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5 Quick Spring Food Ideas For Busy Families

Hello, friends!

This time of year can get very busy–especially with the recent chaos that has affected almost every single person, family, and business. But as our lives (and our mindsets!) return to a normal, less anxious, more rational state, we are free to think of the activities we love. There is a lot to look forward to! After all, the weather is warm and the sun is shining…this really is a treat. 🙂

However, we all know how summer fun can distract us from thinking about meal planning and food preparation. It can be hard to stay on task with so much to do! Lately, my husband and I have had extra work because we are constantly slathering sunscreen on our babies and cleaning dirt off of them and the floor. It has been so fun to watch them playing outside together. Anyway, I wanted to share a couple of simple ways to throw food together for a fresh, fast meal so you can keep enjoying the sunshine and fresh air (Open Air Therapy is a real thing!). Here are some of our go-to summer meal ideas:

  1. Smoothies: Often served as a meal in itself, smoothies are so easy. We don’t do too many during the winter, but summer is the perfect time to cool off with one! Our favorites are kombucha and/or kefir smoothies. Simply use kombucha or kefir, frozen fruit, a banana, and optional raw honey to taste. 
  2. Salad: Salad can be your main course or a side dish. We love using arugula topped with some olive oil, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar. You can also add apples, onions, and tomatoes. Add a protein (chicken, sardines, salmon, or steak) to make it a main dish.
  3. Canned wild-caught fish: Tuna, sardines, mackerel, or salmon are staples for us. Though my babies like to eat plain sardines, I like to have mine with kimchi and natto if I have any (I buy mine at Toucan International Market…so good!). Sounds like a goofy combination, but I just can’t get enough of the spicy, crunchy, unique flavors. Obviously, this isn’t everyone’s favorite way to eat canned fish…so you could try making a sandwich out of it, a tuna-bake, or just eating it with crackers. 🙂
  4. Oatmeal in the mornings: Using the Nourishing Traditions oatmeal recipe saves us a lot of time because the oats are soaked overnight and will cook in only a few minutes! Digestible, filling, and so delicious, we love our oats with raisins, butter, and cream. It is also tasty served cold as leftovers…but on to the next point:
  5. Make extra-large dinners: We do this out of habit at all times of the year, but this trick is excellent for summertime! Leftovers, even served cold, are the perfect solution to the craze that comes with summer plans. Make enough to serve at 2-3 meals instead of just 1. This has saved me a ton of time on meal planning and dishes.

I hope you are enjoying these magnificent summer days! It is such a gift to experience the beauty and healing powers of Spring. We could all use the warm hugs the sun offers, the rejuvenating fresh air, the sight of budding flowers and leaves, and the smiles that you see on the faces of delighted children enjoying the lovely weather. Happy Spring to you all! 🙂

Building Immunity During Trying Times

       A special guest is joining me for today’s post. I am excited to introduce my sweet husband, Dr. Daniel Stanislowski, who’s PhD specialty is biochemistry and molecular biology. The first section will be from me, and the second, from him:

       In these recent weeks, it has been difficult to escape the bombardment of news about Covid-19. Our family, like many other families, has been trying to avoid overwhelming, fear-based emotional reactions to this virus, and simply try our best to promote our health in economical, rational ways.

       I’ve written a few “boost your immune system” posts before and typically I cover topics that stem from your kitchen and investing in food that encourages overall physical fortitude. However, I think I have left out a lot of tips that can further boost immune system function and optimal living. I hope not to be repetitive, as I’m sure you’ve also received many, many emails about Coronavirus (I’ve even gotten one from Uhaul!). My goal is not to clutter up your inbox. Without further ado, I have compiled some hopefully helpful suggestions on how to stay strong physically and mentally in this time of potential panic:

