3 Reasons You Should STOP Cooking So Much

In this day and age, with jam-packed schedules and seldom enough energy to go around, many people have been looking for an “out” on the whole cooking business.  No doubt, take-out is considered a “life-saver” for taking at least one thing off the proverbial “plate” of our daily lives, even as it has a way of generating more heartache and headache in the long run.

 Yeah, that’s not the “out” I’m giving you but I am giving you a perfect excuse to dial down the burners and STOP cooking so much.  The bonus?  Your family is going to reap MEGA bonuses in terms of their health!

Wielding nothing more than a knife and a cutting board, you too can whip up a number of delicious, no-cook dishes that can have your family rockin’ and rollin’ with good health!


Raw foods are nutritional powerhouses!  No – I’m not talking raw chicken, beef or eggs.  (I clarify because, yes, I’ve had people actually look at me with utter disgust when I say “eat more raw foods” and for whatever reason their minds race to raw meat.  Gross.  No.  If you’re going to eat meat, cook it.)

What I am talking about is piling that plate high with fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Raw foods not only support better digestion and assimilation of nutrients but also provide a wealth of other health benefits from supporting detox and reducing inflammation, to helping many overcome serious diseases and obstacles in their health.

No, you don’t have to go fully raw or full-on raw vegan.  BUT, we do all stand to benefit from increasing our consumption of fresh plant foods being as close to their natural state as possible.


Considered the “power of life,” enzymes are rich in raw foods but destroyed by processing and heating the food above 118°F.  “Eating an enzyme-rich diet is thought to increase vitality and slow the aging process. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., ‘Enzymes can even help repair our DNA and RNA.’”2

Science is steadily trying to catch up with enzymes and to fully understand their functions yet each marker toward that understanding only underscores their great importance.  (I absolutely loved reading over this article by Dr. Mercola.)

The short of it?  It is recommended that 75% of our diet come from raw food consumption to ensure we are getting plenty of enzymes to support vitality and our disease-fighting superpowers.


(Phyto – “plant”)

Plant foods contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals to build strong bones and give you great hair but that’s not all folks.  That’s not all!

Plant foods also contain thousands of phytonutrients that support more mechanisms than you can count.  We’re talking nutrients that fight cancer, balance blood sugar, support heart health and countless more that quite frankly rock my nerdy little nutritional world!  You just can’t get that anywhere else.

If you’re amongst those that’ve been taking comfort in some man-made multivitamin, thinking you’ve got the fam covered, I hate to be the one to break it to you but you’re not.  We need whole food nutrition.

The nutrients found in plant foods must not only be present but also consumed as part of a package deal.  The nutrients found throughout whole foods often work together synergistically to accomplish far more than they could ever accomplish on their own.  Some of these increase the functionality of the other.  Some are needed for better assimilation of other key nutrients.

Conclusion – Eat whole food plant food, dude!


This may not be one that gets a lot of thought but, yes, our food should also be helping us meet our needs for water.  Most American foods can be very dry, dehydrating the body as it has to use it’s own fluids to digest the foods, contributing to the constipation and other digestive woes that come with our traditional way of eating.

Raw fruits and vegetables contain an average of 82-89% water, helping to re-hydrate your body as it simultaneously supercharges it.  That may not seem like much but it certainly adds up throughout the day.  As a real plus, the water in organic fruits and vegetables can be much cleaner and purer than anything you’ll ever get out of a tap or a bottle; not to mention that it acts as a perfect carrier for all those water-soluble nutrients you’re getting from the food.

While you may not exactly be chomping at the bit to give up all your favorite, hearty cooked meals, I hope you’ll make it a point to finish with a raw apple or start with some raw greens.  Still, it’s really not all salads and apple slices.  Healthy, raw food recipes are in no short supply.  You don’t have to go fully raw to enjoy the benefits of simply eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Every little bit helps and even just a small effort to add a little more raw to each meal can pay off in dividends.

