On Sabbatical This Month – Busy Studying and Learning

Did you know that January is Thyroid Awareness Month?

EVENT ONE:

I wanted to let my followers know that I’ll be busy with two self-study programs this month and I will not be posting on a regular basis until around mid-February. I am devoting myself to listening to two free on-line Healing Summits between now and the February 7th.

The first summit comes from Health Talks Online a terrific Facebook page that promotes health and many important on-line health related programs. For more details and to sign up go to: http://healthtalksonline.com/

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The first summit I am focusing on is called The Thyroid Secret.Com And check out the thyroid secret.com/trailer /new.

And tune into the thyroid secret.com/trailer /new and the thyroid secret.com/hidden-epidemic.

This is a 9 day, FREE on-line learning opportunity showing 9 episodes of this newly released documentary (sharing one episode per day) which will help to educate anyone interested in knowing more about  autoimmune thyroid disease.

root-cause-book

This program is being hosted by pharmacist Dr. Izabella Wentz, author of the New York Times bestselling book, Finding Your Root Cause. Dr. Wentz is known as The Thyroid Pharmacist and is one of the leading voices about the condition I have that is called Autoimmune Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. You can read more about her and her work here: http://www.thyroidpharmacist.com/

A DVD of this program will also be available for purchase through this website as well.

EVENT TWO:

Also mark your calendars for another pertinent on-line summit that begins on January 30th.

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Dr. Peter Osborne has created The Autoimmune Revolution, on-line and free from January 30 – February 6, to help you prevent and reverse pain from autoimmune diseases. For more details to to: https://autoimmunerevolution.org/checkout/

You can help support the cause by doing the following;

1. Register for free: hto.care/air
2. Invite your friends and family!
3. Own all 30+ expert talks: hto.care/airown
4. “Like” our hosts: Dr. Peter Osborne, Health Talks Online

Functional Medicine Physicians are telling us that autoimmune is the new cancer and that medicine is facing an epidemic of autoimmune diseases that the current system will not be able to handle.

These experts have banned together to help spread the word and to educate the public, conventional doctors and health officials about this issue.

If it’s time for you to achieve greater health and improved happiness you can break the cycle of pain and start living again. You can access this event here -> http://bit.ly/AutoimmuneRevolution

And sadly, the average lifespan of someone with an autoimmune disease is 10 years shorter than a healthy person. That fact alone freaked me out when I learned it and it’s what keeps me motivated to stay healthy and vibrant. I want to be here a long time and to have fun, be a mom, wife and business woman with energy and vitality.

10-years-less-lifespan

So now, it’s time to achieve greater health and improved happiness so you can break the cycle of pain and start living again! Join me and watch The Autoimmune Revolution, online and free from January 30 – February 6, 2017!

Don’t forget, if you wish to receive notice of future heath summits visit this Facebook page; Health Talks Online.

Will you join me in this healing journey?

Small House Big Sky Homesteader (and avid healer) Donna

I’m Back On-Line

I have been gone from this blog for sometime, I know. It’s been a whirlwind year between my diagnosis of autoimmune Hashimotos’ Thyroiditis and Gene’s numerous health issues.  I have been focusing on learning everything I can about Hashimoto’s, finding a Functional Medicine physician all while homesteading. As a result this blog was sadly left in the dust as a result. My sincere apologies everyone!

Now that it is December, cold and snowy, our primary outdoor work (with the exception of caring for my chickens) has been put to sleep for the winter. Today I finally figured out what I needed to do about this perplexing and frustrating lack of space on my existing blog. It seems that I quickly filled all the available space and it was only 6 months into the calendar year. My current system was just not working for me and I didn’t have the time or the energy to research why.

However, I was forced to pay attention to this when my annual service agreement came due.

Today I renewed my WordPress Premium Plan for one year and learned about a process called optimizing my photographs. Do you know about this? Remember I am not a professional blogger, I am but a hobby blogger and some how I missed this basic information. You can read more about this optomizing process here. http://en.support.wordpress.com/media/image-optimization/

Thank you for you patience with me and I hope you had a lovely holiday this year!

Getting Food Creative: Buying Locally Raised Pork

As the costs of healthy foods continues to go up many of us who are dedicated to healthy organic look to find more creative ways to feed ourselves. That is the subject of this post.

I have been a serious vegetarian in years past and I have many vegetarian as well as meat-eating friends as well. Many of my yoga friends are vegetarians due to ethical reasons. Some hunt deer for food, a process that provides their main source of protein. I always feel to each their own. No judging on my part.

Front of shop USE

Bob’s of South Haven, MI

My philosophy is that we all eat to live and most of us eat something that once lived in order to stay alive. This process for me is more about doing this in a safe, honest and ethical way than about anything else for me.

