Friday, February 11, 2011

If I could keep time in a bottle...

That's one of my favorite songs. Along with the Pina Colada song. Ok, and a few more. I've never been big on having ONE favorite anything! I try to find value in all things. But that's another topic...

Where does the time go? What do I do with my time? Why does it seem to be wasted and what am I really accomplishing?

I was listening to Keith Green, one of my favorite Christian artists. He was introducing a song and he was talking about the creation of the earth. How, the bible says it was 6 days and some people say it is literally 6 days and others say that was impossible, etc. He said that he didn't really know but that he knew that Jesus had been in heaven preparing for us for 2000 years and that if it only took 6 days to create this entire world, that we're living in a garbage can compared to what He's been building for us for 2000 years! Amen to that, brother!

So Jesus has been preparing for us all this time. And what have I been doing? Getting up, crawling out of bed, change the babies, feed the babies, play with the babies, put babies down for a nap, check email, Facebook, maybe take something out to defrost for dinner, get babies up from nap, feed them, play with them, greet husband and make dinner, clean up babies and dinner, play with babies, put babies to bed, clean up AFTER babies, then sit around like a zombie doing or reading mindless things until I can't keep my eyes open anymore and I beg my husband to go to bed with me. Then I lay there for a while awake, trying to relax and go to sleep, trying to make sense of it all. Sounds like a pretty fulfilling life, huh? Um, not really.

Now I don't think that staying home and taking care of my children is not a worthy occupation. In fact, I am grateful to be able to do so. I love seeing their little accomplishments each day. I love greeting them when they wake up and I love all the little hugs and kisses I get. Having twins has really forced me to get some kind of schedule and be a little bit organized or I'd have big trouble! But, I always feel like I could be doing more with my time.

This is evidenced by the number of books on my shelf dedicated to organizing and time management, saving money, books on how to have perfect children and marriages and the perfect life... You get the idea. And yet, I fall into the pattern above more days than not. I don't ever feel satisfied. I don't ever feel full of life although I am surrounded by it. I want so much more but I don't know what.

Did you notice what was missing? I do. It's time. Time with God. Time reading His word and writing it on my heart. Time learning to be a daughter of the King. Time in prayer and solitude with The Giver of Life. Time with the Only One who can give me purpose and worth.

Without Him, I go about my day doing but never really "being." I spend all of my time crossing tasks off my list, using all of my energy and mind-power (what's left of it anyway) to make sure my children are safe, warm, clothed and fed, but I never take the time to be renewed and refreshed by Our Holy Father. I never take the cool water that He offers. The very thing that would give meaning and value to what I do all day, I ignore. And in doing so I feel empty. Worthless. Wasted. And alone.

My challenge, starting tomorrow, is to wake up before everyone else to spend time with The Creator of Time. In this season of winter, both in the natural and in my spiritual life, I have been hearing the gentle call of God to get up and meet with Him in the morning. I have been resisting, making excuses, saying I will get around to it when... But the call has been getting louder. This week I have been inundated with messages about getting up in the pre-dawn hours to meet with God, to read the bible- His word and to pray. There may be tears involved in this but I am trusting that He is going to make it all worthwhile. Here's goes everything, including my time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vitamin D: What is it and where do you get it? (and why you should bother)

I read a post on another blog (a much better one, BTW) about cod liver oil supplements. I'm sure you've heard about this. It's the stuff your great grandmother was probably forcing down the throat of your grandma when she was a little kid. I think I recall the grandma or mother on Huckleberry Fin making him take it too.

Sounds gross. Smells gross. Tastes gross. So why take it? Well, back then they didn't realize what it was about cod liver oil (CLO) that was so beneficial but as it turned out, it is an excellent source of Vitamin D.

Current medical research has been finding that most of us are deficient in at least the few types of Vitamin D that they can test for. And that lack of vitamin D can affect not only our bones, but our muscle strength and immune system. GI (gut) function too. It is especially important in older adults. The research community has found that with adequate levels of vitamin D, our elders fall less and have less risk of fractures. This improves their quality of life as well as life expectancy. Did you know that if someone over the age of 65 falls and breaks their hip or another large bone, that their risk of dying in the following year goes up significantly? Vitamin D is one piece of the puzzle , but it is a significant one.

