Sunday, June 27, 2010

I've Lost My Mind

Yesterday I went for my second run.  I don't know if it was my new sneakers, or the fact that I was too lazy to warm up (I know, I know, don't beat me up for it), but I was hurting as soon as I came back.  I bought Asics Kayano Gel running shoes in red.  I'm not crazy about them so far.

I know they were hurting my feet when I was standing around in them.  I don't know why, they just were.  Walking in them was fine, and running felt okay, except that I was noticing some pain in my shins.  Again, it could be the lack of a warm up.  I'm going to give them one more chance.  I hope they're okay.  They were expensive, to me, even at 50% off.

On the bright side, I actually went out walking even though I was tired, sore and REALLY didn't want to.  I had already decided not to go.  Instead, I put on those military cadence songs to motivate me, and managed to scrape up enough motivation to get out there and do 2 miles (which is all I should be doing at this point).  I was shocked to find out yesterday that a 5k race is 3.1 miles...exactly what I did my first time out the other day.   Wow!

I figure if I can do a 5k here on the mountain, I can easily do a 5k race in town on a flat surface.  There are a couple of 5k races in a month or two, and I think I will be in good enough shape to run them, or at least do half walking, half running. 

For those of you out there who haven't exercised in years (or ever), I would really encourage you to think about doing it.  I know when you're morbidly obese, just the idea of doing your daily duties can be overwhelming.  I never wanted to exercise before.  Even now, it does take effort...but not nearly as much effort as it used to.  Once I started drinking green smoothies once or twice a day, that started to change.  My energy and motivation went way up.

So just give green smoothies a try, and contemplate the possibility of starting some kind of physical activity.  I think you'll be surprised at what happens.  One reader commented that it sounded like I was losing my mind (but in a good way).  LOL.  I suppose it might sound that way.  At least, I've lost my old mind...the one that said "I can't, it's too hard, I'm too fat, nothing will ever change."  That mind is rapidly fading into the distance.  My new mind is the one that says "I can, I will, I am the master of my own destiny, everything WILL change because I deserve better, and I can do it!"

Losing your mind doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

 Update:  The Asics were awful.  I hurt myself running in them.  (Partially my fault...I should have eased myself into running, especially at my weight.)  They felt awful even just standing in them, after a while, before I tried running.  Now I know why...feet aren't meant to be cushioned and coddled.  God designed our feet well!  Now I wear Vibram Five Finger shoes, and I love them. I read about a lot of people who had problems caused by shoes, no matter what they tried, which eventually was rectified by wearing Vibram Five Fingers. Haven't run in them yet, but tons of people do, including marathoners!  They look a little weird, but are so comfortable once you get used to them, because they mimic the feeling of bare feet...except you're protected from glass and dog poop, LOL.

A lot of people use them barefoot, but I prefer to wear the Injinji toe socks with them.

Consider getting the FLOW for colder weather,

or the KSO to "Keep Stuff Out", like sand.

I have the Women's sprint:  (in black)

I Hate Running...I Think

Recently I've heard some interviews with Tim Van Orden, a raw runner.  He started running in his late thirties, as an experiment to see how well someone could perform on raw food. He does mountain running and tower runs (running up the stairs at places like the Sears Tower).  Now in his forties, he is winning races and beating guys half his age.  At forty, athletes are considered "washed up".  But raw athletes are showing tremendous success at "advanced" ages.

I found this really inspiring.  I thought about how fit I was back in basic training, and about what it was like to feel fit.  I remember the day I looked over my shoulder, and couldn't see my behind.  Cool!

Before I went in basic training, at 145 pounds, I couldn't run far without gasping for breath.  In fact, I'd never run for anything except to catch a bus! 

I hated running.

But this past Saturday night, remembering how it felt to get up in the dark and cold and go running at 5:30 am, singing cadence (it stunk, and I hated it, but I felt good about myself afterwards), it made me think I really should start walking.  "Just walking," I thought. "Maybe a little running once I'm skinny...but I really hate running, so I'll never want to run up a mountain or a tower like Tim.  Forget that!  But a walk sounds good."  So that night I started looking up cadences on iTunes, and listened to some.  Eventually I found a few sites that offered free cadence downloads (legally).  I was so motivated by them that if I'd had a reflective vest and a big flashlight, I would have gone walking right then, at midnight.  I started thinking maybe I should do some running, when I can.

The next day, I did some stretches, took my iPod (and a cell phone just in case I collapsed!) and went for a run.  Up a mountain road.  3.1 MILES round trip!! Wow!

I suppose it wasn't technically a run, because after less than a block, I realized I was going to kill myself if I started running UP a MOUNTAIN at my weight, without at least easing into it.  But I did run about 1/3 of the way down the hill, taking some walking breaks a few times.  I stopped when I felt I'd hit my limit.  You'd be surprised how hard even running downhill is at my weight.  I think I really overdid it, but I was so proud of myself!  I haven't been able to even walk more than two miles, even if I'm not tired, because my right foot always starts to hurt really bad.  I've had that problem for years, even before I got very heavy, and it's made trying to exercise extremely difficult.

But when I did my run/walk on Sunday, I didn't have any trouble with my feet at all!  Which was incredible, because the edge of the asphalt in many places was rounded down a bit towards the dirt runoff along the side of the road.  So my feet were sometimes at bad angles as I walked.  I was definitely sore the next day, but not even close to as sore as they should have been...would have been, if I wasn't eating green smoothies.  And I was still eating cooked food at that point.  I get stiff when I sit or lay down for too long, and my heels get really sore (they feel bruised...poor babies weren't meant to take a 246 lb. pounding), but after I walk around a bit, I'm fine.

I should mention I did this in 5 year old cheap Reeboks with the sole peeling away in places.  ;-)  It's all I had.  I'm buying new walking shoes today. I'm also buying a full album of U.S. Army cadences, because it was extremely motivating.  It made me really want to do better, and be able to really run.  Maybe even in a race.

Even though I hate running.

I think.

I'm confused.


Old Post # 10: Coconut Butter - An All Natural Moisturizer

This is number 10 in a series of posts taken from an old blog of mine.

Coconut Butter - An All Natural Moisturizer- Originally posted July 22, 2007

Not long ago I purchased some Raw Organic Coconut Butter by Artisana. I had wanted Raw Organic Coconut Oil, but they didn't have it raw. I wasn't sure if Coconut Butter is the same thing or not, but decided to try it. It is made from the whole flesh of the coconut, instead of just the oil.

I know I've heard of the many health and beauty benefits of coconut oil. Since Coconut Butter is made of the whole coconut flesh, rather than just the oil, I figured it would be just as good if not better.

So last last night I tried using it on my feet, which lately have been very dry, especially on the heels. My left heel especially has had stubborn dead, dry skin on it, and nothing seems to work. I worked in some of the Coconut Butter on my feet and ankles, and also my elbows, where I have some dry patches of skin that I think are psoriasis.

It is amazing! Today, I would have to say there is at LEAST a 50% improvement both on my heels and my elbows. NOTHING else has worked, but this is working overnight! I tried it today on a few more places, including some little spots that tend to appear on my sides...not sure what it is, possibly smaller breakouts of psoriasis? Those tend to heal up after a while, but the spots on my elbows are always there, to a lesser or greater degree. They seemed to clear up a bit when I first went on raw, but maybe the coconut butter will speed up the healing process.

I'm sure coconut oil would probably work good too. But whichever you choose, I would recommend you buy RAW organic. Conventional or plain organic may work fine, but I would be willing to bet that the raw organic works a lot better, because it still has living enzymes and extra nutrients in it.

I don't know if Artisana is the best brand or not. I know Alissa Cohen says on her website that she tested many coconut oils before choosing the Coco-de Creme brand that she carries. I bought my Coconut Butter in my local health food store. I don't remember the price, but I'm thinking it was ten dollars or so for 16 ounces. Compare that to the chemical-laden synthetic moisturizers out there, that can go for a hundred dollars for only an ounce or two, and don't even work nearly as well!

