Update on My Whole Little World!

Well friends, it’s been a while since I have updated this blog! Although I am sorry that I have not been keeping it up to date, I am not sorry to say that I have been productively spending my time elsewhere. However, I would like to be more consistent about adding content here so that you all can benefit from what I am learning about health and holistic living!

If you know me very well, you are probably aware that I am a science geek in general, but I am particularly fascinated by nutritional science. Recently, I have been learning quite a bit about macro-nutrients (that would be carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) and how specific combinations of them can affect health and weight gain/maintenance/loss. Because of my son’s food allergies, it has been a struggle to help him gain weight since he has become a very active toddler. He is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and all forms of dairy, so that rules out a lot of food that is high in fat. Since January 1, 2015 we have had him on the GAPS protocol to help heal his allergies and eczema. We are so thankful to have seen incredible progress during this time, including better quality of sleep, tolerance of certain probiotics, and complete healing of his eczema! Thank You, Lord!!!! Yet, something was still missing.

A family member recently introduced me to a program called “Trim Healthy Mama” (THM). Although most people participating in this program/lifestyle are doing so primarily to lose weight, the principles can also be applied to help a person gain or maintain their weight, all the while eating healthfully and fueling their body with vital nutrients and “superfoods.” This health plan also discourages the use of processed/refined sugars that spike blood sugar levels, and encourages the use of natural sugars in small quantities, and addresses how to stabilize blood sugar levels in order to increase energy and eliminate sugar crashes. BINGO! That is exactly what this mama needs after having become a sugar addict due to two years of sleep deprivation, leading her to make poor nutritional choices.

Although I am not “on plan” 100% because I am definitely not trying to lose weight, I started applying these principles about two weeks ago & have observed some amazing changes in my energy levels and overall health, primarily that I am beating what I thought was a hopeless sugar addiction! We have also noticed that Josiah is sleeping better at night since incorporating this method!

So, all that to say, you will likely start seeing me post an array of healthy recipes that follow the THM guidelines, because I love to make food… especially food that is both healthy & TASTY!

I also have some big plans for this blog and my goals of holistic living consulting, so stay tuned for more exciting things to come!

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Raspberry Fudge Brownies for A Rainy Day!

raspberryfudgebrownies

On this rainy day, I polled me, myself & I, and it was a unanimous vote that I needed to bake a warm, chocolatey treat. These raspberry fudge brownies from Primally Inspired did not disappoint! They are made with wholesome ingredients and grain, dairy & nut free which means that I can eat them around Josiah without fear that he will have an allergic reaction… but sadly, not share with him since sugar is not a part of his healing diet (they do contain maple syrup, cocoa powder & chocolate chips). I highly recommend you try these!

October Unprocessed: Recipe Inspiration

Have you heard about the October Unprocessed challenge? As it is right before the start of the holidays, October is a great time to reset your body and your taste buds to crave healthy food rather than junk.

This year I will be concentrating on a few different goals during the month of October:
– Eating whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods
– Dairy/gluten & mostly grain free
– The grains we do consume will be rice & corn
– No sugars in any form but fruit & honey, and limited quantities of those

I already have a few events on the calendar during October where I know I will probably not stick with eating according to these guidelines, but I plan to aim to eat this way 99% of the month, and 100% of the month while I am in my own home or cooking for myself and my family.

I know myself well enough to know that if I want to meet these goals, I have to plan ahead. I love interesting food, so I need meals using ingredients that I love so that I won’t have such awful cravings for sugar. Some of my favorite foods are avocados, bacon, sweet potatoes, eggs, apples, beef, pork, salmon, shrimp, and all sorts of veggies, so I looked for recipes that I could center around those ingredients. I also looked for recipes that include my favorite spice combinations such as curries, garlic, dill, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and cumin. If you like these ingredients, then you are sure to love the recipes I have chosen!

