What Happens When Women Pray

What happens when women pray photo

Every year or so, there is a theme that God chooses to teach me.  One year it was Biblical Womanhood, another it was Gratitude, yet another was Being Established.  The past 2 years have been on the topic of Prayer.

Have you ever shopped for books written about prayer??  Oh, my goodness, there are SO MANY!!  I have not actually gone looking, but when God picks a topic, it pops up everywhere.  Before I know it, I’ve accumulated a shelf full of resources without even trying.  I’ve read a little in this one and a little in that, however, my all time favorites are

1) simply reading what God says about prayer and the examples we’re given in God’s Word, and

2) Evelyn Christenson’s book, “What Happens When Women Pray”.  I found this little book at a garage sale, full of notes (so it must be good, right?).  I’ve read it 4 times, and I learn something new every time.

The Christian Missionary Alliance Church also chooses a theme every year, and their women’s ministry piggybacks on that.  This year the Alliance Women’s theme is “MORE”.

In my home church, our own Alliance Women are specifically studying how we can experience “MORE” power in prayer.  I’m so blessed to be able to do this study with my own church family, and I am over the moon to see how God is going to use these women and their prayers in the life of our church.

Prayer Is:

*A privilege*  ~My husband’s grandpa taught me that.  He called me monthly, until the day he died, to catch up and find out how he could be praying for us.  I was so blessed by this man who was not a blood relative, but who loved me so strongly in word and in deed.

*A responsibility*  ~Did you know that it is designed by God as part of our relationship with Him, and the health of our prayer life is an indication of the health of our Spiritual lives?

*A gift*  ~Imagine if we could not go to God.  Or imagine if we still, like the Israelites of old, had to go through a priest as a mediator, offering sacrifices, in order to maintain our relationship with God?  When Jesus died for us, and conquered sin and death by rising again, HE became our mediator and now we can go directly to God in Jesus’ name.

What a precious gift, and yet, it is one of the most neglected privileges and responsibilities within the Church Body today.  The truth is that too often we do not give enough thought to how and when we talk to God.  What’s more, many of us are not aware of the stumbling blocks that prevent God from inclining His ear to answer.

As my Jesus Sisters and I go through this study together, I’ll be sharing what God is teaching me in a series of posts entitled, “More Power in Prayer.”

I hope you’ll join me!

How My Family Got RID of Allergies, and You Can Too

I know what you’re thinking… I mean, conventional wisdom says that to heal an allergy one must avoid the allergen for years, radically change one’s diet, heal the gut, take buku probiotics. . . Right?  All those things are good, but no, that’s not how our story goes.

Hoe My Family Got Rid of Allergies

Our family has battled chronic allergies forever.  I have nursed my babies a looong time because studies showed it reduces the development of allergies, but my babies reacted to my milk.  They have experienced the WORST colic, and horrible, weeping eczema.  I had to figure out what I was eating that bothered them and then eliminate it from MY diet so that my milk would not be poisoning my babies!

For awhile, we had a chiropractor who did Muscle Response Testing (MRT, AKA: Kinesiology).  With my lists of “Foods We Eat,” he would pin-point which foods were the culprit.

MRT employs resistance on a muscle while exposing an individual to a test item. If the muscle stays strong, it is assumed that the test item is not a problem.  If the muscle gives under pressure, then it’s assumed that the test item IS a problem.  It sounds easy, but it is a little more complicated than just applying pressure to muscles.  If an individual is “out of balance,” as is not uncommon if your health is under assault, testing can be compromised, and it requires a trained practitioner to correct balance to garner reliable results.

MRT worked for us, but we eventually moved away from our chiropractor.  This led to challenging years of eliminating  foods, and then adding them back, in an effort to identify the problems!  😦

There were years that I had to make a meal three different ways just so everyone could safely eat. 

It.Was.Exhausting.

After so many foods had to be eliminated from our table, I prayed for healing.

BEGGED for healing.

It was the onset of a tick born illness that just put me over the top.  As I shared in my posts about my Journey to Health and Weight Loss, Part 1 and Part 2, this led my taking classes in natural health.

Along the way, God steered me to study a Natural Health modality called Health Kinesiology (HK), which uses MRT.  I thought I was learning how to test in order to figure out what we shouldn’t eat, but instead, God did something astounding.

Through Health Kinesiology, God provided a system that  not only allows me to identify allergens, but to correct the allergy.

Immeasurably more than all I had asked or imagined.  Not only can I help our family, but I can also help others.  Thank-you, Lord!!

How does it work?