So, there you have it.  STOP cooking so much!  Back away from the burners and whip up a healthy blend of fresh chopped produce for dinner or lunch.  What do you say?


1 https://draxe.com/raw-food-diet/

2 http://kristensraw.com/why_raw_details_benefits.php

3 https://draxe.com/raw-food-diet/


Detox Your Home and Remove Harmful Toxins that Surround Your Child

Article provided byDr. Lisa Sulsenti  Dr. Sulsenti is a chiropractor, nutritionist, author, and crusader for families with the Autism Spectrum Disorders.  She is passionate about YOUR FAMILY and helping you build the healthy and happy balanced life with Autism Spectrum Disorders that you desire. Visit her at DrLisaSulsenti.com Be sure to check out her book: The Overtilted Child: Creating a Sensational Classroom for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sensory Processing Disorder, and ADD/ADHDavailable on amazon.  As originally featured in ASK DR LISA, FAMILY HEALTH

 ” Dr. Lisa, I loved your free Autism Awareness gift, Kid’s Healthy Shopping List, as I have begun the journey of removing harmful toxins and ingredients in my child’s food choices. It got me thinking – should I also be considering removing any harmful toxins in my home such as some that are in cleaners that I am using?  My daughter is such a big helper in doing her chores, so using safe products is something I would like to consider.” ~ Caroline , Texas

 If your life is anything similar to mine, balancing time to clean dirty toilets, bathrooms, showers, and kitchens is a juggling act. Top this magic trick with picking up dirty laundry, as well as, washing, sorting, folding and the dreaded putting clean clothes away, and you truly steal the show.  In fact, you are my superhero if you pull this all off in the midst of kids and work.

One of my favorite infrequent moments in my momma circus life, is when for some strange cosmic reason, my house is entirely clean. That is, all the rooms, laundry and floors. That very precious moment when I realize the mess and dirt is all gone. Clean. Healthy. Done.

 Well, maybe clean and done, but let’s question healthy.

You see, we typically equate a clean home to a healthy safe place for our children. And, the amount of work and magic that goes into making sure our homes are clean and safe for our children deserves superhero awards. However, if we use toxic chemicals to clean our homes, we actually are leaving behind unhealthy hazardous residues both on our home’s surfaces and in the indoor air that are extremely harmful to our family. Yikes.

Imagine. All that effort and craze to get our houses clean, yet we fail to keep our children healthy when we use the wrong cleaning products.

Insane, right?

It is super important to have your child involved in pitching in with the household cleaning and chores. Many kids as young as the age of three can help put toys away, keeping their play areas and bedrooms neat. As a child grows, one can start to use a non-toxic safe cleaner to wipe windows, tables and even counter tops. As your child matures, he/she can actually gain more responsibility in helping clean the home with chores such as loading and emptying a dishwasher and laundry machine, bringing down dirty laundry, folding and putting away clean laundry, cleaning a bathroom with safe cleaners and vacuuming.

In our home the rule is we all pitch in. We assign chores, but also will ask whatever child is home to help pitch in with a task that is age appropriate. I tell my boys that we are a tribe and we work together, pitching in so our family happily works. I do not pay them as being part of our tribe means doing their part without monetary reward. However, we gladly give our children some money to go out with their friends if they are doing their part. Groovy how we all reward our children differently and get them to pitch in!

If your child is using your household cleaners, let’s stop and dig deeper into why you must use healthy products only.

Through much of my research over the years, I have found that toxins in the home, food and environment are linked to creating health problems such as asthma, eczema, childhood and breast cancer and neurological problems such as behavior, learning and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation’s (CCRF), Toxic-Free Kids program encourages parents to use safe cleaning alternatives to lessen their children’s exposure to hazardous and potentially cancer-causing products that contain carcinogens such as kerosene, hydrochloric acid, ammonia and chlorine bleach. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution within our homes is a serious health concern.

