Protons, Heart Issues, and Other Woes

Trying to be "Anxious for Nothing."

Trying to be “Anxious for Nothing.”

I’m feeling pretty down today. So much going on it seems, but hoping for some perspective and hope as I know I can get this way, and God always sees me through.

Owen discovered yesterday that the hopeful outcome of radiation therapy as the final step in ridding him of his cancer, now seems rather grim. The radiologist looked at his scans and determined that the location of Owen’s tumor is in such a delicate place in Owen’s heart, especially after the heart itself has been so ravaged by the surgery and the chemotherapy, that he feels radiation would only damage it further. It is his professional opinion that the positive benefits on the cancer do not outweigh the negative effects it would have on Owen’s heart.

“You only get one heart, Owen,” he said.

So he is recommending Proton therapy instead, a newer form of treatment similar to radiation but using some sort of protons instead (hence the name) and supposedly much more gentle. So while that doesn’t sound bad, here is the stressful part. There is a good chance our insurance won’t cover it. And without insurance, my research shows it will cost roughly $30,000. This is money we do not have.

Furthermore, given the scans look good on the CT (We havent’ had a more accurate PET scan yet), it makes me wonder if it is even worth it. Yet, all the research I’ve done, which has included looking at medical journals written within the last year on Thymoma shows that for stage 3 B2 Thymoma, radiation combined with chemotherapy yielded much more success when preventing reoccurrence. Without that double treatment, likelihood of reoccurrence for Owen’s type and stage was very high. But in the end, does it even matter if it’s Proton therapy instead? Where’s the research on proton therapy for Owen? In other words, if the proven radiation therapy is not realistic for Owen, is it worth $30,000 of money we don’t have to pay for another treatment where there is no record or research done on its effectiveness for Owen’s type of cancer and stage in the first place?

So what to do?

Owen is most frustrated by the location of the Proton therapy location. It is in La Jolla, which is a good 40 minutes from our home with typical traffic. He is expected to go every. single. day. For 6 weeks. That is 40 minutes there, about an hour while there, and then 40 minutes back. That is basically 3 hours everyday that cuts out of his work time. And we’d have to find a sitter every morning to take the kids to school in order to get him there on time. At this point, chemotherapy was easier on his work schedule. So he is not happy. Neither am I.

My prayer is that God be guiding all of this. I don’t want Owen to beat cancer only to die of a heart attack. So if radiation is too dangerous than I don’t want it either. Chemotherapy has already ravaged his heart. He is getting palpitations everyday and has been enduring pain in his heart ever since his last chemotherapy treatment 3-4 weeks ago. He is still dealing with other negative effects on his body including tinitus in his ears, tingling and numbness in his fingertips and limbs, and general weakness.

I don’t want his heart issues to worsen. But I don’t want him to get a likely reoccurance of thymoma either. The survival rate for that is much worse. Over the last year, Owen and I have grown so much closer. I am more in love with him than ever and so the fear of losing him, is all the more heart-breaking to me. I want my husband to be with me for the rest of my life. And I want the time we have together to be healthy. Anything that disrupts that or threatens that fills me with anxiety.

If God does not allow proton therapy to be something the insurance pays for, I sure hope he is allowing that because he is telling us he’s got this and that Owen will not be getting a reoccurrence and so we don’t need more treatment. Please pray we have ears to hear God’s voice in this and not our own fears or itching ears.

Finally, after all of this–I am having health issues. And right now, all of our health/medical money is going toward helping Owen. And my issues just seem to be blown off by the traditional Medical establishment. As I seek alternative treatments, I recognize my dire need for a Naturopath, but that will come out of pocket since my insurance won’t cover a Naturopath. Until we get Owen settled though, I am trying to treat myself for my health issues with diet changes, supplements, etc. And I’m just praying that God bring me relief. I don’t want to get too into it until I know for sure if I am right. But I’ve struggled with a sensitive gut for years and finally found some relief when I cut down my dairy significantly. But now it seems that I’m developing more food sensitivities and my hearing issues aren’t improving that much. And on top of that, I had a tubal ligation a year ago when my daughter was born (4th c-section) and I’m starting to develop some issues that I believe may be complications and side effects to that. I’m just praying that God be guiding me through my journey through this process, show grace to me as I seek to treat myself and help provide me the answers needed to heal. I am going to be 36 years old and want the second half of my life to be healthy as well, not burdened by pain and aching all the time in my belly. I’m crying right now just thinking about it.

