Saturday, July 30, 2011

BaxAura, Take 2

I went in today for a followup appointment with the BaxAura. 

As per instructions the last time I went in, I fasted an hour before my appointment.

The doc and I discussed how I was feeling since the treatment 10 days ago.  The first 2 nights I still struggled with nighttime throat itching due to our window fan dragging in the pollen with the cool night air.  The nights after that I have generally been able to get a good night's sleep without allergy problems.  A couple times during the last week or so, I have had very minor allergy itchy throat/eye/sneeze episodes and some arm itchiness after picking beans and cucumbers in the garden (which I think any non-allergy person might experience).  When I was mowing part of our grass weed/plantain acreage, I did have a little-more-than-minor episode but it passed quickly and I was able to go out and mow w/o it happening again.

I am definitely not going through the tissues like I have in years past. A definite blessing!

The doc had me hold what looked like a small aluminum(brushed steel?) cylinder hooked up to the computer and ran a Mini-scan. My body is still working through the grasses, ragweed and something else(can't remember) from the last treatment. And Gluten is still a no-go. (tsk-tsk)  Apparently, with the BaxAura, the treatment takes more time to fully take effect.  My homeopathic spray was run through the machine again, but I didn't need to get another treatment(and thus no fasting afterwards). I just need to continue taking the homeopathic until my next visit.

I was not charged for the followup appointment.

Monday, July 25, 2011

RECIPE: Sweet Freezer Pickles

The heat and rain last week has made my garden go crazy! Especially since I didn't make it out there to swelter in the 105+ temps and weed.

Last Monday, I picked about 20 cucumbers. Then, it was too hot all week to be able to can them (we don't have a/c). Those cukes have been living in the fridge.

Today (Monday), I think I picked 25 cucumbers out there. It's cooler today and the forecast is a little more promising than last week, so I am working in the kitchen today.

Here's a pic of the cukes, beans and some Forellenschluss lettuce I picked today. And my kitty thinking, "What on earth was she thinking, planting so many cucumbers!".

While I was picking, I found a few cucumbers with mysterious white foamy stuff on my cucumber picking days might be over soon. All the more reason to preserve my bounty!

On the suggestion from my sis-in-law, I am going to try making freezer pickles. She made them last  year and they were a success. So, since I have so many cucumbers, I am jumping in.

I started with this recipe from and changed it to my preferences.

Sweet Freezer Pickles

7 cups sliced cucumbers
1 cup sliced onion
2 tbsp salt
2 cups sugar (I use cane sugar)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp celery seed

If your cucumbers are of average size and the skins aren't bitter, you can leave them on for more nutrition. A food processor makes quick work of the slicing. I used my glass 8 cup batter bowl to make measuring easy.

Put your sliced cucumbers and sliced onions in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Mix it up so the salt is distributed.
Heat sugar, vinegar and celery seed and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over cucumber mixture. Stir well.

Refrigerate 1 day, then put in freezer containers and freeze.

I tripled this recipe, using 13 cucumbers and 3 smallish purple onions. This fit perfectly in my Tupperware Thatsa Bowl, with plenty of room to stir. I will divide the pickles into containers and freeze tomorrow.

Editing to add the pic of my pickles in the containers I could scrounge up from around the house. I froze the plastic containers and have the glass jarred pickles in the fridge for use to eat the next 2 weeks or so. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My BaxAura Experience - The Day After

So far the environmental allergies haven't been horrible after getting the treatment with the BaxAura.  Last night, it was quite difficult to sleep, but that could very well be due to the high temps/humidity and we live in an old farmhouse with only fans for cooling. It's stinky hot these days, folks!

I did have a few episodes of itchy throat last night. It sort of came in waves, though. I found that if I concentrated enough and did NOT rub the inside of my throat w/my tongue (fellow allergy sufferers know what I'm talking about, I'll bet), then I wouldn't get near the histamine response/pileup that I would get if I gave in.  And then the feeling left and I could sleep a little bit.