Children are at a higher risk to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals because their immune systems, organs, tissues and nervous systems are growing and developing rapidly each and every day. Also, children tend to crawl, play in dirty areas, and use their hands and mouth to explore and learn about their world. Even as children get older, their play, behavior and lack of awareness to hygiene continues to make them more vulnerable. Adding harmful toxins for them to breathe in or lather onto their skin and hair only increases risks of health problems.

Household products such as bleach, ammonia, window, wood, oven, bath and toilet cleaners, dish and laundry detergents, and air fresheners can be dangerous to a child’s health.

The Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) has developed a list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to have a link to autism and learning disabilities. The top ten chemicals are lead, methylmercury, PCBs, organophosphate pesticides, organochlorine pesticides, endocrine disruptors, automotive exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds.

At this time, two papers were published by researchers from University of California – Davis suggesting the need for more studies. One stated a correlation that PCBs disrupt early brain development and another advised the exploration of the link between pesticide exposure and autism.

It is true; a CLEAN house can be a harmful to our children. Ugh.

What You Can Do to Create a Healthy Clean Home

Our goal is to build a family and home that is safe, healthy and clean for our children. In order to do so, you must be aware and avoid the following common household cleaning chemicals. They are reported to be toxic and create diseases such as breast and childhood cancer, asthma, eczema and neurological problems.

Common Toxic Cleaning Chemicals to Avoid

Alkylphenols are chemicals used in detergents and other cleaning products. They’re also found in personal care products, especially hair products. These chemicals interact with cellular estrogen receptors in the body, capable of creating estrogen displacement and havoc.

Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal chemical used in cleaning products and household items such as soaps, detergents, toothpastes, mouthwash and cleaning supplies. The pesticide chemical can affect the body’s hormone systems, such as thyroid hormones, and consequently, may disrupt normal breast development.

Aldehydes, such as glutaraldehyde, are chemicals that may cause when the are breathed in or come in contact with the skin. They can cause permanent damage to the eyes, ears, nose , throat and lungs. Formaldehyde is a lung and respiratory irritant and is also classified as a category 3 carcinogen. Formaldehyde is commonly used as a preservative in cleaning products.

Benzalkonium Chloride is a sensitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions such as eczema and chronic dermatitis. There is also a stated correlation between an increase in childhood asthma and the exposure to this chemical through household disinfectants, sanitizers, and personal care products.

Sodium Hypochlorite is a strong oxidizer that can burn skin and cause eye damage. Mixing bleach with other household products can be extremely dangerous. According to the American Association of Poison Control Center’s annual reports, sodium hypochlorite has been implicated in many household accidents and/or deaths.

Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly used to render plastics soft and flexible. They are found in plastics, cosmetics, fragrances especially in cosmetics and household cleaners, baby care products, building material, modeling clay, cars and insecticides. They enter the body by skin, ingestion, inhalation and medical injection. They are found in the air and dust in homes.

Ammonia Hydroxide is a common sanitizer used in the home, and according to the World Health Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is considered carcinogenic. It also had been linked with creating health problems with skin, liver, kidneys, lungs and eyes. The Environmental Working Group has stated a correlation with asthma, respiratory and skin issues as well.

Dyes in Cleaning Products

Dyes in cleaning products are often unlabeled on the products’ ingredient lists, but are often comprised of several different chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Dyes in food and cleaning products have been linked to cancer and neurological problems, such as behavior, attention, learning problems.

Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, and Green 3 are derived from coal tar and petroleum, and according to the Center of Science in Public Interest (CSPI) have or have been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The British Food Standards Agency in 2001 concluded after a study that 6 dyes/colorants and sodium benzoate were linked to increasing hyperactivity and ADD in children. As a result, the European Union Law required all beverages with these 6 dyes to have warning labels that consumption can lead to hyperactivity. We must be aware that our children are not ingesting dyes through foods or inhaling it the air as well.

