Saturday, 23 January 2016

Canada Fund

My big sister and her family are moving to Canada. :-(

Tonight we are hosting a goodbye party for them and people have been asking what gifts they would like. They actually can't take anything with them, in fact, they sold nearly everything they own. We decided the best way to bless them would be to give financially, so that they can replace furniture, clothes, the children's toys...etc...

If you don't know them, feel free to skip this post.

If you do, and you'd like to bless them, click here:

Friday, 8 January 2016

Having a Growth Mind Set

If you haven't seen any of the RSA Animate videos, you should definitely check them out.

They just released a new one with a lecture by Carol Dweck, entitled "How to Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential" and it's great, have a listen:

What struck me about this is how often my children don't want to try something unless they know they can succeed at it. It's a fixed mind set, and if I'm honest, it probably came from me praising them incorrectly when they were small, or just not correcting the balance of other people praising them.

When you have a 10 month old, who can READ, there is a never ending supply of well meaning people cooing and telling him how clever he is. Not wanting my daughter to feel left out I did the same to her. Interestingly, when I watched this video with my now seven year old son (perfect timing as he had just quit on a project that he had decided was too hard for him in floods of tears) I could see him identifying with the fixed mindset group. When it finished we sat in silence for a minute before he said "I'm gonna go try that again". So it seems the 'fixed' mindset is not 'fixed' for life. Lucky for this mama, I get a do over!

It got me thinking though; when she talks about the group that chose the harder tasks, how they grew and learned and developed, whilst the group that wouldn't try anything more difficult found even the simple tasks overwhelming, how important it is to try and fail, to struggle and not have everything come too easy, because we benefit from it.

Why does God allow us to suffer?
Because suffering produces endurance; endurance, character; and character, hope... because He doesn't want us to get a fixed mind set that says I'm stuck here, I've reached my potential and I can't go any further. Because it's for His glory to see us not just justified and then glorified, but also sanctified. We are works in progress and we have to try and fail because it is good for us. We have to struggle because it improves us.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Spicy Lemon Sorbet

When I was a kid my parents used to take us to this amazing restaurant that served sorbet inside a hollowed out fruit, and I thought it was the best dessert in the whole wide world. It sparked a love affair with lemon sorbet that meant I could never order anything else if that was available on the menu.

Oddly, since having an ice cream machine, I haven't made any sorbets. I'm not really sure why, but today I broke that.

I've had a sore throat for a few days, which leaves me whispering each morning, my voice returns by lunch time, but then my chest feels tight each evening and the only thing that's been helping is steam.

Today I decided it's time to nail this virus with as much vitamin C and probiotics as I can muster, and a cooling sorbet sounded perfect for easing my sore throat.

So, I juiced about piece of ginger roughly the size of the palm of my hand. I know this doesn't traditionally go in lemon sorbet, but lemon and ginger go together well and ginger is anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant, so it can't hurt to throw it in.

Ginger’s antihistamine properties help in treating allergies, which are a common cause for respiratory problems like bronchitis and asthma, plus it's known to inhibit airway contraction and help stimulate the secretion of mucus which should soothe my dry itchy cough tonight.

Next I juiced six whole lemons, skin on and everything, 6 apples (too sweeten, and they have vitamin C too) and cracked in two raw eggs from my chickens. You can totally skip the eggs if you don't have access to fresh ones. I wouldn't take my chances with one from a shop.

Chuck it all in the ice cream machine and let it do it's thing.

This sorbet was delicious and if you don't eat a lot of sugar was absolutely sweet enough with just the apples. If I was serving it to guests I might throw a little bit of raw honey in too. The texture is just perfect, and it's lovely and soothing on a sore throat.

Enjoy x 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

How to Keep Your Water Kefir Babies Alive

If I've recently given you a tiny jar with jelly like crystals in it then this is the post you are look for. The crystals you have are called water kefir grains and you can use them to culture sugar water, juice, or coconut water. 

