Curry Beef (or Lamb) Stew

 

Curry beef stew w: name

 

  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 pound stew meat – grass-fed beef or lamb shank
  • 2 cups full fat, organic coconut milk
  • 2 purple onions, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into half inch pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tbsp hot curry powder
  • 2 to 4 tbsp ground cumin seed
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
  • 2 golden beets, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 purple potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
  • 1 delicata squash, seeded and cut into chunks (leave the skin on)
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo or gigande beans
  • Sea Salt to taste

Brown your stew meat over medium heat in a small amount of coconut oil.  The slower the better for tenderness.

In a soup pot over medium heat soften the onions, garlic and carrots in a small amount of the broth about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

Add in the coconut milk and spices, stir and cook for a few minutes without boiling.

Slowly stir in the rest of the stock to blend – then add the potatoes, beets and squash and cook until all vegetables are soft.

After about 30 minutes – add in the beans and flavor with sea salt.

 

Photo Courtesy Flickr.

Beer Chili

Beer Chili w:name

 

  • 1/4 cup red palm oil
  • 2 purple onions, peeled and diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef or bison
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 green chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups pre-cooked beans – pinto, aduki, kidney, navy – mix ’em up!
  • 1 twelve ounce bottle of Omission IPA (gluten-free micro brew)
  • 1 Cup chopped cilantro
  • Sea Salt

In a large soup pot, over medium heat – melt the red palm oil and saute onions, garlic and peppers until soft and fragrant.

Add ground meat and cook until brown.   Stir in spices.

Add the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low – simmer until all veggies are tender.

Before serving, stir in the cilantro.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

 

Photo Courtesy Flickr.

Rediscovering Yourself in Motherhood

This article is one in a series titled “Mindful Parenting.” Scroll to the bottom of this page to see links to more articles in the series.

mombabyTo get the most out of motherhood, it’s essential to build a strong foundation for health. When you experience optimal health, it benefits the whole family.

Hormone shifts and nutrient deficiencies are a common result of months — and sometimes years — of being on the go and not making time to care for you.  As a result, you get fatigue, irritability, low libido, weight gain, blood sugar imbalances and vitamin deficiency. The good news is that many of these deficiencies and imbalances can be restored with a little TLC.

That feeling of depletion is often a combination of the following:

Stress – Simple stressors, both good and bad, take a toll on normal hormone regulation. Primarily, adrenal function is compromised with chronic stress and the results are dramatic for some. Stressors like interrupted sleep, insomnia, skipped meals, anxiety around family dynamics, lack of exercise, and managing the home cumulatively wear on the adrenal glands. The good news is that many of the stressors are things that we can manage and improve on with a little practice and patience (with ourselves and our family).

Adrenal fatigue is common clinical presentation that results from months or years of elevated cortisol, a hormone that is secreted naturally under stressful circumstances. Symptoms include, but are not exclusive or limited to; low libido, fatigue, anxiety, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, gastrointestinal upset, blood sugar imbalances, irritability and fatigue.

Poor diet – Nutrient deficiencies can and often do result from relying on convenience foods, a dislike for cooking and poor food quality available in grocery stores.  Many moms are just not sure where to start. As a result women become deficient in some of the following:

Protein = Blood sugar imbalances, Type II diabetes
Vitamins – Vit D, B vitamins, Folic acid, Vit A, Vit K = bones, energy, immunity, prevention
Minerals – Magnesium, Calcium, Iodine, Zinc  = mood, bones, energy, immunity, hormones
Essential fatty acids = Anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular support, mood support, brain and nerve health

Food sensitivities – Many people these days are discovering that when they eat certain foods they don’t feel so hot. Foods such as wheat, dairy, nuts, corn, sugar, eggs and soy can result in a myriad of symptoms and dis-ease, including:

Inflammation
Fatigue
Dysbiosis
Headaches
Mood swings

Sleep disturbances often result in an impaired circadian rhythm, which can contribute to blood sugar imbalances, poor immune function, adrenal hormone shifts, sex hormone shifts, weight gain and poor mood.

Hormonal shifts – Post delivery and in some cases years after delivery, women experience hormone changes.  Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, thyroid hormones, cortisol, and neurotransmitters can all create an unfamiliar state of being that is difficult to interpret and care for when you have your attention on your family.

So what can we do about it?

Three-legged stool – When I suspect a woman is out of balance, primarily in the peak of motherhood, I often approach her well being by paying special attention to balancing her hormones, healing her belly, and caring for her musculoskeletal system.

The Key to balancing hormones is to first identify where the imbalance exists. Usually if one is off there is a cascade response.  I often start with the adrenal glands. They are easy to support and impact the whole body in a positive manor. I consider the following:

1) Blood work or salivary studies to identify imbalances
2) Address adrenals with specific nutrients and herbs
3) Ensure vitamin D levels are normal
4) Herbs that balance mood, anxiety, adrenals, hormone tonic – Adaptogenic and nervines
5) Nutrition – predominantly whole foods and eliminate food sensitivities
6) Exercise – restorative and daily

The belly is essential for two reasons:

1) You are what you eat
2) Hormones, inflammation, and immunity are all primarily dictated by the health of the gut.

To deal with this we work on 5 R’s: remove, replace, reinoculate, repair, and rebalance.