Here is a round up of recipes to inspire these healthy eating habits (all recipes are gluten free, grain free, dairy free & refined sugar free)…

tbsweetpotato

EGGS

Eggs in A Squash
Baked Eggs
Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole
Spaghetti Squash Breakfast Cups
Sweet Pepper Quiche
Sunday Sweet Potato Scramble
Spinach & Bacon Frittata
“Cheesy” Eggs in Ham
Tuna Stuffed Eggs
Butternut Squash Frittata
Paleo Breakfast Burrito
Scrambled Egg Bake
Basil, Avocado, Bacon Deviled Eggs
Spanish frittata with caramelized onions
Southwest Breakfast Scramble
Twice Baked Breakfast Sweet Potatoes
Bacon Deviled Eggs

baconavstuffedburg

MAIN DISHES

Creamy Chicken Soup
Shredded Salsa Chicken
“Cheesy” Chicken Skillet
Paleo Cobb Salad
Tuscan Chicken
Slow Cooker Indian Beef Curry
Russian/Ukrainian Meatballs
Buffalo Chili
Swedish Meatballs
Make Ahead Freezer Meatballs
Mississippi Roast
3 Layer Shepherd’s Pie
Garlic & Ginger Beef w/ Broccoli
Beef Stew
Date Night Steak w/ Mushrooms
Bacon Cabbage Chuck Beef Stew
Avocado & Bacon Muffins
Skillet Ham Tetrazzini
Delicata Squash Boats w/ Pork & Avocado Salsa
Salmon Scallion Patties

Paleo Fish & Chips
Butternut Squash Curry Shrimp “Pasta”
Salmon Veggie Nori Rolls
Cabbage Roll Goulash
Cauli-Fried Rice
Keema
Keto Egg Fried Rice
Pumpkin Alfredo
Sundried Tomato “Pasta”
Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
Paleo Lo Mein
Spicy Italian “Pasta”
BLT Salad w/ Prawns & Avocado
Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce w/ Spaghetti Squash
Crispy Cast Iron Chicken
Spicy Beef & Root Veggie Pie
Shakshouka
Bacon Burger Meatloaf
Keto Mexican Rice
Bacon Wrapped Chicken w/ Onions & Mushrooms
Coffee Roasted Chuck Roast
Cold Fighting Chicken Soup
Beef Enchilada Bake
AIP Chicken n’ Gravy
Balsamic Meatballs
Beef Fried Plantain Rice
Acorn Squash Tacos
Coconut Crusted Cod
Easy Hamburger Soup
Paleo Alaska Jambalaya
Spicy Creole Pulled Pork
Bacon Avocado Stuffed Burgers
Italian Chicken Casserole
Buffalo Chicken Skewers
Breakfast Pizza
Beef & Broccoli “Noodle” Bowls
Paleo Chimichurri Grilled Shrimp
Lamb Meatballs w/ Cauliflower Puree
Bacon n Eggs Chopped Salad with Probiotic Avocado Dressing
Stuffed Pepper Casserole
Tomatillo Ranch Chicken
Curried Chicken & Shrimp Pineapple Salad
Sweet Coconut Shrimp Curry
Paleo Pizza Bites
Perfect Roast Chicken w/ Vegetable Gravy
Pesto Chicken Salad
Kale-Sausage Minestrone Soup
Loaded Cauliflower Mash
Spice-Full Venison Paleo Chili
Plantain Chicken Fritter Clubs
Steak & Veggie Sushi
Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake
Simple Baked Salmon w/ Lemon & Thyme
Sloppy Joes
Fried Cabbage w/ Bacon, Onion & Garlic
No Bean Chili w/ Roasted Butternut Squash
Cajun Shrimp & Grits
50/50/50 Burgers
Chicken Florentine Meatballs w/ Spaghetti Squash
Asian Sesame Chicken Wings
Lemon Garlic Shrimp
Crockpot Taco Meat

spfries

SIDES

Roasted Butternut Squash w/ Duck Fat, Garlic & Rosemary
Oven Roasted Green Veggies
Roasted Carrots w/ Cinnamon
Paleo Bloomin’ Onion w/ Spicy Sauce
Restaurant Style Sweet Potato Fries
Butternut Squash Porridge
Smoked Cabbage
Curried Cauliflower Dirty Rice
Melted Zucchini & Onions
Roasted Okra
Simple Spaghetti Squash
Garlic Grilled Veggies
Mushroom Duxelles
Curried Cream of Broccoli Soup
Mom’s Mushroom Soup
Garlic & Dill Veggies
Cinnamon Carrot Fries

pumpkingranola

SNACKS

Pumpkin Granola
Dehydrator Paleo Garlic Mustard Zucchini Chips
Warm Sweet Potato Hummus
Roasted Cauliflower Hummus
Shredded Chicken Crisps
Dill Pickle Kale Chips
Cinnamon Pecans
Sweet & Salty Sugarless Snack Mix
Mixed Berry Lemon Gummies
“Banola”

turkeybacbisc

“BREADS”

