Monthly Archives: July 2014

Strange Brew

Water Kefir was the beginning of this last round of my dietary changes, about a year and a half ago. Earlier changes, sanctioned by my doctor, were just mild improvements over SAD. Going independent and getting serious started with a Naturopath in Michigan, and water kefir was Step One.

It was a super auspicious beginning. I bought my little kit at cultures for health. They are wonderful and have a ton of videos and recipes. It was easy to make, easy to flavor and most importantly my kids loved it. I’ve heard many people say they have trouble with the alcohol content, but we’ve only had that problem if we let the second ferment go more than 3 days. For a long time I was juicing the fruit for the flavoring, but recently, I’ve just been putting cut up ingredients in the bottle after the initial ferment.

On any given day I have a variety of liters of water kefir in my refrigerator. I do not give any of these flavors a second ferment:

Cranberry (with 1/4c Knudson Just Cranberry juice)

grapefruit (1 juiced grapefruit, juiced)

grape (my son loves this, but i find making grape juice to be a bit much)

lemon (2 juiced lemons per liter)

Lemon/Lime (this changes, but up to 2 juiced lemons/2limes)

Ginger/Lemon (about an inch of ginger and 1/2 a peeled lemon)

Pineapple (sometimes with mango. But I haven’t done this a couple of months)

We also do a 1-2 day 2nd ferment for:

Ginger ale (about an inch of ginger)

Vanilla (A split vanilla bean, which I’ll use for 3-4 batches)

But, my favorite kefir flavor is Basil Lemonade. When we first moved out to California I was fortunate to have lunch at The Neon Carrot in San Luis Obispo. It was their signature drink. I thought they were crazy. I was wrong. The first three sips confirmed my initial assessment, but the next 2 glasses started a love affair that is still going strong. I’ve made this drink a variety of ways, blending a lemon and some basil with the kefir (#3), juicing basil and lemon and adding it to kefir (#2) and just popping about 6 basil leaves and 1/2-1 lemon in a liter of unflavored kefir. Typically, if I make it in the morning, it’s flavored by dinner. I’ve attempted other methods (mincing basil and adding it to lemonade for example) with poor results. But these three all work – although -you have to drink it the day you make it as in my experience it gets bitter if you let it sit.

About a month ago, I saw a cilantro cooler on FB. Cucumber, cilantro, lime, simple syrup and vodka. I would have detested this mix most of my life – all but the vodka, which really didn’t need those other ingredients mucking up the works. I especially hated cilantro until 1997 when I was in San Antonio working the annual George Strait Team Roping event, and I unwittingly had cilantro pesto at the Zuni Grill (I am still so surprised by this turn of events, I remember the names of these restaurants!). They brought it out with the bread as a dip. It was amazing – so amazing, I had to ask what it was. I wanted to picket outside when they told me it was my long reviled cilantro. But, it eased me up a bit, which opened my mind for Walt’s Wharf’s Carmelized Salmon in Seal Beach, but that’s another story, another (modified) recipe, and another post….

So, my new alternative water kefir flavor is…

Cucumber Cilantro!

I tried it both juiced and blended, and we preferred blended and on ice. It’s quick and simple..

1/2 cucumber (or 2 persian cucumbers)

6-8 sprigs cilantro (up to 1/4 c, at which point we found it to be too much!)

1 lime, peeled

1-2 cups unflavored water kefir


I was so happy to have a new beverage to enjoy! I am still far more achey than I have been on my other protocols this year, but if I can have enough little wins like this, I’ll be able to give it the 2 months I’d hoped to commit.




I love reading testimonials that say, “after three days, a lot of things cleared up, and by two weeks, I was symptom-free!” As I research protocols or products I typically become convinced that I, too, will see this sort of progress and cannot wait to get started. But, so far, this has not been my experience.  I really thought it would be this time.

I’ve maintained ketosis since Day 1. I am eating 3c of green leafy, and up to 2 cups each of color and sulfur. Some fermented food, some sea vegetables, 8 oz protein per day with the weekly requirement of organ meat. I’m (painfully) exercising every day, meditating every day, journaling every day: I am doing everything right and I’m still not feeling better. In fact, I am achier than I had been.

So, I want to quit.

But, as I drove my son to camp this morning, I realized, “Huh. I can drive.” There have been plenty of times when I couldn’t. So, I may not be “well” or “feeling good” but I am not worse.

So, no quitting for me.