I have had my jaw tension come back, again, in waves.  It comes and goes.

Interestingly enough, my head itchiness has gone away for the most part. I mention this because one of the things that came up on the scan had to do with this issue I've  had off and on for some time. (I have had such a hard time finding commercial shampoo/conditioner that doesn't cause this!)

I am taking my homeopathic sprays as recommended and waiting to see what happens next.

Freezing Basil

In my gardening experience, Basil has not been one of my high points. I usually forget to water it, and then I get sidetracked with life and I forget to pick it until it's way overgrown and gone to seed.  At most, I would get a few pickings for embellishing a meal here and there each summer.

This year has been different.  The garden might look a wee bit sparse on the bean row, but the groundhogs don't seem to like basil.  Plus, I planted the basil in the rows, mixed in with my veggies, instead of in the overgrown herb garden or a container that always dries out.

So, the basil has been good this year. And I find that it's one thing I can stand to process/deal with in this heatwave we have been experiencing.

Today, I went out and picked two salad spinner's worth of basil. Since I have little experience with preserving it, I looked up info on how to preserve this fresh herb.

So, here's what I did today.

How to Freeze Basil

1. Pick  your basil, pinching it off at the base of each stem. New leaves will grow on the plant on either side of this stem.  Be sure to leave some leaves on each plant, as that is how the plant gets energy to grow new leaves.

2. Rinse the basil in cool water and pinch off the leaves. Place the leaves in a bowl and discard(compost) the stems.

3. Give your basil one last rinse if needed, then use your salad spinner to get as much water off as possible. Alternatively, dry with a clean towel.

4. Fill your food processor with the basil, being sure not to pack it in too tight.

5. Run your food processor, and stream in some olive oil as it processes, until the basil looks like pesto. I used a couple tablespoons worth of oil. You need the oil to help the basil to keep its color and not turn black once it's frozen.

6. Divvy it up into ice cube trays and freeze.

7. After freezing, put the basil cubes in a freezer bag to use later in soups, stews, on pizza, pasta, etc.

In my experience, two food processers full of basil yielded about 1 1/2 ice cube trays of basil cubes.

Voila! I've got the lovely taste of basil without a long list of additives!

How do you like your Basil?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My BaxAura Experience

With August (historically my worst allergy month) approaching and the need to take a Zyrtec ever so often increasing, I decided to give the BaxAura a try.  I am told it would take 1 visit to do the scan/treatment, and then 1 visit to follow up. I am not sure if they charge for the follow-up, but I figure Zyrtec isn't cheap either.  My visit today cost me $85. The price may vary from location to location.

The BaxAura operates in a similar way to the BioAllergenix system(which uses the Bax3000). Apparently, though, it tests for even more things than BioAllergenix, and it makes a homeopathic remedy for you to take home with you. I went today in hopes of the BaxAura being able to treat the little things that have fallen through the cracks with the BioAllergenix system. 

I am MUCH better than I EVER was pre-AAT/BioAllergenix with the environmentals. But I still feel the need to take a Claritin/Zyrtec ever so often. Especially because I don't want to operate on the "tough it out" mindset that may have had some role in getting me to the point of having so many allergies in the first place.  Trying to ignore the allergies and making my body fight and fight and fight just wore my immune system/adrenals out.  "Get tough or die" might have some truth to it....when you can only get so tough...

But I digress.

The first step of the BaxAura testing/scan was to have a cuff strapped onto my forearm. The cuff is similar to something you would use for a sprained wrist, only without the padding, and with little metal pieces on it much the size of the rivets on a pair of bluejeans. The cuff is hooked up to the system and the computer runs through the scan. This lasted under 10 minutes for me. (You can't have magnets or batteries on your person during the scan.)

After the scan, the machine pulls up how your body responded to each item scanned for, and the practitioner selects the items over 10,000 (I am not sure what the units are here).