Lord, please bring me and my husband relief!

In the end, despite the outcome, I am reminded of a song  Alanis Morisette wrote years ago that made such an impact on me. I will post the lyrics down below.

That I would be good, by Alanis Morisette

That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved even when I was fuming
That I would be good even if I was clingy
That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good whether with or without you
So please pray that God guide is in the direction he will have us go, heal us on his own or lead us toward the doctors and treatments that can heal us, and that if he does, or if he doesn’t–that we both be good regardless. I want to be joyous and kind and encouraging and inspiring and giving always. I want to emanate God’s love no matter the ailment or suffering I have in my own life.
Advertisements

My Wrinkles in Time

What can I do about my tired looking skin? wrinkles and acne are no fun.

This is me today. I look tired. I look angry. But I’m not!

More confession time–I hate my skin right now, especially my wrinkles.  Which is odd because I do not hate other people’s wrinkles. As a 35-year-old female, I have many friends from as young as 20 up to 60 and I think they are all beautiful in their own way, wrinkles or lack thereof.

But I hate mine.

I think it is because my skin changed too quickly. I once had beautiful, wrinkle-free/acne-free flawless skin until I had my first child at 27. Having my first child aged me immediately by like 5 years. Then add a break up, a dramatic dating life, a new job search, a marriage, three more children, a home purchase, a husband battling with cancer, and my own aging body–distracted from taking care of my self, one day I looked in the mirror and took a step back. My skin just looks tired.  But I’m not.

I look in the mirror and do not recognize the woman in my reflection. It’s funny. You’d think I’d get used to my reflection. But every time I look in the mirror, I’m disappointed. As if somehow I was expecting to see that 25-year-old porcelain skinned young woman I once was. I suppose it’s because in many ways I still feel like her.

I used to have friends take pictures and then ask us girls to look at the photo and approve. I don’t even bother anymore. I know I won’t like the way I look. Not anymore. Gone are the days when I would look at myself in the mirror and say, “Oh yeah. Thank you Jesus.”

Nope.

I’ve always had somewhat of the joked about “Resting B!#$% Face” that formed a mild line between my brows after a long day in the sun. But now its two permanent lines that only disappear in the wee hours of the morning after I first wake up or after a long hot shower–rest and moisture are so good for the skin. Maybe I can just sleep in a mist bath the rest of my life? Sleeping beauty. A beautiful woman with no life.

I notice that when I wear bangs long enough to cover up the lines, people smile at me more. I think it’s because I look nicer. Those lines make me look mad. People ask–“are you ok?” all the time. I’m not mad. This is just my face.

Maybe it’s because I’m a thinker.

Maybe I just have over active brow muscles.

I was a shy and serious child

I was a shy and serious child

I know even as a child, I must have because I have a distinct memory of my grandmother Barbara in her thick Colombian accent press two fingers between my brows and tell me, “you are too young to be so serious my darling.”

I wish I were less serious.

To complicate the matter, somehow over the years, my face has become less and less symmetrical. Now, my right side of my face curves down from my eyebrows down to the corners of my mouth–all on my right side. I’m sure it comes down to not seeing my chiropractor as often as I should have all those years.

And then recently–I’ve started breaking out in acne. I’m 35 years old and breaking out. I actually found a pimple in my wrinkle next to my mouth yesterday.

So what do I do?