The newest form of vitamin D supplement that I have read about is fermented CLO. Doesn't that sound so much more appetizing? The makers, Green Pasture are claiming that it is more "bioavailable" and thus superior to regular CLO. Green Pasture is also the only company making this product in the US currently. Their belief is that fermenting is the traditional production method of CLO and based on the research of Weston A Price, the more traditional foods and methods of preparation, are the most nutritious and can provide a whole host of health benefits.

Recently, I have been doing some reading about Weston A Price and have been converting many of our food sources and preparation methods to more traditional, whole foods. I believe it is common sense that the manufactured foods of our modern times are simply artificial chemicals that are crafted into something that tastes good by means of toxic chemical that cause us to become addicted to these foods. No amount of synthetic vitamins or fiber will ever make these foods consumable. But, that has nothing to do with Vitamin D!

What I am concerned with is that once you begin your journey into whole foods, just how far do you go? What is reasonable and what is just ridiculous? I beleive that vitamin D supplementation is necessary for most of us who do not get enough sunlight and whose dietary sources may be lacking as well. Vitamin D production by the body will be maximized by getting 15-20 minutes of exposure to the sun (with arms and legs uncovered and without sunscreen) daily. Food sources of vitamin D include salt water fatty fish and pastured eggs. And then there are supplements such as CLO and synthetic vitamins.

Personally, I would always try the whole food source first. I know I don't get enough sun exposure and certainly won't at least until next summer. We do eat eggs from our hens who free range in the yard and should be producing eggs with high levels of vitamin D but I have no way of verifying this. We don't eat enough fish to get adequate levels either. So we're kind of left with supplements.

I've taken fish oil supplements before. Some of them have given me "fish burps" and others haven't. My chiropractor sells one that smells like vanilla and doesn't give the burps. I have no idea of the brand at the moment as I don't have any on hand to look at the bottle. I can find out, though if you're dying to know. I have not, however, specifically taken CLO. And honestly, it doesn't sound all that great. But knowing the benefits of vitamin D and that synthetic vitamins are not always assimilated the way that real food products are, I think I will be trying this.

Do I expect miracles? Nope. But if it can keep the winter blues away, help support my immune system through flu season, keep my nervous and muscular systems in tip top shape, then I'm all for it! Apparently there is also some talk of fertility benefits. You see, vitamin D is technically a hormone and it helps produce sex hormones. It is also fat soluble, meaning that it builds up in the body. Taking too much can be toxic. In comparison, vitamin C is water soluble and if you take too much, generally your kidneys filter it out and you get really pretty pee!

I think there needs to be a balance in what we recommend for supplementation. As a nurse practitioner dealing with the elderly, I have prescribed D3 supplements as these are assumed to be absorbed more efficiently by the body that other synthetic forms. Elderly patients tend to get less sunlight and have poorer diets. Many of them are on fixed incomes and cannot afford expensive supplements. If you do not have a diagnosed deficiency, then taking 400 - 1000 units daily is recommended. Higher amounts can be prescribed if needed for those with deficiencies. The issue of vitamin D deficiency is important enough the the Veteran's Administration tests all of it's patients regularly and it was probably the most common supplement I prescribed when I worked there! Testing is not cheap so this was quite significant to me.

There is a place for both. In the case of true deficiency (your health care provider can do a blood test), prescription strength supplements are necessary. If you are generally healthy and get some sun exposure as well as at least occasional dietary sources, I would stick with the recommended supplement strengths. More is not always better. And this is especially true of vitamin supplements. Food is your BEST source of all nutrients because of all of the unknown factors that help with absorption and assimilation. Supplements should be used when diet and sun exposure are not optimal. And if you can't stomach CLO or fermented CLO, then a synthetic vitamin D3 analog will be better than nothing.

Good luck! I may consider joining the polar bear club so I can get some winter sun exposure!

Have a healthy winter!

Lizabeth-your friendly neighborhood family nurse practitioner!

p.s.- the usual statement-always tell your health care provider about any supplements that you are taking or considering taking. They can interfere with other medications or conditions you may have. This is not intended as personal medical advice.

p.p.s. -no, I don't get any benefit from you clicking through to another site and purchasing products from them. I wish!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Date Night Chronicle

Last week I wrote about going out for date night with my husband but I didn't want to say where just in case I didn't like it. However, since it was a good night, I thought I'd share now.

