Recipe: Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread

If you have a bubbly, thriving brown rice sourdough starter, then you are ready to start baking!

I recently took this bread to a church fellowship meal and an out of town guest who has suffered from Celiac Disease for 20 years said that after trying many gluten free bread recipes, her long search was over!  This gluten-free sourdough bread is it!  She wasn’t the only one who thought so because there wasn’t any left!

It is a beautiful, good tasting bread that slices well.  To print, download the recipe PDF: Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread.

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice starter

3 eggs

4 TBS melted butter, not too hot

1-1/4 cups or your choice of milk

2 TBS honey

1 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

3/4 cup tapioca starch

4 tsp. psyllium husks, finely ground–not all brands are the same; I use THIS BRAND  (alternative: 1 TBS xanthum gum)

2 tsp. salt

1/2 TBS  (1- 1/2 tsp. baking soda)

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, melt butter and stir in water.  Add starter, eggs, and honey.
  • In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients (NOT baking soda!! Reserve soda for just before baking.) Use a whisk or beaters to thoroughly blend in the psyllium husks.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients, beating with a mixer until very well combined.
  • Cover with a lid, or plate, or plastic wrap and allow to ferment a minimum of 7 hours (12 hours is ideal).  If you need to bake bread in less time, place in the oven (turned off) and turn on the oven light to warm things up and speed the fermentation process.

{The bread batter before fermenting}

After Fermenting:

  • After fermenting, when ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

{The bread batter “sponge” after fermenting}

  • Place bread pan in oven with oil or butter in it and allow it to melt.  While it is melting, add baking soda to bread batter and mix thoroughly.

IMG_20170803_091315499

{This is how it looks after mixing in the soda.}

  • Remove hot bread pan from oven and distribute oil around the pan, greasing all the sides.
  • Scrape bread batter into bread pan and smooth the top.

sandwich bread in pan

  • Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake bread for 50-55 minutes.
  • After removing bread from the oven, allow to sit a few minutes.  Run a knife around the outside to release from the pan if necessary, and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Allow to cool and then slice.

sandwich bread 2

sandwich bread

Makes 1 loaf.  Enjoy!

This bread was inspired by a sandwich bread at Cultures for Health.  The original recipe uses xanthum gum, contains more starch, and a few other differences.

 

Caring For Your Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

 

 

gluten-free starter care

If you have never baked with sourdough, there are a few good things to know.

What Is Sourdough?

Sourdough is a mixture of flour and water that contains wild yeasts and lactobacilli. These naturally occurring cultures actually “eat” the simple sugars in the grains, beginning the process of breaking it down.  During this process, they produce carbon dioxide, which appears as bubbles, that helps rise your dough.  These cultures also produce lactic acid which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.

Sourdough is an efficient way to bake for your family.  As long as you save some some “starter” each time you use it, and continue to “feed” it, giving it more flour and water, it will continue to multiply and serve you indefinitely. Because using sourdough incorporates the use of these wild yeasts as leavening in your baked products, this means you do not need to buy instant dry yeast from the store… so you may expect to save time and money.

Since the wild yeasts feed on the sugars in the grains, properly prepared sourdough products are lower on the glycemic index than non-sourdough goods.   Now, let me be clear here… I said it is low-er on the glycemic index… I didn’t say it’s safe to pig out  😉 Grains are still starches that provide quick energy to the body.  Moderation, as always, please.

Also, because the sourdough yeasts begin the process of breaking down the flours you bake with, the finished product is easier on the digestive system.  The wild yeasts and bacteria neutralize anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors that are naturally occurring in grains, and actually produce some vitamins themselves, which means more nutrition is readily available.

Other Advantages

Gluten free grains are often more dry and gritty than their glutenous counterparts, and recipes can require more starch.  As the yeasts begin to break down the grains, they are softened, giving baked goods a more pleasant texture, and our family thinks they have a richer flavor.

How to Care for Your Starter

  • Wild yeasts do not like metal.  Whether you are cultivating sourdough, kefir or kombucha, please do not store your cultures in metal–it will kill them.  You can use metal fork/spoon for mixing your baked goods; just don’t store it in metal. Keep your sourdough starter, and unbaked products, in glass.  Except for dipping, as shown in the featured photo, avoid storing in plastics as you do not want your culture to leach chemicals for your family to later consume.
  • If you are perpetuating more than one type of culture in your kitchen: ie, kombucha…  it is a good idea to keep a few feet between them.
  • Cover, but do not seal air tight.  Fruit flies and other insects just love fermented goodness.  If your sourdough is not covered, it will turn into an insect trap.  (yuck!)
  • Sourdough is more active in warmer temperatures, and slows down in colder temps.  If you keep your starter out on the counter in a moderate temps, it will probably need fed every 12 hours.  If you use it daily, then this is perfect.  If, however, you do not want to use it daily, store your freshly fed starter in the refrigerator and it will not have to be fed for at least a week.
  • After sitting, if there is a layer of liquid on top (may be clearish, pinkish or brownish), this is called hooch.  Just pour it off, down the sink, and freshen your starter: assuming your gluten free starter is brown rice, so feed it some brown rice flour and water.  Stir well, cover, and give a few hours for your starter to get all bubbly and active before using in a recipe.  If you are used to glutenous sourdough which can get frothy on top, it’s helpful to know that the rice starter does not get bubbly on top, but you can see the gas pockets all through the “sponge” through the side of your glass storage container.  (In the past, I did maintain a buckwheat starter, which I began following the same directions as the boosted rice starter.  It was easy to maintain.  I eventually threw it out because buckwheat is stronger smelling and the rice worked equally well.)
  • It is important to know guidelines for how much to feed starter.  Do not exceed 4:1. Four parts new flour and water to one part active starter.  You may feed your starter less, but do not feed it more than this at once because you do not want to weaken it. If your starter will be sitting on the counter all day, do not feed it less than a 1:1 ratio; One part starter to one part fresh brown rice flour and water.  So, for example, if I have had 1/2 cup of starter in the fridge all week and I take it out to use it, I am going to feed it 1/2 cup of fresh brown rice flour and stir in enough water to make it the consistency I want it.  If you make it too thin, the extra water will rise to the top.
  • If your starter sits too long and the top gets dry and pinkish, use a spoon to ladle off the top and discard.  Transfer to a clean glass container and then feed.
  • What about discarding down the sink?  The yeast is amazing for your pipes and septic.  A friend of ours is a septic designer and he highly recommends it!  😉
  • Recipes are mixed up ahead of time, and ferment to allow the wild yeasts to do their magic.  They should not ferment for less than 7 hours before baking.  If you are in a time pinch, remember that sourdough is more active in warmer temperatures.  You can place dough next to a slow cooker or place in an oven that is OFF: if you have a gas oven that is kept warm by a pilot light, or if you have an electric oven you can turn the light on to keep warm.  If you feel the oven is too warm, just prop door open a smidge by placing an oven mitt in the way so it doesn’t close completely.  Remove to complete and bake when ready.  If you have a cool kitchen in the winter, then again, you will want to let your goods sour longer, or find a warm spot for them.  If you have a HOT kitchen, your products will be ready to bake sooner rather than later.