Another thing to think about, for those of us who are pro-life: did you know that there are many beauty products out there, moisturizers in particular, that contain collagen from aborted fetuses? I was shocked to learn this. Just one more reason to stick with something all natural, so you KNOW where it comes from!

I'm also trying this on my face, to see how it helps. Being overweight, I've neglected to moisturize my face, because I don't have many lines yet (they're all filled out with fat). Now that I'll be losing weight, I need to think about taking care of my skin. Although going raw is well known as a remedy for aging skin, I think using a natural moisturizer is still a great idea.

[Edit:  While coconut butter may have even more "good stuff" in it than coconut oil, the coconut butter can sometimes be a little bit gritty from unblended coconut bits as you get deeper into the jar.  This isn't a big deal, but if you want to avoid this, use raw organic centrifuged extra virgin coconut oil.  I also use the coconut butter in my smoothies (about 1 T for a 1/2 to a full pitcher), which is yummy!  Coconut oil is also good in smoothies.]

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Old Post # 9: Sugar is From the Devil!

This is the ninth post in a series of posts taken from a blog of mine, written in 2007, two weeks before the birth of my fifth child.
Sugar is From the Devil!- originally posted July 22, 2007

As you may have guessed from my lack of posting, I fell off the raw wagon for a few weeks. Boy, am I sorry, too! Not only did I rapidly gain back almost all the weight I lost, but I started having back pain, fatigue, pubic bone pain, lethargy, and a general bloated feeling. My rings started getting really tight again, and I was not a happy camper.

There are two main reasons I went off the diet. One is, I was getting tired of all the chopping and peeling, and really wanted to do some different type of recipes, which I don't yet have the equipment for (saladacco, Vita Mix). Then, I started having some weird nausea and abdominal pain. I wasn't sure if it could be from the diet, though I didn't think it was. I just started eating anything convenient. The pain didn't go away, though. It progressively got worse, til I ended up in the hospital for a few days for some tests and observations. The tests were all negative--no gallstones, liver problems, ulcers, etc. It wasn't acid reflux, round ligament pain (obstetricians think EVERYTHING is round ligament pain) or morning sickness.  [Edit:  It was during this hospital visit, a CT scan showed I had a huge aneurysm above my aortic heart valve.  However, for some reason no one thought this was important to mention to me.  I didn't find this out until a year later.  I could have died.  Get a copy of and review EVERY test you get done.  The actual report in your medical file.  If I had, I would have seen what they wrote about the aneurysm.]

The only thing they can figure out is that it's probably adhesions from a previous surgery. It's the only thing that makes sense. They say since I didn't have a problem with adhesion pain before, I should be better after delivering, when I'm no longer all stretched out (I sure hope so). Until then I'm on Percocet, but I'm trying not to take much. I hate taking any kind of drugs, but in this case, it's necessary. After two weeks of this nauseating pain, I can't function without some kind of relief.  [Edit:  They may have been right, it eventually went away before delivery.  I don't think it was a symptom of the aneurysm, since it wasn't an abdominal aneurysm, but who knows.]

Meanwhile, it took me over a week of false starts to get back on the wagon, after two weeks of eating processed cooked junk. The last straw was after three days of eating sugary stuff (mostly ice cream). All of a sudden, my sugar and chocolate cravings came back with a vengeance (they were controllable before that) and my back pain and pubic bone pain were awful...even while on Percocet!! I have no doubt it was the sugar. That just goes to show you how much of a poison refined white sugar is.

Sugar is evil, people! It is an unnatural poison that pollutes our bodies and ruins our emotional and spiritual well-being. Sugar turns you into an addicted, fat glutton. Sugar makes you depressed. God did not make sugar. God made honey and sugar cane, but not refined table sugar. I kid you not, sugar is straight from the Devil!  [Edit: I have realized since writing this 3 years ago that many products I assumed were sugar-filled were actually High Fructose Corn Syrup filled.  HFCS is worse than sugar!  Read your labels.  I found HFCS in PICKLES!  Sheesh.]  (Okay, Evil Sugar rant is over.)

When I finally had enough of the pain, I went back on raw food, last Wednesday. I started by making it easier on myself, and buying pre-cut fruit trays and pre-made salads at the grocery store. They weren't organic, but it would be an easy start. Thursday I went to the raw food restaurant to bring home a couple of meals and goodies. I also stopped at the health food store for some raw trail mix, Larabars, [Edit:  Larabar ingredients aren't always raw, and they're not organic, just so you know] and various fruit.

My husband wasn't too thrilled at having to throw out all the organic produce that went bad during my three week "slip". Neither was I--all that money, and good food! But I'm back in the game now, and so excited.

My body is taking a bit longer this time to shake the symptoms...possibly because the toxins I ate were more of a shock to my system this time, after being raw a while. Or because I'm on the pain medicine. The good news is, I started losing weight right away, over a pound a day. I had been back up to 287, but now I am 283.6. My rings are looser already. I'd love to be no more than 280 when I have my c-section, which is in 2 1/2 weeks.

Today the back pain is mostly gone, the pubic pain is almost gone, I think, and I'm a lot less sleepy today...which is big, because this medication makes you sleepy. I'm actually feeling pretty jazzed up right now.

One of the best things about going back on this diet is that I can stuff myself on raw to overcome any temptations, which makes going back on the wagon much easier. Really, the first day was the toughest. Today I've just been eating like crazy. But I don't have to worry about it, or even feel guilty, and that is awesome! I made up a dessert, with cashew butter, crushed macadamia nuts, a mashed banana, some raw agave nectar, and some ground raw cacao nibs. It was pretty good. And I felt great about eating it, because it is GOOD for me!!

I know once I have the baby and shift into weight-loss mode, I may have to watch my intake of nuts, avocados, bananas, etc. But since I'll be nursing I don't think it will be a real issue, unless I go totally crazy.

I am so committed to this way of eating. I really do enjoy it. I can't wait for my taste buds to continue to change, so I can enjoy even more different kinds of healthier foods. When I eat raw, I feel like I am eating the way God designed me to eat, and that my body is functioning the way it was created to. Finally!

Old Post # 8: How Do I Get Started?

This post is the eighth in a series of old posts taken from an old blog of mine, from three years ago.

How Do I Get Started?

Everyone is different. For some people, they need to quit cooked food cold turkey, otherwise they'll never do it. If you can do it this way, that's what I recommend. Less temptation. We are truly addicted to cooked foods.

I've noticed even when I'm not that hungry, if I give in and have a bite of cooked food (say, when I make my kids lunch), I have a sudden and uncontrollable urge to shove it all in my mouth, like an addict in withdrawal! I never feel that way when I eat raw, even if I am starving. I rarely stuff myself with raw food, whereas I will now fill myself to discomfort when I eat cooked...and I was never prone to binging before. Overeating, yes, but not binging. So cold turkey is best.

If you can't do it all at once, then start by eating raw fruit in the morning, a salad and sandwich for lunch (using only organic, whole foods when eating cooked food), and a big salad with raw veggies for dinner, with a very small amount of brown rice and organic chicken breast. That's how I did it the first few days. You'll still feel a difference right away.  [Edit:  I would now recommend starting with smoothies, working up to as many greens as you can tolerate, taste-wise, as quickly as you can.  That will get you craving other raw foods.]

If you are going to eat things like whole grain breads and rices, look into the Nourishing Traditions book, and websites online about this way of eating. They recommend you soak or sprout all grains, nuts and seeds before eating. This is because grains, nuts and seeds are protected by phytic acid, which keeps the grain or seed from breaking down until it is planted. By soaking or sprouting it, you have broken down the phytic acid and made it more digestible and safer to eat. Many people who can't eat wheat can eat it if it is sprouted or soaked first. It is the phytic acid that they are reacting to.  [Edit: This is one reason why there are so many people nowadays with irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, etc.  Eating grains, nuts and seeds with the phytic acid still intact isn't good for you.]

