Author Archives: Rebecca

About Rebecca

I am a 40-something wife, mother and nurse who is chronicling her adventures on learning about and adapting to food allergies!

Toasted Kale


Toasted Kale

Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is loaded with nutrition and known for it’s cancer fighting properties.  Kale is also difficult to eat – the leaves are thick, fibrous, bitter and tough, so of course it is good for you!  A fun way to eat kale is toasting it.  You can use any type of kale or other thick leafy vegetable.

The recipe is easy:  Take a bunch of kale (organic if you can) and COMPLETELY remove the stems.  Fold the leaves in half and slice off the entire stem, which is quite bitter.  Toss the leaves with olive oil, sea salt and any kind of seasoning you like.  Usually I use organic garlic powder, but today I had organic onion powder.  Arrange on a cookie sheet in a single layer.  It is important that the leaves not overlap or they won’t toast properly.   Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 min.  you may occassionally have to stir them and separate overlapping leaves.  The leaves should be completely dehydrated and crunchy when you take them out of the oven.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

My Craft Room



We are finally getting done with the modifications on our home. We converted our garage into living space.  We will have space for 2 small bedrooms and a closet.  I will take one of the bedrooms for my craft room and move my daughter into the other room. The room my daughter is currently using is really an office.  My husband will have finally have his “man-cave” once we get rid of the pink and purple walls. The boys won’t be left out!  They will get new paint, flooring and closet doors in their rooms. Check out the pic of the sewing table I just bought.

I am so glad to get these extra rooms.  My home is small and there are 5 of us.  We planned on this being our starter home, but after the economy crashed it is now our forever home!  Plus we had a couple of floods and the people who did the restoration repairs did an awful job.  The floors in the boys’ rooms are peeling up, paint is flecking off, etc.  It is not true when they say they will restore it back to original.  We very much need these renovations done.  Plus, we’ve been here for 10 years and my house was a base house – built with the cheapest materials and much of it is falling apart.  Almost all the closet doors have fallen off, the kitchen cabinet doors are falling off, we’ve had to replace flooring 3 times, etc.  Ugh.  It is depressing when I think about it.  But now I see a light at the end of the tunnel!

sewing table
Sewing table. It folds up into a small cabinet. I can’t wait to use it!

Potato Harvest


I started seed potatoes in the early spring.  I cut them and calloused the ends as directed. The vines grew beautifully and once they died, I quit watering the container and let them sit a couple of weeks.  Tonight was the big night – the potato harvest!  I called out my entire family to witness the event.  I think it is important for your kids to see where their food comes from, and had already planned out some yummy potato recipes.  I pulled out the container and dumped it in the wheelbarrow:

The Bounty of Dirt Seeds


Do you see what I see?  Dirt.  Soaking wet dirt.  And no potatoes.  Apparently the container WAS being watered by someone other than myself.  My 10-year-old daughter apologized – but I said it was no big deal.  After all, soaking wet potatoes would have rotted but there would still be evidence that they had existed.  My 14-year-old son said, “Mom, did you plant any dirt seeds”?  Uh…my kids really need to learn where their food comes from!

Flourless Cheese Crackers


As promised, I made low carb cheese crackers today.  I didn’t follow the recipe from my carbohydrate load cookbook – I had the wrong ingredients!  The recipe calls for hulled sunflower seeds, but I hulled, raw pumpkin seeds.  What the heck!  My desire for some kind of low carb cheese cracker was stronger than my desire to wait until I had the right ingredients.

Sharp Cheddar Cheese From Raw Milk.

NOT sunflower seeds

Here is my recipe:

  • 1 cup of hulled, raw pumpkin seeds (these are generally unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup whole grain corn meal
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used raw milk cheese but any will do)
  • 2 TBL water

Put the seeds in your food processor and grind until they are mealy.  Add the rest of the ingredients through the salt and pulse to mix.  Add the cheese, one cup at a time, and pulse to mix.  Lastly, drizzle in the water and mix well.

