Resolution: Lose Fat, Gain Muscle

This is the second post in my Resolution series; the first one dealt with decluttering and organizing, which I am still very enthused about.  This post focuses on health pertaining to body composition.  I am just as excited about my plan to lose excess fat and build metabolicly active muscle. Not only are the mushy muscles and blobs of fat covering them unsightly, they are also unhealthy for many reasons.

Originally at the beginning of the month I just figured I would do something Paleo because I have had success with that and I feel good eating that way, but I felt directionless and wanted more. Voila! Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple recently announced the 21 Day Challenge that begins on Monday January 12th.

I have participated in this challenge 3 or 4 times.  They previously have taken place in September, and I was so bummed this past September when it did not launch.  I was informed when I inquired about it via email that 21 Day Challenge was being postponed until January to hitch onto the New Year’s resolution energy and momentum.  Good idea!

So I am inviting you to join me. It is interesting, a lot of fun, and a good way to get healthy changes going.  The challenge involves eating life-giving food, increasing fitness levels, developing better sleep habits, reducing stress, and much more, all with a spirit of fun and encouragement.

Go to the 21 Day Challenge to check it out and sign up.  There are so many things that you will find for free. I really think you will enjoy this and benefit from it. I would love to hear your success stories at the end of the 3 weeks and what you thought of the challenge.

I challenge YOU!

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Resolution: Dejunk

Resolution city is occupying space in my brain lately. I always love the new year with its new beginnings.  One of my resolutions this year is to simplify/dejunk/organize more. It is then not surprising that I was intrigued to find a decluttering site: Declutter Your Home In 15 Minutes a Day that just takes around 15 minutes a day to achieve everything you want in life (this is my brain taking extra leaps and bounds). Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you so you can follow the plan and have gobs of extra time to read my other resolution posts that will be shortly forthcoming.

This site has a 12 month declutter calendar to print for free: I actually started on January 1, but it would not be very difficult for you to catch up as some of the assigned tasks do not take even 15 minutes and some are not even applicable. Like I don’t have a basement, so on basement days I can either rest, catch up, or get ahead. I can sense your interest intensifying. I probably need to admit here that I am sort of an impetuous type; I get all excited, jump in with both feet, then putter out due to something like boredom or realizing that it was a stupid idea.  However, here I am, days later, still excited about dejunking and organizing my home plan, and I can really see myself continuing with it all year, enthusiastically even.

Clutter is stressful. Stress is unhealthy. So resolve to do something about it this year. It will be fun and satisfying.

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Flu and Cold Season is Coming

The last time I got a cold or flu was February 2011. There were a few times since then that I felt like I was coming down with something, but I fought back quickly and was the victor. I firmly believe that the best way to avoid colds, the flu, and other viruses is by keeping your terrain strong like by eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, avoiding stress, exercising, and avoiding junky, processed, sugar-laden foods. It is also very helpful to wash your hands frequently and not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, which are all entry points for the bugs.

The way viruses work is they get in your system and start multiplying. So the best way to fight a virus is to launch a strong attack when you feel the very first symptom signaling a viral attack; attack it back as fast and hard as you can. Viruses multiply insidiously, kind of like that money thing I am sure you have heard about where if you start off with one penny on January 1st and double the amount each day, by the end of the month you would have about a gazillion dollars. In this respect, viruses are like pennies, except cold and flu viruses work much faster than doubling pennies. It is also important to remember that when you feel better stay diligent for the next few days in case there a few little viruses hanging around ready, like Jason in those horror movies, to assault you just when you think that you are safe.

Interesting virus fact: It is very rare to get a cold when you have the flu, and vice versa, at the same time because your body has already mounted an attack on viruses.

Attacking Oncoming Virus Regimen:

My top 2 recommendations are coconut oil and elderberry extract when I feel like I am coming down with something. I make green tea and add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and 1-2 tablespoons of elderberry extract (see note below), and drink that a few times a day. Prophylactically, I drink this concoction on most days that I work during the flu season.