Remove:
1) Identify food sensitivities – Allergy elimination diet
2) Antacids and H2 blockers

Replace:
1) Enzymes, HCL, apple cider vinegar – stimulate gut function

Reinoculate:
1) Maintain healthy eco system –probiotics, fiber, and protein – improved immunity, less GI discomfort, better absorption
• Loss of commensal bacteria increases NF Kappa gene – inflammatory cancer promoter

Repair:
1) Eat a whole foods diet rich in vegetables – “Eat food, not too much, primarily vegetable” Pollan
• 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies – can decrease all cancer risk by an average of 45%
• Combination of a whole foods diet and exercise decreases breast cancer death by half
• Clean meat – “you are what you eat eat” Pollan – if you are thinking of switching to organic think more about quality of life, cage free, grass fed – think animal product. Improved Omega 3 to 6 fatty acids
• Mediterranean diet – reduces inflammation, reverses insulin resistance, reduction in CV dz.
• Whole grains – low glycemic index, high fiber, high in B vit and folic acid,
• Protein – nuts – rich in minerals Mg, Cu, K, omega 3, plant sterols, fiber

2) Medicines that cool the inflammation – glutamine, aloe, herbs
3) Stress reduction

Rebalance:
1) Quality time with family, modeling for your children, joy of cooking and eating, a happy digestive tract and improved quality of life allows one to feel rebalanced.

Musculoskeletal System – Exercise is essential to hormone balancing, prevention of cardiovascular disease, glycemic regulation, cancer prevention and digestive support. Create time or enjoy with your family.
• Variability – flexibility, strength, and cardio – the body adapts very quickly in an effort to conserve energy. If you want to see change you have to make change.
• Have fun – play, do activities that you enjoy.
• Nature nurtures – fresh air, sunshine, a deeper connection to the earth and beauty in nature have all been shown to improve health and perception of health.
• Recent studies in cancer, heart disease, and longevity all show that 30 minutes, 6 days per week result in significant risk reduction. Specifically a 50% decreased risk of dying of breast cancer, 65% reduction in cardiovascular disease, 75% increase in successful aging.

Other things to consider:

Labs: A great way to evaluate health is with a provider that looks at functional lab values. Meaning where is the ideal range for optimal physiologic function?  An ideal preventative profile includes – CBC, Lipid profile, complete Metabolic Panel, TSH, Free T3, Free T4, ferritin, Vt D 25-hydroxy, Cardio CRP and Homocystein. Sometimes it is appropriate to consider other labs like, food sensitivity testing, salivary hormone profiles or vitamin and mineral status. Most often you will need a naturopathic physician to order and interpret these types of labs for you. Remember, one step at a time! Typically, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars evaluating labs to restore balance in your life.

Herbs: Aswaganda, rhodiola, maca, passion flower, lemon balm, licorice, hops, oat straw, Siberian ginseng, red clover, vitex, motherwort, hawthorn berry – all restorative and potent. Consult with your ND or herbalist for combining and safety.

Mental/Emotional: Ensure that you are caring for yourself every day. Mindful parenting means to listen and attend to your needs and model self-worth to your children.

Counseling, yoga, massage, community, participating in a community that shares a common goal centered on abundance and ascending are all excellent ways to regain balance in your life.  Women thrive on community, for centuries we have gathered and made change in the world. A ritual that is getting further and further from our reach as we become buried in everyday life, bills, consumption, our children’s enrichment, social schedules, jobs and so on.

Intimacy: Libido is often low during parenthood. Sometimes true for men and sometimes true for women. It is difficult to find energy, time and privacy even when you are in the mood. What is essential to remember is that if one partner is having an issue with wanting more intimacy than it is an issue…there needs to be a discussion to avoid developing resentment. Begin the conversation and then make the effort. You can start with identifying the source of the problem through a discussion, with your partner, girlfriend, therapist or doctor.

Some of my favorite restorative remedies:
• Favorite Elixir: 1 part apple cider vinegar, 1 part ginger powder, 1 part water – mix and store – drink ½ tsp before meals. Great for heartburn too – use as needed.
• Favorite restorative tea – Rhodiola, lemon balm, maca, licorice, ginger – mix equal parts, 1 tbl/ 2 cups of water, bring to boil, remove from heat, add herbs and steep for 10 min.

Yogi teas – Women’s Energy, Detox tea
Traditional Medicinals – Everyday Detox
• Favorite daily detox – 2tbsp of ground flax/day with a huge glass of water and a huge plate of Beets and Greens
• Favorite Exercise – Dancing with my family in the living room
• Favorite Relaxation – Castor Oil pack – rub castor oil over belly and soak in a hot tub with Epsom salts. Drink ginger tea while soaking. Take a cold rinse after.
• Favorite digestive support – Probitotics or cultured food – kombucha, sour kraut, kim chi

More resources for you journey towards balance:

Feeding The Whole Family – Cynthia Lair
Three Bowl Cookbook – David Scott and Tom Pappas
On Rice – Rick Rodgers
Almost Meatless – Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond
Nourishing Traditions – Sally Fallon
www.naturecuresclinic.com
www.cookusinterruptus.com
www.emersonecologics.com

THANK YOU!!