  1. A trained HK practitioner uses MRT to identify allergens.  A sample of the items being tested must be physically present, however they can be sealed in a plastic bag or more ideally, a glass dish with lid.  In this way, individuals with severe allergies, like peanuts that can be air born, can still go through testing and corrections.
  2. Practitioners help the body make corrections using Accupressure~placing their finger tips on the client’s traditional Accupuncture points; instead of needles, they use only light pressure.
  3. When the correction is completed, the practitioner will retest for allergy, and it should be clear.
  4. Now comes the detox.  Lets make an analogy: Imagine your immune system like a computer that undergoes updates and has to reboot.  We may tell your body that the allergen is a harmless substance, but soldiers already have marching orders to “attack” what was previously identified as an enemy.  Detox can be viewed as time for the body to get rid of everything relating to the prior allergen, allowing all the “soldiers” to go home and get new orders.
  5. After detox has been completed, it is recommended that clients return to their practitioner to be re-tested to find whether a tolerance correction should be made before exposing themselves to the previous allergen.  Low tolerance does not engage the immune system, but can cause similar symptoms as an allergy.

Some allergens require a long correction (called a SET), which requires a trained practitioner, but some only require what is called an “Allergy Tap,” which takes just minutes, and is available for you to learn how to do at home by requesting a copy of the PDF entitled, “Cure Your Own Allergies in Minutes.”  Request the manual at THIS ADDRESS.

I have used the allergy tap in emergency situations to reverse hives and stop allergy induced nausea within minutes.  It depends upon the individual and each allergen; some require the longer correction, and some are good with the Tap.  If you have an allergy that requires the SET, you can locate a practitioner near you by contacting the International Headquarters of Health Kinesiology.

If you have an allergy that causes a life threatening response, it is not recommended that you try this correction at home.  See a practitioner who has a lot of experience.

I am so grateful for this tool which has been an answer to many desperate prayers!  It is amazing to eat without fear and be able to hold a cat without trouble breathing! We’ve cleared dozens of allergies.  

If you live with chronic or life threatening allergies, doing this is so worth it Life changingin a good way!

Blessings! ~Linda

 

 

 

How Putting Up the Christmas Tree Turned into a Teachable Moment

I don’t know if it was the colder temperatures and the snow that we had in early October, or something else, but my kids have been waiting impatient to get past fall and on to Christmas.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my in-laws, enjoyed every moment, and got home late. I took Precious #4 into town with me to pick up a co-op order, and we hit a few of the Black Friday Sales.  I survived.  I hate the crowds, the lines, and the hype.  I may win the award for the shopper who spent the least $. Maybe.

When I got home, I found the other “kids” had been deep cleaning, and organizing the living room, WITHOUT BEING ASKED!!!  Wow.  They know me too well.  They knew that if they asked to put up Christmas decor, I would tell them we have to clean first.  🙂

So we have a head start, and my hubby was so surprised when he came home and realized he didn’t have to haul all those boxes up the stairs or assemble the tree.  It’s all done.  He could enjoy helping with the ornaments, read us the story of Christ’s birth, and relax!

The little one was so cute.  She’d pick up an ornament, take a sibling by the hand, and then point out the branch she wanted to place it upon.  She was having so much fun!

Decorating the tree

I had just listened to an interview on the Christian radio, where Phil Vischer explained how our Christmas tree was originally a tradition that was adopted by the Germans in the 16th century when they abandoned their pagan beliefs and came to Christ.  The tree symbolized eternal life because evergreen needles stay, and don’t die.  The branches of the tree point heavenward, and a monk later taught them about the Trinity using the three corners of the tree.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to share all this with my kids!

On to decorating…I put the star on the tree, and my oldest daughter and I were stringing lights.  We used an old string of lights and a new one, and while we were working, the old set had half the lights dimming and another problem had half the lights turning off completely!  I had to figure out how to fix the settings and get all those lights working together.  The littles were watching, and asking me, “What’s wrong with this picture?” And the thought came to me…

What if we thought of this tree as the Body of Christ, while it’s sitting in our dark living-room which represents the world?

And what if we see all these bulbs as the individuals who make up the Body?  They are shining, as Paul commanded in Philippians, illuminating the dark with the light of Christ.  They bring light to the whole room.  These small lights are pointing to the Head of our Body, who is Christ, and is represented by the star which shines brighter than all.  And isn’t that perfect since Christ is called the Bright and Morning Star?

Our Christmas star is plugged into the Power source (the outlet), just as Christ is one with His Father.  The lights strands are plugged into the star so that electricity flows to the light bulbs and powers their light, just as Christ said for us to abide in Him, so that the Holy Spirit can make our lives fruitful.

What happens when one of the light bulbs is disconnected from the strand?  The light given off by the tree is diminished considerably since other lights are hand-capped by that absence.  This is such a perfect way to illustrate 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul introduces Spiritual Gifts and explains how the whole Body suffers when one member suffers…  If we are not cooperating with God’s plan by choosing to exercise our Spiritual Gifts, we do cripple the functioning of this Church Body.  It can’t work at full capacity without our participation, which can also illustrate what happens when Believers stop meeting together as talked about in Hebrews 10, and do not join in worship and service with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And if we are not getting along with one another?

Or we make choices that grieve the Holy Spirit, our “electricity”, who supernaturally powers us to shine?

Or if we make choices that result in ill health, whether emotional OR physical, which cause an inability to serve?

