Food Allergies and Family Meal Traditions Are High On My Priority List This Year

With the arrival of November and then December right around the corner, I have been working on revamping our holiday meal traditions. I am determined to make them cleaner and healthier for my husband to be able to enjoy without feeling the ill affects afterwards. Since finding out artificial sweetener was the cause of all his abdominal issues for the past few years, I have been working diligently at cleaning up our diets even more than before. We no longer have food in our house with artificial sweetener BUT some of our holiday family traditions that we are not willing to give up are going to be prepared a bit differently this year.

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Take for instance the stuffing to go with the turkey at Thanksgiving. Typically, I buy the sage flavored bread cubes and prepare stuffing using these, chicken broth, poultry seasoning, celery, onion and dried cranberries. This year however, I have been reading labels like crazy trying to find a bread crumb/cubes that do not contain any artificial sweeteners. Breads are a big downer since most companies use this stuff in place of the more expensive basic sugar. Thankfully, I finally found one at Costco and we gave it a try one evening for dinner. Sweetened with real sugar and molasses, this one is perfect….now…does it taste good?

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Yeah….The trial dish came out wonderful although, I did not have any dried cranberries to add to the dish. I am however, thinking that I may go even healthier and substitute pomegranate berries instead or dried cranberries. That sounds tasty and should be even less sugar in the long run.

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Another big change we have to make is to the Christmas morning pull apart cinnamon bread we have once every year. Our original recipe is here and has been a family tradition since our son was little. It is a fabulous recipe and cooks perfectly while we open gifts and is ready to enjoy by the time the gift wrap is all cleaned up. However, this year we picked up the box of Jello cook and serve pudding one night wile grocery shopping to read the label and BAMMM full of artificial sweetener. Super big downer for us. So we made our way over to the natural organic section and thankfully found one brand of cook and serve that used real sugar and nothing fake. I don’t know who was happier, my husband or my son since this is a favorite among them both and my husband feels bad that some things we have had to give up have not been easily replaceable with an alternative yet. So this year will be using this pudding mix with all the other same ingredients and still be able to enjoy our once a year family breakfast together without illness to follow.

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I also recently had a friend tell me that Annie’s Homegrown makes refrigerator biscuits. I finally found them in the grocery store I always shop in and was very happy to see no artificial sweeteners in the ingredient label. You may wonder why I even had to read it but I will tell you for certain that not all organic products are artificial sweetener free. Seriously…can you believe this??? So as always, I read the label and smiled when I got to the end. This will be perfect for the holidays since #1 I am not fond of baking and #2 they are quick and easy. Plus, I can go back to preparing my husband favorite meal of chicken potpie that we had to give up since the original refrigerator biscuits we always used have ingredients in that we are no longer consuming.

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And then we have to issue of get togethers and parties to attend with numerous amounts of foods with any variety of who knows what in them. Much like when his employer puts on food Fridays….he rarely participates and never eats something homemade without being able to read the label first. When we go to others homes we will always bring a dish or two that he knows is “safe” food. And thankfully, for both sides of our family get togethers, we do the hosting so 90%-100% of the food is prepared by us and he knows he can enjoy what ever there is at the time.

I am still trying to figure out whipped cream since we are not able to find a single one that does not have artificial sugars in it. I may give a go at making my own with heavy whipping cream and sugar to see how it turns out. Apparently, its easy to do from what I read….I may find out for myself real soon.

It’s really is amazing the products we have found that contain so much artificial sweeteners in them since this all came about. From cottage cheese, mouthwash, to cold medicines….its in so much stuff. It’s not shocking to me anymore why we are all suffering from one ailment or another….since the food, medicine, and personal hygiene things we use everyday are tainted with chemicals instead of real ingredients. My hope for everyone this holiday season is to stay safe, read your product labels, and educate yourselves on what you and your family are putting in your bodies. It’s been life changing for our family!

Do you have food allergies to work around in your family at holiday times?

