On February 27, the first full day of Lent,  my family will be starting our next Whole30.  What is the Whole30 you ask?  And why during Lent?

What is the Whole 30?

The Whole30 is a food program that allows you to take charge of your health and change your relationship with food.  It is 30 days (or longer and, in this case, with Lent upon us, our Whole30 is 40 days plus another 7 days of fasting during Holy Week- so 47 days) of eating nothing but truly nourishing    foods.  It means foods that are not damaging to our bodies in any way which, incidentally,  goes against that traditional food pyramid we grew up with and certainly goes against the Standard American Diet and will not include McDonald's or Taco Bell. Doing a Whole30 gives you an opportunity to connect the dots between what you put into your body and the energy you feel, the aches and pains that can't be explained , the weight you can't lose, the mood swings that take charge of your days and the chance to change your life.  Because let's face it.  What you eat does affect your health.  And your health affects EVERYTHING!

Recent findings have led me to believe though some may already consider my eating  healthy,   I really do need to take charge of my health and change my relationship with food. While we eat a primarily Paleo like diet, I am known to cheat a bit.  Okay, a lot.  (yeah, my husband is shaking his head as he reads this and I see the little bubble over his head that says 'she eats WAY to much sugar and dairy'....I know dear, I know).  Yes, I'm known to eat my share of raw dairy, cashew ice-cream fudge from Trader Joe's, Gluten Free Brownies (pretty much my answer to everything), chocolate (milk chocolate if it's my choice), and pretty much any sugary thing that is minus the artificial ingredients. , So no, I'm not a saint when it comes to food (or anything else for that matter) .

Anyway, I've struggled on and off for years of unexplained fatigue, sleep issues, digestive issues, etc. that just haven't gone away entirely though they improve and, yes, of course the more I stick to the healthy Paleo diet, the better the improvement.  I've started seeing a health coach and, little by little, have been piecing things together.  I've learned a lot more about what devastating effects NOT having a gall bladder can have on a body and I haven't had one for about 24 years now.  And I've learned a lot about Adrenal Fatigue (yes, it's real and yes, I have it.... probably have had it for quite a long time.  QUITE a long time.) and I've learned about genetic testing that may pinpoint a few other things about my body and how it absorbs nutrients..  But while the testing is still out, I do know about the adrenals, the low iron, and the missing gall bladder.   And that all needs addressed. And what better way to do it then knock out all the foods I have a bad relationship with.  Yep.  It's time for another Whole30.  Extended Whole30.

Is This Just Another Fad Diet?

In a word? No.  In more words?  It's not about giving up calories (I never count calories), or eating less like fad diets are. The Whole30 is about discovering good food standards and eliminating an unhealthy relationship with your food and an overactive immune system and a disrupted digestive system.  It's about eating  (a lot of) foods that feed and nurture your body - giving you better digestion, more energy , eliminating food cravings, resetting your metabolism,  and yes, maybe even shed some pounds if you have them to shed. Fad diets do not do this.  The Whole30 will.

Our First Whole30

Our first Whole30 was back in 2014 and I blogged about it here.  I posted weekly updates that included what we ate and how we felt.  That experience was quite an awakening to how much certain foods were dominating our lives, how emotionally connected we were to food, and how much better we felt (after a week or two) of being away from those so-called foods. We definitely learned about what foods/food groups cause inflammation, congestion, joint pain and other pains, digestive issues, and more.  (I already knew foods and ingredients affected my mood)

Why Lent?

2014 was our first year of being Paleo.  And we were struggling with adapting to the lifestyle and seeing the dramatic effects it was having on our health.  My husband was losing an incredible amount of weight and Lent was coming fast.  We had no idea what to do.  A typical Orthodox Christian fast involves complete abstinence from all animal products.  And while that wasn't a problem as far as the dairy was concerned, it was a problem for meat and oils (tradition has it that oils were once stored in pouches made from animals skins/intestines and therefore was also given up along with the animal products). We had been toying with the idea of doing a whole30 but kept putting it off because, well frankly, it left me quaking how to truly stick to this paleo thing 100% with no cheating whatsoever.

