Thursday, November 29, 2012

Health (specifically Multiple Sclerosis) and Food (specifically vegetarian and organic)

For more than 1 1/2 years I have been struggling with health. Long story short, the neurologist said it seems I have a "text-book case of Multiple Sclerosis." I do not see a need to get into all the specifics of symptoms, etc., however if you are struggling with MS or think you might be and would like to know more specifics, then feel free to email me in private (see the side bar for my email link). MS is a chronic disease where the body attacks and damages the central nervous system. There is no known cure but there are two options for slowing down the progress. Well, maybe three: drugs, diet or a combo of both. I am not interested in drugs.
About 4 weeks ago [the last time I saw the neurologist] I changed my diet and am following the advice set forth in the book Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, which is basically a strict vegetarian diet with oily fish or fish oil every day. This is not something I can just try out and see how it goes. I must stick with it the rest of my life, Lord willing. Since organic and non-GMO is preferred, I am so thankful for our large country garden spot and the knowledge and ability to tend it (with a lot of help from my children of course!).

The two words "organic" and "frugal" put side-by-side seem to be an oxymoron. But is it really? Besides the health benefits of organic foods, organic eating seems more realistic now than ever before seen in my lifetime. While visiting family recently in Omaha, I went to Costco and was shocked at all the organic options at very reasonable prices. We have been ordering bulk food from Azure Standard since 2005 but Costco had a few items there that were much cheaper than what I can get through Azure (not all, but a few!). Organic brown rice was much cheaper at Costco. As was organic quinoa (about half the amount!). Organic carrots, organic sweeteners, organic frozen vegetables, organic extra virgin olive oil ... all at excellent prices (most were even the same price you'd pay at Walmart for the non-organic things!). So ... if you have a Costco near you, be sure to check it out. Azure of course would be the next best option. Trader Joe's is good too, however their organic options are not as plentiful as one would think. The main thing I stock up on when I am near a TJs is their organic brown rice pasta. And then when the season is right, go visit your local farmer's market. Believe it or not, Monett has a really nice market!! LOTS of fresh vegetables for super cheap and they say they do not spray them.

If you stick to simple foods and whatever you can grow on your own, organic eating can be a very frugal option. Where you run into a lot of money is with meats and dairy products. Thankfully, I am not in need of these things and the meat I serve to everyone else is home-raised and home-butchered. Besides animal products, there are other things are just too expensive to purchase organic ... in these cases I just go without or get the non-organic option.

Many have asked me something like, "So what do you eat?" Others wonder how I manage to eat differently and cook for so many (my family, the brothers that live near by, and anyone else staying with us at the moment). For the sake of the curious and those facing the same issues, here is what I do ...

I have a green smoothie every morning and another one some time between breakfast and lunch (or I just have it for lunch if I am not that hungry). I am so thankful for my Vitamix ... a gift from a dear friend.

Green Smoothie:
*Bananas, other fruits (this morning for example I had an apple, pineapple and mangoes in my smoothie), and a slice of lemon with the peal
*Something green (usually kale, spinach, beet greens or celery)
*2T fresh ground flax
*a good-sized chunk of ginger root (maybe 1 1/2" cube?? or 2"??)
*2t spirulina powder purchased from Amazon (if you know of something better, please share!)

For lunch I usually have a salad and something else - leftover sourdough pancakes, rice pasta with veggies and a little olive oil and salt, or soup, or leftover supper from the day before. Or, like I said earlier, I just have the rest of my green smoothie if I am not that hungry.

For supper ... this is where it can be more complicated. I try to make a supper that I can eat as well so I only have to make one meal. If that is not possible, then I try to make something I can almost eat and then alter mine a bit. For example, the other day we had some sort of mexican chicken and rice soup. I combined everything except the chicken, put some in a smaller pan for me, and then added the chicken to the larger pan. I have a small 2qt crock pot for this purpose as well. And then there are some days, like today, where I just skip what everyone else is eating and have my own thing. This evening my daughter is making some sort of potato and egg casserole. I am going to have left-over stuffed green peppers (quinoa, mushrooms, tomatoes and walnuts).

Snacks are fresh fruits or veggies, or some other homemade thing like sourdough crackers, sourdough muffins, etc.

And just so I would not be stuck with no other option, I made a large batch of mostly organic vegetable soup (32 pints I think?). I can bring soup along on the road or to a friend's house and not have to worry about breaking my diet. Even a little mess up can trigger an MS flare, so I must be careful. 

The diet also requires 5,000IU of Vitamin D3 and a B complex daily. Most days I do not eat oily fish, so I take the fish oil supplement as well. 1t 3x a day. I purchase all my vitamins from Vitacost ... they have excellent prices and flat shipping. (This is also where I get organic coconut oil from, however that is high in saturated fat so I must stay away from it now. I use it for others though.)

And of course there are the other needed things: exercise, fresh air, good water, etc. I have been doing my best to stretch and rebound every morning. The last 1 1/2 years has really taken a toll on my strength!! I used to be able to walk fast or even jog on difficult trails ... now I can hardly walk slower on a flat trail!! I pray some day soon I'll be able to go on a longer, more rigorous trail again.

Well, I guess that's all I have to say about this subject at the moment; if I think of something else I will add it later. I guess it might be appropriate to share a link to a post I did about how to deal with not feeling good ... I titled it Slow And Steady.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Country Garden Progress

A few days ago Tylor and Corban worked the garden over again with the tractor. I thought the boys' cousin might enjoy seeing the tractor, so here is a video of Corban doing that; it was really windy so you might want to turn the speakers down.


... and a video of Tylor too :)


They also worked on another garden spot for a new family moving in at the beginning of december, Lord willing. Here is a video of that and also a picture :) They did more work later on that day, but this was the start of it.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Frugal flooring: PAINT!

When we moved into this house a few years ago, the kitchen and laundry room were carpeted! Yuck. A few months later we tore all that out and scrapped off the two layers of flooring underneath. What was left was a black, sticky mess. After time, the stickiness when away but it was still quite ugly and things did stick to it. Also, it was very hard to keep clean. We recently had some brethren stay with us for a few weeks and they said, "Why don't you paint it?" Dah! Several years ago my sister-in-law painted her not-so-desirable-floor, but I had forgotten all about it. I'm so thankful for the reminder.

We spent less than $30 and still have a half gallon of paint left over. I did not take 'before' pictures but you might catch glimpses of it in other pictures on this blog. Here are a few pictures - you might be able to see the paint sample on the kitchen floor? We are pleased with the results, and very thankful too. Now we have to fill in the gap where a wall used to be and also paint the kitchen cabinets and walls. Ok, there is more to do as well but who cares? I'm just thankful to have a floor I can keep clean now. I'm sure all the visitors with crawling babies will be thankful too.

UPDATE - I found a decent picture of how the floor looked before ... I'm even more thankful now for the cheap, easy 'fix.'

ANOTHER UPDATE (1/5/13) - After walking on this floor and abusing it in various ways for a few months, I see it is a good idea to have two coats and a clear coat. It still looks very good, however the extra protection will be good I'm sure. We'll do the second coat and a clear coat as soon as it's nice enough to leave the doors and windows open ... and also when I'm out of town a few days!! The smell really bothers me :)