How to Detox and Create a Toxic-Free Home

You are a supermom. Your hard work and love does not go unnoticed. Simply yield here and allow this as an opportunity to learn and grow.


Vinegar works great at removing grease, dirt and grime. It is acidic in nature and has a super antibacterial effect. I use it on the floors, counter tops in bathroom and kitchens, toilets, mirrors and windows. Mix 1 cup of vinegar with water in a bucket or spray bottle. Safe and fun for the kids.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is great as an abrasive and replaces products such as Comet or Soft Scrub by miles. It works great on the toilets, tubs, showers and places that need a tougher scrubbing such as the stove. If you need more power, simple add a little salt to it. Safe for the kids too!

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has the power to kill mold and beat grease. It also leaves a great lemon fresh scent. Simply mix lemon juice with vinegar or olive oil to create a lovely safe and strong cleaning product.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide has an amazing ability to remove stains and cut through tougher grease and dirt. Mixing it in a spray bottle with water is a great cleaner and also can be a safe spot remove when doing laundry.

Homemade Laundry and Dish Detergents

There are many recipes today on the internet and Pinterest on how to DIY your own laundry and dish detergents. Look at this great website that even has a DIY dryer sheets, keeping your house and cleaning products safe and healthy for your kids.

The Home Detox Online Course

My friend and environmental engineer Laura Trotta has a fantastic website and  an online program, the Home-Detox Boot Camp, where she shares her framework for a cleaner, greener, healthier home. It is where I learned all I need to know on how to clean my house naturally and safely.

Remember, harmful toxins in food, our homes and environments can create neurological problems in the body. Thus, having a harmful toxin-free home helps our children regulate their nervous systems and overcome challenges related to asthma, allergies, sensory processing, ADD/ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Clean. Safe. Healthy.

I now feel like a real Super Mom. You will too!

A Note from the Editor

If you’ve found this article helpful to you, please be sure to SHARE it with friends.  Also, be sure to hop on over to learn more about Dr. Sulsenti at DrLisaSulsenti.com and give her Facebook Page a LIKE to stay in the loop and receive all the many great resources she continues to offer!










Article originally published MAY 9, 2015

Companion Planting Guide

Companion planting is defined as the close planting of different plants that enhance each other’s growth or protect each other from pests.

While soil, sun & nutrients are all essential considerations in the garden, it may also serve you well to take a moment to consider what you are or aren’t planting alongside that prized garden crop.

Some plants, especially herbs, act as repellents, confusing insects with their strong odors that mask the scent of the intended host plants.  Some companions act as “trap plants,” luring insects to themselves. Nasturtiums, for example, are so favored by aphids that the devastating insects will flock to them instead of other plants.

Incompatible plants are sometimes referred to as combatants. For example:

  • While white garlic and onions repel an array of pests and make excellent neighbors for most garden plants, they stunt the growth of beans and peas alongside them.
  • Potatoes and beans grow poorly in the company of sunflowers, and although cabbage and cauliflower are closely related, they don’t like each other at all.

One of the keys to successful companion planting is observation. Keep a record of your plant combinations (even if you just dash through the garden snapping photos to remember what was planted well and to see how it’s faring) and the results from year to year.


Banner Companion Planting

Eden Life’s Companion Planting Guide

Even plants in woodlands can be companions.  Blueberries, mountain laurel, azaleas, and other ericaceous (heather family) plants thrive in the acidic soils created by pines and oaks.  Shade-loving plants tend to seek the shelter provided by a wooded grove.  The shade-lovers in return protect the forest floor from erosion with their thick tangle of shallow roots.

 Legumes and some trees, such as alders, have symbiotic relationships with bacteria in the soil that help them to capture nitrogen from the air and convert it to fertilizer, enriching the soil so plants can prosper in their presence.

Sometimes plants may be helpful to one another only at a certain stage of their growth. The quantity and ratio of different plants growing together is often a factor in their compatibility.  Some plants make good companions for no apparent reason whatsoever.

