Wednesday, December 30, 2009


What a crazy week and a half. Sean has been home from school working hard and making progress on the book. I've been squeezing in bits of school here and there. We've all been loving the extra time with family and friends. Sometimes it's just fun to play together. But now reality is here- 2010 is a few days away. January promises to be a very busy month with 16 basketball games and Sean traveling out of state seven days. I'd really like to get the budget set, filing done and some decluttering accomplished before he returns to work on Monday. We'll see.

As for the diet- we march onward. Gluten was introduced first with a variety of reactions. Miriam developed a new patch of eczema on her forehead (she's never had any on her face before). Lydia had a headache the first day, dizziness and brain fog the second day and huge lymph nodes with a diagnosed ear infection by the fourth day. She's now on antibiotics and we are awaiting her full recovery before we move forward. It was noticeable in others dark circles under the eyes, swollen eyes and generally moodiness the day after gluten. We decided to remain gluten free as a family for the remainder of the diet mostly for moral support. But I think it would benefit us all as we try to sort things out.

We did go ahead and introduce nightshades a few days ago out of desperation. The morale was LOW and the kids were just generally in a funk needing something to change. I chose nightshades simply because they are all whole foods and I don't suspect that there will be any problems. Everyone did great with these (thankfully). So now we have potatoes, tomatoes and peppers back in our lives. They've enjoyed mashed potatoes made with broth and kettle chips. What a treat!

How much longer? We have 9 more groups to introduce. The reality of it is that it's going to likely be at least another six weeks, if not longer. I'm thinking it will be more like 10 weeks. I'm hoping we can get it done by Spring Break.

Though it's getting easier in some ways, and more challenging in others, the benefits are clear to Sean and I. Everyone is feeling so much better in general. Sleep is restoring. There's no mid day slump in energy. Complexions and eyes are bright and clear. There is much less grumpiness from the little kids. Math fact are being learned and they are sticking. Sean and I have lost around 12 pounds combined without exercise. Seeing these small changes along the way are so encouraging.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Elimination Diet: The Numbers

We have made it through three weeks! Wow that is hard to believe, because frankly it's kept me so busy it seems like no time has passed at all. Tomorrow there will be a gluten ( not to be confused with gluttonous) fest here at our house. We will experience gluten for one day and one day only. Then we'll wait and watch to see if there are any reactions. I get asked a lot about what kind of reactions we expect. Initially, we will record our pulse before, 15 minutes after consumption and then again at 30 minutes. Other than that, there is a huge checklist of possibilities. I'm praying that any true reactions will be quite obvious.

Being the frugal gal that I am, I've found shopping for whole foods to be quite expensive. I think there are two things that come into play. First, there aren't sales, markdowns or coupons. Second, since we are not full of junk we simply want more volume of the real stuff. Also of note is that I'm having to travel about a half hour or more to get to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods to purchase things that just can't be found anywhere else.

I feel in many ways I'm starting from scratch here. My mind automatically knows what the best price is on processed foods, but venturing into natural foods is a whole different scene for me. So I've been going to the store ALOT more than I'd like, but I have been able to compile a list of price comparisons which will help me (and the budget) through the rest of this process.

I may not be able to cut costs tremendously, but I have found some great stock up deals each week. The first week it was 100% apple juice at Meijer for $1.00 and large cartons organic chicken stock for. $1.00 at Kroger. The next week Kroger was clearing out all of their brown rice cereal for $1.50 (they usually go for $3-4 a box). Last week it was 100% orange juice 1/2 gallons for $1.25 at Kroger. I've also found coconut oil for $1.99 marked down from $6.00. So there are deals to be had, but not guaranteed.

I haven't actually run the numbers on what's been spent in these three weeks. Honestly, I'm kind of afraid to do so. Perhaps I'll just start with this new found knowledge and be a little more intention in my planning this next month.

Here's the breakdown of cost comparisons for what it's worth:)

TJ=Trader Joe's
WM= WalMart

Rice Milk (64oz) $2.99 TJ/$3.24 WM/$3.39 M

Rice Milk (1/2 gallon refrigerated) $2.98 WM/$3.59 K

Almond Milk (32oz) $1.60 TJ/

Brown Jasmine Rice $3.29 TJ/

Wild Rice $3.47 WM/

Brown Rice (2lbs) $1.87 WM/ (1 lb) $1.25-2.20

Organic Brown Rice (2lbs) $2.97 WM/ $3.99 M

Brown Rice Flour $2.92 WM/ $2.99-3.29 K/ $4.24 Amazon/$4.99 M

Cream of Rice Cereal $3.86 WM/ $4.44 Amazon/

Dried Cranberries $.28/oz WM, $.42/oz K, $.17/oz S

Brown Rice Pasta $2.87-3.22 WM/ $1.99 TJ/ Amazon $3.31/$2.69-$3.39 M

Lentils (16 oz) $.98 WM/ $1.45-1.65 K/$1.69 M

Black Beans (16 oz) $1.12 WM/ $1.49 K

Agave Nectar (23.5 oz) $6.37 WM/ (11.75 oz) $4.22-$4.89 K/$2.99, (23.5) $5.17 Amazon- must buy 6+shipping