We decided on the wood fire grill this time. A nice change of pace from our usual sushi and sake routine. If you live in the area, I would recommend Moxie's Woodfire Grill for a special occasion treat or celebration. Because it was a bit expensive, I wouldn't go there on a regular basis but it was worth the splurge. And the best part is that one of my good friends works there as a waitress! Ask for Hannah if you go!

If you're like me, you'll want to know what we ate. So here it goes:
For appetizers we had sesame encrusted Ahi tuna which was served with seaweed salad, ginger and wasabi as well as dipping sauce. We also split an order of brie baked on a cedar plank and topped with mixed berries and sliced almonds. Both were absolutely delicious. Honestly, we could have had a salad and then stopped there!

For dinner I order their citrus glazed wild caught salmon which is also grilled on a cedar plank and served with baby stuffed pumpkins (different :) ) and spinach. This was cooked perfectly and had a wonderful flavor. My husband had a steak (I don't remember which cut right now, but it was very tender and cooked just to his liking) with a roasted garlic Gorgonzola sauce. Now, I gotta be honest with you here. We like grilled meats but the grill here is super "charry." Probably that's not a word but you get the point. The charred flavor and the pungent taste of the Gorgonzola kind of overwhelmed the flavor of the meat. Personally we both enjoy the taste of steak that is cooked properly and so this was a little disappointing because it took away from that flavor. The sauce was really good on bland old mashed potatoes though! If you REALLY like chargrilled meat, you'll like this. I don't know if you can ask for less charring but it wouldn't hurt to ask.

And for the martini aficionados out there, I had a "Dirty Englishman." It's a dirty gin martini with blue cheese olives. It was great and it was HUGE! One drink was more than plenty! I'd say this was a good runner up to my favorite dirty gin martini at Number 5. They put asiago stuffed olives in their martini's if you ask and it is DIVINE!

Ok, so afterward we checked out Tranquil bar and bistro. They have live music and Tuesday once a month is French night. And since neither of us understands French, we of course ended up at Tranquil on French night! Oh well. All was not lost. It was still good music. The guitarist was excellent and my Thin Mint Cookie martini made up for the fact that I couldn't sing along with the music. Next time I will wear a beret and a striped shirt perhaps and get more in the mood! I'd like to check this place out again on another night. A note to the claustrophobic: this place is tiny, especially the bar area. If you don't like tight quarters or don't want others to hear you talking to your date/friend/etc., this might not be your first pick. But if you're friendly and don't mind other people joining your conversation, I'd go for it!

I like it when date night is an adventure! Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in a rut. I always enjoy getting outside of my "box" and seeing what else is going on in Binghamton. Thankfully, I am usually pleasantly surprised!


Two Sundays ago at church the pastor gave a sermon on the coming rapture of the church and the end times. Although I have a differing interpretation of when the "rapture" will occur in the scheme of these events, I dare say that I do agree with him when he said that the time is coming when Jesus will return, and when he does, the call from his mouth will be "Enough!" Enough suffering, enough pain, enough corruption, enough hatred, enough war, enough! Enough! Enough!

I think many of us can agree that we, too, have had enough of these things and so much more.

Have you ever read the bumper sticker that says "If you want peace, work for justice?"

I think it's a good sentiment but I think you must assume that the people making the hullabaloo are oppressed people rising up against an unjust dictator when, in fact, that is not always the case. Just look at the terrorist activity in the world. Those instigating wars and committing heinous acts against their own people are not the downtrodden but the severely misguided (putting it mildly...) fundamentalists, guerilla leaders hungry for power, people who believe in racial superiority who commit acts of genocide against a neighboring people. Do we truly believe that simply meting out "justice" will stop these things from happening and create peace?

Peace comes from the inside. When we can walk through a situation without becoming part of the problem. When we know with all assurance that everything this world has to offer is fleeting, temporary, a mere piece of fluff that will burn with the chaff when exposed to the refining fires of God's glory. When we are able to hold loosely to this world and keep our eyes on the glory that awaits us, then we will have peace.

Until Christ returns.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More soup, date night and an eBook promotion!

Hi again!

Just wanted to share some more recipes that I made this week that we really enjoyed. I also just read about a new eBook that looks exciting for those of us looking for "Real Food" recipes for some of our favorite "bad" foods! Like chocolate chip cookies! I'll be trying THOSE tomorrow!