Try to minimize the meat and dairy you eat. When you do eat dairy, eat raw dairy. It can be hard to find. Try or ask around at health food stores, or advertise that you are looking for sources of raw milk. Be sure that it is both unpateurized and unhomogenized. Laws vary from state to state. Find out what your state laws are. Don't just listen to what someone says. I had someone insist raw milk is illegal in my state. That person is ignorant. Our laws clearly state that raw milk can be sold, but only from the farm it is produced from, the farmer cannot advertise it publicly (which is ridiculous), and the buyer must bring his own sterilized container (also silly--if the farmer's container isn't already sterile, it doesn't matter if the customer brings her own sterilized container).

Check out the place you buy your milk from to make sure you are comfortable with the farmer's operation, especially that it seems sanitary. I can almost guarantee that commercial dairies are probably worse. Also ask what the cows are fed, if they are fed grain, if the grain is organic, and if the fields they eat on are treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. If they eat supplemental hay, ask where that hay comes from, and if it is treated in any way ("certified weed free" = sprayed with poisons).  Also, is the field located next to or downhill from a conventional farm? If so, the grass may be soaking up pesticides and fake fertilizer.  The field may also be watered from a well that shares the same water table/aquifer as the conventional farm.

As I said, though, cold turkey is better. The first day I felt a bit of hunger throughout the day. Not an "I'm starving" feeling, but more like "I could really go for ___". After the first day or so, it went away. I made sure that I stuffed myself with as much raw food as possible, to avoid temptation. At the slightest sign of hunger, I ate. The second day I already felt so much better, physically.

The first two weeks I kept it simple, eating plain fruit, or cut-up fruit salad, or green salads. When I ate a sandwich, it was usually a whole grain pita, some egg salad, and as many veggies as I could stuff into it--baby spinach, red onion, cucumbers, red peppers. I burst the "seams" of the pita a few times, lol. I really looked forward to adding those veggies in. It made for great flavors. My tastes started to change, too. I started getting braver, and adding fresh tomatoes. I don't usually care for fresh tomatoes, but I tried it. I'm starting to kind of like them.

After two weeks, I knew I had to mix it up or get bored. I wanted a Vita Mix badly, but they go for around $400. Don't buy expensive stuff til you've been on it at least two weeks, and know you will continue. The Vita Mix is great, and you'll probably always find it useful, but it isn't necessary right away. The biggest tip I can give is to sit down one evening while you have someone to talk to, or a tv or radio program on, and spend an hour or two leisurely cutting up fruits and veggies and putting them into baggies or containers. This was a tremendous help to me. One night of chopping, and I had about four days of veggies ready to go. I put the chopped veggies into mini Glad containers, and stacked the containers in larger plastic baskets--one basket for salad veggies, one for cut fruits, another for uncut fruits that were washed and ready to eat. It keeps your fridge much neater and helps prevent "losing" stuff in the fridge and having it go bad. Want to make a salad? Pull out the salad veggie basket, and you're ready to make it! Perfect for the lazy person (like me).

After a week or two, be sure to start experimenting. At first all you need is a sharp paring knife, a vegetable peeler, and a large kitchen knife. A blender is helpful if you want to make smoothies. I bought a good quality smoothie maker with ice-chopping blades on sale for $30 at Target. [Edit:  I ruined those blades after just a few smoothies.  They won't hold up.  Get a BlendTec.  If you absolutely can't afford one, then remove the tough stems of kale, etc. before blending, and just add more water and blend in smaller batches while you're saving for a real blender.] Long-term you'll want a Vita Mix, it makes much smoother smoothies, and is pretty necessary for green smoothies (you really need to make sure greens are well blended), but you can wait a little while for that. Try ebay,, or your local classifieds to find a used Vita Mix. I wouldn't get one more than a few years old.  [Edit:  I HIGHLY recommend getting a Vita Mix model with the dial in the middle, which allows you to control the lower speed of the blender--or other high speed blender with an equivalent feature.  Otherwise when you add powders like cacao, they will puff up when you turn it on, and it ends up all over the lid, wasted.  You can try to put the cacao in first, but trust me, you'll forget sometimes. Then, poof.]

The first gadget I want is a Spiral Slicer, formerly known as a Saladacco. It is inexpensive, and seems to be a favorite amond raw foodists. You can use it to turn zucchini, carrots, and other veggies into "pasta". I had a dish like this at our local raw food restaurant (I'm SO happy we have one of these). It was a bed of spinach, with cut strawberries, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar, with zucchini angel hair "pasta" and a spicy sun-dried tomato marinara. The first bite I wasn't too crazy about it, but by the third I LOVED it! So I want the spiral slicer so I can create a similar dish.  [Edit:  Got one.  It only does angel hair and spiral slices.  Spend a little more and get one that does other sizes, like linguini noodles.  I'm sorry I didn't spend the extra dough.]

I also want an Omega Juicer. I have a cheap one, but the Omega can do wheatgrass also. Wheatgrass Juice is an amazing thing, SO healthy for you. Though I warn you, it is disgusting. I usually chug a shot of it and chase it with a whole smoothie. But I've heard after you start having green smoothies, the wheatgrass juice isn't too bad. The green smoothies are supposed to make you crave raw foods, and I had my first one the other day. It wasn't too bad!

I'm also hoping to get an Excalibur Dehydrator. [Edit:  Had one, loved it, highly recommend it.  Had to sell it for the money.  I could cry.] It comes highly recommended, as it has a controllable thermostat. You can use this to make "breads" and "crackers" from things like nuts and seeds. I had some spicy crackers from that restaurant. They're actually pretty good...and REALLY spicy! Another item I'm wanting is a separate fridge. My husband and I have talked about this before, since we have a big family anyway. We want to get an all-fridge freezer. I plan to use that for my raw foods, and maybe overflow from the main fridge. That way, no hunting for hidden produce that has rotted in the back! I'd like to keep most of the produce in the fridge to keep it longer, but right now ours is too small.

It may sound like this is an expensive proposition, but you don't have to have all this stuff. I'd say just the spiral slicer and the Vita Mix would make your life a lot easier. As for organic food, it is becoming easier to around. There is a lot of advice to be found on the raw food boards as to how to find produce cheaper. Even eating conventional raw food is better than eating a SAD diet. Though there are TONS more nutrients and less toxins in organic produce.

My husband, I'm sure, was worried at first that this diet would be like the others, and anything I bought would go unused. But after two weeks of seeing me happier and healthier, and controlling my weight, he is now all for spending whatever it takes to keep me on the diet. We plan on using tax return money for the stuff we need to buy. At some point soon we hope to be able to put the whole family on raw food. He's not sure about giving up meat and dairy (he's a big meat-and-potatoes kind of guy), but neither was I at first. He's open to it, though. I told him it's his decision. If he wants to go only 80% raw and still eat a little meat and dairy, that's his choice. But I know he'll feel so much better on even just 80% raw.

Just remember to keep it simple the first couple of weeks, eat cut fruits and salads, maybe some fruit smoothies (good for on the go). After that, start experimenting, and find ways to make it more convenient. Get rid of your old food, or if you can't, such as if you're a wife or mother, be sure to eat BEFORE you prepare food for others. Keep raw snack food on hand, and DO NOT let yourself get hungry. Hungry brains don't think straight! I think after a few days on raw, you won't want to go back to your old life. It's just not worth it!

Comfrey: The Great Healer

Comfrey, known also as Knitbone, Knitback, Bruisewort, Boneset, as well as other names, clearly has been historically considered a valuable herb in healing.   The roots and leaves contain allantoin, a protein that stimulate cell proliferation.  It has been used for speeding the healing in broken bones, sprains, burns, sore joints, wounds, helping with dry skin, and reducing swelling in fractures.  

Use fresh, clean Comfrey leaves in a poultice for external application, if you have access to it. You can also find Comfrey salves at health food stores or online.  You may find Comfrey in large, tea-bag-like poultices, or in the dried bulk section, but you will not find any Comfrey tea bags, as it has been banned for internal use in the U.S.  (But the SSRI drugs that induce people to shoot up schools and kill their whole family...those are still fine.  Yeah.)

