Saturday, November 23, 2013

Like a Broken Vessel

To readers who may not share in our faith, 

I've pondered much today on the words recently spoken to us by leaders from our church.  I won't say that they're the only inspired men and women in this world, as I've come to see that much inspiration can come from heavenly messengers from all walks of life.  But a man by the name of Jeffrey R. Holland recently spoke upon the topic of depression and it really tugged at some heartstrings I didn't know existed.

The counsel he offers and comfort his words bring, ring too true to a healing heart such as mine.  Too true for me not share with you:

I have often felt like a broken vessel myself.  I know who I am but am quick to forget what my purpose and mission in life is.  Losing sight of that and worse, forgetting where we came from and how important our very soul is, can make anyone feel broken and worthless.  The times we live in are hard.  But we must press forward with hope and faith that the ultimate healer will meet us wherever we fall short.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two Possibile Solutions for Two very Real Ailments

Anxiety and Depression.  Today, I just want to say: It's Real.  I believe it happens to all of us sooner or later.  And the havoc it wreaks on our emotional state and immune function is also very real.

I want to take a moment to share my experience.  Eating right and exercising can be great for this.  But sometimes, even after all you can do, getting some help in the form of a good whole food supplement and some counseling, can be a life saver.  The reason why so many see improvement in their conditions from using prescription drugs is because they're typically made of chemical constituents synthetically copied from plants to create a substance that will manage a symptom.  But natures compounds come with so much more than just one isolated constituent.  And the nice thing about a whole food supplement is that it doesn't come with the side effects that most medicines have.  

1.  My experience with synthetic supplementation has somehow always made me feel sicker.  I especially noticed this every time I was pregnant.  The moment I began taking a supplement, I would get sick.  And I mean, really, REALLY sick.  SO sick, in fact, that I came to believe that I would be fine without a supplement if I practiced a lot of healthy eating habits, which was what I did the day I decided to stray from supplements for good.  Silly me.  Don't get me wrong.  Good eating habits throughout pregnancy is very beneficial and helped me a ton.  But we're human.  We make errors here and there and when we fall short, or out of balance in any area, a good supplement can really go a long way, and yes, there is a big difference between a synthetically manufactured supplement and one made entirely of whole food products.  All I want to express today is that a good supplement can really fill in the gaps. Nutritionally, hormonally, and this therefore increases your immune system's ability to function properly.  Think about it.  If it takes only one vitamin or mineral deficiency to throw off the delicate balance of our bodies, then a good dose of the thing we're most deficient in would very easily rectify almost anything.  Even though I've known and used doTerra essential oils for over two years now, it has taken me a while to really be true to using the Life Long Vitality pack (LLV) which has been so helpful for my mood swings and energy levels.  Just ask my husband.  He'll testify to that.  Sometimes I forget to take it, and my poor husband knows instantly that I haven't been taking my Life Long Vitality.  When I remember to take it, I typically feel more at peace and so much less fatigued.

I'm ever so grateful for the LLV and for all that doTerra continues to educate me about how to take care of my emotional health as well.  Every day, I seem to learn something new.  

2.  Counseling.  Whether it's psychiatric help, marriage counseling, single adult counseling, energy release healing, muscle testing for emotional blocks, aura personalities, repeating positive affirmations with someone, bishops, pastors, etc., Just DO it.  It's not scary.  You don't have to feel like a crazy person for getting it.  It's amazing what you can learn about yourself through someone else's eyes.  It's amazing how much of our everyday stresses can be cleared by a pair of listening and caring ears.  I've experienced many forms of counseling now and swear by it.  Without it, I would be a mess.  These trained professionals have been trained because they care to help people.  Why not let them do what they long to do?  Why not at least try it?  In very simple terms: Give Counseling a Chance.  You'd be amazed to find how much better anxiety and depression can be fixed with good counseling than with a little pill.  People don't need to be sedated.  They need to be heard and touched.  Trust me.  I was a very suicidal person a few years ago.  The emotional baggage I carried with me needed to be released and all I needed was a person to help facilitate the process.  We all need great mentors and counselors.  Sometimes they will come in the form of caring family members or friends.  But at other times, it is best to reach out to those who can offer us a little bit more of themselves and their time.  

My simple recommendation for anyone dealing with anxiety and depression is this: If you haven't sought out a good supplement and/or counseling, DO it today.

I also intend to touch on the subject of using Balance oil in my next post.  Stay tuned.

Any other suggestions for overcoming anxiety/depression naturally?  Please share what has worked for you below.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Homemade Yogurt


-1 Gallon Raw Whole Milk or Organic Whole Milk is what I suggest.
-1 Cup of Raw Turbinado Sugar.  (A less processed cane sugar.)
-1 Cup powdered Milk (for thickening)
-2 Cups of a Yogurt Starter (Any organic yogurt will work or some yogurt from your last batch)
-1 TBSP Mexican Vanilla
-3 TBSP of your favorite extract or flavor or
-4 drops of wild orange, lavender, or lemon essential oil.