Once the items are selected, then the laser is used the same as with the BioAllergenix/Bax3000 system. Forehead over the head and down the back with eyes open, forehead over the head and down the back with eyes closed, same with a full breath in, then the same with a full breath out, then at the points on the feet, arms and hands.

A homeopathic remedy was also made using the machine, specific to my needs after this treatment.  I got two, one for the regular treatment, plus one for my gall bladder issues.

I was to fast for 3 hours after the treatment, only taking in pure water(no flavorings or sweeteners). Then, starting tonite I use the homeopathics 3 times a day until my followup appointment.

One nice thing about this is, with the environmentals, it is not necessary to completely avoid them for the treatment to work. I think this is a definite plus compared to the Bax3000/BioAllergenix and AAT, because who can really avoid all that stuff in the air....anywhere, much less in a 100 year old farmhouse? Not being able to completely avoid things may be my handicap with the other systems....time will tell.

So far, I have gotten extremely tired, my jaw(self-diagnosed TMJ type issues) has acted up, and I had a little bit of heartburn for just a few minutes that quickly left (all at different times).

It will be interesting to see how well this works on my August allergies.

Oh, and as an aside--you know that Gluten-free pizza crust I posted about a few days ago and got a headache afterwards? Coconut came up on the list that needed treated. Listen to your body.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Keepin' it Real RECIPE: Cucumbers and Onions

I went out this (hot, humid) morning and decided to pick cucumbers. I am not even halfway through picking and I have 8 good-sized cucumbers! The bees were getting a little too friendly, so I decided to leave the rest to the bees until this evening and deal with what I've got first.


Cucumbers and Onions (sour)

1. Wash and peel(if desired) your cucumbers, then slice thinly into a bowl.
2. Add 1 thinly sliced onion.
3. Make a brine of 1 part vinegar (I am currently using Fleischmanns Raw Apple Cider Vinegar purchased at Meijer) and 1 part water. Then, add just enough sugar to where you can taste the sweetness. Generally, a couple tablespoons.
4. Stir brine and pour over cucumbers and onion, making sure it's all covered with liquid.
5. Let sit in the fridge to soak/chill.  I like to let it sit for at least an hour or so, but my mother-in-law has made this up and served it at Sunday lunch many times.

Rather than making new brine every time, you can simply add more veggies to the existing brine for awhile.

I got my husband's seal of approval on the above recipe, though it's a little too vinegary for me to eat a lot of it in one sitting.

So...I adapted the dressing from my  Tailgate Salad Recipe to try on cucumbers and onions. I'm not sure you'd even need to add the oil, but I didn't want to change it up too much the first time. I will be experimenting with not adding oil next time, and then after that I will experiment with adding less sugar.

Cucumbers and Onions (sweet)

1. Wash and peel your cucumbers (if desired) and slice thinly into a bowl.
2. Add 1 thinly sliced onion (I'm low on regular onions, so used a purple one this time around).
3. Combine 1 cup sugar and 3/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar in a pan and gently warm and stir until sugar is dissolved.
4. Add 1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil) to warmed mixture and stir to combine.
5. Pour mixture over your cucumbers and onions and add about 1 cup of water to cover your veggies.
6. Let sit about 3 hours in the fridge before eating.

I prefer sweet to sour. Hubby prefers the sour ones because they are "more like Mom's" and low-carb.

Either way, these are a refreshing, cool, healthy treat for hot summer days!

Here's to Real Food!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

RECIPE: Gluten-Free Primal Pizza Crust

In my quest for Gluten-free foods that don't use a lot of highly processed additives like xanthan gum and etc, AND trying to fit dh's needs for Low-Carb, I came across a recipe on YouTube for Perfect Primal Gluten Free Pizza Crust and decided to give it a try.  I did change it a bit from the video recipe, so take look if you don't like my way of doing it.
This recipe yields a crust that you can pick up in your hand and eat like regular pizza.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust I

4 eggs
1/3 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/3 cup flax meal (I whir 1/3 cup flax seeds in my Bella kitchen blender)
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350*.

