The Half-Crunchy Mama

Trying to live a natural life with balance


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What’s the best thing you can do for your liver?

EAT LIVER, of course! If you are like me and have a sluggish liver that ends up causing all sorts of issues from hormonal imbalances to very stubborn belly fat, it might be time for you to give this organ meat a try. The initial response from most people is, “YUCK,” but I have realized that such a response is usually because they have never actually tried it.2014-12-21 18.52.52

I am fully aware that I am way more adventurous than a lot of people when it comes to trying new foods. In fact, I pretty much live for it. Traveling to new places means I get to experience new foods and dishes that I have never been exposed to. Kind of like my obsession with drinking at least one local beer for any city/state that I’m visiting, even though I can hardly tolerate the wheat in beer anymore {sigh}. If you want me to try something that I might not “want” to eat if i know what it is first, just don’t tell me. I prefer to try it first and then decide how I feel about it. Sweetbreads are one of my favorite things to order at a classy restaurant…also an organ that acts up on me occasionally. I’m so glad that my father encouraged me to order it for the first time a few years ago and that he didn’t tell me what it was until after my second bite when I proclaimed how delicious it was. Once I knew that I loved them, it didn’t matter at all.

Diets today are a hot mess, especially in this country. We lack so many things in our fast-food, over-processed, carbohydrate-laden lives. Similar to my opinion about the instant gratification we obsess over with medications, it seems like we are always looking for a quick meal. Quick can equal healthy, but most often it results in a meal that serves our bodies up very little actual nutrition. Everyone would benefit from more greens in their life, and I don’t mean lettuce. Real leafy greens, like kale, chard, and spinach. Many people are mineral deficient and have no idea, resulting in a myriad of stresses in their body that manifest in ways that conventional medicine often lets go undiagnosed. We are also vitamin deficient, and not in a way that taking some store-bought, garbage vitamin is going to fix (although there are now some of great products in places like The Vitamin Shoppe). Not only do we need to supplement our bodies with whole food supplements, we need to eat FOOD.

Before the Western diet turned into what it is today, people never wasted any part of the animal. Organs, bones and marrow, and of course every single piece of meat itself were used to stretch the budget. The Depression-era folks still used everything despite the shift in how Americans ate. Gram would make chicken livers (I admit at first I thought, “How gross!”…until I tried them) and her soups were made with broth from bones. These days everyone talks about bone broth and its healing properties and health benefits. This seems “new” to us, but I’m sure previous generations would laugh at this. There were no cans and boxes of broth back then, everyone made broth. And there were not all these GI problems, allergies, psychological disorders, etc., that we are now seeing connected to gut health. Bone broth repairs the gut. This is just one small reason why I can’t help but believe that it is our dietary changes that have caused so much dis-ease to surface and run rampantly throughout our population. Perhaps it’s not that these diseases never existed, but maybe that we have brought them all to the surface with our poor diet and lifestyle. They existed, but were rare. Now they are the norm.

Throughout my journey, my liver issues would rise to the top, and my liver still appears with regularity when having a nutrition check at my naturopath’s office. It’s a powerhouse organ that regulates so much of our bodies, playing a major role in metabolism and having a number of functions in the body, including glycogen storage, storing vitamins (especially B12 and A) and minerals (including iron and zinc), decomposition of red blood cells, hormone production, detoxification, and breaking down insulin, hemoglobin and other hormones. If your liver is sluggish, your body can’t function properly. Without a healthy liver, a person cannot survive. No one can live without one, unlike some other glands that people get surgically removed. Maybe it’s time to pay attention to it.

Some of the supplements that I have taken in the past to help support, clean, or heal my liver have been pretty pricey as they also often include desiccated liver pieces. If I’m having a bad flare of one thing or another, I might need more than one bottle over the course of a few weeks. I was looking to cut some of the cost of my supplement intake, so I discussed with Doc about what foods I could make sure that I’m regularly eating (or avoiding) in order to help my body out even more naturally than I already was. It was amazing how much adding liver into my diet became such a game changer. Not only was my supplement list getting smaller from visit to visit, everything was improving. I hadn’t seen my body respond like this since I first did the Liver Enhancement Diet. WIN!

