Supermom's Synergy Circle

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The interaction of elements that when combined 
produce a total effect that is greater 
than the sum of the individual elements." 

Since 2008 I've been working with so many people, helping them learn how to eat healthier without going broke, without eating weird stuff, and without going to extremes.  It's been great, but my class members would often tell me that they want even more support and continuing help so that they could keep working toward their goals.  
As a busy wife and homeschooling mom myself, I have wanted to offer more, but wasn't sure what I could do that could give my class members more without stretching myself too thin.  I've tossed around many ideas, gotten feedback from many past class members, and finally have what I think is going to be an absolutely fabulous resource for you.

I call it Supermom's Synergy Circle.  Synergy is defined as "the interaction of elements, that when combined, product a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements."  That is exactly what I have created for you here:  Multiple elements to the group that will all work together to give you MORE education, MORE support, MORE coaching, MORE inspiration and ideas, MORE accountability, MORE motivation, MORE community, and MORE benefits than ever before.

Doesn't that sound exciting?!  You can listen to me tell about the program here:

OK, so let me tell you what's included:

1.  You get my 12-week long online class to get you going with the knowledge and practical tips that will get you up and running.

2.  You get all four of my healthy eating ebooks, so you'll have a lot of great recipes and ideas right away to start with.

3.  You can participate in two group coaching calls a month so that you can ask your questions and benefit from hearing how others in the group are doing things. The days and times will vary, depending on the need of the group, and in order to help as many members as possible.  These will be recorded, so even if you can't be there live every time, you can still listen and benefit from the session. 

4.  You can take advantage of Super Speedy Coaching Calls at least twice a month as well.  Super Speedy Coaching is a quick 10-minute long one-on-one phone session with me available to focus on helping you with your specific needs.  This quick style works great for all of us that are so busy and just have a quick question or two for the moment.  I'll have at least two hours blocked out per month when members can call me for personalized coaching.

5.  You can join our private community area on facebook.  Here we will hang out as a group, share and discuss articles and recipes, encourage one another, tell what's working for you, and make new friends that are also working toward eating and living healthier.  I'll be there regularly (probably at least a couple times each day) and will be available to answer questions there as well.  ALSO, if I have additional time available for more Super Speedy Coaching, I'll announce it there and be waiting by the phone for your call.  :)

6.  As new products and services come available, Supermom's Synergy Circle Members will be eligible for the deepest discounts available.

I'm also open to letting the group evolve according to the needs of the members.  So, additional services and benefits may come as I get to know you all and learn more about how I can help *you* best.

Supermom's Synergy Circle is going to give you so many connection points and so much support!  You are going to love it and I am going to love getting to spend more time with each of you!  This is something I have said for years I wished I could do, and now it is here and I am really excited about that.  

To learn more details about the program, click here!  Ready to join us?  Click here!

"Wheat is Evil"--I'm not buying it

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I know this might bring the grain-hating crusaders out of the woodwork, but I want to speak up.

Swearing off whole wheat and all grains is really, really popular right now. It seems that every third person has suddenly discovered they are gluten intolerant.  It reminds me of 20 years ago when every third person was lactose intolerant.  (and now most of those people are back to consuming dairy and most of the lactose-intolerance products are long gone)  Suddenly everybody is suffering from eating something that we've been eating all along, and this was just figured out in the last 5 years?  Um....ok.

While I FULLY respect your experience, I just cannot get on board with this myself, nor as a sweeping generalization for all people.  

Last year I did a 19-day juice fast.  I did it as a cleanse and detox.  I did it to get down to no dependency on sugar/dairy/wheat/grains/anything and then see how I felt and what seemed to work for me once I went back to eating regular food.  Know what happened?  Here's a bit from what I wrote 4 months after the juice fast ended:

For me, I did not experience any amazing energy, mental clarity, 
or general extraordinary wonderfulness either during my fast or after it.  
When I eventually tried eating a little bread, I found that my tumultuous stomach calmed down a bit, 
which was a better reaction than I had experienced with anything else I had eaten since exiting the fast.  
I didn't experience any adverse reactions that I could identify, and so wheat and brown rice and oatmeal have continued to be a regular part of my diet ever since.