When everyone is asked to bring a dish to pass do you ask them to prepare it with out the ingredient that causes issues?

 

 

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It Has Been Open Less Than A Week And….

It’s finally open and I have been there twice in less than a week…..Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in Ashwaubenon,WI had it’s grand opening last Wednesday and I was there!!!!

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A friend of mine joined me for the first visit here and to say it was packed with people would be putting it mildly. Our area (Ashwaubenon is minutes from our home and is where the store is located) has no organic healthy grocery at all. So for those of us that have always wished and hoped for a Whole Foods or a Trader’s Joe’s, this may be as good as it gets and in my opinion it’s pretty nice.

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I have never once braved the crowds and went to any grand opening of anything but this one was different. Upon arriving I knew it would be busy but wow, our area clearly needed a grocery store like this. I did not get to enjoy looking around as much as I would have liked but what I did see made me very happy. I found a few new items that my husband can enjoy since going to an artificial sweetener free diet.

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And I also found a kombucha flavor he has been searching for…win for him.

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I’ve already made another visit since this grand opening night and crowds are much more manageable. I love the meat/seafood, bakery, and fresh veggies/fruits selection. I have also found some other amazing items that we have all fell in love with. In my opinion, it’s a great addition to the Green Bay area.

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Talking about my husband being artificial sweetener free…..he is doing wonderful. He is feeling great and has surprisingly lost his big sweet tooth. He still enjoys candy here and there but before this he loved candy and could not live without it. He has also since lost his taste for coffee….go figure. How odd is that? Cooking is getting easier and I have been working on getting creative so everything he eats does not have to be so basic. Like one evening we had Korean BBQ pork sandwiches, zucchini, and corn on the cob.

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And another evening we had homemade BBQ chicken pizza. The only difficult thing about this meal was finding a store crust without artificial sweetener. Our normal grocery store had only one out of at least 10 different brands so we tried it. He loved it….win for me!

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This weeks menu has two new meals on it for us to try. Slowly but surely I am finding meals he enjoys and that are easy to prepare now that we have revamped our pantry. I am just so happy to see him happy again and not always so miserable with stomach aches.

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It Has Not Been Easy To Remove Artificial Sweeteners From Our Diet

This Is A Readers Request Update:

It’s been almost two full months since my husband has removed all artificial sweeteners from his diet in hope to find relief from his apparent IBS symptoms. To see the initial start of this process read here. Today I would like to discuss the progress and how much our life has changed. As with any big change it is often easier to do as a couple than just one person. For the most part this is what we have done….completely removed artificial sweetener from our diets.

The biggest thing we needed to do was go through the items we already had in the house that contained something besides real sugar. Gosh, this was not easy and I feel we are pretty healthy eaters. However, my husband did find he was consuming much more than he thought in the form of artificial sweeteners. From something as straight forward(or though we thought) as cottage cheese to his love for candy…they all contained something besides sugar.

We needed to address his love for candy pronto. He loves his candy…..mints, chocolate, sour or sweet candy…he loves it all. And every single candy he loved was tainted with something on the no no list….and believe me the list is long….very long. So we searched hard, did some fast researching, and actually drove two hours to a store to purchase some candy made with real sugar. Yes, crazy maybe….but everyone deserves a treat here and there. We did find some great alternatives and actually now he prefers these over the old.

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Next, I needed to examine our sauces and spices. Oh my goodness, sauces are almost all artificial sweetener and it literally made me ill to know over half of what we used for condiments was tainted with this stuff. So we tossed, dumped, and went back to some of my own mixtures as a permanent fix in our diets now. From BBQ sauce to sloppy joe sauce, everything we commonly used needed to be homemade.

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Salad dressings are all made from scratch now.

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We have been experimenting with spice mixes both store bought and homemade and have found a few favorites.

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Eating out is simply a challenge. Without being able to read every ingredient in every menu item it is often not worth the risk.