You might assume that keeping a garden weed-free would be a good thing, but even that’s not always the case. Certain weeds pull nutrients from lower layers of the soil and bring them close to the surface. When the weeds die and decompose, nutrients become available in the surface soil and are more easily accessed by shallow-rooted plants.  Still, you want to keep an eye out for tenacious weeds, such as nutsedge which an even emit a chemical underground that tells other local plants to straight “back off!”

Perhaps one of the most peculiar examples of strange garden friends is the relationship between the weed stinging nettle and several vegetable varieties. For no presently known reason, plants grown in the presence of stinging nettle are said to display exceptional vigor and resist spoiling.

Could we agree that God has made His creation undeniably incredible?  Not that you didn’t suppose so before but the more I learn about things like health and gardening and really most anything I endeavor to delve into, the more I am just flabbergasted at the intricate work of our Maker’s hands.  Don’t you just find it astounding that He has integrated so much depth, diversity and mystery into so many things, just waiting to lead us on a journey to learn more about Him through it all?

How I Got My Son to Choose “Healthy” Foods with Dr. Sina McCullough

After catching her recent article on Dr. Axe, where she wrote about her journey in overcoming autoimmune disease, I just had to reach out to Dr. Sina to see if she’d be willing to share some of her family’s story with all of us her at SKT.  I have to say, getting to connect with this woman has been such a gift.  I know you all are just going to love her!   Don’t forget to FOLLOW her on social and give her article some LIKES and SHARES!

How I Got My Son to Choose “Healthy” Foods

 Article by Dr. Sina McCullough   Dr. Sina holds a doctoral degree in Nutritional Science and a bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior from the University of California at Davis. She has taught Biochemistry and Bioenergetics at UC Davis and has served as Director of Research and Development in the supplement industry. She is now the homeschooling mother of  two on a mission to help restore the integrity of our food, protecting the long-term health and freedom of her family and families around the globe. Be sure to check out her book, Hands Off My Food!  You can also visit her online at HandsOffMyFood.com. While at the grocery store last week, I came across a new organic fruit called Cotton Candy grapes.  The name sounded fun, so I brought them home for my 7-year old son, Hunter.  However, when I offered him the Cotton Candy grapes, Hunter looked at me with a questioning eye and said, “Those grapes sound like they are GMO.”  He wouldn’t eat them until we verified that the grapes were, in fact, not genetically modified.

 This wasn’t an isolated incident.  Hunter has demonstrated similar behaviors on other occasions – even turning down free chocolate chip cookies in the classroom.  Hunter doesn’t blindly trust our food supply.  He questions the food he eats and makes choices based on his principles, which include: no GMOs, grains, additives, preservatives, or artificial/natural colorings or flavors.  In fact, his behavior has prompted fellow moms and even strangers to ask me:

“How did you get your son to choose ‘healthy’ food?”  Meet Hunter!  Hunter is on a mission:  to inspire other kids to enjoy amazing eats and incredible health.  This kid doesn’t just rock his take on some delectable cookies, he’s already written his first recipe book and launched his own brand!  His passion for healthy living is incredibly refreshing and inspiring to us all! Be sure to check out his cookbook, Rattlesnake Treats! 

That’s the crazy part; I didn’t.  He made the decision on his own, by utilizing my guidance and experience with food.  Hunter watched me battle an autoimmune disease that was caused by food.  He saw me at rock bottom when my body hurt so badly that Hunter had to hold a cup to my mouth so I could drink.  But, he also witnessed God reverse my disease through diet and lifestyle changes.  That experience helped shape his relationship with food – he saw that food can kill and food can heal.

