Monthly Archives: August 2013

Stress and Your Immune System

Showing off the bagels I made from Against the Grain cookbook, as well as some homemade bone broth soup with some beans and okra from our garden.  It's the little things!

Showing off the bagels I made from Against the Grain cookbook, as well as some homemade bone broth soup with some beans and okra from our garden. It’s the little things!

Would you say that you lead a stressful lifestyle?

I know I wouldn’t have considered MY life overly stressful… At least, I didn’t think so?
God designed our “flight or flight” mechanism from our adrenal glands to kick in, during a life or death situation…

When that response is triggered… all other systems in our body are essentially “put on hold” so that all of our energy can be put into our adrenalin rush – so we could “run for our life” is the situation arises.

So what happens when we live in a chronic state of stress?  What happens when we “stress” on a daily basis about things that aren’t life and death?

Things like…. kids, and finding shoes, bickering, questions, friends, meals, organization, sports, work deadlines, traffic, when will you fit that workout in, and just how are we going to get it all done?

We glorify things like multitasking, and extremely busy schedules don’t we?
I know always prided myself on trying to “do it all”… But what was the cost?

That stress “overload” on the body is called adrenal failure, and it can show up with lots of different symptoms.

For me, when I was tired, I would mask it with multiple types of caffeine.  Soda, coffee, tea..  I wasn’t picky.  When I finally gave up soda, I moved on to coffee and tea.  I was drinking it for the wrong reason.

A little workout boost here, an afternoon pick me up there…

Slowing down was in my list of options.  I just knew, I didn’t feel well … and it never occurred to me that trying to continually mask those symptoms would have dire consequences.

That’s how we live life, don’t we?  We don’t think anything is an issue – until we can no longer function when it’s holding us back.

When I reached rocked bottom, instead of the fight or flight feeling?  I felt completely wiped out when a stressful even happened.  It’s almost as if I could feel my body become unplugged…and then I’m done the rest of the day.

No.  Seriously.  It literally wipes me out.

As an example, I had a stressful situation with my work a few weeks back, and as the situation progressed and clearly the person wanted to have a confrontation,  I could just feel my body take a hormonal dump and I became immediately exhausted  There was so fight in me.  I feel weak saying this, but it’s just best for me to avoid these types of situations… at all cost.  It’s not 100% preventable, but at this point in my health journey – it’s essential for me being well.

I have been on a path to de-stress my life in any way I can… because the truth of that matter is, my life IS pretty stressful everyday, and there are things I simply can’t change anytime in the near future.  There were also lots of things I used to think I didn’t have options in, that have since not made the cut in my life.  My husband has been very helpful in this area – getting help with my workload, encouraging me that something isn’t that big of  deal to say no to, and pretty much doing anything that HE knows stresses me out.

It simplifies things, that’s for sure.

Stress is a major contributor to the toxicity of our immune system, triggering auto immune disease and cancer … but just how and why does this happen?
When we’re chronically stressed – and our fight or flight is “triggered” …  this shuts down every other system in the body and puts that energy into that “life or death” mechanism…. Meanwhile, our immune system is  on the back burner allowing things like gut bacteria to run rampant… which then can lead to things leaky gut, and chronic inflammation.

Whether the stress is emotional, a physical event, or something like illness or daily medication that can stress our system – it’s ALL STRESS on the body, and it’s toxic.  Masking it with more pills, caffeine or burying it to pretend it doesn’t exist does NOT allow your body to heal from these types of stresses.
So truly, you can be eating 100% awesome, yet still struggling greatly with healing your body…  stress is THAT dangerous to our health.

Imagine the trickle down effect of how stress affects your sleep, your hormones and mental well-being or how things cycle around and affect one another with a leaky gut leading to things such as vitamin deficiencies – that lead to things like mental disorders, anxiety, or hormonal imbalances.
Stress certainly has a MAJOR affect on your immune system and overall health.