-Candy Thermometer
-Big pot
-Quart Jars to Pour into and incubate in
-A box
-Towel &
-Heating Pad

Pour the milk into a big pot and set on medium to high heat.  You'll be watching the thermometer for 3 temperatures.  150.  180 and 115.  And this is if you want a creamy yogurt texture.  When the milk reaches about 150, pour two cups of it into a blender with the sugar and powdered milk.  Blend at low so as not to add too many bubbles into the milk and then pour back into the pot of milk.  Stir the milk slow to avoid scorching and so that bubbles are not incorporated into the big batch.  Wait till it gets to 180 and then hold for five minutes before turning off.

Fill up a sink with cold water and some ice.  Place your pot into it to give it an ice bath.  You want to bring the temperature down to 115 before adding the culture and flavorings.  This is so that the high temperature doesn't kill the cultures.  But too low a temperature could make it so that it doesn't incubate.    So 115 is ideal.  Once the milk is at 115, pour about 2 cups into a blender again with the yogurt starter, vanilla, and other flavorings blend on low until all incorporated.  Pour back into the big pot and stir slowly.  At this point, you pour your mixture into quart jars.  In your box, place a heating pad on high heat with a towel over it and then proceed to place your finished yogurt into the box on top of the heating pad with the towel.  Tuck the rest of the towel around it and keep it warm.  Let it incubate now for 12 hours.  Then you can put the jars into the fridge to cool for about an hour or eat it as is.  Some bubbles may have made a funny texture on top.  I just scrape that off and eat what's under it.  If it seems the whey and curd have separated, just mix it together and ENJOY!  It's super nutritious for any nursing moms or babies.  Or anyone really.

For the Raw Milk version:

Just heat the milk to 115, dissolve all ingredients into it and then pour into quart jars and let incubate for 12 hours also.  The texture will be a little bit runnier with more curd and whey.  But equally nutritious.  And the living enzymes are not killed at this low temperature.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fats, Fats and more FATS!!! Saturated and Good for You! What?!

I was taught how to make yogurt from my sweet mother-in-law.  She has always been a most nurturing woman to me.  I reminisce about this for a variety of reasons.  

During my days of cleansing and clean eating, I somehow stopped using this much needed nutritious food.  Yogurt.  Why?  Because dairy, in my mind, was not good for you anymore.  From my last post about balance, what I've come to realize is that I was eating so much dairy in the past, and not enough of anything else, except for cookies and donuts, that it actually created health problems and sensitivities to any dairy foods for both Orion and myself.  

For my first-born son, Orion, eliminating dairy was the most important step we could take in his recovery from eczema.  For my fourth child, Edison, his eczema has been a very unique case.  His trigger foods are grains and so he can't have many grains but he actually thrives off of dairy.  A pattern we've noticed has been that his skin condition improves dramatically when he has plenty of yogurt and raw milk.  In an attempt to help him gain weight because he has struggled putting on weight, we once again, experimented with formulas.  But those did him no good.  Meaning, every time we tried a formula, he would have another flare-up.  We ended up tossing out all the formulas.  It's hard for me to toss out foods that translate to money and therefore a waste of it.  But it just wasn't something we could use with him.  He didn't take to it at all.  Perhaps it was the processing of it or other additives and sugars.  I may never know, but I'm happy to admit that we've begun making yogurt again.  It's really a great activity to do with kids and a therapeutic process to make yogurt from scratch. 

I may just be a mom with little knowledge in the biochemistry of how our bodies function but here's what I do know:  Making yogurts from scratch using raw whole milk is a good and healthy thing.  It's full of saturated fats and a great way to replenish gut flora in order to improve absorption of mineral dense plants.  You don't need a lot of fats.  At least not in the quantities I was consuming ice cream throughout my first pregnancy.  It had somehow turned into my main course at every meal.  Unless of course you're depleted, which is the case in most women who've tried and experimented with every low-fat diet on the planet.  And usually because of a weight-loss goal.  Who does this?!  Guilty here.  Once again, I will use the word: BALANCE.  

My little AH-HA moment on saturated fats today is this:  The myelin sheath in our brains is made up of about 70% fats.  In order to keep this sheath well lubricated, we need fats.  A deficiency in these essential fats, that can come from good clean sources of yogurts and fish, can cause a lot of mental fatigue and depression.  Which is why ice cream tends to make women happy.  

Another little tidbit given at a recent doTerra convention I attended on skin care was this:  Our skin needs good saturated fat in order to reproduce skin cells that we're sloughing off every day.  When we don't get enough, our skin develops the inability to lubricate and hydrate itself.  Dry, rough skin.  It's the biggest organ of our body and we need to take care of it.  

This post may seem a bit disjointed.  But because this is my account and story, I'd like to take a moment to point out the most dominating problems I was experiencing after my first child post-partum.  If you've been following my blog, you may already know what they are.  

For Orion: ECZEMA.  For myself: DEPRESSION       

Do you see the connections now?  I can tell you I didn't for a long time.  I was so determined to get back down to pre-pregnancy weight after having my babies that I deprived myself of a lot of fatty foods that I'm certain my body was craving for a reason.  What's amazing is that as soon as I started obeying my body's signals for certain things, both mine and my babies' conditions improved.  