While my illness helped guide Hunter, so did my childhood experiences.  For example, as a child, I never thought about the GMOs, pesticides, or synthetic additives that were in my food.  In fact, I used to sneak junk food all the time.  I wasn’t allowed to have sugar – not even the typical kid’s cereal.  We didn’t even have sugary foods in our house, except for table sugar.  Consequently, I became obsessed with finding and eating sugar.  I used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and lick sugar from the sugar jar.  At school, I routinely got in trouble for trading my sandwiches for my friends’ cookies.  And, when I was older, my sister and I would steal money from my Dad’s coin jar and walk to the local gas station to buy candy bars.  We’d hide in the tall weeds behind the store and eat the candy before anyone could catch us.

Because of my defiant behavior around food, I took a different approach with Hunter.  I never told him “you have to eat your veggies” or “no dessert until you eat your broccoli.”  I knew that if I forced Hunter to eat the foods I wanted him to eat, or restricted him from eating the foods he wanted to eat, one day he would rebel – just like I did.  Instead, I chose to educate him so he could make informed decisions, even when I’m not around.

I armed him with knowledge

and gave him the freedom to make his own choices.

I encouraged Hunter to walk beside me on our journey by creating an environment that promotes “healthy” living, but doesn’t demand it.  I modeled the behaviors I wanted him to follow and stood for the principles I hoped he would adopt.  By allowing him to opt-in to the lifestyle I was trying to create, Hunter felt empowered.  He could exercise his right to choose his own path:

He decided what constitutes “healthy” food.

       He chose to align himself with my dietary principles.

My approach is not perfect.  It takes effort, time, and won’t work for everyone.  But, so far, it’s working for us.  For example, I used to worry that Hunter would make “bad” choices when I’m not around or that he would cave into peer pressure.  But, then I saw him turn down a cookie in front of his entire class, and he didn’t know I was there.  Plus, Hunter is surrounded by “unhealthy” foods every day – at grocery stores, restaurants, church, class, and birthday parties – and he hasn’t caved into the temptation.  In fact, Hunter is challenged with tempting foods every day in our own home.

 Most of our kitchen pantry contains the foods Hunter and I eat – foods that are aligned with our principles.  But, roughly a third of our pantry looks like an organic version of the typical American diet, including: cookies, chips, pizza, toaster pastries, and cereals containing synthetic chemicals.  There are also candies containing dyes and artificial ingredients.  That food belongs to my husband, whose diet is almost the exact opposite of Hunter’s diet, and mine.  And, that’s okay.  That’s his choice.  In fact, my husband’s diet has provided an excellent learning opportunity for Hunter.

 We don’t have to agree on which foods are “healthy.”

We love Hunter’s determination to stand by his principles and safeguard his right to real, wholesome eats! Discover your principles and stand by them.

By encouraging Hunter to discover his principles and teaching him to stand by them, he developed great resolve.  Hunter can be surrounded by “unhealthy” foods in our own home and not cave into the temptation, even at the age of seven.  He knows what’s in those foods.  He has decided they are not aligned with his principles.  So, he doesn’t eat them.  In fact, when my 3-year old son wants to “eat the food that Daddy eats,” Hunter teaches him why he believes those foods aren’t good for his body.

 Hunter’s perspective on food and his desire to stay true to his principles didn’t happen over night.  It took work and patience.  We still occasionally have challenging moments.  That’s when I practice grace by changing my approach to meet Hunter where he’s at, and I remind myself of the goal: To create an environment that fosters “healthy” living while allowing Hunter the freedom to discover his own path.

 The journey looks different for every family.  Here are a few strategies that have worked for us:

I model the lifestyle I want him to follow.

I set an example by eating the way I want him to eat.  I still have issues with sugar, so I occasionally eat too many cookies and feel sick to my stomach.  When that happens, I acknowledge my mistake and demonstrate grace in front of Hunter.

I value relationships above food.

Food is no longer the center of our holidays.  Instead, we focus on the meaning of the day.  For example, on Thanksgiving, our family practices gratitude by participating in a service project.  Then, I cook a simple, traditional meal of fish that takes no longer to prepare than a non-holiday meal.  Since I’m not exhausted from spending hours in the kitchen, I’m able to spend quality time with my family.