Another example of why things like prayer, exercise and close relationships (especially support groups and Bible study groups) are essential for your health, and well-being.  Studies have shown that having the ability to connect, and release that stress is vital to our well-being.

Helping others also has great health benefits with it as well. (just as long as you can do it within your stress-limits!)  I used to take on other people’s stress, and that isn’t healthy either.  Know your limits.  Don’t be afraid to honest with people, and practice saying NO.

For me, I can pin point several stressful episodes in my life…I had definite dreams expectations when we were young and first married also, and our real life (with lots of little children and demanding family) was also nothing how I anticipated our future to look like.  I’m not sure 8 kids was on my mind – as to what that would look like – but let’s just say we’re not in the majority.  It turns out when you do things differently (and have more than 2 children), the world  isn’t going to pat you on the back. Due to thoughtless family commentary,  I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for having more children, often hiding pregnancies early on and dreading announcing them… All in the name of obeying God’s call for our family.  That fetal stress is obviously passed on as well.

You too might feel like an outcast, and there will be times you will be lonely… Consider this one of the greatest blessings God gives to you.  When you are alone, you have the opportunity to learn and grow and be lonely for God.  Being in His presence will provide you with so much strength, peace and assurance of the path He has you on for His glory.

It is by God’s grace and unwavering love I am reminded I cannot do it all, and I’m not supposed to do it all.  Life will go on.   I will get done what He wills me to do, nothing more – nothing less.  My job is to do what I can, and I handle stress a lot differently now.  It’s how I keep my stress in check, Healthy for Him.

“She did what she could.”
Mark 4:18

Waffling Around

I’m back, I survived the weekend and things went really well.  For one, I finished my 5K in under 30 minutes (which was my lofty goal after feeling so miserable last time), and secondly, I didn’t get sick!  I call that success!!  We had a great time.

Now, for whatever reason – my body has been in decompression mode following the traveling this month and I have been so tired that tired doesn’t even describe it today.  I took a 2 hour nap and could have slept into the night.  Tonight – it’s lights out EARLY!

So what did we do for food on our trip?  Well I wanted to share with you my exciting little treat I started making.  I used to always make banana pancakes for traveling, because they’re easy and have some protein when I can’t have warm eggs.  But honestly, they didn’t pack the best and were sort of mushy by the time I got to eat them.

Last week, a fellow celiac (who is so similar to me, I almost wonder if we’re sisters!) had posted her idea for making Belgium waffles a week or more ago, and I tried it out one night to surprise our son.  Well, low and behold – I realized it was something I could safely eat – so I ate one immediately following while it was warm… with syrup.  Mmmmmmm  It was calling my name.

(That’s a no-no, the syrup….my mouth sore reminded me the following day)  Naughty Sara.
I made some revisions the second time, and liked it even better.  I came up with a recipe that will make 3 large Belgium waffles and they were easy for us to break apart and snack on or use for breakfast with our yogurt and home-made granola.  My husband called them “banana bread waffles” – and honestly?  they didn’t even need syrup.  (Silly me…)

So here they are – and yes, they are Auto Immune Protocol safe.  Who doesn’t LOVE warm waffles?  That’s right – now GO… get some!!


6 eggs, organic pastured/grass-fed
2 T coconut oil
2 bananas
2 traveling cups of organic applesauce
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp  vanilla

1 cup coconut flour

Put into blender for 30 seconds, or until well blended.  Grease waffle iron with organic coconut oil or organic old pressed organic olive oil and pour onto waffle maker.


I often go through a bit of a depression after I come back from Iowa…longing for things and people of home, feeling disconnected with people who have lived here forever.  It’s hard living away from family, and missing that connection of my youth.   This year was no different.  The first week back, I had a pity party of sorts.  I cried in Bible study.  I cried to my husband.  I just miss Iowa.  I was sorrowful that I had given up my family, and friends – and that life being different feels SO unfamiliar here sometimes.

