5 Easy Sugar Detox Ideas

five easy sugar detox ideas

five easy sugar detox ideas

Most of us have sugar issues. I’m no exception. These detox ideas are not meant to last forever, they are merely in place to help you detox your body from that delicious, poisonous stuff. 

1. Just go cold turkey

no sugar

That darn sugar. Get rid of it! There’s no way to have a “slow death” when it comes to detoxing from the stuff. Just give it the boot! If you let yourself sneak a bit here and there, you’ll never break that habit. While you’re at it, just avoid processed foods all together. That stuff almost always has hidden sugar in it.

2. Eat some protein

egg haters omelette

Protein will help curb your sugar cravings by keeping you satiated. Not only that, it helps balance your blood sugar and keep you from having those ups and downs. Nosh on some meat, or eat a handful of nuts. 

Need some food ideas?

Almonds, cashews, eggs, fish, chicken, tuna, a protein shake…or, here are a few recipes:

Egg-Hater’s Omelette
Paleo Breakfast Burritos
Primal Crustless Pizza

3. Don’t avoid fat!

avocado

Eating high-fat foods will also help stave off those sugar demons. Fat actually makes you full, and keeps you there longer than if you’re eating a low-fat diet. 

Need some ideas?

Avocados, olive or coconut oil, nut butter, omega 3 fats from fish. 

4. Keep snacks on hand.

healthy snacks

Don’t leave the house without some high-protein, high-fat, good-quality snacks in your purse or car. When you’re hungry, you make decisions you’ll regret. Don’t grab a candy bar while you’re in the checkout at the store; just reach in your purse and give yourself a pat on the back!

Restaurant Style Sweet Potato Fries
Grain Free Granola/Trail Mix
Pumpkin Seeds to Die For
Protein Packed Power Balls
Salted Cinnamon Walnuts
Avocado Crunch

5. Recruit Some Friends

Snag a couple friends to detox with you! Having some accountability will help you to stay on track. Plus, you can share your struggles with each other and talk one another through those overwhelming cravings, especially at the beginning. 

No-Marinade Carne Asada

no marinade carne asada

I love carne asada, but whenever I think of cooking it, I don’t have time for marinating! I came up with this recipe to save time, and it is SOOOO good! 

no marinade carne asada

No-Marinade Carne Asada
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ~2 lbs carne asada meat (mine was sliced thin at the butcher)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice or lime juice
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt & pepper
  • 2-3 TBSP olive or avocado oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Lay meat in a single layer on a cutting board.
  3. Baste with lemon or lime juice and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  4. Cook in skillet for a minute or 2 on each side, then remove to plate to sit while you cook the rest of the meat.
  5. Sprinkle some of the chopped cilantro on top of the cooked meat, then lay a piece of foil over the top to keep warm while you cook the rest.
  6. Repeat!
  7. When all the meat is done, slice into thin strips or cut into small chunks and serve over rice, cauliflower rice, or as “tacos” in lettuce wraps!

 

The Round-Up of Gluten Free, Grain-Free Round-Ups!

round up of gluten free grain free round ups

round up of gluten free grain free round ups

40 Simple Whole30 Recipes from Life Made Full

40 Paleo Meals Prepped in 10 Minutes or Less from Life Made Full

15 Homemade Jello Recipes from It Takes Time

112 Grain-Free Recipes from Simple Clean Living

20+ Paleo Salad Dressing Recipes from Life Made Full

The Ultimate Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Dessert Round-Up from The Humbled Homemaker

80 Gluten Free Slow Cooker Recipes from Divine Health from the Inside Out

50 Grain-Free Valentine Treat Recipes from Life Made Full

125+ MORE Gluten Free Slow Cooker Recipes from Divine Health from the Inside Out

50 Favorite Gluten Free and Grain Free Desserts and Sweets for the Holidays for Gourmande and the Kitchen

25 Grain & Gluten Free Strawberry Recipes from Vintage Kids Modern World

50+ Quick Smoothie Recipes from Life Made Full

60+ Delicious Gluten Free Desserts Perfect for Entertaining from A Harmony Healing

Paleo 12 Days of Christmas from Life Made Full

A Healthi{er} Halloween Round-up from Life Made Full

 

 

Sketchmob: A New Way to Revitalize Photos (Great Mother’s Day Gift Idea!)

sketchmob gma and gpa

So this isn’t my typical post. Normally I’m all about food, faith and/or family. Today I’m veering off the path a little bit to share a cool new idea my brother-in-law Robert and his friend came up with. 

It’s called Sketchmob. Their mission: “We connect people with artists from around the world to turn whatever they like, be it a photo or idea, into a piece of art.”

Sketchmob is a new and creative way to take photos and turn them into art. It’s very simple: 

sketchmob image.jpg

 

I was so excited when Robert approached me with their idea of custom art, and asked if I’d be willing to try it out and write about my experience. I love that I got to select an artist from anywhere in the world–someone who fit my style–and then watch him or her turn my photograph into a beautiful piece of custom portrait art

I picked a photo of my grandparents:

gma and gpa

Then I went onto the Sketchmob website and scoured through the artists to find one I really liked. I ended up picking “anikin87” from India. His thick brush strokes and use of color really caught my eye. This was the sample photo he posted:

sketchmob

Once I picked the artist, I uploaded my photo and then waited. Within a few days, I received an e-mail saying my project was complete! Here’s the finished product:

sketchmob gma and gpa

I was so happy with how it turned out! 

Within less than 2 weeks, I had a beautiful, high-quality canvas portrait:

sketchmob canvas art

sketchmob portrait

 I was able to give the portrait to my mom for her birthday, and she loved it! (PS–can you believe my mom will be 70 next year?!)

sketchmob portrait

The prices to order a printed poster for your artwork range anywhere from $8 to $80, depending on the size you want. The turnaround time for posters can be under a week. Wanting canvas? Those are $22 to $160. For a framed print, you’ll spend anywhere from $42 to $211. All great gift ideas! Mother’s Day is coming up, and this would be an awesome gift for your mommy!

Don’t want to buy a print? You can just share your final product via pretty much any social media outlet so all your friends can see!

If you’re looking for a great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or any day gift idea, try Sketchmob

 

Superman’s Celiac Story, Part 4 of 4

superman celiac story part 4

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You can read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE and Part 3 of my story HERE.

To Dr. Heidi Hook I went.  She was a happy medium between the wacky doctor and Kaiser.  She used blood tests to diagnose like Kaiser did, but she was trained in Holistic Medicine while also being a medical doctor.

