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It’s well-known that you can’t pour from an empty cup. These days, we are all so busy—working, studying, caring for our families, and the last thing on our to-do list is: take care of ourselves. In a high-demand world, we have no choice but to tend to our own needs, or everyone and everything in our care will suffer. More than just a well-known phrase, it is the truth that you can’t pour from an empty cup.
In our case, my family suffers most when I am not taken care of. It can be tempting for me to nag my husband or get crabby when my children are creating chaos. I am probably the least qualified person to write a post about self care, seeing that this is an area that I really struggle with…but, I’ve found some ways to implement this practice without demanding too much time from myself. In fact, most of these practices can be shared with my family (that still counts as self care, right?)! Here are some ways I’ve managed to balance both self care and my family’s needs:
1.Liver shots and organ meats: This is a category that I have been hesitant to explore. With a sensitive gag reflex, organ meats don’t exactly make me drool, unless I remind myself of the MANY benefits of eating them. Especially because I have anemia and hypothyroidism symptoms during pregnancy, eating beef liver has helped me feel less light-headed, less fatigued, less hypoglycemic, and has even smoothed out my skin. The high concentration of vitamin A in beef liver seems to work faster than the toxic Accutane I took in high school. If only I had known about the powers of beef liver back then! This natural multivitamin is so loaded with nutrients that I couldn’t resist posting a nutrition profile of liver compared to other foods at the bottom of this post. This addition to our diet has been the most beneficial for me energy-wise. I can easily see myself eating liver every week for the rest of my life. Beef heart, another organ which we have recently explored, tastes surprisingly like beef brisket and it cooked up nicely in our pressure cooker. We are having our other two beef hearts ground up so it can be mixed with regular ground beef and put into burgers, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, et cetera. The next organ I plan to explore is beef tongue, but for now I will share how I prepare our beef liver:
-Cooked beef liver: Slice partially frozen beef liver into ½-¼ inch slices. Place liver in raw milk with a little lemon or milk kefir to soak in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours. Remove from milk, pat dry, and coat with onion powder, salt, and pepper. Heat up a pan (we love our cast iron for this!) with lots of butter and lightly fry each slice of liver on both sides. Do NOT overcook it unless you want rubbery liver—shoot for a pretty pink center. Eat as-is, topped with a little lemon juice, or serve with sauteed onions and bacon. Yum! I’ve read that lamb liver, calves’ liver, chicken liver, duck liver, and goose liver all have a less “livery” flavor, for those who are just starting out with organ meats or for those who do not like the taste of liver. I’ve heard that paté is delicious, though I haven’t tried it…yet. 🙂
-Raw beef liver: Because I don’t want to cook liver so often, it’s easier to make a quick smoothie out of well-sourced beef liver that has been frozen for a minimum of 14 days. Anyway, here is the recipe: soak beef liver in raw milk for 12-24 hours (optional step). Once liver is either soaked and dried or partially thawed, cut into chunks and place it in a food processor. Purée the liver. Pour the puréed liver onto a small baking sheet (small enough to fit in your freezer) lined with parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread out the liver evenly. Place in the freezer. The next day, remove the sheet of frozen liver and cut into ~1 inch squares. To make the smoothie, I measure out 1-2 oz liver cubes on my kitchen scale, and blend with ⅓-½ cup of tart cherry juice or a handful of frozen strawberries and water. In general, the taste and color is hidden well when blended with some kind of red sour fruit. Adding ½-1 teaspoon powdered ginger to the smoothie also hides it very well. If you must, plugging your nose and using a straw makes this process even more painless, along with chasing with kombucha or a little raw honey on a spoon, but I don’t find this always necessary. I strive to do this 4 times a week. As a side note, my babies and husband enjoy this smoothie. This shot gives me noticeable strength and energy for ~48 hrs after drinking it. It has even allowed me to escape or minimize my afternoon crash. My husband has experiences this energy as well, but also informed me that his mind is clearer, his skin is less dry, and feels healthier in general. Thank you, beef liver, for being a naturally-occurring 5 Hour Energy shot!
2.Fermented foods: Milk kefir is a staple in our house. It helps keep me regular, despite being pregnant, and keeps my whole family and myself healthy. We haven’t had full-blown sickness in many months (not since I got mastitis after my son was born over a year ago, but I’m not sure that counts). I make a milk kefir smoothie almost daily for myself and the babies, and I make kombucha for my husband, though my daughter drinks a lot of that as well. Mango flavored-kombucha (“boo-chah” is how she says it!) is so delicious! I also try to incorporate other fermented foods, such as homemade sauerkraut, fermented salsa, pickled jalapenos, and beet kvass into our diets. For me, milk kefir has been the most beneficial and I would have digestive distress, UTIs, acne outside of pregnancy, and yeast infections without it. I am happy sticking to my present diet when I remember all the health problems I used to have. Fermented foods to the rescue!