The difference this year was, being around my old school and life last weekend – reminded me that I don’t miss Iowa as much as I thought I did.  I miss the IDEA of what Iowa represents to me and the dreams I had for myself before God intervened.  Sure, it’s hard to be away from family, and life long friends who just really “get” and love me, as I am.  But, it’s also a blessing that God uprooted me, and molded me by making me be alone and lonely for Him.  What I think of are the sparkling times in my past, and the positive things that are, indeed, wonderful memories I hold in my heart – I have to be real, that there are dark times too, and places God needed to save me from.  I must not discount every day and what God has so richly blessed me with now.   God knew what He was doing, even when I clearly – didn’t.  I’m so grateful.  Even if I waffle. 🙂

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. 

In the world you will have tribulation. 

But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Overuse of Antibiotics?

Yep, it’s cold and flu season, just around the corner… actually quite a bit of flu and colds have been around these parts lately.
My husband and I were recently talking about the last time we used antibiotics.  It’s been well over a year… praise God!  That’s pretty much unheard of, in our family of 10.
My daughter dropped a plate on her foot, and had a complete blow out of her toe on the first month of this year.  The doctor on call gave her antibiotics.  We filled the prescription… but decided against giving them to her, unless she showed sign of needing it.  Instead, we kept it cleaned daily with hydrogen peroxide, and wrapped it up for at least a month, and she was fine.  Five months later the toenail fell off, and a new one was appearing.

Things like sinus infections and ear infections have been avoided by using tools like our neti-pot and a 50/50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and apple cider vinegar (with the mother) in each ear for a 5 minute soak 3x a day.

Even when we do get something – it doesn’t linger on forever like it used to.

I call that major progress in this household, and a credit to better gut health!

Now I’m not always against antibiotics, it’s just NOT my first line of defense or second… or… I want to do what I can naturally, before going down that route.

So when DO we need antibiotics?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal had a handy chart that listed out some times when antibiotics were effective, and when they weren’t.

If you read through the list, many of these things can be avoided in other ways by drinking lots of water, getting plenty of rest, taking vitamins, eating clean, and taking care of your immune system with probiotics and things like cod liver fish oil.

But what do we do when and if we DO get sick?  How do you combat the monster to attempt avoiding antibiotics?
Here is a little list of things we have/do to help things turn around quickly:

1) Drink lots of room temp. lemon water

2) Take zinc and extra vitamin c – up to 500mg an hour (a non-GMO powder form is also good for smoothies for sore throats!), and Sambucol (that has black elderberry and safe for ages 2+ up to adults) or Black Elderberry syrup.

3) Use the Netipot to help clear nasal passages from bacteria/germs and help them dry out.

4) Coconut Oil rub with the following essential oils mixed in (oregano, peppermint and lavender) on the neck, back and chest

5) Bone broth soup from pastured chickens or grass fed meats

6) Oil pushing/swishing in the morning is great to get additional bacteria out of your mouth/throat.  Put a spoonful in your mouth and swish around for 15 minutes, and then spit into the trash can.  (It also helps whiten teeth!)

7) Local raw honey and cinnamon 3x a day

8) Baths for fevers to keep body temperatures down and cotton PJs (Actually I just learned how fire retardant clothing is not good for you – so this winter I’m only buying breathable cotton PJs!)

9) Exercise and sunshine, as you can.  One thing that is great about being sick this time of year – is going outside IS an option.  Extra Vitamin D and sweating out toxins helps!

10)  Good rest.  (One of the reasons I struggle a lot with my issues – is I’m such a POOR sleeper!  Naps and plenty of rest at night is so important to restoration and repair.)

We let fevers run during the day, and give motrin at night for comfort if need be.  A low dose of melatonin is also safe to help kids rest when they are sick, or coughing.   We set up a croup tent as needed for our younger children (under a cardboard table, with a sheet open on one side, when my child needs help to rest through coughing fits.

A special concoction a friend shared with me is going to be added to our list of “treatments” – not to mention it sounds heavenly for winter time.  Enjoy this “tea” recipe.