What to do?  We approached our priest for discussion and advice and well, a blessing.  We had ( and continue to have) amazing support.   So instead of the typical Orthodox fast, we follow a Whole30 for the duration of Lent.

What does this mean we give up instead of meat, dairy, eggs and oils?  It means no grains (none- not a one including wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, oats, etc), no alcohol, no legumes (legumes include beans, peanuts and soybeans and anything containing soy) with the only exceptions as green beans snow peas and sugar snap peas), no dairy (not even my raw cheese), no artificial ingredients including carrageenan, msg, or added sulfites, no baked goods, 'treats', or junk foods made with approved ingredients (in other words, no treats even if they are paleo), and absolutely no sugar of ANY KIND. Yep, that last one is a killer for me- making this truly harder than any Orthodox Fast I have followed.

And why , again during Lent?  Because we know we'll stick to it.  We are a family of faith and we have always taken the Lenten season very very seriously.  If we say we are doing this for God, we WILL DO IT.

In Conclusion

In the upcoming weeks I hope to keep you updated on our progress like I did week by week back in 2014.  It may not happen weekly this year, but I will post at least a few times and perhaps share some new favorite recipes. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the Whole30, check out the books I have pictured on the right of the post or any of the websites below!  And of course, feel free to ask questions!

Food Freedom Forever - (click on the image above) I haven't read this yet- just stumbled on it while looking for links to sources.  I just may put it on my wishlist soon!

Whole30 Program Rules

Whole30.com

For The Facebook Fans

Help With Home Alone Meltdowns on the Whole30

 

3

I am/was behind in menu planning this month.  I am sitting here coming to the realization the month has already started and I haven't planned the menu!  I've enjoyed the last two months as I prepared the following month's menu at least a week before the month started.  It has really made life easier to plan in advance like that rather than waiting until the evening before I do my weekly grocery store trip to plan the menu and the list.  It takes a little longer to plan for the month but not as long as it used to do the weekly plan since I made up a bit of a draft to always follow.

First I print out a Monthly Menu Planner....  I had one saved to my computer but couldn't find the link.  Here's another that I like:

weekly menu planner pict 300x231 Meal Planning Resources

So now I take a look at the menu and fill in the dates....  Then I look at my regular planning calendar and mark off any days we might not be home for dinner due to previous plans or make note of days we will be out of town for dinner and may need to plan on food to take with us!  Then I mark of Wednesdays and Fridays.  These are days we follow the fasting rules of the Orthodox Church.  The rule permits fish without backbones on these days but does not allow any other animal meat.  We are a little more lenient in our home and allow any type of fish, but try to stick to the backbone rule on at least one of these days.  So Wednesday and Fridays are automatically seafood days and I try, if we have it on hand, to do wild caught salmon once a week.  I am out right now and need to get myself to our best source soon! 

Next is my list of our current favorite Paleo meals:

  • Bacon Spinach Casserole
  • Paleo Chili
  • Mushroom Meatloaf
  • Chicken With Mushroom Sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash with Homemade sauce

And a couple "ALMOST" Paleo Meals:

  • Turkey Reuben Salad
  • General Tso's  Chicken served over cauliflower rice

And, usually - because my family LOVES them and my husband and son volunteer every month to help our church make them...AND because we don't, at this time, want to be 100% Paleo.....  one NOT paleo meal...but used more as a side dish now beside a very large salad...

  • Perogies.   Yep---- wheat AND white potatoes in the same meal...I'm sure the paleo police will come after us for sure but so far we do fine with this ... and I personally think making them a side dish now instead of a main meal is just a nice guilty pleasure that is at still better than what we used to do!  🙂

So with the seafood meals, which I also have a list of convenient easy meal combinations pre-made, that automatically gives me 16 meals already planned!  Throw in about 6 Hot Plates (Stir Frys) that are super easy and Thursday Leftover Days  and that leaves me with only about 4 meals to plan!  These will be my experimental days to try new Paleo Recipes!