As it turns out, The Russian is very good at cooking liver. He has made me dishes with both beef and chicken liver, but chicken liver is a lot easier to find and it’s also cheaper. He has made two dishes that taste just like Gram’s and I was in heaven. He has experimented with a few other ways, but his new favorite is making pate. This is the one I’m going to share first. It’s the easiest way to get some in your body since you can spread it on bread or crackers, dip raw veggies in it, or do whatever you want, and it’s so creamy. It is so much cheaper to make your own than to buy the premade stuff in the store and this has no preservatives or additives. It’s always best to try and make your own food so that you can control exactly what is in it. Here’s The Russian’s pate for you to try out. You can use either beef or chicken livers, but this particular post is about the chicken. And it’s delicious!

(He made this double batch for me last night as I have not been feeling as good the last few weeks as I had been for the past few months. We hadn’t been eating liver, so here’s hoping I feel back to my old self by the end of the day! For more reading about liver, google it and also check out these two links: Liver: nature’s most potent superfood and Health Benefits of Eating Organ Meats)

Heat about 2-3 Tablespoons of EVOO (or whatever oil/lard/ghee) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add two medium onions, halved and sliced, along with about a cup of shredded carrots. Cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring very frequently. You want them to soften and caramelize, but not get super brown or burn.

2014-12-21 19.21.33While the onions are cooking (or before if you’re like me and prep everything first), trim up the livers. According to The Russian, beef livers require a little more cleanup, but what’s important with the organ meat is to remove the ducts that connect the tissue. (Yes, it’s even gross for me to type that. There is a reason that The Russian is the only one that cooks the livers in our house!) You also will want to cut up any larger pieces so that they are around the same size for even cooking. That is a good habit to get into in case you want to try out any future liver recipes that I will post. Those recipes are not as forgiving with overcooking these delicate pieces of meat. (Note that you should be buying organic chicken liver whenever possible and always grass-fed beef liver.)

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Once the onions and carrots are finished, add the livers and cook until outsides are no longer shiny. Think about when you are cooking meat and you are browning the outside or making ground beef no longer pink. Same concept, just look for no more shiny parts.2014-12-21 19.25.40

 Next, add the spices and a cup of water. The spices consist of crushed bay leaves, coarse ground pepper, and some kosher salt. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Once the 20 minutes is up, remove the lid and cook an additional 5 minutes over medium heat to let some of the liquid evaporate and allow the sauce to thicken.

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Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, pour the mixture into a food processor. Add about 3 Tablespoons of sliced, room temperature butter/ghee (we use Kerrygold) and blend until smooth.2014-12-21 21.13.39

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but eat it within a week. Remember, there are no preservatives!


Chicken Liver Pate

You can use this recipe with any kind of animal liver; beef, goose, or chicken. We purchase chicken most often as it is easier to find and more economical. You can easily cut this in half or double it. The yield from this recipe is about three cups of pate. Make your liver happy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 2 medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots or 1 – 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 lbs of organic chicken livers (2-16 oz containers), ducts removed and large pieces divided
  • 1 tsp crushed bay leaves (or one bay leaf)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp coarse ground fresh pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp Kerrygold butter (or ghee)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and saute until soft and slightly caramelized, but not browned, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add livers to vegetables and cook until no longer red and shiny.
  3. Add the bay leaves, salt, pepper, and water, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and raise heat up to medium, cooking for an additional 5 minutes until some of the liquid evaporates and the remaining liquid thickens.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  7. Once cooled, place mixture in food processor. Add butter and blend until smooth.
  8. Place in airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to a week. Enjoy!
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Why I’m not going to tell you that essential oils fix everything

Don’t get me wrong, oily friends. I am definitely in love, borderline obsessed, with some of the magic that these little oils have delivered for me and those in my life over the past several months. Essential oils can be very beneficial to us, but I just don’t think that they are a cure. Yes, I have read some testimonials and seen actual proof of healing, but I believe that those cures are the exception. Some of the wonderful benefits that I believe in include ridding the home of toxic chemicals for cleaning and freshening the air, boosting the immune system, providing natural pain relief, and easing a variety of symptoms from anxiety to insomnia, digestive issues and allergies to migraines, acne, and insect bites. The list is actually endless and if you ask me about what oils you can try to help aid with something that you struggle with, I’m positive that I can come up with a few ideas to try. Naturally.

