Goodbye Sugar Celebration – A Little Lift

So two months off of sugar, gluten, and dairy and what are we doing on our first snow day in Maine? First the girls and I dug out from the huge dumps of snow we received today then we came inside, played Clue, and then decided to pull out the sugar, flour, powder sugar, and butter from our vast supply that had gone untouched since Christmas.  Anna said, “lets have a say goodbye to sugar celebration.” First she asked if we could make chocolate chip muffins, from there it turned into can we make a chocolate chip cake.  I wasn’t sure if there was such a thing so we did what we always do, we Googled it.choc chip cake recipe

And there it was, just like everything else we searched for it on the internet. This would be my first time baking with sugar and such when I couldn’t taste or try any of it. Anna asked me if we shouldn’t be baking. I shook my head no and said, “this is how it is for me, you guys can still treat yourselves.” Inside I was really thinking, oh my god what I wouldn’t give to be able to lick the batter from the sides of the bowl. The girls got busy measuring, coating the baking pans, and cracking eggs. I stood back and mostly watched finding or grabbing ingredients when they couldn’t be found or reached.girlsbaking

The kitchen busied itself with the sound of the KitchenAid and the heating up of the oven. Our woodstove crackled and pushed out heat into our cool New England farmhouse.  It had snowed more than six inches since we had come inside and played a game of Clue. Our yard and fields had transformed once again into a winter wonderland, insulating us from the slippery roads and wintery conditions. Time had finally paused allowing us all to inhale deeply and exhale the pressures and weariness of every day life. No one was worried about homework, quizzes, tests, regionals for track, or states for cheerleading. We were all just being home on a snow day doing things that seemed to be distant memories from long ago.goats

The batter was finally ready to be poured into the stackable pans we had found months ago in a thrift store. The girls wanted to try to make a mock wedding cake.  Why not, if this was going to be a sugar funeral, why not go all out. Before I knew that I had done it, I had run my finger along the edge of the mixing bowl and slipped it quietly into my mouth. The sensation charged my senses and filled my taste buds with electricity. I stopped short and almost felt guilt at the realization I had fallen off the wagon and without even thinking said hello to my old friend. Anna looked up at me with concern. She raised her eyebrows as my mother would have, fourteen didn’t seem so young in that moment. I smiled quickly and with my eyes told her, “no harm done.” I silently told myself, “no more, that’s enough.”Libs

As I write this post, the cakes are cooling on the counter waiting to be frosted with a vanilla mini chocolate chip icing. The smell has overtaken our downstairs and pulled me back to a time when I baked almost daily for my family and thought as long as everything was homemade than I was being a good mom, doing right by myself and my family. Life for me has  changed drastically since then and now being sugar, dairy, gluten free my priorities  and perspective have changed from being about what I put in my pantry, my mouth, and in my kids’ lives. Having a healthy “normal” childhood is so much more about making decisions that will affect their general well being today, tomorrow, and as they grow into adults. It’s not as much about creating the fantastical moments filled with sugar, gifts, and unexpected adventures, which don’t get me wrong makes any childhood magical. Parenting for me is becoming more about focusing on what gives them a stronger foundation physically, emotionally, and socially. This is all new to me and while I’ve always made sure they brushed their teeth, played outside, and did their homework, and heard me say “I love you” a hundred times a day, it seems like I’ve been given a deeper sense of knowing what they need from me. So if it’s a goodbye celebration to sugar, than its also a hello to a simpler, better way of being

  • What’s eating you? – A Little Lift

    purple cabbageAs I move through the emotional highs and lows of relearning everything I ever knew about the foods I choose to eat and why, I’ve decided that it wasn’t always what I was eating. It was more about what was eating at me. I’ll be the first to admit that I was nothing more than an emotional eater. I would stuff sadness, fear, regret, anxiety, worry, and depression deep down into my soul with any sugar I could get my hands on. One of my earliest vices was Little Debbie, she came in a multitude of packaging, flavors, and varieties. My mom couldn’t keep her in the pantry long enough to make it into my school lunches. Getting my driver’s license made it easier for me to keep my horrendous eating habits in the closet and it wasn’t uncommon for me to drive through D&D more than one time a day for a sugar jelly stick, maple glazed, or blueberry muffin to go along with my French Vanilla coffee with cream and sugar. You can only imagine the rest of my story.