Why not tonight? Well, tonight is date night with my hubby! Yay! We will be having dinner at an as-of-yet undisclosed restaurant (it's a toss up between sushi, one of our favorite Italian restaurants or the wood fire grill place) and then heading over to a bistro for drinks. The bistro is a place where I have been told would be a good place for my husband and I to book ourselves at (we're musicians). So, we're going to go check it out. It sounds a bit more "jazzy" than what our music style is. We tend to perform more country music than anything else so we'll see. And I won't tell you ahead of time because I don't want to feel bad if I don't like it as I'd have come back and give a negative review. If I really like it, I'll spread the word afterward. Most of all, tonight is about spending kid-free time with my beloved husband! And being grown-ups and not crawling on the floor (well, maybe there will be some of that too but I won't go there...) and playing with toys and changing diapers, etc. I'm wearing my new black heels and I'm going to enjoy our date night where ever it takes us. As long as we're together!

So for the recipes!

First, I made POTATO LEEK SOUP. But not just any potato leek soup. This was made with leeks from the farmers market and uncured bacon and lots of love. The recipe? Here it is:

I used 4 leeks, sliced.
6 slices of uncured bacon (trying to avoid added nitrites/nitrates)
a bit of dry sherry
scrubbed cubed potatoes, about 3 medium sized ones
quart of chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
sour cream

First I cooked half the bacon in my cast iron pan and the other half in the pot which I was cooking the soup in. The idea being that I was going to use the bacon fat in the pot for the soup and save the other bacon fat. In the end I used all of it in my soup, so it was more like the rendered fat from a whole 12 ounce package of bacon.
Then I cooked the leeks in the bacon fat and a bit of dry sherry until wilted and looking cooked. Add the chicken stock and potatoes. Cook for a half hour or so until the potatoes are cooked. At this point I would puree half of this in the blender and then add back in. Let the soup cool a bit. Then add the milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with sour cream and bacon crumbled on top.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe I found on Nourished Kitchen's website. She uses fresh dill which I did not have. And I added the sherry myself because I like the hint of flavor it gives. In fact, I tend to use a lot of sherry in my cooking. It is a must have ingredient when you make chicken or turkey gravy-to die for! Just don't drink it-it's kind of yucky to drink! Especially the cheap kind that I cook with! But somehow it just adds that something yummy to my recipes. Who knew? I discovered it when I watched my friend's daughter make turkey gravy at Thanksgiving one year and I have been hooked ever since.

My next recipe does not have any sherry in it but it probably would be a good addition if you so desire! This one is BRAISED LEEKS. Yep. Another leek recipe. They just looked so good at the farmer's market this past Saturday so I had to get some.

Braised leeks:
4 leeks, cut lengthwise and rinsed well.
beef stock or broth (I used broth)
grated cheese (the original recipe called for Gruyere but I didn't have that so I used Asiago, another new love of mine!)

Put the leeks in a pyrex or casserole dish/pan. Boil the beef stock/broth and pour over the leeks. Put in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes or until the leeks look cooked. Sprinkle cheese on top and broil.

The taste reminded us of French onion soup. Yummy! The original recipe is from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Enjoy!

As you may be able to tell from this and other posts, we are making the journey to embracing more traditional and "real" foods while I also purge our clutter and organize our home (with a squirmy baby on my lap...). The eBook I mentioned earlier can be found at Modern Alternative Mama. She has recipes for french fries and fried chicken and, of course, the chocolate chip cookies! If you're looking for a good list of transitional foods, check this out. Until the 25th, there is a 25% off offer as well. There is also a giveaway in progress for a copy of this at Kitchen Stewardship. And please, come back and tell me what you think?

As for me and my house, it's baby feeding time! Have a blessed day!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

The most AMAZING chicken soup EVER!

Today I accomplished what I never would have thought possible just 5 years ago. I made chicken soup from scratch. Without a recipe. Am I good or what?

This was no ordinary chicken soup, mind you. Oh no.

This was about a week in the making.


Last week I made homemade chicken stock following the recipe in Nourished Traditions by Sally Fallon. The recipe was roughly this (I never follow a recipe exactly if I want it to turn out well):
1 whole chicken cooked in the crock pot all day- used pastured chicken from my friends farm
bones from a preciously cooked chicken-I had this frozen
filtered water to cover
some carrots, celery and onions
sea salt ( a little) -I used Redmond Real Salt
a pair of chicken feet - yes, you read that right. I used chicken feet. After I washed them of course...