I'm in the midst of updating my healthy eating class today, and I wondered about my recommendation of using whole wheat and other whole grains as a part of a healthy diet.  Seeing as how most people are eating non-whole grains all the time, I have to believe that switching to whole grains will be healthier for them. For people that suspect that they may have an intolerance to wheat/gluten/whatever, I think you should do a serious experiment with eliminating it from your diet and see what happens.  I know my mom is experiencing some encouraging health improvements after going gluten-free, and I think that's great.  What I cannot support is the vast vilification of all grains for all people.  

Yes, I read Wheat Belly.  All of it.  And that is one of the reasons I decided to do the juice fast.  But I remain unconvinced.  Sorry.

Making Applesauce....Without Pain and Suffering

Friday, July 12, 2013

Back in the day when I was young and newly married, my husband's sweet parents would make homemade applesauce that they canned and then brought to us when they came to visit.  They had purchased local apples, and then one by one they had peeled, sliced, and cored every. single. one. and THEN cooked them on the stove top in a large pot with a little water in the bottom, taking special care to make sure it didn't scorch on the bottom.

So that is how I learned to do it, too.

And when I think about how many millions of lightyears easier it is for me to make applesauce now, I practically weep inside for that young, eager mother of little ones who spent many back-breaking hours peeling and coring.

If you are doing all that work to make applesauce, first:  YOU ROCK!  Second, STOP and READ THIS INSTEAD!  Your misery is almost over.

Thankfully, before too many years of hand-cramping applesauce-making misery went by, I learned about good tools for home food preservation.  The two that are essential to my applesauce making are these:

The Back to Basics Food Strainer makes peeling a coring a thing of the past!
This fabulous steamer means that I only have to wash my apples to prepare them for sauce and juice-making!

First, let me tell you about my steamer:

The bottom pan is filled with water.  This will be heated to boiling and produce steam.  Lots and lots of steam.  I try to remember to check the water level each time I finish taking steamed apples out of the top.  Otherwise your pan can go dry and get damaged, as happened to mine a long time ago.  Thankfully, this stainless steel set is extremely sturdy and continues to serve us well despite my mistake.

The next pan that nests inside of the bottom one allows the steam to rise up through the center cone.  This pan also collects beautiful juice!

The next layer is the colander.  Fruit goes in here.  The steam comes up through the holes and gently cooks the fruit without ever burning it.  The fruit bursts open and releases juice, which drips through the colander and is held in the lower juice reservoir.  Notice that the middle spot does not have holes in it.  This is so that you don't lose any juice that would fall down through that open cone spot below it.

Here are my washed apples filling the colander level to the tippy-top.  Although our apples weren't all perfectly beautiful this year, they had no bugs or worms, and so all I did was wash them and throw them in the pot.

Put the top on and let it roll!  I leave the burner on high so the water in the bottom boils continuously.

These apples had been steaming for about 20 minutes.  You can see that they are starting to burst.  While they could probably go through the food strainer at this point, letting them steam for a few more minutes will make it even easier.

After about 25 minutes or so the apples are super smooshy and easy to run through the food strainer.

I made a video to show you how the food strainer works, but technology ate it and won't let me upload it anywhere.  :(  I found someone else's video showing them using it so you can at least get an idea.  Below:

The Victorio Strainer in the above video is basically the same idea as the one I have, except mine is a little less expensive.  Nevertheless, the idea is that you put your fruit in the top funnel, turn the crank (easy and fun for kids to do), and out one side comes perfect applesauce, and out the other side comes peels and cores.  This works great for tomatoes, too!

For each full colander of apples that we steamed we got a little more than a full 9x13 pan of applesauce.  Since the apples we're working with right now are June apples, they are pretty sour, so the sauce needed to be sweetened.  This year I experimented with using Sweet Leaf Stevia, Coconut Sugar, and finally some nice local honey.  The honey ended up being our favorite, by far.  It was also less expensive than the Coconut Sugar.  I don't have a specific recipe to recommend to you for sweetening your applesauce.  It's really going to depend on your apples and how sweet you want your applesauce to be.  So just experiment little by little until you get a feel for how much honey (or other sweetener) you need to add to get it just right.
We also got some nice apple juice at the same time we were making the applesauce!  Here is a picture of some collected juice in the steamer.  Some little bits of apple do come through, so if you don't mind pulp, you can keep it, or if you do, you'll eventually want to strain off the pulp (and add it back into the applesauce) with a fine sieve.

You may have noticed that the juice reservoir has a tube running out the side of it.  Toward the end of the tube is a clamp.  When you're ready to get your apple juice, get out your glass jars, stick the hose in, and then squeeze the clamp to release the pressure on it and the juice will come out easily.  Again, because these were sour June apples, we choose to sweeten the juice with Sweet Leaf Stevia.  

