Category Archives: allergies

Dog Days!

So, since he was a puppy, Leo has been eating some of the better (but not most expensive) dry dog food; I always have checked ingredients to make sure that meat, not meat by-product or a filler was in the top 3 ingredients and corn and gluten free. Blue Buffalo was tried (but sporadically as it was too expensive), but mostly Taste of the Wild as it was the most reasonably priced for something “decent” as far as dry food goes. But having allergy and stomach issues like me, I hated some of the ingredients still included. I wondered daily “WHY am I buying and feeding him something that even I wouldn’t want to put in my body?” Not only that, but he put on 10 pounds in 2014 after he was neutered and even cutting back on his portion size, he could not lose weight.

I finally weighed my options after seeing Fresh Pet in a cooler in the pet section and realized the price comes out the same and the ingredients were only what I would use if I were cooking his food myself. Fresh ingredients, no fillers, no corn. He LOVES the food. When he sees me getting it ready for him, he literally does a doggy “happy dance” and actually ignores his ball (which is his pacifier and can’t be without). Well, I’m not sure just how much weight he has lost, but not only is there a taper to his waist again and looking fitter (and one can tell he feels better), but his collar has been adjusted to a smaller fit (1/2 – 1 inch in from the last notch) and I am still able to get several fingers under it.

Food being aside, I have been paranoid (being the health & organic food advocate that I have become) about chemicals and supplements he has been given over the past 5+ years to control fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and parasites. He had a horrible reaction to the Trifexis the last couple of times I gave him that about 2 years ago so I refused to give that to him again (especially after researching it…that stuff shouldn’t be on the market). I started using a topical, Advantage Multi, but after a few times, I noticed he definitely was still having reactions to even that for 24 or so hours after applying. 😦 So, more research ensued. I was skeptical of using garlic at first, but after more than a year of reading, researching and talking to people who use garlic for their pets, I bit the bullet and started him on fresh, raw garlic.

Guess what? He has been on it since the first part of January and I’ve only seen and caught one, maybe 2 fleas on the surface of his fur. He still always seems to have issues with environmental allergies and dry, itchy skin. So I broke down and like to have killed myself bathing him a couple of days ago (using the always gentle Castille soap that I use myself) as it is soothing and won’t strip natural oils from his skin and fur and to my amazement, no fleas or flea dirt on him at all! And we have had such warm weather that fleas haven’t exactly been killed off this year! Well, now I’ve added Brewer’s Yeast powder to one of his meals each day (today is the third day) and he FINALLY seems to be feeling better (still a bit of licking and scratching, but compared to how it was, it is much better today).

So the point is this: if your pet food has ingredients in it that you wouldn’t put in your body or your loved one’s bodies, don’t feed it to your dog. When we HUMANS stop consuming packaged processed food and start eating REAL food, weight falls off effortlessly; if your dog or cat is overweight, switching them from packaged processed food to either real fresh food, homemade food or raw food diet will help them shed the weight effortlessly as well. And if labels say (of flea treatments, oral OR topical) to avoid getting on your skin and not to ingest, to call poison control if you do, then WHY would you want to keep pushing it on to your pet? They lived for thousands and thousands of years without that crap. Our ancestors didn’t have to rely on anything but nature to take care of themselves as well as their animals. The only advantage we have today is that we learned that HYGIENE which has made ALL the difference in quality of health.

Do you and your pet a favor: ditch the bags of processed dry dog food and the chemicals to keep fleas under control and give your dog a chance on garlic and Brewer’s Yeast. You will be VERY pleasantly surprised!

Leo my baby

I will leave you with the Book of the Day (well, more like Book of the Week actually). I am reading George Orwell’s “1984” at the moment. I’ve heard people talk about it a lot, especially in the last few months, and know that they made it into a movie a long time ago (I saw that John Hurt had played Winston Smith! Loved John Hurt…great actor!). I’m slightly more than halfway through, but it is a good book. Very interesting and one can draw so many similarities to life as we know it today. This oft repeating quote in the book sounds exactly like many in today’s society:

“WAR IS PEACE.  FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.  IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

1984cover

What’s So Special About Sauerkraut?