I drink lots of water and eat relatively well–so that is not really in need of improvement. But since summer has started, I’ve upped my coffee consumption which I am certain does not help. 

I was talking to someone about this a while back and she told me she went through the same thing once and then one day took a bottle of wine into the bathroom and told herself she would not come out until she accepted the way she looked. My first thought when she told me this was–don’t you know too much wine will make you look even older? 

So I’m not going to the that. I’m going to fight. I’m going to try to pull a superman and reverse time or at least slow it down and hopefully a long the way  come to a point of acceptance. I know, there is no logic in that, but that is where I’m at. I’m buying things I’ve never bought before and thinking about procedures I would have judged before.

I’ve spread raw apple cider vinegar on my face before I go to bed for the acne and I’ve actually seen some of the pimples dry up yesterday morning and literally fall of my face with the touch of a finger nail–so that’s good.

I’ve purchased and begun using oil-based cleansers, night cream, day cream for a year now.

Recently added a wrinkle-filling primer and anti-wrinkle foundation to my morning ritual. So far, don’t really see much of a difference. Maybe when its freshly on. But by the end of the day–it’s the same ol’ tired looking me begrudgingly greeting me in the bathroom mirror–“Oh, its you,” she says.

I’m now exploring the possibilities of supplements that counter-act aging skin, chemical peels, facial scrubs and masks, retin-A creams, and yes–even botoxing the bold 11 embroidered between my brows. All are on the table right now.

Of course these all cost money. So trying to plan out how much I can devote from my budget on my vanity is important. I investigated the supplements a couple of days ago, and found a supplement that seemed promising, backed by a lot research on the herbs and amino acids inside. It cost me about 40 bucks for a one month supply. I told my husband if he wanted a pretty wife, he would let me try it. He quickly agreed. Once I get it in the mail, I’ll take some before and after pics to see if its worth buying more or advocating. So stay tuned.

I’m conflicted though. There’s a part of me that is upset with myself because I feel like I need to be accepting my wrinkles and age and not allow myself to be brainwashed to believe that only young skin is beautiful. And I suppose there is a part of myself that believes that but it can’t be very strong because I see many of my seasoned female friends as beautiful.

I want my 35 year old skin to look like my skin when I was 30.

This was me in 2009 with my hubby right a couple of weeks before we were married. I was almost 30 years old here.

I just want to take care of my skin. I haven’t and I’m seeing the consequences, and I don’t like them and just trying to remedy the problem. I’m a warrior, remember? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take care of my skin, right? It’s not like I’m lying on the floor crying or not going out and meeting people because my “woe is me” skin. If anything, I am more conscious to smile at people now. 

I think the biggest struggle is that I want my outside to reflect my inside. It used to. I used to look how I felt. I don’t anymore. My body is growing old while my spirit is still young. Wiser in many ways, knowing when to talk and when to shut up and listen. But I don’t feel old or tired and so I don’t want to look old or tired. 

I couldn’t imagine being my 85-year-old Grandma who told me she feels 40. Trapped in shell that doesn’t feel like home.

Until then– In addition to my “fluffing and buffing” as my dad used to call it, I’m washing myself in the Proverbs this summer, reminding myself that taking care of my skin is not bad, but to not forget to take care of my spirit too–which will live forever–while this shell is just temporary. So I know the steps I take now will not last forever and be okay with that.

Proverbs 31:30–Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Pasta-Free Casserole Dishes– A Busy, Health Conscious Mom’s Best Friend

Cauliflower is my new best friend in the kitchen says the entrepreneurial wifeAs a working mom and wife, I am constantly working on improving my 5 o’clock scramble to make dinner, while maintaining healthy meals for my family. After I finally started enjoying the benefits of casseroles, single-pan dinners, freezer meals, and crock-pots, I then this year decided to cut out refined grain from our diet. That threw everything for a loop! Part of what makes single-pan meals and casseroles so quick and hearty is that pasta is mixed in to bulk it up, right?