If you do have to have ANTIibiotics (which kill ALL of the bacteria in your system), make sure you up your PRObiotics, to help replenish the GOOD bacteria in your gut, following the dosing regimen.  You should be taking 8-15 billion a day as an adult, so bump it up to 20-50 billion after antibiotic use, if you’re normally a healthy adult.  If you’re like me, who normally takes 50 billion, bumping it up to 100-200 billion might be a better idea.

If you don’t have any of these products on hand, perhaps now is the time to get them so you’re stocked and ready!  (No one likes to find these things when they’re already not feeling well!)

And…  If you’re wondering some reasons on WHY over use of antibiotics is getting such a bad rap?  This information might help fill you in.

Your gut health is SO important to your immune system, and ultimately your brain and organ function. We need to take good care of it to be Healthy for Him!

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

James 4:7

I Will Not Be Ashamed

In less than 72 hours I’m going to my 20th class reunion.

A mixture of feelings comes over me… 

Excitement.  I’m going with my husband, and for the first time in our 15 years of marriage with 8 children we will be “alone” without kids.

Anticipation.  We’re running a 5K together, and my last one of those was pretty painful, so I have some mixed feelings… but overall, positive.

Concern.  For a weekend of events centered around food and drinks… I know it’s going to come up.

“Why aren’t you eating? How about a drink?  What is wrong with you?”

A shot a of wheatgrass.  The only type of shots I will have.  Something that builds up my health, and my immune system.

A shot a of wheatgrass. The only type of shots I will have. Something that builds up my health, and my immune system.

It’s really not that complicated.

It’s not that big of a deal either… It’s not like I’ve been a drinker for years.  I’m not sure why it bothers me to just say what is “wrong”… or what is going on…

But socially, it’s just one of things sometimes you’d like to pretend doesn’t exist…

There’s a part of me that wants to just speak up and get it over with so we can get it off the table, and move on… but I know there will be more questions... and the selfish side of me wants to talk about other things… anything but looking in the rear view mirror.  Just for the weekend.

Now don’t get me wrong… I enjoy talking, sharing, and helping others…  I do – I love it.  I thank God every day that I have the opportunity through my struggle to help others similar to myself.

But … (and you know what I mean), sometimes you don’t want to talk about it with people who don’t understand.  There are parts of me that are frustrated even looking back to high school, and realizing I was sick then – and didn’t know.

I’ve realized it’s a bad heart attitude.   It’s kind of like saying, “I don’t want to share the gospel with unbelievers… they don’t understand.”

Sometimes, the very people who don’t think they need information, are the ones who do… and how do we learn if we don’t hear?

So, if you could say a pray for me – that if there is anyone there who needs to learn about natural healing – or disease and the gut connection – that I might be able to serve them in some way (?)  I’d appreciate it!

(I promise to keep my health preaching to a minimum.)  Who am I kidding?  Hide this gift?  No way.

Here’s to reminiscing about positive memories in the past.  Enjoy your weekend!

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?

And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  

And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

 Romans 10:14

Have Granola, Will Travel


Good Monday Morning!
This long silence from me isn’t normal, I realize this.

I’m happy to report that I was traveling, with my family last week – Yes, ALL 10 of us went to back to my home-land (Iowa) for 6 days.
“Well, what did you eat?” You ask?

Well, actually, we ate out breakfast every day, and lunch ONE day – and we were GREATLY blessed….  As the hotel was very accommodating to us.  Upon waking, my children had their yogurt with some yummy granola I made (I’ll get to that in a minute…), in the room.  Then we’d head downstairs and the restaurant made our 3 dozen pastured eggs, and 20 sausage links safely – in the cold-pressed organic olive oil we brought – EVERY day. (For FREE!!)  (That’s 216 eggs, and 120 sausages in 6 days if you’re a numbers person…) 

Normally we eat 18 eggs at home, I’m not sure what happens when we travel…

I also brought muffins I had been stock piling in the freezer, so each morning we’d go through a dozen morning-glory muffins at the breakfast table as well as some fruit!