Mix all of the above until well combined. You want it to look like pancake batter. Add garlic, basil, oregano, and any other spices you like in your pizza and stir.

Pour onto a piece of parchment paper you have laid on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.  Don't skip the parchment paper step! Only parchment paper will work!  Spread the batter out in whatever shape you want, as evenly as possible and around 1/4" or so thick.

Bake 10 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Flip dough off of parchment paper and onto pan.

Top with your preferred sauce and pizza toppings. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly and crust feels done.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this about a 7 or 8, depending on what toppings I put on it. Tonight, I sauteed fresh mushrooms and chopped onions in olive oil and added my homegrown oregano and basil near the end of sauteeing.

On the pizza, I put a bit of olive oil, then 8oz shredded mozzarella, then the mushroom mixture, then some pepperoni slices.
I will still be looking for another Gluten-free, Low-Carb crust to try, but until I find something better, this is what I will be using to meet those needs.

Thanks for reading!

Edited to add: I may take this off of the menu for a few weeks. I got a headache within an hour after eating, and hubby's gut didn't feel too great after eating this pizza. It may be it doesn't agree with us after all... I have a history of coconut allergy (that has been treated and haven't had any problems since that I recall)... so will be taking some coconut flour as well as some flax seed in next time I go in for a "tune-up".

Or, it could be the heat/humidity factor. We don't have a/c. :(

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Garden Update

Time for a Garden post.

With the kids gone camping, I have had lots of time to give undivided attention to the ailing garden. We finally got some rain last week, and as a result, the little weeds I'd been letting live sprung up almost immediately and engulfed my poor plants.

All is not lost though. I must say that the weeds are a breeze to pull compared to a few years ago. Adding all of that organic matter (grass clippings, straw, leaves, ashes, chicken poo, compost) each year has sure helped make the soil user-friendly!

We generally make raised rows/hills to plant in and mulch in between with grass clippings and straw. When I pull weeds(with the exception of dandelions/thistles), I lay them with roots exposed on top of the mulch so that the sun can cook them until they are dead, and then they are eventually worked into the soil as they decay.

So, a little update on the "you're planting too early, dear" plot of beans, cukes and beets,  which the bees are totally loving these days:

My Royal Burgundy Bush Beans (that are, by the way, somewhat less attractive to bean beetles):

Aren't the little purple flowers pretty?

It's actually doing very well! Note: if you have even a tiny inkling that your cucumbers might have grown, be sure to go out and check on them. Again.  I thought I only had little 1" cukes like these.....

and after the rain I went out and looked closer and I had about 6 ready and near-ready-to-pick cucumbers!

And I had only just bought 6 cucumbers at the store! Ack!

Here's what the rest of the garden is looking like. In the pic, it's in need of lots of weeding, but I'm working on that!  Third row from the left has been completely de-weeded since this pic. Woo-hoo!

 In the meantime, I see lots of Cucumbers and Onions in our future.....and I need to dig up some recipes using green beans, basil, chard, kale, beet greens....

Here's to Real Food!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Healthy Food Budgeting

With rising food (and everything else) costs, it is often difficult to stay within one's food budget at the grocery store. Add in any dietary restrictions and it has potential to become a nightmare.

For our single income family of 5, my goal/limit is to spend $450 on groceries each month.  Sometimes I stay under that amount, and sometimes I go over.

According to the Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels, U.S. Average, May 2011
we are eating well under the "Thrifty Plan".  Cost of living will vary depending on where  you live, but seeing this made me feel a little better about how much I spend at the store. There are Cost of Living calculators to be had if you do a Google Search. Find one and you can compare your city to others across the country.