“Remember to laugh – it’s an instant vacation from anything holding you down. Remember to smile – it immediately alters your state of mind; and remember to love – it has the power to change the world.” – Kathryn Budig

See other articles from this series:
Mindful Parenting: A Balanced Approach
Sex Lies & Motherhood: Tips for a Healthy Libido and Better Birth Control

Image courtesy Diganta Talukdar

Mindful Parenting: A Balanced Approach

Mindful parenting is a practice; it is an awareness of our connection to our children, our environment, and to ourselves as individuals – a practice that will result in a more peaceful, grounded, and fulfilling existence.  As mindful parents we are better equipped to cultivate an environment for healthy child development.
Healthy development here refers to a child that grows into the body she was born with – regardless of genetic and environmental influences that may interfere with “perfect health” – with a strong sense of self, capability and identity.  In order for a child to thrive in her present existence she must feel safe and capable. Enabling her to make choices that nurture her mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health is a great gift.
Parents come in many forms; birth parents, adopted parents, foster parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and so on. The emotional, financial, spiritual or physical climate at home will often dictate the level of stress and therefore the level of connection and awareness. In other words, the more stress in the environment the more patience and practice the mindful parent will need. The “health” of the home and the parent will usually determine how naturally this practice will come.
Parenthood is one of the most difficult jobs – as you know, it can wear your down and blur your vision – obscure your view of the happenings inside your body, mind, as well as the world around you. It is easy to get lost, and is therefore critical that you find ways to rebuild and conserve energy so that you can navigate through life with joy as you immerse yourself into parenthood.
My goal is to remind you of ways to celebrate in everyday life.
Simple things like a five-minute dance party with music that YOU love while getting ready for school or work, throwing on a fun hat or a bright color when you go out, telling your kids a silly joke as you say good bye, or taking a bath with your babes. My personal favorite way to celebrate with people I love is to sit at the table and eat together. At our house when we sit for dinner we tell “a thorn and a rose” which means to tell each other one bad thing and one good thing that happened in our day. Remember to find ways to honor and celebrate your hard work and your relationship with your children.
In my practice, some of the most burnt out and sick patients are parents. Typically these people are mothers – being the milkmaid and the ultimate hostess can, after all, take a toll. Increasingly, men are taking a beating as well; as more men are staying home with the kids and are sharing the responsibilities of homemaker they are realizing the magnitude of the job. Regardless, the sleeplessness, constant changing, feeding, inconsolable crying, body fluids, scheduling, staying out after curfew, puberty, sex, drugs…it can all seem overwhelming at times.
Many of us want to run away. Instead, try and celebrate. Pay attention, lean in, be clear and present – be unwavering. Children generally crave two things, love and boundaries. Take these overwhelming, crazy, confusing situations and turn them into opportunities to nurture yourself and satisfy their craving. Specifically, tell your children when a behavior is unacceptable and create a consequence, walk away and collect yourself for a moment, say no, ask for help, and so on.  Parents are often too tired, afraid, consumed, or distracted to enforce a discipline and be consistent; as a result children get mixed messages. It is difficult for children to learn when the instructions are ambiguous and always changing. Try a little less multitasking, focus in on the situation, collect energy and decide how to handle the struggles.
For example, lets say your two year old asks for something sweet while grocery shopping, you say no, and they begin to throw a temper tantrum. What do you do? You still have more things on your list, your kid is trying to exert some power, and you don’t want to cave. Step one; offer an alternative, “How about some fruit or nothing?” They still get to choose but they do not get a sweet (because you already said no). If that doesn’t help and she is still crying, she needs to be told that her behavior is inappropriate and that she needs to turn it around or you are leaving. Put an end to the negotiation as quickly as possible — you are in charge. If you have to, leave.
By responding the same way every time she will learn that it is not okay to freak out when she doesn’t get her way. Eventually, the behavior will change. When you give in to her request to quiet her she will work that angle for months, or even years to come.  Be unwavering and you will ultimately be more efficient and able to make more time for you — imagine that.
Learning to celebrate during the most difficult times is not only rewarding, it positively impacts your child’s development. Another way to celebrate is to embrace your struggles as they are. Try to avoid blaming the source, criticizing yourself or losing hope. Stay with what is right in front of you. Humans waste so much time and energy being angry and afraid during struggles.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t be emotional. I am saying that even when you are really struggling, if you pause, you can see the problem for what it is, recognize the emotional response, and then channel your energy toward solutions or maybe even just seeing how the problem unfolds. So often struggles are out of our control, so try to make room to let them simply pass. Celebrate your power by steering clear of the blame game and facing the fear. You may even find humor  — especially during the little ridiculous times like traffic jams and mouthy road rage.
You can also celebrate by modeling humility. Your children see you navigate through life day in and day out and eventually, they see you struggle. It is then that our children learn about difficult times, emotionality, problem solving and coping mechanisms. Sometimes you freak out and other times you gracefully juggle the problems; regardless of your response, pay attention.
Where is the joy in those moments? I believe it is in the resolution and the acknowledgment; and in the bigger picture it is in the food you prepare, the bedtime stories, the interactions with each other, the color of your sweater, or the time you took for yourself for just five minutes to regroup, to breathe. These tiny offerings are little parties. They may not seem like much individually and may not even be noticed during a temper tantrum, a headache, danger or sickness. However, the reflection of the cumulative will be beautiful and is something to celebrate.
Our children begin absorbing information from the moment of conception. They are collecting data from every person the meet, food they taste, television shows they watch, Internet waves they surf and trees they climb. In the early stages of life — conception through young childhood (5-8 years) — most of their choices are made for them (such as food, water, shelter, adventure, media exposure, social influences, spirituality). As they grow older they begin to develop into what is sometimes referred to as the “memory stage.”
Children begin to form memories, morals, values and opinions – especially opinions of themselves. They begin to make choices and express themselves based on early experiences and choices as well as from his or her constitutional make up (their hard wired personalities).
What we caregivers hope for is that our children will learn, from those experiences, the qualities that Arlen Harder refers to as “the highest qualities of the human spirit — such as honesty, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, courage, beauty and integrity.”  The best we can do is demonstrate those “highest qualities.”