A little bit of fish, and whole lot of yogurt later, I can say I'm definitely a lot happier.  That's not to exclude good and healthy plant sources of fats like nuts, avocados and coconuts.  I still love using these.  But for many fans of the China Study and others who've experimented with a lot of plant-based diets and perhaps forgotten the importance of having some fats in our bodies, allow my experience to be a guide for your journey to a better understanding of what true wellness and balance means.  

What kinds of fats are a staple in your home?

Look for the upcoming yogurt recipe.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bone Broth: A Nurturing Concept

After 2 years of experimenting with the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, I must admit, I learned a lot about how to consume way less processed foods than I had been.  I'm grateful for my nutrition journey that hasn't always been perfect but constantly improving.  My latest motto in life is BALANCE.  It may sound simple.  But achieving true balance in this life is probably the hardest thing one can possibly strive for.  I will probably spend the rest of my life working toward equilibrium.  It's dang hard.  I will often find myself swinging from end of the pendulum to the other in an attempt to balance what was off and then find that I've swung too far over to the other side.

As a younger girl, I spent many days yo-yo dieting.  That's not something I encourage to anyone.  It destroys your physical balance and then threatens to destroy your emotional and spiritual balance as well.   So while I'm still a big fan of eating more plants, I've embraced cooking with organic pastured meats and culturing the least processed dairy as possible.  For me, it's become about eating real foods vs. fake ones.  Synthetically made chemicals, salts and sugars just DON'T do the body good, for lack of better words.

So here we are making bone broths for the kiddos and ourselves alike.  Delicious and nutritious.  An author I've enjoyed reading lately goes by the name of Michael Pollan.  Somehow, I never much paid attention to his words of wisdom till now.  So I'd like to take a moment to quote some of the first lines of his book, In Defense of Food.  In order to keep things simple and balanced, he states, "Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.  That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy."

He said it.  Not me.  Simple?  Yes.  Easy?  Not really.  I mean, in the interest of time, especially as a mother of four, I'd so much rather take a can of chicken noodle soup and serve that to my family for dinner.  But quite frankly, the organic fryers boiled in a big pot of water, and then separated from the bone, and served with rice, and green veggies with a little salt, TASTE SO much BETTER!  It really does make  a big difference.  Making real food from scratch will take some extra time and planning.  But in my mind, taking the time to plan is worth it if it means avoiding endless trips to the doctors offices for ailments we could have avoided with a little better planning, just a little more time and a little more care.  After all, there's Nothing like Grandma's old-fashioned chicken soup.  What a nurturing concept right?  Bone broth it is then.

What has your experience been with pastured chicken broths?  Comment below.      

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Post Partum Tip

I haven't always done these but have been reading about how good they are for improving posture and strengthening the tone in your belly shortly after giving birth.  It's something midwives throughout the centuries would do to women as a service.  It feels a bit like a tight corset.  Not that I'd know what one feels like.  But while sitting at the computer and throughout the day, I've started doing this in order to remind me to engage in my core. You can have it on while feeding and nursing, doing dishes, etc.  In many cultures today, it is actually considered a sad disservice to not wrap and bind a new mother.  It was thought to be a caring gesture back when midwives were unpaid for the divine work they did.    

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Watermelon Raspberry Limeade

Want something fast, simple, refreshing and super alkalizing today?  Well, this is light, and not too sweet but super worth the few minutes it takes.  Cleanses your body really well if you take it on an empty stomach in the morning.  

1/4 of a big ripe Watermelon
1/2 the juice of one Lime
1/2 Cup of Raspberries
1 Cup of Ice

Throw into the blender.  Serve and enjoy!  Perfect way to cool down this summer.  Any remaining, can also be thrown into popsicle makers and into the freezer for kids later.    

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I Am Doctor Mom: Orion's Story

I realize that many of you reading this may not know Orion's story.  So before I continue with the tips on overcoming depression without medication, I would like to take a moment to tell the story I am most passionate about.  My baby boy.  Orion Athen Huntington.  To tell this story without telling about who inspired me to turn around the ways in which I was living would be giving you an incomplete picture of how things happened.

Where do I start?  Orion.  My little guinea pig.  Whether his situation was a big contributor to my stress levels and episodes of depression is something I'm still unsure of.  My emotional state could very well have also contributed to his illnesses.  It sort of becomes a vicious cycle that way.  That those around you feed off of your emotional state and vice versa.  I strongly believe that our energies circulate this way among us.  But before I go into much depth on that subject, let me get back on the topic.  

Orion was a sweet baby but he was a lot of work.  He needed my help.  Quite frankly, as a first time mother and totally unaware of the fact that the first baby is probably the hardest adjustment for any new parent, I was very ill-informed on what measures to take to best help both him and myself.  I solely relied on the information given to me by my pediatrician, who was a kind man, but somewhat uninformed as well.  I never questioned his advice and was obedient to his recommendations.  I want to make it pretty clear that I'm not hear to bash on doctors.  I respect their practices for the most part and realize that many of them study long and hard to provide us with good options.  The part that I find unfortunate about their conventional practices is that most of them exclude a holistic approach to truly healing ailments of any kind.  What we put into our bodies physically as well as emotionally is pertinent to our recovery of almost any disease, be it the common cold or even cancers.  I'll explain this in a future post.  