To store your applesauce, you can choose to can it or freeze it.  I avoid using all plastic containers that have BPA in them.  #3, 6, and 7 are the worst.  Also, Tupperware has BPA in it so I avoid using that if possible.  You can freeze in glass jars if you leave an inch or more of head space.  There are some square and rectangular glass containers that can work well for this as well.  You can do some research about which plastic containers should be safe.  (I'm not going to bother linking to any because plastic safety seems to change all the time, so in an year from now who knows if the information I find today is still relevant.)

With the help of my food strainer and the steamer I was able to process a large laundry basket full of organic apples from our bad yard in less than 4 hours, including cleanup time.  That is time well-spent!

Have you ever made applesauce?  What tips would you want to share with us?

Amazon is My Favorite Health Food Store

Many years ago when I first opened Supermom's Health and Wellness, it was very challenging to find some of my favorite products if a person didn't live near a health food store.  Thankfully, as time has gone on, Amazon has become an absolutely fabulous resource for almost all of my favorite healthy staples.

What's so great about it?

It's easy to find everything.  No more struggling through an unfamiliar store layout trying to track down something you need.  (or making a special trip and then finding out they've discontinued it or are out of stock)

Product reviews let you know how others feel about the items, and if there is something that people like better.  When trying new things, it's especially nice to have some assurance from other customers that what you're considering getting is a good product.

Free Shipping!  Most of what's available on amazon is eligible for free shipping with a low minimum order.  Lots of that is available for even faster shipping through the Amazon Prime program, which I love!

What is Amazon Prime?  For an annual fee you get FREE 2-day shipping on all of your qualifying purchases (which is almost every single thing I ever look at), without  a minimum purchase. (You also get free streaming movies and some other benefits that you should check out.) Seeing as how I often find myself thinking, "Oh no!  I need a birthday gift STAT!" that 2-day shipping has saved me from spending a day driving to The Big City to purchase Legos for birthday boys.  It is also great when I need more coconut sugar, maple syrup, or other pantry items. (or missing vacuum cleaner heads!)  With a couple simple clicks amazon will have it on the way to me and it'll be here before I would have had time to go buy it in person.  (Maybe a third of the time my Amazon Prime purchases arrive **the next day**!!!)

Subscribe & Save makes my life so easy!  Very often when shopping on Amazon for grocery and household items you will see an option to add it to your Subscribe & Save account.  Depending on the timing and amount of items you purchase through Subscribe & Save, this can save you 5-15% off the regular prices, PLUS give you Free Shipping!  Some of the things I love about this:

--The even lower price, off of what was already a GREAT price to begin with!

--The fast shipping.

--I never forget what items I like to get and never have to look them up again.  I can easily see from my Subscribe & Save management area what I bought last time.

--Amazon sends an email about about a week before it's time for your next Subscribe & Save shipment.  This I especially love because I have the opportunity to adjust my order.  If I don't want to get an item this time around, it's a simple click to solve.  If I need a different quantity than I ordered last time, I can change that too.  It also shows me if the price is higher or lower than last time I bought, so if I bought something when it was on sale but now it is not, I know that and can decide if I want to get it at the current price.  And if I don't want something at all, that's easy to click and remove as well.

--Basically, there is no risk to you taking the good deal on the Subscribe & Save price when you are buying something.  Amazon allows you to discontinue that item and never get it again, easily and with no hijinks.

All-in-all, Subscribe & Save gives me great prices that are normally lower than I would have gotten in-store, and I don't have to leave the house to get it done.  The ease of using the system is fabulous, and there are no sneaky tricks to worry about.

What do I buy from Amazon?  Here's a list of a few things I regularly get through my Subscribe & Save?

Heritage O's Cereal

Heritage Flakes cereal

Coconut Sugar

Organic Oats

Coconut oil when it goes on good sales

My daughter's favorite shampoo

Fair Trade Dutch Process Cocoa

Himalayan Sea Salt

Maple Syrup (I stock up when there are good deals)

I also buy birthday and Christmas gifts, school supplies, household goods, office supplies, and many other things from Amazon.  It makes my life so much easier!

So, you'll see me recommending Amazon for a ton of products nowadays.  I feel like they system is so beautifully easy to use, it's definitely a wonderful tool available to busy and budget-conscious families!  I hope this post has been helpful to you in understanding how Amazon can help YOU!