Eating safe meat is a huge issue today as the science is in and it has shown that factory farmed meat carries unhealthy chemicals, medicines and bacteria on top of the often deplorable way many of these animals are kept. This is where I draw the line as I cannot morally or financially support inhumanely raised animal practices.

Kim loading the truck

Loading the boxes of processed meat into the vehicle.

I made a huge decision this winter. In the future I will only buy organic humanely raised meat. I know that this means a 42 % increase in food costs but the recent changes in my health requires this. So this means I have to get more and more creative to buy the highest quality foods that I need.

In years past I dealt with the issue of increased grocery costs by eating less meat (keep my intake to about 3 oz. every third day) and making more soups, stews and stir fry’s to stretch a small piece of meat. Since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s’ I have been buying small amounts of organic meat at the Health Food store but the $13.50 a lb. has made this more and more difficult. I considered raising my own animals but roadblocks are there including not having enough land to pasture them, suitable barns and corrals to keep them in. And to tell the truth I do not have the emotional distance necessary to raise and slaughter my own animals.

Meat apon use

Looking at the sales receipt as we pick up the meat.

I grow much of our own seasonal vegetables and raise chicken for our eggs. But I was having trouble dealing with the high costs of organic meat.

I finally found another more affordable way working with local farmers and growers who feed organic feed and believe in taking very good care of their stock without growth hormones and antibiotics. They do their best for a humane and ethical slaughter and safe meat processing too. It’s called farm-to-consumer…

Sign at window

Bobs Processing Inc., of South Haven, MI  a USDA approved meat processor.

I had been buying organic meat at the health food store and by the time the farmers raised the animal and made their profit, then the store marked it up to make their profit, I was paying $13.00 and $14.00 a lb. for this meat. Something had to change.

This winter I ordered and bought ¼ of a hog that was raised in the highest of standards. I know and trust the farmer who raised these hogs and believe this is the highest quality of meat possible. I ‘sold’ the other 3/4 of the hog to friends and neighbors to make this happen for us.

Girl and flhig paper

Check out time.

Our hog was raised by a neighbor, Anthony Winfrey of Forgotten Forty Farms and processed by Bobs Processing Inc., of South Haven, MI  a USDA approved meat processor.

This past weekend we cleaned out our chest freezer, thoroughly washed it out and made it ready for the organic raised pork that I picked up on Friday.

Buying directly from the farmer and making arrangement to have it processed cost me $685 a lb. total. Both parties made their profits and I now have a freezer of clean meat. Now that’s better.

Many of you who follow me, know how I feel about eating organic and whole nourishing food, so I am probably as they say ‘preaching to the choir’ but if you have been on the fence about spending for organic foods, this may interest you.

See more at: http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2015/05/30/sophies-story/#sthash.f60jKMHh.dpuf Eating organic is important for us all and especially for those of us who are fighting immune system diseases.

As you now I have Hashimoto’s Thyorditis. Hasimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that affects over 10 million people in the US alone. Damaging the thyroid gland, it creates symptoms so wide-ranging and confusing that it can be hard to diagnose. My Hasimotos’ is why I must eat organic.

Another podcast if great interest to the subject of eating organic is “Why Eat Organic” by André Leu: GFS Podcast 071, found on one of my all-time favorites podcasts, Gluten Free School (GFS)  by Jennifer Fugo. If you have been on the fence about the value of organic, your mind is about to be opened.

Gluten Free School is a dedicated teaching tools about being gluten-sensitive. This savvy woman gives us many empowering steps to get healthy. In fact, this is the number one spot for those living a gluten-free life who are seeking community, as well as simple & clear information about their condition, and looking for ways to become empowered and to finally feel better.

Based on her personal journey, Jennifer Fugo, founder of Gluten Free School, is more than just about chat about a diet… it’s a healing revolution!

If you want to know more about the how’s and why’s of eating gluten-free, check out Fugo’s podcasts at http://www.glutenfreeschool.com/listen/

For the podcast dedicated to the importance of eating organic go here: http://www.glutenfreeschool.com/2015/07/28/why-eating-organic-is-important/

Yes, it was a lot of work to find, sell and make the arrangements for this meat and yes the farm raised meat can be more expensive than meat in the grocery store but I believe it is worth it. I paid about $3.00 a lb. for the meat and with the processing it cameo out to about $5.00 a lb. Not cheap certainly, but not $13.00 a pound that I was paying in the health food store either.

The end result will be cleaner, healthier organic meat to help to me heal my leaky gut and shut down the inflammation of the Hashimotos’. When one is on a restricted diet like I am, meat is the number one component of the Auto Immune Protocol (AIP.)

Its time to celebrate because my freezer is now full and I know I am on my way to better health.