Water kefir grains have a much more diverse probiotic profile than a powdered starter culture and with good care will last forever and reproduce indefinitely, so you can give some away to your friends. Although water kefir has fewer strains of bacteria than dairy kefir, it's got far more than yoghurt, buttermilk, sauerkraut or most other probiotic foods you can culture yourself, so it's a really great addition to your kitchen. It also has no dairy, so it's great for those of you who have a true milk allergy and can't tolerate standard milk kefir. 

There's a lot of detailed blogs and videos that you can google to get information on how to make water kefir, with exact measurements if you are that kind of a personality, but I'm going to give you my simple instructions for two methods. 

1) Water Kefir  

Simply dissolve some sugar in water, but don't worry, the sugar is to feed the grains, not you*. You can use any sugar you like, cane sugar, coconut palm sugar, sucanat, maple syrup... whatever you love, as long as it's sugary.

Add your grains, leave it for 24-48 hours and taste it. You should see bubbles, and it should be mildly effervescent with a not too sweet flavour. It tastes a little like schloer.

If you want it to be really fizzy you can strain off the liquid, bottle it with a tight cap and leave it for a further 12-14 hours. Be careful when you take the lid off though, because this will FIZZ.

Adding fruit (such as raisins or dried mango etc...) is a great way to flavour it too, or you can water it down with another fruit juice and leave it for another 24 hours to culture that too. 

What should you do with the grains you strained out?
Start a new batch of course!

2) Juice Kefir

This is really just like it sounds. Instead of making yourself some sugar water, simply add your grains to some juice that you want to culture. 

Both these methods talk about leaving the grains for 24-48 hours to culture the water/juice, but the honest answer is that your brewing time is going to depend greatly on your ratio of grains/water. You can give a few grains a big jar and leave them for a lot longer than a little jar with lots of grains. 

It's also largely going to depend on how cultured you like your kefir. Leave it longer to get rid of more sugar and create a mildly alcoholic brew, but don't leave it too long or the grains will start to go mushy and die. 

You can rest the grains in some sugary water in the fridge if you find that they are producing more kefir than your family can drink (this does not happen in our house!) or if you want to go on holiday for a week or two.  

And finally, for those of you who are as geeky as me and want to know what is in those little jelly crystals, here is a list of all the benefical bacterica you will be growing and consuming:

Lactobacilli Strains in Water Kefir
  • Lactobacillus galactose
  • Lb. brevis
  • Lb. casei subsp. casei
  • Lb. paracasei subsp. paracasei
  • Lb. casei subsp. Ramos
  • Lb. casei subsp. tolerant
  • Lb. coraciiform subsp. torquens
  • Lb. fructose
  • Lb. hilarities
  • Lb. homophobia
  • Lb. plantarum
  • Lb. pseudo plantarum
  • Lb. admonishes
Streptococci/lactococci Strains in Water Kefir
  • Streptococcus cremeris
  • Str. faecalis
  • Str. lactis
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides
  • Pediococcus damnosus
Yeast Strains in Water Kefir
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Sacc. florentinus
  • Sacc. pretoriensis
  • Candida valida
  • C. lambica
  • Kloeckera apiculata
  • Hansenula yalbensis

*A small amount of sugar remains and this is not generally considered to be suitable for persons on the GAPS diet. We abstained from water kefir for three years during GAPS and only reintroduced it to our family recently using jaggery as the sweetener. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Apple Cider Vinegar

Why do people love it so much?

I mean, seriously, people seem to think this cures everything under the sun. Try googling 'ACV cure' and there's about 250,000 results. If something seems to cure 'everything' there's usually a clue that 'everything' has a common underlying cause.

Some people seem confused when I tell them that the GAPS diet has helped us with autism, eczema, asthma, ME, migraines, and a whole host of other symptoms, but that's because they haven't understood that these are all just symptoms. The underlying cause is a gut flora imbalance, which is what GAPS treats.