We can also do our best to provide a safe and loving physical, mental and emotional environment for a kid to be themselves — a place where they can feel safe expressing their feelings, making mistakes, taking risks, sharing ideas and expressing love. Because we cannot possibly control, or would want to control, every experience and exposure, we must teach them to be media savvy. We must sit with our children and discuss what they are watching, reading, and listening to, not so we can take it away or criticize it but so that we can have a provocative discussion. Again, we must strive to provide a safe place where our children can be themselves.
Now take a deep breath and redirect.  I have an exercise: recognize that when we pay attention, I mean really pay attention; we are fully aware of our surroundings and present in the moment. Now lean into the experience, like on a cliff against a strong wind. Teetering on the edge with trust. At this point we are most courageous and connected to the experience, we have nothing to learn, only our own inner wisdom to draw on for guidance.
In this courageous and grounded place we are able to clearly and conscientiously care for ourselves, guide and care for our children, and contribute to our community, simply because we are clear. Free from distractions, fears, insecurity, burden AND responsibility. It is the place of truth, love and ability.
Now you have visualization, a meditation if you will, to guide you through your daily rigmarole. Take a deep breath and jump into the moment with your entirety.
Over the next several months, I will be presenting a series of articles that can be used as a leaping point for becoming a more mindful parent. These articles are not step-by-step, how to guides – you already have all that you need to be a mindful parent, so trust yourself.
Treat the ideas as a pallette that you can paint your own masterpiece from. Not only will you become more engaged with your child, you will be a model for your child that you can be truly proud of, and you will have a good time doing it (mostly). I firmly believe that our experiences guide our development. Let us grow.
The colors on the pallette are those of nutrition, communication, movement, intimacy, play and choice. The canvas is modeling. In other words, we caregivers are going to model our goals, morals and values, for ourselves and for our children. The colors mentioned above are a metaphor for the foundation of healthy growth and development.
Ideas for modeling:
Nutrition: my practice as a physician has been built heavily on my passion for nourishing and TASTY food. Primarily because I love to eat, I love gardens, I love knowing where food comes from and I LOVE food as medicine.
The number one thing I hear from patients is that they do not have time to eat well. I want to debunk that belief by saying, if something is important to you, then you make time. If it is merely a necessity, then you have to plan ahead and work it into your schedule, so that its just part of the routine. I feel that nutrition is BOTH important and necessary.
Simple things you can do to make nutrition mindful and manageable:
•Shop the perimeter of the grocery store to ensure that you are eating whole food (and saving money).
•Shop with your children and let them eat in the store, start in the produce section. Teach them early and expect appropriate behavior. Treat it as a privilege. Enjoy the praise from other shoppers as your babes request tomatoes, string beans, and cucumbers.
•Build menus with your kids, let them choose and discuss their favorite foods. If all they mention is junky food, search for a recipe that offers a healthy version of that food. For example, homemade pizza is cheap, easy, delicious, and can be loaded with lovely ingredients. Pizza is also easily modified to meet the needs of a special diet. Try not to criticize their choice, simply model the joy and nourishment of that food.
•Continue to try new flavors, discuss cultures and ways of life associated with food. Try a new veggie, fruit, recipe or spice every week.
•Remember, set boundaries and encourage choice by making foods they like and offering something new and nutritious. One rule that we have at our table is “eat one bite of everything and all of one thing”.
•Eat as a family as often as possible. At least one meal a day!
Remember, you are the provider, not a short order cook, and your job is to offer healthy food. Like bamboo, be strong AND be flexible. There will always be days where you don’t have it together, go with that. Make breakfast for dinner, order in and have a picnic, let them cook with your help — your kids will love it! You can make excellent choices while still being flexible.
Communication – listen, express, reflect, absorb, engage, and think. Try to harness your reactions and acknowledge theirs. Discuss inappropriate responses regardless of who made them. Ask questions. Express love, gratitude and appreciation.
Play – be joyful, have fun, relax, let loose, be silly, imagine and create. Let you children guide you – THEY are the experts. Open your heart and remember what it means to play. Turn off the TV, video games, and computers and engage in age-appropriate play.  It can be as simple as singing a song to your toddler and as involved as an official game night. Channel in to the age of your child.
Intimacy – self-esteem, love, courage, awareness, consideration and personal space. A healthy relationship with your body, your childrens’ bodies and intimacy is a core requirement for healthy sexual development. If you are insecure or anxious about the subject, begin to explore ways of freeing yourself from those fears. Whether you read books, seek out a counselor or a support group, become the expert — have your children learn about their bodies and sex from you, not their teachers or other grownups — they can be a second opinion. If you want your children to come to you with their problems you need to show them that you can actually speak to the subject knowledgeably, compassionately and with open ears.
Movement – daily breathing, stretching and sweating. A strong, healthy body will always set a great example!
Choice – responsibility, integrity, power. As parents, we need to be able to go with the flow, let go of some of the control, let the children guide us at times — especially with play, movement, intimacy and sometimes choice. In many situations it is their job to choose and our job to provide the choices.
Regardless of the behavior that we are modeling, we must remember that our kids are watching. Therefore, we must practice what we preach. A singing teacher once told me, “Don’t be afraid to sing to your children even if you can’t sing. If you want your kids to sing, you sing, if you want your kids to read, you read.” Her words have always stuck with me.
One of the hardest parts of modeling is when you do something that you are not proud of, like yelling, cursing, gossiping or judging. In my opinion, this is where it gets good — the thing I love about being a jerk is how I deal with it. It is what I say to my children, friends, husband and co-workers in response to myself that really matters – that is where the magic happens. Remember to be real and transparent.
Simply put, demonstrate to your kids that everyone makes mistakes. How you handle and learn from them is what’s important. Exemplify that it is okay to admit when you are wrong, be willing to laugh at your behavior and be willing to apologize. Demonstrate humility and self-love at every opportunity.
Mindful parenting is hard work, is ever changing, and incredibly rewarding.
The ultimate goal of mindful parenting is to have a more satisfying parenting experience, allowing for a strong sense of self and a well-developed child. Many parents are working very hard to do right by their children and as a result, the parents suffer, which can actually be harmful to the children in the long run. Always strive for a healthy balance of self-care and child-care.
With this in mind and in practice, parents are better equipped to join the community with their children and make a difference in the world.