But between my husband’s more noticeable wheat allergy and my growing wheat intolerance (tummy aches, fatigue, depression), this is something, I’d have to master, and make it good so that my family didn’t backlash. Not to mention–I’d like to lose those last 10-pounds from my recent pregnancy!

Then I discovered my two now favorite Pasta-replacements that are now staples in my kitchen for my casseroles: Cauliflower and Spaghetti Squash.

I use spaghetti squash in great mealsI’ve tweaked three favorite dishes of mine to now include cauliflower or spaghetti squash and taste AS EQUALLY delicious so that my hubby and kids love it! 🙂

1. Pasta-less Beef Stroganoff my husband’s childhood favorite dish. He doesn’t even miss the pasta and neither of us get that bloated or tired feeling after eating a big bowl. And better yet, on those real busy nights, if I don’t have time to whip up a side-salad, I don’t have to feel guilty because the dish is already filled with cauliflower, mushrooms, and onions. 🙂 Any veggie side-dish is just an added bonus. I’ve this meal up to another blog, where I give a detailed recipe of how I make it so that cauliflower base works well.

2. Alfredo Chicken Pasta-less Casserole with Mushrooms and Broccoli-As you can see, we are big mushroom fans. Our kids are not, but they are allowed to pick them out, or I try and pick them out before I give them their dish so they don’t waste them. We don’t mind: more for us. Sometimes, I’ll still add garlic bread on the side for my kids so they can enjoy the delicious combination, but because they didn’t already have loads of pasta to go with it, I don’t have to worry about all that sugar in their blood from the simple carbs of the pasta. Salad is also a great addition to this dish, but on super busy nights, no longer necessary.

3. Mexican Spaghetti Squash Casserole–If you like chili, you will definitely love this dish. It is one of my absolute favorites and super easy to make if you are willing to use a microwave to cook the spaghetti squash. If you’d rather use the oven, it will take more prep time, but can still be easy on those busy nights if you cook the spaghetti squash the night before. Best yet, it is PACKED with all sorts of veggies!

Pasta-less Ground Beef Stroganoff

My husband grew up on Beef Stroganoff and trained me in how to make his tried and true recipe. By no means is this recipe the healthiest of choices, but it certainly is delicious. Yet after the new year, my husband and I both made some health goals that would require eliminating wheat from our diet. There are a number of reasons that I really should blog about, but in a nutshell– he is allergic to it, I’m intolerant to it, and it would probably help us lose that extra butter roll around our middle sections. 🙂

beef stroganoff tastes amazing with cauliflower instead of pasta says the entrepreneurial wifeStill–we refuse to be unhappy with our cooking and we want to still maintain some of those “soul-food” recipes that we find comfort in. And as a working mom, I have come to appreciate making this meal for my family because it is fast and hearty. When I come home from a long day at work and have to make dinner, I’m not interested in spending more than 30 minutes or so in that kitchen.

So I started researching what the Paleo people out there are eating for some inspiration. I had heard about Cauliflower rice but have never tried it. So I started messing around with it and have now fallen absolutely in love! Best yet, my husband loves it as well because he can still eat his family favorite meal– Beef Stroganoff and not get completely congested, plus can feel good knowing he got a big serving of veggies to go along with it.

This meal is great for busy moms because you can make it ahead of time and freeze it. Freezer meals are life-savers for busy moms. Even if you don’t freeze it, it makes an easy and relatively healthy one pan meal. For those of you who are very anti-processed food, you will want to tweak this recipe so it doesn’t include the canned soup or dry soup mix. I myself try to stay away from processed food most of the time, but given this is my husband’s favorite recipe from growing up, I stick to it. We feel that if it not a daily element of the diet, then we don’t feel too guilty about it.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped rice style or sliced into small florets
  • 2 lbs of ground beef
  • 2 cups of chopped mushrooms
  • half a yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 packet of onion soup mix (otherwise make your own with beef broth base, salt, and onion powder)
  • 1 family-sized can of cream of mushroom soup (or make your own with  chicken broth, mushrooms, milk, flour, and some garlic salt)
  • 2 tablespoons of real butter, olive oil, or avocado oil.