I've heard lots of arguments about what ACV's benefits are. Some people insist it's the nutrient profile, but that doesn't quite ring true, because there are other foods with just as strong a profile that don't have the same effects. Some people say it's because it's probiotic. I love probiotics and they are beneficial to everyone, but people don't rave about sauerkraut curing their reflux/arthritis/yeast infection/<insert other illness here> so it can't be solely the probiotic benefit.

The best argument I've heard is to do with acetic acid. Bear with me because we are going to get into some controversial stuff, but read to the end before you switch off, it's worth a look.

Some people's blood pH is a little off, which means that certain chemical reactions in the body are not functioning as optimally as they should. Before you reach for the alkalising water, you should know that I mean they're too alkaline.

Not everybody, some people are too acidic, but I think there's a lot more alkaline blood pH than we imagine because 'acidosis' has become so popular in health circles. The real issue is that it's really hard to tell, because when you draw blood to test it, it oxidizes and changes the pH. I believe there are some very expensive specialized tests you can get done, but the NHS are not offering it, and certainly not on a hunch that your body is not performing 'optimally'. I imagine you'd have to be pretty sick for them to consider paying for it!

The best way to check is you symptoms (you can google them ask for symptoms of acidosis or alkalosis). Does your body appear to be more acid or more alkaline?

As an aside here, if you are on a very low carbohydrate diet, a ketogenic diet or an SCD/GAPS style diet, you are almost certainly more alkaline. We'll get to why in a minute.

Your blood should be alkaline by the way, but just a little bit. PH is actually really important for transporting minerals and allowing enzymes to work efficiently; it affects your thyroid function and your metabolic rate, and it's one of those little things that you can change so easily.

So, back to acetic acid: it's pH is very low at 2.5 - that's like stomach acid, which is why it's really good for heartburn. When your stomach acid is too alkaline, the valve doesn't close properly. You don't have too much acid, you have stomach acid in the wrong place. As you age (50,60,70) your stomach pH get's higher and higher, so you suffer with heartburn and indigestion more and more. A shot of ACV will close that valve right up and relieve the symptoms, but most people reach for a Rennie or Remegel, further alkalising the stomach and increasing the problem.

If your pH is too high, you can't absorb calcium well, so it starts to build up in the soft tissue; arthritis, cataracts, neuritis, kidney stones, gall stones... not that all of these are always caused by alkalosis, but they can be. You also need fat soluble vitamins to process calcium (D and K2), but today I want to concentrate on pH.

So why would so many people's bodies be alkalised? Well, high stress can cause it. When we are stressed our adrenals cause us to lose H+ (a hydrogen ion) in the urine, which is very acidic, which results in a more alkaline body. Just a little, but over time it can really add up.

So you have all this calcium in the body, building up in deposits, but it's unavailable to be used, because the pH is a little off, which means you get symptoms like a twitchy eye (for those who've seen me tired, you know what this looks like!); cramping in the calves; migrating arthritis pain (where it changes which joint is inflamed). The best solution for all these is magnesium and calcium in proper ratio. I suggest taking your magnesium transdermally, but getting your calcium by acidifying the body with a little ACV.

Alkaline bodies also lose potassium. Often people say that drinking ACV is beneficial because it increases your potassium, but it doesn't really contain that much and is far more beneficial than an equal dose in supplements. The reason it helps is because as you acidify the body it loses less potassium, so you get to keep more of what you consume from your general diet.

Potassium deficiency is responsible for a huge range of symptoms; high blood pressure, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, muscle spasms, irregular heartbeats, constipation, stiffness... hence why people with those symptoms generally see an improvement with regular consumption of ACV.