This Comfrey-phobia comes from studies done in the 1970's and 1980's done on rats, that indicated that Comfrey use can cause liver cancer and disease.  The problem with these studies is that they were done on rats, which process poisons different than humans, they were done with high dosages, and in some cases, Comfrey itself was not used, but instead just the active compounds in Comfrey.  Personally, I find these studies highly questionable, and I would not be the least bit surprised if I found out the studies were paid for by the drug companies.  (You know, the people who say herbs are dangerous, but aspirin, which kills 5000 people a year, and causes internal bleeding and sub-arachnoid hemorrhaging, is perfectly safe.  Yeah, you can trust those guys.)

So, while I would use caution in taking Comfrey internally, I personally don't think a little Comfrey tea once in a while is going to hurt me.  But I am not a doctor, nor a scientist, so any use of Comfrey should be done with the advice of your licensed health care practitioner, and at your own risk.

It is generally considered to be safe to use topically, as it is said the alkaloids will not penetrate the skin.  However, I would use caution in this as well, as the skin is the largest organ in your body...anything you put on your skin gets into your system.  Never put anything on your skin whose bottle is labeled "not for internal use".  Just my opinion.  So my personal choice would be to use Comfrey topically when needed, on occasion.

I have used Comfrey in a poultice to treat what I believe was pink eye.  My eye was starting to look inflamed and infected, overnight.  I made a Comfrey tea bag, soaked it in just enough boiling water to soak the bag, but not float it, then squeezed out the excess liquid just until it wasn't dripping.  I applied it close to my eye, but not close enough to get liquid in it (wasn't sure if that would be bad or don't want to mess up your eyes).  I don't know how long I kept it there, but at least ten minutes.  My symptoms were gone the next day.  

Comfrey has also been used as fertilizer.  Since it has high levels of potash, it is perfect for tomato, cucumber, pepper, and potato plants.  One of the links below can give you instructions on how to do that.   

I hope this inspires you to consider planting Comfrey in your garden, or at least keeping a stock of dried Comfrey on hand.  It is also a plant that grows in the wild, so if you learn to properly identify it, you can harvest wild Comfrey.  For those into preparedness or self-sufficiency, Comfrey is a must.


Turning Comfrey into a natural fertilizer
Botanical info on Comfrey.
Safety of using Comfrey topically.
Information questioning the testing done on rats that led to the banning of internal use of Comfrey.
How to grow and preserve Comfrey.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jumping in With Both Feet

I'm almost afraid to say this...worried I might jinx myself!  But here it is...

I'm going 100% raw.  As of today.  After a couple of days eating more cooked food and less smoothies, and feeling some pain coming back, I decided that's it, I'm done!  I ate all raw today, making myself some great smoothies all day.  I even withstood the tempting smell of my husband's homemade pizza that he made for the kids.  (It smelled reeeeeeally good, and I'm proud of myself for grabbing my jar of pre-made smoothie instead--one big reason for always keeping pre-made treats and meals or prepared meal components on hand!)

I also got on the rebounder for 25 minutes today, then did another 5 minutes of sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, and leg-lifts.  I can't believe I did all that!  Okay, they were "girl" push-ups (knees resting on the ground with the ankles crossed in the air behind you) and I only lowered myself half-way (what can I say, my stomach gets there before the rest of me does!), but who cares!  Really, I did almost as well today as I did the first time I tried doing push-ups two weeks before I went into basic training...15 years ago...and I was thin back then!

Another reason this is so exciting is that, as I've mentioned before, because of the aneurysm and then the surgery, I did virtually no physical activity for most of the last two years.  I rarely lifted anything at all.  So my arms have somewhat atrophied in all that time.  And yet today I did 10 push-ups in a row...TWICE...and I weigh 244 pounds!! How many of you could do any push-ups at all with an extra person sitting on your back?  Not too many, I bet.  Yes, I have a right to be proud!  I just know it's the green smoothies.  I wish I'd tried this two weeks ago, before the smoothies, so I could compare.  But then again...before the smoothies, I would never have had the energy or the motivation to try.  I love greens!

You know, I might just get brave and do a YouTube video of part of my workout, to help motivate others who are in similar physical condition to me.  Leave a comment if you would be interesting in a video like that! 

The "What" and "Why" of Eating Raw

 This is the eighth in a series of posts taken from an old blog of mine, documenting my first experiences with raw foods.

 The "What" and "Why" of Eating Raw - Originally posted June 21, 2007

Raw food, also known as live or living food, is any food in its natural state that is not heated to over approximately 115 degrees (sources vary, some say 108, some 118, depends on who you ask). Any food that is cooked, steamed, boiled, roasted, microwaved, pasteurized, or canned (such as any produce in a can or jar on the store shelf) is not raw. It is dead food. Dehydrated food is considered raw ONLY if it hasn't been heated too high (over about 110 degrees). Many commercially dehydrated foods have been dehydrated at too high a temperature.

Why not cook food? Cooking destroys the living enzymes in food that our bodies need to digest that food. If the food has no enzymes, our own enzymes must be "called away" from their job of eliminating toxins and healing our bodies to do the digesting, then those enzymes are lost as they stay with the digested food and are eliminated with our bowel movements. It is estimated that by age 40, most people have only 30% of our natural enzymes left, and those enzymes do not replenish themselves.

Many nutrients and vitamins are also lost in cooking. And if you compare people to chimpanzees, the animals that are closest in physical design to humans, you'll see that their natural diet consists mostly of fruits and greens, some pith and bark, and some vegetables and seeds. Insects and the meat of other animals are a rarity, and those chimp troops who eat more meat don't live as long. Now, I do NOT believe in evolution, and chimpanzees are NOT the same as people, but looking at it from a physical perspective only, they have similar bones, teeth, etc. Our diets shouldn't be all that different from theirs. If you read Genesis in the Bible, it talks only of food naturally growing in the garden, particularly tree fruit. That is what God designed us for...produce. In fact, man's punishment for his disobedience was to toil for his grow it. Produce. Nuts, seeds, plants.

I'm not saying eating meat is wrong. I have nothing morally against it. I love it! Chicken is my favorite. However, I must reluctantly report that I feel better without it...and more so without dairy. I haven't gone completely without dairy (I can't seem to kick the habit of adding shredded cheddar to my salads) but the less I eat, the better I feel. It is true what I've heard...dairy does produce excess mucus. When I eat less, I have less mucus. A few days on pizza, and my nasal mucus tripled!  [Edit:  Please note that I was talking about commercial dairy, not raw organic dairy.  I have not yet experimented with how I feel eating raw vegan vs. high raw with some raw, organic dairy.]

Does one have to eat 100% raw? I believe for true health and weight loss, yes, you do. But eating even 50% raw will help you, and improve your health noticeably. If you ate fruit for breakfast, a big salad with a small sandwich of organic deli meat [edit: I would avoid even organic deli meat--too processed--try homemade organic chicken salad] and cheese on whole wheat bread for lunch, and a big salad with fresh salad vegetables with a very small amount of organic chicken breast and brown rice for dinner, I think that would be a very big step in the right direction. If you just couldn't part with meat and dairy, try to minimize it, and only eat meat from organic, grass fed animals, and dairy from the same animals, but raw (unpasteurized and unhomogenized). I have read a lot about the harm pasteurization and homogenization has done to our health. Raw milk products have natural bacteria that help our bodies fight off disease, plus many other benefits.

There are so many reports from people who have cured "incurable" diseases by going 100% raw. There are retreat centers around the country for those who want to break their bad habits and go on a raw retreat to heal themselves. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, food allergies, heart arrhythmia, arthritis, gout, IBS, celiac disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer...these are all diseases that people have freed themselves from by simply eating living foods as God designed us to eat. These are all amazing stories, but the cancer is the most convincing to me.