It was refreshing, like a load lifted from my shoulders.  Dr. Heidi spent 90 minutes with me trying to get to the bottom of my health problems.  I truly felt like she was trying to heal me, not just prescribe me some new pill to quickly get me out of her office.  The blood tests came back confirming what the wacky doctor said…and even more.  I had 200 foods tested through these blood tests and ended up being allergic to mostly everything except meat, vegetables, and nuts.   I was even allergic to RICE, my favorite food of all time with a close second of cookies and cream ice cream.

Knowing these specific allergenic foods helped tremendously.  Dr. Heidi’s basic philosophy is that if you heal the gut, the rest of the body will heal itself…and it was worth a try.

I noticed a huge difference and my body began to heal itself.  I was taking some supplements that she recommended, specifically vitamin D and a probiotic.  I also cut out every food that I showed an allergy to.  My diet was very restricted, but I could tell my body needed a break from the foods antagonizing it.  That meant no eating out at restaurants, and no exceptions to the food diet.  

Extended family wasn’t all that helpful.  I don’t think they believed me or could comprehend the anguishing nature of my pain.  Specifically they didn’t buy into my “alternative” medicine theory after having a lifetime feeding at the nipple of western medicine.  Some people went along with my special needs (but I know they went back to their house and mocked what they thought was my  ridiculous restrictions).  Others just ignored my needs and told me that the food they prepared for me was perfectly safe for me to eat.  Then after eating it, I cried all night long in pain.  I can’t say I “cried myself to sleep” because I could never sleep when the toxins were in my system.  My body began to vibrate, get inflamed and sharp acid burning pains began to eat through my small intestine.  Yep, thanks for the food.   Needless to say, I began bringing my own pre-made food everywhere I went.  I’d just bring a little tupperware sized meal of meat and vegetables with no seasonings during Christmas, Easter, special occasions, you name it…

Fast forward about two years on the same restricted diet, taking the same vitamin D and probiotic and I eventually felt like my body was back to the foundation of where it should be.  But anytime I explored new food or changed my diet, the pain and symptoms returned.

Luckily, I found a new supplement named “Celiact” that changed my life.  It contains the exact minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that us Celiacs need and are deficient in.  I began to eat small amounts of dairy, soy, corn and RICE without any repercussions.  I could go out to dinner now and enjoy my family without having to be the weird one with the diet restrictions.   I could even eat ice cream again.  

Now, I still haven’t tried wheat because I’m too scared of the consequences.  Dr. Heidi Hook was right.  She told me that if I heal my gut, that in time I should be able to introduce many of the foods back into my life and it was happening.

Honestly, I’m happy just being gluten free now.  I don’t have a desire to eat wheat, it’s just not my thing.  Plus my wife is such an amazing cook that I feel blessed to be eating her food, and wheat is just an afterthought now.

Well, as of today its been officially 4 years and I feel like a regular 35 year old.  I have my health issues, but my pain is gone, my diet isn’t restricted, and I possess my mind again.    I feel like I’ve been reborn.  Like God has given me a new life to conquer, a new passion has emerged and I have a desire to be a better person.  

My politics have changed.  If I was so wrong about Western Medicine vs. Holistic Medicine, then what else could I be wrong about? I’m on a quest to find real Truth.  In all my pain, in all my ups and downs, two things were by my side the entire way.  God and Shanti.  They are responsible for me writing this right now, for they are responsible for me being here right now.  There were days when I cried out to God to take me home and when I didn’t feel God at my side, Shanti was always there sacrificing her days and nights to comfort me and talk me down.  And as I look back, God WAS there carrying me, meeting my needs in the form of my angelic wife, embracing me when I needed it most.  

There are people who claim to have died and seen God and then returned to Earth with a new found purpose and calling.  Even though I don’t have some “white light” story, I feel like I do have a new life.  There are some absolutes that I have come to grips with.  God is real and God is true, but I don’t think religion is.  That is, religion is man made, but my relationship with God is personal and pure. Many won’t understand this, but I recommend that you search God out before assuming He isn’t real.   Lastly, Love is an action and not a feeling (Shanti embodied true love and I owe my life to her.  Her tender devotion kept me fighting each day).

My kids also deserve my thanks.  They had to deal with a father that gave everything he had, but wished he could give just a little more.  Each day they would pray for me.  I can’t imagine the stress they were under as they watched their father waste away in a slow painful deterioration.  They didn’t give up hope and they are a huge reason I never gave up.  I love each one of them and am so proud of the character that has been built in the process.

Lastly, I plead with you.  Give your spouse, your kids, your loved ones and friends a hug tonight.  What has God laid on your heart?  What has he gently placed on the surface of your soul?  In the midst of pain and suffering, just remember that a broken heart is sometimes what is needed to allow the item God has placed upon it to fall into your heart and make you full.  May the rest of your life be the best of your life…and may you live life as a Life Made Full.

Have you had struggles with your health? Share your story with us or leave me a comment so I know I’m not just talking to a wall here.

1017004_10151789161224173_2005427089_n.jpg

Grain Free Chocolate Crepes

grain free chocolate crepes

These grain free chocolate crepes are so yummy, and are a flash to throw together!

grain free chocolate crepes

Grain Free Chocolate Crepes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: About 10-12 crepes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients.
  3. Add in the coconut milk, egg whites, syrup and water and whisk until well combined.
  4. The batter should be runny–if it still seems thick, you can add a bit more water.
  5. Pour a little less than a ¼ cup of the batter into skillet, and then swirl skillet around to spread the crepe out.
  6. Let cook for a few minutes, then flip over and cook for a few minutes more.
  7. Fill with whatever you like–berries, full-fat whipped cream, or anything else!

grain free chocolate crepes

Superman’s Celiac Story, Part 3 of 4

superman celiac story part 3

170373_1547841656803_8206410_o.jpg

You can read Part 1 of my story HERE or Part 2 HERE.

I’d never been to an “alternative medicine” doctor before.  All my sources of knowledge steered me clear of such adventures.  “Those doctors are just wackos” is what upbringing taught me. Only crazy people go to Chiropractors is what those around me said.  And my western medicine doctors told me to “be careful” with such people because they aren’t “real” doctors…they don’t practice “real” medicine.  They don’t have “real” degrees from “real” colleges.  It’s voodoo!

But I was desperate, and my pain would just not go away.  So I went.  It was weird!!!!  This Chiropractor http://archerchiropractic.com/ was NUTS!!!   She laid me down on the doctor’s table and asked me a few questions about my symptoms.  I wasn’t going to give her any info because I wanted to see if she could determine my issues scientifically, not using her psychic voodoo powers.  So I just answered yes and no to her questions and let her come to her own conclusions.  That is, I didn’t expand my answers.  

Then the fun began.  “Lift your right leg” she asked.  So I did.  This chiropractor then put a pinch of corn flour in my mouth….yep that’s right, she picked up some flour between her index finger and her thumb and dusted my tongue with just a dab of it.  Then she said, “Lift your leg again.” AND I COULDN’T DO IT!!!!   Ummmmm….WHAT!  You are reading this correctly, I had no strength to lift my leg.  

