Friday, April 30, 2010

Veggie Wraps

I've finally perfected my rice paper veggie wraps.  There are so many ingredients that can be used inside the wraps, but I've found that I LOVE the following combination...

Organic Spinache (I buy at Costco)
Organic Carrots - Shredded
Cucumber Slices
Mint (Peppermint)

I wrap the above in the rice paper. (Soak the rice paper in water until soft and then roll the ingredients in the rice paper like you would an egg roll).

There are many recipes for dips, but I love the following...

SAN-J (Brand) Gluten Free THAI PEANUT - Mildly Spicy Marinade and Dipping

So Yummy! 



This picture doesn't show it, but I made 23 of the wraps in the morning and before noon I only had 6 left and so before I let anyone eat any more, I snapped a picture with my phone.  My youngest daughter (3) and son (5) were the ones who ate the most.  The sauce is a little spicey and so for them I diluted it a little bit with Bragg's Liquid Aminos (gluten free soy sauce).

YUMMY! YUMMY! YUMMY!

My husband pays nearly $8 for three of the wraps when he buys them at Health Food Stores for lunch.  I loved sending him this day with several wraps that cost me very little to make.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Healthiest Cultures in the World - In the Early 1900's

Healthiest Cultures in the World - In the Early 1900's

In Weston A. Price's book "Nutritional and Physical Degeneration", he describes his experiences as a Dentist traveling the world and meeting the "Healthiest Cultures in the World" in the early 1900’s.  What started out as an experiment to discover effects of the food on dental cavities, became an amazing collection of research that showed the nutritional content and type of food that was consumed, the effect that it had on the teeth, but most importantly, it showed the physical degeneration of each generation that introduced "processed food" into their "native" diets.

Some of the interesting things I learned was that it IS possible to live your entire life, eating food as God made and intended it to be eaten, you have ALL of your teeth (with no cavities) at the time you die, plenty of space for your wisdom teeth and No DENTIST is necessary.  100's of catacombs validated this fact.

The people studied had beautiful face structure and nasal structures (in many different parts of the world), but as soon as ground flour, sugars, and canned food was introduced into their native diets, each generation had more crowding of the teeth, less nasal and jaw area, and with each generation the health issues, both physical and mental would become prevalent. Each generation, in my eyes, became uglier and uglier.  It was a great motivator for me to cook healthy so I can have beautiful children and grandchildren :) .

Men and women were able to withstand incredible obstacles (climate wise) in order to obtain food. Alaskan Eskimos would brave the waters of a hurricane in search for food in their canoe like boats. When a crushing wave would come upon them, they would turn themselves under water while the waves beat upon them and then turn their canoe back over when the wave would pass. Amazing strength and resilience in all of the cultures studied as well as mental alertness throughout ones ENTIRE life. Those that died would slow down and become weakened just days before passing away at an old age.

When I read this book it seriously changed my view of God.  I had served a proselyting mission to Chile in 1996-1998.  There were so many people, in the areas I served in, that had horrific teeth.  I remember looking at one lady who was extremely beautiful, but when she laughed it was void of almost all of her teeth and the ones left were black with only small spots of white.  I didn't understand why God would have people suffer just because they lacked modern medicine...the doctors, the dentists etc.  Now I know it wasn't God that caused the suffering, but how man changed food from what it originally was that was causing the health problems.
So, how do we eat like they did?  Referring to the people studied in the early 1900's all over the world.  Their diet varied according to the animal protein eaten, the fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, etc. available to each population, but there were similarities.

The meat whether it was scavenger, animal, bird, fish etc. was all taken from a place where there was no contamination, no man-made food for the animals.  Most of the populations valued the organ meats as the most nutritious - like the liver.  The milk products that came from the cows had vitamins in them that Dr. Weston Price called the "X Factor" - since it wasn't a vitamin he was familiar with.  This "X Factor" is now sold in Real Foods Market by companies that raise cattle on the grass lands and the milk is raw.  I don't buy the X-Factor product, but I DO BUY RAW MILK - raw milk from a dairy I trust.  It's extremely important that the animal be feed pasture - free range food.  Grains cause the cow to have acidic stomach(s) and that is where the disease starts (in an acidic animal).

The people grew their own fruits, vegetables, and would obtain sea greens if they lived by the ocean.

To preserve these items through the winter, they had a "fermentation" process.  It's been wonderful to learn how to make foods by fermenting them.  They also would not eat their grains unless they had been SOAKED or sprouted first.  Sally Fallon, the current President of the Weston Price Foundation, co-authored a cookbook called "Nourishing Traditions".  This cookbook really helped me how to understand how to cook the way the people did in the 1900's.  I learned how to ferment vegetables like Kimchi, Gingered Carrots, Cabbage, and how to preserve Garlic with sea salt and water etc. using the fermentation method as opposed to bottling with high pressure heat and killing all the natural enzymes.  I learned to make breads using whey (from the raw milk) to break down the grains, causing a natural fermentation process, as opposed to traditional ways.  It's been fun for my family to learn how to make fermented drinks like beet kvass, and Kombucha.  It's really not that hard to cook in a way that would be like the cultures in the 1900's, but it has taken a little bit of time to change the way I "use to cook" with the new and wonderful ways mentioned in Nourishing Traditions.

It's funny to say, but I had no idea how to make butter, yogurt, buttermilk, or cheese from milk.  I remembered tossing a bottle of milk back and forth to my friend (when I was a young girl - we lived in the country), and knew it was because the Mom wanted milk, but I'd never done it myself.  It was a THRILLING day when we scooped butter from our Vita-mix (set on the lowest speed) and put it into our french butter ball container that didn't require refrigeration.  What?  No refrigerator?  It was so exciting to learn.  Then the day I made curd cheese for my kids....I felt SO empowered!  It was SO delicious, and my kids loved it.  Then learning to separate milk curd from the whey - and to find that milk left in sippy cups for several days didn't go bad it just made curds and whey. 

The early 1900's cultures would eat their fermented foods with their meat dishes.  This helped in the break down and digestion of the meat proteins.  One popular dish in Hawaii, for breakfast, is Kimchi and eggs.  Kimchi in the stores is about $20 for a quart jar of it.  I follow Sally Fallons recipe for Kimchi and can make about $80 worth of it for probably under $10 - and it's SO easy to make, and tastes MUCH better than the Kimchi in the stores.  I find that when I eat Kimchi with the eggs I don't have the heavy feeling in my stomach after eating them.  It's also fun to eat on salads and in sandwiches.