Did you know the cause of cancer was discovered back in the thirties? There was a doctor [edit: Otto Warburg] who received a Nobel prize for discovering that cancer is caused by an anaerobic environment in the body.  From what I remember, it starts with abnormal cells in your body, that do not get enough oxygen. Then those cells multiply, and the cancer spreads. This is a poor explanation, but the important part to remember is that your body needs to be in an alkaline state for your cells to be getting the oxygen they need. Most foods in the SAD (Standard American Diet) today are acid-forming. It is no wonder we are so sick! One hundred years ago, cancer was as rare as obesity. Sure there were fat people around...but not anywhere NEAR as many, or as heavy as today. Today with all our nutritionists and cancer research, we are fatter and sicker than ever.

Why? We eat unnatural, cooked, processed foods and sit on our lazy butts all day in cars or at desks or in easy chairs. If we all ate completely natural, unprocessed foods that are at least mostly raw, and worked in our gardens, went for walks, and kept busy all day, the oncologists and bariatric surgeons would almost all be out of a job!

I won't try to bombard you with facts and figures. Either you're intrigued at this point, or you're not. I would recommend you do some research on raw and living foods, and reach your own decision. Just try it for two weeks. Heck, even one week! If you stick to it for that long, you won't need any evidence...your body will be all the evidence you need!

Some sources I can recommend are: Raw Food Talk, Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko (an excellent read, taught me the importance of getting greens in my diet), the book Raw Foods for Busy People (ideas and recipes for quick raw meals) and any raw websites you can find. There are different mindsets out there about what raw is. Some people believe in eating raw meat and dairy as part of their diet. Some are partly raw. Some are "high raw", around 70-80% raw. Most hard-core raw foodists are 100% raw and vegan (no meat, fish, or dairy products at all).

I am shooting for the latter. I plan to aim for about 90% raw right now, because I was told not to go 100% while pregnant. Going 100% will eventually result in a "detox" period, where your body eliminates the toxins from itself all at once. It can be unpleasant for a while. You can feel like you have the flu, or re-experience some symptoms of illnesses you had in the past as your body releases the stored toxins. It is temporary, and for some people it can re-occur in short bursts after a year or two on raw. But they say afterward you feel better than ever. Unfortunately, pregnancy is not the time to be going into detox, and really you should avoid it when nursing, as the toxins could come out in the milk. Since I'm always nursing or pregnant, it seems, I may never get to 100% raw. But I hope to one day, and for now I want to go 90%.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Homestead Blessings video Giveaway!!

This giveaway is a fun one!  If you've given up the tv, or at least given up the useless, morally-questionable, time-wasting programs, then you might sometimes find yourself wishing you had something practical and enjoyable to watch.  This video series might be the answer, particularly if you are into homesteading or old fashioned skills. 

FBS Books, which carries homeschooling curriculum and homesteading resources, is doing a giveaway with Keeper of the Home for their series of 5 Homestead Blessings Videos , which teach you about Herbs, Gardening,  Bread Making, Cooking, Quilting and Soap Making (and more).  There are trailers for the videos at the link above. 

I've actually seen these videos on sale before, and they have been on my list of "homesteading wants" for a while now.  It would be really fun to have them, and I think my children would really enjoy them too.  Check them out!

Excalibur Dehydrator Giveaway Info!!

I am SO excited about this giveaway.  I had an Excalibur dehydrator up until last year.  We had to sell it because my husband was out of work and we needed the money to move.  I have been so sad about it lately--since I'm going back on raw foods, a dehydrator would really come in handy.  Not to mention all the garden produce I'll need to dehydrate come fall!

I loved my Excalibur.  It was so big, you never needed to shuffle trays or work around a big hole in the middle of the tray, like with the cheap round dehydrators.  You could even incubate raw yogurt in it.  It was fabulous!  The best part was the thermostat, which was a big deal for raw foodists.  I always kept mine set at 105F.  The one thing mine didn't have was the timer--and boy was I sorry I didn't spend the extra to get that!  I thought it was a silly, unnecessary expense.  I later realized that when it was time for bed, but my raw gourmet treat needed two more hours before it was time to flip them over, I sure did wish I had a timer!

Well, the giveaway Excalibur DOES have a timer.  And it's also white!  I like that better than the black color I had.  I really, really hope I win it.  I should do a full review sometime, because I really did love it, it was an awesome product. 

Oh, did you want to sign up, too?  Of course you do!  Go to Keeper of the Home and click on the "CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY" link at the bottom.  Follow all the steps and check them off as you do them.  Good luck!  (But not really because I hope I win don't hate me.)   :-)

Organic Eggs...Dipped in Bleach or Lye???

I read a horrifying (though not truly surprising) post on Homestead Revival today, regarding organic eggs.  Apparently, according to Dr. Mercola, "some states require that all eggs receive a chlorine bath and mineral oil coating before they are nestled into their cartons."

I'm sorry...WHAT?!

Why am I not surprised?  Oh, that's right, because our politicians are paid off by the "food" (and I use that term loosely) lobbyists, and cowed into submission by a bunch of germ freaks that think that feces-laden, pus-tainted, hormone-laced cooked milk is safer than natural, raw, organic milk from grass-fed homestead cows.  Yeah, it makes sense now.  

Oh, and mineral oil?  That's a petroleum product.  Yum.
The post says that egg companies are allowed to use the following to "clean" the eggs:

-Hydrogen Peroxide (wanna bet it's the drug-store, toxin-lace kind, not the food-grade kind?)
-Peracetic acid (peroxyacetic acid-- vinegar and hydrogen peroxide)
For those of you who don't know, eggs come with a protective layer that seals off the pores of the egg, keeping the contents inside clean, and keeping the egg fresh longer.  Remove that "bloom", and the egg can absorb stuff (um, like bleach and petroleum products?)  and will go bad sooner.

And another fun fact:  the USDA only requires that eggs are processed within 30 days of being laid.

As the article mentions, organic is still light-years better than conventional.  But if you weren't convinced to  or raise your own chickens before, maybe this will convince you.  And if you live in a city too barbaric to allow a few harmless, quiet chickens, then either it's time to move, or time to get active changing the laws. At the very least, find a local homesteader who really free-ranges their chickens, and feeds them organic.
You have a right to healthy food!
Be sure to read Homestead Revival's full post, for more information.

Old Post #7: My Stats...and today's lunch

For those just joining us, this is the seventh in a series of old posts taken from two other blogs I had back in 2007, journaling the first time I went raw.  I was about six weeks away from the birth of my fifth child.

My Stats...and Today's Lunch - Originally posted June 21, 2007

My weight when I got pregnant was 260.
My weight when I started raw was 288.8 (yikes)...and I was only around 28 weeks along, too!
[Edit:  Um...yeah...and that wasn't even close to the most I'd ever gained in a pregnancy.]

Yesterday I hit a low of 275.8...yay!

That's 13 pounds lost since I started raw. I'm trying not to lose more weight, and to prepare myself for the possibility that I may gain a few. But the best thing is that I know now that I will NOT see 300 pounds on the scale, which I was terrified was a certainty, at the rate I had been gaining. I'm just amazed that at 33 weeks pregnant, I'm only 16 pounds above my start weight! My doctor is happy too, he is surprisingly supportive of my new way of eating, and pleased with all my test results and "numbers".

I do have my measurements from right around the time I got pregnant, but since I'm pregnant with a growing belly, I'm not worrying about my measurements right now.

My aches and pains are still better, but I've noticed that since I've been eating cooked food more often lately (up to 50% some days) that some are coming back. The stiffness and pain in my back, and worst of all the pain in my pubic bone area (a pregnancy thing) is coming back. Before I started raw, it had been so bad that any trip to the store required taking one of their motorized scooters through the store. Anyone who is overweight can tell you that is humiliating. Everyone thinks you're too lazy to walk or too fat to walk--you can tell the way some people look at you. I even had some jerk say that right out loud. One day on raw food, and I didn't need a scooter. So I will NOT go back to that!