Recipe Bonus:

I decided to add this here as some of you may be wondering just what Turkey Reuben Salad is...  It may sound a bit strange... making a reuben into a salad rather than a sandwich but my husband suggested it and I figured if he was willing to give up the sandwiches, I should be supportive and attempt the salad.  Even my 15-year-old likes it 🙂

Turkey Reuben Salad

3/4  -  1 lb. organic deli turkey, thinly sliced

1 jar sauerkraut (raw sauerkraut is the healthiest choice)

1/4 - 1/2 red onion, sliced or diced

organic cherry tomatoes - 1 container

1/4 lb. swiss cheese - cubed or you may use sliced cheese and cut it into nice long strips

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Organic Baby Spinach - Extra Large Package...about 12 oz.  [or green of your choice]

I make this salad up "buffet style".  My husband and I like the spinach but my son prefers a nice romaine lettuce and opts to leave the onions off.   I also like to mix baby romaine or baby lettuces with mine.  Try it and let me know what you think!  Meanwhile, I need to fill out that menu planner!!

Those are the four things taking up space in my brain today: Thomas, History, English & Lent

Thomas is the train. I am going to attempt (with the help of a wonderful neighbor) to make a queen size quilt for my toddler's bed. "Queen size?" you ask. Yes, well I didn't want to go out and buy a brand new bed or lose the potential guest bed that we have. So yes, he looks quite small in that bed - which is a good thing as he is growing and this makes him stay smaller in my mind 😉

History & English go together. Or they might be seperate. I'm not sure yet.
It's time to start thinking curriculum for next year already. I start now because it takes me forever to make a decision. This year all I really need to decide on is high school classes for my oldest son, though I can't seem to resist looking at classic book lists and preschool fun things for my toddler.... I know there's no need for anything formal yet - but he is progressing so far already without making much effort that I can't resist at least wanting to buy some fun games and books!

For my older son, I already have math and science figured out. It's history and english that are the mindbenders. First, because he's not really interested in them so I want to not only challenge and teach him something but I'd like to make it interesting or at least not as 'boring' as he usually finds these subjects. There are combined curriculums that take historical fiction and wrap them into a literature and history course. Those ar tempting other than to pick that curriculum you need to go with the text and the books they select and not always do I think their book choices are the best. I've actually debated on forming my OWN curriculum for history by somehow selecting about 200-300 or so 'facts' about American history and making up a list of questions and sources he is to use throughout the course of the year to find the answers to these questions. In the meantime, he would have to check with me the accuracy of what he finds and study them throughout the year to take a test on about half of those (of which I randomly choose which ones to test him on). Obviously these wouldn't all be things like who was the first president? But things he would really have to read something to find the answer to or really commit some things to memory for the test. I'm thinking this would really make him learn the material vs. just reading a chapter at a time from a text, answering some questions in an essay or a test and then moving on and forgetting most of what he covered. The biggest problem with that is me coming up with the material and source list for him to use. I'm thinking of putting some polls out there to the public (here) and friends to see what facts or information they think should be included. What do you think? Good idea or bad?

For English I'm thinking maybe pick a 10th or 11th grade literature anthology that goes with a curriculum and just have him do half this year and half the next. That way he'll get in the literary vocabulary and get a good introduction to answering questions about literature in the manner a text would teach it but also have enough time to read further books of fiction, historical fiction involving American history that I select and some biographies too. Then I can throw in some SAT vocabulary, a little grammar and still have room for a good writing program of some sort (need to pick that one too!).