    I grew into a size twelve in junior high and stayed there pretty much throughout my adult life. During really trying times my weight would increase as much as twenty pounds and occasionally put me in a size fourteen.  I never thought of myself as overweight or as a heavy person. If anything I was often told that I was really tall and big boned when I questioned my weight with friends. So I continued indulging in all things sugar and as I became a better cook would often even sprinkle sugar into my chowders and sautés.  Then in 2010, I woke up one morning and everything I knew about my incredible endurance, ability to push through exhaustion to get life done came to a halt. It felt as though I had been hit by the flu, one that I couldn’t recover from, so after a week or two of suffering complete exhaustion and the inability to do pretty much anything I went to the clinic and discovered I was incredibly anemic. I’ve been anemic on and off  since then and it wasn’t until November 30th of last year that I was offered an explanation of why I continued to have such low blood levels.

    When you’re a mom or have loved ones and animals that depend on you, your health becomes more than just something you know about. When you aren’t able to do for your family and be the person you want to be for them, one of two things happen. You either give in to the feeling of unworthiness or you wake up and fight to make changes to get back to the place you once knew. For me, it’s been a combination of both, but fortunately on most days I can’t imagine the idea of not being there for my family and I push through with tears, fears, and a heavy heart. Sugar, processed sugar, has done a number on me and my digestive organs. Sugar has stressed my kidney, liver, and spleen for most of my life and with that stress it has burnt out my adrenal gland and rendered me helpless in a way I’ve never felt before. I’ve had to let go of a lot of things I used to believe I could control in our home, our barn, and our community. I’ve had to let Kyle do what he does best, love unconditionally. I’ve had to watch as he picks up so very much of what I used to contribute to our home and family, while I struggle to do what I can for my children.

    When I was told that my diet, what I was choosing and had chosen to eat for most of my life was creating my low blood levels and feelings of complete exhaustion, dizziness, shortness of breath, muscle fatigue, heavy head, cold limbs, and state of anxiousness and wrought, I knew that I needed to choose differently. It was never a question of would I or could I. I wanted my old self back, I wanted my life with my children and family to resemble what it used to and I wanted my barn back. So as I was told that gluten, dairy, and sugar needed to go, I accepted it and quit cold turkey. That was just two months ago. The first thing to go was my heavy head, the next to go was my incessant craving of sugar, and little by little my symptoms got better on most days of the week even though I still usually find myself needing to recharge one or two days a week.

    Sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol have become part of my past. I still think of them often as I am challenged when eating out or at friends’ gatherings. But somehow in their place I have found a resiliency and strength that I never knew before. In saying goodbye to them, I have said hello to a way of eating and living that I had once thought was reserved for a special class of people. I had only heard of people choosing to eat whole, green, unprocessed foods. I had never imagined I of all people would be joining the ranks. I’m slowing becoming a new version of myself and as I feel the insides of my body flushing out toxins and years of built up residue, I watch as my scale continues to move down to a territory I’ve never explored.

    I’ve said hello and goodbye to three new sizes since I’ve changed my eating choices but somehow that’s not even remotely what I want to celebrate or relish in. As I become a new version of myself, the gratitude that I feel each and every day that I was given the opportunity to make the choice of eating whole, that it was mine to make and not one of life and death. Although I’m not convinced I’m totally in the clear yet,  I’m making my way towards it each and every day. As I  continue to find new foods that replace sugar, gluten, and dairy I become rooted more deeply in the knowledge that we weren’t ever designed to consume artificial flavorings, colors, or processed foods. As my body continues to respond in a positive way to the choices I make in what I eat, I find comfort in the knowledge that my family and friends are right here with me and have supported my changes in ways that I could have never imagined. So for now it’s not so much about what’s eating me, it’s more about what I’m choosing to eat.

    Thank you Deb for these incredible recipes that happened to be our Sunday dinner! Thank you Kyle for helping me cook them and thank you Mimi, Pop, & Mum for helping us eat them.


    Lemon Rosemary Chicken – Pecan & Bacon Cabbage Sautee – Rice

    lemon chickriceShopping List:

    We were able to purchase everything for our dinner at Market Basket in Somersorth, NH.

    Whole chicken, red & green cabbage, onion, lemons, fresh rosemary, bacon, pecans, sea salt, course pepper, coconut oil, and Old World Pilaff.

    Prepare your whole chicken by rinsing and taking out the gizzard bag and then resting on a bed of sliced onions and lemons. Stuff the chicken with two halves of a lemon and four sprigs of rosemary, season the breast with sea salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes at 450 and then at 350 until it pops or about 60-90 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.

    Slice your cabbage into thin strips while you cook six slices of bacon in a skillet. Once it is crisp remove it and add the cabbage and 1/2 cup of pecan halves. Stir them occasionally for fifteen minutes and serve hot.

    Make the gluten free rice as directed on package, we added Turmeric and Cinnamon for seasoning as well as salt and pepper.  It was that simple with just two recipes and an incredible gluten free rice mix we had an incredibly healthy, delicious Sunday dinner!