If you have questions or need clarification, please ask about it in the comments.  If you are wondering, someone else is bound to question the same thing!

Well, now you are ready to begin baking with your starter, and I am ready to begin sharing recipes!

Care instructions are available as a PDF for download here: How to care for your gluten free starter

 

Making a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

It was 7 years ago that I decided to delve into the world of sourdough!  I was pregnant with Precious #6, and I took a sourdough e-course from GNOWFGLINS Traditional Cooking School.  The class was awesome!  The series began with teaching how to make a starter from scratch and then how to use that starter to make everything from breads to cakes.  The course included a pdf for those who learn best from reading, and it featured videos for visual junkies like me–I learn best from watching and doing.  I was able to cultivate a starter from spelt flour (a glutenous ancient grain), tried the recipes in the e-course, and soon converted my own recipes to this more healthful method of preparing breads.

At the time, we ate a lot of gluten free foods as well.  I had been wheat free for many years, but everything I read about gluten free sourdough, which used a brown rice starter, said it could be difficult to maintain and that it may require re-starting a starter now and then.  I am all for easy, so  No, thank you!  And so I was too intimidated to try.

When I HAD to go gluten free, I missed my sourdough!  Gluten free grains can be more gritty, and I knew my baked goods would not be as nutritious or digestible without the benefits of fermentation.  Eventually I decided to just try it, and I’m so glad I did!  No more guilt for whipping up quick breads, lol!  This gluten free sourdough thing is good, and as it turns out, it’s easy too!  My starter has been going strong for about two years and I have never had an issue.

After sharing a picture of some fresh bread on Facebook, I received a lot of requests for a recipe.  I plan to teach a local class in September, and will give starter to participants, but for anyone who is in a hurry or not local, I decided to share the steps to going gluten free sourdough with you.  The first thing you need is a starter!

19780555_10214000995726940_4343374845749413109_o

You will need:

Filtered water,

Clean glass mason jar  (for starting your starter!),

a paper towel or clean piece of fabric with a rubber band or jar ring to cover the jar,

brown rice flour,

and coconut water kefir.  If you do not have coconut water kefir, you can learn what that is and how to make it HERE.

Since I didn’t invent this Boosted Brown Rice Sourdough Starter, I’m going to send you to the web site that taught me.  You can find instructions over HERE at The Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking.

One thing I will add to her directions is:  Follow her directions exactly on the first day. However,  on the second day–on the second feeding and following when you feed your newly fermenting starter, before you add the 1/3 to 1/2 cup of brown rice and water, first remove and discard 1/3 to 1/2 cup of starter.  If you do not remove starter before feeding, you are going to be swimming in starter, and larger quantities of starter require being fed larger amounts.  So simplify and remove some starter before feeding.  You will know if your starter is healthy if it develops lots of airy bubbles throughout the jar.  You will be able to see these developing as it ages… less after being fed and more before the next feeding.

Here is a look at my thriving starter:

GF sourdough starter 1

And here is a top view.  The top looks a little dry.  It has been sitting, covered on my counter all day.  I’m ready to use some in a recipe for breakfast and then I will feed it.

GF sourdough starter 2

If creating your own gluten free sourdough starter is not something you feel like tackling right now, but you want to get started baking, you can buy a starter from Cultures for Health.  It will come with instructions that are easy to follow.

Starters are fermented, so definitely expect a sour smell.  It is unpleasant to some people, but I promise your finished baked goods will smell heavenly and taste yummy… rarely ever a sour flavor when you actually eat it!

If you have questions, please let me know in the comments below… someone else is bound to be wondering the same thing!

Good luck, have fun, and when you have a thriving starter you can come back here to try out some recipes with me!

 

 

 

How to Make Coconut Water Kefir

In my journey to health I spent a long time eating Body Ecology style, which eliminated some foods, included some lesser known foods, and incorporated proper food combining.   I still apply some of its principles to the meals I prepare for my family.  Body Ecology founder, Donna Gates, highly recommends coconut water kefir.  She sells it on her web site, but being who I am, I opted for affordability and the challenge of making it myself.

Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is found in young green coconuts, before it is replaced with coconut meat.

I was told by a “sample lady” at Costco about one of her customers who had served in the military.  He said that in times of war, when no IV fluid was available, they used straight coconut water in the IV’s of the wounded due its purity and high electrolyte content. Bottled coconut water is not as ideal as fresh, but this is what I have to use.

Kefir 4

Coconut water contains some B vitamins, and is high in potassium and sodium which are good for adrenal health.  It is sweet, as it contains easily digested carbohydrates which is what makes it suitable, temporarily, for kefir grains.