This article is the first in a series of articles about mindful parenting. Stay tuned for more to come!

Mindful parenting is a practice; it is an awareness of our connection to our children, our environment, and to ourselves as individuals – a practice that will result in a more peaceful, grounded and fulfilling existence.  As mindful parents we are better equipped to cultivate an environment for healthy child development. Healthy development here refers to a child who grows into the body she was born with – regardless of genetic and environmental influences that may interfere with “perfect health” – with a strong sense of self, capability and identity.  In order for a child to thrive in her present existence she must feel safe and capable. Enabling her to make choices that nurture her mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health is a great gift.

4709043339_e448d5a868

Parents come in many forms; birth parents, adopted parents, foster parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and so on. The emotional, financial, spiritual or physical climate at home will often dictate the level of stress and therefore the level of connection and awareness. In other words, the more stress in the environment the more patience and practice the mindful parent will need. The “health” of the home and the parent will usually determine how naturally this practice will come.

Parenthood is one of the most difficult jobs – as you know, it can wear your down and blur your vision – obscure your view of the happenings inside your body, mind, as well as the world around you. It is easy to get lost, and is therefore critical that you find ways to rebuild and conserve energy so that you can navigate through life with joy as you immerse yourself into parenthood.

My goal is to remind you of ways to celebrate in everyday life.

Simple things like a five-minute dance party with music that YOU love while getting ready for school or work, throwing on a fun hat or a bright color when you go out, telling your kids a silly joke as you say good bye, or taking a bath with your babes. My personal favorite way to celebrate with people I love is to sit at the table and eat together. At our house when we sit for dinner we tell “a thorn and a rose” which means to tell each other one bad thing and one good thing that happened in our day. Remember to find ways to honor and celebrate your hard work and your relationship with your children.

In my practice, some of the most burnt out and sick patients are parents. Typically these people are mothers – being the milkmaid and the ultimate hostess can, after all, take a toll. Increasingly, men are taking a beating as well; as more men are staying home with the kids and are sharing the responsibilities of homemaker they are realizing the magnitude of the job. Regardless, the sleeplessness, constant changing, feeding, inconsolable crying, body fluids, scheduling, staying out after curfew, puberty, sex, drugs…it can all seem overwhelming at times.

Many of us want to run away. Instead, try and celebrate. Pay attention, lean in, be clear and present – be unwavering. Children generally crave two things, love and boundaries. Take these overwhelming, crazy, confusing situations and turn them into opportunities to nurture yourself and satisfy their craving. Specifically, tell your children when a behavior is unacceptable and create a consequence, walk away and collect yourself for a moment, say no, ask for help, and so on.  Parents are often too tired, afraid, consumed, or distracted to enforce a discipline and be consistent; as a result children get mixed messages. It is difficult for children to learn when the instructions are ambiguous and always changing. Try a little less multitasking, focus in on the situation, collect energy and decide how to handle the struggles.

For example, lets say your two year old asks for something sweet while grocery shopping, you say no, and they begin to throw a temper tantrum. What do you do? You still have more things on your list, your kid is trying to exert some power, and you don’t want to cave. Step one; offer an alternative, “How about some fruit or nothing?” They still get to choose but they do not get a sweet (because you already said no). If that doesn’t help and she is still crying, she needs to be told that her behavior is inappropriate and that she needs to turn it around or you are leaving. Put an end to the negotiation as quickly as possible — you are in charge. If you have to, leave.