Did you notice the words that I chose to use above? Easing a variety of symptoms. This is my point. It’s one that I could receive quite a bit of flack over from serious oilers, but I have to get this out of my brain. It’s actually making me feel a little crazy (there’s an oil for that) and I really want to tell everyone that the oils seriously CAN help and to give them a try, but don’t ignore me because you are judging and think this is some silly fad that only crazy hippies are a part of. Remember, I’m only half crunchy. This means that I don’t believe everything, especially anything that gets hyped up. I’m educated and consider myself to be a fairly intelligent woman. I don’t believe in miracle cures and I certainly trust that there is a time and a place for medications in our lives. Just not to the extent that we medicate ourselves in this country.

Here are my two cents on the subject of oils. In terms of our health, they help ease the symptoms that we experience. This equates them to medications in my book. Medications mask the symptoms, providing relief. They don’t fix problems, but they allow us to live comfortably or with the appearance of a healthier existence, think blood pressure medication, insulin, and other things that help people stay alive. Does going on insulin (not applicable to childhood diagnosis) or blood pressure medication “fix” the sugar or pressure regulation in your body? Or would diet, exercise, and addressing the why actually fix it? I’m speaking in general terms here, but I think you get my point.

The only way I am able to think about getting and maintaining a healthy body is following the way that I got here. After many failures with conventional Western medicine, I turned to functional medicine (my voodoo) and naturopathy. On my journey, I learned that we should only use whole food supplements to fuel and try to correct things that are missing from or are misfiring within our bodies. Whole food supplements are not the dead garbage that most of the population buys in the vitamin stores, but actual supplements that are made from food, herbs, and depending on the use, desiccated animal organs. Functional medicine gets to the root cause of the symptoms that we experience and can actually help correct, even retrain what is malfunctioning. I may have the same symptoms as my best friend, but our bodies are experiencing them because of completely different reasons. The supplements that we each would need to address and correct the issues will probably be very different. Individual treatment. I’m not going to say that this cures everything as that is way too strong of a word, but it comes as close as possible. And yes, some things have pretty much been eliminated from people’s lives or thrown into remission, including mine, but other things can be managed with supplements. I could babble on and on about this topic, but will save that for another time.

Aside from engaging in functional medicine, which included whole food supplements and homeopathics, NAET (allergy treatments), and BRT (body restoration technique) treatments, the deeper change had to do with my lifestyle – diet, exercise, drinking, smoking, the environment, and stress. We are a whole unit, a body, so why don’t we ever look at the bigger picture? Deep down, we can trace almost everything back to diet and exercise. (The environment has been playing a much larger role in our lives for the past few decades, but I will save that for another post.) I had already learned what foods work and don’t work in my body in the years before I started learning about naturopathy, but I didn’t necessarily know how or why my body reacted the ways that it did. I digress. Let’s get back to the oils.

Can oils help? I say yes. Emphatically! Things I have personally experienced and witnessed:

  • Deeper, more restful sleepHalf-Crunchy Mama
  • Little to no snoring (the Russian)
  • Relief from aches and pains (muscular)
  • Back pain relief
  • Anxiety gone
  • Calming atmosphere for the entire family
  • Less bloating
  • Increased digestive health
  • Clearer, healthier skin
  • Healthier hair
  • Insect bites disappear
  • Stronger immune system
  • Nicotine craving support
  • Increased energy and adrenal support
  • Allergies
  • Fighting colds and coughs
  • Safe and healthy cleaning in the house
  • Safe and healthy air purification and odor elimination
  • Hangover relief
  • Arthritis in pets

There are more, but that’s what I’ll share for now.