The name Kefir means “feel good” in Turkish.  Kefir contains the essential amino acid tryptophan which helps calm the nervous system and is also used by the body to produce serotonin.  Serotonin affects mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, and memory.

There are two types of kefir grains.  One thrives in milk and the other in sugar water (called water kefir).  I have not made water kefir, though I someday hope to try it.  I already had dairy kefir grains and so I use them to make my coconut water kefir.  If you have an allergy or intolerance to milk, you may want to use water kefir.

A mixture of live yeasts and bacteria, kefir grains digest sugars in the beverage they are added to, fermenting it into a sour but probiotic rich drink.  Combining the coconut water and kefir gains you the benefits of both, but with less natural sugars.  It provides good bacteria to populate your gut where most of your immune system resides and it improves digestion along the way.

Kefir 1

Here you can see my kefir grains have been busy turning this milk into a thick kefir. They tend to float up toward the top.

I use a plastic mesh strainer that came with the Kefir Kit I bought from Cultures From Health to rinse my grains.  Never use metal with your kefir grains.  Use a plastic strainer, but store your grains in glass so that your kefir does not leach chemicals from the plastic.

Kefir 3

When I wash the grains under cool water, I use a wooden spoon or clean hands to rinse the milk off as best as possible.

Because milk kefir grains thrive in milk, it is important not to keep them out for too long. They do not convert the coconut water as quickly as they do milk.  The grains will float up and down in the liquid.  Milk kefir is ready to consume 12-24 hours after adding grains, depending on how thick and how sour you want it.  I leave my kefir grains in coconut water between 2-3 full days.  I often do 2 batches in a row so my fridge is stocked and then I promptly put the grains back into milk for one or two cycles to make sure they are fed well and strong before placing them back into the refrigerator to store.  If they spend too much time in the refrigerator they will lose their ability to ferment.  As long as I give mine a couple of days in milk on the counter every two or three weeks they are fine.

Kefir 6

Once your coconut water kefir is done fermenting, strain the grains out and add to a clean glass container to either make more coconut water kefir or refresh with milk. Store your finished products in the refrigerator.

Drink 1/4 cup in your Plexus Slim for a lemonaidy taste or with meals for better digestion.  My little ones beg to drink it anytime as they are accustomed to sour flavors and enjoy them.  I love this since I know I am giving them something that will protect their immune system and benefit them in many ways.

Are you ready to add this to your wellness routine?

If you do not already have kefir grains, or don’t know anyone who can share (they multiply over time) you can order a starter from Cultures For Health.  The grains come dehydrated with detailed directions on rehydrating and using.  The website also has many video tutorials and recipes for using their cultured products.

If you would like to read about more of the health protecting benefits of kefir, Dr. Axe has a good article.

If you plan to make a boosted rice sourdough starter, this coconut water kefir is what I used to create the starter.  Look for instructions in a future post!

Can you use milk kefir grains to make kefir from coconut milk?  Umm, yes.  I did it once with canned coconut milk.  It worked.  It was also one of the few things that ever made me gag!  😉  So, you can try it if you want to.  Maybe you will like it better than I!!

My Journey to Health & Weight Loss, Part 2

 

Journey to health part 2

To Read Part 1, visit HERE.

I think it was some time during month 2 of dietary changes that I decided to add back in the meat and proteins that I had removed to follow the detox diet.  I used a salad plate for meals instead of a dinner plate, and continued to eat gluten free and sugar free.  There were no frills to my food, you know?  Just the basics: meats, grains, fruits and vegetables,  and with the Slim I wasn’t really hungry a lot of the time.  I continued to steadily lose weight, but more slowly than the first month.  I was able to dig out tubs of clothes that had been packed away for years, and it was like Christmas finding pretty an things that fit.  I felt less sloppy when I looked in the mirror.  I was standing up straighter, sleeping better at night, the natural practitioner I checked in with said my blood sugar levels were amazing, and my brain fog was lifting.  I didn’t remember ever having so much energy.

{11 weeks of gluten free, 10 weeks of Plexus Slim}

Years earlier, when I was pregnant with our first baby, I had researched an education in natural health, but it had not been feasible at that time, and over the years and our growing family I had forgotten that dream.  Now that passion began to rekindle, and my husband and I started discussing the possibility of me taking some classes in order to help our family instead of paying someone else.

I decided to get my feet wet.  One class, I decided, to see if I could really do this school thing, and find out if I liked it as much as I thought I would.  It was a block class that was held for long hours, several days in a row, and I had to travel away from my family to do it (which if you know us–it is a huge thing).  The class was on Enzymes and the part they play in our bodies, and I loved it.  I had learned just enough over the years, because of my own research and experimentation, to understand what the instructor was explaining and it made sense… a LOT of sense.  I was never going to look at nutrition the same way, ever!

I came home from that class armed with knowledge and a whole lot of enzymes!  I started giving them to our family with every meal, and tackled the job of changing our children’s diets.  I switched them to a primarily gluten free diet.  I worked the refined sugar out of their diets, too.  Within 6 months I noticed many of the health quirks each child had suffered were resolving… gone was bloat, dark circles under eyes, immune function improved and they stopped catching EVERY bug that went around, my husband’s heart burn went away and he was able to stop using kombucha after every meal, and the list is LONG.

Even with the Plexus Slim and dietary changes, I had continued to have soreness in my knees which had persisted since 6 weeks following that fateful tick bite and rash.  Applying the knowledge I had gained about enzymes, this pain now went away.

My husband and I began planning for my continuing education.  I felt like God was propelling me forward, and my confirmation was my husband’s persistence in sending me despite the fact he hardly sleeps when I am gone, so this was a huge deviation from the norm.  People started sharing with me on a regular basis about their struggles with Lyme Disease, even people I didn’t know—it appeared epidemic and I felt a burden to help others.  By the end of that first year, I completed certification as a “Natural Health Professional”.