After my sweet Orion was pulled out of my womb with forceps, he was immediately taken from me, and carefully monitored for the jaundice he was diagnosed with.  For the following 6-7 days after his birth, we had to take him back and forth to get his heel pricked for another check of his bilirubin levels.  As a mother, I often cringed at the thought of having my baby poked over and over again and thought on many of those occasions about what it might be doing to him emotionally, so young and vulnerable and still so new to this strange and new world.  I didn't much enjoy watching him get poked, but I did as I was told.  "Come back tomorrow," was what the nurses requested.  At home, the struggle of getting some sleep as new parents was made doubly difficult when we were encouraged to use a special light on him at night with a pair of eye covers.  

I had a strong desire to solely breastfeed my baby but it was made even more difficult for me when I was encouraged to give him some baby formula as a way to push the bilirubin levels out of his body faster.  All I could think was, "Doctor probably knows best."  And I once again did as I was told, unaware of the fact that this act alone would slowly decrease my milk supply, making it even more difficult down the road.  This alone, made me feel like I had failed at mothering already.  And I don't say this to make anyone feel like a failure when supplementation is necessary.  I know all too well that in many cases, it is needed.  I have needed to do this with two of my babies already.  But I do know that typically, this also contributes to levels of depression in a mother trying to do the best things for her baby.  I know it did for me.  It was a small trigger that quickly grew into more difficult trials with my baby.  

What we didn't realize at the time was how violently ill our baby would become as a consequence of processed and milk-based supplementation.  He developed colic at first and it quickly turned into many endless sleepless nights for us as he would wake up screaming and had much difficulty sleeping, and later on, breathing.  Being that he was my first, I had nothing to compare this to.  I thought this was what it was going to be like with children for the rest of my life.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed and very much sleep deprived.  The longest sleep I would get would be about 1/2 an hour at a time if I was lucky.  Alex and I would take shifts rocking and bouncing and trying to get him to calm down so that he could sleep as well.  But the instant his head hit the cushion beneath the lights, he would start screaming.  At night, we took turns.  I would sleep for an hour and then Alex would sleep for an hour, while the other spent the time rocking and bouncing around a very hurting baby.  And honestly, I didn't realize this wasn't normal until I had three more babies who never had problems sleeping at night at all.  It was a night and day difference.  

His colic became so bad, it also turned into reflux.  He would throw-up.  A lot.  And by not keeping food down, I was afraid of him not gaining weight as he should.  Still, I made many attempts with different formulas to get him to eat.  Buying the most expensive ones at times.  Nursing as often as he would let me as well.  It drained our pockets.  But we were willing to spend on something we hadn't tried if it meant seeing improvement.  We later found out he had milk intolerances that wouldn't have been resolved by any of the formulas we used because they all had casein and whey in some form or another.  Then, he developed the rash.  Eczema. It was labeled.  I was told, it was the body's inability to hydrate the skin.  And that flare-ups were usually worse or triggered by certain foods.  I asked if it was related to a food allergy?  "No.  Eczema is something you have to live with for the rest of your life typically.  Symptoms can be reduced.  But it has no cure."  So now, I lived under the false idea that there was no hope for ever finding relief for such an annoying ailment.  And annoying it was.  My poor 3 month old baby scratched and scratched so much he would bleed.  His face flared up a lot and everywhere I went, I would have mothers asking me if I had tried this latest cream, and that latest treatment.  All questions, to which the answer was usually, yes.  And if I hadn't tried it, I would ask my doctor about it and he would give me something new to try.  

So we lived with the eczema for many months.  It got better on occasion and it was usually when I was pumping milk for him to drink.  But even that was not always good because I would consume processed dairy products that I'm sure carried over into my milk supply that would cause his flare-ups.  All the while, I was still under the presumption that eczema had nothing to do with allergies or the foods we ate.  My pediatrician said I could try staying away from milk, but that it probably wouldn't make much difference.  He began giving me steroid creams to use because all the over-the-counter creams were losing effectiveness.  Had I known the many side-effects of using hydrocortisone and steroids (even creams) on a regular basis, I might not have used them at all.  

Orion began developing recurring fevers.  High fevers.  We'd take him in to the doctor to get it checked out and it was usually because of ear infections and heavily clogged sinuses.  Every two weeks, it seemed another cold or flu would be upon us.  Another ear infection meant we began using antibiotics.  

His symptoms only got worse.  On one occassion, the antibiotics we were administering, made him break out in an all-over-the-body hives type rash.  His whole little body was covered in bumps and he was super itchy and inflamed.  Had I known about how antibiotics kills your gut flora and causes more digestion difficulties, I never would have administered them to him in the first place.  But these were things I was never told.  Every time I took my baby in to the doctor, I felt often that he was annoyed by my issues with him.  I felt like just another patient he just wanted to give a prescription to and be done with already.  But I was a good listener.  I continued the antibiotics and different steroid creams along with any new lotion I could try to keep the eczema at bay.  