Do I ingest them? A few I do. I have found great results with bloating, cravings, and weight loss adding a few drops of grapefruit, lemon, and peppermint to my water. (I would only recommend ingesting Young Living oils as they are the purest available.) Those are the only ones that I personally have ingested, but I know a few people that have had amazing success with improving their gut health by ingesting others, like DiGize.

What do I love? I am obsessed with Joy. I huff this sh*t all day long. Okay, I’m not that bad, but some days it feels like it. It makes me happy and has really evened out my hormones…or at least it feels that way. The other one that I love is called Tranquil. I’ve been using it at night and I haven’t slept this good in a very long time.

Am I careful what I use with Sugar Bee? Of course I am, not only because of her age, but because she is so sensitive to everything around her. I almost always dilute them and only apply them to her feet as her skin is extremely sensitive. She loves them and has responded really well (future post). She will ask for her lavender for any bug bites and that is the only one that I don’t dilute. The huge, swollen bumps disappear before our eyes. I can’t debunk actual proof, as hard as I may want to. I was skeptical at first, even though my voodoo doc was helping guide me. It took a little time for me to get comfortable with them, and now here I am, spouting about what they can do.

Does the Russian use them? You bet he does. He has learned that all the crazy, crunchy crap that I do really does produce results. Lasting results. The proof is in the pudding as they say. Actually, I never knew anyone to actually say that outside of using it for a case like this, but whatever. Through the years, he has seen the dynamic changes in my body and how it operates, and this is no different. The results that he has personally had with some skin issues and his snoring alone has made him a supporter of this oil craze…that has been going on for decades in the real crunchy world. Other countries around the world have used essential oils to aid in treatments throughout history, and still do. Oils have been used for centuries, but to our society it just looks like another fad. It shouldn’t be this way.

Am I going to tell you to throw out all your medications, never go to a doctor, and only try to fix things with oils? Hell no. My daughter has a life-threatening allergy to pineapple. We actually have Benadryl in the house for the first time ever, but we MUST have it in the house, along with her Epi-pen. We are aiding the natural treatment of her other allergies using the oils and have been very pleased so far. Anything that can help!

If we can get away from all the pain medications that we take that make it even harder for our bodies to operate the way they are supposed to, I’m all for it. PanAway has helped me incredibly with my back issues and Deep relief is awesome for muscular things, including headaches and muscle aches from my workouts. This doesn’t mean that I’m never going to go to my back doctor again, but if I can save a little time and money without doing harm, finding relief when I need it, I’m game. I personally don’t take anything (unless I can’t move), but in general, we make our livers work so hard already without adding Tylenol, Advil, or whatever that has to get filtered through this important organ that we should jump at a form of natural relief. When you add in allergy medications, hormone replacements, anxiety and antidepressant medications, ADD/ADHD treatments…the list is endless…our livers get full of junk that make it weak, thus weakening many other systems in our bodies. We can look for other ways to support our bodies and help ourselves.

Will the oils help? Most likely. Will they fix the root cause? I don’t think they will. Some things they do and it’s obvious, like with Sugar Bee’s mosquito bites disappearing after applying lavender, a pimple clearing up with melrose or purification, warts and body tags leaving the body using Thieves and Frankincense. Most importantly, they can ease the symptoms of other aliments while you figure out the cause and find a way to naturally heal and help your body to thrive.

If we can get away from the barrage of harsh and toxic chemicals in our homes, stressing our respiratory systems, our brains, and our organs, then let’s do it. Bug sprays, household cleaners, scented candles, plug-in air fresheners, and so many other things that we don’t even realize are exposing us to chemicals on a daily basis, disrupting our endocrine and neurological systems.