Then also hammering it with:

  • Vitamin C: 1000 mg 3X daily or more
  • Echinecea: I brewed my own in vodka, but you can also buy the tincture at a health food store like Whole Foods. Hold it in your mouth for a couple of minutes, then swallow. If it is effective stuff you should feel tingling in your mouth. This is good for the gums too.
  • Garlic: Raw, anyway you can get it in your body or capsules for the wimp
  • Cold-Eeze: According to package. This is important because the zinc is toxic to the virus and sucking on it bathes the virus in one of the places it is first hanging out: your throat. Use caution. You can use too much of zinc.
  • Lots of liquids, chicken soup, tea, etc.
  • Reduce stress, increase rest
  • Mentally attack the virus and resolve not to give in
  • Sweating can be helpful, and hot baths
  • Vitamin D3

The more artillery you use the better, in my opinion. A final thought I would like to pass on is that I use a lot of coconut oil all of the time.  I cook with it like with roasting or sauteeing vegetables, I stir it in my tea, and I have a jar in the bathroom which I use on my skin.  I think this keeps me from getting cold and flu viruses and explains why I rarely get them even though I am highly exposed to them being a nurse in a facility where many people come in sick.

***Elderberry Extract is a syrup you can buy at a health food store or on Amazon.  It is kind of pricey, especially for the amount needed if you actually get sick. However, I recently came across a recipe from Wellness Mama to make your own that sounds easy and will be a lot less expensive.  Also, I think it will be more healthy because you can control the ingredients.  

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Food Inspiration

Well here it is, autumn, and I have felt inspired by it and a couple of other things lately to cook more delicious food.  I now have a pot of pork green chili stew simmering in the oven.  A recipe I kind of made up based on the ingredients I had on hand today.  I hope it is delicious.  One thing I know is that it is chock full of nutrients.

As for one of my other inspirations, the other night we watched an old movie called Babette’s Feast.  I highly recommend it if you are in the mood for a deeply satisfying movie that you will want to ponder over afterward.  Anyway, in the movie, surprise, Babette makes a feast. So, I wanted to make a savory small scale feast for when Husband gets home from a tiring day at work.  Another thing that has been inspiring me is watching Emmy award winner Anthony Bourdain on TV.  He is a very engaging chef who travels to cities in the United States and exotic places around the world sampling their food and culture.  Warning #1: Do not attempt to watch it unless you have a plate of food to eat in front of you.  It will just make you hungry. Warning #2: Do not attempt to watch it with young children.  It should be rated PG-13 due to rough language at times.  Bourdain actually has two shows, The Layover, which showcases a city that he experiences for 24-48 hours depending, and Parts Unknown, a great travel show focusing a lot on food.

Sometimes we need inspiration.  Sometimes we bore ourselves to tears.  I hope this inspires you to throw some broth, meat, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, greens, and whatever else seems good, into a pot and let it simmer.  I won’t add, “all you need to do is add a loaf of crusty bread” because I hate it when people say that.  I love crusty bread. They need to be more sensitive to the gluten-free people, the paleo crowd, and those wanting to lose some weight who need to avoid crusty bread.

The flipside of fast, life-draining food like Taco Bell and McDonald’s is easy, life-giving food like I described above that can be started in the morning in a crock pot or later in the day simmering on the stove or in the oven. It probably took me 20 minutes to throw into a pot, in this case a Dutch oven, then it cook for a few hours while I did other things.

Addendum: The pork green chili stew turned out great and was very satisfying. And clean up was a cinch-just one pot.



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Quirky Thursday: Eating Placenta Healthful?

One of my four pregnant daughters recently asked me to do a blog post on eating the placenta after one has given birth.  Yes, it does have a name: placentophagy.  Said daughter is considering doing this.

Before we discuss why one would do this, we will discuss how.  The placenta is usually encapsulated after being dried and ground. But some people eat it raw, or steam it and incorporate it into food sliced or ground, make it into jerky-like pieces, or freeze small pieces to add to smoothies. Some people choose to process the placenta themselves; others hire people to pick up the placenta right after the time of delivery and take care of the unsavory business. The cost for the latter ranges from about $150-$350.