A week of meals

I’ve eschewed routine all my life. As in, I don’t even brush my teeth at the same time every day. No one was going to curtail my spontaneity! I fancied myself a free spirit, even if my lack of routine made things – well, unpredictable and often difficult. When I had my first child some 12 years ago, I learned the value of routine (having Josie on a schedule made her happier and therefore my life easier) but I tried not to let it trickle into MY reality. Funny how I kept everything compartmentalized for so long…

I learned maybe a decade ago that when I criticize a thing, I am doomed to live it. My sister’s deer-in-headlights look in photos? Yep, that was my first realization and it still gets me if I’m not cognizant of the hilarity of the turnabout. But, it’s come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and currently it has to do with building habits and establishing routines. All that stuff I swore I’d never do. Not only am I doing it, I’m craving it and the more I integrate, the more I like it.

This week has been a realization of epic proportions. I’ve tried to meal plan before, but it’s never worked. I’ve purchased meal plans with shopping lists, and I dutifully go through the whole thing once, but never again because I didn’t care for everything and somehow didn’t want or know how to go through the trouble of just modifying appropriately. Until now. I have spent the better part of 6 months in my kitchen. I have become desperate enough and eager enough that not only have I put together a meal plan (with repeat meals – a huge no-no before) and we’ve done a week successfully, but it’s birthing new benefits like bunnies in springtime: We all liked it so we’re willing to repeat it! Modifying it a little here and there to suit everyone feeling “choice” is actually easy! Because it’s repeatable, the kids have ideas how they can help! Shopping is easier, using leftovers is actually happening – the list goes on… (I recognize this is not a big deal for a lot of people who sorted all of this out easily and naturally in the first weeks of independent living/marriage/parenthood, but not me. This is new to me and I’m downright giddy…)

So here’s what it is, and it has me in ketosis so I’m going to stick with it:

Weekday breakfast: (first a 1/2l of water, then 1/2l of bone broth while i’m putting this stuff together) Petra’s Victorious muffin, Petra’s coconut fudge, a green smoothie (2c greens/1 scant cup berries, 1 can coconut milk), a salad with fermented vegetables (weekend breakfast is the same except instead of a meat muffin, it’s a slice of some organ meat sausage from USWellness Meats – another thing I was pretty sure I would NEVER do).

Weekday Dinner: 4 nights per week: Fish (grilled sablefish, salmon, ahi or halibut from Vital Choice) with a huge salad; 2 nights per week Some Roast Meat (the day it is roasted and the leftover night) with a swamp of greens cooked with onion in bone broth. And finally, a grilled night that is chicken or turkey or steak, grilled veggies and a salad  (and a coconut fudge muffin for dessert any of those nights).  Kombucha or water kefir (especially basil lemonade, my current favorite flavor) to drink. If I get hungry in between, I have a tablespoon or two of coconut oil.

My kids aren’t eating exactly the same (for example they eat 3 meals per day), but their additions are completely manageable and they’re helping, which is awesome.

There was a powerpoint presentation going around years ago about an eagle at 30 years old or so painfully plucking out it’s own feathers, talons, and even beak. If it did this, it went on for another 30 years. If it didn’t it would perish. The story’s not true for eagles, but I think it may be true for me (adding a decade). I feel that way about myself and changing my points of view and especially my habits. It isn’t easy, but it’s quite simply the only way to go on. What I was doing before, whether it worked or not for me then (and it’s a mixed bag) simply will not work anymore. Funny I spent so many years trying to identify and communicate “who I am”  because the nature of reality dictates that to be healthy that definition must be ever-changing. I love this newness and having to strip back all those things I thought I knew about myself and the world. I especially appreciate that I model for my kids not to pigeonhole yourself because things change. Together we’re all learning to embrace change and discover its new treasures and even then be willing to give that up for the next wave when it naturally comes around. Certain things need to be kicked to the gently escorted to the curb; other things grow and intensify. It evokes the discussion, “what’s worth holding on to, and at what cost?”

Interesting times…


One day I’ll write about where I received the phrase “Patience Demonstrates Faith as Knowledge”

I love that phrase.

Prior to receiving that wisdom, I think I may have been the most impatient person I’d ever met. I had a quick mind and quick hands and I could run circles around people who approached life in a calm and balanced manner. I couldn’t understand why they were such slackers! My whole life.. every day.. it was exhausting.. and so my body decided to take the break it deserved the only way it could get me to acquiesce. It just stopped. And the world kept spinning, but my spinning stopped. It was a gift. An uncomfortable gift to be sure, but a priceless one.