I don’t know about you, but I grew up on southern food which included coffee so strong it would “make you grow chest hair” (as my daddy put it), buttermilk biscuits (YUM!), fried foods like chicken, and desserts like Coconut Cake, Coconut Cream Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie. Oh, and that’s not all. Summer time meant ice cream, ice pops and snowcones, and getting not only a Bismark doughnut to munch on in the grocery store to keep me quiet while my mama shopped (like a white glazed doughnut with a thick cream down the center…looked a bit like a hotdog bun only MUCH tastier!), but candy at the checkout. The holidays brought all kinds of yummy baked goods like Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie (my favorite), Divinity Candy, Fudge, cookies, cakes and brownies GALORE. I didn’t much care for vegetables growing up and wasn’t forced to eat them, although I DID have to at least try them before deciding not to eat them. Oh, I can’t forget the most important thing to us southerners: SWEET ICED TEA! And I’m not talking about tea sweetened with enough sugar to make it taste delicious, it was basically tea flavored sugar water! Times haven’t changed, either. Although now when you go to a restaurant or buy tea premade in the grocery store, you’re buying tea that is sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which has very recently been changed to just Fructose, or Fructose Syrup. Unless you read and do your research, you may think “hey, doesn’t fructose come from fruit?” Yes, and this is Big Ag’s way of fooling the public while continuing to poison us. Always be on your guard!

In that vein, there ARE ways you can counteract these foods. First of all, STOP EATING PROCESSED FOODS! If it has more than 3 ingredients (actually, should eat whole food that is just ONE ingredient), particularly ingredients you can’t pronounce, then DON’T EAT IT. Secondly, fermented foods. Preferably homemade fermented foods. When you buy fermented food at the store, it is ALWAYS pasteurized. Yogurt is pasteurized (and I have a hard time eating pasteurized food…always wind up with severe gastrointestinal pain), Kefir is pasteurized and pickles (if you can even find some that are actually lacto-fermented in the refrigerated section…the ones on the store shelf are made with vinegar, thus NOT fermented and offer no real health benefits) are pasteurized. Even the best sauerkraut in the refrigerated section with just cabbage and sea salt says it is lightly pasteurized.

There are plenty of sites that talk about the benefits of probiotics from fermented foods and there are lots of recipes to be had. I started out eating Bubbie’s Sauerkraut which was actually very good considering I had always been offput with just the smell of the stuff growing up. But as the container is on the small side and cost $7, I was determined to find a way to get fresh sauerkraut that didn’t break the bank. Guess what? You can buy cabbage (I buy both green and red…and according to EWG as posted here, cabbage is part of the “Clean 15”) for about $5 for 2 heads which last 2 to 3 months compared to a week or two! Cabbage is naturally resilient to bugs and the outer leaves are able to shield it from most toxic sprays. When consuming cabbage, make sure to remove and discard these outer leaves.

Okay, I’ll stop yapping and share my recipe. It’s a mix of red and green cabbage as they both have their own nutritional benefits! They share some of the same, but also very different ones. Dr. Mercola had his sauerkraut sent to a lab to test for probiotics and the results were astounding! “We found in a 4-6 ounce serving of the fermented vegetables there were literally ten trillion bacteria.” That means 2 ounces of home fermented sauerkraut had more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules. Translated this means one 16 ounce of sauerkraut is equal to 8 bottles of probiotics.” (via Nourishing Plot). After the recipe, I’ll post some links to read that list health benefits as well as nutrition information.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Beginning with a head of Red cabbage and a head of Green, remove and discard the outer leaves and rinse the cabbage and set aside to dry. Cut in half, then remove the core.
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Thinly slice and add an inch or 2 layer of cabbage at a time, adding salt (and Caraway seeds if you like) after each layer, scrunching well to release water (make it sweat!). Keep doing this until all the cabbage is used.

*Always make sure to use either a clean, sterilized glass bowl, ceramic, stone or stainless steel bowl.