Small House homesteader, Donna

A Week in Photos Small House Homestead

We had a bit of the January thaw this week. Our weather rose to around 40’s degrees and the sun shone brightly for a few days. We were happy to be able to get our snowbound chickens out of the chicken run for a stroll and a munch on patches of grass that popped up as the snow melted.

Hey lady where are my worms

Crystal says, ‘Hey lady where is the food?’

Our winter has been relatively mild this year with small amounts of snow interspersed with a warmish week in-between. This week the animals certainly enjoyed enjoy our old-fashioned January thaw.

Sunrise hprzontal most pink

A beautiful winter sunrise one day this week on the Small House homestead.

And, I enjoyed a rare opportunity to photographs very pretty sunrise on Saturday morning. I am usually up and at em’ early as our retriever Sassy gets up very early to go outside to the bathroom. My day often begins with the sound of her nails clicking on our linoleum floor and her head pressing down on my arm as her signal, ‘Okay mom its time!’

Sassy 11-18-14

Miss Sassy the snow dog.

Everyday the sun rises but most days I am preoccupied with animals needs or cooking breakfast to actually walk out and concentrate on taking a good a photograph. But luck was with me that day.

Sunrise tree in half interesting for textGreeting The Dawn.

Elsa the fluffy butt

Do these feathers make my butt look big?

After the animals are fed and our breakfast eaten we do our yoga stretches. On this day Sassy was determined to get into the act.

Sassy doing yoga stretches

Sassy and Gene do their yoga stretches.

Circling the fire

The Rhodies circle the wagons.

Crystal bithbat head up USE

Crystal scratching for sunflower seeds under the bird bath

Sassy run three

Sassy gets a good walk everyday.

The chicken monitor

The chicken monitor.

I hope your week was a good one too.

Small House homesteader, Donna

Coconut Yogurt – Three Ingredients – Cook Free

Full view yogust on green plate

My finished yogurt.

Now that I am eating dairy-free due to my recently diagnosed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I’m experimenting this week with making various kinds of coconut non-dairy yogurt.

Yogurt in green bowl

A close up of my newly made non-dairy yogurt.

I began my first test by using a 13.5 oz. can of classic, unsweetened coconut milk. This is a USDA organic, certified Non-GMO and gluten-free type that is also certified as kosher.

Coconut milk on try useThis is my purchased can of coconut milk.

I used the Native Forest brand that I bought at my grocery store (or health food store.)  I was advised in my research to avoid the type with guar gum but for this experiment I used the brand that had the guar gum in it. The total ingredients included; organic coconut, purified water, organic guar gum.

Gelatin on green tray

I bought this gelatin from Amaxon.com

I followed the recipe below.

(Recipe by Renee at Raising Generation Nourished at http://www.raisinggenerationnourished.com/2015/02/coconutyogurt

NOTE: If you are like most Americans and have been on a low-fat diet for years and have never eaten coconut milk before, I suggest that you start slowly with small amounts to work your way up to larger amounts of full fat in your system. Some report nausea when going directly from a low-fat diet to a cup of full fat yogurt but this can be avoided by increasing the coconut milk slowly to adjust your system.

Probiotic synergy in my hand

As well as this probiotic power supplement.

You can begin by adding 1/4 teaspoon of coconut to your smoothie or hot cereal and work your way up from there. That is what I did.

Three ingredients laying down

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk
  2. ½ tsp. quality probiotic powder
  3. 1 tsp.grassfed gelatin (If you want your yogurt more “kefir” consistency (thinner) then you can use half the amount. You could also make the consistency thicker/pudding/custard like consistency with more gelatin. Do not use the cold soluble gelatin as it will not work for this project.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Stir the probiotic power and gelatin into the coconut milk and put a lid on the container. (I used a wide mouth a quart mason jar as that is what I had on hand and clean. The original directions say to use a pint jar which fit this amount perfectly.
  2. Place the jar under the light in your oven (WITHOUT the stove light on) overnight or for 8-12 hours. You can taste for “tang” and if you want more you can leave it in the over for up to 24 hours under the light.
  3. Shake up the jar and place it in the fridge for 2 hours to finish culturing and thickening the yogurt.

This batch ended up being a thin type of yogurt a lot like kefir, but I liked how this tasted. I added a bit of sugar-free jelly to one of the batches for a sugar-free taste of sweetness but I also like it plain as well. This is so easy to make, I will definitely make this again.

Next I’ll be trying my hands at non-dairy DYI yogurt made using homemade coconut milk. Stay tuned!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Testing Gluten-Free Flours

I have been experimenting with various gluten-free flours this week to find something that works for us.

First I bought a Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour to use for biscuits. It could have been the recipes, or me, but they these turned out just so so.  They needed a lot of honey on them in order to get them down. Back to the drawing board on this one.

Then I bought Bob’s Red Mill Coconut flour and Bon’s Red Mill Almond Meal and made blueberry pancakes. Gene and I both liked these and I was rate them very tasty and will definitely make them again.