Sally Fallon has a wealth of advice in the columns on either page - opposite the recipes.  I feel like she has written 2 books in one.  I could set down and read the columns and soak up a lifetime of information.  The research is complex and extremely well researched and detailed- a serious lifetime effort of research that she's made that we can learn as we read her words.

For any of you wanting to implement all of the items Weston Price discovered as the "secret to health and longevity" in the people he researched, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the two books listed...

"Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon and
"Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" by Dr. Weston A. Price

The above books are absolute diamonds in my book collection.  A book called "Traditional Foods are your best Medicine" summarizes these and other books we like and so we purchased many copies for friends and family one Christmas, but I don't think it does justice or give the impact that reading and seeing all the pictures of the actual patients in Dr. Price's journeys throughout the world does.

Thank you Mr. or Mrs. "Anonymous" for your question :).  I am so happy that you asked, and hope this helps.  I really hope that anyone reading this will purchase the above two books.  I also recommend you sing up for the Weston A. Price's newsletter.  Jewels of information are sent out regularly via email.

With much love,

-Steffanie

Monday, April 19, 2010

PH Testing

It's late, but I thought I'd write something quick about PH Testing.

I attended a Health Coaching Class where they talked about the PH levels in the body.  I learned about the different minerals that cannot be absorbed into the body if it is too acidic.  At the advice of the teacher, I purchased some PH testing strips from the health foods store.  We had a little family night and family morning where we tested everyones PH levels.  I was blown away by how acidic one of my children was as well as my husband and I.  It was interesting to look at my diet and realize that although I ate extremely healthy, I knew that fruits and fruit juices were a big part of my problem. 

When a person drinks pop, the acidity level is incredible. But too much juice will also do the same thing to the acid/alkaline balance in the body. So, I don't buy fruit juice like I use to.  Only once in awhile, and in moderation. 

It was interesting to learn that iodine is one of the first things that cannot be absorbed when the body is too acidic. (Thus thyroid issues) The body constantly will try to keep an alkaline state and will draw from bones, teeth, hair etc. all that it can to remain alkaline.  So, just another reason to eat foods like they did in the 1900's as described by Dr. Weston Price. 

Happy PH Testing!

-Steffanie

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ingredient Why it is Used Why it is Bad

This was from the website shine.yahoo.com.  The article is by Brett Blumenthal

(This is Steffanie) I've tried to create my blog with only information I would tell you about - as a friend talking to another friend, but I wanted to post this article.  It's amazing the millions of symptoms people can experience due to eating food with the below items in them.  There is a college professor of mine who was suddenly losing her strength after eating and found that it was because of MSG.  Imagine if it took years to find out what the problem was... that would be HELL on earth for her.  The stories go on and on.... 

Here is Brett's article.... (As you read it, think of each "problem that's caused" and picture an actual person in place of the reaction.  Example:  Artificial Color caused an allergic reaction in "Insert Name"....Artificial Color caused fatigue to "Insert Names".  These are real people examples...not tests on animals.)

Artificial Colors Chemical compounds: Made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color

Linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches


Artificial Flavorings: Are cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors.

Linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma

Can affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid


Artificial Sweeteners: (Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol) Highly-processed, chemically-derived, zero-calorie sweeteners found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving.

Can negatively impact metabolism

Some have been linked to cancer, dizziness hallucinations and headaches.


Benzoate Preservatives: (BHT, BHA, TBHQ) Compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid.

May result in hyperactivity, angiodema, asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors and urticaria

Can affect estrogen balance and levels.


Brominated Vegetable Oil: (BVO) Chemical that boosts flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks.

Increases triglycerides and cholesterol

Can damage liver, testicles, thyroid, heart and kidneys.


High Fructose Corn Syrup: (HFCS) Cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar, sustains freshness in baked goods, blends easily in beverages to maintain sweetness.

May predispose the body to turn fructose into fat

Increases risk for Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer

Isn’t easily metabolized by the liver.


MSG: (Monosodium Glutamate) Flavor enhancer in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soups and other foods.

May stimulate appetite and cause headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensations and difficulty in breathing.


Olestra: An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked.

Inhibits absorption of some nutrients

Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding and incontinence.


Shortening, Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils: (Palm, Soybean and others) Industrially created fats used in more than 40,000 food products in the U.S. Cheaper than most other oils.

Contain high levels of trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, contributing to risk of heart disease.

Summary (from Steffanie)...
 
Shane (my husband) and I had a joke many years ago that said "If it tastes too good to be Gluten-Free IT PROBABLY ISN'T".   That was when I was trying to eat the processed food diet I was use to and simply change the gluten-filled food I could no longer eat with the gluten-FREE alternative.  The problem with this is that in order to taste good there was a lot of "bad stuff" added so that it would actually taste good.  Since I've eliminated processed food from my diet (even gluten-free) processed food, my food tastes wonderful.  I eat food that is "Naturally gluten-free".  And so now my husband and I no longer joke about gluten-free food tasting bad.
 
Good luck to you in your lifestyle changes.
 
-Steffanie

Friday, April 16, 2010

Drinks for Kids

I do not give my kids any drinks with sugar in it.  I would make lemonade with water, lemon or lime juice, and stevia.  I use to use Agave (which tastes better), but no longer buy Agave after reading Sally Fallons article on it. 

My kids also enjoy various herbal teas. I buy bags of Raspberry tea leaves, Spearmint, Peppermint, Brigham Tea, and various other teas that are for more medicinal use than anything. I will add a little stevia and honey to sweeten them just to the point that my kids notice a little bit of "sweet" in the drinks. When preparing Herbal Teas, boil the water and then turn it to simmer when you add the herbs. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat, let cool, and strain. We have been buying our bulk herbs from the Health Food Stores, but when at Mom's house we pick the raspberry, comfrey, spearmint, wintergreen, or peppermint from her garden. When it's not available fresh, we use our supply of dried herbs.

Another drink we love is coconut milk. It's pricey, but we buy it occasionally when it's on sale, and then ration it out to the kids so that it doesn't disappear in one day.