By responding the same way every time she will learn that it is not okay to freak out when she doesn’t get her way. Eventually, the behavior will change. When you give in to her request to quiet her she will work that angle for months, or even years to come.  Be unwavering and you will ultimately be more efficient and able to make more time for you — imagine that.

Learning to celebrate during the most difficult times is not only rewarding, it positively impacts your child’s development. Another way to celebrate is to embrace your struggles as they are. Try to avoid blaming the source, criticizing yourself or losing hope. Stay with what is right in front of you. Humans waste so much time and energy being angry and afraid during struggles.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t be emotional. I am saying that even when you are really struggling, if you pause, you can see the problem for what it is, recognize the emotional response, and then channel your energy toward solutions or maybe even just seeing how the problem unfolds. So often struggles are out of our control, so try to make room to let them simply pass. Celebrate your power by steering clear of the blame game and facing the fear. You may even find humor  — especially during the little ridiculous times like traffic jams and mouthy road rage.

You can also celebrate by modeling humility. Your children see you navigate through life day in and day out and eventually, they see you struggle. It is then that our children learn about difficult times, emotionality, problem solving and coping mechanisms. Sometimes you freak out and other times you gracefully juggle the problems; regardless of your response, pay attention.

Where is the joy in those moments? I believe it is in the resolution and the acknowledgment; and in the bigger picture it is in the food you prepare, the bedtime stories, the interactions with each other, the color of your sweater, or the time you took for yourself for just five minutes to regroup, to breathe. These tiny offerings are little parties. They may not seem like much individually and may not even be noticed during a temper tantrum, a headache, danger or sickness. However, the reflection of the cumulative will be beautiful and is something to celebrate.

Our children begin absorbing information from the moment of conception. They are collecting data from every person the meet, food they taste, television shows they watch, Internet waves they surf and trees they climb. In the early stages of life — conception through young childhood (5-8 years) — most of their choices are made for them (such as food, water, shelter, adventure, media exposure, social influences, spirituality). As they grow older they begin to develop into what is sometimes referred to as the “memory stage.”

Children begin to form memories, morals, values and opinions – especially opinions of themselves. They begin to make choices and express themselves based on early experiences and choices as well as from his or her constitutional make up (their hard wired personalities).

What we caregivers hope for is that our children will learn, from those experiences, the qualities that Arlen Harder refers to as “the highest qualities of the human spirit — such as honesty, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, courage, beauty and integrity.”  The best we can do is demonstrate those “highest qualities.”

We can also do our best to provide a safe and loving physical, mental and emotional environment for a kid to be themselves — a place where they can feel safe expressing their feelings, making mistakes, taking risks, sharing ideas and expressing love. Because we cannot possibly control, or would want to control, every experience and exposure, we must teach them to be media savvy. We must sit with our children and discuss what they are watching, reading, and listening to, not so we can take it away or criticize it but so that we can have a provocative discussion. Again, we must strive to provide a safe place where our children can be themselves.

Now take a deep breath and redirect.  I have an exercise: recognize that when we pay attention, I mean really pay attention; we are fully aware of our surroundings and present in the moment. Now lean into the experience, like on a cliff against a strong wind. Teetering on the edge with trust. At this point we are most courageous and connected to the experience, we have nothing to learn, only our own inner wisdom to draw on for guidance.

In this courageous and grounded place we are able to clearly and conscientiously care for ourselves, guide and care for our children, and contribute to our community, simply because we are clear. Free from distractions, fears, insecurity, burden AND responsibility. It is the place of truth, love and ability.

Now you have visualization, a meditation if you will, to guide you through your daily rigmarole. Take a deep breath and jump into the moment with your entirety.

Over the next several months, I will be presenting a series of articles that can be used as a leaping point for becoming a more mindful parent. These articles are not step-by-step, how to guides – you already have all that you need to be a mindful parent, so trust yourself.

Treat the ideas as a pallette that you can paint your own masterpiece from. Not only will you become more engaged with your child, you will be a model for your child that you can be truly proud of, and you will have a good time doing it (mostly). I firmly believe that our experiences guide our development. Let us grow.

The colors on the pallette are those of nutrition, communication, movement, intimacy, play and choice. The canvas is modeling. In other words, we caregivers are going to model our goals, morals and values, for ourselves and for our children. The colors mentioned above are a metaphor for the foundation of healthy growth and development.

Ideas for modeling:

Nutrition: my practice as a physician has been built heavily on my passion for nourishing and TASTY food. Primarily because I love to eat, I love gardens, I love knowing where food comes from and I LOVE food as medicine.

The number one thing I hear from patients is that they do not have time to eat well. I want to debunk that belief by saying, if something is important to you, then you make time. If it is merely a necessity, then you have to plan ahead and work it into your schedule, so that its just part of the routine. I feel that nutrition is BOTH important and necessary.

Simple things you can do to make nutrition mindful and manageable:

•Shop the perimeter of the grocery store to ensure that you are eating whole food (and saving money).

•Shop with your children and let them eat in the store, start in the produce section. Teach them early and expect appropriate behavior. Treat it as a privilege. Enjoy the praise from other shoppers as your babes request tomatoes, string beans, and cucumbers.

•Build menus with your kids, let them choose and discuss their favorite foods. If all they mention is junky food, search for a recipe that offers a healthy version of that food. For example, homemade pizza is cheap, easy, delicious, and can be loaded with lovely ingredients. Pizza is also easily modified to meet the needs of a special diet. Try not to criticize their choice, simply model the joy and nourishment of that food.