I had been sharing Plexus Products with other people.  I genuinely wanted to see others attain better health, and I felt that sharing Plexus products could be part of that journey for others while helping me pay for my own products.  However, people are creatures of habit and we tend to take the easiest path.  So many wanted a product to do it all for them, wanted immediate results, and weren’t willing to make long term lifestyle changes to see that come about… in addition, because Plexus is structured as a multi-level marketing company I was concerned that people I might really be able to help as a practitioner may avoid visiting me for fear I would just try to sign them up in my downline.  I stopped sharing about Plexus.  I pulled back.  I experimented with what I had learned~ one can gain a lot of practical experience working with a large family.  😉

6 months into my own Plexus experience I discovered I was pregnant and stopped taking Slim with the intention of going back to it after the first trimester.  I suffered an early miscarriage.

My husband and I have committed our family planning to the Lord, and I knew another pregnancy was possible. Having lost a total of 50 pounds, I was comfortable with my weight and my body for the first time ever. God had been changing my heart in amazing ways.  He had used the difficulties of this season in my life to teach me to look to Him alone instead of looking to others for answers and approval. My “why” became completely focused on pleasing Him and being available to walk in His will.

I made the decision not to go back on the Slim, but to take time to evaluate where my health was without it.  My goal was not to need it.

Great progress had been made in rebuilding my health, but when I stopped taking Slim my energy plummeted again.  The rule of thumb for any practitioner working with someone who suffers from nutritional deficiencies and needs to rebuild their bodies is that after applying appropriate changes, it will take 3 months PLUS 1 month for every year an individual has lived with the deficiency for their body to regain proper balance.  In addition, the body picks its own order of priority.  The symptom you want to eliminate is often not the first thing to resolve.  The tick bite had been a catalyst to my making appropriate changes, but my health had been a struggle since I was in grade school, and I had been diagnosed with Environmental Illness and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a young adult. 6 months of doing things right had only reached back 3 years in my health history.  I had a LOT further to go.

In my studies, I kept reading about the importance of proper food combining over and over.  Grrr.  This was another change I really didn’t want to make, but after it popping up in my studies so often, I began to feel like God was beating me over the head with it.  So, I obeyed.  Eventually I found the best platform for doing this was by following a Body Ecology Diet.  This diet is also good for controlling candida, which was a plus I needed.

In addition to food combining, my goals were to increase nutrition and decrease empty calories.  I made sprouts and learned how to cook some new foods, including coconut water kefir and kimchi.

I quickly became pregnant again, and this time I miscarried at 12 weeks.  It was a heart break and emotionally draining, and I also bled heavily which caused symptoms of severe anemia.  I continued to eat right, packing in the nutrients, and paid special attention to iron rich foods.  I took Maca Root, an adaptogen that slowly and gently aided my stamina and is good for hormones and reproductive health.  It is nutrient dense and rich in essential fatty acids.  As a result of the healing that continued to take place in my body, over the course of the next 6 months I slowly lost an additional 10 pounds.

Education wise, I really felt that I had barely scratched the surface of what I should learn, and so I continued studying and my family sacrificed to send me to more classes.  I became a Health Kinesiologist, and it changed our lives.  It will take a whole post to share exactly what that is, but I can start by sharing that the allergies that we have suffered with our whole lives are becoming a thing of the past as I take time to do the corrections.  Candida overgrowth is gone.  I have absolutely no residual symptoms of any tick borne illness.  HK is also a wonderful tool to aid emotional healing and the physical symptoms that can be a tied to emotional distress as our body, mind and spiritual health are intertwined.

God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl who is now 17 months old, and she is a lively, mischievous and healthy sweetheart.  God’s grace is abundant.

19875274_10214033868028727_5098794248412999304_n

I am 3.5 years into this health journey: 3 months plus a month for every year takes me back to those grade school years when my original health issues began in earnest.  I am following a ketogenic diet and am aware that a lot of detoxification has been happening… this has been something I have known I needed to do for a long time, and I believe it may be the last major step in healing.  I recently decided to try Plexus Slim again as Plexus has improved the formula and I wanted to rebuild muscle.  It’s still a great product, and yet I am grateful that I have not noticed any marked change in my energy.  I don’t NEED Plexus products to feel good anymore, though I know they are a beneficial product for my health.  The chronic fatigue that I have lived with since childhood is GONE, Praise the Lord!

God answers prayer.  I’m still studying.  Still learning.  I believe I always will.

God is the Master Healer.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Whatever it is you may be struggling with, ask Him what to do and then listen carefully… pursue Him, expect to feel a little nudge, and then buckle up.  His plan is always bigger than anything you and I can imagine.  God NEVER wastes pain.  He will never waste any experience you go through if only your submit your plans to Him.

Even the most difficult experiences we feel that we may barely survive are, as Ann Voskamp calls them, “Hard Grace”, but grace nonetheless.

He takes our impossible and turns it into glory.

glo·ry–

noun: glory
1.  high renown or honor won by notable achievements.

synonyms:renownfameprestigehonordistinctionkudoseminenceacclaim,  praise

2.  magnificence or great beauty.                                                                                                          synonyms: magnificence, splendor, resplendence, grandeur, majesty, greatness, nobility   {a thing that is beautiful or distinctive; a special cause for pride, respect, or delight.}

3.   praise, worship, and thanksgiving offered to a deity.

My Journey to Health and Weight Loss

My Journey to Health and Weight Loss copy

I was at a garage sale recently, pumped to find a cache of 50 cent fancy flip flops that I could pick from for my big girls, when conversation with the home owner turned to just that: all my girls… AND boys!

“You have 8 kids!” she exclaimed, “And you look like THAT?!?”

I have to say, it was a pretty flattering change.  I have found a hobby that I enjoy more than food…finding beautiful, small, and incredibly cheap clothes that fit me nicely by shopping thrift stores and garage sales, because for years my wardrobe size was the only small thing about me.  I was overweight and I didn’t want to invest in clothes that I was sure I would not fit for much longer… I desperately wanted to lose the excess pounds.