We also buy Kombucha buy the case.  We get 20% off buy doing that.  Kombucha, we've been told, tastes like wine "with a kick".  It is a fermented drink.  My husband and I love it.  My 3 year old drinks it like soda pop, but for others just trying it, I would suggest diluting it with water and then adding a sweetener like stevia.  Please buy one and try it first.  Each flavor is very differerent from the other flavors.  My body craves the one with spirulina and chorella in it, but my husband loves the grape flavored one. 

A note to Celiac's about Raw Milk.  Raw milk has the enzymes in it neccessary to digest milk.  Processed milk does NOT have the natural digestive enzymes because it is destroye during the Pasteurization and Homogenization process.  Some people, unable to drink processed milk without getting sick, can drink Raw Milk without a problem.  However, kids "allergic" to milk are still get allergic reactions to raw milk.  Do not try giving raw milk to a child who is allergic to dairy.

Please note that the very tip of the villi in the intestines (that gets damaged by gluten) is the part of the villi that digests milk.  So, recently diagnosed Celiacs are advised to elliminate all dairy products until their villi is healed completely and then they are to introduce fermented milk products first like buttermilk or keifer and then cottage cheese, yogurt, and then later milk back into their diet.

There are a lot of drinks that can be made by using nuts or rice.  The Rice Dream milk at Costco is gluten-free.  I buy this to keep on hand in case of an emergency and keep it in our trailer.  I avoid soy milk completely.

Our most recent drink has been using the carbonated water machine to make the soda taste and then we add flavored stevia to it as well as slices of various fruits. Ummmmm so yummy!

We love our Herbal Teas!  We love Kombucha! We love Coconut Juice!  We love lemonade and limeade. 

FYI: To save the cost of making Kombucha I've purchased the Kombucha cultures.  They are in my fridge, but I've yet to make the drink.  Perhaps that will be on tomorrows agenda.

Thank you so much for your question.  Keep them coming.

Happy drink making :)

Respect for Grandparents Privacy...

All family and friends who know my Grandparents, please DO NOT talk to them about anything in this blog.  I guarantee you that it will upset them in a way that won't be easily reversed.  I share out of concern for individuals in similar situations as my Dad, but they do not talk about how he died...EVER!  It is extremely painful.  Please respect their privacy and their sensitivity to the subject and please do not direct them to this blog site.  Thank you.

Gluten-Free Resources

I advise a couple of things...

1- Join a Celiac Support Group in your area and attend regularly - I cannot emphasize this enough.  I would have NEVER learned about Blue Cheese Dressing Cultures being made on bread (therefore anything with blue cheese in it is NOT gluten-free), I learned about the floured packaging and conveyor belts, and about the floured frozen juice cans...and even fruit juice.  SO CRAZY.  Have faith, MAKE THE TIME to go, and keep going.  Google for Celiac Support Groups in your area.

2- Triumph Dining has a "Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide" book.  Mine is outdated (2006-2007) but I will go onto their website when I'm traveling to find gluten-free dining options.

3- Become familiar with Celiac Forums.  There are many on the internet.  Just google your question and you will be brought to several different Celiac Form websites.

4- Read, Read, Read...There are many books on Celiac Disease.

5- Read my blog - and learn from my mistakes.  It's nice to learn from the mistakes of others so you won't have to go through the same problems.  That is why a Celiac Support Group is so important.

If you want to there is a Gluten-Free mall online, but from personal experience I got sick of trying to eat "immitations" of the real thing...that never tasted as good and so to keep me 100% on the gluten-free diet I eat foods that are "Natually Gluten-Free".  This also makes it so that the family doesn't feel like they have to sacrifice every time a gluten-free meal is prepared for the family, or make the individual feel left out that has celiac disease if everyone is eating something different.

I like to think of my eating as if I'm an "Alcoholic (addicted to Gluten)".  When people bring home anyting "Alcoholic (that has gluten that will make me sick) it is hard "as an addict" to avoid the food if it is staring me in the face.  We keep whole grain bread and rolls in the garage fridge (out of my sight) and I make Shane take anything with Gluten that is tempting for me to work where he can have it and I'm not tempted.

Cheat Foods

So there are many of you who are recently diagnosed, or you have children that are now considered to be "gluten intollerant", have a "wheat allergy", or have "Celiac Disease". 

Here are some survival items to use as needed...

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The below suggestions are NOT in my kitchen right now.  Many of the items I haven't eaten in years. I buy them ONLY for special occasions or every once in a "great" while.  I'm suggesting them to you to use with judgment.  It took years of tasting very disgusting immitations of food to find the below items - so use them and let me take the pain and guessing out of eating Unhealthy Gluten-Free food ;)

Birthdays

A.  Betty Crocker now makes a gluten-free yellow cake mix. (The company also makes a chocolate chip cookie mix and a brownie mix).  I make the cake, then make my own whipping cream (whipping cream - cream, maple syrup), I slice up strawberries and cover the cake.  For a more delicious cake, I half the cake horizontally and add a layer of whipping cream and strawberries in the middle of the cake and then spread the whipping cream and strawberries on the outside.  This is a huge success.

B.  Namaste (Brand Available in Good Earth) has a "Spice Cake Mix".  If you love carrot cake, you will LOVE this mix if you follow the instructions for adding shredded carrots etc.  I made cupcakes for the kids and the neighboors using the Spice Cake mix and they were gone so quickly that I made another batch (total 4 dozen) gone in two days. 

C.  Charlottes Bakery makes amazing pies.  This is a company in Utah and is available in Good Earth Stories.

HUNGRY FOR COOKIES...

The health food stores have a lot of wonderful options, but Charlotte's Bakery (BY FAR) makes the most delicious sugar cookies.  They taste like "the real thing".

BREAD....

The best bread mix I've ever made is from Namaste.  Look in the health food stores for the gluten-free section of cake, bread mixes etc.  Namaste mixes are in a brown paper bag looking package with purple and black writing on it.  I've never been disappointed by Namaste, but I make sure to follow the directions exactly.  If it calls for egg whites - trust there is a reason why not to use the entire egg...etc. etc.