“You are allergic to corn” she said.

Then she had me press my forehead right between my eyes and I could suddenly lift my leg again.

She started over the process with some soy flour and the same thing happened.  I questioned her science on this process and she had some wacky stuff to say, but all I could think was that I don’t understand this, but there is something here of truth.

“You are allergic to Soy” she said.

I then sat up and she had me do the same process but with my arms.  I lifted up my arms fine, then took some dairy on my tongue and couldn’t lift my arms.

“You are allergic to Dairy” she said.  

I was sad about the dairy….I love ice cream and I told her so. She mentioned that in her 30 years of practice there have only been 3 people allergic to goat milk, so I might be alright with that.  So we checked the goat milk.

“You are allergic to Goat Milk too” she said.

It turned out that I was allergic to wheat, dairy, soy, corn, and sugar.  The Chiropractor didn’t try to sell me anything, but rather just said to cut all these toxins out of my diet and then come back in 2 weeks to see how things are.

I couldn’t wait to tell my wife about the crazy Chiropractor.  Who in their right mind goes to a doctor like this who diagnoses food allergies by lifting your arms and legs??

I decided to give her advice a try and cut all toxins out of my diet and went back to tell my wife. I even demonstrated the procedure and my wife looked as if she felt bad for me.  She actually said, “no way, are you being serious?”  I then offered to have the whole family go back with me in 2 weeks to check their own allergies.

Two weeks later I was feeling as if I was beginning to improve…could this crazy lady have been right?  My family all tried the Applied Kinesiology procedure from the wacky doctor and my wife ended up being allergic to dairy also, and when she couldn’t lift her arms/legs she was suddenly a believer.  

I started telling everyone I knew about the wacky doctor and got some pretty interesting feedback.  Those who had never tried a Chiropractor thought I was loony.  But those who had experienced it first hand all cheered me on in agreement.  Had I been so blind that I dismissed a whole side of medicine because so called “western medicine” doesn’t understand it?  Am I the “ignorant” one even though Western Medicine had been telling me that I was smart to follow them like a sheep?

One of the people I told about my experience suggested that I go see a doctor that specializes in food allergies named Dr. Heidi Hook at Auburn Naturopathic Medicine.   At this point, I wanted to see every doctor I could.  I had been veiled  to real medicine for so long that I wanted to seek out answers to my failing health and not just take some Kaiser doctor’s limited Western educated advice.

You can read Part 4, the conclusion, HERE.

Superman’s Celiac Story, Part 2 of 4

superman celiac story part 2

You can read Part 1 of my story HERE.

Mustering up every ounce of gumption I could afford, I worked that day knowing it was very well my last working day.  I could barely concentrate enough to have a regular conversation.  My mind was constantly changing the subject and I had to fight with everything I had to stay in reality.   I made it to lunch where a coworker was eating a prepared sandwich and took off the bun.  She offered it to me, so I naturally asked her why she didn’t want the bun of her own sandwich.  She replied that she had a disease called Celiac Disease.  “What’s Celiac Disease?” I asked.  She described the e.x.a.c.t. symptoms that I was feeling myself.  I had a spark of hope deep down in my soul.  Was this the beginning of God taking control back?  Do I have Celiac Disease…..I needed to know.

I went to my doctors appointment after work that day.  I vividly remember the Kaiser Doctor asking my symptoms and looking over my folder.  I’m not sure what is written in there, but I had a feeling I’d been labeled a crazy patient.  Doctor’s diagnosis:  Eat more fiber and there is nothing wrong with you.

STOP!  Just STOP!  I couldn’t take it anymore, there had to be something wrong with me.  “Could it be Celiac Disease?”, I asked.  

“Absolutely not,” the doctor replied.  “Nobody has Celiac Disease…it’s so rare that you don’t have it…just trust me.”

“Test me then,” I said.  

“No,” she replied.  

“But I want a test,” I spoke a little louder.  

“No, you don’t have it”, the doctor began to get perturbed.    

“I don’t care, test me anyway” I forcefully said.  

“No, I guarantee you don’t have Celiac Disease!”  the doctor replied emphatically.  

I was tired, in pain and more than a bit ticked off…“I’m not leaving this room until you order me a Celiac Test, so call security or get me the damn test!”   

The doctor replied, “Fine, but you don’t have it!”  

One blood sample later, the test was complete..but what would the results be?

Instead of heading to the Emergency Room, I decided to go back home with my glimpse of hope and wait for my results.  I spent the entire night looking up Celiac Disease, what it was, what it meant, and what I would have to do it I had it.  

I kept checking online to see if the results page had been updated from my blood test.   The test measures the amount of the body’s gluten auto-antibodies.  They have a max amount that the body should be producing.  Finally, the results showed up on my screen!  Not only was I at the maximum, but my number was over 500% higher than the max number allowed.   I have Celiac Disease!  I was overjoyed!  It all made sense!  Thank you God!   Soon, my life would be better!

But it wasn’t that easy….

Shanti started cooking me my own meals and I began searching for anything and everything labeled “gluten free”.  I noticed a jump in energy, a slight quelling of the pain and the beginnings of my mental issues subsiding.  It was difficult but I had hope that I would be healed.  

I read that it takes 6 months to 2 years to completely heal from the damages of Celiac Disease.  That is, that’s the time it takes for the small intestine to return to normal functioning and for all the side discomforts of the disease to wither away.  So for 6 months I was hopeful, but I plateaued.  All my symptoms still existed, they were just lessened a bit.  I was still in deep pain, still suffering from an anxious mind, and still felt like my body was vibrating.

That night I read the Bible, specifically the Book of Job.  I felt his suffering.  I felt his pain.  His friends, his family, his acquaintances mocked Job…they tore him down in the midst of his anguish.  Job got angry, but it was a righteous anger.  God! Where are you?! God describes Job as “blameless and upright”, a righteous man.  Questions, and anger bounced around my head.  How could a loving God bring such misery on such a noble and upright man?  I kept reading.  I was pissed at God.  I loved God, but I was pissed at Him.  How dare God ruin the life of such a virtuous man…. I kept reading.  Job yelled at God, and in my prayer time that night, so did I.  As I got to the end of the book, I was livid.  If God allows me to suffer and die, then SCREW Him!  I loved my family too much to let God get in the way….but, I kept reading.  

… And then God convicted me.  God’s response at the end of Job is priceless and exactly what I needed to hear.  

“God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said: ’Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Where were you when I created the earth? Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives? Now what do you have to say for yourself? Do you presume to tell me what I’m doing wrong? Unleash your outrage.’

Then Job replied:  ’I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears. I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!’”