Your concoction will not look like a dough.  It will be crumbly and mealy.  I divided my “dough” in half at put half in a bowl and dumped the other half on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  I pressed the mound with my hands until  it stuck together.  Cover it with another piece of parchment and roll with a rolling pin until it is as think as you can get it.  I tried to get mine to 1/8th inch.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut rows of crackers. I topped my with a sprinkle of sea salt, but you don’t have to.  Pop into a 350 degree oven for about 18 or so minutes.  The crackers should be light brown.  If you used pumpkin seeds they will have a green cast to them.  I used a thin metal spatula to break the crackers apart.  Let cool and eat!

I give them 2 thumbs up!  The pungent cheese mixed with the slightly bitter seeds is quite nice.  Especially if you are missing crackers and bread.

I’ll update with the nutrition facts tomorrow -since pumpkin seeds have far fewer calories than sunflower seeds, I’ll need to do some math!

Close Up to Show Texture


This is a nice summary of the differences between grain and grass fed beef.

LifeWise Health Plan of Washington News

BeefBy Alison Acerra, MS, RD

No question about it, beef is a mainstay in the American diet.  Average consumption hovers around 270 pounds per person annually according to the Earth Policy Institute.  Public health experts have warned of the dangers of consuming too much red meat, mainly due to its correlation with high cholesterol and heart disease risk.   These animal proteins are a significant source of total and saturated fat in the food supply.  This wasn’t always the case however, and here’s where the story gets interesting.

Prior to the 1950’s, cattle were traditionally allowed to graze pastures freely, with grass being their primary source of nutrition.  In efforts to streamline beef production, conserve land, reduce costs, increase yields, and produce well-marbled meat, the industry changed dramatically.  Today, most cattle are raised in large feed lots, where their mobility is limited and diets consist mainly of grain or corn.


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Glycemic Index Versus Glycemic Load


Like many people, I need to lose some weight, especially from around my middle.  You could say I have the “middle age spread”, but I’ve had an ample body most of my life.  I lost a lot of weight over the last few years only to start gaining some back over the past 12 months.  After two emergency abdominal surgeries in 2011, I was pretty thin and in poor shape.  In  examining my calories, I ate about 1400-1800 calories a day, which isn’t bad for a 5’11” woman, but my weight was going up, up, up!  It was so distressing to see my thinner clothes starting to get too tight – I panicked!  How could I gain weight on that many calories!  I should be losing weight, not gaining!  Since the problem wasn’t the number of calories I was eating, it must be what I was eating.

I track my food using an app on my iPhone, so it was easy to go back and compare my diet now to what I ate 2 years ago.  It was soon obvious that the make-up of my meals had changed drastically.  I went from eating a low carb,  high protein diet to a low protein, high carb diet!  In addition to the high carbs, I was eating a lot of processed foods and processed fats.

What to do? What to do?  I wanted to be healthy and eat a more natural diet that was based on real foods. From my intro post, you’ll see that I tried a vegetarian diet only to pack on the pounds BY THE DAY!  Wow.  I cannot be a vegetarian.  It made sense to change back to what worked on the past – a lower carb diet with more protein.  But what is low carb?  Does it mean no carb?  What about fruits and veges?  They are carb foods and it doesn’t make sense to not include them in my diet.  Fruits and veges are loaded with important nutrition and fiber.

As a Registered Nurse and former Certified Diabetes Educator, I am well aware of the concept of “Glycemic Index” or GI.  GI is a measure of how much your blood glucose (sugar) level will rise after eating a food.  Glucose, the most basic form of sugar, has a GI = 100.  Other foods will have a GI of less than that, unless they are made from pure sugar.   Food can have a high, medium or low GI (table from Wikipedia, not my usual source of information but it is a good table):