After washing a large mason jar, ceramic or stone jar, sterilize by pouring boiling hot water into jar and lid and rinsing well, put in warm oven for a few minutes (I’ve read in places that this is how some people sterilize their jars) or wash in dishwasher and run through sterilizing heat cycle. Once clean and sterilized, add the cabbage in handfuls to the jar, pressing down to help release juices and cover with a saved leaf or 2 (not the outermost leaves, but a couple 2 to 3 layers down in the cabbage), then cover either with a towel, cheesecloth, or lid loosely fit on. Set in a dark place where the temperature is stable and not cold. How long it takes to ferment depends on how warm or cold it is. If it is warm, it will ferment and be ready to be refrigerated in about 5 days or so, perhaps less, but my experience is 5 days in the summer, and a good week or more in the winter. Sauerkraut has a tangy smell and taste which you will recognize once it is properly fermented. It’s really a no-brainer!

*ALWAYS make sure your hands are CLEAN before you begin and wash only with non-antibacterial soap and water and dry with paper towel. You sure don’t want to add any bad bacteria to the cabbage!

Tomorrow, we will check on the cabbage to see how it is doing. You need to “burp” it daily (releasing air bubbles) by getting a jar or plate (whatever fits in your container) and press down. On the first day, check to see if it has released enough liquid to submerge it. It most likely will have juice, just not enough to cover it. If that is the case, mix up 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt per 1 cup of filtered water and add till the cabbage is covered.

Links to check into:

Sauerkraut is the Original Probiotic Superfood

Sauerkraut Test Divulges Shocking Probiotic Count

Sauerkraut Offers A Spectrum of Health Benefits

Tips for Fermenting At Home

Sunny Days & Golden Rays

“It was a beautiful day and the sun beat down,
I had the radio on, I was flying.
The trees went past, me and Dale was singing
Little Runaway; I was flyin’.

Yeah, runnin’ down a dream
Whatever would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery
Goin’ wherever it leads
Yeah, runnin’ down a dream!”

Running Down A Dream – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

It WAS gorgeous today. Felt like spring. Aaaand I promised last night I would start sharing information and secrets to my weight loss and health. Confession: I don’t eat breakfast! *GASP* I’ve never been a big breakfast person. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE some breakfast foods, just not in the morning. I get up and drink a cup of organic or fair trade or rain forest alliance coffee with pastured cream, coconut sugar and coconut oil. It’s good and it holds me over till about 11’ish.  I tend to eat lunch between 11 and 11:30. Whatever I do, you know I always have to have music playing. Today, it’s definitely a classic rock day. Tomorrow it may be Indie Folk, or Adult Contemporary or Instrumental Rock or Jazz or any number of genres! Oh, you didn’t come on here to read that, huh? Okay.

I wish I had gotten pictures, but unfortunately I didn’t. But I made a homemade simple Traditional Hummus, sans tahini. Turned out fabulous, too!  It is a slightly tweaked recipe by Kelly over at LifeMadeSweeter. I (as well as other family members) can’t use paprika not to mention I have to be careful with any and all things from the “nightshade” family. Like red pepper flakes. A pinch doesn’t USUALLY cause problems, but here lately, more food and medications are giving me problems, so I am just avoiding those things. Also, I don’t have a food processor so I had to bag the handful of ingredients needed and march over to my sister’s house (behind ours) and use hers. No problem. That is, until the food processor decided to fight me and not want to work. It finally gave in! Woohoo!

Ingredients

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed

2 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon paprika (OPTIONAL)

1/4 cup water, plus more as needed to thin out hummus to desired consistency

salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

chili flakes for garnish (OPTIONAL)

Instructions

  1. Place chickpeas in a blender or food processor with garlic, lemon juice, cumin, paprika and water. Blend or puree until very smooth, adding more water as needed to thin out to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to help achieve a super creamy texture.
  2. Serve on pitas, crackers, veggies, or sandwiches. Adjust seasonings as you like and sprinkle with red chili flakes if desired.

Notes

*Can store in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freezer for up to 3 months.

I normally buy Boar’s Head non-GMO Traditional Hummus in the Publix deli department which has very few ingredients, but the price is ridiculously high. Plus, it is soy free and nut free. But paying $4.99 for a small container that lasts a week compared to 2 cans of organic chickpeas (Garbanzo beans) at less than $2 each while I already have the other ingredients and now I have double the amount that the store bought containers come in. And it is DELICIOUS.

