worth it.Read More »
Since I am usually a daily post kind of gal, I thought I’d let ya’ll know that I am taking a few days off. Not that any of you will necessarily notice and wonder why (how egotistical of me to think THAT!), but just in case you do.
We’re experiencing a deliciously refreshing late June rain here in Dallas/Fort Worth. It started out pretty fierce but has since transformed into a deep, soaking sprinkle. I want to stay in bed, light a candle and read. That probably won’t happen, but I am going to take some time for some soul refreshment. I need it.Read More »
This morning I am sipping tea and flipping through baby name books while Gigi and Katie make a carrot cake for my nephew Conner’s birthday party.
Katie: “Mmmm, I ate this”
Gigi: “You ate the ginger?”
Katie: “Yes, it’s spiiiiicy. I need water.”
As each ingredient goes in, she asks if it is spicy and tries to taste it. Baking soda, nutmeg, salt . . . she’s declared them all “just right”. Ironically, just last night I was assessing the “ingredients” of my life with Daniel. I put far too many of them in the “bitter” and “unsavory” categories.
Truth be told, there are many sweet elements in my life: Answered prayers, for one. Simpler things, too, like the way Katie spontaneously began requesting Cream & Sugar instead of “mommy’s milk.”
There is some bitterness as well, but as I sit here watching Gigi fold the batter into her baking pans I wonder if maybe they are necessary to make sure this cake turns out just right. I’ve never heard of a Baking Soda Cake (ewww), and yet how else would you get a cake fluffy if not for baking soda (aluminum free, of course)? Perhaps this would be the time to point out that it’s not up to the cake batter question the Baker. “Why did you add that? I don’t need it and I don’t like it!”
And yet I have been judging the end result by the pleasantness/discomfort of the process. This morning I am asking a new question:
Chicken soup when it’s 100 degrees outside? I know it seems like a partnership destined to fail. But here’s the deal: We love whole roasted chicken around here and I simply can’t waste the opportunity to make a nutritious bone broth afterwards. So rather than freeze all the broth I make from now until October, I’m experimenting with ways to use it AND celebrate the season.
Behold! I give you Summer Chicken & Basil Soup, which features seasonal items such as zucchini and, ahem, basil. This recipe was inspired by the Boston Chef, only he doesn’t use exact measurements. I made a couple of changes and added some measurements to make things a bit more simple.
PREP: 15 mins
COOK: 35 mins
READY IN: 50 mins
SKILL LEVEL: Beginner
Last week Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite referred to me as a “Real Food Blogger” on her awesome post, Why I Think Going to Blog Her ’10 Would Be Like Going Back to High School.
There’s one crowd I really want into. My idea of the “cool crowd” but I’m really not sure if they’d accept me. Other than a choice few like Heather from The Mommypotamus and Alex from A Moderate Life I’m not sure if they accept me now. This would be the “real food” crowd. And I’m pretty sure at least some of them are just putting up with me because I do a good job of linking to their posts every week on my Vegetarian Foodie Fridays. See, I don’t eat meat and they do, so I think that they think (yes, this is so totally high school) I shouldn’t be allowed to hang with them because I’m doing my body a disservice. I disagree but I don’t make a big stink about it. They’re smart and know nutrition and that’s why I like them so much. And then my would-have-been, could-have-been vegan friends who I also think are pretty cool because they don’t eat dead animals don’t want to be my friend either (I’m just guessing) because vegetarians aren’t as pure as vegans – even though they think eating tofu is good for them and I know better.
It seems self-serving to post this (and maybe it is ; – ), but it got me thinking and since I read it I haven’t been able to get one question out of my head: Am I a real food blogger? Unless you consider breastmilk real food, I haven’t blogged about the subject in weeks.
Besides, just a few years ago my M.O. was to slap a hamburger patty on a plate (burned on the outside and raw on the inside, mind you) and call it dinner. I’m not like Jenny at Nourished Kitchen, who posts recipes so tantalizing I am almost always tempted to immediately hop in the car and get the ingredients I need to make it right now.
The truth is, I’d like to be a full-fledged Real Food blogger, but right now life is about finding balance. It’s about agreeing on a name for this baby before my water breaks, getting our house sold, finding a place to live, and relishing these last couple months with Katie before everything changes. So rather than perfect my own recipes, I am content (for now) with savoring recipes dreamed up by others.
Don’t get me wrong, I miss the opportunity to be creative in the kitchen . . . to satisfy my pregnant cravings with gusto and lots and lots of cheese. When I get back into that mode largely depends on when other stuff falls into place. The sooner the better, but for now I’d like to share with you some of my recent recipe obsessions.
I love this recipe from Nourished Kitchen because it takes a nourishing, meatless (aka frugal) meal and makes it easy. Quiches are an elegant step up from our weekly dinner omelette. Because this recipe doesn’t require making a dough crust, it’s simple too! Not to mention delicious. Did I mention we have almost polished off three of these in the past two days?
Just a few quick notes: Don’t worry about buying chévre. Using what you already have will save money and taste just as good. Also, I brushed the potato crust with a little oil to keep it from burning but as you can see it did a little. That’s why I’m adding this pie crust shield to my birthday wishlist.
This recipe from Kitchen Stewardship is easy, delicious, beautiful, and grain free, too! I’m tucking this one into my “inexpensive dishes with zazzle” folder for when I really want to impress guests and stay in my budget. Yes, I said zazzle. There are so many variations with this recipe: We’ve used bananas, blueberries, strawberries, coconut milk, maple syrup and more. We’ve even used the crêpes to serve homemade bananas foster.
There are so many reasons I love this recipe from Nourished Kitchen. First, oatmeal is one of the most nourishing, least expensive breakfast foods around. Second, I can make a big batch of these and be done with breakfast for several days. And third, Katie loves them. On the mornings I have these on hand she doesn’t have to wait for me to whip something up and everything seems to go more smoothly. I will say, however, that if buttermilk pancakes and bacon are on the menu she’s more than happy to wait ; – )
There, I blogged about Real Food. I feel better now.Read More »