It would return with a vengeance.  It got so bad that I had to cover his entire body in the middle of intense summer heat just to keep him from reaching his vulnerable, open and raw skin to scratch.  And mostly, to keep others from always commenting on his skin wherever I went.  

When he developed asthma-related symptoms because of difficulty breathing at night, I began to have pretty severe anxiety attacks myself.  One night, I recall coming into his room to find him coughing as usual because of the many colds he was experiencing, but his little face turned rather blue.  Then I noticed his coughing had changed.  It had turned into a rather interesting whooping-like cough but it was more than that.  He started coughing so bad as I picked him up that he began gasping for air.  I was scared.  I didn't know what was wrong.  But I knew that gasping for air was not a good thing.  We went to emergency room that night, terribly frightened.  He was immediately put on a nebulizer with breathing treatments.  And for the weeks that followed, we were on this routine of breathing treatments with a mask and drugs simply to help him breath better at night and diminish the coughing.  

Many would ask me if he was being immunized.  My response to them was always yes.  I was doing everything.  I was doing everything I knew how to do.  How could it be whooping cough if he'd had vaccines for them?  I just didn't understand.  Why was it that with each vaccine, he seemed to get worse.  But I made no connections at the time.  I was told he'd probably end up on asthma inhalers for the rest of his life and that eczema would eventually get better here and there but never fully go away.  My hopes were quickly snuffed out.  I think this about the time when my depression got really bad.  I began getting desperate for results.  I wasn't seeing them.  I thought to myself, "We're spending so much money on all these treatments for him.  And for what?  He's getting worse."  I cried to my husband about it.  I spent many nights discouraged that all of our money was going out the door for treatments that were not helping, that in fact were making him worse.  I was losing my mind.  Losing sleep.  Losing confidence in my abilities as a mother.  Losing confidence in doctors.  Losing hope.  And then, one night, as a 9 month old baby, he began banging his head against the crib rails.  Over and over again.  I don't think I was much concerned about this until his next doctor visit.  He said to keep an eye on it and see if it got worse.  It became routine for a while.  But my pediatrician advised that if it got worse, it was probably a good indication that he might need special help down the road as it seemed to be early symptoms of autism that were developing.  I was horrified.  I knew nothing about autism.  And yet, for me, that news was somewhat of a turning point.  Something snapped in me as I was very much in denial about what I was to do from there.  He kindly asked his nurse to schedule me in for the next appointment to ensure he got his MMR vaccine.  And though at the time, I didn't view it as such, I know miracles began to happen.  

We were very literally broke.  We couldn't afford payments for our son's healthcare any more than we could afford to go and buy bread.  A co-pay for our next visit to our doctor would put us in the negative.  So, MMR or not, we didn't see it fit to take him in for his vaccine at the time.  I think I remember seeing $2.17 in our account one day, realizing that no paycheck was coming anytime soon, because Alex wasn't working due to all the time I needed him at home helping me with Orion, and I just turned off the computer and wept.  God began to block things from taking the course they might have, had I had the means to afford everything I thought was helping my son.  But He knew better.  I slowly began to trust in Him more than anything else.  

We began to make plans for a trip Alex was planning to take for his sales job, which he was still fairly new at.  We had a lot of help from family and friends and our church.  With moving, money, and just plain good advice.  My mother-in-law was so adamant about suggesting things using natural homemade remedies and nutrition, that I finally picked up a book one day that began my journey to better options I had no idea existed.  Or perhaps, I knew.  But I had forgotten the importance of the things that we put into our bodies and had become so disconnected from my own body that I had become terrible at listening to its needs, therefore, making it more difficult to listen to the needs of my baby.  Needless to say, a hunger for knowledge began.  Both for old and new knowledge.  I began researching and devouring every book on health and natural remedies I could get my hands on.  

Now, I'm not a doctor. But the latin root for the word doctor means "to teach."  This was one of the first pieces of advice I received from my naturopathic physician as he simply claimed, "I am a teacher." I've come to accept the idea that a good doctor is a good educator.  As my teacher, he has been the source of much inspiration to me and I honor his title because he is a licensed legitimate physician.  He opened my eyes to the possibilities and empowered me as a mother to make better decisions regarding my son's fragile state and what healthcare procedures to take.  He brought hope back into my life.  And THAT is the most valuable thing to me.  Hope, is the one thing I want to give back to all mothers out there who may be experiencing these same frustrations with their own children.  Hope to take matters into your own hands with better resources.  Trusted resources that are effective in the long run and not just used for symptom management.  I'm a teacher to my children.  Therefore, I am their doctor.  I am their mother.  I am their Doctor Mom.  