The following are a few ways we (strive to) stay within our food budget:

1. Limit Eating Out.  We save it for special occasions.  Once a month or less on average.  The last time I took the kids out was to Taco Bell with their Free Taco/Burrito coupons from the Summer Reading Program at the Library.  Most of the time, eating out is not a necessary expense. It's fun, sure, but with a little planning you won't have to do it at all. I come from a family of 7 (Mom, Dad, and 5 kids) and I can count on one hand the times we ate out when we were kids. Yep, pretty hard to believe, huh? But it was necessary to stay within the budget and the accepted way of life for us.  (This background made it easier for me the year I was avoiding 13+ allergens per the allergist's instructions and could not eat out anywhere--see, there is a reason for everything that happens in one's life!)

2. Don't Shop When Hungry. If you go when you are hungry, you will probably end up with a cart full of junk. Enough said.

3. Eat Simple. When you walk into the store, think Meat, Veggies, Fruit, Dairy and Whole Grains and Legumes (unless, of course, you are avoiding any of these).  This cuts out most of the things in the center aisles, which are packed full of overpriced processed foods (or rather, "food-like substances") filled with preservatives and all kinds of things your body just doesn't need (especially if you're dealing with health problems already!). And there's a lot you can do with the basics.
This is not to say "never go into the center aisles", just that the bulk of your food purchases should be the basics. I figure we are doing good if we are eating Real Food at least 85% of the time or so. (My goal, not necessarily anyone else's.)

4. Use Coupons With Discretion. I don't generally subscribe to most of the coupon sites out there, as I find I get spammed with tons of "great deals" that I wouldn't buy in the first place.  One place I do use regularly is  You can sign up to get a monthly email to remind  you to go to the site, or just remember to check it out before you go to the store.  I regularly print coupons from there for Lifeway and Helios Kefir, Lundberg Rice, Organic Valley products, and Simply Organic herbs and spices(from Frontier). The selection changes from month to month.
     A second useful site for me is This site is based on the Sunday paper inserts and is fairly simple to use.   Last week I used one week's coupons and saved about $10 on stuff I was already going to buy (not just groceries). I find this site to be the easiest one to use as far as implementing the coupons in the Sunday paper and showing me  how to "stack" coupons with other coupons and specific store sales to save the most. Still, many times it's cheaper to go with the store brand than to use a coupon on a name brand.
   Another way to get coupons for products you use is to visit the site for that particular brand.  I do this for Stonyfield yogurt, plus they have a Rewards program where you can log in codes and earn free stuff. Woo-hoo!
  If your favorite brands/products don't already have coupons available on their site, you can always email them to tell them how much you love their products and ask for coupons. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask, and most companies do send out coupons when a customer contacts them.

I do cringe a bit at the register as I ring up my groceries (often lots of --but not all--organic, non-GMO stuff and high-quality basics) and wonder if people think I'm "one of those Health Nuts". (Oh well, I'm over that already. They don't know my story.)  I've gotten comments on how much produce I buy, and last time, I got into a conversation about the organic store-brand milk I was buying.  It's often an educational experience to have these conversations (for me, as well as them) and it's encouraging to meet like-minded people.

Often, Real Food does cost more.  But, I find it's also more filling and satisfying than processed food.  Not to mention healthier.  I want to be a good steward of my God-given body, and nourish it, not merely fill my (and my family's) belly.  I figure it's important to get good nutrition from our food and support those that offer it---I will vote with my dollar (when I can) because that's where companies notice it and change.

Once I realize how much I am spending (under the Thrifty Plan)...and nourishing my family's body the best I can...I no longer feel so guilty.  This nourishment is the basis for a healthy body.

Doing the best I can with what I have...

We are what we eat.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lunch: Keepin' it Real

So, since the kids aren't here today and I'm taking a break from weeding, you get two blog posts today!

Today's lunch consisted of some leftover stroganoff I made using rice noodles that didn't turn out so great(so I'll spare you that recipe, lol).

It also included this yummy salad:

Artisan lettuce from Aldi, black olives, chopped up sweet onion, SwissLand Grass Fed Organic White Colby cheese (my little splurge from the Food Store), extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

On the side I have sliced cucumber and onions that were soaked in the marinade from Tailgate Salad, plus about a cup of water to make sure they were all well covered. Yum!