Truvia (80 pack) $6.99 K/ $5.86 WM

Coconut Milk $1.99-2.29 K/ $1.25 WM/ $1.99 M

Rice Noodles 16oz $4.13 K/ $1.39 TJ

Texmati Brown Rice (2lbs) $5.58 WM/ $5.97-6.55 K

Cashews $4.99 (1lb) M

Almonds $10.98 (4 lbs) S

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It's definitely winter. It's not only cold, but the children feeling (and acting) a bit pent up these days. It seems that the days are VERY long, yet the sunlight VERY short. Nonetheless, we are trying to stay warm and occupied. This won't be too hard once basketball season goes into full gear in a couple of weeks. But until then....

First Snowmen of Winter 2009

Watching a show online when chores are done at the end of the day.

Field trip downtown to the Rhythm! Discovery Center

The knitting needles have made a comeback

The newest game around here. Wall-eopoly.

Enjoying a quiet Lord's Day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Elimination Diet: What's been on the table?

All I can say at this point is that cooking completely from scratch is exhausting. My hat is off to all of you out there who do this from absolute necessity. I'm thinking of missionaries, who on top of living in sometimes adverse conditions with loads of responsibilities must spend time shopping and cooking and cleaning to this degree.

I have to admit that we've gone twice to Chipolte in these two weeks. They are very allergen friendly requiring the entire staff to change their gloves and utensils when filling our order. That was appreciated. We are able to order a bowl with rice, beans, chicken and lettuce. I could have so made this at home, but a break was much in order. Perhaps not the best use of money, but I'd like to think that my sanity is worth something.

With that being said, I'm happy to report that we are fairly settled in to our new routine. Everyone has found at least a few things that they like and now I feel like I can just cycle through the rotation. Hopefully, as I cook through these meals a second time I'll be able to put a few things in the freezer for the future or have leftovers for lunch.

Here's some samples from our first two weeks of a gluten, dairy, soy, corn, peanut, egg, nightshades, red meat, caffeine, alcohol and sugar free life.

Rice Noodles with Cashew sauce and Stir Fry Veggies (picking around the corn and peppers)

Baked Apples with cinnamon and apple juice

Blueberry pancakes

Mini turkey burgers with sweet potato fries and fruit salad

LOTS of smoothies and fruit drinks

Warmed apple cider with orange slices and cinnamon sticks

Pumpkin cake

Brown Rice pasta with Mushroom Nomato sauce and green beans

Coconut Breaded fish with sauted veggies, baked sweet potato and bread

We've also enjoyed: Black beans and Fajita Chicken with Lime/Cilantro rice
Salmon Cakes and Roasted Cauliflower
Banana Muffins
Chicken Soup
White Chili
Hummus and Fresh Vegetables

One wonderful thing about this diet is that there is not a speck of food wasted. We all seem to have a real appetite when we sit down and walk away from the table satisfied (most of the time). It is a challenge to keep up on the snacks, though. I'm finding that the kids need at least two snacks a day which usually ends up being trail mix (almonds/cashews/raisins/dehydrated bananas) or some sort of fruit. Last week they consumed 40 pounds of bananas and almost and entire box of oranges. The people at the grocery probably think I have monkeys living at my house!!

This week I'm going to attempt to make my own Nomato sauce. It was given to us by a friend to try and it is surprisingly just like tomato sauce!! However, it is quite expensive for just a jar that contains just two servings. Having that would open up a a lot of recipes for us.

I'm also going to try some grilled flatbread (if the weather stays clear). I think this would taste great with hummus. There is a coconut milk ice cream recipe that looks delicious, but, alas I have no ice cream maker. That one will have to wait.

I have some new grains on hand, so I might bake some more bread and muffins as well.

Hopefully, less time planning meals will mean more blogging this week. I have finally compiled my price list and have a lot of recipes to post over at the Full Table.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today was one of those days. One of those days that everyone seemed so needy and yet dissatisfied. One of those days when the same question is asked again and again to the point I thought I might explode. One of those days that I couldn't push back that overwhelmed feeling inside. One of those days when I honestly questioned if I'm making any impact at all. One of those days in which the inconvenient seemed to rule.

Just as we sat down to dinner I whispered to Sean, "I'm done. I seriously can't take anymore today."

Then the phone rang with tragic news from far away. Sean's cousin's baby girl died today unexpectedly at 36 weeks. Thinking of her and all that she has endured and picturing her husband receiving this tragic news in Afghanistan made my heart break. We prayed at the table asking that the Lord would somehow bring comfort and choked back tears while trying to swallow our food.