As for Lent, it is approaching. I know, my non-orthodox friends are scratching their heads and thinking "What...didn't it already start?" No. In Orthodoxy, we still follow the old calendar and the timing of Pascha (the traditional word vs. Easter which is a western christianity term) is still determined according to the cylce of the moon and the Jewish Passover. This is actually our fast - free week. Next week is a 'normal week (fasting only on Wed and Friday) and then we have one week of abstaining only from meat products and then, on March 18th (a Monday not Wednesday like the Catholic Church) Lent begins and we follow a strict fast. Every year is different for us according to our needs but a traditional fast means abstaining from all animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, etc.) olive oil and wine thoughout all of Lent...with a few exceptions on oil and wine on a few select days. Naturally pregnent women or nursing mothers and small children are not expected to follow this. Which is why it's different for us every year. I'm not nursing anymore but we do have a 2 year old (who will be 3 soon!) to consider. So I'm not sure exactly how strict all of us will be. I do plan on eating salmon at least once a week and we are allowed spineless seafoods though I've never been one to think eating lobster or crab should be done during the fast...but remember, Orthodox Christianity was formed in 33 AD...and at that time those foods were not considered the delicacy they are today.

Oh well... I think that's enough for one day! Wow...that's quite a bit of unrelated topics all put together isn't it! Well, that's my brain for you! Have a delightful day! And if you have any suggestions on how to approach that history idea or any other suggestions, I'm all ears!

4

It's been awhile since I've posted...and when that happens I seem to put it off more and more because, well for one - lack of time and... I just can't decide what to post about.

Things are getting better. I've been fighting the depression after the miscarriage and I believe I am winning...but it is a slow process and now I am faced with overwhelming anxiety trying to catch up with everything I fell behind in.

But here's some of what's going on:

My toddler is reaching the milestone of being potty trained. He still has accidents, but most of the time he runs off to the bathroom on his own to use it all himself...calling me all excited like when he has accomplished the task! He gets 3 little pieces of candy... Sundrops -- very similar to M&Ms but without the artificial dyes and such.

My beloved daughter has been accepted to the college of her choice ... IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania). It is a great school for her chosen Major (Criminology) and, I think, a good fit for her personality and personal needs. It helps, greatly, that the kitchen staff is very willing to work with her dietary needs in avoiding all the artificial ingredients necessary to stay healthy. It is also where her father and I met and fell in love. Visiting the college campus when we did was very beneficial to us... giving us time and a place to reconnect. I look forward to visting her there and meeting up with dear friends as we did the weekend she toured the campus.

My husband and son went hunting for junior season but did not get anything. This means the freezer still has room in it and that they will go out to face the cold in December in hopes of finding venison to nourish our bodies through the winter (after the advent fast of course).

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the advent fast. My heart and soul is not in it this year. We never, as a family, fast as much or with as much vigor for the advent fast as we do for the Great Lenten fast...but I do usually try to at least stay away from meats a good deal. I think this year we may have a bit more meat but will try to incorporate a few more vegan meals each week in addition to our usual fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays.

I have learned how to make perpetual broth....it is fabulous! I'm still not sure how to put in a link here, but I'll type the info:

It's from Nourishedkitchen.com If you put nourished kitchen and perpetual soup into your browser, you're sure to find it. http://nourishedkitchen.com/per[etual-soup-the-easiest-bone-broth-youll-make/

It's basically using chicken bones from roasting a whole chicken (which my family loves....just wish a chicken had 3 or 4 legs - haha! ) and using those bones in your crockpot, adding some s & p, some simple veggies and water and keeping it on ALL WEEK! Each day you take about half out, drink it or use it in a recipe or freeze it and add that much water back in. This is a continual process. I have lots of chicken broth in my freezer now and had great uses for it throughout the week.

Well, that's all I have time for today. Hopefully someone can benefit from the perpetual soup idea! Enjoy!

1

Holy Week is almost over and I am actually not wanting it to end. This Lent has been the most fulfilling for me. That’s because I chose to make it that way and probably took the season more seriously than in years past. I need to make a concentrated effort not to let my steps up the ladder of ascent slip away.

