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:






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: 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

For the podcast dedicated to the importance of eating organic go here:

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

I followed the recipe below.

(Recipe by Renee at Raising Generation Nourished at

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

Small House Christmas Dinner

Even though we have kept it pretty simple this year, the past week has been a whirlwind of Christmas activities. Our Christmas cards have been signed and sent, and this past Sunday we enjoyed our families Christmas dinner. We hosted this event in our home so much of my week was spent on planning, shopping, table setting and cooking for the big day. I like to cook as much ahead as I can and set the table the night before.

Gene cooked the chicken and I made the side dishes. I find that healthy home cooked food is one way I can show support to my son and make a small difference in his life. I also like to model healthy food for my grand daughter too.

Susans Fried chicken

I feel blessed to live in the land of abundance where we have the food easily available to create a special and tasty meal but I never forget to remember those who do not. While it has been challenging to switch over to gluten, dairy and sugar-free, I have not forgotten that I am indeed fortunate to have the ability to find and purchase the ingredients I now need. Having computer access to gluten-free recipes and a working stove, refrigerator, electricity and the ability to make these nutritious meals makes us very fortunate indeed.

Our Christmas Menu This Year Included;

  • Susan Lamberti’s Fried & Baked Chicken
  • Twice Baked Acorn Squash Quinoa & Kale with Pomegranate
  • Gluten-free Stuffing
  • Quinoa, Cranberry, Apple, Kale, Pumpkin Seed Pilaf
  • Grandma’s Orange and Cranberry Gelatin Salad
  • Tossed Lettuce Salad
  • Cider (hot or cold) and Water

The highlight of the meal was definitely the Susan Lamberti family chicken recipe we call, Mom’s Fried Chicken. Mom was Gene mother, Susan Lamberti who emigrated from Italy and was a true and traditional Italian cook.

Gene cooking chicken

She fed her family of six every day, making many traditional Italian recipes and cooked everything but the bread they ate from scratch and kept her family fed, full and satisfied. Gene’s childhood holiday meals always included a fully baked turkey with all the seasonal trimming as well as homemade lasagna using her handmade lasagna noodles. Gene says his mother was “a piece of work,” but I think she must have been a saint!

In an Italian family it’s all about family and the food!

Brenna with chair and highchair USE

I enjoyed this chicken for the first time in the fall of 20145 when we visited Gene’s brother and sister-in-law at their home in Upstate New York. Gene’s brother Pat saved this recipe from oblivion. This chicken is lightly breaded, lightly fried and then baked and is incredibly moist and delicious. We watched the making of this chicken then but needed a quick tutorial to answer a few questions so Gene called his brother for the recipe which I have included here.

Susan Lamberti’s Fried & Baked Chicken (Prep 60 minutes, cook time 60 minutes. Ready in 2 hours.)


Chicken pieces with skin removed

Salt & pepper to taste



Italian bread crumbs

Olive oil

  1. Remove skin, cut up chicken and dry the pieces well
  2. Roll chicken pieces in the flour
  3. Roll chicken in the egg mixture
  4. Roll the chicken in the Italian bread crumbs
  5. Fry lightly in olive oil, turning often
  6. Drain chicken on paper towels to take out any excess oil
  7. Put the chicken back into the pan and add water, approx. ½ to ¾ cup of water depending on the amount of chicken pieces and the size of the pan. The water will soften the breading and allows you to make gravy in the pan.
  8. Remove chicken from flying pan and put into a baking dish
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

Grandma’s Orange and Cranberry Gelatin Salad (Prep 20 minutes. Ready in 8 hours)


1 (oz.) package raspberry flavored Jell-O mix

2 cups boiling water

1 (16 oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, un-drained

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup pecans

1 teaspoon orange zest


1, 4 oz. package cream cheese softened (I used non-dairy)

½ cup whipped topping (I used non-dairy)


1) Place the gelatin in a bowl and pour in the boiling water, and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Mix in the cranberry sauce, pineapple, celery, pecans, and orange zest until evenly blended. Pour the gelatin mixture into a mold or serving dish.

2) Chill gelatin in the refrigerator overnight or up to 8 hours.

3) To make the topping beat the cream cheese with half of the whip topping. Fold in the remaining whipped topping until well blended. Unmold the gelatin and spread with the topping mixture.

Twice Baked Acorn Squash Quinoa & Kale with Pomegranate: (Prep 15 minutes, initial cook 40 minutes-Mix together and bake another 20 minutes)


2 acorn squash

Quinoa, red or white

Kale, torn into pieces (amount is as much as you like) I use one whole large bunch for three squashes.)

Garlic, fresh or power (I used a large spoon full of prepared ground garlic)

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

½ cup pecans


  1. Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and coat the inner yellow portion with butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Place in the oven, right side up, and bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the inner portion is soft. For a more seasoned bowl, dust the squash with garlic powder, cinnamon and allspice. When the squash is done, peel out the inner portion and leave enough squash remaining in the bowl to maintain its structure.
  2. Sauté’ the shredded squash, quinoa, kale, spices and /2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic.) and butter in a pan just enough to melt the butter and wilt the kale.
  3. Transfer the mixture into the squash bowls and bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes. Add the pecans and the pomegranates to the top.
  4. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds (toasted or not) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cool slightly and can be made a day ahead.

Holiday Dinner 2015

Enjoy your holidays all!

Small House homesteader, Donna