Coconut Flour pankckes in pan

The texture of these pancakes was finer than my favorite whole wheat pancakes that I used to make but not so much that I could not eat it. Gene and I both enjoyed the mild, slightly sweet coconut flavor of these blueberry coconut pancakes. I will make these again and again.

Coconut Flour Almond Meal Pancakes2

Makes about 16 small pancakes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 organic, pastured eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup milk (raw cow’s or coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons organic, raw grass-fed butter + more for serving
  • pure maple syrup to drizzle (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Slowly whisk in the wet ingredients: the eggs, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix until the batter is smooth. (If it feels a little dry, add more milk until it reaches the consistency you’re after).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then add scoops of batter (about a ¼ cup each) for silver dollar pancakes. Cook for about a minute on each side until golden brown. Slather with butter and drizzle maple syrup as desired.

More experiment to come!

Small House homesteader, Donna

 

New Year’s Day on the Homestead

We tend to favor low-key holiday celebrations these days. Our life is quiet, simple we are older and we are tired!

Sweet potatoe soup

A hearty sweet potato, sausage and kale soup to begin the new year.

This year we will enjoy the simple pleasure of walking Sassy, a bit of the NY day parade, watch a good DVD and a great healthy meal. We will likely talk to some of out-of-town relatives as well which is always a bright spot in our day.

I cooked one of my all-time favorite homemade soups this year; Sweet Potato, Sausage and Kale Soup that I adapted many years ago from This Organic Life written by Joan Gussow. This is a great book for any beginning gardener and is about Joan and her husband’s life as college professors and urban gardeners in upstate New York. This is my “go to” potluck soup that everyone raves over. This soup is so good it is almost sinful. I do recommend it!

I’m still trying to find away to make tasty gluten-free biscuits. Not there yet.

Bob's New flour

Biscuits before

Experimenting with gluten-free biscuits today.

Sweet Potato, Sausage and Kale Soup

(Adapted from This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, Joan Dye Gussow. This soup was originally a Portuguese tradition.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups chopped onion (about 2 large)

1 teaspoon sea salt (I use just a small pinch)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon fennel seeds

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Rosemary to taste (try ½ to 1 Tablespoon to start)

1 pound sweet turkey Italian sausage (or whatever sausage you like)

8 cups coarsely chopped peeled sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds or 6 lg. potatoes)

2 cups of cabbage

5 cups water

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

I also add 5 or 6 chicken bouillon cubes

1 (16-ounce) package prewashed torn kale

Parsley to taste (I used about two heaping tablespoons)

1 (16-ounce) can cannelloni beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

1 (16 oz. canned tomato) or homegrown/frozen

(I also like to add chunks of cooked/boiled Butternut squash to my soup. (It’s filled with fiber and I love it in my soups.)

PREPERATION:

  1. Boil sweet potatoes and drain.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion; sauté 10-15 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Remove casings from sausage; add sausage to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until sausage is lightly browned, stirring to crumble.
  4. Add sweet potatoes, 5 cups water, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Gradually add kale; cook 10 minutes or until tender.
  5. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and beans (squash and any other ingredients above)
  6. Transfer to a crock pot and finish cooking and blending all flavors

For our dessert I made my rice pudding. Now that I am on a restricted diet I was looking for a low sugar, gluten-free dessert option.

Rice pudding

Gluten-Free Low Sugar Brown Rice Pudding (my adaptation)

  • 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
  • I cook the brown rice ahead of time and then assemble. I cook my rice for about 30 minutes and then let it sit in the pan on the same burner another 15-20 while it continues to slowly cook until soft. Just watch that the water does not fully evaporate and the rice burns. Usually this is not a problem, but just be aware.
  • 2 cups milk, divided (I use 1 to 2 cups of organic Almond milk.)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (I use brown sugar.) I can get by with less sugar because the Craisins are very sweet.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I leave out the salt)
  • This year I added 3/4 cup of fresh pomegranate seed
  • I egg beaten
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins (I use Craisins (dried cranberries) since my husband cannot eat raisins.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (I generally don’t use butter but I bet it would taste wonderful!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract When the dish is assembled, I shake on nutmeg on the top.
  • I add a small package of slivered almonds.
  1. I cook the brown rice up ahead of time.
  2. In a separate bowl assemble all the ingredients except the nutmeg. Mix well.
  3. Spoon into the bowl with lid I am cooking it in.
  4. Sprinkle on the nutmeg
  5. Cook at 325-350 for 20 minutes or until slightly browned and looks cooked around the sides
  6. Serve warm (or you can also eat it cooled.)
  7. Will keep for about 4-6 days.

You can make this simple dessert from start to finish in about 90 minutes.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor too and have an amazing new year!

Small House homesteader, Donna