Today, I want to know, are you a Doctor?  How in your life, have you felt empowered by something you were able to do for your children with the resources that you had already?  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mixed Berries and Cream

I have some pretty strong opinions on dairy.  I was a strict Vegan for a period of a little over two years. But I think that on occasion, we do need healthy fat sources.  Most of the time, I try to find it from plant sources, but even when I cave in to the creamy texture that can only can from a cow, I try to find clean whole food sources.  Raw milks and dairy are best in my mind but when it can't be found, I love using the pure vanilla ice cream from Costco.  I'm not advertising for Costco, but that place is Heaven to me.  And their ice cream is delicious.  So my hubby threw some ingredients into the blender today and came up with this:

- 5 scoops of Kirkland brand Vanilla Ice Cream (you'll love the ingredients on the label - easy to read)
- 1/2 Cup of Rice Milk
- 1 Cup of Frozen Mixed Berries from Costco too (Now, I've seen the circulating hype on the berries from Costco being the cause of Hepatitus A.  I think there are many things that contribute to such a complex disease and find it a little bit silly to blame berries for this, when there are probably a number of other factors that have yet to be considered.  Just my two cents on the matter).
- Cherries (To put a cherry on top)

Throw the first three ingredients into your blender and serve into dessert bowls right away.  Throw a cherry on top.  Or more.  Sure hit the spot today.  

Question of the day:
During berry season, do you prefer your berries by the handful or bucketful?  No seriously, I want to know if I'm the only that devours berries any way possible.    

Orange Carrot & Celery Juice (Kids love it!)

Juicing has become a no brainer to me.  I just toss ingredients that are high in vitamins and minerals into a juicer in a fairly yummy tasting combo.  Piece of cake right?  Or should I say, cup of juice?

When doing juice fasts and cleanses, a good rule of thumb is to use variety.  You get different things from different fruits, veggies and greens.  So when I first read that you never want to stick to the same things over and over again, I became somewhat hesitant to juice.  It became rather intimidating to me.  Don't know why.  Maybe because growing up, all I remember juicing with my mom was oranges and carrots.  So that's all I knew how to juice when I first began doing it for myself and my family.  I remember being overwhelmed with the different juice combos and not knowing which recipes to try first.  So here's one of my first no-brainer recipes that tastes yummy, is full of great energy and also has some alkalizing green juice as well.  The best part is, kids love it!  And mom's love that they do.  This is a tribute to remembering some of my first experiences in the juicing world.  

4 big celery stalks
5 carrots 
1-2 oranges.  Depending on size of oranges, you don't need a lot to make it sweet enough.  If it's big, one should be enough.

I prefer the GreenStar masticating juicer.  In my mind, a masticating juicer is better than a centrifugal one.  But juicing is good for you no matter which kind you have.  Don't let it sit long or most of the nutrition is void as more time passes.   I might expound on this in a future post.  For now, you rinse off your ingredients, stick 'em in the juicer and enjoy freshly squeezed valuable nutrition you can't get from juice sitting on the shelf of your local grocery store.  Enjoy!

On a side note: The Green Star juicer also happens to look like Sid the Sloth from Ice Age spitting out his food.  At least that's what my 2 year old noticed when I saw him laughing, pointing, and saying, "Sid spitting out, Mommy.  He's spitting! Hee hee hee!"   Questions of the day: Does your juicer look like a funny character in your home?  And what is your favorite easy and fast juice recipe?  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Indian Sweet Carrots

This little dish can be a great side or dessert.

4 TBSP melted unsalted Butter
2 Cups Grated Carrots
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon or A toothpick dipped in Cinnamon essential oil and then stirred into the melting butter.
2 Cups of already Steamed Brown Rice
1/2 Cup cashews (roasted or raw to garnish on top or mix into the carrot and rice pudding.

If you're using the cinnamon oil, just dip a toothpick into your bottle and stir it into the melted butter.  A full drop will be too much.  It's a very hot and potent oil.  On medium heat, stir the carrots into the butter.  Add coconut milk, vanilla, sea salt & maple syrup.  Keep stirring to infuse the flavors and soften the carrots.  Toss in the 2 cups of brown rice once the carrots are a bit soft.  Stir the mixture until the rice has absorbed all the milky gooey mess.  You can then either throw the cashews into the mixture for softer cashews or roast them and at some crunch to this yummy pudding.  Sweet and yummy.  Who says sweet things can't be healthy too?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Things No One Talks About

Sunday morning here.  Don't know why I'm up early.  I seldom get up early.  I should be sleeping but can't.  So I figured now's as good a time as any to begin this story.  I may have to do this in parts.  But I need to write these important things down before too much time passes and my memory allows me to erase the trials I've learned so much from.

I want to be real.  Can you handle real?  Raw emotion?

After having three babies at home, I've begun to realize just how much intervention goes into birthing in a hospital environment.  Don't get me wrong.  I think there are times when a professional medical staff is absolutely necessary for birthing women, and I'm super grateful the option is there should I need it down the road, whether for myself or for a friend or family member.  I am grateful to the staff that helped me with Orion's birth, for in no way do I feel they were ill-intended.  Their assistance to me and my baby was what I needed at that time.  And if I had a choice to do it over, I'm sure there are things I would like to have done differently, but in the end, I'm not sure I would change them.  The situation I experienced with him was the most difficult time in my life that I can recall to date.  And I've learned so much since.  And it's for that life-long lesson that I am grateful.  But today, I want to be real with you.  Let's talk about the things no one talks about.  The things I wish people would have shared with me so that I didn't feel so alone.  The things that happen behind closed doors.