Today I have been 100% raw so far. I had a banana for breakfast, and a smoothie for lunch. The smoothie was 1 banana, 1 mango, 1 small valencia orange, and 1 pear that was getting too soft to eat, plus 1/2 the water and flesh from a young coconut. I peeled and diced the fruit, put it on a plate in the freezer for an hour, then blended it with the coconut meat and water in a smoothie maker, with two tablespoons of raw hemp protein powder. The hemp powder did affect the taste and color a little...not badly, but I may start using the hemp only in green smoothies. Any smoothie with mango and fresh coconut in it is really good!

Update:  I never did get over 300 pounds with that pregnancy.  However...I did with my sixth baby.  Didn't stay raw during that pregnancy, although I was raw at the very end, and for a while afterwards.  That was an all-time low for me, seeing my weight that high.  And I did end up using a scooter again, for my sixth pregnancy, but at that point I'd been diagnosed with the aneurysm, and was having a lot of chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue, so I really needed it.  Didn't make me feel any better about myself, though.  But I'm determined to get below 200 before I get pregnant again, and I feel soooo much better now that I've had my surgery.  So it's all good!

Old Post #6: Introduction

This post is the sixth in a series of posts I did three years ago, from two old blogs of mine.  The previous posts in this series came from a weight loss blog, and this post was the first, introductory post on an exclusively raw blog.  For reference, this was written one year before I found out about my aneurysm (I knew about the valve already, but the valve wasn't an urgent issue).  At the time I was six weeks away from giving birth to my fifth child.

Introduction - Originally posted on June 21, 2007

For those of you who don't know me from my other blogs, I am a stay at home mom of four children, ages five and under, and expecting baby number five in August. I am morbidly obese, and have suffered from numerous "co-morbidities" such as sleep apnea, gestational diabetes, and other minor problems.

Really, I'm lucky my health isn't worse. I don't have type II diabetes (yet), no heel spurs, no bad knees, and my blood pressure is fabulous. In fact it's gotten even better on raw, though it was great to begin with. However, I do have increasing back problems, mostly while pregnant, and have been experiencing insomnia, anxiety, depression, pubic bone pain (pregnancy-related), pain in my back when I walk, some kind of muscle pain in my groin/leg area when I walk, difficulty breathing at night (serious nasal mucus, it gets worse every pregnancy) and probably a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting.

Most of these symptoms are gone or seriously diminished since I started raw on May 20, 2007. Within a day, the insomnia was gone, the anxiety and depression are almost gone, the pain when I walk is virtually gone, I had more energy, the mucus is diminished, and I felt much more patient with my children. For the first two and a half weeks I did great, around 80-90% raw. Cut way back on the meat and dairy. No fast food, chocolate, or diet soda. (A miracle!)

After a few weeks, I found it hard to plan ahead and prepare my meals. I'm making separate meals for me, my children, and my husband (he works a late shift). I tried getting them on raw, it was working well, but after less than a week we realized we couldn't afford it right now. After that, I too often let myself go hungry, and then made some bad choices (pizza a few times, along with diet soda, and fast food a couple of times). I still haven't had cravings for chocolate, and one day I was feeling really down and planned to go buy some chocolate junk food at the store, but when I got there, I didn't want it, so I bought raw food...and THAT was a miracle! I'm normally a total chocoholic!

The first week I lost 9 pounds, then 2 pounds the second. This past week I lost another pound or two. I'm not worried about it, because my ultrasounds are showing normal growth in the baby. A lot of it was water weight, because my face and fingers got thinner.

I feel so much better now that I eat raw. If you had told me two months ago I'd be eating this way, I'd have thought you were crazy. But it's not hard. I actually enjoy eating this way. My tastes are changing. As long as I don't let myself go hungry, I truly WANT to eat raw fruits and vegetables. I feel so much better when I do. As soon as I eat cooked food, I feel bad the next day. A few days of just one cooked meal per day, and I feel significantly worse...and MUCH worse if it's takeout or fast food.

I know I need to eat this way for my health, even if I don't lose weight...although I know I'll lose a whole bunch of weight, fast, once I'm not pregnant anymore. This blog is to document my experiences eating "living foods", and to help me stay on the straight and narrow, and stay motivated. I've tried every diet in the book, and none has been as easy and enjoyable and effective as the raw way of life.

Finding raw was the best thing that has ever happened to me, health-wise!

Update:  I hope all these old posts aren't confusing to anyone--bouncing around from old posts to new ones, etc.  I just thought it would be boring to have nothing but old posts for the next week or two, so I figured I'd intersperse them with new ones.   And raw is still the best thing that ever happened to me, health-wise.  I just need to remember that.  ;-)

Feeling Icky

As I've mentioned, I've been doing green smoothies for a little while now, and feeling better.  The last two days, however, I've had less smoothie, and more cooked food.  Ugh.  It wasn't even anything particularly junky.  I can just tell that my tolerance for cooked food is going down.  Didn't sleep too well last night, and had a lot of chest pain yesterday. 

In fact, the chest pain was bad enough that I considered going to the hospital.  I had surgery about 14 months ago, to repair an ascending aortic aneurysm and had my aortic valve replaced.  These pains are similar to the pains I felt in the heart area during healing.  It is interesting to note that while I waffled on raw during my recovery from heart surgery, I noticed a very significant decrease in pain while raw, and a definite increase in pain when I went off raw.  I had been pain free throughout the fall and winter, but the last few months some of the pain is coming back.  Not sure if it's because of my diet (quite likely) or possibly because there are problems with the valve.  Sometimes people, particularly younger women like me, can end up with the valve not fitting right as little as a year out from surgery.  So when the pain hit yesterday, I was really worried.

I decided if the pain continued or got any worse, I'd go to the hospital.  It actually went away at that point, so I took a nap.  I woke up feeling better, and have had only a few slight pains today.  I did have an episode of vertigo again today, which is something that I've had, increasingly, over the last year.  I'm not sure of the cause.  I had an MRI done of my head and neck, to check for a brain aneurysm, as I have a connective tissue disease, Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease, which makes me prone to aneurysms in other locations in my body as well as the aortic aneurysm I already had repaired.  The tests showed no aneurysms, although that doesn't exactly make me feel better, as I know someone with my symptoms who had the same negative results...only to nearly die from a ruptured brain aneurysm three years later. 

Based on my previous experience healing myself on raw, I'm suspecting I have some health issues (whatever they are) that my body is starting to heal while I'm on my green smoothies.  Now that I'm getting live enzymes in my food, my own body's enzymes are being called back to the job they were meant to do: heal my body.  But when I slow or stop the smoothies, they stop healing and run back to digesting my food for me, and I end up with pain and symptoms coming back with a vengeance.  This is something I know has happened in the past, when pregnant--all the back pain, gestational diabetes, and other pregnancy-related difficulties I had disappeared when on raw, but came back quickly when I went off...and if I had sugar?  Yikes!  It got really bad, really fast.

So what do I do now?  Well, I think it's time to face facts.  I have some problems that need to be addressed.  I can play around doing half raw and half cooked, and never heal completely, or I can go all terminator-style on my health problems and eliminate them by going all raw. 

Guess which one I'm going to pick?

It's not a big deal anyway, as I've noticed that I'm just not enjoying any cooked food anymore like I used to.  I'm really loving the healthy raw stuff.  That just goes to show you how powerful consuming greens really is--just replacing two meals a day (sometimes only one) with green smoothies has completely changed what kinds of foods I want, and the choices I make.  Incredible, isn't it?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kitchenaid Mixer Giveaway-- CLOSED

UPDATE:  The website that I originally had linked this post to, who was hosting the giveaway, has closed the contest.  I was very disappointed to see that AFTER I had spent an hour setting up a facebook account in order to be able to do all three entries for the contest, and then emailing the website owner, I got an email telling me the contest was closed.

And yet...