Reading the psalms all the way through along with a study companion was a wonderful experience. I hadn’t read them all before, certainly not in order and studied the prophetic meaning of them. I intended to memorize psalm 50 and psalm one. I didn’t do so well with that goal. I memorized all the parts of psalm 50 but never was able to recite the psalm in its entirety without peaking a bit. And I only read psalm one a few times. I’m hoping to take each one now and study it further and memorize psalm 50, psalm one, and move on to others eventually. My favorite verse is in Psalm 50 - Create in Me a Clean Heart O Lord and Renew A Right Spirit Within Me. I think that's what Lent and all of our earthly life is about....continuously striving to have a clean heart and a right spirit.

I’ve eliminated fiction from my life for the duration of Lent (other than the read-aloud time I do with my sons) and have read several books related to Christian Orthodoxy. They have truly helped me to uplift my spirit and focus on what is important in life and helped me to strengthen my faith. My favorites were The Illumined Heart by Frederica Mathews Greene and the one I am bound to finish tonight - Surprised By Christ. This last one is a story by an Orthodox priest who was NOT always Orthodox. He was Jewish and found his way to Christianity and then on to Orthodoxy. While it’s not a gripping, can’t put this down book, it’s really very informative and puts Orthodoxy into a different perspective than most do. I am deeply enjoying the 3rd section of the book in which he speaks of many aspects of the Orthodox faith and how it differs from other Christian religions and how it compares to Judaism. I was totally engrossed by his writing of the Orthodox view on heaven and hell. I hope I continue to make sure that at least one book regarding Orthodoxy as well as the bible stays by my bedside in my pile of books to read. And I must make sure to pick them each up daily….even if it’s just to squeeze five to ten minutes of each.

We have attended nearly every service possible, even with my little guy, though I won’t be attending the 12 Gospel Service tonight. That would just be way too long for my little guy (It’s over three hours long). He is fun to have there, watching him imitate the priest and try to sing along with the hymns. He has the tunes down even if he can’t pronounce all the words just yet. He is distracting though, and it’s hard to hear the sermon. For today’s liturgy, we let our part-time nanny keep Alexander at home so that the rest of us could go and actually stay attentive during the entire service. This allowed him his play time too which I think is important this week when there are so many other services.

I’ve sort of enjoyed the fasting too. I really focused on cooking very healthy vegan meals and feel like my body is feeling the joy of being cleansed from those nasty animal products. (Yes…nasty…I firmly believe we should have some animal products in our diet but the American diet partakes way way way way WAY too much of it!)

We as a family have enjoyed several really good movies about Orthodoxy and our Christian faith. (Including Ostrov, The Jesus Prayer, The Case For Christ, etc. ) Not as often as I had hoped, but more than we usually would. Perhaps we can try to incorporate more of this into our regular schedule as well instead of watching all the crime shows and other things we watch for entertainment purposes. We were hoping to watch The Passion of Christ this week but haven’t fit it in yet. I’m not sure we will. I hope too. It’s been a few years since I have watched it and my oldest son hasn’t seen it yet. I believe my daughter saw part of it but not the whole thing.

We’ve had more prayer time and talked about humility, fasting, and what we believe and need to do on a continual basis to live a Christian life. I had hoped to do this on a daily basis but that was one thing that seemed to end about halfway through Lent….not enough time around my husband’s schedule and other things in life seemed to get in the way. I hope we can start this back up. Perhaps it should just be a once a week thing rather than daily. That might be more realistic. We haven’t been doing well lately at doing our morning prayers together recently either. That makes me sad. I did very well with this at the beginning of the school year. I really must make that a priority.

I’m not looking forward to the end. Okay, I am looking forward to the ham and the cheese. But I worry that I’ll let myself drift back out of my prayer life and Orthodox Christian reading and won’t make time for it. I think I’ll do okay for awhile…I just hope I can make it a permanent part of my life and not let the chaos of other things in life get in the way. I know my intentions are good but that’s not enough. And I need to make it a visible priority for my children. I must be a model for them. Too often I have been a poor model. I know we all make mistakes. But I need to at least be determined to model the right stuff too - for them and for myself….But most of all- for HIM.

Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.