Directions:

  1. I chop up my cauliflower first in my blender on low while I’m browning the ground beef and onions in a large frying pan or wok.
  2. Then I cook the cauliflower in a big pan either butter or oil like olive or avocado along with the mushrooms. I cook it until the cauliflower is soft but not mushy (takes about 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the pan. The mushrooms turn out great this way as well–nice and soft.
  3. I then pour in the onion soup mix and the cream of mushroom soup into the ground beef and onions and stir until the soup mix is blended evenly into the meat and creamed soup.
  4. Transfer the cauliflower and mushrooms into the wok with the beef and sauce.

Mix and serve nice and hot. (Better yet–serve with a nice green salad).

I also make a great Chicken Alfredo with cauliflower instead of pasta. What are some of your tweaks on pasta dishes so that they are pasta-free? Any great and easy casserole recipes you could share with me to help my 5 o’clock scramble? Please share in the comments below and share this post with some of your busy friends who could use a break without the pasta. 🙂

Like this recipe? Read more from Theresa at her new blog http://mamaguts.com

 

Morning Shake for the Busy or Working Parent

super greens, flax, and chia are great additions to a morning shake

super greens, flax, and chia are great additions to a morning shake.

A lot of people ask me how I can maintain a figure while being so busy. Between working a full-time job, running 2-4 writing jobs on the side, raising 4 kids, and being a wife– one can wonder how I’m able to still eat healthy. We all know how much easier it is to run by a fast-food restaurant or to microwave a Cup o’ Noodles when we have only so much time for ourselves. And I know plenty of busy parents who just don’t eat breakfast– a hot cup of coffee is all they want or have time for.

I myself have been there. Coffee for breakfast. Cup O’ Noodles for lunch. Yep.

But it’s not healthy. We all know it. But how do we add more minutes to our day? I certainly don’t have time to sit down for a morning bowl of oatmeal, let alone an omelette.

And then I decided to try the morning shake. Now this works! The issue has been finding the right type of food to put in my shake so that I get the nutrition I need and remain full enough to only need a snack around 10 until my lunch at noon. But also is simple enough so that I don’t spend longer than a couple of minutes to make it before I run out the door and drink it on my way to work.

Some mom’s I have talked to just put fruit and veggies in their morning shake. I cannot do that I don’t recommend it for most people. That will just shoot up your glucose levels and send them crashing down within 2 hours. You will feel weak, disoriented, and tired.

You need protein. And believe it or not, you need fat for satiety and energy. Do not skip these in your morning shake.

Here some staple ingredients I put in my morning shakes: 

2-3 Handfuls of Super Greens (kale, spinach, chard)

Don’t worry, you won’t even taste these in your morning shake if you add the protein powder or meal replacement later. I get mine from Costco because it’s a huge bag and is triple washed. To make sure it lasts through the couple of weeks it takes me to go through it, I stick it right in the freezer. Then I grab the bag in the morning and pull out 2-3 handfuls of the frozen leaves and throw it in my blender. Added bonus– less ice needed, if any. 🙂 If you choose not to use protein powder or meal replacement, I recommend adding Stevia, Monk Fruit, or Agave to sweeten the shake up a bit and cover the earthy flavor this will provide if your palate does not care for green beverages.

A Half a Cup of Fruit

My favorites include frozen blueberries or strawberries or banana. I also really like butternut squash! (Add some cinnamon!) While fruit certainly adds vitamins and other nutrition to the shake, my big reason for adding it is for the flavor variety it offers. Try not to put too much in though, because fruit does have a lot fructose in it (Blueberries and butternut squash offer the least); however, if you do not use protein powder or meal replacement (which usually is sweetened) then add more fruit to balance the green superfood and make it more palatable.  Whatever the fruit option is for the week or two that I have it, I make sure that it is in a bag, frozen in the freezer. I buy the berries already frozen from Costco. Bananas take just a few minutes to peel and chop on a Sunday afternoon. Then I throw them all in a freezer bag and I’m set up for the week.