3.Blackstrap molasses and sole (unrefined sea salt water): I can stave off more lightheadedness and fatigue by making sure I take sole first thing in the morning with a little lemon juice. It sounds weird, but a little salt water does me a lot of good when my blood pressure dips too low. Salt in water is nature’s Gatorade! Also, taking 1 tsp of blackstrap molasses does wonders for anemia symptoms. Woohoo!
4.Raw egg yolks: well-sourced raw egg yolks work very well for brain-power. We could all use more of that! I simply blend 2-6 egg yolks into our smoothies. I crave them, so I figure my body must need the cholesterol…after all, cholesterol is the foundation of the entire nervous system. Don’t be afraid of cholesterol and drink up! Plus, you can make delicious macaroons with the extra egg whites.:)
5.More protein: Well, obviously, protein is very important. When I get enough, I am able to remain calm during the day, despite the craziness of having two small children and another one on the way. I’ve noticed that staying away from carb-filled breakfasts and snacks has had a significantly positive impact on my work efficiency throughout the day, as well as my level of patience. Our breakfasts are now primarily protein-based: scrambled eggs with butter and bacon in the cast iron, with a milk kefir smoothie afterwards. Or, hard boiled eggs with a smoothie. Delicious, satiating, and keeps me level-headed.
6.Tallow balm: A recent blog I wrote contained a very luxurious belly balm recipe. But, after exploring the world of beef tallow and its beneficial fat-soluble vitamins, I decided to try out a 2 ingredient tallow balm recipe (I followed this recipe but excluded essential oils). It is AMAZING. I was so excited after making it that I’m including tallow most of our homemade lotions from now on! I’ve been slathering it on my face at night, and it hydrates my dry, acne-prone skin so well for a full 24 hours that I rarely have to exfoliate my skin anymore. My pregnancy acne is unaffected (if not lessened) by it, and this tallow balm along with the beef liver (and collagen/gelatin) has made my skin so smooth and supple looking, even after years of acne scarring. It’s also wonderful for my belly as the balm spreads easily and keeps the skin looking better than pre-pregnancy! One of the best parts of this is that this balm does NOT look greasy. Even after applying a thick layer of it on my face, neck, and belly at night, it only takes a couple of minutes for my skin to soak it up, and the remaining balm on the top of my skin does not shine. It is matte. The beginnings of wrinkles around my eyes look better, too, which is a nice side effect. I’ll never go back. 🙂 You can render your own tallow or purchase it already rendered.
7.Simple self-care practices: This is the area I struggle most with: showering, exercising, staying hydrated, and going to bed on time. Really, I just need to take my own advice and be more consistent at these things. It is therapeutic to take some time for your self care. Hopefully you’re better at these things than I am! Treat yourself to a workout, hot shower, a glass of lemon water (with a pinch of unrefined salt, of course!), and an early bedtime! Doesn’t that sound magnificent??
Earlier this week, when I was cleaning the kitchen for the second time in the day, I remembered this: this can be the best time in our lives. Difficulties will and do come, but really, our happiness lies far outside our circumstances. This is life and all its challenges and beauty and business, and it doesn’t slow down. We must try our best to choose our dispositions. This is why self care is so important: so we can keep up with life, and choosing to smile in the face of our challenges will be easier when we have our needs met. After all, I would much rather live my chaotic and duty-filled life than be anywhere else than exactly where I am. The grass is not greener on the other side. Hopefully these ideas can help you take better care of yourself, and therefore all the people and things you value. It’s good to remember that none of us can pour from an empty cup! Cheers to this awesome, unpredictable, wonderful life. 🙂
How do you take care of yourself? How do you remember to do it? I’d love to know!
- Eat liver and other organ meats
2. Eat fermented foods
3. Drink your water with a pinch of unrefined salt and enjoy a tsp of blackstrap molasses every day
4. Eat raw egg yolks
5. Increase your real food protein intake. I don’t mean go and buy protein powder!
6. Tallow balm
7. Other simple self care practices
Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for informational purposes only. I am not a licensed medical professional. Please discuss any dietary or lifestyle changes, supplements, or medical questions with your doctor.
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 two children and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.