DOUGHNUTS AND PIZZA DOUGH, MUFFINS, CINNAMON ROLLS

Go to http://www.kinnikinnick.com/ if you can't find the brand in the frozen section of your health food store.  There are doughnuts, muffins, and pizza dough that are the closest to the "real thing" as possible.  I sent my Grandmother (Diagnosed Celiac), the above items for Christmas - and she loved them.  I only like the muffins, the pizza dough, and the doughnuts, and Cinnamon Rolls.  I don't buy anything else from them.

PASTA

I was told the Spaghetti Factory had a Gluten-Free menu and so I went there with my husband.  I was expecting to eat something "somewhat good", but was blown away that I LOVED the pasta etc.  The cook verified that it was indeed gluten-free and since I was still doubtfull, he good humoredly brang me out the packaging for the gluten-free noodles....it said "TINYADA".  Tinyada pasta is available at most health food stores and I've even seen it in some regular grocery stores.  Any kind of pasta from spaghetti, to the spiraled, to macaronni shaped pasta is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.  We don't keep it in our house, because my kids would want to eat it for every meal.  I buy it every couple of months as a "treat", but that's only because of my health scare.  If I were a Celiac - without worry of MS Symptoms returning, I'd probably have it every day.

PUDDINGS

Kozy Shack makes a delicious rice pudding, tapioca pudding and chocolate pudding.  It's available in Walmart and most every grocery store.  SO delicious! 

SOUPS/ SPAGHETTI SAUCES/ SALAD DRESSINGS / FROZEN ENTRIES

You will become familiar with Amy's brand products.  Not all products that are Amy's are Gluten-Free, but we stock up on the Coconut Soup, the Lentil Soup, and any other soup with a gluten free label.  Amy's brand has a fantastic gluten-free Chile.  There are many spaghetti sauces that say gluten-free (at Health Food Stores) as well as many Salad Dressings and Frozen Entries.  Just look on the packaging for the Gluten-Free labeling. 

Be careful buying bulk items that are open to individuals to scoop up their own.  Contamination from the containers, or the scoops themselves being used in the wrong compartment is very common.  Try buying bulk in packaging already.

SHOPPING AT COSTCO

Turkey slices from Costco (Says Gluten-Free)
Almonds, Walnuts, Pinenuts
No Salt Seasoning
Garlic
Frozen Fruit (Buy in Bags and then bring home and seperate into smaller bags)
Organic Carrots
Organic Spinache
Strawberries, Mangos, Pineapple, Pears, Kiwi,
Onions in Bulk
Potatoes (at times)  We prefer buying Organic whenever possible.
Tomatoes
Avacados
We buy Crab and Lobster once or twice a year.  (Christmas and Easter)
Brown Cow Yogurt


SOUR CREAM, CREAM CHEESE, KEFIR, YOGURT

We buy the dairy items and Real Foods Market, or at the Health Food Store.  Be sure to stick with stuff that is NOT low fat.  It must NOT say modified food starch.  If you buy sour cream at Walmart ONLY buy Daisy brand sour cream and butter that is only "Cream and Salt" on the label.  Cheese gets me sick ALL the time...please avoid shredded cheese.  I love trying out various cheese - especially gouda, but I get sick almost every time.  We stick to the Redmond Farms brand of cheese, but there are other brands that will say "Gluten-Free" on the packaging.

A note about Google...

Google has become my best friend. Please get in the habit of using the Celiac Forum (google your question) and it is amazing what you will find out.  I googled Smarties one time because I thought they were gluten-free, but discovered that Smarties are resold and repackaged in so many different ways and the instructions as to finding the gluten-free ones (by matching the tracking number given on the website to the number on the packaging) would tell if it was gluten-free or not.

I haven't been to a Celiac Support Group in a long time, but last I heard was that...

DORITOS - The RANCH brand is Gluten-Free

POP - Sprite and Barggs Root beer are the only ones I know are safe.  (I tried out a new root beer this last new years, and I was on the floor without strenght to move before the clock struck midnight.  It was really frustrating...so be cautious and google before trying new things).

CANDY BARS - Snickers are safe.  The DARK Milk Way bar - NOT the Original Milky Way.  It was funny how I tried a "Mini" Dark Milky Way bar one time and thought I "got away with eating gluten without getting sick".  I later tried the original Milky Way bar (confidently eating the whole thing) and was bed-ridden.  The same with doritos.  It's funny how if I cheat and think I'm "getting away with eating gluten"...I later discover that that particular flavor was gluten free...this happened with Ranch Doritos as well.  

CORN Chips - Be REALLY CAREFULL!!!  Do NOT eat them unless it says Gluten-Free.  Even if it doesn't list anything bad.

CHEWING GUM AND MINTS - BE CAREFULL!!!  Google, or call the number on the packaging if you have questions.  I called Wrigleys and they said their product is gluten-free, but since their gum has changed look and taste since this last year, both myself and my Grandmother have stopped buying it - even though the company says it's ok.

CANDIES

For Easter and Christmas we go to the Health Food Stores to buy gluten-free candies.  We like buying fruit leather, small juice boxes, fruit, and string cheeses in place of a lot of junk food.

SMORES

I HATE the taste of SO Many gluten-free brands of cookies etc.  I can't think of the name, but there is a cookie we buy that's gluten-free (I'lll look up the brand and post later), we add hersey's chocolate and the marshmellows (Can't think of the brand right now either - It has a rainbox looking stripe section by the name)...I'll research and get back to you.

JELLO AND JAMS / PIE FILLINGS

I've learned to thicken Fruit Juice, and concentrated fruit juice with Pectin to make Jello / I add tapioca to fruit and water to make pie fillings and fruit smashed with fruit juice and then cooked with pectin make great Jams.  ST. DALFOUR makes wonderful jams using concentrated fruit juice as the sweetener...so delicious.

Google to make sure the frozen fruit juice you buy is indeed gluten-free.  Sometimes fruit juice cans are floured so that the juice slides out easier.

If you have other questions, please post a comment and I'll answer it and add it to the blog.

Good luck - but remember the above suggestions are NOT a stable in our house.  We buy these only rarely and usually only for birthday's or holidays :)  but everybody's story is different - no judgement if the above are stables in your diet.

The Story Starts at the Beginning...

Start by reading "My Story" and then work your way up.