Most mammals eat their placenta. Most humans do not.  It is postulated that animals may do this more due to a housekeeping issue like keeping predators away rather than an instinctive healthful practice. According to Beacock (2012) and Schwartz (2014), however, some humans think that placentophagy can be healthful by providing nutrients, especially iron and vitamin B6, hormones, and opioids; all adding to a sense of well-being.  It is also thought to increase milk production. Some, on the other hand, worry that the placenta may contain toxins and other undesirable substances that the placenta filters.

Supposed benefits: (1) replenishes iron losses more effectively than iron supplementation or eating iron-rich foods.  Iron-deficient anemia is associated with post-partum depression, (2) placentophaphy is thought to replace hormones that the mother’s may have suddenly become deficient in.  These include cortocotropin-releasing-hormone which affects cortisol levels; progesterone; and lactogen, which is thought to help stimulate milk production, (3) pain relief or suppression due to placental opoid-enhancing factor (POEF), (Schwartz, 2014). The placenta also contains calcium, magnesium, and other healthy trace minerals and amino acids.

Unfortunately, the evidence and research is limited to support the various claims. However, it has been used by traditional Chinese medicine for more than 1400 years, and, anecdotally,  many new mothers attest to placentophaphy being very helpful.

One study done by the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2010 using 189 women showed that most women said they would eat their placenta again.  Forty-three percent reported negative side effects: the gross factor-unappetizing, burping, and headaches, which do not really sound very daunting.

Although I am not actually opposed to placentophagy, I am not sorry that I did not partake in it after giving birth to my six children, even though I certainly could have used the reported benefits.  Can I give my opinion here?  It just doesn’t seem natural.  I would rather obtain these benefits in other ways, or perhaps even suffer a little. But it is an interesting practice to consider.

Just a side note, interestingly, as I finish writing this, the first of four daughters due to have babies within five months of each other is now in labor.  All four of them are having boys.  Now that is quirky.

Beacock, M. (2012). Does eating placenta offer postpartum health benefits.  British Journal of Midwifery, 20(7), 464-9.

Schwartz, S. (2014). Maternal placentophagy as an alternative medicinal practice in the postpartum period. Midwifery Today, (110), 28-29.



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Quirky Thursday: Chicken Feet

I never really saw that chicken feet were available for purchase before, at least that I can remember.  Maybe I did see them and my brain did not register it; after all, what normal modern day brain would consider them to be food.

Chick Foot

Your conclusion is correct. I did buy some, as evidenced by one of them posing on my plate for a photo.  “But WHY?”, you may ask.  Answer: They make good bone broth, and I like good bone broth.


A crockpot full of chicken feet.  Admittedly, they are pretty creepy.  What lengths I will go to for health.  However, they are cheap way to obtain many good nutrients like glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acids like glycine, calcium, as well as other macro and trace minerals. These nutrients are great for bone and joint health, for healing a leaky gut, fighting off colds and flu’s, and a bunch of other compelling reasons to consume bone broth. If you haven’t already, check out my recipe for Bone Broth.

This time I plan on cooking the chicken feet in the crockpot with some celery scraps for about 24 hours.  I cannot wait to taste the goodness.

Addendum: The results were extremely gelatinous, which is a good sign of nutritious awesomeness.  The taste was wonderful as well.  And I wanted to report that the chicken feet at Whole Foods is $2.99 a pound as of this writing. Some people inquired about adding vinegar. I always use apple cider vinegar with the “mother”, like Bragg brand.  I add 2-3 tablespoons for a crockpot full.  It aids in leaching out the minerals from the bones thereby making the broth that much more nutrient dense.


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Microwave Cooking: Safe or Unsafe

I have been on an intellectual teeter-totter preparing for this blog on microwaving foods. I am really quite surprised which end of the board I am left on. I have consistently vacillated on my comfortableness regarding using a microwave for years. For instance, for many months I will use it unabashedly, (although I do usually stand a couple of feet away during use); then I will go through a leery-of-it-again phase, at which time I dig my teapot back out to heat water for my tea, and use a saucepan and toaster oven again to heat my leftovers. I do this for a while, then I get lazy, careless, expedient, or smart, however you want to look at it; and I start using my microwave again, warily at first, then full throttle. Until my microwave pendulum swings again.