I was a size 8-10 when I got married.  I had a slender waist and curvy hips, but even back then I was not comfortable in my own skin.  Some kid in the 6th grade had made a comment about the size of my hips and thighs after PE hour in the school pool, and the blissful age of innocent self-awareness ended, ushering in decades of painful self-consciousness.  I was never happy with my body.  Eventually, during my high school years, I drank a Diet Coke in lieu of lunch and began the horrible practice of purging when I felt guilty for eating anything I worried would negatively impact my weight.  By the grace of God I watched a movie about the Carpenters, and was touched by the story of how Karen Carpenter died young because of the damage her body sustained as a result of her eating disorders.  I was convicted that my body was the holy Temple of God, and that I was harming myself, and by this awareness God rescued me from these damaging habits.  And yet, I still did not like my body.

During my first pregnancy I followed recommended dietary recommendations of that time and gained a whopping 40 pounds.  Precious #1 was a year old when I lost it all plus some, and was almost happy with my body for the first time.  I followed The 7 Day Miracle Detox Diet for a whole year and was smallest I had ever been in my adult life.  Then Precious #2 came along and I gained another 40 pounds, only this time I became pregnant again when she was only 8 months old, and I had not lost all the pregnancy weight.  4 more pregnancies, retaining some weight from each one, found me the mother of 7 and very overweight.

I hated the way I looked.  I hated the way I felt.  And then there was a tiny tick bite that caused a rash, joint pain and began to cause numbness in my feet, throwing my health (which was already challenged) into a tail spin.  When a doctor told me that my precious baby (#7) would inherit the bacteria that was making me sick through my breast milk, I thought I was going to lose it.  I was afraid.  And I was desperate for answers. I prayed without ceasing.

An antibiotic cleared up the numbness that had been coming on in my feet, but it did nothing for the exhaustion and joint pain I struggled with daily.  Instead, the antibiotics instigated new symptoms, like bruising easily, my hands began hurting, and candida soared.  That, coupled with growing brain fog, had me wondering if I should stop home schooling.  To add to depressing, the trip to the doctor who gave me the antibiotic revealed that my home scale (which was 17 years old) was off by 20 pounds which meant I was more overweight than I even knew.

We began to see a natural practitioner who was giving us drops which she said would eventually clear up our symptoms, but a couple of months and too many dollars later, I noticed no improvement.

I knew several people who had been diagnosed with tick borne illnesses, and their doctor had recommended that they cut all sugar and gluten from their diets.  I had spent several years completely revamping our recipes to low sugar and wheat free sourdough (spelt), and in many ways our family ate very healthy—better than others we knew.  I felt so bad, I didn’t think I had the energy to learn a whole new way of cooking, nor did I want to cook one way for me and another way for my family.  I had been doing that for years in order to deal with our various food allergies, and how exhausting!  To be honest, I really rebelled against changing my diet again, but desperation would eventually win out.

About this time our pastor asked our entire congregation to fast for two days and to pray for direction for our young church.  I was not sure I could do it, but the more I considered it, the stronger I felt the Lord was prompting to go ahead.  Baby boy was eating solid food and so I did the fast, and at the same time I made the commitment that when the fast was complete I would go back, for a time, to following The 7 Day Miracle Detox Diet.  It would be challenging, but it would be sugar-free and gluten-free.  After all, my body was God’s temple, and I owed it to Him to give Him my best, right?

During the fast I prayed for our church, but I also prayed for personal direction.  The fear and the panic melted away and I developed a new found strength rooted in faith that no matter how difficult this health challenge, God was going to be faithful to carry me through.  I read a book called The Uncommon Woman by Susie Larson.  In it, she shared how she had been very ill as a result of Lyme Disease and that during a low period God indicated to her that He was going to heal her, and He did. I was just overwhelmed reading that, and the tears came.  I felt the Holy Spirit’s peace, indicating that this was a personal promise, and I held on to it.

During the fast, I was surprised at how much better I felt.  A home-school group mom contacted me on Facebook and began telling me about a product called Plexus Slim which had helped her recover from year’s long symptoms she had suffered from Ehrlichiosis, another tick borne illness.  It had taken several months, but she felt it had been worth it.  The product was expensive, but it came with a 60 day warranty.  I hemmed.  I hawed.  And then finally, after discussing it with my husband, I decided to try it.  I wanted to feel better. The cost of not doing it and remaining ill seemed far more steep than the actual price tag.  One of the other “side effects” of using Plexus Slim was weight loss, and if that happened it would definitely be a welcomed, though I tried not to think about that in the beginning.

 

 

{This is me, the Day I started Taking Plexus Slim, sick and overweight.}

 

I had lost 4 pounds during the fast and the 2 days following, but I was suffering from headaches and body aches from the detox that was occurring.  I have known for years that I have a liver detox pathway that doesn’t work efficiently, so detoxification is hard for me.  My body tends to take the easy path which is to hold on to toxins, and so detoxification has to be deliberate and it often makes me sick.   When I started using the Plexus Slim the normal ill feelings I experienced with detox went away, my back pain faded, and even some of the little issues I had lived with since childhood (and assumed I always would) went away.  The Slim tasted good.  It is a powdered drink sweetened with stevia and Lo Han extract (Keto friendly) that you mix in water and drink, not as a meal replacement, but 30 minutes before breakfast.  I looked forward to the sweet drink every day, but more than that I looked forward to the extra energy I began to experience.  And to top it all off, I lost 15 pounds that first month.

 

You can find the rest of my story in Part 2!

Know Your “Why”, Committing Your Plans to the Lord

Yesterday was my Sabbath and, consequently, the day I choose not to exercise.

There’s a reason I committed to exercising 6 days a week, and it wasn’t because I thought my end goals would be unrealistic if I kept my fitness program to 5 days.  The truth is, when I have a day off I’m not eager to begin again.  I feel good after a work-out and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t enjoy getting started.