A Tablespoon of Chia Seeds

Again, I buy a big bag of it at Costco and I store it in my fridge to make sure it lasts. One bag lasts me a couple of months. Chia seeds are packed with protein and omega 3’s to punch up the healthy benefits of my morning shake. Note– don’t let your shake sit for too long.Drink it down because Chia gels after a while and will turn your shake into pudding (which is not bad if you want a healthy pudding option!) but not so easy to drink if that was your original intention. 🙂

A Tablespoon of Flax Seeds

I put mine in whole, but I have a Vitamix blender which can blend it. If you don’t, I recommend buying them already ground. I buy mine at my local natural foods store from the dry bins. Its cheaper that way and fresh. 🙂 These are packed with protein, more omega 3 fatty acids, and add added fiber to your diet. This is great for cleansing and detoxing!

A Tablespoon of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fat. Don’t get scared about the saturated fat part. If it is medium-chained, it goes straight to the liver for instant energy–and is not stored in your body. It will help you stay full longer, give you added energy, and as a great bonus– coconut oil is a natural anti-viral, so it will help keep your immune system strong. The coconut flavor is a nice addition to the morning shake as well. 🙂 Don’t forget– fat is essential for hormone balance, ladies! And it takes fat like this to burn fat. Don’t skip on the fat! You need it! 30% of your daily calories should actually be from healthy fats. Now it doesn’t take much of it to make up 30% of your calories so don’t go overboard. But don’t buy into the lie that you need to go fat free to get slim. It just ain’t true. 🙂 Costco (Do you see a pattern here? ) sells a great quality Coconut oil that is organic, virgin, unrefined, and cold-pressed– all important for the health benefits of coconut oil.

15-30 Grams of a Protein 

I get this from a variety of options: Whey powder, Greek-Yogurt, Peanut Butter, and/or Raw Egg.

Whey Powder–This is my favorite. You can get a whopping 25-30 grams of protein which is ideal for your breakfast launch into the day. They come in great flavors like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. I prefer vanilla because its more versatile. And its the quickest way to get the protein in your shake and you out the door. But if you don’t like that option–there are some whole food options I also enjoy–they just add a few more time. I’m not advocating any particular brand. There are many good ones out there. And you don’t need whey if you don’t like. There is pea powder, soy powder, creatine…so much variety out there. I prefer whey because it is affordable, tasty, and doesn’t hurt my belly like casein, and doesn’t add estrogen like soy will.

Greek Yogurt is also a great option. In one cup of Greek yogurt, there is 20 grams of protein. Most come non-fat, but you can find some with low-fat or full fat. If you get the full fat or low-fat, you may not need the coconut oil (although it won’t hurt).  I usually find this much yogurt too much for my shakes, so I usually cut it to half a cup and then add peanut butter to cover the flavor a bit.

Peanut Butter--There is 4 grams of protein in every tablespoon of peanut butter. So supplementing the yogurt with 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter work too. This takes more time than the whey powder, which in one scoop is done– no tablespoons or measuring cups needed.

Raw Egg is another great option. Don’t be afraid of all those “raw eggs are bad for you” crap. Did you know that you don’t even need to refrigerate raw eggs when in the shell? Yes–we are still listening to wives tales. Do the research. Or trust me– raw eggs in your shake are just fine. Just drink it in a timely fashion. Don’t let it sit all morning and then drink it. There are 6 grams of protein in a large egg. So again–this works as a great supplement to the yogurt or peanut butter.

