How Dirty Are Your Genes?

“Our genes load the gun, but our environment pulls the trigger.”

Have you heard this before? We are not stuck with our genes. We can change the expression of our genes with every bite we take, step we take, thought we think. This is the concept of epigenetics.

I recently found out I have a copy of a gene mutation called MTHFR. Because I refer to this in many of my recipes as my motivation for eating the way I eat, I want to break it down in an easy, Cliffs notes kind of way. There are many websites out there that can explain it in depth (like this and this), but here are the basics:

An estimated 30-60% of the population has at least one copy of this gene. When you have MTHFR, your body cannot fully convert folic acid into methylfolate, the methylated form of folate, and some experts suggest that ANY folic acid consumed will block the absorption of folate – even that which you consume in whole foods. This is detrimental to our brain health, because neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine need methylfolate for production.

Common health concerns sometimes associated with MTHFR include:

  • ADHD, autism, mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar)
  • Autoimmune disease/thyroid disorders
  • Digestive issues
  • Migraines
  • Recurrent miscarriages
  • Infertility
  • Hormonal issues, like PCOS
  • Blood clots, stroke, embolism
  • And many many more (it’s a rabbit hole)

Continue reading “How Dirty Are Your Genes?”

Grain-Free Goulash (AKA Upgraded Hamburger Helper)

It may not look all that picture perfect, as it’s kind of a brown blob, but trust me when I say – this grain-free version of goulash/hamburger helper is LEGIT.

I really hate the word goulash. Say it out loud. GOO-LAWSH. Gross. But hamburger helper makes me think of the cute little hand with a face – anyone remember that? My mom says when she made goulash I disliked it, but I don’t remember that. When I made this, the scent took my mind to a happy place in my childhood.

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It took about 15 minutes to make and it is such a tasty, whole-food-packed version of the original. Cauliflower goes in place of the pasta. If you think that’s disgusting, or you fear your people won’t eat it like this, you could probably do a bit of undetectable riced cauliflower to keep the veggie content up, and then stir in cooked pasta instead of cauli florets. It will still be delicious! Continue reading “Grain-Free Goulash (AKA Upgraded Hamburger Helper)”

Lent is NOT a Diet

I was raised in a non-denominational church. Lent was not something we practiced, and not something I knew of until my late teens. I have grown to appreciate the beauty of this season, but the idea of Lent, of “giving up” something for spiritual discipline, initially appealed to me for all the wrong reasons.

The first person I knew to give up anything for Lent was my sister. She gave up French fries. I remember thinking first that she was SO spiritual, much more sacrificial than me. My second thought was, “Wow, I bet a person could get skinny doing this Lent thing.”

So that’s how it began. I liked the spiritual purity of it, and I liked the fact that weight loss may be an “unintentional” side effect. Lent became a way for me to combine my diet goals with my spiritual goals. Fasting has been a spiritual discipline for thousands of years, but thanks to diet culture and my insecurities, all I could think was how nice it would be to serve God AND get skinny. Under the guise of spiritual purity, I could accomplish something that would appeal to my poor body image.

Looking back I can see how much of a contradiction that is. To “sacrifice” for Christ in order to achieve the body of my dreams. It’s kinda laughable, actually. And of course it never happened. I never followed through, I became discouraged by my failings, and I ended up berating myself for my lack of spirituality and self-discipline.

I don’t think that’s the point of Lent. Continue reading “Lent is NOT a Diet”

Moms, You Don’t Need to Get Your Body Back

Dear New Mom in the Age of Internet Perfection,

Recently, my eyes have been opened to the onslaught of messages on social media telling YOU how to get your body back.

I get it. I birthed and nursed three children. My body changed drastically with each one. I lost muscle tone. I retained a layer of nursing-fluff every time, even though I kept thinking breastfeeding was going to be the calorie-burner everyone says it is (which further proves that the calorie in/calorie out idea is completely useless… but I digress).

Even with my last pregnancy, which was by far the healthiest one due to the superior multivitamin, probiotic and other supplements I was on, my shape changed and, for lack of a better word, I was just fluffier than usual.

So I understand the urge to want to hurry and get “back” as soon as possible.

However, I want to pose another way of looking at it.

Your body is amazing. You grew an entire human, and you are now continuing to grow this human. It takes a LOT of emotional and physical energy. You are not sleeping through the night. When you do sleep, it is probably not quality sleep. Your hormones are off, and I’m not talking estrogen and progesterone and all that stuff – your HUNGER hormones are thrown off from your sleep being thrown off. So you may be hungrier than usual throughout the day, a bottomless pit of cravings (and if you’re nursing, that factors in as well).

So this is what I want you to hear:

You don’t need any added pressures. Nurture yourself so you can best handle the changes happening around you, NOT to live up to anyone else’s expectations for what you need to look like or do.

Continue reading “Moms, You Don’t Need to Get Your Body Back”

The BEST Egg Roll in a Bowl Recipe

Don’t let the name scare you away. I’ve never been a fan of egg rolls. But this dish – major fan. In fact, I’ve tried just about every variety out there on the interwebs, and this is my favorite. My kids love it. The adults love it. It’s a win.

(Just to be clear, my kids also like sushi and dislike pasta with red sauce. So take their feedback with a grain of pink Himalayan sea salt, okay?)

My FAVORITE things about this meal: it takes about 15 minutes to make (start to finish) clean up is simple, and it’s extremely filling and satisfying.

I don’t like to use pork too much because I don’t trust the sourcing/toxicity, so sometimes I’ll use grass fed beef and that’s good, too. The most flavorful meat to use in this is ground breakfast sausage. Again – toxin alert for you purists. But it’s soooooo delicious.

As far as cabbage goes, I prefer a head of green cabbage because it’s so cheap and cabbage is one of the “Clean 15,” so you don’t have to freak about buying unorganic. Pre-shredded bagged cabbage works too, but as long as you have a good knife, save your money!

I’ve used a blend of purple and green cabbage with shredded carrots, and that’s good too. You really can’t go wrong. You could add mushrooms or broccoli or any other vegetable you’re in the mood for.

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Continue reading “The BEST Egg Roll in a Bowl Recipe”

Basic Frittata for Not-So-Basic Mamas

I love a good one skillet meal. I love easy. I love minimal prep. This is why the frittata is becoming my BFF.

Here’s the thing about this frittata – I’ve done it a few times, with a variety of ingredients. And it always tastes yummy. So while I DO have an ingredient list and directions, know that it is completely malleable to fit your needs or desires.

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Continue reading “Basic Frittata for Not-So-Basic Mamas”