Are you an Amazon shopper?  Do you use Subscribe & Save?

You Might Want to Check Out....Aldi!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

I've been to Aldi maybe 4 times in my life.  While I heard people talking about their low prices, when I would scan the ads, it always seemed like they only sold the kind of foods I would never buy.  (And by that I mean canned and processed stuff.)

But then I checked it out and what do you know?  They had an organic cheerios cereal!  And that got my attention, oh yes it did!  (General Mills has spent a lot of money to avoid having to label their GMO-containing foods.  Cheerios don't seem so wholesome or safe anymore...)

And now?  MORE organics are coming!  Starting July 10, 2013 there will be quite a few organic items on special for the week, so you'll want to get in there with your cash or debit card and buy 'em while they are available!

Also, organic grass-fed beef and antibiotic-free chicken!

You can read more about the specifics of what's coming here, and check out this helpful article about buying whole foods at Aldi's.  And, for those of you who do not know the mysterious ways of shopping at Aldi's, you simply must learn the ropes here.

I'd love to know:  Do you have an Aldi near you?  Have you ever shopped there?  For seasoned Aldi shoppers, tell us your best tips for what to buy!

Finally! "I Knew Her When....."

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Any of you who, like us, have had backyard chickens, will appreciate the humor in this.  What's more? I can finally say, "I knew her when!"  This gal is the sister of my brother-in-law, and we went to college together.  She's got a great sense of humor.  Check this out:

 You love her, right? Yeah. I know.

 Well, she is not only the creator of snappy and smart vids, but she writes an excellent blog as well. Plus! PLUS! She talks about shopping at her local Farmer's Market, which is where I used to live, which makes me feel all warm and sunny inside. :)

 Visit her at One Girl's Rant and on her Youtube Channel where she will make you literally LOL.  Lotsa great locavore foodie recipes and much more!

Using Up a Bunch of Milk

Friday, July 05, 2013

We were given two gallons of milk the other day.  While I'm not much of a fan of cow's milk, much less non-organic milk, I'm not a purist.  If someone gives us two gallons of milk, I use it up as best I can before it goes bad.

I love to make use of what I have on hand.  I enjoy finding recipes that make something tasty out of the stuff that's left when it seems like "There's nothing to eat!"  It is a little game I play by myself, where I try to figure out what meals and snacks can be made from what we have in the house, and grocery shop as little as possible.

I have to stay on top of the makins' as much as possible.  Seeing as how we're a family that doesn't offer much in the way of convenience foods, we can quickly run into this situation:

My boys say some version of that to me, like......every other day.

Boys:  "Mom, there's nothing to eat!"

Me:  "What do you mean there's nothing to eat?  There are grapes, bananas, bread, butter, sandwich stuff, leftover pasta, leftover casserole, crackers, cheese, refrigerator oatmeal, quinoa salad, stuff to make burritos, stuff to make soup, stuff to make......"

Boys:  "Yeah....but.....there's nothing to eeeeaaaattttt......."

Yeah. milk.  How to use it up?  And produce identifiable food stuffs?

2 batches of homemade yogurt in the crock pot:  The older milk went into this so that I could stretch the use-by date way out.  The yogurt will be used in morning smoothies, as a sour cream substitute in casseroles, and instead of heavy cream in some recipes.

Homemade Hot Cocoa: Once for a snack, once with our German Pancake meal

Awesomesauce:  Will by mixed into casseroles that I will get made ahead and put into the freezer.

German Pancakes:  A simple recipe that my boys enjoy

Refrigerator Oatmeal:  Will provide breakfasts and snacks for my boys for a few days.

What are some of your favorite ways to use up milk or other perishable pantry staples?

Homemade Healthy Hot Cocoa

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

I'm up late working and needed a snack.  So what if it's summer?  The house is air conditioned!  Time for Homemade Healthy Hot Cocoa!

3 cups milk of your choice (works great with almond, rice, coconut, and other non-dairy milks)
half a cup water
heat the milk + water to your desired temp  (Not a purist, I heat it in a glass container in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes.  You could use the stove top, just be sure not to let the milk scorch.)

two-thirds cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
a pinch of sea salt

Whisk it well and serve.  Mmmmmmm.  If you thought Swiss Miss was hot cocoa, this will set you straight.  :)  Very yummy, easy to make, and kids love it too!