Cooked this in the crock pot on low for almost 2 days.
Strained out all the stuff. Strained it again. Put it in the fridge to "gel."
Some recipes call for removing the hardened fat after it cool sin the fridge but I like fat. So it stayed. There really wasn't that much anyway.

Then today, I put another whole chicken in a big soup pot with enough water to cover half of the chicken. I added some more sea salt. I let it simmer for a few hours until the meat was falling apart. Then I strained out the chicken with a bowl under a colander. The broth went back in the pot. I pulled the meat off the chicken and added roughly half of it back in later.

First, I added a few ladle-fuls of the stock I made last week. Turned the heat back on and added a few cut up stalks of celery, 3 or 4 sliced carrots, and a chopped up sweet onion. I let this simmer until the onions were translucent and then I added the chicken back in.

Then I let this simmer for about an hour or so. About a half hour before I served it I added a bunch of sliced up napa cabbage and cooked it long enough for it to be completely wilted and soft enough for my babies to eat it. I didn't add anymore seasoning to any of this after the initial salt I added to the chicken this morning.

This turned out to be the most divine tasting soup I've ever made or had. Perfect flavor. Everything just tender enough. Just yummy!

As you can tell by now, I don't really follow recipes unless I am baking. I spent years watching cooking shows and reading cook books beforeI ever really started cooking anything. My attempts to cook in the distant past were disasters and I stopped cooking. Then one day I decided to make lamb. I had read about something called "de-glazing" although I had never made gravy or anything like it. But I had some mushrooms and some wine and I went to town. I couldn't believe my eyes (or taste buds) when I made "gravy" for my lamb chops and it was great! Since then, I have been cooking sans recipes because every time I follow a recipe, the food gets ruined and we end up with take out. Like the "roasted" chicken I made about 2 months ago. Followed the recipe to a "T." I wish I had a picture. Just think about the turkey on Christmas Vacation. Yeah. That bad. So I just cook my chickens in the crock pot or in a pot of water with some sea salt, and voila, I have the most tender, delicious chicken ever. I don't eat the skin so the lack of browned skin is no, uh, skin off my nose. Sorry. Didn't have a better analogy or whatever you call that. (It is after midnight, you know...)

I will say that baking is another story. There is a lot of chemistry involved in baking so I don't do much tweaking with those recipes, but I'm not a big baker anyway. I like to make choc-oat-chip cookies and that's about it. I've been trying to master bread making but most of my loaves taste really god but have the heft of a loaf of lead! I'll keep trying because there is just nothing like fresh warm bread and butter with a steaming bowl of chicken soup!

What's your best "recipe?"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Challenging challenge!

Hi! This is week one of my "Maximize Your Mornings" challenge and I gotta say, I'm not doing so great. Getting up early before the kids do is a lofty goal for me. I am NOT a morning person. Especially when I have a one year old who doesn't want to sleep through the night. Ugh.

Yesterday, I took the girls out only for them to fall asleep in the car (it was naptime and I was on a quest to get garlic to plant in my garden) so I could actually go anywhere and get OUT of the car! But, I did score a load of Korean garlic to plant this week. According to my farmer friend, you are supposed to plant garlic on Columbus Day. Of course, I didn't have any to plant until yesterday and then today, being an absolutely gorgeous fall day would have been perfect for planting, or applepicking! I, however, had to work today and tomorrow they are calling for rain and cold. So, I will pray that the "bad" weather doesn't start until later in the day and that I can plant my garlic while the girls take their morning nap. Let's just hope that this isn't one of those "no" answers to prayer!

I guess part of getting up early in the morning is going to bed early. Seeing as how it's 11:38 on my clock, I have certainly gone past "going to bed early" once again. Problem is that I am afraid to pray for discipline to get up early and go to bed on time, because then you just know that God will give me an "opportunity" to learn discipline. That type of "opportunity" usually isn't pleasant, either, even if it is invaluable and very much needed. Lately I have been feeling the pressure of discipline in so many other arenas of life, that getting out of bed in the morning just doesn't hold the appeal it might have at another time in my life. That said, I would still like to attain it, if only to be able to say that I did it. I am hoping that it actually provides the benefits that it's supporters swear that it does.

If you are interested in rolling out of bed with the roosters, check out Inspired to Action. Just might change your life! I'm still deciding...