Rough Draft

I'm not taking the time to edit these.  I type them and then post them.  I'll come back later to make corrections.  When I "feel" like I need to make an entry, I sit down and let my fingers type what comes to my mind.  Then when the thoughts stop, the typing ends and I hit submit.  This is a work in progress, but I'm letting my pride go and positing this so it can be of help right away - despite the errors.

Love,

Steffanie

OK Dad let me teach you what to eat!

OK Dad let me teach you what to eat!

For those of you who do not have the energy or desire to read all of the books I've recommended, due to health problems, or lack of time, or you simply have a desire to implement quickly all of the truths we've implemented into our lives, using your faith (without reading the books), I feel like I need to summarize all of the things we learned.

The above entry is how my previous entry started, but then it twisted and turned and ended in an entirely different way.  So in following after the previous entry, I am going to talk to you as if I was talking to my Dad, telling him about everything I've learned.

De-junking your Kitchen...

K...I'm in the pantry.  Sorry Dad.  There is absolutely NOTHING in here that I want you to be eating.  You've been on the verge of ending your life and so I've got to be drastic with the changes, there isn't a moment of healing to spare.  We need all of the bad stuff out.  So sorry, but all of these grains are packaged and highly processed with a lot of "crap" mixed in with it.  We've got to get rid of all of these cereals, these quick packaged meals that everyone loves, etc.  So sorry to do this to you, but I need you to choose life.

K....all of these oils needs to go.  Crisco, the cooking oils etc. all have to be gone.

The potatoes are here - they're not organic and so it's your choice.  You can keep them, but we're buying organic here on out.  As far as all of the pop, the thickeners, and the packets to make things, the canned food....we'll have to set that aside downstairs.  All of this canned food will be downstairs in case of an emergency, but we need you well now, and this canned food is not going to do the trick.

"Don't worry Dad...we'll have a little chat latter how you can keep foods through the winter by using fermentation, but you need to trust me on this one right now.  There is a better way of doing food storage than using canned food - trust me."

(I can picture my Dad saying "What do you think you're doing?  Get out of my pantry and let me eat whatever I want to. He would of course say this while smiling....and I would know that he loved all of the attention he was getting, and we would continue to joke and laugh together throughout the entire "Kitchen Cleanse".)

We'd then move to the Fridge/Freezer where I'd take out all the Ice Cream / Popsicle Sticks, all of the meat etc. from the Freezer.  We'd remove the milk, the cheese, any type of yogurt, sour cream, butter etc. (Because it is from milk from cows that are fed garbage), pumped with steroids and hormones and all sorts of other crap.  If Dad protests I'd put him in front of the TV to watch the DVD "Foods Inc." and would have a copy of "The Untold Story of Milk" for him to read if he'd prefer that to the television.

After reading the book and watching the movie, if he said that he still wanted to buy milk products from the regular store, I'd teach him using this analogy...

K Dad... would you please try to imagine that your wife's job is being a "Milk Producer" for the general public.  She provides milk for the local dairy company (who collects it from various women) who work in a very crowded area.  K... younger reader discretion is advised...

Food fed to the Women...consists of ground up meat from other women workers who have died, ground up grains, and filled with hormones to make their chest swell as big as possible and to provide the maximum amount of milk possible.  The mix would also contain antibiotics so that the women would remain healthy even though they were not allowed to leave the plant the entire day and would have to poop or pee right where they were. 

Once the Milk is taken from the women it is put into a big area where it is pasteurized (killing all the good and bad bacteria).  Since people don't like seeing the cream rise to the top, the milk will be homogenized (broken down so small) that the milk fat will be evenly distributed throughout the entire milk jug.  Since the milk no longer has any vitamins or minerals (killed by the pasteurization and homogenization) they'll "fortify" it with added vitamins and minerals (from inorganic sources).

Ok Dad.....another scenario would be to...

Feed the women in their natural environment (their homes) the healthiest food available - and most organic.  The women will get plenty of fresh air, and time to exercise.  They will give just the amount of milk that they are naturally able to.  To extract the milk, they will come to the milk sanitation extraction room (sanitized), where they will be cleaned and the milk will be extracted into a container that keeps the milk at a cool temperature to keep from spoiling too soon.  The milk is tested to make sure there are no pathogens and then on to being put into containers, shipped in a way that the milk remains cool and onto the shelves as pure as God intended.

So Dad, what would you prefer...there are two options for your kids.  Our US society chose the 1st option.  I guarantee you do NOT want to purchase any milk products from the regular stores.  I don't even buy raw milk unless I know where the source is and I've visited the site to make sure it's handled properly.  I REPEAT...I DO NOT BUY MILK PRODUCTS FROM REGULAR STORES - YUCK!!!

Dad, I trust Real Foods Market or Redmond Farms Raw Milk Products.  We are only buying raw milk and cheese from them.  If you were better we'd buy dairy products from the Health Food Stores, but we will make our own yogurt, our own butter (from the raw milk) and our own buttermilk and keifer.  No worries Dad...it's easy.  BUT you aren't going to overload yourself on Dairy...this will be just a small portion of your diet.

Ok, on to the meats.  I've brought you meat that is from animals that were free range.  They were not fed some man-made food mix, but have eaten on the pastures as freely as possible.  Here is turkey meat, some cow meat, some chicken meat.  OK, absolutely NO pork.  Even organic pork has shown to increase cancer growth in humans...this is an absolute NO...without exceptions. 

As far as Seafood and Fish is concerned???  Real Foods Market has done a lot of research on their fish products.  Farmed fish are NOT healthy like you may think...due to being fed man-made ridiculous food - probably made from corn and antibiotics, steroids etc.  The Salmon, Tilapia, Halibut I'm giving you is from fresh, pollution free waters in the oceans or streams.  Scavenger meat like Crab, Shrimp, and Lobster etc. is an absolute NO. If you were on an island and you knew the scavenger lived in clean water - sure, but we don't have access to scavenger meat that we know is free of toxins and poisons...sorry Dad...that's just for once or twice a year.

K....all of this lovely Iodized Salt...that's all got to go.  Trust me - it is SOOO bad for you.   Here is Redmond Real Salt.  Yes it looks like there's dirt in it, but that is all the good things you've been missing out on.  There is NO way I'll use iodized salt.  (If Dad gives me a hard time, I'll remind him that I was on thyroid medicine for 18 years and was able to get off of the medicine due to my change in diet, and changing from Iodized Salt to Real Sea Salt).