A Good Meal Replacement Powder (Optional if you do all of the above) 

While the above is certainly enough for a good morning shake, my husband finds that by adding the meal replacement powder, it gives him added satiety and more nutrition from the additions it brings in. There are a lot of good brands out there that work– Shakeology is the most expensive, but whole-food based and very delicious. Juice Plus is also non-GMO, whole-food based, and delicious. Herbal Life I finds keeps me fullest the longest and has a lot of really delicious flavors–although it is not whole-food based so you will get synthetic vitamins added in and GMO based nutrition.

All in all– it takes me about 3-4 minutes to make my shake, so I’m out the door real quick. If you can’t take the 3-4 minutes then wake up 3-4 minutes early. It is worth your health!! No excuses. ) 

  1. I grab the bag of frozen super greens, throw in 2-3 handfuls.
  2. Then I grab the bag of frozen fruit and grab a handful of that.
  3. Next I grab the two bags of seeds out of the refrigerator and open the bags and grab about a tablespoon out of each using my fingers as a scooper.
  4. Next I grab my protein powder and scoop out a serving using the scoop the brand provides and do the same for the meal replacement.
  5. I finally add some non-fat, sugar-free rice milk or almond milk (1-1.5 cups if I’m making it just for myself, and 2.5-3 cups if I’m making it for my hubby too). I blend on high until it’s all blended and the seeds disappear. I quickly poor it into a 16-20 oz cup, rinse out the blender real quick in the faucet and then head out the door. I drink on my way to work.

What are some of your favorite quick morning shakes for breakfast? Check out these great morning smoothie recipe books for other options!

How to Make a Spirulina Drink That Actually Tastes Good

spirulina powder, mint-flavored chlorophyll, a 20-oz cup of water with a straw, and a stevia sweetener.

spirulina powder, mint-flavored chlorophyll, a 20-oz cup of water with a straw, and a stevia sweetener.

I’m always researching information related to health and wellness and trying to incorporate my newest findings into my repertoire of diet and supplementing. On one such quest, I discovered the super food, Spirulina. An algae turned into powder and bottled up in the vitamin section of your nearby health food store, this super food is packed with vitamins and trace minerals, with testimonials claiming that it boosts immunity, fights free radicals, helps digestion, and supports cardiovascular health. I decided to try it out, especially after hearing about its high amount of iron and calcium. By little boys don’t really care for milk or any milk-alternative and don’t really care for meat—so I’m always looking for ways to increase their iron and calcium.

Well, when I bought the powder and brought it home, I excitedly scooped out a teaspoon of powder and dumped it into my cup then poured my water into it and stirred. When I took the first sip, I gagged. This was disgusting. It truly tasted like pond scum, no way around it. I began to drink quickly, fighting off my reflex to gag. When I finally finished the last muddy sip, I recovered by the sink, dry heaving, and praying I could keep it all down. Thankfully after a few deep breaths and some fresh water to take the taste from my mouth, I was able to regain my composure and jump onto the internet to find some recipes that would help the taste. I could NOT do that again!

The recipes, I found, however, just didn’t meet my needs. Almost all of them either required a juicer or a blender and involved incorporating fruit and other veggies to mask the flavor.

I don’t have time for this.

I want a quick drink that I can chug down and be done with. I don’t want to cut up or wash fruit and I certainly don’t want to pull out my juicer or Vitamix blender. Those are great. But I don’t have time to make this a daily routine, and I do want spirulina to be a daily supplement.

Tonight, I figured out a way to make a quick spirulina drink that actually didn’t make me gag. It actually tasted good! I’m so excited about it that I had to share it with those out there also looking.

I first put the powder into my cup, then added the water, then topped that off with the mint-flavored chlorophyll and the stevia sweetener. Then I mixed it thoroughly with the straw until all was blended and ready do drink.

It tasted great! It was mildly sweet and earthy with a touch of mint.

Like more recipes and articles like this? Check out more from Theresa at her new blog, http://mamaguts.com

 

Store Brand Formula or Name Brand Formula?