  1. Mindset: It is incredibly important for your immune system that you try NOT to “freak out.” Situational stress can be very beneficial; it can work as a motivator, add meaning and pizzazz to your days, and maybe even save your life. However, it is well-known that chronic stress is damaging to both mind and body. You are not doing yourself any favors by letting yourself tumble into a state of distress, losing sleep due to anxiety, not exercising because you’ve buried yourself in research and worry, not socializing because you’re too caught-up in the news and social media. Something I’ve learned in my few years on Earth (and still trying to practice) is that behaving as if you are healthy will help KEEP you healthy. This doesn’t mean avoid self-care when it’s needed, but it does mean that you should still strive to maintain healthy relationships (maybe over the phone while this situation persists), do things that you love, eat well, smile to ignite and because of happiness, cuddle with your loved ones, breathe deeply, maintain good posture, and relax when possible, just like any healthy person would do on any ordinary day. This leads into our next point:
  2. Lifestyle: Nobody will ever be healthy if they don’t sleep and/or exercise. The truth is the truth. No matter what your diet, no matter how many supplements you take or how many doctors you visit, you need to sleep and you need to avoid a sedentary lifestyle as much as possible. Not only will the quality of your life be better (these things lower your anxiety/stress–added bonus!), but more specific to the Covid-19 topic, your immune system will greatly benefit from the good choices you make in and outside of your kitchen. Shoot for a full-night’s sleep as often as you can. Take naps if possible. Give intermittent fasting a try for 1-2 days per week. You might like it. Don’t go overboard on the exercise if you’re not used to it, but take a 10-20 minute stroll every day for starters. It doesn’t have to be rigorous to benefit you, but it should be enjoyable. Do some type of physical activity to support both your cardiovascular system and your major muscle groups…go for a short run (or do sprints!) and finish it off with a few pushups, planks, squats, and stretching. Who knows…it’s possible it’ll even be fun! 🙂
  3. Diet: Obviously, a good diet is critical to a robust immune system. Having a good diet includes two things: 1. Avoiding things that are bad for you, and 2. Adding things that are good for you. You cannot have a good diet if you don’t include both parts. As for number 1, avoid sugar like it’s your job. Avoid processed food. Avoid food sensitivities. Add water. Add raw milk if you can tolerate it. Have grass-fed beef, pastured pork and eggs, eat fermented foods. Try to enjoy your kitchen and foster your creativity through exploring foods…trust me, this is possible! I didn’t used to like cooking. 🙂
  4. Extras: It makes sense to me that health begins with a solid foundation. That means you need to have all of your bases covered before you can add detail and extravagance to the structure of your health. For example, any deficiency in your foundation and your whole structure will fall…if you don’t drink water, if you’re deficient in fundamental vitamins (C, D, A, et cetera), if you prefer the extreme couch potato life…adding elderberry syrup, taking shots of fire cider, or hoping your bleach and Clorox wipes will save you some pain will do nothing for you. If your bases aren’t covered, you’ll be waiting nervously and hoping you don’t get sick. If your bases are covered, you will probably feel much safer and can only benefit from adding things like elderberry syrup to your regimen. If you want to add any “extras” to your healthy foundation, consider elderberry syrup, brazil nuts (for selenium), shellfish (for zinc), camu camu powder (for additional vitamin C), fermented foods, and a unique practice that I just discovered called the Wim Hof Method (fellow insomniacs, you will LOVE this…it’s free and easy to practice at home). With this being said, it is my opinion that health shouldn’t come only after you purchase this or that supplement. Just start with the basics and don’t blow your budget!

       I hope I have been able to help you in some way. There is only so much anybody can do right now, so it’s best to just let go of what we can’t control, take control of what we can, and always remind ourselves to stay centered. 

In health,

Diane Stanislowski

From my husband:

       To maintain one’s health, it is essential to take responsibility for one’s health. A notion all but lost to the modern American’s psyche, except in alternative communities like this one. I think a proper continuation of that thought is: to maintain one’s autonomy, one must take responsibility for one’s autonomy.

Indeed, a good first step to individual health is not to get carried away on the fear train as panic and stress do not make a good recipe for health! The personal digital media device can so twist and contort entire societies’ perception of events that truth becomes a long lost afterthought if not entirely irrelevant. One must never surrender one’s God-given intellectual capability to impersonal institutions whose concern is not based primarily on one’s good health but rather the bottom line or perhaps even more sinister motives. These institutions have failed, and have been failing, American health for decades now. Conservative, very conservative, estimates put our healthcare system as the third leading cause of death in our nation. Our true malaise, it seems, is a strange amalgamation of learned helplessness and stockholm syndrome, and it is well past time for us to take back control. 

       What one absolutely can do, without fear, is to undertake healthful behaviors. Supporting natural immunity is paramount and begins with, and is achieved by, consumption of healthy foods loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients the human body craves and eschewing the sugar and chemical-laden nutrient-less foods ubiquitous in the American diet.

Nutrient-dense foods work with the body’s immune system – not merely against an invading pathogen. My family has benefited greatly from raw milk and other food sources from Bartlett Farms.

Exercise, though tertiary to eating practices and mental state, is another great immune-boosting activity. These practices, once habitual, will strengthen one’s defenses against all potential illnesses (viral or otherwise). Should one get sick, however, a short course increase to the daily regimen (~three to four days) of vitamins C (to bowel tolerance), A (up to 100,000 U/day), and D3 (up to 50,000 U/day) can be implemented to great effect, according to Dr. Brownstein.

Vitamin C performs an array of critical cellular functions as a regulator of gene expression and cofactor for many enzymes. Vitamin C supports both the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. Vitamin C strengthens epithelial barriers against pathogenic insult, enhances the ability of macrophages and neutrophils to phagocytose and neutralizes microbes, aids lymphocyte differentiation and antibody production, controls levels of cytokine generation, and lowers histamine levels (source). Wow! Name one pharmaceutical that does all that!