Lunch was sandwiches on our almond bread, with cut up fruit and carrot sticks… easy-peasy.

Dinner was a bit more tricky, but the good Lord blessed us greatly with a sister of mine offering up her kitchen, and space in her refrigerator/freezer for us all week.  While we had 2 min-fridges in our room, there was NO WAY we would fit all of our bread and muffins and keep them fresh for the week without an option like this!  I packed a cutting board, a paring knife and a crock pot – and made simple meals that could cook while we played during the day.  Did I mentioned what a blessing that was?  HUGE.  Not to mention inviting a family of 10 into your space for the week is no small feat.  Grateful and blessed doesn’t begin to touch how we felt.  When something as simple as eating can make or break a trip – it’s pretty big deal to us.

THIS is what kept us well, all week-long.

Not once did we get cross contaminated – which is nothing short of a miracle.

The granola I mentioned making, was one of my last-minute efforts to remedy not having enough granola for our trip…. the night before we left.  (Believe me, it’s ALWAYS something… just one thing.  Always.)  I followed part of my auto immune “granola” idea from my AutoImmune Disease Clean Eating Cookbook, and modified it up in pure Sara-fashion, to fit my family.  Crossing my fingers, I served it to my family on the first day and was shocked at the rave reviews, and pleas for “making more” of this when we returned.  It was deemed the “best” granola ever, and we’ve had quite a few.  (I thought maybe they were just REALLY hungry.)  My husband then suggested we could “seriously market this”… which indicated it would indeed be a good idea to attempt to remember just WHAT I did when I made it…  Uhhhh…

So on the first night home, I did 6 loads of laundry, baked 2 loaves of pumpkin/pecan chocolate chip bread and whipped up a large batch of my new granola.  The kids cheered with delight in the morning when they spotted the newly made batch of granola – so I just knew you’d like a chance to make it as well!


Sara’s Paleo Granola

4 cups of shredded coconut

4 t. GF pure vanilla

1.5 cups of coconut butter/coconut manna

8 tsp. raw honey

1 cup of organic apple sauce, unsweetened.

2 (heaping) Tablespoons of raw cacao

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 cup pecan pieces

2 Tablespoons of cinnamon

**  Additions: 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients in bowl and set to side.  Warm coconut butter on stove until melted, then turn off add in applesauce, and honey and stir into dry ingredients.  Spread mixture out onto parchment paper on baking sheet.  Bake 20 minutes while mixing through baking process (Every 5-7 minutes) so it does not burn.  After cooling – simply put in a bag and scoop out with a measuring cup to serve onto yogurt or ice cream.

Pray for me.  My 20th reunion is next weekend and I’m going to run a 5K with my husband.  If you remember, the last time I ran – last October… it was 27 degrees out and I was having a major flare.  My knees locked up and I struggled to breathe, but I finished in a little over 30 minutes.  A disappointing finish after my first 5K, but I finished.  I know if I could run through that, I can certainly run now.  Right?  Right.
Remember, every day is a day on the marathon towards health – each day trying to make progress.  It’s not a sprint to be Healthy for Him – but it’s important to keep making the effort to move forward and away from those things that don’t build up our immune system!

 “But those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

Paleo Cookbook and Websites I Love!


I have been totally “wowed” recently with some new cookbooks I ordered off People often ask me where I get ideas of what to fix my family? Well, honestly – other people who have gone before me give me ideas and I expound on or revise those. I’ve had to teach myself to cook – and to find tricks that work for my own family.

Ironically, or maybe… not ironically… many of these people have similar-ish health stories to me, and our family. It’s nice to realize there is a HUGE world out there with people who are like-minded in regards to how things like food can contribute to slowly bringing us disease, or health! Praising God for the internet and information!


