Avoiding Monosodium Glutamate: One Family’s Story

Three years ago after a day spent with the in-laws, I tucked my son into bed. Minutes after walking out of the room, he stumbled in the dark, unable to stand. From there he spiraled to losing his vision, and we headed to the emergency room, rushed through the double doors, a barely breathing shell of my child delivered to doctors.

In the next 18 months we would visit the hospital three times. Each time started the same and ended with an emergency room visit, intubation, drug-induced comas, and a stay in the pediatric intensive care unit.

For the past 17 months, however, we have stayed clear of all of those things.

The answer for us, temporary as it may be, came after a long drive and a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. While looking for answers and getting a “probable” diagnosis, I noticed that some research showed sensitivities to glutamates could be a cause of migraines. While not a cure, the doctor did agree that removing all instances of monosodium glutamate from his diet could help to decrease the frequency of the hemiplegic migraine episodes we were experiencing.

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5 things I won’t do in my garden again

I‘m not sure if I’ll ever consider myself to be a gardener, but each spring I can be found hunched over a pile of dirt, dropping spinach seeds into a shallow trench, and daydreaming of an early salad crop.

If I was a real gardener, I probably would have dug the remaining carrots last fall and stashed them in my cold storage. Instead the boys uprooted them yesterday, and set aside half a bucket of rubbery orange specimens to offer the hens for snack.

I like to think that back in autumn I would have made the effort to turn the compost one last time, or put away the wire trellises, or at the very least, rolled the hose. Alas, the last of the snow melted this weekend, leaving behind the evidence of a very distracted -and hardly dedicated- gardener.

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7 easy steps towards a Paleo diet {recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes}

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes on simplebites.net

The following is a guest post from Hanna of Honey & Huckleberries. Welcome, Hanna!

I’ve always tried to eat well.  Whole foods, lots of veggies, dark chocolate (because it’s healthy then, right?), all that good stuff.  So when my best friend told me that she had started to eat paleo, and then explained what that entailed, I have to admit I thought it was a bit crazy.

The Paleo diet cuts out processed foods, sugar, all grains, legumes, and usually dairy.  I was very excited that she was trying to feed her family less take-out, but not eating whole wheat?  Brown rice?  Cheese!?  Even if it was helping her lose weight, I couldn’t see how it could be healthy to cut out entire food groups and replace them with bacon.

It didn’t help that I was pregnant with my second little girl at the time, and horribly sick.  Bread was one of the only things I could keep down, no one was taking away my bread.

Then Sunny was born, my sweet wonderful baby girl.  She ended up with terrible eczema and I went on an elimination diet that was ironically very close to the paleo diet.  Her skin cleared up and I lost five pounds in a month.

It turned out that her issue was with dairy so I added wheat back in, only to find that it made me feel really weird.  My lovely, homemade, whole grain bread made my stomach hurt if I ate it for breakfast and gave me heartburn whenever I had some.  This had always been the case, but I hadn’t noticed until I cut it out completely.  I was pretty annoyed.

I didn’t want to believe it, but clearly the wheat was not my friend.  I did some serious reading and came to the conclusion that our family was going paleo.  I convinced my husband, tossed the toddler’s crackers and started our journey towards healthier eating.

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Traveling with kids in Mexico: an introduction and a favorite memory

mini super store Mexico
We were only stepping out for cereal milk and fresh papaya for breakfast that early morning when Noah and I stumbled upon the source of the soft corn tortillas we had been enjoying since we arrived in Sayulita.

If there was any signage on the street that pointed out the small factory, we had missed it entirely, and it was only as I went deeper down the narrow aisles of the Mini Super convenience store that we discovered a completely magical production room hidden away in the back.

The scent of toasted corn drew me in, and I inhaled that pungent smell of maize tortillas that was now so familiar to me. Morning light from an open doorway illuminated a long piece of machinery, lightly dusted with white corn flour. A petite Mexican lady was lifting an armload of masa the size of a beach ball into the funnel-shaped top of the machine. Below was a conveyer belt, and the perfectly-formed tortillas formed a procession downward to the tune of the clickety-clack of the moving parts.

I motioned to Noah to come have a closer look and he stood small next to sacks of whole white maize kernels heaped six-high onto wooden pallets. The lady handed him a piping hot tortilla, which he tore in half and shared with me. It was supple and meltingly tender.

No one spoke above the hum of the machine. A few workers glided about the room, performing their actions so smoothly, it was apparent that they had been doing them each morning for years. A delivery boy stood waiting for his cooler to be filled, while another small Mexican lady stood behind a table with a large scale and weighed out the hot tortillas, pound by pound. I bought a stack of my own, handing over the required diez pesos (about 80 cents). A bargain breakfast if there ever was one.

I took a step back to survey the scene, completely captivated by this quiet hub producing the mainstay of the Mexican diet: the humble tortilla. My camera was at home; I didn’t even have my iPhone in pocket to record the moment, yet in some ways, I didn’t regret my oversight. Making a photo that captured the soul of the room and the moment would have been a challenge.

Noah crouched down to get a better look at the mechanics of the tortilla maker – he’s such an engineer’s son – and a ray of sunshine illuminated the million miniscule maize dust particles that slowly whirled around him. I caught my breath with the magic of it all.

Minutes later we were hand in hand, walking back to our bungalow, and nibbling warm tortillas. I felt deeply grateful for the opportunity that our early morning walk delivered.

It had captured the very essence of why I travel with children: a chance to look through a window into the culture of another country and glean a greater appreciation for its simplicity, its perfection. [Read more…]

Baby-Led Feeding (BLW) with Clara: a 10-month update

This update has been a long time in coming, but I think the reason is that our baby-led method for feeding Clara seems so natural I don’t think to write about it. She eats what we eat and it couldn’t be better.

Of course once I actually sat down to share our progress, I discovered I had quite a bit to say on the subject. Funny how that seems to happen with topics I am particularly enthusiastic about! Feeding babies nourishing, whole foods is certainly one of those passions.

If you’re not completely familiar with baby-led feeding (or Baby-Led Weaning, as it is actually called), I wrote about embracing this method for introducing solid foods to baby last September. Since then, Clara’s progressed quite a bit. I’ve had many great discussions on the subject and a few of my friends have even gotten on board with their little ones.

I frequently get asked about what exactly Clara eats, so today I’ll share about her diet at 10 months old.

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