It’s great at lunch! My typical lunch? It varies, but one of my favorite lunches is Crown Prince Sardines in Olive Oil, traditional hummus with The Better Chip chips (right now I’m on a kick with the Beet chips; although I’m a huge fan of their Spinach & Kale and the Radish Chia is great, too!), a cup of fresh brewed Cinnamon Ginger tea (I make that in the mornings around 8:30 and let it sit covered till lunch when it is at room temperature), and a square of dark chocolate (85% cacao) with about a teaspoon of Polaner’s non-GMO Seedless Raspberry Spread. I love berries with dark chocolate, but raspberry is by far my favorite. One day, I’m going to make my own fruit preserves. On the days I don’t eat sardines, I have either Wild Planet tuna (Albacore Wild Tuna in EVOO, or rather, Extra Virgin Olive Oil) or Ocean Naturals Albacore Solid White Tuna in Italian Olive Oil. BOTH are delicious! And when I can afford it, I drink GT’s Synergy Kombucha, usually Raspberry Chia (my favorite). They have a few I really like, but the Raspberry Chia? Mmmm, can’t be beat!

My dinners? Depends on what the rest of the family is having. I tend to buy my own chicken (non-GMO, cage free, organic) and Sockeye Salmon which Wednesdays are my fish, kale and quinoa day since they eat at the church (and I can’t…every time I have, I’ve gotten sick because of food additives…ugh). I eat sweet potatoes pretty regular also. And I make my own sauerkraut which I will share that process with y’all tomorrow since I’ll be making some to which I eat with all meat except fish. Well, except I don’t eat pork. I can’t eat pork. I LIKE pork meats, but they don’t like me (yeah, part of my ever growing list of foods that I can no longer eat without getting sick or suffering) just like beef is starting to do the same. I eat them in very small amounts with a good portion of sauerkraut. I don’t eat bread or pasta and rarely eat rice and quinoa is once, maybe twice a week, and I occasionally whip up a batch of gluten free biscuits so I can have one when I get the craving (not often, but I am southern, ya know!). About half an hour before dinner, I get 2 tablespoons of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar in 4 ounces of water with a little stevia and drink it, chasing it with some filtered water. THAT, my friends, is not easy for me, but with my thyroid condition, I’ve noticed a lot of benefits in drinking it!

The only other thing I do is I tend to eat a spoon of Smucker’s organic peanut butter and a cup of fresh raw milk (I can’t consume pasteurized dairy…talk about several gastrointestinal discomfort!) at night when I take my medicine. Usually have a second square of dark chocolate too. So that pretty much sums up my eating habits. Tomorrow, homemade sauerkraut!

The Fresh Market: Not So Fresh!

So it’s been a little over 2 months since I last blogged. The person whose laptop I was borrowing needed it back and my laptop which died 2 years ago was still inoperable. But my middle son came to my rescue! Thought it was just the hard drive that needed replacing, but turns out that when the hard drive died, the motherboard got fried and the video card was shot. Bummer. But it’s fixed and it’s wonderful to have my own laptop back and running! They asked if I wanted Win 8 installed. HE** no! I’ve experienced it on a couple of family members’ computers and hate it so they put Win 7 back on it. But now it’s updated to Win 10 and I’m in love with this new OS! What a delightful marriage of Win 7 and the actual likable features of Win 8! But I digress.

Over the past 19 months, I gradually migrated to a healthier way of eating, but not by choice. However, I’m so glad I did! I’ve dropped 60 pounds in that time, and learned about food. HEALTHY food. And discovered that what used to be foods that just didn’t agree with me will send me to the ER if I eat them again. Progression of evil food allergies. Nightshades… OFF LIMITS. Gluten… AVOID.  Tree nuts… AVOID. Preservatives and processed foods… AVOID. Over the past few months, I’ve really started doing my research and educating myself on why so many foods were making me sick. And what a journey it has been!  With the growing trend of organics and more people being aware of GMO’s and their effect on the body, it’s mind blowing how Walmart has come along in that industry!  They just don’t carry organic produce. Well, unless you count the tiny section of organic spinach and mixed salad containers.

And that is good! If you take time to really dig and read, the companies whose brands they carry are MOSTLY good companies. You can find grass fed beef, wild caught Alaskan Salmon, Organic Florida Crystals cane sugar (non-GMO), Polaner non-GMO organic fruit spread (which is sweetened only with other organic non-GMO fruits/fruit juices) which is DIVINE, GT Synergy Kombucha (which I’m addicted to, just wish I could afford it more regularly), and more. For the time being, I’m drinking a glass of Organic Valley whole milk at night with a tablespoon of Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter because I haven’t been able to find any non-homogenized grass milk!