So far, I am in love with my Elana’s Pantry book, and my Against All Grain cookbook. I also am really enjoying the Primal Cravings cookbook – and as soon as I get some pastured pork – the Beyond Bacon will be to put use as well. It’s VERY educational. For those of you who prefer to look at REAL cookbooks, Against All Grain is awesome. Beautiful pictures for EACH dish – which I love. Easy to read and follow… and the results? They’ve been nothing short of spectacular because she has a little bit different ways of doing things.

One of the difficult things to overcome when going Paleo is the density of some baked goods… However, this puts all of those complaints out the front door! The baked goods are lighter and more “gluten-like” …except NUTRITIOUS, and SO flavorful. Thank you SOOOO much “Against The Grain”!!!

Elana from Elana’s Pantry was interviewed in my Paleo magazine this month and she even said not to get her cookbook before trying lots of her FREE recipes online first… to see if she was a good fit for you. (Love her baking, you won’t be disappointed!!) I thought that was admirable. Most of these authors have blogs, and FREE ideas online also – which is SO helpful if you’re like me and utilize both forms for baking/cooking.

Here are some websites/blogs that might be helpful if you’re starting out, or looking for new ideas before buying more cookbooks (although I must admit, I LOVE cookbooks to read/understand why people have done what they doing/and look at pretty food pictures):

Elana’s Pantry

Paleo OMG

Nourished (you can get this app which is awesomeness)

Paleo Parents (authors of Beyond Bacon)

Health Bent (Primal Cravings author)

The Healthy Gluten Free Life  (author of Make Ahead Paleo and Paleo Indulgences, both awesome!)

Paleo Mom (she also has a great section on auto immune disease protocol – revised Paleo)

Nom-Nom Paleo

Real Sustenance

Balanced Bites (author of Practical Paleo) GREAT podcasts available here too – check those out for sure!

Ditch The Wheat

The Domestic Man

The Food Lovers Kitchen (primal palate) Authors of “The 30 Guide to Paleo Cooking”

Grassfed Girl

The Spunky Coconut

Delicious "World Famous Paleo Bread" from "Against All Grain" cookbook.  It smelled delish!

Delicious “World Famous Paleo Bread” from “Against All Grain” cookbook. It smelled delish!

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die;

but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”

Romans 8:12-1

Is Luke Warm Ok?

I made these Paleo mini key-lime pies for our family last week.  They were a HUGE hit with the kids.  They were super impressed, and kept saying how much they loved them.  See the link for the recipe below!

I made these Paleo mini key-lime pies for our family last week. They were a HUGE hit with the kids. They were super impressed, and kept saying how much they loved them. See the link for the recipe below!

God says being luke warm about your faith in Him is NOT good… He would rather you be COLD, than luke warm.  I’d say He feels pretty strongly about it!

However, there are some things in life where a luke warm temperature IS a good idea.

Take drinking water for instance…

My husband never liked ice water, and I remember thinking – what is wrong with this guy?  Who drinks their water WARM?  Ick, right?

Turns out, he was probably following a cue from his body that room temp water is SO much better for our digestion!

I’ve read several articles and information that drinking a room temperature glass of water in the morning (with your supplements) before breakfast is a great idea.

We’re usually a bit low on fluids upon waking, so a full glass is a great idea to sip on while you’re making breakfast and taking your daily dose for your immune system!
Each night before bed, I prepare myself two drinks:

1)  A mug with warm/hot water with 1-2 T of BRAGGS apple cider vinegar and a lemon wedge in it.  I also add my MSM to this, and stir.  I drink this to take my 400 mg of Magnesium before bed, and my 1 mg melatonin as well.

2) A 32 oz glass of water with a lemon wedge and MSM to drink upon waking with my Armour thyroid medicine.

These two things tremendously help my digestion and aid in keeping my belly and body happy!

So, I guess sometimes “luke warm” is great idea!


“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other! 

So because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 

You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” 

But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”

Revelation 3:15-17

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