So, when my alarm went off at 6:15, I didn’t want to get up.  Night summer rains had left gloomy clouds overhead and, between the dark and the barometric changes, I felt sooooo tired.  Still, I got dressed, downed my Plexus Slim, and tied my running shoes.

running shoes

Good morning to you too.

I was moving slow, my body felt heavy, and Theresa Tapp was just a little too perky.  My form did not feel strong.  I was just sure I couldn’t be getting much out of it… but I was more sure that if I sat down like I wanted I might not get up and move tomorrow either.  And so I had to keep reminding myself of my “Why”.

Why am I doing this?

Goals are good.  Having a standard to measure success is normally a good motivator, except building muscle tone and getting into my wedding dress are not truly my “Why”.

I have all kinds of good reasons to take care of myself, and goals that I can set:

To feel well.

To set an example for my children.

To be strong so I can stay active and be a good mom to my little people.

Someday I want to be the fun Grandma, not the weak and fragile one.

I like my small clothes.  😉

To please my husband.

I made a commitment to myself.

I told those people on Facebook I was going to do this… huhmmmm.

My “Why” is that for some reason God really chose this, stewardship of my body–His Temple, as a major bone to pick with me.  I think He began when a conversation with a friend led me to ask Him to teach me what trusting Him with my health would look like. He started as this still, small voice, but really had to crank up the volume to get me to focus on His message instead of making those excuses, “I should, could, didn’t…I don’t want to,”  and so THIS: obedience, is my “Why”.  Honoring God with this body He gave me (the only one I get) by doing my part to keep it healthy and strong so I can stand at the ready to go forth and do whatever He calls me to do without any physical excuses to hold me back.  He wants me to be faithful to do my part and He is always faithful to do HIS.

I was reading in Acts 20, Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Elders as he prepared to go to Jerusalem and the end.  ESV

(22)And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, (23)Except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.  (24)But I do not account my life of any value not as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” verses 22-24

Paul’s life as a an apostle had not been easy.  He had traveled from place to place, working when necessary, building relationships, teaching, preaching, discipling (and disciplining). He was slandered, stoned, and ship wrecked, and still he faithfully ministered the gospel wherever the Lord lead.  But now he says the Holy Spirit is preparing him that imprisonment and afflictions await.

That’s just what you want to hear when  you’re packing for a trip, isn’t it?

Verse 24 in the Amplified Version say this: “But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself…

When storms come, your form is bad, and discouragement looms, what will guarantee that you stay the course?

Goals change.  When you meet your goal, then what?  Too often we slide back into bad habits.  Good reasons can be subject to whims… “I don’t feel like it today”, “How did that chocolate make its way into my fridge door?”  “I can’t.”

There are days that there are no reasons good enough to keep us putting one foot in front of another, but there is a way.  God tells us that,

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

Have you committed your plans to the Lord?  He will let you know if your plans are from Him and worth pursuing or if maybe you’re losing steam because you went out on a limb by yourself.

In Acts 20, Paul’s was on the Lord’s errand, not His own.  His “Why” didn’t change. Regardless of his circumstances, he would not be moved off course.  He was driven to complete the responsibility given to Him by God.  To finish his “race” well.  To disseminate the message of God’s grace and salvation for mankind until God said his turn was finished.  He trusted God’s way.  That was his “Why”.

What are the things in your life that are worth doing right?  What have you dedicated yourself to?  Are you committed to the Lord?  A marriage?  A ministry? Home-schooling? A healthy lifestyle?  A budget?  Finishing school?  Writing a book?

God promises that when we commit our plans to Him, He will establish our steps.  He supplies the resolve, the strength, the partners, the tools… He gives supernatural gifts, abilities, and brings about fruit of self-control when we lean in close to Him.

If He authors the purpose, He supplies the way to succeed, but He requires our cooperation.

Our “Why” needs to be greater than mere “good reasons”.  It takes the whole, big picture into account.  It is a commitment to something, or Someone, greater. Unchanging. Captivating.  Worthy.  It is greater than our goals.  It generates our goals.

Commit your plans to the Lord, and then “none of these will move you.”  Resolve.  Know your “why”.

 

 

The Results of June’s 30 Day Fitness Challenge

Someone mentioned renewing our vows.  I don’t remember who.  And then my husband surprised me by acting interested in the idea.

“Does your wedding dress fit you?” he asked me.

“I imagine it does,” I told him, “after all, I weigh less now than I did when we got married.  He made a comment about it being flattering to him that 20 years and 8 children later, his wife still fit in her wedding dress.

But then I tried it on… and despite my lower body being smaller than ever, the upper half was not proportioned the same, and I could not zip it.  Add additional insult to my pride, hubby had been pointing out to me that even though I was thin, he couldn’t feel muscle tone, especially in the lower half.  He was suggesting, more and more often, that I start exercising.

His persistent suggestion was made out of loving concern.  Several years ago he was concerned about how my weight could lead to health problems.  He was right then of course, and he was right this time too, but I was busy and didn’t feel like figuring out how to fit exercise into my schedule.  I was becoming increasingly annoyed by his suggestion.

And then, when teaching on the Fruit of Self Control, I asked the women how they were exercising self control in the area of diet and exercise, and conviction began to seep into my heart.  Sure, my diet was impeccable.  But the exercise… Every time I became annoyed with my husband’s loving suggestion, I knew I had a heart issue.  And so I decided to kill two birds with one stone.  I would exercise, and get back into that wedding dress!!

My goal: To tone up and rebuild muscle, to target belly fat, and get back into my wedding dress by our anniversary at the end of the summer.  This gave me 3 months to reach my goal, and I would do it one 30 Day Fitness Challenge at a time!

What I did:
* 30 DAYS OF EATING LOW CARB. I have been doing this since February, but I really reigned it in and recorded what I was eating so I kept my macros where they belonged. On week three I did a 5 day egg fast to give my liver a break and turn up the burn.
Week 4 I remembered how great green tea is for flushing toxins and cellulite, so I drank a ton since I love tea anyway!