Before I go on my tangent, here is some back ground information: Ever since Kanan stopped nursing as well 2 months ago, I have had to really do my research on formulas. Kanan seemed sensitive to the dairy in my diet, so I was going dairy free and noticed a big difference. Needless to say, when he started eating less due to his distractibility at 4 months, I knew I needed to supplement with a bottle because he ate better that way. Of course I pumped, but my milk supply was dwindling as well and the only way I could get him to sleep through the night was to give him an 8 oz bottle of formula before I went to bed. But how was I to do that with a dairy sensitivity?  I tried Soy. It worked. But then I did my research. Soy is TERRIBLE for people! Soy formula shouldn’t even be allowed to be an infant formula! Do the research and you will see. It is packed full of estrogen and manganese, both at levels way to high for an infant and inevitably linked to a ridiculous amount of problems. I tried partially hydrolized. Kanan hated it and so did my wallet. I tried Neocate, which I bought on Ebay because I didn’t want to pay 50 bucks a can. Kanan didn’t like that either. Well thank goodness around this time, I started cheating a bit on my dairy diet and noticed Kanan wasn’t reacting as negatively to it as he used to. So I tried Enfamil Lipil and low and behold, aside from spitting up a bit more, he was fine.

And now to the point of the journal: MY GOODNESS THOSE NAME BRAND FORMULAS ARE EXPENSIVE! So when I was at Walmart, I noticed they had a storebrand they call “Parent’s Choice.” I read the back and compared the labels and it wasn’t much different if not almost exactly the same as Enfamil and Similac. And it was HALF the price. So I decided to buy it even though the brainwashed consumer side of me somehow feared that he would grow horns because of my need to save money. When I gave him his first bottle of the store brand formula, I studied his reaction, waiting for him to spit it out and throw the bottle at me or something. He didn’t. During the hours after he drank the formula, I studied him closely again. Waiting for a rash or fussiness or gas or something that would tell me I made the wrong decision. Again, nothing. He was his normal, happy self.

Then I was talking with my dental hygienist a week later as she was cleaning my teeth and she told me she used the same product because it has received good reviews. So I thought that Parent’s Choice alone was the good store brand to buy. But Walmart is somewhat of a drive away from me. And today I was at RiteAid picking up my son’s prescription when I noticed Rite Aid had a store brand too. Again, the same fear, guilt, and sceptism arose in me as I picked up the can. But I read the back and again, from memory, it didn’t seem different from my Parent’s Choice Brand. I decided to buy it and return it unopened if I came home and noticed it was significantly different. Low and behold when I compared the back, EVERY SINGLE ingredient, and vitamin, and mineral was the SAME. I thought that was super strange and decided to read some of the smaller details of the label. Sure enough I noticed that both formulas were produced by the same manufacturing company. They must sell their formula to many different stores who then use their own label. I decided to go the website: http://www.pbmproducts.com/content.aspx?ID=54&page=PBM_Nutritionals and sure enough, this respected, FDA approved company mass produces formula for numbers of different stores across the world. And, little did I know, store brand formula have to follow the same guidelines that name brand formula’s do. So even though there are minute differences between name brands on the type of protein used or how much manganese is in a serving, when we are buying Enfamil and Similac and Nestle Good Start, we are still paying and extra 10-20 dollars for a label!

So that is it. I’m a storebrand formula mama from here on out. Why not? My baby is healthy and I’m saving money so I can spend more on him in other ways I’m sure he’d appreciate: toys, a home, clothes, and maybe even college. And whether or not I’m at Target, Walmart, or Riteaid, I know I can buy the store brand and actually be buying the same exact store-brand formula as I would if I were at one of the other three stores.  I still pump and give Kanan breastmilk and I still breastfeed him in the morning and now I’m adding formula but because its store brand and he is still getting the homemade stuff, I am saving soooooo much money. So I recommend that you formula feeding Mama’s out there ignore the brainwashed consumer in you and read the back of those labels.  It is the best Mama decision I have made thus far!