Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Doesn't Smell Like Teen Spirit

One of my favorite board games as a child was Monopoly. My sister and I would have marathon games that involved convoluted rules and hiding of assets (under the board or behind the back was our version of off-shore accounts).  We practically knew the board by heart, but it always made us snigger when we landed on the B&O railroad. BO...hehehe.....Body odor....hehehe.  Hey, we were kids, ok? Body odor, like any other bodily function that involved gas, liquid, or solids leaving the body, was hilarious.

I had my fair share of actual experiences with body odor over the years. There was a college roommate who's body stench was actually nauseating and eye-watering.  The smell permeated the room, infusing the bedding, lingering for 45 minutes after she'd gone to class. We slept with the windows open (even though it was winter) and I didn't spend a lot of time in my room that quarter.

My son had a crew of friends with whom he'd have overnight marathon sessions of video gaming, accompanied by mountains of pizza, junk food, and Mountain Dew (ughhh!!). I knew whenever they came over I'd have to fumigate the next day. Teen boy sweat - bleh!

I fortunately, was not one of those people. I sweat a bit, sure, but used deodorant and antiperspirant to keep things in check. Well, my feet smelled bad, that's true. Actually, fairly bad. And I'd pit out occasionally. And my shirts started having underarm stains. And then one day I realized that my deodorant/antiperspirant wasn't cutting it. I started using industrial strength shellack that you applied at night to clog up all the pores.

When I started to pay more attention to what I was putting in my body, I also realized that I'd been putting a big burden on my body by filling it up with crud, then not allowing my body a way to get rid of the crud. Body odor is a cry for help from your body. It's trying to detox, to sweat off all the nasty stuff inside. You need to sweat to detox, particularly if your body is full of nasty crap.

I'd been a hard-core Diet Coke drinker for years. When I weaned myself off that, as well as making other eating changes, my smell started to improve. I also realized that shellacking my pores closed wasn't healthy, either. I stopped that cold turkey and starting just using coconut oil. My perspiration seemed to increase for about two weeks as my body adjusted to not having the sweat glands blocked up, then it was fine. And that nasty smell was gone. Even on my feet!

Coconut oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so it keeps the bacteria which cause the odor in check. But, it is an oil. Some people don't enjoy the feeling of straight oil on their armpits. My husband is one of those people. Seeing the success of my deodorant experiment, he asked me to try making a natural deodorant for both of us. After a bit of tweaking, I think I've got it down. I added baking soda as a deodorant, cornstarch as an absorbent, and tea tree oil as both an antimicrobial agent and as a scent. You can add a few drops of essential oil, if you prefer a different scent.

When I make his, I pour it into his empty stick deodorant container and he uses it just like a normal stick deodorant. For mine, I just pour it into a small container and use the back of my thumbnail to scrape out a rind to rub into my armpit. Either way works, it's just a matter of preference and convenience. EXCEPT - if you live in a hot climate, the stick deodorant container won't work. When it's warm, the oil melts and you have a liquify slurry. When we went to Hawaii last year, we just took my little tub of deodorant and would pull a small glob of the gloop out with the fingertip to rub on.

Homemade Healthy Deodorant

You can play around with the amounts, proportions, and scents to get it just the way you like it. This is a good starting point, though.

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup organic cornstarch (regular cornstarch most likely is made from GMO corn)
tea tree oil
essential oil (optional)

1- Gently liquify the coconut oil by placing it in a heatproof bowl set in a pan of hot water.

2- Remove the bowl from the water and stir in the baking soda and cornstarch. Stir till smooth.

3- Add several drops of tea tree oil and essential oil (if you're using any). Stir it in.

4- Pour the deodorant into your containers. This makes enough for 2 stick deodorant refills and some extra. If you have more than you can use right now, pour the extra into a small glass jar, label it, and store it in the refrigerator. When you want to use the extra, just gently reheat in hot water to liquify and pour into your container.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Choice

In the movie The Matrix there is an iconic scene where Neo is offered a choice. Take the red pill and learn the truth. The whole truth. With the drawback being that you can never go back.  Or take the blue pill, forget everything you've learned, and go back to life the way it was - comfortable, familiar, totally deluded, dying by inches.