I don't know if there is somewhere on their site that states the contest is closed, but as of 3:30 pm June 18th, their contest page says NOTHING about it being closed.  To me, that is dishonest.  Changing that page should have been their first action.  Right now, there could be hundreds of people out there doing all the steps necessary to enter the contest.  But what does that business care, it's all free advertising right now!  If they wanted to keep getting the word out, they could have extended the contest.  Instead, they closed it, but are still allowing people to waste time trying to enter it, and promote it.

Well, not me.  I'm un-friending them, un-twittering them, and un-linking to them in this post.  I still believe in honesty in business.  Too bad for them, I'd also given their book a good review in this post. All bye-bye.

Sorry for the inconvenience, folks.

Cloth Diapering: My Method

Cloth diapering has seen a resurgence in the last decade or so.  There are many reasons for choosing cloth diapers.  For me, it's a matter of all the major reasons combined.  While I certainly wouldn't classify myself as an environmentalist, I do believe we should care for our planet the way we would care for any special gift that a loved one gave us--and there's no doubt that this planet is a most precious gift from God.  So I'm not crazy about the idea of all the chemicals from millions of diapers getting dumped in landfills to pollute our country.  I'm even less enthusiastic about putting such chemicals against my children's skin.  And with three children in diapers (not to mention pullups for an older child who has night time accidents), frugality in this department is a definite issue. 

I know there are those out there who are turned off by the idea of cleaning cloth diapers, or having dirty ones piling up.  But using cloth diapers is much easier now than in our mothers' day.  New "technology" has made cloth diapering almost as easy as using disposables.

There are many types of cloth diapers, and almost as many methods to cleaning them.  I could spend a weeks' worth of posts on the topic, and still have much to cover.  Instead, I'm just going to share how I do it, as an introduction to the subject, and let you investigate further if you are interested.

Type of Cloth Diapers:

There are quite a few styles of diapers.  I've tried many of them, but my favorite to use by far is the pocket system.  Pocket diapers are a shell, with the outer layer made of a waterproof material, and the inner layer made of a material that wicks the moisture into the diaper filling.  The filling is usually one or two absorbent pads that can be stuffed into the diaper shell via an opening at the top of the diaper in the back.  They come with Aplix (velcro-like) tabs or snaps.  I prefer the snaps.  Although the snaps can come undone, it's less of a pain than the Aplix, which weakens over time, and gets lots of lint trapped in the tabs.  If you pre-stuff the diapers after washing and drying, they are there, ready to use, which makes husbands and babysitters a little happier about using cloth.

The one-size diapers are more economical because they'll take you through a few sizes.  They have variety of snaps on the front for cinching the diaper up, making it smaller. But most parents find them extremely bulky on newborns, and I don't think they'll fit a large older toddler very well. 

I've used the unbleached chinese prefold cloth diapers, with snappis to close them, underneath diaper wraps, which are waterproof shells that have Aplix closures.  This is a less expensive alternative, but I find it more of a hassle, with more frequent leakage, and the wraps tend to stain easily on the fold-over elastic that lines the leg area.  I use them as backups.

I've tried a variety of brands.  One organic brand I tried is the Blueberry.  I wasn't crazy about it.  The organic Blueberrys are about $25 each.  Yes, each! And you need a minimum of 2-3 days' worth of diapers, for each child.  My biggest complaint with the organic Blueberry is the organic terry cloth inner layer. Poop sticks to it a lot more, and it stains more easily.

My favorite pocket diaper so far is the Fuzzi Bunz.  It isn't organic, as the fleece interior is synthetic. But it's around $17 per diaper last time I checked, and the poop rolls easily off the fleece.  It seemed to hold up better than other diapers, too.  It also looks more comfy. I'll warn you that my experience with Happy Heiny diapers hasn't been good.  They started falling apart two weeks of use.  At their prices, I'll never buy a Happy Heiny diaper again.

Handling Cloth Diapers:

The method I find easiest is the dry pail method.  (WARNING:  If you use a wet pail method, get a pail that locks--a child can drown even in a 5 gallon bucket.) When I get a wet diaper, I toss it into a dry 5 gallon bucket, with the lid laying loosely on the top.  (You can also use a wet bag instead, which is just a waterproof bag that you toss the diapers into.) The stuffing needs to be removed from the diaper before washing, so you might as well do it at that point.  If the diaper is poopy, I take it in the bathroom.  It's nice if the poop is solid, it will roll right into the toilet.  If not, I use a diaper sprayer to spray off the poop.  If I had it to do over again, I'd have gotten the type that connects to the tub faucet instead of to the toilet supply line.  Rinsing diapers isn't fun when it's a bad one, and the water is ice cold!  I don't remember the brand I bought, but this one looks good--you can easily attach/detach it to your sink.  There are a lot more diaper spraying options out there now, than when I bought mine years ago.

You need the type of sprayer meant for spraying diapers, or a bidet-style sprayer.  Your average sprayer that connects to a kitchen sink or a shower won't be powerful enough to do the job.  Watch out for overspray.  It may be less messy to use a 5 gallon bucket, and do the spraying into that, then dump that into the toilet.  That can make for less overspray.  When the diaper is rinsed well enough (doesn't have to be perfect, you just want it mostly cleaned off), you should remove the diaper insert and put it all in the diaper bucket.  When it's time to wash the diapers, just dump the diapers into the washer, and wash.  You shouldn't have to handle the diapers more than once, and only the messy poop diapers will be any more hassle than disposables.


Wash the diapers according to your manufacturer's directions.  How I wash depends on how "bad" the diapers in that load are.  Generally, I do two hot wash cycles with a second rinse.  Sometimes just one if it's a particularly "clean" load to begin with.  Do what you are comfortable with, and what gets your diapers clean.  Don't use bleach, it will shorten the life of your diapers.  I like to put raw apple cider vinegar in the rinse water to help with sanitizing.  Most people use white vinegar.  It also acts as a fabric softener (don't use real fabric softener, it makes the diapers less absorbent).


Some types of diapers must be line dried, and this can save energy and money, and make your diapers last longer.  I usually machine-dry mine, as I always seem to be in a hurry.  The sun can also naturally bleach out some of the stains.

Other tips:

-be sure to wash new diapers a few times before using, to "fluff up" the fibers and make them more absorbent.  With prefolds, I've heard some brands recommend up to 8 washings AND dryings before first use.
-run an empty wash cycle once in a while to remove any build-up that can affect your diapers...use vinegar, baking soda with hot water
-you may need to "strip" your cloth diapers once in a while, to remove any detergent build-up on them, and restore their maximum absorbency...see your diaper's manufacturer recommendations
-DO NOT buy the bleached prefold "cloth diapers" you may find at Walmart, etc. that are made by Gerber along with the cheap vinyl pants to go over them.  They are cheap, leaky junk that will make you run from cloth diapering.  If you're on a budget, sew your own if necessary, using quality materials (even recycled material, if it's good enough)
-buy them secondhand...I know that may make some squeamish, but if you wash them with bleach (just this one time before using) it shouldn't be an issue

Online Resources:

30 Day Trial:  Diaper Junction's money-back offer to try cloth diapers for 30 days...can't beat that!  (In the interest of full disclosure: I do get a little "kickback" if you purchase through them. I appreciate the support!)
Diaper Pin FAQ:  An excellent place to start.  More information than anyone could ask for!  Tons of info on how to sew your own cloth diapers
Diaper Jungle:  Links for cloth diaper sewing and lots of other CD info

On a final note, lest someone catch me someday buying three boxes of diapers and a package of pullups in Walmart someday...I'm not perfect.  Like many things, I go back and forth between cloth diapering and disposables.  I want to do cloth all the time.  I need to, with our budget.  But with that many diapers to wash, I admit I'm not always steadfast.  I'm just sayin'!  ;-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Old Post: How I'm Making the Transition to Raw Foods

This post is the fifth in a series of posts done on an old blog, three years ago when I first went raw. At the time, I was pregnant, doing a high raw (80-90% raw) diet, and had gestational diabetes.
How I'm Making the Transition to Raw Foods - originally posted June 3, 2007

Being someone who doesn't really like to cook much (quite frankly, because I'm too lazy) I knew the transition to raw foods would be a challenge. I already liked salads and fruit, but there weren't a lot of veggies I liked raw. At least that's what I thought. I certainly wasn't looking forward to all the chopping and peeling. I'm just not a gourmet--all these complicated-sounding recipes intimidated me.