During the school year, I host “Simple Gatherings” for Hunter’s friends, which are kid’s holiday parties without food.  We focus on games, crafts, and enjoying our time together.  His friends love the parties and have never complained that there is no food.

I tell him the truth.

I teach Hunter about what’s in our food, how it got there, how our bodies process that food, how food can lead to disease, and how food can heal our bodies from disease.  I explain the information at an adult level, but I use analogies that Hunter relates to.  For example, Hunter recently told me he didn’t want to eat a second cookie because sugar “helps the bad guys win.”  He’s referring to sugar feeding the “bad” bacteria in his gut, which can lead to gut dysbiosis and inflammation.

Importantly, I never speak to Hunter from a place of fear.  Even when I was battling an autoimmune disease, I told him that God would heal my body – and He did.  I tell Hunter the truth, as I see it, while focusing on hope and positivity.

I invite “experts” into our home.

I routinely listen to free on-line health summits in our home.  They keep me up-to-date in my field.  But, they also teach Hunter about health and wellness.  He doesn’t sit down and listen to the summits, but Hunter does absorb bits of information as the summits play in the background.  Having “experts” in our home also helps reinforce the concepts that I’m teaching him – even though I have a Ph.D. in Nutrition, to Hunter I’m “just Mom.”

I encourage him to play in the kitchen: In an effort to help him connect with our food, I encourage Hunter to cook with me.  I teach him how to follow recipes, but I also provide space for him to make his own creations.  Experimenting with food has expanded his creativity and motivated him to continue cooking.

Our cooking sessions are also when I share stories about our food, such as: where our food comes from, why I choose to eat certain foods and avoid others, and how to listen to your body to figure out your individual needs.

We play with our food.

I often make pictures with Hunter’s food.  Yesterday, I drew a happy face using blueberries for the eyes, hummus for the nose and carrot strips for the mouth.  It’s simple, only takes a few seconds, and it engages Hunter in the meal.

We hunt for food together

Hunter flips through cookbooks and picks recipes for us to try.  He also helps plan our meals for the week, and he selects our produce at the supermarket.  Currently, he is learning to pack his own snacks and lunches.

I don’t deprive him

When Hunter wants a cookie, he eats one.  He used to go over-board with sugar.  But, now that he’s grounded in his principles, he self regulates – usually stopping at one or two cookies.

I also keep homemade desserts in the freezer that are aligned with his principles.  So, when he’s invited to a birthday party, instead of feeling left out, he can celebrate with the other children while eating a treat that he feels good about.

I don’t use food as a reward

I don’t want Hunter to associate food with love, like I do, so we don’t use food as a reward (or a punishment).  Instead, I reward with affection and praise.

I expose him to “bad” foods

When trying to eat “healthy,” it’s commonly recommended to throw out the junk food in your home to avoid temptation.  As previously mentioned, we intentionally surround Hunter with junk food.  For example, even though nobody eats it, we keep last years Halloween candy in the pantry.  Hunter has never asked to eat it, and has never tried to sneak it.  In fact, he conducts experiments with the candy, which help him learn about the chemicals they contain.

I gave him ownership

When Hunter learned about the hidden chemicals in our food that can make us sick, he wanted to help other kids by providing “healthier” alternatives.  So, he created his own dessert line, Rattlesnake Treats: Take the Bite Out of Sweets.  Hunter’s goal was to give kids a choice: “We can eat treats that have hidden chemicals, or we can eat the foods God gave us.”

I guided Hunter as he developed his business, but the project was created and driven by him.  He decided to launch his product line at a Homeschool Entrepreneur’s Fair.  Then, he sold his treats at a local event featuring Sandy Rios and Congressman Dave Brat.  Afterwards, he decided to package his product line into an electronic cookbook, Rattlesnake Treats, and sell it online.  He included product comparisons that we developed together, which were a critical tool in his understanding of the chemicals that exist in common candies and desserts.  And, now he’s developing a cooking class for kids called Candy Chemistry.