Classification GI range Examples
Low GI 55 or less most fruits and vegetables; legumes; some whole, intact grains; nuts; tagatose; fructose; kidney beans; beets; chickpeas
Medium GI 56–69 whole wheat products, pita bread, basmati rice, grapes, sucrose, raisins, pumpernickel bread, cranberry juice, regular ice cream
High GI 70 and above white bread, most white rices, corn flakes, extruded breakfast cereals, glucose, maltose, maltodextrins, white potato, pretzels

Foods with a high GI raise blood glucose rapidly and cause a sudden release of insulin, which can cause a blood glucose crash later and hunger.  Foods lower on the GI scale raise blood glucose at a slower rate and provide sustained energy, which hopefully means you do not need to eat as often.  This is a pretty simple explanation and my intent is not to give a scientific lecture.  You can read more details here.

Glycemic Load (GL) is based on the Glycemic Index (GI), with an adjustment made for serving size.  For example, oil popped popcorn with butter is a high GI food with a score of 72.  If I was basing my diet solely on the GI index I would avoid popcorn.  The GL of 1 cup of oil popped popcorn with butter is only 3.  So while the popcorn has a high GI, the Glycemic Load is low if you account for serving size.  The key is serving size – if I chose to eat 10 cups of popcorn, the GI remains the same at 72, but the  GL increases to 34, which is high.  You have to control your servings of carb based foods.

This means that on my Glucose Load diet I can enjoy a snack of popcorn popped in oil with butter and still lose weight.  If I went solely by the Glucose Index,  I would not be able to eat popcorn at all.  And who doesn’t want a bowl of popcorn on a family movie night?

Another example is candy.   Lifesavers are all sugar, so they have a GI of 100.  But…if you only eat one, the Glucose Load is 20. Now, I can’t eat just one Lifesaver but if you want to quickly freshen your breath or have a little sweetie, then a lifesaver or 2 isn’t going to blow your diet.  Here is a table that shows glycemic index, load and serving size of many foods.

Like most low carb diets, animal proteins and fats are permitted without restriction.  Meat, cheese, and eggs have a GL of zero since they do not contain carbs.   But I still think one needs to be sensible.  No one needs to eat unlimited amounts of any food, including meat and cheese – although I could live on cheese alone!

According to Rob Thompson, author of The Glycemic Load Diet, you do not need to count calories or carbs or fat grams on a GL diet.  You should focus on keeping your total GL for the day at below 500 and get some kind of aerobic exercise 4 days a week for 30 minutes.   I do not have this book, but I do have his cookbook and the front section has a good description of  how the diet works.  Plus it has some great recipes for low GL foods and even how to use flour substitutes to make crackers and some breads.  You should avoid starchy solids and liquid sugars.  This weekend I’m going to try to make cheese crackers (my weakness) using ground sunflower seeds instead of flour.   I’ll keep you posted on how this turns out!

The Glycemic-Load Diet Cookbook: 150 Recipes to Help You Lose Weight and Reverse Insulin Resistance

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent


Do you cringe every time have to shell our your hard earned dollars for overpriced laundry detergent?  I do!  The newest kid on the detergent block is Tide Pods, which costs about .25 cents per load if you buy at WalMart.  I can attest that these pods work great, but I gag every time I have to pay for them.

Last Christmas, my friend gave me a mason jar full of her homemade liquid laundry detergent.  I loved it, but was hesitant to make my own after hearing her horror stories about grating the soap and waiting for it to dissolve on the stove top.  I’ve also read  many blogs with  recipes for liquid detergent and even watched videos on how to properly cook the ingredients.  I have to be honest, that is too much work for me.  It seemed to me that making a powdered detergent would take a lot less fuss.

A Google  search for “homemade laundry detergent” shows over a million hits! This is a hot topic and there are almost as many recipes as there are hits!  Today, you will have an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and get an easy recipe for powdered detergent.  I don’t claim to be the only person who invented this recipe – it’s pretty basic.