If you eat a lot of protein, either because of those nasty protein shakes, or because you are on a very low carb diet, you will have a lot of guanidine (a by product of breaking down proteins) which is an extremely alkaline chemical. If you are on GAPS or SCD or any protein based diet, and you start to feel more stiff and arthritic, take some ACV for a few days and see if it helps.

Getting the correct pH also helps your immune system function at it's best, which is why people make 'fire cider' with ACV when they feel a cold coming on.

Hopefully this makes sense, and was helpful. It's the answer that makes the most sense to me at the moment surrounding this home remedy that everyone seems to be talking about nearly as much as coconut oil(!)

And finally, I'll finish off with a recipe of my own making.

The simple way to take ACV is to put a tablespoon in a glass of water, possibly with a spoon of honey and drink it before every meal... but I like my 'good girl moonshine' a little better :-)

It's hot, and sour and sweet; and best served over ice.

Juice 1.5 inch piece of ginger
Juice one small beetroot
Juice one whole lemon (skin on)
Juice one orange
Add 3 tbsp ACV
Stir in 3 tbsp honey

Fill a glass with ice and pour over. At first sip it's so sour that you wince and think you won't drink it, but it's surprisingly moreish and before you know it you polished off the whole jug.
Enjoy :-)

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Restoration Health

I've been a very busy bee over this summer and I have something very exciting to tell you about. I've been collaborating together with several amazing therapists in various disciplines and we are so excited to be launching Restoration Health.

We're a small team, but hoping to grow and we have a few more people looking to join us in the near future. Currently we are boasting two nutritionists, two massage therapists, aromatherapist, reflexologist and a physiotherapist/modified Pilates instructor! Being able to consult with one another is a fantastic way for us to maximise how effectively we work with our clients and ensure that you are getting the best care possible from each member of the team. We also plan to run classes at various points throughout the year, in the hope that we can educate people to enjoy a healthier way of life with their families, rather than relying on us for treatments. These may be taught by us, but will also include us hosting some experts in various holistic therapies. 

If you live locally (in/around Bedford), these are all available to you! If you live a little further away, you can have phone consultations around nutrition and aromatherapy, but long distance massage doesn't really work!

We also hope to build the page into a free resource centre. You can 'follow' us on facebook, and we'll be posting tips and articles to help you start learning more about how to restore your health, without ever having to pay out a penny for a session with us. 

Our vision is to help as many people as possible on their journey to restoring their health and we only work with others who have the same passion, whatever their discipline or area of expertise. 

You can look out for us on twitter too, @restorationheal tweets about all areas of health, but if you have a specific concern, you might want to follow Restoration Nutrition, Restoration Oils or Restoration Pilates.  We hope to be adding more disciplines soon, but I'll let you know when we do. 

Finally, you can follow Restoration Health for inspiration on Pinterest, or just follow specific boards that you are interested in. As I said earlier, it's all very new, but we are hoping to build useful content that will become a great resource for people who want to take positive steps towards better health. 

I hope you'll find it useful. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Home education encouragement day

This weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Home education encouragement day in Madeley, with two other fantastic home educating mummies, and get to hear Dr Voddie Baucham speaking. 
I'll own that I've not actually heard of him before, although one of the ladies I went with was a super fan - and now I can see why. 
Dr Baucham doesn't shy away from difficult topics and the Q&A session at the end certainly didn't either; his answers were always based in scripture, always bathed in compassion and always delivered with humility. It was wonderful to spend a day sitting under his teaching and being both challenged and inspired. 
But the thing that struck me most, was how many families had attended all together. 
We'd arranged for our husbands to stay home with the children so we could go, but there were children of all ages present, some sat in through the seminars, some were outside playing games with the children's team, but all looked like they were having a fantastic time. 
It was lovely to see the older children watching the younger ones and huge games of stuck in the mud and tag happening outside. 
Next year we will definitely attend as a family. My children would have loved it. 
The book stall was also fantastic, and as well as spending a lot of money on books, I've got a long wish list of literature that I intend to buy for my children soon! 

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