•Continue to try new flavors, discuss cultures and ways of life associated with food. Try a new veggie, fruit, recipe or spice every week.

•Remember, set boundaries and encourage choice by making foods they like and offering something new and nutritious. One rule that we have at our table is “eat one bite of everything and all of one thing”.

•Eat as a family as often as possible. At least one meal a day!

Remember, you are the provider, not a short order cook, and your job is to offer healthy food. Like bamboo, be strong AND be flexible. There will always be days where you don’t have it together, go with that. Make breakfast for dinner, order in and have a picnic, let them cook with your help — your kids will love it! You can make excellent choices while still being flexible.

Communication – listen, express, reflect, absorb, engage, and think. Try to harness your reactions and acknowledge theirs. Discuss inappropriate responses regardless of who made them. Ask questions. Express love, gratitude and appreciation.

Play – be joyful, have fun, relax, let loose, be silly, imagine and create. Let you children guide you – THEY are the experts. Open your heart and remember what it means to play. Turn off the TV, video games, and computers and engage in age-appropriate play.  It can be as simple as singing a song to your toddler and as involved as an official game night. Channel in to the age of your child.

Intimacy – self-esteem, love, courage, awareness, consideration and personal space. A healthy relationship with your body, your childrens’ bodies and intimacy is a core requirement for healthy sexual development. If you are insecure or anxious about the subject, begin to explore ways of freeing yourself from those fears. Whether you read books, seek out a counselor or a support group, become the expert — have your children learn about their bodies and sex from you, not their teachers or other grownups — they can be a second opinion. If you want your children to come to you with their problems you need to show them that you can actually speak to the subject knowledgeably, compassionately and with open ears.

Movement – daily breathing, stretching and sweating. A strong, healthy body will always set a great example!

Choice – responsibility, integrity, power. As parents, we need to be able to go with the flow, let go of some of the control, let the children guide us at times — especially with play, movement, intimacy and sometimes choice. In many situations it is their job to choose and our job to provide the choices.

Regardless of the behavior that we are modeling, we must remember that our kids are watching. Therefore, we must practice what we preach. A singing teacher once told me, “Don’t be afraid to sing to your children even if you can’t sing. If you want your kids to sing, you sing, if you want your kids to read, you read.” Her words have always stuck with me.

One of the hardest parts of modeling is when you do something that you are not proud of, like yelling, cursing, gossiping or judging. In my opinion, this is where it gets good — the thing I love about being a jerk is how I deal with it. It is what I say to my children, friends, husband and co-workers in response to myself that really matters – that is where the magic happens. Remember to be real and transparent.

Simply put, demonstrate to your kids that everyone makes mistakes. How you handle and learn from them is what’s important. Exemplify that it is okay to admit when you are wrong, be willing to laugh at your behavior and be willing to apologize. Demonstrate humility and self-love at every opportunity.

Mindful parenting is hard work, is ever changing, and incredibly rewarding.

The ultimate goal of mindful parenting is to have a more satisfying parenting experience, allowing for a strong sense of self and a well-developed child. Many parents are working very hard to do right by their children and as a result, the parents suffer, which can actually be harmful to the children in the long run. Always strive for a healthy balance of self-care and child-care.

With this in mind and in practice, parents are better equipped to join the community with their children and make a difference in the world.

Image courtesy Greg Livaudais

Legumes: Healthy and Hearty

The summer clothes are packed in the back of the closet, the days are getting shorter, and colder weather is creeping in day by day. With winter on the way, many people find themselves wanting to cook heartier meals. Here at Nature Cures Clinic, we are committed to helping you eat healthy and stay well this winter. While it’s easy to pack on the pounds with empty calories this time of the year, there are ways to fill up, and look out for your health at the same time.

A great source of fiber–and hearty-ness–comes in the form of the legume. Not only do legumes fill the belly, but they can also play an important part in preventing chronic disease. Continue reading “Legumes: Healthy and Hearty”

Naturopathic Prevention of Swine Flu

The mainstream media and most conventional physicians would have you believe that the only way to prevent swine flu is by getting a shot. Nonsense! Healthy immune systems have been protecting people from infectious diseases for many thousands of years. Our immune systems didn’t lose this ability in the last few decades, but the key is to have a healthy immune system. Continue reading “Naturopathic Prevention of Swine Flu”

Reform Health Care, and Start With Your Own

A substantial overhaul of our national disease management system is now highly unlikely. What we will get is possibly an alteration in its financing. Perhaps insurance companies will form cooperatives, perhaps the government will pay for the treatment of more currently uninsured individuals, perhaps some costs will be contained with malpractice reform.

And of course, those changes are desperately needed. Medical bills are, by a large margin, the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. It is a strong testament to the fundamental flaws of our system that two-thirds of those filing bankruptcy due to medical bills had health insurance.