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Pizza is now made all homemade with crust that is free of artificial sweetener and we have been very careful about choices at restaurants when we need to eat out. Like the week he traveled for work for instance. Only one evening did he feel bloated and sick which is actually great considering I imagined worse.

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When we are out and about I do my best to pack a picnic type lunch so we do not have to chance a mistake at a restaurant and struggle to make healthy choices on the road.

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Dessert bought from a store is completely out of the question. And since I do not enjoy baking, much less have the time to bake on a regular basis, this will be a very special treat to see dessert at our house. However, once in a great while it rains which means we can’t go outside and I get the urge to create a sweet treat for my family like this strawberry rhubarb crisp I recently made.

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He is learning to read every label on every item he consumes. I am learning to find new favorite products at the grocery store and thankfully shopping is getting a bit faster than it first was when this all began.

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He is also eating much more fresh, clean food items than ever before and is feeling better than ever. Fresh is best. And believe me, just because the product says all natural or organic does not mean it is artificial sweetener free….this was shocking to us both!!!!

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As a result he is feeling better than he has in two years. His bloating only occurs when he eats something he shouldn’t and does not catch the sweetener used. He is again enjoying vegetables and as a bonus we have both lost weight from this big change in our diets. If you find yourself bloated, miserable, and just plain tired of dealing with abdominal pain and discomfort and have found no relief, try removing artificial sweeteners from your diet. The improvement was almost immediate(48 hours) and you may be surprised to feel the same results.

 

 

Time For A Good Ole’ Brain Dump

Where did May go? I seriously feel as if it just began and we are almost to the end, ready to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, and begin summer. I would never say I am not ready for summer but this year I have an assortment of things I want to get on the calendar but have not quite pinned any certain dates down quite yet.

A lot has been happening around here which could be adding to my craziness…..new jobs mean new schedules, new eating restrictions mean careful menu planning, a new grocery store mean a girls date night needs to be set to check this out, camping plans, kayaking/SUP plans, gym visits have been pushed aside for exercise outdoors, new summer recipes being run through in my head but rarely make it to the dinner table, and so on. Yeh, I am a bit overwhelmed….add work, sleep, and yard work to the mix and well, you could say I am a bit stressed. However, I know summer only last a few short months and when winter comes along I have all the time in the world to catch up so I have to say…..bring it on….I am so ready!

First, lets talk new job. Our son started his new job and is really enjoying it so far. You all know he is working on becoming a professional photographer and this new job is right up his alley. Yes, I am sure there will be some hiccups along the way but all in good time things will work out. And, as a bonus, we may be able to get back to river kayaking easier since he should have one day off every weekend. Without three people and two vehicles it is next to impossible to kayak a river and have a chase vehicle for the end.

New diet restrictions have come into play here when after so long and no results you start to become your own medical advocate. Two years ago after receiving a diagnosis of IBS regarding stomach issues that my husband was having and seeing no results as far as improvement, I finally did some researching myself. (Especially since you all know how I feel about the medical profession in regards to taking 3 years to find my issue when I saw numerous specialists….I no longer have a whole lot of trust in doctors.) I read numerous articles, research documents, and testimonies from patients regarding the issues artificial sweeteners added to our foods can cause a body. After some thought and label reading of some of the food my husband loves to eat…..I was mortified to say the least. I then approached him, we discussed it, and he said he would try anything, so we kicked this plan into action immediately. And now I am here to tell you that in some cases IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome) may be a definite diagnosis but in other cases it is simply a case of BS(Bull Shit)!!!! He has been on this no artificial sweetener diet for three weeks and is a completely different person!!!!! He has lost so much belly bloat it is amazing…..I wish we would have measured his stomach before this all took place since it’s simply unbelievable. We are trying to figure out how his work travel will allow this type of diet since eating out is sometimes a challenge but I am confident we nailed this one and he is on his way to feeling better once again. If you have been diagnoses with IBS and are not seeing your symptoms improve with diet and/or medication….give this a try….you may be happily surprised. He sure was and he has even started enjoying some of the foods that use to almost kill him like sprouts again.