But it was this next verse that changed things for me.  Job chapter 42 verse 10:

“After Job had interceded for his friends, God restored his fortune—and then doubled it!”

I had a problem with “pride.”  I considered myself smarter than others and God.  And I had a desire to control others and God…  But, it wasn’t until Job stopped thinking about himself and interceded for his friends that God restored him.  I needed to drop every ounce of pride, and recognize that God rules my life and NOT me!  So, I gave up.  I put my life in His hands and gave up.  I couldn’t fight this anymore, it was either God or nothing.

I can’t remember why, but I took an interest in God healing my body supernaturally.  I heard of a church called The Rock of Roseville (it’s not my home church)  and it had services monthly where members used God’s power to heal the afflicted.  Afterall, Jesus healed others and so did his disciples so why wasn’t my church healing others today?  The Rock’s members were so generous, and prayed for my healing…I kinda felt bad for them.  It seemed a bit weird  and desperate.  Then a sweet, loving, sweater wearing, gray haired lady took me aside and offered to pray with me.  She said she had a “prophetic word” for me and I didn’t even know what that was.  She said God was beside me during this trial in my life.  Rather than fight against the forces in my life, she said “it’s like you’ve been in a boat rowing against the current.”  She said God was telling her to let me know that I need to “put the oars in the boat” and let God guide me.  This really hit home.  It was as if she knew what my afflictions were and I hadn’t ever talked to her.  I have no doubt that God spoke through her that night.  I have no doubt now that God was healing me  and I have no doubt that many churches today lack God’s healing power in their services.  Thank you Rock of Roseville for showing me another face of God that I was unaware of.

I met a coworker that took some interest in my hatred towards the gluten protein.  He mentioned that his son couldn’t eat corn for pretty much the same reasons.  So, I asked my Kaiser doctor about the possibility that I might be allergic to more than just gluten….I mean, if my body can’t digest the gluten protein correctly, why couldn’t it be having a problem digesting the Casein protein from dairy, or why not soy, or corn, or whatever else.  Her response was eye-opening.  My doctor actually told me that I couldn’t be allergic to those other foods, because there is no test to determine the reactions.  That is, western medicine only has a test for gluten…so it is therefore not possible to be digestively allergic to anything else in the food kingdom.  

And so right there that day I had enough of my Kaiser doctor and I fired her.  My coworker had given me the name of a Chiropractor of Applied Kinesiology that diagnosed his son with a corn allergy so I decided to take a trip to visit her.  He warned me that she was a little wacky in her practice of medicine, but that she was correct regardless of her methods.

You can read Part 3 HERE.

Superman’s Celiac Story, Part 1 of 4

superman's celiac story part 1

Friends, today please welcome Superman to my blog! Over the next 4 days, he will be sharing his journey to health. You will be touched, inspired and motivated after reading his story!

Four pieces of wheat toast and a bowl of hot cereal…that was my breakfast every morning for most of my childhood.  Occasionally, my parents would splurge and make whole wheat pancakes.  Grains were my staple food and ice-cream was my weakness.  Then at age 16, my life began to change.  One day my right side began to hurt.  The doctor said it was just a stomach ache and to go home. Turns out it was my appendix.  It burst.  I went to the E.R. and spent the next week attempting to recover.  The surgeon later told me that the surgery was a close call.  He said he had to pour liquid antibiotics into my gut because the infection was deathly bad.  I was down to 115 pounds at 6ft tall and couldn’t gain weight.  Here’s a picture of me at the beach back when I was feeling my worst (try not to be distracted by my buff, bronzed stature):

skinny chris 1

My digestion was never the same…cramping, dull pain with malabsorption issues.  As the years went on, the cramping continued.  Fast forward to adulthood when I married my beautiful wife.  The dull pain began to turn into moderate pain and I just couldn’t seem to gain weight.  I also noticed that my mind wasn’t working properly.  I felt more and more like my mind was controlling me rather than me controlling my mind.  I really don’t know how to explain it, but it was as if somebody else had the remote control to my mind and I had to fight to stay sane.  My mind seemed to stay focused on my bad health, my constant sickness, my weakness.  Adding to the ailments, I also felt like I was vibrating.  I know it sounds weird, but it seemed to reverberate from the core of my bones.  I’ve heard others describe the sensation as their blood itching.

I couldn’t sleep.  Just before falling into a deep sleep my mind would wake me up with a jolt.  It was as if I was in some torturous routine where I was immeasurably tired, but powerless to sleep.  With a shock of adrenaline to my system I would pounce back up in bed.  At this point, usually some ailment would overcome my thoughts and I would spend the next hour or two looking up ways to fix it.  It was a constant struggle to stay rational without sleep and in constant pain.  My doctor had ordered numerous blood tests including one to see if I had Cancer.  The numbers came back with the Neutrophils too low and the Lymphocytes too high.  My white blood cell count was depleted from fighting so long and hard and this combination meant a likelihood of Cancer.  I was dying.

I remember weeping daily on my way to work just begging God to fix my body.  By this point, I was married to my wife, had 5 kids and  I was questioning my faith.  We had adopted 4 of our kids and I was trying to be the best dad and husband I could be.   But it seemed like I was battling God rather than sensing His help.  That is, at every turn it seemed the world was just bringing me more pain and suffering.  I tried to spend some daily quiet time with the Almighty, but I couldn’t even focus enough to read His Word.  My mind was completely shot.  I felt neurotic. And tired.  And the pain was now intense.  My intestines felt completely shredded and something needed to change.  I kept losing weight, getting weaker and my body was disintegrating.

I had gone to Kaiser doctors, Sutter doctors, U.C. Davis doctors, and Emergency Room doctors.  They kept prescribing antibiotics, more antibiotics, and more antibiotics.  Then the doctors said there must not be anything wrong with me due to the fact that the antibiotics weren’t helping.  They never tried to discover what was wrong with me, they just tried to cover up the symptoms…but at this time in my life I believed doctors to be right.  Afterall, they went to school for this.  I began to think maybe I really was just crazy.  Maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with me.  At this point, doctor’s orders were: Eat more Fiber, eat healthy whole wheat foods to gain weight. Take antibiotics even though they aren’t working.

I called a family meeting.  I told my kids that daddy was dying.  I told my wife that her husband wasn’t going to make it.  I’d fought the fight, but I just couldn’t fight any longer.   It hurt.  It pained me to look into my kids eyes and know that they would grow up without a father.  How would my wife raise 5 kids without a spouse?  Would my kids ever forgive me for dying so early in their lives?  Would they even remember me and would they turn out horribly because of it?  I showed my wife how to pay the bills.  I went through the process of delegating all my responsibilities.  We decided that I would give the doctor one more chance to heal me. I made an appointment for that day after work and told my wife that I wouldn’t be coming back.  Either the doctor heals me today or I’m headed to the hospital afterwards to die.  And I meant it. Literally.