Sweet Potato Flatbread
Bacon & Chive Sweet Potato Biscuits
Easy no grain, no sugar microwave muffin

chocbuns

TREATS

Apple Pie Omelette
Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Bake
Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding
Meyer Lemon Chia Pudding
Pumpkin Cookies
Birthday Waffles
Baked Apples & Almonds
Latte Chia Pudding
Keto Cookies
Crunchy Cacao Cookies
Hot Cross Buns
Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
Cinnamon Muffins
Best Ever Banana Bread Pancakes
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Single Lady Applesauce Waffle
Apple Spice Sponge Cake
Cinnamon Sunbutter Snowball Truffles
Apple Upside Down Pie
Moo-less Chocolate Mousse
No Bake Chocolate Fudge
Bitter Bounty Chocolates
Pumpkin Spice Thumbprint Cookies
Lemony Carrot Apple Bombs
Butter Pecan Apples
Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding

gravy

MISC.

Easy Paleo Gravy
Paleo Coffee Creamer
Homemade Mayo
Homemade Ketchup
Creamy Coco-Nutty Coffee Latte
Rosemary Garlic Ghee with Smoked Sea Salt
Bulletproof Coffee
Taco Seasoning

Frugal Friday: Slow-Cooker Meat Lover’s Chili

It was around 100 degrees outside yesterday… and I made chili for dinner. Who says chili is only for cold weather? I love chili almost any time of year. But can I tell you a secret? I don’t love beans in chili. I know that some people do, but it’s just not my favorite. However, we live on a pretty tight budget around here, so I found it vital to come up with a beanless chili recipe that didn’t break the bank… even though it’s a cheaper cut, quality grass-fed ground beef is expensive! The ingredients in this chili may surprise you, but trust me, you won’t be disappointed by the flavor and it is packed with nourishment! To top it all off, this recipe is one you can throw in the slow cooker, so it’s very simple to make and not very time consuming. *ding, ding, ding!* We have a winner!

So, what is this surprising ingredient? Beef liver! Now, before you “x” out of this page in disgust, please know that I am not a lover of the flavor or texture of liver. However, in this recipe the bold flavors of the tomatoes, chiles & spices completely mask the flavor of the liver while still giving you the nutritional value and making your wallet smile. Beef liver is not only a super-food powerhouse, but also very economical to purchase. I am all about combining nutrition, good taste & smiling wallets, aren’t you?

This is seriously my favorite chili recipe now. I don’t know if I will ever make another chili recipe again! Hubby also loved this chili & had no idea that there was liver hidden in it.

(Photo to come soon… I forgot to take one yesterday)

 

Frugal Slow-Cooker Meat Lover’s Chili
(Paleo, Gluten/Grain Free, Dairy Free, No Beans)

Ingredients
1.5 lbs uncooked ground beef (I use frozen)
1 lb uncooked beef liver (I use frozen)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (preferably BPA free)
1 7oz can green chiles
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2-1 large onion, chopped (depending on how much you like onion)
1 cup of chicken broth (homemade is best)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2-3 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

Instructions
1. Place ground beef and beef liver into your crockpot, on opposite sides. Set slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours. If you are using already cooked ground beef and beef liver, you can skip this step.
2. After 3-4 hours, carefully spoon the beef liver out of the crockpot and into your food processor. Puree well.
3. Add the beef liver back into the crockpot along with the rest of the ingredients in this order: onions, garlic, tomatoes, chiles, spices & chicken broth.
4. Give a light stir (you want to mix it a little while keeping the meat and onions near the bottom of the cooker), cover & set on high for another 2-3 hours.
5. Serve as is or optionally with rice, avocado, cheese, organic corn, etc. as meet your dietary needs… and you could even serve over cooked beans if you have bean chili lovers in your family! If you are grain free and/or paleo, you could serve over cauliflower “rice” or zoodles (zucchini noodles). Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Simple, frugal, and oh, so yummy!

Tell me in the comments: Do you prefer your chili with or without beans? What other ingredients do you love in your chili?

Happy National Breastfeeding Awareness Week: My Story

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of the day that I would be a mama. I would wrap my dolls in blankets, hold them in my arms and pretend to nurse them just as I saw my own mother feeding my younger siblings. What I didn’t know at the time was that though God made the art of breastfeeding to be natural, He does not always make it come naturally!