Today was one of those days I wish I could do over again. To listen a bit more patiently instead of interrupting. To hold my children a bit longer instead letting go to do my "work". To give a soft answer that instructed instead of accusing word. To respond to the inconveniences with a laugh instead of a heavy sigh.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finding Results

There are a few particular results that we are looking for with this Elimination Diet. None of us have ever been diagnosed with any specific food allergies, but there are some physical symptoms/behaviors that we hope will respond positively to this change. Here's the rundown:

1) Eczema- terribly uncomfortable, itchy, inflamed and infected. It has not responded to creams, environmental changes. It's just gotten worse. If steroids don't have to be used, that would be ideal.

2) Sensory Issues- one daughter has NEVER been able to tolerate certain types of materials and clothing. This really isn't a rebellion issue, but a sensory one that has impeded concentration and learning at times.

3) Inability to concentrate- My kids are not ADHD by any means, but more consistently lately have had problems with focusing and recall.

4) Chronic Ear Infections/Fluid- this translates into antibiotics several times a year and often missing intructions/ meanings in conversations and constant discomfort.

5) Irrational food cravings- sneaking foods and never satisfied

6) Bloating/Stomach Aches several times a week

7) Inability to loose weight

I'm happy to report these things after the first 7 days!

1) Only one stomach ache

2) Sensory child CHOSE to wear jeans three times this week. I even asked her if I could cut the tags out for her if they bothered her too much. She said she didn't even feel them.

3) The eczema improved initially, but then flared up terribly last night and today after exercise.

4) Everyone is more alert and then appropriately tired at the end of the day.

We are also tracking everyone's basal (morning) temperature and have found a steady increase across the board by about a degree. Initially, everyone was in the 96's and now we are in the 97's.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Elimination Diet: Week One

Thank you all for your encouraging words and interest. It really has helped considerably this past week.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that this first week hasn't been hard. It's true that much of our family life revolves around food and the comfort it brings. A jolting change has taken it's toll in different ways. I think for the most part the older members of the family have become acclimated to our current diet, while the little ones are just now realizing that things aren't going back to "normal' any time soon.

Last night at church was a particular challenge. We had our monthly fellowship meal after the evening service. I brought food that our family could eat, realizing that there was likely nothing else that would be available. As I was helping them through the line, poor Joseph stood in front of the brownies with big tears dropping. It was really hard for me to resist his pleas.

On the way home, we asked everyone to talk about how hard the situation was for them to say "no" to such yummy food on a scale from one to ten. The answers ranged from 3-9.5 (Joseph). He later recanted and changed his number to a "10".

Not that I love torturing my kids, but I'm seeing more value in the Elimination Diet then just nutritional/health. We know many people with food sensitivities that for a lifetime have to do what we did last night. We've seen people on the street walking past a restaurant with just the shirt on their backs looking in the window at the warm plates of food. It's a good thing in an all-you-can-eat world to just say "no" sometimes. Though it's hard now, I pray that these lessons will stick with them (and me).

We hit a low point on day four when my friend Jennie graciously called. She not only offered to have us over for dinner, but to teach us how to make bread. You would have thought that the National Guard had come in and swept us off our rooftop! Jennie's children have autism with food allergies, so she is well accustomed to cooking in this manner. It was a great encouragement and comfort to us.

We celebrated Lydia's birthday Friday night and I did my best to make it extra special. We ate coconut breaded fish, sweet potatoes, mushrooms/zuchinni, bread and applesauce cake. The cake didn't turn out as I had hoped, but they gobbled it down anyway. It tasted like warm apple pie.

We've been keeping a chart on the physical changes that have occurred in the past week. Stay tuned for those tomorrow. Also, throughout the week I'll be sharing some of our recipes and price comparisions that I've gathered from various stores.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 3: We're still alive

It's been a long few days. Running headfirst into the Elimination Diet has been no small task. Leaving behind what seems like all major food groups and embracing the "all natural" has been disruptive to both physically and emotionally to everyone on some level.

Physically, the younger kids have been more whiny and loud than usual. Most of us have had headaches throughout the day. The bathroom has had a workout (I'll spare you the details.) One of the girls has terrible canker sores now. I think lethargic would be the word to best describe our crew this week. I'm looking forward to the time when we turn the corner, that's for sure.

Emotionally, there have been some tears when having to turn down sweets from a neighbor. That was sad. I think that bread is missed above all else. One of the kids thought the other was eating bread and was so excited. It was just a banana:(

On the upside, no one is having trouble sleeping at night. There's not much that can keep me up past 10 it seems. Also, we are already seeing improvements in the eczema. The scaly rash is still there, but the redness is gone and there is no seeping.

Personally, I'd LOVE to have a Diet Coke right now. Driving down the road today, I think every single billboard was a McDonald's sign with a $1 Diet Coke advertised. That's just cruel. But, I am drinking water as I should and actually didn't mind it's nonflavorness so much today.

Being the cook right now has been interesting. I'm not used to fixing food that my family doesn't like. I was just about in tears tonight serving them dinner and being just sure that they were all going to gag. But to my surprise, they said it was their favorite yet. It reminded them of Chipolte.

Either they are getting really hungry, or they are feeling very sorry for me.

Brown Rice and Lentils with Cilantro Lime Chutney