You can read Part 2 HERE.

How My Mind Was Blown in Less Than 10 Minutes

cross at sunset

cross at sunset

Last night my mind was blown. And by blown I mean, I’m still reeling from one of the most intense, life-altering moments of my existence. 

Superman and I went to a “Hearing & Healing Night” at the Rock of Roseville, a local church. 

We have been to a few of these healing nights, and have heard touching stories of people being healed of life-long ailments as well as hearing spoken words directly from God. 

I know, that sounds pretty crazy. Fringe, definitely. I was a skeptic, too. As a matter of fact, about 6 months ago, I went and asked for prayer for my jaw. I had a deep desire to meet God that night. I anticipated healing. I believed He would do a miracle. But when He didn’t, I was not only disappointed, I started to doubt. I doubted that God would heal my jaw. I doubted that He would miraculously take away my pain. And I pretty much gave up hope that God was going to do anything about it–and I sought healing through my doctor. 

Let me interject here to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using modern-day medicine. I am so very thankful for my surgeon, for doctors who help heal broken bones, give stitches, give out life-saving medicines, and the many, many things they do to save lives every day. I just think I gave up on God a little too early. 

Back to last night. 

We went to the service because even though I didn’t experience healing the last time we went, Superman had an encounter you’ll get to hear about soon. The service started at 6:00, but we showed up at about 6:45. The whole first hour is worship, and as much as I truly enjoy worship music, an hour is a long time for Superman and I. We joined in the last few songs, and settled in for what we thought would be a night where God would work, but we didn’t know how. We listened to the message that was preached. We found out that there would be no “prophetic word” spoken last night, that it would be a night focused on healing. I was disappointed–Superman and I had come with specific questions in our mind that we were hoping God might answer through one of these gifted people. 

Honestly, I was bored. Superman leaned over and whispered, “When they start the healing, you should go up for your jaw.” I wrinkled my nose and said to myself, “I don’t think so.” Really, I was thinking, “Why would I do that? I already gave God a chance, and he didn’t do anything. It wasn’t meant to be.” I know, that sounds kind of selfish, but that’s really how I felt. 

A young guy got on the stage–his name is Aaron. He said God had shown him someone in the room who had arthritis in their hands, and to come up for healing. Someone who couldn’t hear out of one of their ears. Someone who had vision problems. And then: someone who has jaw issues. TMJ related. Their jaw pops out of place. 

I jolted my head, turning toward Superman. Of course, he pointed his finger toward the front, prompting me to walk down the aisle toward the stage.

Worship music was playing. This wasn’t one of those services where people are standing on stage, being healed on display for all to see. I stood there with other people, in a line facing the stage, while each person was prayed with privately. I was thinking, “I don’t think God’s going to meet me here. I’m going to be disappointed.” I’m not just saying that here–that’s really what I was thinking. I fully believed I was going to leave disappointed. 

I waited for about 5 minutes, standing awkwardly, waiting for one of the “gifted” people to come pray with me. 

Finally, a nice-looking lady walked up and stood in front of me. “What can I pray for you today?” she asked. Keep in mind the worship music was still playing, so it was loud. “Well, Aaron said he saw someone with jaw issues that needed to come down for healing, so I’m here. I have to be honest, though. I’ve had prayer for this once before, and I wasn’t healed. I’m really skeptical, and I feel doubtful.” 

She gently grabbed my hand, placed it on my heart, and stared deep into my eyes. She started praying, eyes open. I stood there, staring back into her deep blue eyes, feeling uncomfortable. As she prayed, she asked God to remove my doubt, to open my heart to His truth, to believe that not only could He heal, He could make me thrive.

It got less awkward. I started to let my guard down a bit and started praying silently that God would allow me to witness His power.

All of the sudden, my jaw started to burn. 

No. Joke.

Burning. 

I wasn’t freaked out, because I’ve heard of this happening, but I was starting to think maybe something cool was going to happen. Was I actually going to be healed? Was I going to leave with no pain???

The woman finished praying, and asked how I felt. “Well, my jaw still hurts. But it’s burning. I’m not sure what that means?”

She smiled; a kind, gentle smile. A knowing smile. She asked me, “Do you have any idea why you have had jaw issues? Was there an injury, or something related to your pain that would explain it?”

I told her I have never found a correlation, I don’t remember exactly when it started, but that I assume it’s tension related, even though I don’t really even feel stressed. 

And then: the bombshell. 

She said to me, “While I was praying, I saw an image. I saw your father, leaning over you in bed when you were a child, with his hand pressing over your mouth telling you to stop grinding your teeth.”

I immediately burst into tears. I have never felt such a rush of emotion pour out of me. 

Then she went on to say, “I see you walking on eggshells in your house as a child. You were afraid to speak. You felt you had no voice.” 

Have you ever had someone tell you something about your past–something deep, dark, and true? What she said–ALL of it, was true. She had no way of knowing those things. I stood there, tears streaming down my face, in shock. 

She continued, “God is telling you tonight that Satan has used your jaw, the pain, the surgery as a distraction. Your past, your feeling of not having a voice has manifested itself in your jaw. The tension from your childhood, is Satan’s attempt to silence you. I see you speaking to women, encouraging them, speaking truth into their lives, using your voice to impact future generations. Your jaw has been Satan’s attempt to keep you and your husband from doing what it is that God wants you to do.” 

I was still speechless from the fact that this woman, a complete stranger to me, knew about my dad trying to get me to stop grinding my teeth. I hadn’t even mentioned to her anything about grinding my teeth. As a matter of fact, I shared very little information with her, as I was so skeptical and didn’t want to give her any “leads” to work with. 

She placed her hands softly on my face, and prayed. A deep, heartfelt prayer for healing. Not just for my jaw, but for my heart, my soul.

When she finished, I could still feel pain in my jaw. But I didn’t feel disappointed. This was, by no means, a failure. 

God met me last night. He spoke to me through a complete stranger. He reminded me–He is there. He is here. He is all around me. 

He is my Father, my daddy. 

Healing may not come right now at this very moment, but healing is coming. I can feel it. 

I am forever changed from this experience. I’m still not exactly sure what it all means. I just know that God BLEW my mind last night. And I can pretty much guarantee He’s going to blow it again. As long as I’m willing to put it all on the line for Him. 

Grain Free Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

grain free peanut butter cup brownies

Heaven. Pure Heaven. A bit of a crispy top, with warm, gooey chocolatey peanut butter cups in the center.

grain free peanut butter cup brownies

Grain Free Peanut Butter Cup Blondies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan with coconut oil
  2. Beat together the butter, coconut sugar, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, salt baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in almond flour and chocolate chips.
  4. Spread half the dough in the 9×13 pan, then place peanut butter eggs on top (use as many or as few as you like–I used about 10 all together)
  5. Top with remaining dough and spread to cover evenly.
  6. Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes, until done.

 grain free peanut butter cup blondies

The Family That Sticks Together Stays Together

family that sticks together

I’ve heard a quote before. Maybe you’ve heard it, too. 

“Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”

Of course, rules are beneficial.

Rules keep us safe, help teach respect, and are put in place for our own good.

But if a house is only full of rules and no fun, you’ll have kids who grow up and want nothing to do with what you’ve given them.

If you want your kids to follow your faith, the best place to start is to have contagious joy that will inspire them.

family that sticks together

 

 

 

 

Copycat Peanut Butter “M&M’s” (Dairy/Gluten Free)

copycat peanut butter m&ms

copycat peanut butter m&ms

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before. My kids almost screamed in delight when they saw these. All you have to do is use my recipe for Copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, except roll the peanut butter mixture into small balls, then dip them in chocolate. Place in fridge to chill completely, and store in fridge for best results. They are amazing!

P.S. With these, you could probably even leave the palm shortening out of the chocolate and have a harder “shell” more like the real M&Ms!

Find the recipe here: Copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs

Salted Chocolate Caramelized Bananas

salted chocolate caramelized bananas

The possibilities with these are endless–you could of course add in some almond butter, or sprinkle with cinnamon. Like tart? Dip in lemon juice before caramelizing. But the way these are right now are perfect!

salted chocolate caramelized bananas

Salted Chocolate Caramelized Bananas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: Makes about 16 pieces
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat.
  2. Slice the bananas into bite-size pieces.
  3. Place into hot oil and fry for about 1 minute, then gently flip over and brown other side. Remove to cool for a minute onto a paper towel:
  4. salted chocolate caramelized bananas
  5. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.
  6. Use a cake pop stick or decorative toothpick to dip the banana into the chocolate. You can cover it all the way in chocolate, or part way like I did.
  7. Be careful–the banana can slide off the stick, just maneuver it around carefully.
  8. Place onto a plate covered with parchment paper and place in freezer to cool completely.
  9. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, if desired.
  10. Serve frozen.

 

The Difficult Child

transforming a difficult child

transforming a difficult child

I will be the first to admit I lecture my children. 

Sometimes, I amaze myself at the insights I provide them.

Drawing connections between biblical characters and my kids, showing them how current behaviors will play out in future consequences…I mean, a lot of thoughtful words and insightful advice can come out of my mouth after talking at them for 10 or 15 minutes. 

I was chatting with a friend the other day and may have been venting about certain children in my household…one in particular (who I’ve talked about before). This child, I would say, is difficult to parent. And by difficult, I mean exhausting. Discouraging. Weakening. There are days when I look in the mirror and ask why I’m being punished. What I did to anger God enough to give me a child who seems to mostly think only of himself. A child who gives off an air of entitlement, who refuses to take responsibility for his mistakes, who purposefully angers his siblings and seems to find true satisfaction in prodding them to the brink of an outburst. A child who seems to believe every problem in his life is derived from the mistakes of those around him, not from the choices he makes.

This friend of mine recommended a book to me called “Transforming the Difficult Child.” I know, not the best title, but it leaves no question as to the subject of the book. 

I was hesitant to read this book as I’ve read many parenting books and honestly am often turned off by the “foo foo” stuff they include. Honestly, for most of my kids, those parenting books help quite a bit. You can reason with less “difficult” children and use traditional methods on them with great success. But with certain children, those methods just don’t work. 

Making a “good behavior” chart or letting them suffer consequences for their own choices without me getting involved works for awhile but honestly, self sabotage takes over within a short period of time. Before I know it, this child is back to his old ways, frustrating me and everyone else in the household, pushing me to the edge of my sanity. 

My friend assured me that this book was different and that it specifically talks about dealing with children who don’t necessarily fit into the “simpler parenting” mold. 

Being that my Lent commitment is praying specifically for my relationship with this child, I decided to give it a go. 

I’m not quite finished with the book yet, but one thing stood out to me.

The author pointed out that most parents choose to lecture their kids (remember, I’m good at that!) when they do something wrong. We use those moments when kids are misbehaving to go to town telling them all about how their behavior is wrong, and what they need to do to change it. But we rarely point out the things our kids are doing right at the times they are doing them right.

I’m guilty of this. I am constantly correcting behavior. Honestly, the LAST thing I want to do with this kid is compliment him. There are rarely enough “good” moments in the day with him–when he does do something thoughtful or kind, I’m usually already so upset with him, telling him what a good job he’s doing is the last thing on my mind. When he’s one-on-one with someone, he’s quite a joy to be around, really. But put him in a room with one or more of his siblings, and it’s like a switch gets flipped.

The author goes on to say that by lecturing our kids when they do something wrong and not pointing out the positive things in the moment, we are teaching them that in order to get quality time with us, they need to do something wrong. Of course, the kid isn’t thinking of this consciously. It’s like a hamster on a wheel–they are just doing what they are being trained to do. And if we spend more time with our kids when we lecture them after doing something wrong, instead of when they do something right, they will continue to act out. Why wouldn’t they?

I felt very convicted by this. It does not come naturally to compliment my kids or point out things they are doing RIGHT. I know that sounds sad, but it’s the truth. I saw a lot of criticism in my home growing up, not a lot of encouragement. But that’s no excuse. I’m in charge of my own choices, and the last thing I want to do is perpetuate a cycle of disconnect from my kids. 

Again, when this child is one-on-one, he is quite pleasant. But he lives in a large family. Not only does he need to learn how to cope, so do I. 

I don’t expect everyone to understand. Not everyone has a difficult child. You may be looking at me and saying, “Goodness gracious, grow a pair. Stop complaining!” But I have to say, unless you have adopted from foster care, or unless you have a child who makes you question your ability as a parent, or unless you have looked at your child and felt resentment instead of pure love, you just don’t know. Unless you have fallen down on your face, begging God to help you parent your child, you just don’t know. Unless you have laid awake at night, crying because your child has hurt you so immeasurably, and wondering if you can make it, you just don’t know.

I love our kids. Every one of them I truly do love. I believe God made each one of them just perfect in His eyes. It’s just that I don’t have His eyes. I have my eyes. I know that the things I find most frustrating right now will most likely end up being the very things God uses as my kids future strengths. Please don’t question my commitment to them or my devotion to them. Just know that each of us walks down a different road. Just because we may not understand what someone else is going through doesn’t mean we are right and they are wrong. 

I just wanted to put this out there, because I know there are other moms like me. Moms who struggle, wondering what they’re doing wrong, what they could do better, how they are going to make it 18 years. 