* EXERCISED 6 DAYS A WEEK (when I was not previously exercising at all). I was faithful in this!
Week One: 2 miles with Leslie Sansone, different miles to target different areas each day, but pretty consistently doing the mile for belly.
Week 2: Walked 3 miles a day with Leslie, targeting different areas each day,
Week 3: Saved Leslie for days I couldn’t get out and began walking 3 miles (4 days a week) outdoors, up and down hills.  and began doing 2 days of T-Tap, which is a 55 min. work out.
Week 4: Same as Week 3

* I drank the new Plexus Slim every morning upon waking, mixed with coconut water kefir… because:
* I’ve noticed that when I use Slim I target more fat and preserve more muscle, and muscle is what this was all about.
* It contains nutrients that aid in detox, and boy was I flushing toxins (yay!!)
* It contains yummy pre-biotics which nourish friendly gut bacteria which are foundational to immune support, mood, the manufacture of many vitamins in the gut, digestion, pH, keeping harmful bacteria and parasites under control, staying thin, and more…
* It supports my adrenals, and I’m working hard!
Oh, and I’m also taking Plexus Probio5 at night, a probiotic that also targets and cleans up the “bad” bacteria.

The result:
**My fasting blood sugar level this week was 78! Fantastic!!!**

I lost:
1/2 inch above each knee
1 inch on each thigh
1 inch in my hips
1/2 inch in the belly
1 inch in my waist

I lost 6 pounds! I totally did not expect that as I was aiming to build muscle, and it weighs more than fat!

I dropped a pant size, which I didn’t think was possible. My lower half has never been so small. Wish I could say the same about the abdomen!
Hubby can feel muscle, yay! And I can SEE muscle

 

And as you can see from pictures, I can zip and button my wedding dress! But as you can also see, it’s a little tight, as evidenced by the creases in the waist.

So what’s next? Another 30 days. Same diet, same Plexus products, and same basic exercise routine. I’m adding in some weights, Theresa Tapp’s flat belly exercise every morning, and some exercises to strengthen the diastasis recti.

My goals?
* To loosen that waist on the wedding dress so that it fits just right. Our kids are already planning our vow renewal.
* To continue to build and shape muscle, particularly in the arms this month. Hubby is officiating a wedding mid July. I have a sleeveless dress and want to knock his socks off!
* Continue to target that stubborn upper belly fat. That stuff is bad news. I gained with during my pregnancy with Precious #4 when I started drinking soy milk!! And by the time I realized the soy wagon wasn’t a good thing to join, it was too late for my belly. This fat contributes to the inflammatory “dis-eases”, and produces hormones I don’t want going on! So, banish the belly fat!                                                                                                       *  Increase my bone density
* Enjoy doing some thrift shopping and garage sale-ing to find some fancy pants that fit.

Taking care of my body is not only a privilege, but also my responsibility.  God gave me one body with which to serve Him.  I never want to miss out on walking into good works He has prepared in advance for me to do because I didn’t take stewardship of my health seriously.

30 more days…Who wants to join me? As Theresa Tapp likes to say, “YES, you CAN!!!”

If you would like to learn more about Plexus products and how they can help you on your wellness and fitness journey, please let me know.  I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

Pantry Tips for Starting Your Low Carb Journey

***Though there are many links in this post, there are no affiliate links… (I will not get paid if you buy something. 😉  )

 

So you are thinking about trying a Low Carb or Ketogenic diet platform to improve your health?  Good for you!  If you stick with it, you won’t be sorry, but to be successful it’s helpful to have a pantry stocked with the right ingredients, and know what to do with them.

A Ketogenic or Low Carb Diet is a low, low carb, moderate protein, and high in healthy fats nutrition plan.  The goal is to guide your body into burning fat for fuel instead of being a sugar burner.  Fat is a cleaner burning fuel, causing less oxidation, and is therefore healthier for your body.  Fat is the ingredient most needed and loved by your brain, nerves, and the membrane wall of every single cell in your body… the many trillions of them!  And, fats are satiating, which means they will keep you feeling full long after a meal of traditional carbs would have left you feeling hungry and moody.

To truly do this right, you need to use healthy fats:

Coconut Oil~ Coconut oil is full of medium chain fatty acids, the same as God put in human breast milk.  If it’s good for our babies, it has to be good for us!!  Unrefined coconut oil is the best thing to buy, but according to Bruce Fife, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle, even refined coconut oil is better than using most of the other oils on grocer shelves.  Refining the oil removes the “coconut-ty” smell and flavor, and can leave some chemical residue behind.  If you are near a Costco, they sell both types of coconut oil at a competitive price.  If you have an allergy or intolerance to coconuts, I recommend you look into the benefits of cooking with Palm Oil.

Olive Oil~  Once touted as the oil for everything, reserve olive oil for cold application.  This oil is vulnerable to hot temperatures and will go rancid when cooked, making it not so healthy for you.  Instead, use it for salad dressings.

Avocado Oil~ Avocado oil is great in cold recipes, but unlike most other oils has a much higher smoke point and will stay stable at higher temperatures. One study showed that the lipids (fats) extracted from avocados might prove photo-protective against harmful effects of radiation, such as sun damage, inflammation, and even skin cancer, if ingested before exposure.  I buy my avocado oil at Costco.

Coconut Milk~ The canned, full of fat kind, and also the unsweetened carton in the dairy department are both items I use.

Dairy~ You will find a LOT of low carb and ketogenic recipes from food bloggers all over that use dairy.  Cheese, whipping cream, more cheese… so if you don’t have any digestive issues or intolerance, get ready for some dairy.  Grass fed and organic is best as this is the only kind that will be guaranteed free of damaging hormones and heavy omega 6’s that can be present in “normal” dairy from livestock that is fed a heavy soy and grain diet that has probably been heavily sprayed with glyphosates.  I only use dairy sparingly.  I can eat it, no problem, but if I’m aiming to lose weight… well, I lose the dairy.  And if I want optimal liver function, I lose the dairy.  We’re all different, and if you are hoping to lose weight and aren’t seeing results, this is a good thing to cut out and see.