So, I decided to make up my mind about it this time, research it, and be scientific about it. Well, I came to find out that there is not a lot of research to be found, especially recent research, even though I have access to the latest peer reviewed journals. I had really thought this would be a slam-dunk, and was very disappointed to find out that is was not.

However, I will share on what little I could find. There was one study done in Spain over ten years ago with broccoli, which showed that steaming did not destroy any of the nutrients, but all of the antioxidants in the microwaved broccoli were destroyed (1). However, I read criticism that the microwaved broccoli had too much water added to it during cooking. Then another article in Natural Life (2005) reported on several studies. One done in the early 1990’s at Stanford University showed that breast milk heated on low in the microwave adversely affected the nutrients; one of them was lysozyme, which is important for combating bacterial infections. IN 1989 Lancet medical journal included a study, which maintained that microwaving baby formula converts the molecular structure to substances that are synthetic and harmful to the kidneys and the nervous system. Another study was done in 1989 by Dr. Dans Ulrich Hertel. He used the blood samples of 8 human volunteers taken before and after eating microwaved food. He claims that it showed a decrease in hemoglobin, white blood cells, and HDL, the good cholesterol (2). Some have suggested this study could be criticized for having such a small number of people tested.

In addition, the anonymous author of Natural Life May/June 2005 issue claims that microwaved broccoli loses 74-97% of the 3 major antioxidants while steamed broccoli loses only 8-11%. This author also states that the Soviets banned microwave ovens in 1976 (but they have since overturned the ban) due to 60-90% of vitamin and mineral content loss in foods. In addition the Russians discovered chemical alterations in microwaved food caused it to be carcinogenic and caused a reduction in immune function.

Then I went to big names in the health field for kind of an informal poll. Basically, I googled their name and “microwave” and looked at what came up. To use or not to use, here are my results in no particular order:

Terry Wahl’s, MD—No. Plus food tastes worse.

Mehmet Oz, MD—OK, but stand several feet away and use only glass and ceramic dishes.

Julian Whitaker, MD—OK, but advocates steaming vegetables for maximum nutrients, and must use proper container.

Andrew Weil, MD—OK, but he only does for defrosting and reheating leftovers. States that microwaving bacon lowers the carcinogenic nitrosamines, which is good. Also states that he does not “cook vegetables or anything else in the microwave” (so I guess just reheats?).

Chris Kresser, LAc—OK, but does not use himself out of preference.

Joseph Mercola, MD—No. No. No.

Mark Sisson—OK, but use common sense.

William Davis, MD—OK, apparently, because he has microwave recipes.

Steven Masley, MD—OK, apparently, because he also has microwave recipes.

Barry Sears, MD—OK, has lots of microwave recipes.

This is certainly not a huge list, just a smattering of people that first popped in my mind. And there were a number of others that I didn’t add because I could not determine their opinion on the subject. Not that any of them are experts on the subject, it is just interesting that 80% of them think using microwaves are an okay thing.

I find it super odd that there has not been more recent research on this subject. I would like someone to volunteer to do a study. I will even let you publish it on my blog. I am suggesting something like obtaining 300 new mice, feeding 100 only microwaved food, feeding 100 only steamed food, and feeding the last 100 raw food. And see what happens.

Until that takes place, we will have to kind of wander in the dark hoping that we are making the right choices.

I will try to sum this topic up, which might be difficult, being the microwave schizo that I am. Just before starting my research a few days ago I was like 80/20 against microwaves, but a couple of weeks before had only been 60/40. Just as the totter was climbing up and up, it peaked after a couple of hours of research and started its fall. Then began an ascent on the opposite side. So, now I am probably a 30/70, 30 indicating my continued wariness of the microwave, to where I would not use it for breast milk, baby formula, or cooking, but will use it for barely heating leftovers. I will also never use plastic containers to cook in, nor will I stand too close when it is on. And I will never use a microwave to heat blood that I am going to transfuse like the nurse in Oklahoma did which killed a patient, but that story would make this article too much longer.

I hate to end on that note, but I am teetered out.


  1. Anonymous. I’d appreciate having your view on microwave cooking. I am confused …Natural Life; May/Jun 2005; ProQuest Family Health pg. 6.
  1. Randerson, James. New Scientist 180.2418(Oct 25-Oct 31, 2003): 14.


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