I knew I needed a plan. The easiest thing to start out with, in my thinking, was what I was used to. Later, I would have to get more creative to avoid boredom with my food, but I kept things simple to start. For breakfast, I usually have fruit. I may grab a banana to tide me over until the kids are eating their breakfast. Then I will sit down with something else, maybe an apple and a pear. I buy organic when I can afford it, so then I will just wash it and eat it with the peel on...good fiber. I may have some more fruit later for a snack--perhaps strawberries and cut fresh pineapple.

For lunch I would have a salad with lots of veggies--onions, red pepper, cucumbers, jicama. I still don't make my own raw dressing--for now I'm just using ranch. I usually put some shredded cheddar on top, but I'm trying to phase that out now. At dinner, I usually ate hummus and whole wheat crackers or egg salad in a pita (these are not raw, but I was eating only 70% raw at first) with some veggies, and a salad and salad veggies on the side. Later, when my husband came home from his second shift job, I would have a big salad, and maybe a little fruit later on before bed. Ironically, I've found my blood sugar in the morning tends to be lower if I eat a little fruit before bed.

All these meals are very good, and easy to make. The peeling and chopping can take a lot of time, especially if you don't have a food processor for the chopping, but I found a short cut. I do watch tv (I'm always giving it up then going back to it) so one night I sat down with a tray table i front of me, and a pile of veggies and containers. I spent a few hours slowly peeling and chopping while I watched tv. When I was done, I had a bunch of little containers full of pre-chopped fruit and vegetables. I then put the containers into rectangular plastic baskets to go into the fridge, one for veggies and one for fruits. This is much neater than a pile of produce that rolls off the shelf and bruises on the floor everytime you open the fridge. Plus produce won't get "lost" in the back, and be wasted. Now, whenever I make a salad, I pull out the lettuce and dressing, and the basket of veggies, and it is sooo quick and easy to make a salad.

A lot of fruit will turn brown if peeled ahead of time. You could toss is with a little lemon juice if you wanted to avoid the browning, or only chop one day's worth, and eat it soon. I like to peel an apple and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Then I just unwrap it and eat it the next day.
[Edit:  this was only if it wasn't an organic apple, otherwise I ate the peel...though I strongly suggest that apples should be the FIRST thing you buy organic, if you can at all afford it, because they are the most pesticide-laden produce there is.] There is very little color change. One day I cut up a bunch of fruit, tossed it in a bowl with some soaked walnuts, and mixed it with a little bit of vanilla yogurt (yogurt is not part of an all-raw diet). Then I had fruit salad for two days. It was so nice to see the delicious fruit salad waiting for me the next morning. It wasn't as fresh the second day, but still good.

When I was eating egg salad, I boiled and peeled a bunch of eggs, and kept them in a plastic container to keep them from getting dry. When I needed egg salad, I took out one or two and made it quickly, stuffing it into whole wheat, whole grain pitas with as many salad veggies as I could fit. I usually used one egg per pita half, but you may need more for a larger pita. I found myself wanting to eat two or three pita halves, so I stopped making this. That is the problem with not going 100%'s like giving up chocolate MOST of the time...sooner or later you're going to slide down that "slippery slope" into no-no land, and eat too much. I've heard a lot of people ended up going 100% raw just because they couldn't stop the eventual binging on cooked foods when they were only partly raw. They constantly fell off the wagon.

Right now, I almost never feel tempted by foods. I haven't had fast food, diet soda, or chocolate in two weeks. For me, that is a miracle. Sometimes I see a food in the store and think "that would be nice to have", but it isn't a craving. The only craving I had was the day I was having a bit of detox, and that was very mild...and probably because I was hungry.

The first day was the hardest, and it wasn't that hard at all. I just felt a mild hunger all day, just a kind of "hey, I have some room in my stomach that I need to fill" feeling. I was adjusting to not having that over-full feeling you get from overeating cooked food. After a day or two of stuffing myself full of as much raw food as I wanted to eat, I adjusted. You really can't overeat raw food. You might have too many calories if you eat a lot of nuts or avocados on a regular basis--it varies from person to person. But generally, you're not going to get fat. Most people find their natural weight on this diet...some lose, and some even gain, because they were too thin to begin with. 
[Edit: some thin people will lose a some weight as they detox, which sometimes makes family members worry, but then afterwards their body normalizes and they gain most of it back, and look great.]  I look forward to finding my natural weight...I just hope I don't have too much sagging skin when I get there!  [Edit:  I have heard stories of morbidly obese people who lost 100-200 pounds on raw, and their skin snapped right back, and some of them were older.]

I'm really enjoying this way of eating. I love fruit, and salads are great. Now that I'm used to eating raw, it's time to start experimenting with more complicated recipes. My husband and children are starting to eat raw. And despite the fact that over the last year or so my children have become a bit picky, they are really adjusting to the new foods. I started them out with a lot of fruit in the mornings and some with other meals. Now I'm moving them into salads and veggies, and they (except my picky one year old) are doing great. My husband, after seeing my transformation, is becoming interested, especially since I haven't pressured him, and told him he doesn't have to become vegan or go 100% if he doesn't want to.

This has been surprisingly easy for me so far, and I'm looking forward to evolving into a healthy person! I'm on my way already!

Old Post: A Raw Family

This is installment four of old posts I had made on my old blog, about three years ago. 

A Raw Family- originally posted June 3, 2007 

Wow, that last post was long! Sorry about that. So much to say, so little space.

I'm planning this week to phase my family into raw food. My husband is starting to read about it and show interest. So far the kids are enjoying their slow transition. I don't know if I'll go 100% with the kids, or not. I've read good things about kids on raw who have never gotten sick. If you know what you are doing, it is easy to make sure they get enough fat, calories and protein. I've found that it's a myth that you have to have meat to get enough protein. Pound for pound, nuts have way more protein than meat. Many veggies do too. Plus, cooked meat loses half it's protein, and what's left is denatured and harder to assimilate than plant proteins. I'm going to see how the kids do on high raw, and what my husband thinks about going 100% raw, before I consider having them go all-raw.

Right now I'm just doing research for recipes and ideas as I become more and more raw. I wanted to post a few links and other info I have found helpful.

I Beat Obesity - as mentioned before, great inspiration. She has a raw bootcamp, but she charges for it, and it's too expensive for me.
Raw Food Talk - also previously mentioned, it is Alissa Cohen's raw forum, and there are links to her other sites. I haven't read her book yet, but it comes highly recommended by many people
Raw Family - a whole family that went raw, and experienced weight loss and healing from several illnesses. Their book "12 Steps to Raw Foods" is a really good intro to raw and how to defeat your cooked food addictions. Their books "Raw Family" and "Green for Life" are also good, from what I've heard.
[UPDATE:  Green for Life is awesome, very informative, and if you start doing green smoothies it will change your life.]
Raw Times - click on the Recipes link at the top
The Sunny Kitchen
- a blog with really good recipes...this link goes straight to the All Things Chocolate post, which is great, but the whole blog is good
The Raw Table
- some interesting-sounding recipes
The Raw Food Gour
met- some of these sounded good, especially the carrot "cake"

Some of the recipes you read or see pictures of may sound unusual at first, but remember you are used to eating food cooked down to a sodden mess and then spiced like crazy to make it taste better (I now find cooked food very bland, after only two weeks). Many foods used in raw cooking may sound new and weird, but as your palate adjusts, you will find it easier to try and like new foods. In my next post, I'll tell you how I am making the transition to raw foods in an easy and tasty way. 

Update:  I plan to share more links of great raw sites, especially some YouTubers with good videos, in the next week or so.