 Giving Hunter ownership of his dietary principles, food choices, and business was scary.  What if it backfired?  What if he chose to eat junk food all day?  The doubts and fears seemed endless.  But, I’m glad I took the risk and kept the faith because it was one of the best decisions I have made.  Over the past couple of years, Hunter has flourished.  He used to be shy and insecure, but now he’s comfortable and confident being himself.  He’s happy.

And, I have peace of mind knowing I don’t need to worry that Hunter will make “bad” choices or that he’ll sneak down stairs and steal licks of sugar from the sugar jar.  I trust Hunter and he trusts me.  Both of us know that we’re not perfect.  We both will make mistakes.  And, when we do, we’ll practice grace by standing for one of our life principles:

 Love over fear.

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Summer Digestion Made Simple

Article provided byClaire Morris, ND  Dr. Claire Morris, ND is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Master Herbalist & Certified Natural Health Practitioner.  She is highly passionate about helping others regain health freedom, vitality and abundance using nutrition and gentle, non-invasive, natural remedies.

Perhaps you’ve noticed your digestion causing discomfort, especially in the summer.  There are a number of reasons for this and a few simple suggestions to alleviate the symptoms.

Articles concerning what and why summer heartburn happens are in abundance.  Some believe there are eight foods that trigger the acid response.  Others believe taking over-the-counter pharmaceuticals is a solution.  In case you were curious about the eight foods, they are: hotdogs, cheeseburgers, baked beans, lemonade, ice cream, corn on the cob, BBQ Ribs, and iced coffee.  While those may cause some stomach distress, because of the extra fat content and spices, I would like to offer another consideration.

In the winter months it is common to consume more of the “meat and potato” type diet, which is not a bad combination, when it comes to digestion in the stomach.  When summer arrives, we begin to eat more fresh and raw produce, along with the meat and potatoes.  This is when the trouble begins.

Food combining is a practiced form of chemistry, balancing acids and bases that can neutralize each other.  The food combining diet can be particularly useful for individuals that suffer from acid reflux or chronic indigestion.  Because stomach stress is relieved by this form of eating, often weight loss and health will follow.  Some people begin to notice a difference almost immediately.

Here are a few tips to put good food combining practices to use in your household this summer:

  • Melons should ALWAYS be eaten alone!  Melons are a summer fruit which break down quickly, in as little as twenty minutes.  So wait at least that amount of time before consuming any other food.
  • Liquids should be taken separately, as well.  This includes water.  There are some conflicting opinions on this point as it is believed that consuming too much water with a meal dilutes stomach acid, impeding digestion.  I suggest drinking only enough to wash the food down.
  • Fruit, in general, should be consumed on their own.  Some believe morning to be the best time to consume these as it is the time when the body is already cleansing and eliminating.
  • Proteins (beans, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, poultry) should be eaten separately from starches (at different meals) but vegetables may be combined with both proteins and starches.  Potatoes are considered a vegetable, not a starch, for combining purposes.  Stomach acid is required for digestion of proteins, and if starches are combined with the proteins, the digestive environment is neither acid nor alkaline enough for either food group to be absorbed well.
  • Starches are, usually, digested well when consumed alone or with vegetables.

Perhaps, you’ve noticed when you combine certain foods, it causes tummy trouble.  In our culture it’s not as common to think we have too much acid when we actually have too little.  When there is not enough digestive acid, the foods break down differently and cause gas which pushes into the esophagus, burning and resulting in belching and inflammation.  Sugars break down more quickly than proteins, so, save that dessert for a couple of hours later.

If this doesn’t’ appeal, (which I think it is at least worth trying), consider digestive enzymes before reaching for the acid blockers.  This also good if you’ve eaten too much and need relief.

Here’s to a well digested summer… Enjoy!

Article originally published 6/25/2013 & republished 7/11/2016