I kind of feel that way about food. I don't remember anyone ever offering me a pill, but somewhere along the line I swallowed one. Now I can't go back. As tiring as it is to look in the refrigerator and sigh, "What can I eat?", as frustrating as it is to try to figure out how to get my family to eat that mystery green item that came in the farm box, as much as I miss the happy days in the kitchen whipping up delicious cookies,  breads, cakes, and marshmallows, I can't go back. You can't unknow knowledge.

I used to not think about the food I ate. If it looked good and tasted good, I ate it. It was not uncommon for a bag of Oreos to jump off the shelf into my cart at the grocery store. When they begged for it, I'd buy my kids sugary breakfast cereals, as a special treat. I also caved when they wanted Otter Pops and I'd have a whole Costco-sized box of them in my freezer all summer long. Some of my husband's favorite recipes feature Cool Whip as a key ingredient; we used to joke that he considered it one of the four basic food groups. And I lived on Diet Coke. Hey, I needed to balance out all those cookies, right?

Then I started a food blog. As I blogged my kitchen exploits, I started reading other blogs and learned from them. I learned recipes, tips, techniques, and I also started seeing a different way of thinking about food. Local, organic, sustainable? Pshaw! That was for weird hippies. Bring on the cookie recipes! Show me the chocolate! Let there be bread!

Then my daughter introduced me to Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook/textbook that fosters the radical notion that food is for nourishment. We should eat to sustain and strengthen our bodies, not for entertainment or  pleasure.

I read through the work of Dr. Westin Price, who traveled the world documenting that traditional people groups who ate their traditional diet had straight, strong, white teeth. Dental caries did not show up until western diets were introduced.

I started reading labels. So many of the foods I used to buy contained high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, and chemical compounds I couldn't even pronounce. Foods marketed to kids had upwards of 30 grams of sugar a serving and a host of preservatives and artificial colors and flavors. I started to realize that couldn't be good for my family!

The more I learned, the more I realized that I was poisoning my family and the way we ate had to change.  Now I read labels obsessively and make most of my food from fresh ingredients, rather than mixes or cans. I've weaned myself off Diet Coke. I buy more greens in a week than we used to eat in a month. Or more.  It's not an easy way to eat. It's a lot more convenient to go through the drive-thru and grab a bag of burgers, rather than menu plan, carefully shop, and prepare a nourishing meal. But I don't have that option any more. (Have you seen the Happy Meal Project?)

Many people would say our diet is odd, unrealistic, or extreme. No grains? Come on! No processed sugar? Right, how's that supposed to work? But now that I know what I know, I can't go back. I can't feed my family food that will make them sick.

So what do I feed them? Horrible gruel that's nasty but "good for them?" No, I feed them food that's actually quite tasty. Once you get rid of additives, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors, your palate can appreciate how good God made food to taste naturally. Don't believe me? Whip up a batch of these super simple meatballs. Coconut curry meatballs. They're delicious as an appetizer or snack with dipping sauce, or, if you're feeling super adventurous, serve them over spaghetti squash or zucchini spaghetti (which I'm doing tonight) with sauce. Or, if you're not in the same place I am on your food journey, pair them up with noodles and a marinara sauce. (And to keep it all in perspective, I'll tell you a secret. My marinara sauce still comes from a jar. But I read the label before buying!)

Coconut Curry Meatballs
 - adapted from Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals

1-1/2 lbs. ground turkey or chicken
1 carrot, grated
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 egg
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
handful of cilantro or parsley

1- Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth.

2- Divide the mixture into 24 equal portions and shape them with your hands into meatballs.

3- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat several tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil. When it's hot enough so that a small piece of meat sizzles when dropped in the oil, put all the meatballs in.

4- Cook for two minutes, then roll the meatballs over and cook five minutes more. Put a lid on the pan and finish cooking for another 6-8 minutes.