Then I saw where The Fresh Market just opened up at the beach a week and a half ago. I’ve heard such wonderful things about TFM that I was truly excited and looking forward to shopping there. Wow. What a disappointment!  I can truly say that I’m hoping I catch the window of opportunity when it arises to purchase some organic non-GMO raspberry and blackberry plants next season and guess I’m going to join a co-op. The Fresh Market was such letdown to say the least. After all the good things I’ve heard about it, it did not meet expectations. As far as produce goes, their selection is about as big as Walmart’s. Conventional grown is bad enough (getting a healthy dose of Roundup with each bite), but most of what I saw was as lethal as it gets. With my health finally better from avoiding those foods, I am not going backwards by eating fruits and veggies that are genetically modified (you do realize that biotech companies, most notably Monsanto, scientists take bacteria and/or viruses and inject them into the plants so they can withstand heavy herbicide spraying, right?)! All you have to do is do some research to find out just WHY plants can handle all that herbicide and insecticide spraying while anything not genetically engineered/modified around it dies.

Wonder why America is so overweight and wrought with disease? Yep. All started with WWII when they used gases to kill people. Scientists found it killed weeds and took off from there. My digestive problems are under control now that I’m not eating junk food, fast food, or processed food. Soy, corn, canola, and cottonseed are the 4 worst things to ingest and they are the things you find in processed foods. I’d rather pay my doctor WHEN I need to go once or twice a year for bloodwork (and a slow but steady weight loss) and spend the rest of that money on organic, non-GMO food than spend it on processed crap that keeps me overweight and sick and making many trips to the doctor!

Wish people would realize that all the skyrocketing health problems are related to diet heavy in glyphosate/GMO’s: cancer, tumors, birth defects, autism, diabetes, hormone disruptions, endocrine problems (thyroid disease and thyroid cancer),auto immune disorders, etc. WAKE UP, AMERICA! Monsanto is keeping you in the DARK and keeping you sick while trying to basically patent life, poison us, and the bottom line… LINE THEIR OWN DEEP POCKETS.

If you care about your health, take charge of it! In the mean time, here are a few links to read (but there’s so much more information out there!):

Long-term Feeding Study Shows Effects of GMO’s
World renowned scientist lost his job when he warned about GE foods
Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup tolerant genetically modified maize
Dysfunctional Science: Towards a “psuedoscientific world order”?
Dr. Swanson: GM Crops and Glyphosate Linked to U.S. Health Deterioration
What is a GMO? Explained in 1 minute
The A to Z guide of the food industry’s most evil ingredients
WHO Glyphosate Report Ends Thirty Year Cancer Cover Up

Food & Chemical Allergies…Seriously? YES! Here’s Why

There are many of us, and I’m quite guilty of this myself, who over the years looked at those who seemed to be “health nuts” or said they have Fibromyalgia, Lupus, or that their child (children) has ADHD, Autism, or a myriad of other health problems and allergies and thought they were crazy. How could it even be possible? But as we grow up and grow older and if you have always eaten conventional foods, many like donuts and deep fried foods, we start feeling sluggish, start having health problems, and recall what our parents and grandparents have always told us: “Once you hit your 40’s, you start going downhill and after your 60’s, you go downhill at lightening speed!” Why is this?  We laughed at them, but all of a sudden, it’s not funny because it’s US! WHAT??? You mean they weren’t kidding? This blows. Seriously. But why does this happen? And why is it happening at earlier and earlier ages and cancers and diseases are afflicting younger and younger people, including infants, especially things like autism that once were unheard of?

After doing some reading and research and wanting some answers and help for myself (part of my problem IS spinal related and much of it inherited: osteoarthritis of the spine and hips, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disk disease), I have found some articles that are very much worth the read and quite eye-opening. Granted, type 2 diabetes can definitely be controlled with diet, but certain foods will definitely cause a spike in blood sugar that you can feel if you’re in tune with your body even a little bit! However, problems with food sensitivity/intolerance/allergy as well as multiple skin allergies have a lot to do with the world we live in and the toxins we are exposed to in conventional foods (MOST of them, but not all). I am not going to sit here and write it all out, but I am sharing with you links to some reading that everyone should read, especially if you want to regain control of your health and feel better again (and probably shed some weight in the process). I will get around to sharing recipes (and music… I was a music major in my past life and very much love to sing and play the piano as well as occasionally write music) within the next few days as I learn to navigate blogging and how to follow fellow bloggers!