This week is National Breastfeeding Awareness week, so I want to pay special recognition to the breastfeeding mamas in the world. There are many who have wanted to breastfeed and cannot for one reason or another, and there are some who chose not to, and that’s ok, too. This post is not one about judging whether or not one should or shouldn’t choose to breastfeed, but rather to give a hug of appreciation to my own mother and every other breastfeeding mother for nursing her children when it wasn’t always easy.

My Story

My own first experience began much differently than I had expected. I had envisioned the birth of my child, him being immediately laid on my chest & then rooting around until he found his milk. I thought we would cuddle closely as we learned each other and bonded in those first moments of his life, and though I expected there to be some struggle in the learning, I had no idea how much. Since God chose to send me little boy almost 7 weeks prior to term, the reality was that after a long night of labor starting around 1:00am, his birth at 8:42am, a quick hold of my newborn before he was whisked away for assessment, and then an entire day spent going back and forth from the NICU as my premature baby was cared for by medical personnel, I retired to my hospital room around 11pm that night and we realized that I needed to call lactation to help get me set up with a pump and supplies since my baby was not going to be feeding directly from the breast just yet.

And so, my first experience was not the sweet little mouth of my beautiful son, but instead the cold, hard plastic horns of a pump… every 2-3 hours… 24/7. Oh, my. Not at all what I had expected. Thankfully, my son was strong enough that on day two of his birth the doctors were willing to let us start practicing breastfeeding. We had so many struggles. His mouth was so small, his jaws were weak, he would start to suck and then forget to breathe, he would choke trying to swallow, he would latch and then immediately unlatch and fall off, he would get frustrated and impatient… I would get impatient! This was not at all what I had imagined! He had a feeding tube down his throat because he was hardly getting any milk from nursing, so after each practice session some milk I had previously pumped would be sent down his feeding tube… and then I would go and pump again. At first we were only allowed to practice once a day, then twice, until finally after a couple of weeks we were practicing at every feeding time. He was still so weak and not gaining weight well, so we continued with the feeding tube. One doctor wanted to fortify my breast milk up to 22 calories per ounce with human milk fortifier, insisting that breast milk was only 20 calories per ounce. However, I was adamant that I would not be using GMO laden fortifier unless absolutely necessary, so after speaking with a lactation consultant, we had my milk tested and sure enough, the samples tested 23-30 calories per ounce depending on the time of day the sample was taken. I was so very thankful that we did not need to fortify my milk! We were discharged from the NICU after 3 weeks and so excited to go home, but little did I know that the breastfeeding battle had just begun.

After a few days at home we went in to the pediatrician office and Josiah was weighed. He had gained 3 oz in 4 days. Not bad, but not ideal as they said the goal was 0.5-1oz per day. We went back home & kept practicing. All day and all night we worked on feeding. A week later we went back for another weight check. He had gained nothing in a week. Not one ounce. I thanked God that he had not lost any weight. Prior to his birth, my husband and I had decided that we did not want to give our baby pacifiers and that we would wait to introduce a bottle until closer to the end of my maternity leave. Because of his lack of weight gain and weak suck, the pediatrician advised that we go ahead and try a pacifier to help strengthen his jaw and that we would need to “top him off” with an ounce or two of pumped milk after feedings to help him gain weight. I was devastated… and anxious. I had read so much about nipple confusion caused by artificial nipple use with newborns. Yet, there seemed to be no alternative. They also thought my once ample milk supply had dwindled since Josiah was not nursing well. During the discharge process from the hospital, I was told that I no longer needed to use the breast pump throughout the day since Josiah was nursing, but I later learned that this was poor advice in our situation since he was not nursing well enough to keep up my supply. I started researching how to increase milk supply and began pumping after every nursing session, taking Fenugreek 3 times a day, making lactation cookies with oats, brewer’s yeast & flaxseed, and drinking many cups of mother’s milk tea. We also started co-sleeping so that he could night nurse frequently.

Over the next couple of weeks, we used a bottle with pumped milk after each nursing session, but still my little one was not gaining weight well. Each week he weighed a little more, but never the weekly goal and each day it seemed like his nursing was getting worse and we were having to give more from the bottle. The slow flow bottle nipple sent the milk out too fast and he would choke and thrust his tongue to stop the flow… but then he would do the same when he went to nurse & get frustrated that he couldn’t get his milk very well when nursing. It was the dreaded nipple confusion. I was a weepy mess. I thought I was going insane. All I did was nurse (for between 40min-1.5hrs at a time), pump, bottle feed, and wash bottle & pump parts. Pairing this with a premature newborn that couldn’t sleep due to the caffeine medication he was on (oh, and caffeine is also an appetite suppressant) and we had a recipe for disaster!!! At one point I added up that I was spending an average of 18 hours a day doing something feeding related. I was getting 2-4 hours of sleep, but only in 30 minute increments. The two left over hours were spent in a brain fog. This was not at all what I expected.