~Then we also cripple the effectiveness of the Church, since God designed us to work together in unity.  Without us, the Church cannot shine as brightly.~

Brothers and sisters, we need God, and we are also designed to need one another.

How putting up the Christmas tree turned into a teachable moment

While unplugging and re-plugging light strands, removing and replacing bulbs, and playing with the dimmer switch on these newfangled lights… my kids grasped, for a few moments, how important they are to the Church Body, and to bringing Jesus’ light to the world…. and this teachable moment is one we can refer back to throughout the year, and relive again next Christmas.

I think we have a new tree-trimming tradition. 😉

 

Let Them Imitate You

I was standing at the sink, scrubbing the residue of Keto-Angel Food Cake from the bundt pan, when I faintly heard the sound of someone miffed across the room.  It wasn’t serious, so I kept scrubbing.

And then I heard my 19 year old Angel Girl speak up.  Her tone was patient and kind.  “Ella, it’s okay for them to copy you.  You’re a big sister.  Get used to it.”

I paused and looked up, surprised by wisdom.  Then I smiled at her.  “Didn’t I used to say that to you?”

“Yes,” she chuckled, “and I hated it.”

Truth.  You just can’t run away from it.

That first born baby learns so much from following mama around.  I even had to teach her how to play… but then the next baby comes, and the next, and they watch how to learn and play from their older siblings, too.

BeFunky Collage

When we moved to this town and this camp, I remember being overwhelmed by the idea that I was the Director’s wife and should be setting an example of a Godly women for other staff wives and campers.  Whether I liked it or not, there were times I knew eyes were on me.

Some constituents of the camp were curious, or concerned, about who we were and what this new director would do with the camp.  Churches we visited were interested in our growing family and homeschooling adventure.  And you can’t forget the cute little girls who sang their way through every store… who can ignore that?

I remember being so self conscious.  I was young and I was living through the most devastating season of my life, emotions raw, and patience thin.  I was so afraid other people would realize how flawed I was, and that would somehow undermine my husband.  I think my worry was magnified by having supported him through an internship that stressed that families were evaluated, and would impact the intern’s final assessment.  Many times I wished I could hide.

And then one Ladies’ Retreat, after being here for a year, I noticed how the women were getting more comfortable around me.  They shared things that concerned me.  Women who were decades older than me were just as self conscious–more so, and I thought to myself, “I thought that by that age women had it together!”  Apparently not, and that was what concerned me.  I wanted to have it together (if that’s possible).  I didn’t want to be in the same place thirty, or forty, or even fifty years down the road.  I wanted to be, well, mature–emotionally and spiritually.

I bought a new Life Application Study Bible and began again at Genesis, reading every single study note.  I read books by Godly authors and blogs that modeled what I had never seen put into practice.

I prayed for a mentor, and God sent me my friend, Sherrill.  She took me through a book called Search for Significance.  It was only 13 chapters, but it was a very hard 13 chapters!  It took me a whole year because when God sets about changing a heart, it’s a process, and he is thorough.  I wrestled and cried through it, as God pried the lies that had shaped my character out of my sweaty hands and replaced them with the Truth of what HE said about me and this relationship I have with the King of the Universe.

Whenever I thought we were done, He would open a new chapter of refinement that  continues, even to this day.  Looking back, I notice how my gaze shifted away from the gawkers and onto HIM.

I stopped worrying what other people thought about me, and I developed concern for what other people think about HIM.

The Apostle Paul said this, in 1 Corinthians 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

Paul is teaching the church in Corinthians what their conduct should look like, and then he tells them to imitate him, as children imitate their father.  Not only that, but he says it in Ephesians 5, and again in 1 Corinthians 11:1, modeling for us how to deal with being under the magnifying glass…

“Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself.”

There are always going to be eyes on us.  Jesus said others will know we are his disciples by our behavior.  Instead of viewing it as a burden, lets embrace the responsibility for what it is: an opportunity to reflect Christ to the world.

Whether at home or without, people learn by watching and by doing.  There is always going to be someone less spiritually mature than you are.  There is always going to be someone more spiritually mature than you are, as well.

Ask someone who is in the “more mature” camp to mentor you, and be blessed by their example.

Imitate Christ, and keep your eyes trained on Him instead of your audience, but take joy in every opportunity to help a less mature brother or sister grow up in Jesus.  Remember that there will be countless times you will not even know that, in letting the Holy Spirit work in you and through you, you touch a life in a powerful way, simply because someone is watching you.

Let them imitate you.

 

 

Praying for our Children

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Proxy~ the authority to represent someone else I was listening to the radio on the way home from town yesterday.  The program on the Christian station was asking us, the audience, to share a time when someone of importance in … Continue reading

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.
  • Only use un-chlorinated water because the chemicals will kill your starter. If you live in the city and do not have filtered water, measure your water, leave it set for 12 hours before using, and the chlorine should evaporate out.
  • 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!

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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!!

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.