Because vitamin C is water-soluble, your body stores very little of it and most of the excess will be excreted through urine; however, the intestines possess active transporters that move vitamin C into the bowels along with sodium ions. The resultant osmotic difference induces excess water to enter the bowels which can cause diarrhea. Nonetheless, if one is enduring a viral infection and his or her immune system is kicking into high gear, an increase of vitamin C intake is warranted, and a little diarrhea (if you experience diarrhea simply scale down intake to a tolerable level!) is probably worth conquering the infection in short order!

Some Chinese doctors are actually using IV vitamin C to treat COVID-19, and vitamin C treatment for it has advanced to a clinical trial, though there is no need to wait for its conclusion to know vitamin C is an effective treatment for virtually all infections. Like vitamin C, Vitamins A and D contribute to a great many immunological processes. So, if one has sufficient levels of these vitamins in his or her body the effect an invading pathogen will have will be minimal. And if one wants to ensure lifelong health, one ought to be consuming animal products from properly raised and sourced animals on a daily basis as these food products are loaded with the above vitamins and many other essential nutrients.

       I have a hunch you already know this but if not: you are the best friend and defender of your (and your dependents’) health. Never be afraid to do what you know is best for you and yours. The healthier lifestyle you lead the less dependent upon others you become. There are countless pathogens that can cause illness. Why not bolster yourself against all of them instead of only worrying about the ones that catch the headlines?

Wishing you all the best,

Dan Stanislowski

Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.

She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and three children and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.

3 Tips for Shopping Local Farms

       Yesterday, we had two farmers come to our door to deliver food. I said to my husband, “this must be a sign we are doing things right!” Whether that is true or not, I know that supporting local businesses is a win-win for everyone. As we support local businesses, we support the financial success of our community, and oftentimes, the products we buy are of higher quality than if we sourced them from a chain store or from the internet. And of course, shipping costs aren’t necessary. 🙂

       Over the years, our family has put more and more emphasis on where we purchase our resources. We still have more work to do, but so far, we have been able to stay local with our eggs, meats, and raw milk. Now that I’ve covered a couple of reasons why purchasing locally is a good idea, I’ll discuss ways to discover local businesses.

       This really is the age of the mighty internet…so use it to your advantage! I have found countless recommendations–to events to doctors to local businesses–on Facebook. Though I am thoroughly disappointed in Facebook’s censorship, I still find local Facebook groups to be extremely helpful. You can either search your local Facebook groups for past posts or ask the members for recommendations on local businesses/resources. There is nothing better than a satisfied customer giving you a sincerely positive review! 

       Another thing that Facebook is good for is allowing local businesses/events to post business hours and locations. A perfect example of this is getting updates to our city’s Farmers Market, which changed locations last summer because of construction. But, Facebook isn’t as popular as it used to be, and since it has become such an anti-freedom-of-speech monster, sometimes it is best to just use a search engine for finding local businesses. For this, I’d say Google could work, but they’ve also become heavily involved in censoring public information and even violating its users’ privacy. For this reason, any search I need begins with the search engine called DuckDuckGo, which I am sure is still censored, but much less so than Google.

       But, if the internet isn’t your favorite tool for discovering local businesses/events/people, simply showing up to your Farmer’s Market can open up a broad range of possibilities. Many people go (and many of them are foodies, like us!) and it is an excellent way to explore! 

       Anyway, back on topic: after you’ve identified local businesses you’d like to support, it can be beneficial to form a good relationship with those that run them. As I mentioned earlier, we had two farmers come to our home to deliver food…not only is that convenient for my family (it is hard to leave the house with 3 small children!), but it allows for friendly conversation with visitors. Good relationships, good products, good community support…as my grandma would say, “shazam!!”

       The best advice I have for you is to form a good relationship with your farmer. In my opinion, the best tips come from a local farmer himself: Peter Bartlett of Bartlett Farms.

  1. Make sure to read all the farmer’s materials before contacting him/her so that he/she doesn’t have to repeat information. Though I’m sure they’d be enthusiastic about discussing their business with you, it’s best for everyone to use the resources you already have on hand, such as their website, reviews, or pamphlets. 
  2. Be respectful of their time and call ahead if you’re going to stop by. This is because farmers are usually in the middle of something and would like to be prepared to meet you.
  3. Finally, know the value of what they do and be willing to support a higher price, if you deem it worthwhile. Just like artisan cheese or wines, small batches take work and can justify a higher price. You ultimately build a relationship with this farmer, so your connection with him/her is worth investing in because they care about you and want to do the best work possible for you.

       I hope these tips have been helpful in identifying local businesses and forming a positive relationship with those that supply your food and resources. It takes time, but it is worthwhile! Happy shopping:)

Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.

She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and three children and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.