I had hoped I could “achieve” patience and then just “be patient” but it hasn’t worked like that for me. Patience is a way of being. Those of us who grew up without it have a very difficult time authentically implementing patience in practical life. I think I am about 15% of the way there. I started practicing diligently about 5 years ago.  I’d be disappointed in myself, but I have come to grips with the fact that this may be a long road and I’m up for every step of it. Every breath, every choice. And, slowly but surely, more and more often I am taking that breath and making those choices and developing more patient habits.

The entire calendar year of 2013, I was frustrated and confused about food choices. Every time I thought I understood a new food or practice, I’d find conflicting information and have to change my plan entirely.  That was the best part about finding the AIP – I wasn’t trying to sort it out from scratch anymore. I didn’t have to be responsible for creating the plan, just implementing it. That was a huge relief.

The AIP was difficult, but people like Mickey Trescott made it better. I didn’t mind working in the kitchen all day (it really did take me all day. I am not a quick cook. I also seem to use every pot and pan in the cupboard. This was a lot of work for someone whose joints don’t work fluidly) because I am committed to this method of healing. But I’ve got to admit that so far (I’ve been transitioning for about 2 weeks) I like the Wahl’s Protocol (with AIP modifications) better. Meals are streamlined. My kitchen is cleaner. I have more ease and importantly, more rest.

This gives me more patience and more opportunities to choose patient responses. I really appreciate that because I am certain that patience and wellness are developing side by side within me. It doesn’t take 1/2 an hour for a mindset of impatience to lead me into physical aching.  But, as incentivizing as the avoidance of physical pain is, the real reason I want to become patient is for my kids: the way I respond to them as well as the habits I model to influence how they treat themselves, speak to each other, and envision the world. I wish I had mastered this before I had kids, but perhaps witnessing the transformation will serve them…

Ketosis, Day 1

Today I started ketosis. It seemed like a good time to start blogging since I’ve been considering it since starting this healing journey and petra8paleo blogged 10 fine reasons to start just the other day. Ever since a whole bunch of rhubarb showed up in my CSA box and I searched “AIP rhubarb” and found her strawberry rhubarb sandwiches, petra8paleo has been like a sister to me – but she wouldn’t know that because I never comment or anything.

I’m just about a year and a half into what I would classify as a focused healing effort. I was diagnosed with Lyme in 2010 and RA shortly thereafter. My doctor gave me an “Essential Fatty Acid” diet, but we both agreed I was pretty healthy already (ha!). A dear naturopath friend told me what I needed to do to get healthy (basically get in touch with the Weston Price organization and buy Sally Fallon’s book) and I remember thinking, “If that’s health, I’m not interested.” Yeah, well, you can only wake up in pain every day for so long before you rethink stupid comments like that… I am not quite a WPA member and I own, but do not use, Sally Fallon’s book, but I do a whole lot of things my 2010 self considered insane. Also, almost everyone I know. I get a lot of weird looks when I talk about why I’m not having an <insert delicious snack food here>, but I can’t deny I feel better and the more stuff I try, the better I understand what is working and what is not.

So, what I am I doing now?

I ferment things: water kefir, kombucha, ginger beer, vegetables

For 1 year, until I started this AIP/WPP (I’m going to have to come up with a better acronym), I juiced every morning. Which led me to vermicompost. That’s a lot of vegetable pulp and I’ve got some extremely happy worms in my back yard. Now that Dr. Wahls suggests smoothies over juice, I am a little worried about them. Although, once I see what ketosis means to me I’m going to try to reintroduce juice because I loved it. And I enjoyed forcing my children to drink some (I started this whole adventure a little late in the game for them. They were basically accustomed to organic snack foods, because “organic” means good for you, doesn’t it?)

I’ve done a variety of cleanse and detox diets in the last year. My husband (because he is unbelievably supportive and fantastic and altogether wonderful) has done each one with me. His favorite was the 60 day program from I liked it, and had no flare-ups during it, but I didn’t make the kind of progress i was looking for (and the tone & tenor of the website was just a little tough for me to take, even though I agreed with most of what the guy said). I love juice fasts and feel great during them (up to about 20 days is as far as I’ve gotten) but they’re just not sustainable as an actual diet, at least not for me. Enter AIP, or as my husband called it, “Clubbing yourself with a meat stick.” This from a country-raised meat-loving American man. We just couldn’t do it. Thank God for Petra.

And so, I’m off to make our second meal of the day (how great is 2 meals a day! after constant cooking on the AIP! could I love this more?) and, as usual, am late (and use far too many commas. if I am actually going to blog and put things in the public domain, I have a responsibility to myself and the world at large to curtail my comma abuse). On both counts, please excuse me.