1. Want to know just how toxic pesticides are in just very tiny amounts? Research published by the National Institutes of Health shows that common pesticides are far more toxic than is advertised! Check out this article to see what companies aren’t telling you. It is huge cause for concern!

2. Studies in Europe have brought to light that glyphosate is present in soil, ground water, surface water, air, and people in levels far higher than is allowed (glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide). This PDF is an extended read, but very enlightening.

3. It’s a misleading argument that finding chemicals coming through the urine means that ALL chemicals are coming out completely. Measurements show only what the body can excrete. There is an abundance of evidence that these toxins are being stored in the body as well. It should be of GREAT concern that conventional foods are increasing the toxic load! With all the chemicals floating around modern life, as well as the dramatic increase in pesticide use in the past decade, in particular Roundup (which is by far the worst), it would be ridiculous to think it is just all going through you without doing any harm at all. Roundup is LEGALLY classified as a BIOCIDE (a chemical substance or microorganism which can deter, render harmless, or exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism by chemical or biological means). It works partly by killing bacteria. Unfortunately, you have a LOT of useful bacteria in you that is at risk of getting killed off from exposure to Roundup. This slideshow is great at showing and explaining the lowdown on good bacteria that our guts need and what happens when it is disrupted by bad invaders from what we ingest. I believe in Creationism, so the evolution part towards the end is laughable to me. But this blog post is not about starting a debate on religion. It strictly is to inform so you can make wise decisions in your diet. Anyways, you are putting Roundup in your gut and it kills your intestinal bacteria which is essential for digestion and absorption. Urine samples do not show that effect!

4. Killing your essential bacteria has an effect of letting BAD bacteria thrive in you. HERE, we read how glyphosate suppresses the antagonistic effect of enterococcus spp. on clostridium botulinum. A lot of these pesticides are showing up as carcinogenic, which of course, is an action that doesn’t show up directly in the urine either. In this article here (which takes less than 2 minutes to register for The Lancet for free to have access to full articles and newsletters), it enlightens the readers about a meeting of experts at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC; Lyon, France, March 2015) in assessing the carcinogenicity of the organophosphate pesticides, tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate. Take the time to register and read!

5. Roundup also is a broad spectrum chelator which binds minerals in a way that makes them unusable by the body, despite the fact that they are technically “detectable” as present in the crops, which allows the industry to say “nutrients” are present without having to say that they are rendered useless to the body! Other problems are also being linked to Roundup and other glyphosate-based pesticides: Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. This is just a sample to show how all is not all rosy and wonderful with pesticides! The assertion that organic production uses more toxic stuff than conventional is a straight-up LIE. It is impossible to imagine how anyone in science or the chemical industry could maintain their self-respect while saying that it’s not. However, they do, in the face of over 30 years worth of mounting evidence to the contrary. The Rodale Institute itself reports AFTER a 30-year side-by-side comparison of conventional and organic “that organic systems match, or even outperform, conventional systems in terms of yield, profitability, and energy efficiency, while having positive effects on soil health, water quality, and rural communities.”

6. It may be true that SOME conventional foods are not so loaded with pesticides, but unless you really know what to choose, you can get yourself a major toxic load quite easily! Consumer Reports has a great article and video that shows how toxic conventional foods are and which you can safely eat after cleaning and which you should choose organic.

It’s best to truly do your homework/research on the subject of conventional vs. organic and not rely on skewed studies that are funded by the food or chemical industry with the intention of making themselves look good (and most often this is indirectly through educational institutions). If you are like me, your body is a clear indicator of whether or not the food you’ve ingested is organic or not within a very short amount of time! This was a fairly long read, but well worth the effort and reading time!