This big bag of sugar has got to go...you call this stuff Maple Syrup???  You call this Honey???  Far from it...look at the label...it should say "Pure Maple Syrup" (Grade B is the Best) As far as the honey....how can it be honey if the farmers fed the bees sugar?  Look at the honey I brought you...doesn't look anything like what you have does it... and the taste is amazing!   I've also brought you some honeycomb from our neighbors.  It's really expensive in stores, but thank goodness you have friends in the country...this stuff is amazing.  The kids love chewing on it...and it's great to keep around when I'm tempted by holiday goodies that neighbors drop off.  So now you have PURE maple syrup (from the Amish) and PURE Molasses and pure Honey. 

Here are some eggs from a local farmer who has free-range chickens.  I love the ones from Redmond Heritage Farms.  I wish that we could raise our own chickens and eggs, but that will be a couple years down the road.

So, in your fridge you have the raw milk, the raw cheese, the organic pasture-fed eggs (orange yolks instead of the yellow - which shows their true quality)... let’s add some condiments from Real Foods Market...

Naturally Gluten Free Mustard
Fruit Sweetened Ketchup
Lemon Juice and Lime Juice - Organic
Butter - Organic (If we don't have our own made from the raw milk)

How do you make butter?  Shane takes the cream from the top of the milk and puts it in our Vitamix (blender) on a low speed.  After a while the milk forms little balls at the top of the milk.  We turn off the blender and separate the milk from the now butter-milk (fat free).  We like drinking the low-fat milk (not as much as the whole milk) and add a little sea salt to the butter and put it in a French butter bowl and you can save it out of the fridge without going bad.  Just remember to change the water in the French butter bowl every couple of days.

Alright Dad, I know that you love your pickles, sauerkraut, relish etc....

Pickles - Bubbies brand (must be refrigerated)
Sauerkraut - Bubbies Brand
Relish - Bubbies Brand

Since we are on a budget, I've brought some of the less expensive vegetables for you...all Organic...

Carrots,
Celery,
Spinach, Chard,
Cabbage (Red)
Cabbage (Green)
Onions

Note:  I'd recommend that my Dad have a garden where he'd grow as much of the produce himself (organically) as he could possibly have the time and space for.  I'd recommend planting....

Tomatoes (Plum, Cherry or Roma Tomatoes)
Peas
Squash (Corn, Peas and Squash planted together help each other in various ways)
String Beans
Peppers
Jalapenos
Cucumbers (Regular, Long, Prickly Pear etc.)
Potatoes (Red, White, Golden)
Etc.

Herbs...

Grow Garlic, Dill, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Chives

Then, I'd talk to Dad about planting fruit trees, berry bushes and planting other fruits...

Trees:
Apple
Pear
Cherry
Apricot
Plum

Bushes...
Raspberry
Grapes

Fruits...
Melons (Kasaba, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon etc.)
Strawberries

Nut Trees
Walnut Tree
Get Pine Nuts Seasonally - go Pine Nut hunting....so much fun.

We'd buy fruit in season from the local farmers markets. 

Note:  As I've made the above list of trees to plant, fruit and veggies to harvest I've thought back to my Mom's garden.  She grew all of the above.  She was a single Mom - worked 9-5pm year round.  I'm amazed that she had such a huge garden.  At least 1/4 acre, but she did it.  In addition, we had chickens, and a pig.  My step-dad would introduce us to Okra (which I loved battered and fried), Honeycomb (we had honey bees), and rabbits (we ate rabbit meat and sold the rabbit meat as well). 

In his pantry we'd stock him up on all sorts of seed, beans, and nuts...

Seeds...
Sunflower Seeds (we'd soak and then dry with sea salt to use as a snack)
Flax Seeds (great for making crackers)
Chia Seeds (yummy soaked in water, then add a sweetener, berries and cream) Ummmmm
Sesame Seeds

Nuts... (Not in bulk - just small packages so they don't go rancid quickly)
Almonds
Cashews
Walnuts
Pine Nuts
Pistachios (as a treat now and then)

Note:  We'd discuss the benefit of soaking nuts and grains before using.  The nuts we'd soak in a sea salt water solution for a day, then drain and dehydrate....then store.

Legumes...
Lentils
Red Beans, Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Kidney Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Navy Beans, etc. etc.

Grains...
Quinoa
Millet/ Amaranth
Gluten Free Oats - Only from Gluten-Free dedicated grower
Basmati Rice, other Wild Rice Blends - absolutely NO store packed mixes with added spices

ABSOLUTELY NO, I REPEAT NO WHEAT, BARLEY, RYE, OR OATS (OATS - Not from GF Fields and processing plants etc.....I've gotten REALLY sick from eating Oats that were cross-contaminated with wheat.

Now about the Spices...

We'll want to get rid of or better "give away"...all of your spices that are anything more than spices...that have anything else added to them.  Organic is better, but we'll use your spices up and then only buy organic ones.

Vinegars...

We've moved out your white vinegar from the pantry to the cleaning closet.  Use it to clean windows, but do NOT use it with your cooking.

Use Balsamic Vinegar -
Apple Cider Vinegar - Braggs Brand

Soy Sauce...

ONLY use Braggs "Liquid Amino".  Don't use the any other brand.

Jerky...

We'll make our own.

Ice Cream

Make it with Raw Milk, organic Fruit, and Maple Syrup.

Oils...

We use only Coconut Oil and Olive Oil, flaxseed oil, or grape seed oil. (We keep Udo's oil on hand to add to morning shakes)

Lunch Meat...

Applegate has Gluten Free Sandwich Sliced Meat

Drinks...

We'd keep plenty of fruits and veggies on hand to juice our own juices (sparingly).

I'd give him the cookbook "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. 

I'm worn out from writing the last two blog entries and so I'll close quickly...

So, Dad and I would sit in his kitchen and look at how beautiful all of the new food in his kitchen is.  It would be organized. 

On the menu... he would need to re-learn how to cook.  But the added energy would give him back more than enough of his time and life to make up for the time it takes to prepare a meal.

My thoughts are with you....

Steffanie

Are you ready to be well? Are you listening?