I have had issues with household cleaners for years. It took me so long to realize why I would feel sick for several days after cleaning the house…weeks if I cleaned the oven. Thieves cleaner has been a gift from heaven for cleaning the floors, the kitchen, and my oven. I had to stop using the plug-in air freshener things when Sugar Bee came along. Her little body couldn’t handle them and what an improvement when we removed them from the house (not to mention the carpet in her room). We almost never use scented candles, despite how much I love the smells. Now that I have diffusers in the house, I don’t have a need for them. I can make my own scents to fill the house and they will have an added benefit (or 3 or 4 depending on what I’m diffusing) for us all. Even the pup! Peace and calming has been diffused every evening and now the witching hour in our house is all but gone. Bonus!

I would think that this society of instant gratification would love the oils right away because of how fast they work. I’m not exaggerating at all. I get relief in minutes, whether it’s emotional, physical, or physiological in nature. I have shared some of my experiences this far on my Facebook page and in one of my first posts the I have linked in a few places already, Snoring? Backache? Hangover? Allergies? Bug bites? My oil solutions (Part 1). Essential oils have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier as they are made up of such tiny molecules. Relief comes fast. We love them.

Give them a try. What have you got to lose?


If you are interested in trying one or two, visit my store at https://www.youngliving.org/sraesid

If you want to get your own 24% discount on everything with no requirement to sell or order a minimum per month, sign up at http://bit.ly/1ulrqzU

Ask me anything. I’m just here to help and share my knowledge.


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Welcome! Here’s the story…

The name

I first learned about the term “crunchy” after giving birth to my daughter when a friend mentioned that I was “kind of crunchy.”  Once the term crunchy was explained to me, I decided that I am “half-crunchy.” I never realized how much I had changed while on the journey I have been on for the past 9+ years. I have strong feelings about natural health and medicine, fitness, healthy eating, GMOs, breastfeeding, my newest obsession with essential oils, and a variety of other somewhat hot topics. Reusable bags and recycling are big with me. I have a container garden. I don’t take medications unless absolutely necessary, and neither do my husband or daughter. But there are limits to my crunchiness. I didn’t use cloth diapers. Despite my obsession with reusable bags, I still use plastic bags from stores for some things (like the small garbage cans around the house). I don’t compost. I don’t own a hybrid or an electric car. In fact, I own an SUV and a car that is twelve years old. I don’t believe in every little thing that the rest of the crunchy world does, but I get it. My life revolves around my daughter, my husband, my dog, and my job, and I have learned that nothing runs smoothly if I’m not focused on taking care of myself. This includes standing up for what I believe in and helping to share my knowledge with as many people as possible.

The history

When I take a look back on my 38+ years of life, I see the many things that I have lived through/lived with/battled; and right now I’m just talking physiologically.

I had insomnia and was a sleepwalker as a kid. Back then, no one would have ever thought to look into those two things and see that perhaps something was wrong. I also ate lots of crackers…like half a box watching Saturday morning cartoons, and I loved bologna and American cheese. As processed as you can get! We didn’t know then what we know now about nutrition, especially when it comes to kids. (thank God I played sports.)

Then as a teen, I had acne (who didn’t) and ovarian cysts, resulting being put on different prescriptions for the acne, both pills and topicals, and birth control pills from the age of 16 until almost the age of 30. I was “diagnosed” with depression and put on zoloft for several years. I also had seasonal allergies and took prescriptions so often that I would build up an immunity to them and have to switch to a different one every 6-8 weeks.

In my mid-20s, I found out I had been carrying Lyme disease for so long that by the time it made itself visible in my body, several of my systems had been affected. My knees will never be the same after having such awful arthritis as a result of the evil spirochete (and let’s not even talk about all THOSE medications I had to take).

The topic of my back could be a post all on its own. All you need to know for now is that I have had back problems since the age of 13 and was put on….you guessed it…lots of different medications.over-medicated

See a theme here? Medications, medications, medications. This is such a problem in our lives, and at this point in my life, I just can’t stand it anymore. We have become a world that thrives on instant gratification. Something wrong? Take this pill and you will feel better fast. Oh, those side effects? Don’t worry about those little things. We will give you something else for the side effects. The commercials, and the fact that we even have commercials for medications, that go through an insane list of side effects make me nuts.