Most recipes on the internet use the same ingredients – soap and laundry boosters.   Here is my simple recipe:

  • 1 bar Fels Naptha (or any other bar soap of your choosing,some people use Dove)
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)
  • 1 cup Oxygen Booster – I chose the cheapest at WalMart
  • 1 cup Borax

Now comes your opportunity to learn from my errors.  This is my second batch of this detergent, and because I didn’t write down the directions I was doomed to repeat my mistakes.

1.  Assemble all your ingredients, a one-cup measuring cup, microwave safe plate, knife and a container for your detergent.  I used my old Tide Pods container.

2.  Cut the Fels Naptha into 6 pieces and place on a microwave safe plate.

3.  Microwave the soap on high for 3 minutes.  It will expand, so don’t be alarmed!

4.  Remove the plate from the microwave.  It will be hot and so will the soap!  Use a potholder!

Be careful! It’s HOT!

5. Use a utensil to place the soap in your food processor with the chopper blade.  Don’t use your fingers unless you want to get burned – take it from me!

6.  Process the soap until it is a powder.  This may take longer than you think.  The soap is lighter than the other ingredients, which is why you need to process it separately.  I placed all the powders in the processor, then added the microwaved soap thinking I could easily mix it all together.  Both times I have made this detergent I could not get the soap pieces to go to the bottom of food processor – they rode on the top.  I ended up spooning out the soap pieces, pouring out the powders, then processing the Fels Naptha by itself.  Once the soap was powdered I stirred it into the other powders and poured into my container.

Process the soap into a powder FIRST, before adding the other ingredients!

One challenge is that you are making powder, and the soap is hot unless you’ve allowed it to cool.  The whirling hot powder in the food processor is so fine that it “smokes” out of the processing bowl, even when the lid is sealed, so opening and closing the lid repeatedly releases some of your detergent into the air.  While I love the clean smell of the detergent, it can get a bit overwhelming and anyone with asthma or a sensitive nose may protest!  I suggest that you wait 1-2 minutes after processing the soap to allow the aerosolized bits to settle.   Then add your other powders and process a few seconds (let settle again) or mix with a spoon in your container or a bowl.  If there are lots of  large, pea sized lumps of soap on the top of your detergent that won’t mix in, you didn’t process your soap long enough.

The finished product. It took about 7 minutes to make, even with my mistakes!

I use this detergent in my top loading, HE washer and it works well.  It dissolves in hot or cold water and leaves a clean, fresh scent that is not overpowering.  My clothes are as clean as they were when I used Tide, and it costs about .04 cents per use.  Some people suggest using 1-2 tablespoons, but I use closer to 3 because of the large capacity of my washer.

I wrote the recipe on the top of the container so I don’t have to look it up each time

Have you made you own detergent?  Please share your experiences in the comments section!



Welcome to my blog!  I am a 40-something year old wife and mom of 3 wonderful kids.  We make up the Five Holts!  I am also step-mother to a grown daughter and neighborhood “mom” to a few other kids.

This blog was sparked by my interest in health, wellness and providing a nurturing home for my children.  As a registered nurse, I am well aware of the effect that nutrition, or lack there-of, has on the body, mind and spirit.  My own body has been a bit of a science experiment.  After spending most of my life morbidly obese, I was able to get within a stone’s throw of a normal weight.  Then my weight began to creep back up again.  I kept a food journal on my phone and my calories remained a consistent 1400-1700/day.  I couldn’t see why my weight was increasing at alarming rate until I examined what I was eating, not just the number of calories.  My diet went from a protein, vegetable and some fruit diet to a simple carb overload diet.  Ugh!  I hadn’t eaten bread in almost 2 years, and as soon as I did my weight went up, up, up!  For a short while I tried a vegetarian, grain based diet and could literally see my abdomen getting larger every morning.  Plus I was starving all the time!

I will be documenting my attempt to get back to a normal weight and gaining terrific health for me and my family using Real Food.  Along the way you can also read my attempts to learn to do some of the womanly arts that I so far, have not attempted or mastered.  This includes sewing, crafts and gardening.  I hope you enjoy this blog.