Meaningful health care reform may not happen at the national level for many decades to come. However, there’s another way to reform health care in this country. It’s not reform that starts at the top level of government and trickles down to individuals. It is reform that starts with each individual. And someday, eventually, it might just trickle all the way up to the top. Continue reading “Reform Health Care, and Start With Your Own”

What’s for Lunch? Tips for packing a healthy lunch for work, school or play

This is the time of year when we start to reign in our free-spirited eating habits of summer and hunker down a bit by packing healthy lunches for ourselves, or kids going off to school. Lunch doesn’t have to be a boring sandwich, salad or canned soup. Here are some nutritious and delicious ideas to keep you going throughout your day.

First, you need to get the right gear. Keep your cold foods cold and hot foods hot. No need for microwaves in this healthy plan. Make a big pot of chili, hearty soup or stew to eat throughout the week. While you are throwing together breakfast, heat up some of your stew in a saucepan and put it in a “food thermos.”

There’s nothing like opening up your thermos on a chilly fall day to a hearty, warm meal. For cold foods like yogurt, salad or fruit – use a little freezer gel pack in an insulated lunch cooler. To keep vegetables fresh for longer try Green bags. Join the eco revolution by ditching those plastic sandwich bags for reusable sandwich bags – check out “lunchskins.”

Now what goes inside? Continue reading “What’s for Lunch? Tips for packing a healthy lunch for work, school or play”

Organic Under the Microscope

Nature Cures Clinic is committed to helping you live a healthy lifestyle. We believe that part of maintaining your health includes eating as many fresh and organic foods as possible. So when the topic of organic food hits the headlines, we take notice! Right now two things are happening:

First, there’s one very disturbing study by the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency, stating that there is “no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.”

The researchers say the results are not meant to discourage people from eating organic – but instead meant to inform people that the health benefits are no different between organic and conventional.

As you might imagine, we believe this is preposterous. Continue reading “Organic Under the Microscope”

Summer Skin Health: From the Inside Out

Nature Cures Clinic Nutritional Therapist
We’re deep in the heart of summer and after days of berry picking, hanging out at the river, hiking in the mountains and being outside in the heat your skin may need some attention. In the Spring we focus on preparing the skin for months ahead by doing our “spring cleaning” and ridding our systems of toxins as well as increasing our essential fatty acids to help protect our skin from over-exposure to the sun. Now it’s time to help our skin regain that spring glow through the last months of hot weather.
For all of us, dry skin is a natural process and we are meant to shed a layer of skin every day. We slather on lotions and potions to “temporarily” relieve us of the chalky look and feel of dead skin cells. At the least, the ingredients in these products can clog pores and create skin problems, but sometimes they can cause real health concerns. For true solutions to skin renewal I think it’s best to go back to Mother Nature. Continue reading “Summer Skin Health: From the Inside Out”

Antioxidant Power of Purple Corn

Chances are you’ve heard about the health value of blueberries.

With their deep blue color, they’re high in anthocyanins, a form of flavonoids . The flavonoids found in blueberries may provide protection against disease by upping the antioxidant defenses in the body.

As you may or may not know, Nature Cures Clinic is now on Twitter; you can find us here. That’s where our followers can ask us their health and nutrition questions, and we do our best to deliver. Recently, one follower asked us about the health value of purple corn, and its role in fighting cancer. They wanted to know if purple corn could pack the same punch as their favorite blue fruit.

Here’s what we told them: Continue reading “Antioxidant Power of Purple Corn”

Plant Sterols, Fish Oil and Cardiovascular Disease

A combination of two supplements can significantly improve total
cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL. Published in the Journal of
Nutrition, this study looked at 60 individuals with elevated lipids.
Those individuals who were given a combination of plant sterols and
omega-3 oils experienced a significant improvement in their lipid
profiles. Specifically, their total cholesterol dropped by over 13%,
their triglycerides fell by 25%, their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol fell by
over 12% and their HDL (“good”) cholesterol rose by over 8%.

These are precisely the changes that physicians want to see for
lowering an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

Olive Oil and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and around the world. One in three adults in the US, it is estimated, has some degree of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A recent study found that individuals who consumed the most olive oil in their diets had the least amount of thickening of their arteries. More specifically, the highest consumption of olive oil had far less than half the risk of artery thickening.

In everyday terms, this means that olive oil consumption dramatically lowers the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a leading cause of CVD and death.

This one change in the US diet – a substantial increase in the use of olive oil – rather than less healthy corn or soybean oil, for example – could save billions of dollars currently spent to treat heart disease.

Nutritional IV

Most people think of IVs as something they get in a hospital that’s filled with medications. But there are so many more ways to utilize IV therapy, ways that go far beyond just giving drugs.

At Nature Cures Clinic we use nutritional IV therapy to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. IVs can be used to treat fatigue, depression and anxiety, lung disease, digestive conditions such as irritable bowel, and even cancer, in addition to literally dozens of other conditions.

IV therapy can also be used to help prepare the body for surgery and to speed recovery after surgery. Assuring adequate nutritional status is crucial in order for the body to heal from traumas of all kinds.

Our fast-paced lives are often filled with stress, poor eating habits, lack of sleep and inadequate exercise. In addition, we are exposed every day to pollutants in our air, our water and our food. Each of these things depletes various nutrients that are needed for full health.

Nutritional IVs are a quick and cost-effective way to replace many of these nutrients, so that people feel better often after just a few sessions.

If you or anyone you know might benefit from nutritional IVs, call our clinic to schedule a consultation with a physician. You can reach us by phone at 503-287-4970 or by email at infor@naturecuresclinic.com.