The day Orion was born, he was beautiful.  I know many of you reading this already know about so many of the struggles I went through with him.  And if not, I plan on telling that story too.  I tell that story to almost everyone I meet.  I'm passionate about it I suppose.  Today, I will share the story that few people know about me.  Just close family really.  And even my own parents are somewhat in the dark about it.  

After giving birth to my first son, I myself suffered pretty terribly from post-partum depression.  Yup.  I said it.  It's not something many people openly discuss I guess.  I mean, seriously, why would anyone walk around claiming they were suffering from depression?  As a fitness and dance instructor in the past and one who is always somewhat health conscious and aware, I was afraid and yes, indeed ashamed to have that stigma as a label attached to my person.  Ligia?  Depression?  Disgusting.  Truly, I felt like a failure.  You feel like a loser not to be able to control your emotions and the dark cloud that fogs up your mind.  And you worry.  You worry about being pitied and having people come and try to help you because they pity you, rather than because they truly just want to be your friend.  This thought alone consumed me.  I'd spend many hours rocking myself on the bed and crying.  The anxiety attacks would often make me cry in despair as I spent many days alone while my husband was at work. I'd work myself into a such a frenzy that I'd cry myself to sleep and then wake up to a crying a baby and the anxiety would start all over again.  

My self-esteem was shattered.  My body is not perfect and seldom where I want it to be ideally.  But at that time, sadly, my focus when I looked into the mirror was every single flaw that I bore.  I hated myself.  I detested my human flaws and found no trace of anything good.

The stress of moving around, having little money and recovering post-partum, had sent me into a state of post-partum psychosis.  I often entertained the idea in my head about what suicide would be like.  Don't know if I actually would have been brave enough to follow through with it.  But the thoughts in my head were there.  Very real.  Very dark.  Scary.  And they were not productive by any means.  Thoughts of ending my life were there.  Thoughts of ending Orion's life were there too.  I'd make a mental list of people that might notice my death right away.  People that might be shocked.  People that might think about it for a few hours and then move on with their lives.  I'd wake up late.  I mean, I'd get up to take care of my baby and try to get a routine going, but in the end, would just fall asleep whenever he did and literally not even move.  A first new baby is a hard adjustment as it is already without having to cope with depression.

I often wondered what it would be like to feel connected to my baby.  My mom often described how much she wanted me when she had me.  She described the feeling of overwhelming love she had for me right away.  I can honestly say, that while I loved my sweet boy, I did not have that bond with him the way I thought it should be.  I didn't know why at the time.  But I have some theories about why, now.

I was ashamed of feeling that way too.  I felt like a thoughtless and terrible mother.  What mother wouldn't enjoy her new baby, right?  I mean, some women struggle to have babies.  And here I was, this ungrateful human being, holding a sweet and wonderful newborn baby and thinking about killing us both.  And who would want to be friends with this psychotic mother?  A mother that at one point had locked herself in the bathroom seriously contemplating whether to down a bottle of Aleve or not.  Who's husband called the police that night, desperate to get some help for this crazy woman. This woman who refused to get help from anyone, for fear that someone might see that she was human.  

I don't mean for this post to be a doom and gloom about depression.  But I wanted to take a moment to say that depression is real.  It's consuming, and over-bearing.  It's the heaviest emotional weight I've ever carried in my life and what made it heavier is that I was trying so hard to do it on my own.  It was as though I was trying to prove to myself that I didn't need anyone to help me heal.  My pride definitely hindered my ability to overcome this mental illness.  But there was a light at the end of this dark and dreary tunnel.  The moment I decided to allow others in.  The moments I would see my baby smile were few, but just enough to keep me going.  The moment I allowed God to soften my heart and let go of my pride is when I began to manage the self-destructive thoughts so much better.

It's not something I talk about lightly now.  I simply want other moms, as well as those who experience depression outside of post-partum, to know, that they're not alone.  That they don't have to choose to go through these things without help.  And most of all, that they're not failures for feeling the way they do. To me, failure has become a good teacher.  We all experience failure in some way or form.  But if you listen carefully, failure can teach you so much.  About who you are and who you'd like to be.  If you allow it to, it can teach you about how strong you really are and just how much you can bear.

You see, before this experience, failure was not an option in my mind.  I didn't think anything good could come from it.  But I think it's all about what we choose to do after a great failure that defines our true character and shows us what our true potential in this life is.

It's okay to feel like a total loser from time to time.  As long as you don't allow the thought to consume your life, it can be overcome.  And no sedative or prescription pill will allow you to do that.  That decision needs to come from within.  It's not easy, by any means.  I know.  But I firmly believe that depression can be overcome by the lifestyle we choose.