I’ve already started implementing some of the ideas in Transforming the Difficult Child. I’m very anxious to see if consciously making an effort to point out the good things, no matter how small they are, and reserving the lectures for the “good” times makes a difference. Of course, consequences will still be in place for misbehavior, but hopefully that won’t be his whole life anymore. I will keep you posted. 

Do you have a difficult child? Or am I the only one?

Grain Free Hostess Cupcake Copycats (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo-Friendly)

grain free hostess cupcakes

grain free hostess cupcake copycats

I asked on my Facebook page the other day what things people miss eating that they would like a “cleaner” version of. One of the first responses was Hostess Cupcakes. Here’s the ingredient list from standard Hostess Cupcakes:

Sugar, Water, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Vegetable and/orAnimal Shortening [Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola), Beef Fat, Palm Oil], Corn Syrup, Egg Whites, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Whole Eggs. Contains 2% or Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Soybean Oil, Cocoa, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Chocolate Liquor, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Sulfate, Locust Bean Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate),Corn Flour, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Nonfat Milk, Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Soy Flour, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Sodium Stearate, Cornstarch,Glucose, Guar Gum, Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Agar, Gelatin, Fumaric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors (Contain: Caramel Color, Butter), Sorbic Acid and Potassium Sorbate (to Retain Freshness), FD&C Yellow 5 and 6, Red 40.

Yikes! With GMO ingredients, food dyes (why?!?!) and a bunch of words I can’t even pronounce, a project was in order.

So, I went to work in the kitchen.

Friends, you won’t be disappointed in these Grain Free Hostess Cupcake Copycats!

grain free hostess cupcakes

Grain Free Hostess Cupcakes (Gluten Free, Paleo-Friendly)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line muffin tin with liners.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Whisk eggs, melted coconut oil, vanilla and honey or syrup together and pour into dry ingredients.
  4. Stir until combined and pour into muffin liners.
  5. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. Make the filling:
  8. Beat together the filling ingredients until well combined.
  9. Fill a pastry bag with the filling.
  10. Put into top of the cupcake and squeeze some filling into the cupcake. (See pics on how to do this HERE)
  11. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a knife to cut a cone shape out of the center of the cupcake, then cut the bottom part of the cone off. Then place the top part of the cone, the lid, on top of the filling.
  12. Make the ganache:
  13. In a double boiler, melt together the chocolate chips and coconut milk. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  14. Top each cupcake with the ganache, and pipe more of the filling on the top for decoration, if desired.
  15. Place in fridge to cool and allow ganache to harden a bit.
  16. For best results, store in fridge.

grain free hostess cupcake copycats grain free hostess cupcake copycats 

1-Ingredient Maple Candies (Paleo and Vegan-friendly!)

1 ingredient maple candies

Easter’s coming! I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for Easter baskets that won’t send my kids on a crazy sugar rampage. These 1-Ingredient Maple Candies are amazingly quick to throw together, and are made from an all-natural ingredient: pure maple syrup!

You can make these two ways: let them cook less time, and you’ll have a softer candy. Let them cook longer, and you’ll have a hard candy. You choose! For the sake of this post, I made a hard candy as they last longer in little mouths. =)

1 ingredient maple candies

4.0 from 1 reviews

1-Ingredient Maple Candies (Paleo-friendly!)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Simple, quick, and uses only ONE ingredient!
Author:
Serves: 12-24 pieces
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pour maple syrup into a large saucepan, and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Place candy thermometer onto side of saucepan.
  3. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 240 degrees for softer candy, or 270-280 degrees for harder candy.
  4. Remove from heat, stir for a few seconds, and then pour into candy mold.
  5. Let cool until hardened (I put mine in the fridge and it took about a ½ hour)
Notes
A candy mold is not required–if you like, you can line a small pan with parchment paper, and pour in the heated syrup, then break into pieces once cooled. Please note: 1 cup of syrup yields 12 pieces of candy in my mold.

 1 ingredient maple candies

1 ingredient maple candies

The Seven Worst Ingredients in Processed Foods

worst ingredients in processed foods

worst ingredients in processed foods

More than 3,000 food additives — preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients — are added to US foods, and this is one of the key reasons why I recommend avoiding most of the processed foods that contain them.

While many well-meaning nutritionists will teach you the importance of reading food labels, the easiest way to eat healthy is to stick with foods that need no food label at all… When was the last time you saw an ingredients list on a grass-fed steak or a bunch or broccoli?

There’s a good chance, though, that you do eat some processed foods, and if this is the case reading the label is invaluable. There are literally thousands of ‘red flags’ to watch out for in the foods you eat, but a handful take the proverbial cake for worst of the worst.

The Seven Worst Ingredients in Processed Foods

Andrea Donsky, founder of NaturallySavvy.com, did a wonderful job of highlighting seven ingredients you should avoid eating in the infographic above. She refers to them as the “Scary Seven.”1 If you see any of these on a food label, promptly put it back on the shelf; if you value your health, you don’t want to be putting these in your body. Let’s take a look at each in detail:

1. Artificial Sweeteners

Experiments have found that sweet taste, regardless of its caloric content, enhances your appetite, and consuming artificial sweeteners has been shown to lead to even greater weight gain than consuming sugarAspartame has been found to have the most pronounced effect, but the same applies for other artificial sweeteners, such as acesulfame potassium, sucralose and saccharin.

Yet, weight gain is only the beginning of why artificial sweeteners should generally be avoided. Aspartame, for instance, is a sweet-tasting neurotoxin. As a result of its unnatural structure, your body processes the amino acids found in aspartame very differently from a steak or a piece of fish.

The amino acids in aspartame literally attack your cells, even crossing the blood-brain barrier to attack your brain cells, creating a toxic cellular overstimulation, called excitotoxicity, similar to MSG.

Further, inflammatory bowel disease may be caused or exacerbated by the regular consumption of the popular artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose), as it inactivates digestive enzymes and alters gut barrier function.2

Previous research also found that sucralose can destroy up to 50 percent of your beneficial gut flora.3 While you certainly don’t want to overdo it on sugar, there’s little doubt in my mind that artificial sweeteners can be even worse for your health than sugar and evenfructose.

2. Synthetic Trans Fats

These are common in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, such as crackers, chips, most store-bought baked goods, and any fried foods, just to name a few examples. Synthetic trans fats are known to promote inflammation, which is a hallmark of most chronic and/or serious diseases.

For instance, in one 2010 study, post-menopausal women who consumed the most daily synthetic trans fat had a 30 percent higher incidence of ischemic strokes.4 Synthetic trans fats have also been linked to:

  • Cancer: They interfere with enzymes your body uses to fightcancer.
  • Diabetes: They interfere with the insulin receptors in your cell membranes.
  • Decreased immune function: They reduce your immune response.
  • Problems with reproduction: They interfere with enzymes needed to produce sex hormones.
  • Heart disease

Your intake of trans fats should be as low as possible; no “safe upper limit” has even been established because, quite simply, there is none.

