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!

Progress on the Hashimotos’ Health Front

I’ve been a bit quiet on my health progress of late. There has been a LOT going on around our homestead this spring. Anyone who homesteads understand about “the spring rush” time of year when the land and animals require a lot more seasonal work. On top of that, we took a 10 day trip to North Carolina to see our five and seven-year old granddaughters. While it as definitely fun, it put us a bit behind in our work schedule.

The Root Cause

I’ve also been waiting for my latest lab reports to come back to report on the current state of my health. Just a quick aside if you are new to this bog; I’ve been fighting Hasimotos’ Thyroiditis, adrenal fatigue, throat nodules, high anxiety and  chronic physical fatigue. After twenty-some years of not feeling well and worsening exhaustion, I was finally diagnosed last November. My healing journey began then.

Living Well with Hypothroid

And the stark truth I have discovered is that it takes a lot of time and energy to learn about and heal from an auto immune disease.

Auto Immune Recovery System

Due to some very insistence internal itching, I recently asked for a series of blood tests to rule out the fungus known as Candida. I also took a blood test for food sensitivities that same day as that was recommended by my functional medicine physician.The Auto Immune SolutionAs I typically do, I researched both options heavily and then makeup my mind. I admit I was reluctant to take the food sensitivity test because I read of so many pros and cons and posts that it does not work; it is not dependable and so on. But in the end I decided to trust my doctor and at least rule this potential option out and get a better handle on what foods I am sensitive to.


As a child I had allergies and took the famous back scratch test when I was about age 12 to determine what foods I was having difficulties with. The test showed that I had food allergies to wheat and corn as well as environmental issues with grass, ragweed and dust. For four long years I took weekly allergy shots, in both arms at once.

Grain Brain

As an adult, I pretty much “assumed” I had outgrown these allergies and because my symptoms were so mild I had honestly had forgotten about this issues. Fast forward to 1995 when Gene and I took the Loma Linda Medical Center based, CHIPS program through Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, MI where we lived at that time. This program was designed for those who had heart disease and or diabetes and we’re out of options. With heart disease and high cholesterol being a real issue in my family history, I thought adopting this diet was a positive preventative action for my heart and my life-long health.

As My Body Attacks Itself

This program introduced me to eating soy, drinking soy milk and eating high levels of whole wheat flour for its fiber. For the next 20 years I focused our meals not on meat but rather on soy and whole wheat flour grains found in breads, rolls, pastas and pancakes. Apparently this Western Medicine prescribed protocol ultimately harmed me and was a huge factor that contributed to my current chronic immune system disease.


It helped me to also connect the dots to here I was allergic to grass and wheat and I was eating the seeds of the whole wheat plant.  Given the fact that these altered grains that have been genetically manipulated, soaked in toxic chemicals and more makes these seeds and grains very hard to digest…Oh my poor GI tract.

Brainmaker Book Front

I learned that rice, corn, wheat, dairy and sugar are causing me inflammation and I simply did not know this. My gluten sensitivity is apparently a gene pattern and my system is looking at gluten as an enemy not as a friend and the outcome was inflammation. And all this inflammation has seriously stressed my immune system.

Living Well with Chronic Fatigue

If this topic speaks to you, I recommend that you read the book: Grainflammation  (grains equal inflammation) by Dr. Peter Osborne and this will be explained in further detail.

Womens Auto Immune Diseases

Thankfully from my tests I found out that I do not have Candita. And I found that while I have a few food sensitivities it is not the old ones I thought it might be. I am sensitive to; seaweed, eggs, black pepper and spices. Imagine my shock of finding out that after all this work to raise chickens for their organic eggs, I have food sensitivities to eggs!

Living Well with Autoimmune Diseases

I have completed 5 months on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and I am starting to feel a bit better. I cannot say I am totally well but feeling better is huge step forward for me.  I will still avoid grains, gluten, dairy and many others for now and until my symptoms are gone and at some point I make the decision to re-introduce these basic foods.

Healing Kitchen

If you want to know more about AIP, consider looking here:


The Autoimmune Protocol is a diet that helps heal the immune system and gut mucosa. It is applicable to any inflammatory disease. These foods on this protocol are anti-inflammatory and help the body to heal.



Autoimmune Protocol:

  • ultimatepaleoguide.com/autoimmuneprotocol/




  • thepaleomom.com/autoimmunity/the-autoimmuneprotocol

As always, thank for following!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Auto Immune Protocal Breakfast is Nutrient Dense

I have been on my new path to wellness for 5 1/2 months now. A part of this path is following the Auto Immune Protocol.

Pork bacon and greens in pan USE

This weekend Gene and I drove into South Haven to the Winter Market yesterday. This is a small market during the cold winter months but a few vendors grow greens in greenhouses all winter long.

I bought fresh grown rainbow kale, two bags of spinach, two bunches of carrots and kale. My plan I to eat all of that between now and Thursday.

VERT rainbow chard

Another part of my plan is to cook and eat greens at all three meals each day. This is what the protocol recommends. This is nutrient dense real foods at their best!

This morning I sautéed onions, carrots, the Swiss chard and added coconut oil and two thick slabs of the local bacon we bought a few weeks back.  It’s a new mind-set for me to eat vegetables and meat for breakfast but this is what the protocol recommends. Ample healthy fats and protein keeps us full and feeling satisfied longer. Healthy fat is also necessary for our brains to work at their optimal levels.

Thick bacon close

It was delicious and I feel fully satisfied after eating this. And a lovely side effect is that I’ve lost a whole pants size too. Yahoo!

This functional medicine process is SO impressive. They have a way to get questions answered and to take care of serious health issues. After a lifetime of screwing  around with conventional medicine and not getting any answers, this is like a welcome breath of fresh air.


Small House homesteader, Donna

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

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


  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.


  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


  • 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)


  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