By late August, we knew something had to be done differently. I was absolutely determined to breastfeed if at all possible, but after 2 months of struggling, I was so weary. At the advice of a friend, we set up an appointment with a outpatient lactation specialist. If you want to nurse your newborn but are struggling with breastfeeding issues after you leave the hospital, I strongly recommend seeing an outpatient lactation consultant. The lovely consultants in the hospital are great, but most of them are only trained for helping directly postpartum. The outpatient consultant we saw was excellent & I told her that I believe God used her to save my breastfeeding relationship with my baby. During our appointment she gave me a lot of good advice on encouraging him to nurse & then recommended a different type of bottle nipple. We started using this new bottle nipple (the Medela Calma) and it changed everything because my son had to suck in order for this nipple to send him any milk. Without sucking, no milk dripped out. This nipple mimicked the breast a lot better than any other we had found.

We kept practicing, and slowly but surely Josiah started gaining weight better and taking more from me and less from the bottle. By mid October we were no longer using the bottle at all and he was gaining 8+ ounces per week. By November he was gaining an average of 10oz per week. Although it still took him about 30 minutes to nurse and he nursed every 2-3 hours, my heart was bursting with happiness that we were making such progress!

Due to the caffeine he was on as a newborn for Apnea of Prematurity (AOP) and also what we later found out were food allergies, my son has never been a good sleeper. He was still waking up to nurse 5-6 times a night at 7 months old (we did not know at the time it was because of severe internal itching caused by food allergies), and still woke up to nurse 2-3 times a night until 10 months old. Around 11 months old he started only waking twice per night, then once a night. As hard as I tried to implement routine, it took him until 10 months to finally fall into a predictable eating pattern/schedule.

These days, he is 13 months old, weighs 23 lbs, and he nurses an average of 6 times between 8am-8pm and then sleeps from 8pm-8am, waking once usually between 4-6am to nurse and then go back to sleep until 8am. It now takes him 6-15 minutes to nurse, depending on how hungry and/or distracted he is.

My goal was to exclusively breastfeed and for his primary source of nutrition to be breast milk until his one year due date (that is August 15, so we are less than 2 weeks away!!!). What this looks like for us is that he nurses 7-8 times a day (every 2-3 hours), and then has one decent sized solid meal in the evening before bath and bedtime (generally a meat and either veggies, avocado, or potatoes). Throughout the day I sometimes give him a bite of banana, melon, veggie, or meat, but not more than a bite or two. My plan is to start slowly weaning after his one year due date by offering two solid meals a day, then three, and eventually three plus snacks until he is completely weaned. People ask me how long I plan to nurse him and my answer is that I honestly don’t know. Since he is allergic to dairy, some tree nuts, peanuts, soy, and eggs, I feel that breast milk is currently a vital part of well-rounded nutrition for him. I would ideally like to move to only nursing in the mornings and at night by the time Christmas rolls around, but we will see what happens.

I also want to encourage you that though it has been a struggle, breastfeeding has gotten easier. These days I am very thankful that I can nurse Josiah in just a matter of minutes no matter where we are without having to plan and pack bottles, pump parts, pump, formula, have access to hot water, etc. It is very convenient and has also saved us a lot of money over the past year.

It’s been a difficult year and not at all what I had envisioned, but I am so thankful that we were able to make it through the hard times and make it this far. There were many times I thought we wouldn’t make it, but The Lord was my strength and He saw us through the trials. Those long nursing sessions were excellent for times of prayer and meditating on Scripture. I am thankful to Him for every moment. Nursing my baby is precious to me.

To all of you mamas who have made sacrifices to breastfeed (or tried), way to go! Thank you for all you have been through for the good of your little one/s! Being a mommy is not always easy, but the reward is so great! Happy National Breastfeeding Awareness week!

Welcome!

Welcome to Whole Sweet Health, a website and blog dedicated to educating our readers about holistic living and sharing my personal journey. This website is currently under construction, but please feel free to look around and come back often as we are frequently updating and making changes. Have a great day!