I was a result of over-medicating a broken body that already faced some mild genetic defects. Medications are a band-aid. They only treat the symptoms, not the cause. They don’t actually fix anything.

The journey

The best decision that I have ever made in my life was to move to the south. There are a ridiculous amount of reasons for that statement, but the journey to my present state of health and the people that have entered my life are the top reasons that I feel this way.

We moved here without jobs. After about a month, I landed one of the three part-time jobs that would get me though one of the toughest times of my life until landing my current career at IBM (ten years this month – woo-hoo!). I started helping out in the office of a naturopathic doctor, Debra MacIntyre (now Kviesis) at her place in Roswell, GA, Natural Health Solutions. That was where my natural health journey began. I won’t go into everything that I learned while working there, I’m sure I will share many of those things in future posts as they come up, but it completely changed my life and opened my eyes to this new world. One that existed in other cultures for centuries, far longer than this country has even been around.

Then I met Dr. Don Parkerson at the HP Spine Center in Smyrna, GA. I had seen chiropractors since I was a kid and can actually can say that I lived through the progression of the field. I started off with the back-cracking, neck-twisting kind, moved on to the “new” chiropractic electronic stimulation after a car accident (and those two docs I had in NY were awesome and did help alleviate my symptoms), and then I met Dr. Don after living here six months and experienced the worst back pain of my life. He’s not your ordinary chiropractor. He’s an orthospinologist which is like magic to me. There you are, barely able to walk in the door and in so much pain, he taps the top of your spine with this crazy looking contraption, and a few minutes later, you can stand up straight and feel a lot less pain. Amazing stuff that I will save for a future post.

Now on to the incredible woman that brought me the rest of the way, Dr. Tamera Firnbach at Balanced Body Wellness Centre in Kennesaw, GA. After many dead ends with conventional doctors, I figured I didn’t have anything else to lose. There I was in my late 20s, waking every night drenched in sweat, realizing that I never had a good night of sleep in my life, dragging my butt every afternoon to get through the day, eating like a bird, exercising like crazy, and still unable lose weight. Every doctor told me my test results were fine. Primary physician, gynecologist, endocrinologist. Oh, really? Yeah, I feel “fine.” Everyone lives like this, right? After going over my history, blood tests, and profile with Dr. Firnbach, I had a diagnosis – adrenal fatigue that was later confirmed with saliva testing. Not to mention I had a liver that was a piece of garbage. Years later, and there will be posts about things relating to this part of my journey, I’m in a much better place. I learned that the proper functioning of my liver is key and most of the physiological issues of my entire life, nearly all hormonal, can be traced back to that extremely important organ in my body. More to come on all this.

I now know that the knowledge exists to recognize, address, and fix all sorts of health problems through natural means. No drugs. No surgery. It takes time and patience to follow the natural path. A LOT of time and patience. And money. We only have one body and it’s worth the investment. We generally don’t take shortcuts when it comes to our teeth or our eyes, the philosophy being that we only have one set of teeth and one pair of eyes. Why not place the same priority on the rest of your body? My one regret is not keeping a journal through it all. What I have learned and seen for myself when watching others that follow my path has changed my life for the better. The tricky part is that now I can’t unlearn what I know. So now I’m half-crunchy.

The now

Moving forward with my blog, I will try to share things that I think you will be interested in, or better yet, that will help you. That is my real goal. I want to teach about things that I have learned and lived myself.

I will talk about raising my kid, and those of you who are parents will laugh with me, while those of you without kids will likely laugh at me. And I welcome that. Laughter is good for the soul.

I will share (and sometimes vent about) thought and ideas on a variety of topics relating to all the things I juggle on a daily basis; being a wife, being a mom, having a full-time career, running a household, trying to budget, having a dog…the list is endless some days.

I will finally start publishing some of my recipes. Watch for those, if nothing else. They will not disappoint. I take my food VERY seriously.

And there might be an occasional post about cars, motorcycles, sports, guns, aviation, or technology. I’m not your average girl.

Hopefully you made it to the end. Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time.