Yes, I have four kids now.  So you're probably wondering, if one baby made her crazy, what did three others do?  Well, I'll be honest.  The hormone fluctuation that occurs inside my body after each baby is always a difficult thing to balance for me.  That's for sure.  May be due to weak genetics.  May be due to emotional scars.  May be due to daily food choices and habits.  But the small and simple steps I've taken to imrpove the quality of my life by allowing others to be a part of my healing process is what has actually made it easier to move past the burden with each successive pregnancy.  It hasn't become a non-existent thing, if you want the truth.  But I think after four kids, I've learned how to get a grip on it, so to speak.  I'm mentally prepared for the feelings and when they arise, I know I can choose to entertain them or, like I said, get a grip on it.  A good strong one too.  Metaphorically speaking.  So, having four babies has somewhat made me a pro at battling depression a lot easier with each one.  By the time I have our tenth child, I should be depression free.  Just kidding.  And no, having more kids is not the answer to battling depression.

So there you have it.  The things no one talks about.  The things probably very few of you knew about me.  Now, before I share with you some of the steps I took to overcome this illness, what I would love to know is, have you been through a similar experience?  And if you're comfortable sharing, what were some of the ways you chose to battle it?  This exchange of ideas might save the life of a new mom somewhere.  Or someone experiencing it because of a different trial in their life.  No matter the reason.  I know that hearing others' stories are what saved me.  So please comment below.  Short or long.  Have a happy Sunday!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Letter from Ligia

To any and all of our fellow readers:

I don't think I've ever taken a moment to introduce myself and the reason this blog has been created. I think that as a young mom, often my life is kept so busy by these short and bossy people that run it, that  I never really took the time to organize this exchange of ideas that I initially set out to share with friends and family.  So here's a little history about why I wanted to share these things in the first place.  

Hi!  For those who may not know me, my name is Ligia Huntington.  Strange name.  I know.  But it's grown on me.  Well, originally, my maiden name was Velez.  I married a Huntington.  But my first name remains the same.  Many call me Lig.  And the "G" in my name is pronounced the way you would say jam rather than grapes.  Anyways, enough about my name.  

I wanted to explain my reason for gathering the few gals that have decided to join me in this collaboration of ideas.  Somehow, I believe this blog is about to evolve into something new, and hopefully, something better.  Originally, it was simply for healthier recipes to try.  

On February 24, 2007, Orion was born.  That day marks a special memory in my mind.  It was the day I became a mother for the first time.  A day that came with much excitement and wonder as well as fears, uncertainties and trials.  For my husband and myself, the trial didn't begin right away.  Our baby boy was born quite healthy.  He was a 9/10 on the Apgar score, losing a point initially because he had some bruising after being pulled out with forceps.  He weighed in at 9 lbs. even.  Big boy!  Full of color and life. Needless to say, we were definitely in love.  

The problems that arose a few weeks later were so many over such a short period of time, that it was something I can definitely look back on and say I was NOT prepared.  I plan on sharing Orion's full story in a later post but for the purpose of this post, I'll just say he developed just about everything from jaundice, eczema, chronic ear infections, was throwing up non-stop at times, which led to doses of antibiotics that made him break out in hives, steroid ointments that gave him difficulty breathing, was then on a nebulizer, and meds, both over-the-counter and prescription, and finally, was diagnosed with early symptoms of autism.  

I began to grow desperate for some real cures and answers and was completely ignorant.  At the same time, I'm grateful to have had this experience because it is one I want to share in hopes that some young mother in the future may find my story to be of comfort.  I'm grateful to Orion for allowing me to learn from the error of my ways through his sicknesses.  He's a super happy 6 year old now with almost no sign of the fact that he was so ill as a baby.  

As I fiddle around on facebook from time to time, or run into random strangers on some of the many travels that my husband's work takes us on, I encounter quite a few of my young mom friends going through similar experiences with their own children, and my heart goes out to those dear mothers who have so selflessly taken the step to raise and nurture another human being.  Those dear women are the mothers of our future and as a mom of four children myself, I know that the task is not an easy one, even on good days, let alone the ones that bring many tears of frustration to the surface.  I've been there and I know life isn't meant to be perfect.  But it's definitely the hard situations that we grow from the most.  

All I wanted to do when I set up this blog initially was to share my newfound and somewhat overly enthusiastic knowledge of health and wellness, and perhaps to help inspire others to try new recipes at home before resorting to more dramatic measures that often lead to further and usually unnecessary medical interventions.  While I mostly lean toward the more natural and holistic forms of healing, I am in no way ANTI-conventional medicine.  I believe that the progress that has been made in science is absolutely valuable on many occasions.  

More often than not though, I feel that we as a society have slowly stepped away from how to do things on our own and thus have lost the ability to empower ourselves with the knowledge that will help our families to grow and flourish, by taking measures into our own hands rather than always being at the mercy of a doctor.     

It's with this in mind, that I would now like to venture into a whole new world of information to share, that not only includes clean, healthy recipes that taste good, but also our personal stories as well as other information that is useful and beneficial for reducing our toxic load and creating a simpler, more nurturing environment for ourselves as well as those we care for and love most.

So please bear with me as I work my way through the quirks of the blogging world to bring you a more visually appealing site that is equally as functional.  

Much love,
Ligia Veronica V. Huntington

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