3. Artificial Flavors

What’s particularly alarming when you see a word like “artificial flavor” on an ingredients label is that there’s no way to know what it actually means. It could mean that one unnatural additive is included, or it could be a blend of hundreds of additives. Strawberry artificial flavor can contain nearly 50 chemical ingredients, for example.5

Or take the artificial flavoring called diacetyl, which is often used as a butter flavoring in microwave popcorn. Research shows diacetyl has several concerning properties for brain health and may triggerAlzheimer’s diseaseGenetically engineered flavor enhancers can also be listed under the artificial flavor (or natural flavor) label.

4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

This flavor enhancer is most often associated with Chinese food, but it’s actually in countless processed food products ranging from frozen dinners and salad dressing to snack chips and meats. MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain dysfunction and damage to varying degrees — and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.

Part of the problem is that free glutamic acid (MSG is approximately 78 percent free glutamic acid) is the same neurotransmitter that your brain, nervous system, eyes, pancreas and other organs use to initiate certain processes in your body. Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to claim that consuming MSG in food does not cause these ill effects, many other experts say otherwise.

5. Artificial Colors

Every year, food manufacturers pour 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes into U.S. foods — and that amount only factors in eight different varieties.6 As of July 2010, most foods in the European Union that contain artificial food dyes were labeled with warning labels stating the food “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” The British government also asked that food manufacturers remove most artificial colors from foods back in 2009 due to health concerns.

Nine of the food dyes currently approved for use in the US are linked to health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity to allergy-like reactions — and these results were from studies conducted by the chemical industry itself.7 For instance, Red # 40, which is the most widely used dye, may accelerate the appearance of immune system tumors in mice, while also triggering hyperactivity in children.

Blue # 2, used in candies, beverages, pet foods and more, was linked to brain tumors. And Yellow 5, used in baked goods, candies, cereal and more, may not only be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals, but it’s also linked to hyperactivity, hypersensitivity and other behavioral effects in children.

6. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

It’s often claimed that HFCS is no worse for you than sugar, but this is not the case. Because high-fructose corn syrup contains free-form monosaccharides of fructose and glucose, it cannot be considered biologically equivalent to sucrose (sugar), which has a glycosidic bond that links the fructose and glucose together, and which slows its break down in the body.

Fructose is primarily metabolized by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it. Since all fructose gets shuttled to your liver, and, if you eat a typical Western-style diet, you consume high amounts of it, fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol and other toxins do. And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat – it just gets stored in your fat cells, which leads to mitochondrial malfunction, obesity and obesity-related diseases.

The more fructose or HFCS a food contains, and the more total fructose you consume, the worse it is for your health. As a standard recommendation, I advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.For most people it would also be wise to limit your fructose from fruit to 15 grams or less, as you’re virtually guaranteed to consume “hidden” sources of fructose if you drink beverages other than water and eat processed food.

Fifteen grams of fructose is not much — it represents two bananas, one-third cup of raisins, or two Medjool dates. Remember, the average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose, so one can of soda alone would exceed your daily allotment.

7. Preservatives

Preservatives lengthen the shelf-life of foods, increasing manufacturers’ profits – at your expense, since most are linked to health problems such as cancer, allergic reactions and more. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives that affect the neurological system of your brain, alter behavior and have the potential to cause cancer. Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a chemical preservative so deadly that just five grams can kill you.

The preservative sodium benzoate — found in many soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressings – has been found to cause children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible. Sodium nitrite, a commonly used preservative in hot dogs, deli meats and bacon, has been linked to higher rates of colorectal, stomach and pancreatic cancers. And the list goes on and on…

US Processed Foods May Be Even Worse Than Those in Other Countries

Many of the food additives that are perfectly legal to use in US foods are banned in other countries. The banned ingredients include various food dyes, the fat substitute Olestra, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate (aka brominanted flour), Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST and arsenic.

When foods are processed, not only are valuable nutrients lost and fibers removed, but the textures and natural variation and flavors are also lost. After processing, what’s left behind is a bland, uninteresting “pseudo-food” that most people wouldn’t want to eat. So at this point, food manufacturers must add back in the nutrients, flavor, color and texture to processed foods in order to make them palatable, and this is why they become loaded with food additives. If you live in Europe, you may have more options than Americans, as you may be able to find some processed foods that do not contain any synthetic additives.

Still, swapping your processed food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole foods is a necessity if you value your health. Remember, people have thrived on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits and other whole foods for centuries, while processed foods were only recently invented.

If you want to eat (and be) healthy, I suggest you follow the 1950s (and before) model and spend quality time in the kitchen preparing high-quality meals for yourself and your family. If you rely on processed inexpensive foods, you exchange convenience for long-term health problems and mounting medical bills. For a step-by-step guide to make this a reality in your own life, simply follow the advice in my optimized nutrition plan along with these seven steps to wean yourself off processed foods.

 

World’s Best Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

gluten free macaroni and cheese

I’ve had many requests for a gluten-free macaroni and cheese recipe. Of course, this is not Paleo, but it is gluten free and made with quality ingredients for all of you who are just restricted by wheat!

gluten free macaroni and cheese

World’s Best Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese
 
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Author:
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to directions (I brought the water to a boil, added pasta and cooked for 4 minutes–they were almost done, but not quite. You don’t want them mushy, so don’t over cook!)
  2. While that’s cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter or coconut oil.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  4. Add chopped onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Whisk in tapioca flour and stir for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, then whisk in almond milk slowly.
  6. Return to low heat and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 2 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the cheese until it has all melted, then remove from heat.
  8. Pour the cheese sauce into the cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
  9. Add in the salt & pepper and sausage.
  10. Top with some more cheese if desired.
  11. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, until browning on top and bubbling.
  12. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Notes
For a little extra kick, throw in a pinch of red chili pepper flakes!

gluten free macaroni and cheese

Roasted Garlic Herb Cabbage

roasted garlic herb cabbage

I’m not normally a huge fan of cabbage, but this is THE BOMB! The flavor is amazing, the cabbage is tender…even my kids liked it! And that’s saying a lot.

roasted garlic herb cabbage

 

Roasted Garlic Herb Cabbage
 
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Tender, flavorful cabbage! A perfect side for St. Patrick’s Day or any other day!
Author:
Serves: 7
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cabbage
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • Italian seasoning
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Slice the cabbage into sections on each side of the core and lay them onto a baking sheet lined with foil:
  3. Drizzle the cabbage with the olive oil, then sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and Italian seasoning.
  4. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until browning and tender.
  5. Remove and serve promptly.

roasted garlic herb cabbage