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Now, this has me so completely excited it is really quite funny when you think about it…..we are getting a new grocery store here in my hometown. Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market is a natural and organic grocery store and apparently it is coming here and is almost ready to open. I know….how did I not know this??? Well, for #1. I do not travel on Oneida St. unless I have to which is where this is opening and #2. I do not follow events that happen here in Green Bay since I rarely stay in Green Bay to do anything I consider fun. Which will then make you ask…then how did I hear about it? I actually had to travel Oneida Street one evening and my goodness, there are like three new restaurants, this new grocery store, and a few new clothing/shoe venues I had no idea where even being built much less already opened. It’s very touristy(which I tend to avoid) in this area but I will be one of the first to brave the crowds in July to check this grocery store out. We have even already tossed out a girls night suggestion to check it out all together….I will let you all know what I think when it opens. Until then….have you ever been to one yourself…..tell me what you think?

Outdoor exercise has completely taken over our lives and I have not been to the gym on a regular basis in weeks. Here and there is the best I can do since it’s time to start making paddling weekend plans, SUP plans, and I am hiking every chance I get. I am always ok with this since the membership is super cheap and I spend all of winter in the gym. Which means, come summer I have no guilt what so ever about missing gym workouts. Besides the outdoors has so much more to offer.

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I have so many summer time recipes floating around in my head its ridiculous. However, getting them to the dinner table is somewhat of a challenge since I spend most of my days outside with my daycare children and most of my weekends away from home having some fun of my own. Although, once in a while it rains and this gives me time to actually prepare some of these recipes floating up there in my head. Recently, I made an orzo pasta salad with wild picked asparagus(thank you honey), kalamata olives, feta cheese, garlic, and smoked salmon. Then I whipped up a quick lemon-dill vinaigrette to drizzle over this. Oh yum, it was a keeper for sure.

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That should do it for now. Anything you are excited about you wish to share? Leave a comment as I would love to hear it.

 

A Great Ending To Finish Off The Week….Minus One Snake

Strange week for me for sure. All the stars aligned and left me with Friday off….super cool in every way possible. So what did I do, well, I do what I always do, I went and had the best sweat session ever in the wee morning hours at the gym Friday morning. You all know I LOVE to work out in the morning and it leaves me with SO MUCH ENERGY the rest of the day it’s crazy. After this I came home, showered, and surprised my husband by freeing up Friday night by going grocery shopping during the day instead of the evening as we always do. I even made a trip to Aldi’s here in Green Bay. Someplace I really need to visit more often but just never do and it’s a shame. I could save so much money I know, but I dislike their hours and I can’t get everything I need there either.  So to normally shop two grocery stores would be a huge hassle for me.

My knee is back to almost 100% so it was back to full workouts all week. It was a bit of a crazy week with my husbands birthday one day which meant we were gone out one evening.  One day we had gorgeous spring like weather which we spent all day outside enjoying, doing yard work and taking walks. Which then left me completely exhausted come evening time. Just how I love feeling after a great day outdoors.So my workouts were all over the place but I still fit it what I could.

Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical and legs

Monday: home:1 mile walk with my kiddos, 30 minute recumbent bike, total body weights, 3 mile evening walk with my hubby

Tuesday: 2 mile walk and a lot of yard work

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike, arms and shoulder weights, stretching

Friday: gym: 45 minute elliptical, TRX suspension trainer, and stretching

Saturday: gym: 30 minute elliptical and stretching

outdoors: 3.1 mile hike

Ending the week with an nice spring mud hike through an area waterfowl preserve near us. I love this place, they have so many gorgeous hiking trails and its minutes from our home.

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The true sign for me that spring has arrived is these slithery creatures start making a comeback. Going into the hike I figured it was still way to early to see any….apparently I was wrong. We came across this one just off the trail….and he was not moving all that quickly since it was still cold so I actually calmed myself(and used my zoom) to capture my first ever living snake picture.