Here's to Real Food! 

Breakfast: Keepin' it Real

As I have written before, I tend to feel better if I am not eating Gluten on a regular basis. So, that pulls many classic breakfast items off of my breakfast menu.

I also want to keep my food real--I don't want to be eating a lot of "food-like substances" - food that is highly processed and full of additives/preservatives.

So, here is today's example of my Real Breakfast:

~My favorite morning hot beverage: Black tea (no flavorings, organic if possible) with a spoonful of raw local honey and a splash of milk (again, organic if possible).

~A glass of Kefir - Homemade or in today's case it's Helios brand plain kefir. It's expensive in the store, but not much more than good yogurt(sometimes less!). I get coupons almost every time for it at

~A boiled egg, halved. Sprinkled with pepper and Himalayan Sea Salt. Today the egg is from Aldi, but most other times it's one from my local health food store, which sells local Lugibill's Free Range Brown Eggs.

~A peach,halved. Sorry, folks, this one isn't organic. Haven't seen any organic ones around, and I know peaches are high on the list for pesticides....but I couldn't pass it up and it was ripe, juicy, and soooo yummy!

So, there is today's breakfast!

Here's to Real Food!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

RECIPE: Morning Orange Drink/Afternoon Refresher

Here is a recipe I have had for over a decade. I think I may have gotten it out of a Taste of Home magazine.  You can change it up as you wish, but I think it's delicious just like this--sugar and all, lol.

It's very refreshing on a hot, humid afternoon! It also makes decent popsicles!

Morning Orange Drink/Afternoon Refresher

6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate (I use half a 12 oz can)
1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
1 tsp vanilla (I used Rodelle Organic Vanilla Extract--it's Gluten-free!)
1/3 cup sugar (I use cane sugar to for-sure avoid GMO beet sugar)
10 ice cubes

Put all of these in your blender and blend away until all mixed up. 
Serves 4.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Allergy Update July 1, 2011

I think it's about time to give a little update on how I am doing with my allergies.

Overall, I feel like I am doing well. I still have (what I think are) issues from tomatoes off and on (presenting in a "there's something in my throat" feeling, heartburn, and gut pain/burning), but I find I can have a tomato-containing meal and not suffer many repercussions as long as I don't repeatedly eat them the next few days.

I am doing a Gluten-light sort of avoidance diet as well. I don't have immediate responses to gluten, like those with Celiac disease might have.  However, it tends to back me up over time if I eat it every day(or multiple times a day) and my guts tend to ache for a week until I quit eating it regularly.

I am taking my multivitamin, an acidophilus supplement (and eating yogurt or drinking kefir most days) and trying to eat a diet as close to whole foods as possible with minimal additives.  I also take fish oil. I have read that it is supposed to be helpful for reducing inflammation, and it's generally good for me since I don't eat much fish.  Interestingly, as a side note, I find I don't get those gross "fishy burps" when I take it with a meal including a leafy salad. Go figure, but it works.

As far as environmental allergies/hayfever, I find that I am no longer the guinea pig to determine when things start pollinating. Other people complain of their allergies long before it bothers me. I do take a Claritin or a Zyrtec ever so often (and may start doing to more regularly leading up to August, my worst allergy month in the past), but---get this---the meds actually *do* something now, where before they would  hardly touch the allergy stuff! Woo-hoo!

I can't say I am 100% cured, but then the Advanced Allergy Therapeutics and the BioAllergenix systems used to treat me are man-made and have their limitations. They can't catch every single thing out there I am allergic to, isolate it, treat me for it AND me successfully avoid it for the allotted time (those pollens and molds are a trick to avoid!). Or maybe they could over time, but there comes a point when one is weary of trying to figure it out and finds contentment where they are.

I am still happy with the outcome of my treatments.  I may go in for a chiro visit in the near future, but at the moment I can't think of anything to get myself tested treated for in the allergy realm...which is a good thing.