And what about Fiber?  A challenge that many people face when they go low carb is constipation.  Not good!  And not necessary.  So make sure to stock the following…

Nuts~  They are full of healthy fats, and fiber too.  The trick is to not eat too many.  Even though we want to eat more fat, it is easy to go over our fat allowance with nuts, and too much of anything is a bad thing.   Stock your pantry with walnuts and almonds and maybe pistachios, but plan, and measure.   Want a different kind of nut?  Look up the carbs, fat and fiber.  You want to count net carbs.  This means look at the total carbs and deduct the total fiber to get your net carb count per serving.  And then do the math.  Will this nut fit well into your target carb and fat count?

Nuts are much healthier if they are soaked and then dehydrated.  They also taste better, in my opinion, and are easier on the digestion.  To learn how, you can read this excellent article over at Gnowgflins.

Almond Flour~ This is used a lot in low carb receipes.  I get mine at Costco.  It is also available at Sams Club, on Amazon, and many other places.

Ground Psyllium Husks~ This can be used in bready recipes that are filling, provide fiber, and satisfying those cravings that are inevitable when you first pull grains and sugars from your diet.  In addition, if you find yourself experiencing some constipation, you can mix a tsp. or two with water and drink it to help bulk up your stools.  I buy this psyllium from Viva Naturals on Amazon and will be making recipe recommendations off of my experience with it.

Chia seeds~  You may like them, and if you’re a woman, soak them, use them for fiber, for a binder, etc… not recommended for men’s prostrate health.  😦

Coconut flour~ Yep, coconut is still good for you, and the flour is a good source of fiber as well as great for bready recipes.  The best value I have found for our neck of the woods is also on Amazon, from Anthony’s.  Check out the jokes on the bag… 🙂

Unsweetened, shredded coconut~ You may like this in a breakfast porridge, or many people just spoon some into a bowl with some coconut oil, stevia drops, and cocoa for a sweet fix.

Fruits and Vegetables~  Well, vegetables anyway.  This is where you will get most of your carbohydrates.  Avocados and tomatoes are actually fruits, and I use them, but they won’t satisfy your sweet tooth.  Carrots are starchy, so use them sparingly if at all, and potatoes are out–too many starchy carbs.  Go for asparagus, spinach and kale (unless you have a history or kidney stones), zucchinis, lettuce (not ice berg), peppers, other cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts.  You may find some veggies I’m not used to using.  I love onions, but they are a little high on the carb count so I use them sparingly.  You may occasionally splurge on a few pieces of Granny Smith apple, a strawberry, or blueberries… that is up to you.  You can use the cronometer.com calculator to help you decide.

Protein~  Yes, you need moderate protein, so besides the nuts you want to have eggs and meats on hand.  Just keep in mind, “moderate” may be less than you think…

Eggwhite Protein Powder~ I like to make Maria Emmerich’s Keto bread, and you will need this Eggwhite Protein Powder to make it.

Sweeteners

Yes!  I did say sweet.  Lots of the sweet ketogenic recipes you find use the “tols”, sugar alcohols, like erythritol or xylitol.  They are not sugar or alcohol, don’t affect blood sugar, don’t cause cavities, etc… and if you can use them, great, but I can’t.  They are not completely absorbed by your body and like a lot of other people, they cause me to have intense bloating and stomach cramps when I eat them and since they aren’t good for me I notice that I don’t lose weight as fast if I use them.  Not worth it.  So I use other alternatives.  If you try them, make sure they are not combined with other low-calorie or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, neotame, saccharin, or crystalline fructose.  Swerve is a well known brand that combines erythritol and stevia, and is recommended by many food bloggers.

Stevia~  I use stevia in many forms.  It is a natural food derivative, many times sweeter than sugar, and a little goes a long way.  I can be combined with other sweeteners.  And it does the body good, the whole leaf stevia being found to lower blood sugar levels and kill bacteria (even the lyme disease bacteria, better than antibiotics).

What kind of stevia?

I use the Sweet Leaf Stevia drops with vanilla a lot in my tea or other quick treats.  It comes in plain and other flavors, but I like vanilla and it is a cheap add on from Amazon Prime.  You can also get it from Swansonvitamins.com, Azurestandard, and your local health food store, among many retailers!

I also use the Sweet Leaf powdered stevia, and you only need a pinch for most recipes, so it lasts a loooong time.  I buy mine through AzureStandard.com.

A lot of foodies use Stevia Glycerite in their recipes.

The other good sweetener recommended for the Ketogenic diet is Lo Han Fruit (also called monk fruit) extract.  Recently featured on draxe.com for being a recommended ketogenic sweetener, along with stevia, it is many times sweeter than sugar and has many health benefits.  Watch out when you buy, as it is often combined with other unhealthy artificial sweeteners, so read labels.  I buy mine from Swansonvitamins.com, combined with inulin (a sweet fiber and prebiotic that feeds good bacteria that nourish the gut).  I use this in recipes I will share.

Real Salt~  Not table salt.  Use RealSalt brand, unbleached sea salt, or himalayan salt that is whole and rich in minerals.

Supplement Smart.  Take a good multi-vitamin.  If you aren’t getting enough iron or amino acids, look into taking dessicated beef liver.  Need more C?  Take rose hips.  Have magnesium on hand.  I recommend Plexus Biocleanse.  Just want to clean out your bowels and relax?  Magnesium Calm will do the trick.  Do probiotics.  Swansonvitamins does regular sales.  If you sign up for emails they will send you coupons that will make it worth your while.

There are a few other foods and supplements I will be sharing with you in future posts, but these are the main ones you can do without having to learn “how to”.  I hope this is helpful.  God bless.