The 4-1-1 On Me

When you’re born and raised in what is known as the “Redneck Riviera”, aka the panhandle of Florida along the Gulf Coast within an hour of both Georgia and Alabama, you learn to love your coffee sweet, dark, and very strong, your iced tea syrupy sweet, grandma’s flaky and delicious buttermilk biscuits, and sun & surf! You just can’t grow up in the south without these things and learning to swim as well as fish. Coconut cake and Pecan Pies are two of the most popular desserts in the south, raw oysters eaten straight or on crackers with hot sauce, pretty much anything that comes from the ocean, fried chicken, potatoes and gravy. Waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee strong enough to make anyone grow chest hair, bacon, and eggs is like waking up in heaven! Once breakfast is pumping through your veins, summer time tends to be long, full days of sun and fun. For the most part! Shelling peas with your grandmother is part of it too and add to awesome memories. Nothing like getting delicious food to sustain you for a day of beach or pool, or even riding your bicycles all day with your friends and getting home in time for supper.  Ah, supper! Our mama’s knew how to cook the best fried chicken along with mashed potatoes and gravy!

Trying to keep up the tradition of such wonderful cooking is a standard that has to be kept, if not surpassed, so our own kids will have wonderful memories of many of the same meals! But some women’s bodies don’t handle having babies as well as others. I know I am not alone when I say that after the birth of my third son, my body went completely bonkers. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (hypothyroid) and for nearly 20 years, my health steadily declined. Stomach problems, allergies, sensitivities, and spinal problems got way out of control. After having an upper & lower GI two days after Labor Day last year, I was given a list of foods to avoid if I wanted to feel better. It’s quite a long list! Thanks to digestive issues which prompted the scheduling of said GI check, I had managed to lose about 30 pounds. After the procedure and being handed a list of foods I needed to avoid, I didn’t listen right away. Instead, I would take Prilosec or something similar to ward off the stomach aches that came along with eating the foods I was to avoid. But I have no choice now.

Last few times I ate tomatoes, peppers, and other nightshade foods, I progressively had worse and worse reactions. The last time nearly sent me to the ER. Nothing like finding out in your mid-40’s what it’s like for those who’ve had lifelong food allergies! When you can’t figure out why it seems you’re gasping for breath, feel about to pass out while sitting,stomach churning, then the body purging for 24+ hours, you finally learn! So between learning what foods I need to avoid, which to limit, and the body purging itself, I’ve lost around 80’ish pounds over the course of a year. It’s a hard and unpleasant way to do it, but hey, I’m in normal size clothing for the first time since I was pregnant with my first son 22 years ago!

Which brings me to learning new ways of eating and especially cooking because, being southern, I LOVE to cook! But when you have to avoid nightshades (particularly tomatoes, peppers, and chili) and you love Mexican and Italian foods, it’s a huge bummer! I now have to read labels and avoid foods that people all around me are eating and enjoying. Here is my list of foods to avoid or only have a small amount on rare occasions (3*** means to completely avoid at all costs unless I want to make a trip to the ER, 2** means avoid if I don’t want to get a horrible stomach ache, 1* is for things I can only have in very small amounts on rare occasions):

*** Tomatoes and anything that has tomatoes in it (ketchup, marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc)
*** Peppers (Bell, Jalapeno, Chili, Cayenne) – this does not include Black Pepper/Peppercorns
*** Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
*** Nitrates/Nitrites
*** Additives & Preservatives in deli meats and some canned products (labels read carefully)
*** Artificial Sweeteners
*** Paprika
*** Eggplant
*** Tree Nuts

** Eggs
** Bananas
** ANY Pork
** Potatoes (I can, however, enjoy Sweet Potatoes as they are a different class and I LOVE)

* Gluten
* High Fructose Corn Syrup
* Any pasta that is not gluten-free and low-glycemic (I also have type 2 diabetes)
If I choose to eat non-organic fruits or vegetables, I make sure to soak with vinegar water before scrubbing or use baking soda to scrub well and peel off skin of fruits like apples. I’m not allergic to milk, but due to fact I’m highly sensitive and allergic to not just foods but chemicals too, I choose to eat and drink mostly organic foods. Berries are my favorite group (and they are absolutely wonderful for you)!

So follow me on this journey of new, clean eating and trying out new ways of caring for hair and skin! Maybe some of you have tips or recipes you would love to share!  I welcome them!