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Braised Cauliflower

I love my vegetables and could never have imagined preparing cauliflower so easily and then also getting my husband to eat it with me. This in itself is a small miracle which makes this recipe a winner. So I thought I would share it with all of you.

Ingredients Needed

1 head of cauliflower

1 pint of tomatoes….grape, cheery, heirloom, whatever you prefer or is available

1 tsp of salt

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2  large sweet onion, chunked

dash red pepper flakes

1/4 cup water

pint of fresh sliced mushrooms

4 whole, peeled garlic cloves

Directions:

Wash and peel the leaves from the bottom of the cauliflower head leaving the core in tact but trimmed close to the head itself. Set aside.

Chunk up your onion and slice your mushrooms if they are whole.

Peel your garlic cloves.

Wash and slice your tomatoes in half or if they are large chunk them into large pieces.

Heat your dutch oven and pour in the olive oil. Place your cauliflower head into the pot and spread the onions, tomatoes, garlic cloves and mushrooms around the sides. Pour in the water, and add the red pepper flakes and salt.

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Cover and let this cook on low/medium for 15 minutes. Return and give it a quick stir and baste the cauliflower head with some of the juices you will now find in the bottom of the pot.

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Recover and cook for another 15 minutes or until a butter knife can be easily inserted into the middle of the cauliflower head.

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When its tender, use a spoon to break apart the head and serve over rice, pasta, soba noddles or just as a side dish. We had ours over soba noodles topped with a little shredded parmesan cheese and crushed croutons and it was fabulous.

Enjoy!!!!

Ugga Mugga…..Another Long Week On My Own

This week was much like last week in that I was again, on my own all week. Hubby and I said goodbye to each other again Monday afternoon so he could catch his flight and I could face the week ahead on my own. Thankfully this does not happen too often with his job, but when it does it really rocks our world here at home. We rarely do anything apart, he is usually always home at the same time everyday and all my daycare children know when this time is, and honestly, it just makes life a bit crazy trying to work around when we can find the time to chat in between busy schedules. Add in a time difference (if any) depending on where he is compared to me here at home and it can get a little difficult…. I always pray I am the earlier time so I can go to bed at a normal hour.

Anyhow, like last week, I did what I wanted when I wanted to do it. Here is the outcome of my workouts this week:

Sunday: 1.5 mile walk

Monday: 3 mile walk together before dropping him at the airport, 30 minutes elliptical at the gym

Tuesday: gym:30 minutes elliptical and stretching

Wednesday:home: floor weight routine and 30 minute recumbent bike

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Thursday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, upper body weights, and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: rest…but a ton of big household chores…..scrub carpets, do loads and loads of laundry, and just hang out with my hubby who arrived home finally.

Meals were easy peasy since, for the most part, it was just me.  It sure makes grocery shopping much easier when its less mouths to feed. Here’s a peak at the meals from the week.

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Sunday: baked ham, roasted brussel sprouts, scalloped potatoes(family dinner)

Monday: philly cheese steak brat, sauteed perogies with spinach and bacon.

Tuesday: chicken and cheese quesadilla with stuffed poblano peppers(dinner with our son home)

Wednesday: sushi

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Thursday: bruschetta personal pizza

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Friday: out

Saturday: mom’s day off….fend for yourself

The week as a whole….I would say was pretty good. I love being back at the gym. Renovations there are almost complete and I am pretty excited to hear we will be getting kettle bells soon. I love kettle bells and wish I had more at home, so this is something I am really looking forward to having access to at the gym.

Life lately has been many unanswered questions…however, the one thing I am sure of is that winter is getting closer to making an arrival and I am preparing myself the best way I know how….I have a whole tub of hot chocolate, my Christmas list has an electric heated blanket on it, and I have stocked up on lip moisturizer….I literally have tubes of this stuff everywhere! The joys of frigid temperatures makes me want to cringe!!!!!