Are you ready to be well? Are you listening?
For those of you who do not have the energy or desire to read all of the books I've recommended, due to health problems, or lack of time, or you simply have a desire to implement quickly all of the truths we've implemented into our lives, using your faith (without reading the books), I feel like I need to summarize all of the things we learned. 

This blog entry started out with the above intention, but evolved into something else.  I'll leave it as it is, but will make another entry to discuss the above idea.

First Truth

MEN ARE THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE JOY.   I believe this also means that we should "Run and not be weary, walk and not faint". 

Do you want to live?  Do you really truly want to be healthy?  Would life be easier for you if you could just give up and let others do the work for you?

These are questions I had to ask myself before getting well.  I had been so sick for so long and was getting so weak that I started to apathy towards living at all.  I just didn't care anymore.  I just wanted to lay down, go to sleep and never wake up.  My body was unable to get nourishment, even though I was eating.  Nothing of value was soaking into my cells to give me life.  My new prayer.... "God, please give me the desire to be well".   The doctor's had given up; my parents didn't know what to do...it was up to me to turn to God for answers.  As recommended by a friend, I did fast and I did pray - and went to the Temple to be close to God to listen and to pray.   A full account of this story you can read in "My Story" in another blog entry.  Answers did come in an unexpected way, but this time there was a change.  The change was that I... (Emphasize "I") was now ready to HEAR the answer.  The woman that told me about her brother and how identical our stories were was also a huge blessing in that she didn't simply tell me the story, but she went to work contacting her brother-in-law and he (bless his soul) in return mailed me many Celiac brochures and literature that I was able to start the path to wellness.  My doctor's response to everything was a little comical.  He threw up his hands in the air and exclaimed "we've found our answer!"  He went on to explain that he could "have me tested, but that would require me getting back on gluten".  He recommended NOT getting the test.  (I'll talk about how wrong this was to do and will explain latter).

So, for those of you who are sick, or for those of you who have loved ones who are sick, are YOU ready to HEAR?  Two different individuals (friends of mine) had told me about me possibly having "an allergy to wheat" many months before I was ready to hear.  I listened, but absolutely ignored that "crazy idea".  My symptoms didn't go along with any of the symptoms of the individuals who had "Celiac Disease (gluten-intolerance) that I'd heard about and so I dismissed the urging from my two friends to be tested.

So, you've read "My Story" in this blog, your symptoms are not the same... could you possibly have Celiac Disease?  There's a book titled "Celiac Disease, a Hidden Epidemic".  In this book, the Doctor talks about how varied the symptoms of the disease are.  My Grandmother has the typical symptoms and was diagnosed quickly. She had the bloating, diarrhea, sudden loss of weight etc.  Mine, however, started with the symptoms my Grandmother had (while I was serving my mission in Chile), and the problem with always being sick (immune system compromised), but then went to the extreme fatigue, constipation, loss of memory, and so I was DIAGNOSED with DEPRESSION (was the first diagnosis).  Thank goodness I never took the medicine.  2nd, I was sent to a Neurologist Expert at the U of U who diagnosed me with EPSTEIN BARRE.  Then another doctor in Provo (a specialist) DIAGNOSED me with FIBROMYALGIA.  Another said it was CHRONIC FATIGUE.   I had been to so many specialists.  Interestingly enough, the famous Celiac Dr. Karnam I had an appointment with but he had to travel to India for some reason and so my appointment was cancelled.  He is considered the "Celiac Expert or the Gut Whisperer". Anyway, that is an entirely different story.

As I've sat in Celiac Support Groups, I've listened to SOOOOOOOO many different individuals whose symptoms are so varied.  Scientists are beginning to find how Celiac Disease, untreated, can lead to neurological disorders like Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, Schizophrenia, Down Syndrome (children of Celiac Parents) etc.  My Grandmother and I have had many conversations about Celiac Disease, but the one conversation I will remember the most was hauntingly familiar with a discussion I had with my dad almost 15 years ago.  I'll explain...

Conversation with my Dad...

I was taking a course at BYU from Dr. Scoresby that was about Family Relations and Child Development.  At his suggestion, we were to write down questions to ask our parents, and to take into consideration the events surrounding their lives that they would be most familiar with.  I wrote my list and was please when I was invited by my Dad to go down (from Provo) to Fillmore to visit my siblings.  "Perfect!" I thought..."This will be a great time to ask my Dad all those questions".  The 2 hour drive (my Dad drove REALLY slow) provided ample time for the discussion.  So, the questions began and I wrote down answers.  Sadly, I do not recall the answers to any of the questions EXCEPT for two.  The first question I asked was "Dad, what is your greatest LOVE?"  I was positive that I knew the answer to this one.  I eagerly anticipated that he'd say "You, Joey, Kirsten and Stacie" (His Kids), since all his life he was constantly sacrificing all he had so that we could have what we had.  His answer surprised me.  It was, "The Savior".  A little surprised, and taken back - honestly a little jealous as well, I jotted down his response.  "Ok Dad, my next question is....What is your greatest FEAR?" His response also surprised me.  He went on to explain that his greatest fear was "His Depression". I sat in silence as he explained that he never knew when it was going to hit and he never knew how long it would last.  I sat there as the feeling in the car was extremely melancholy.  My thoughts raced back to how he had hospitalized himself several times in order to understand more clearly and to treat the "Bi-Polar Depression" (plague) that afflicted his life so much.  I left my Dad to his own thoughts as he probably thought about his marriages gone bad, the choices he'd made during his terrible down times, etc.  I knew that he loved my Mom.  I saw the sadness in his eyes when he looked at her.  He never said anything negative about her, and they had had many happy years together, but I knew from Mom's account that she was scared of the highs and lows and for the safety of her kids, she left Dad when we were just 5,3, and 1. 
The feeling of that moment hung in the air for a very long time.  We sat in silence as both of us were somewhat lost in our own thoughts.  I'll never forget that day, and I'll never forget that feeling.

Now on to my Grandmother and I's conversation about 15 years forward...

When I'm with my Grandmother (Nana) and Grandfather (Granddaddy) from Texas, there is never a dull moment.  They are the funniest people I have ever met.  The witty South Carolina beauty, and the 100% male retired military Colonel make quite the pair as Granddad always corrects Nana on not saying everything 100% perfect and she light heartedly jokes back at his Military ways - making everyone laugh.  They have so many friends all around the world who love them dearly - as do I.  So, usually our conversation is not about serious things.  The death of Dad is never discussed as there is too much heartache attached to it.  I have to be really careful when I look at the old picture books.  Once, a question about Dad upset Nana so badly that she left the room and Granddad was left to advise me to "never bring up any questions about your Dad... It's too painful".  So, when Nana or Granddad freely talk about "Serious Things", my ears are open as much as possible- since it happens rarely. 

So that "Rare Event" came one day.  It wasn't a discussion about Dad, but more about the dark side of the effects of eating gluten- of the mental anguish. She said that it was easy to recover physically from the effects of gluten, but that it was "harder to recover mentally".  I knew exactly what she meant.  I knew that the couple of days following the ingestion of gluten, I had to pray to know what was "the gluten talking" and what was "real".  Let me explain a little more using the example of the last time I got gluten on accident...

Shane and I had taken the kids to eat at a Thai restaurant in SLC called "Thaifoon".  They have a gluten-free menu and I'd eaten there before, without any problems, but for whatever reason, perhaps they accidentally poured a "gluten-filled" sauce on my food by mistake?  Perhaps an unknowledgeable chef cooked my food with the same spoon as another entry that had gluten in it?  Etc. Etc.....there are so many reasons why I could have gotten sick.  Anyway, I was so sick the next day that I couldn't move.  My kids had to bring me my food and water throughout the day.  The next day my legs were moving, but I didn't have my mind back yet.  Anything the kids did was too much for me to bear.  As much as I knew in my mind it was the gluten, I yelled nearly the entire day and of course felt broken hearted that the kids took such good care of me and then to show my gratitude I just yelled like a drill sergeant while we worked to clean up the previous days mess caused by the kids having free reign of the house.  I called my husband around 4:00pm crying asking him to please come and help.  He left around 5:30 and returned around 6pm to help get food for the kids, but the house was still a disaster and I had used all the strength I had and was lifeless on the couch when he found me.  I could sense Shane's irritability with having worked all day and then having to come home to help with me and the kids.  Sensing this, my heart was broken and all I could do was cry.  When bed time came, I weakly climbed the stairs and went into the guest bedroom to sleep.  I cried and cried and lay there as the crazy thoughts of depression and worthlessness swirled around in my mind.  I knew it was the gluten, but yet it felt so real.  Would my family be better without me?  Could I possibly end my life without causing further pain to anyone....NO, I knew the pain my Dad had caused his kids by leaving, but my heart and mind fought to maintain their sanity.  Should I just leave?  Would me kids be better without me?  I'd be heartbroken to see someone else raising me kids, but maybe that would be best for everyone....  I cried thinking about how the kids would resent me leaving and wouldn't understand that I was doing it because I loved them, not that I was giving up.  Sometimes the depression has been so bad in the past that I've thought about driving to Vegas and giving my life over and losing it by numbing out the entire world.  I could feel loved by strangers.  I would be a vagabond on the streets.  I didn't want anyone to have the burden of taking care of me.  I'd just disappear and either life of the land or die somewhere alone.

After a long struggle with the thoughts and reality I made the decision to go and talk to Shane.  I explained to him that when I get gluten and I'm in the process of recovery is when I really need him to help me remember that it's not me, but the gluten talking and to remember who Steffanie really is.  Please remind me that I'm a good mother, I'm a wonderful wife, the house is clean and organized, the kids are well dressed and cared for, etc. etc.  Shane apologized and held me as I cried until I fell asleep.  He held me in my own little state of "HELL" in my mind, and helped me until the light of the morning came with its resurrection of Mind and Body.  So, it is usually the third day that I feel fully recovered, and the light returns.  Nana and I had a common experience of going through the "Hell" to get our minds back.  We both had a tiny glimpse of what my father must have experienced with his depression.  I understand now why it was his greatest fear- it is my greatest fear now as well.

A friend of mine, from High School, ended his life a little over a year ago.  I hadn't mourned my Dad's loss for nearly 10 years - because I just stuffed everything inside me and went on with life, with caring for the 15 families that were working for us, for the siblings needing support etc.  I screamed until my voice was gone, I cried a lot - yes, but then I just locked the door to my emotions and put the key in my pocket.  It wasn't until the death of my friend, dying in such a tragic way, that I unlocked the door to all of those emotions and let them out.  I cried nearly non-stop for three days.  I'm not kidding.  I cried and didn't feel like eating.  I would wake up my husband at night because of my sobbing.  At the end of the three days I was so weak and sick that I kept dry heaving (trying to vomit).  The sickness and sadness I could feel in every cell of my body and I prayed that I could just throw it all up, but I couldn't.  Symbolically again (three days) just like the resurrection of the Savior, I fell to my knees.  I don't think I prayed for anything, I just remained on my knees crying until I didn't have the desire to throw-up any longer.  I don't recall anything other than that at a certain point in time it was finished.  I had mourned and I could go on with my day.

The weeks that have followed haven't been easy.  It's amazing how I can go through my weekly duties without feeling any emotion or sadness, but for the past several weeks I've sat down in Relief Society (Church class for Women) and the tears start falling.  I can't explain why, but that room, and the love that I feel from everyone around me causes the tears to fall, I hold back from sobbing, but the tears fall freely the entire time of the class.  People come up later to give me hugs and all I can do is blame it on "Pregnancy Hormones".  Perhaps it is, but those I trust most know that I really miss my Dad.  I really wish that he would have held out a little longer until I could have helped him to get on a Gluten-Free diet, but not just a Gluten-Free Diet with processed food, but a Gluten-Free diet that is "Naturally Gluten-Free".  No sugar, no refined flours, no meat or dairy from the regular food stores, only the purest form of food as close to the earth and as carefully planted and harvested as possible.  I wish he would have held on.
So if any of you reading this have felt something, I pray that you will continue to hold on to the belief that God DOES want you to live AND to have JOY.  My next entry will be a summary of the advice that I'd give to my Dad if he were still alive to receive the instructions.

My prayers are with you....

-Steffi
(Steffi is what my Dad called me- I didn't like it when anyone other than my Dad or Sister Stacie called me Steffi)