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Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Red Pepper~ A Mother’s Journey

Interesting title right? I struggled with this post. I did not want to write it. It was too hard. To write this post would offer a deep, personal glimpse of me and my family for all the internet world to see. But still He whispered, nudged, perhaps even commanded me to write this post.

Fair warning: This post is a bit wordy.

You may be familiar with the following verse where God talks of our bodies being temples:

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body," ~ 1 Corinthisans 6:19-20

I haven’t felt really good for several years now. I thought I was eating a healthy, balanced diet. But I felt sluggish, was often tired and my weight has been slowly creeping up. Still, I ignored the flashing red lights because I was “too busy”.

It’s funny though that as mothers when the same holds true of our children we will stop at nothing to find out what is wrong and why it is wrong.

My daughter has not been well for about two years now. She was taken to the doctor several times. Simple tests were run, her thyroid was checked and nothing could be found. As a mother it is so frustrating to KNOW something is wrong with your kid and the medically community continually telling you that you’re wrong.

As a last resort allergy testing was done.

It wasn’t an extremely long list but two ingredients she was allergic to popped up at the top.


high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

Now if you are a label reader you already know that those two ingredients are used in about 98% of all processed/prepared foods. They are used because they are easy and cheap filler ingredients.

While I was cooking at home and rarely served takeout for most meals I did reach for bottled salad dressings, boxed mixes, a type of peanut butter that choosy moms choose, etc.

Yep, I basically had been poisoning my kid with my cooking.

In early December I decided to go in for a physical. Everything was examined from stem to stern. No surprise, I had similar food allergies. (Genetics do play a role.) In addition I was told:

“You are in the beginning stages of osteoporosis.”

Not a horrible diagnosis, but not exactly one you want to hear either.

(I’m the skeleton in the middle, complete with tummy pooch.)

But I was not going down without a fight!

My response to my doctor was to say “Oh, I have to drink more milk!” (Because we’ve all seen the mustache ads right?)

Her response to me was “No, milk can actually cause a reaction in older bodies to produce a certain type of acid that actually leeches calcium from bones. I recommend that you eat more greens such as broccoli and spinach.” WHAT! How can this be!!! I mean, I consider myself to be fairly well educated. How did I miss this?

I wasn’t exactly sure I believed her.

School ended for me and I spent my four week holiday break reading books, scanning articles and watching endless food documentaries.

The bottom line: she was right. In addition I learned that there is a reason our nation is the heaviest it has ever been and why diabetes is at an all time high. It is medically linked back to two ingredients. Care to guess what they are? Yep, soybeans in the form of soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup.

If you want to do some research for yourself I liked Michael Pollan’s books. The food documentary I found that laid it all out in a matter of fact manner, without going into all the extreme ethics issues, was “Forks Over Knives”. It is available to watch instantly on Netflix.  

In addition, I have learned more about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) and the Dirty Dozen (fruits and vegetables that are grown with high rates of cancer causing pesticides) than one mother probably should. It is scary.

So, in going back to the 1 Corinthisans 6:19-20 verse at the top I kind of think that God did not have twinkie’s and supersize burgers in mind when He commanded us to take care of our bodies. As with all things in my life I turned to the bible and found that God actually has A LOT to say about food~ particularly in the old testament. Given that He created it all, my guess is that He is none to happy about foods that have now been genetically modified and loaded with fillers.

So what does the post title “The Red Pepper” have to do with all this?

Well, as much as I would love to tell you that I swept our refrigerator and pantry clean of all food offenders, much like you see on intervention shows, I did not.

Our family can’t afford to.  

But, as we run out of items I am replacing them with better choices. It is interesting to note that while I have not changed the amount of food I am eating I have tried to eliminate soybean and HFCS from my diet.

So far I have lost 4 pounds.

The Fashionista has lost 12 pounds. In one month. Just by eliminating those two ingredients.

We are both actually starting to feel better now that our bodies are not fighting food allergies.

Which now leads me to the red pepper.

I grew up in a farming community. My mother, Nadine, raised a large garden and canned liked nobody’s business. In addition I have been blessed to live overseas where most of the pesticides the U.S. uses and GMO’s are illegal. (That right there should tell you something.)

So I know what real, good food tastes like.

Mr. Décor was……hesitant to believe that organic produce (which is slightly more expensive) was any different than regular produce. One night I was making a yummy dish involving chicken and red peppers. I had one regular red pepper and one organic red pepper. From the outside they looked the same. But once I cut into it there was a visible difference. The regular red pepper, the one that had probably been modified and sprayed within an inch of its life, barely had any seeds inside it. While the organic pepper was bursting with seeds.

But the best part was the taste. OH THE TASTE! We had forgotten what a true, sweet red pepper can taste like.

So yeah, I am that woman at the Saturday farmer’s market now.


I am spending more time in the kitchen preparing meals but I am also searching for good recipes made from whole foods that can be made quickly. I still struggle with a busy schedule and spending 2-3 hours a day in the kitchen. But I have found a few new favorites.


Which leads me to ask~ are you interested in coming along on this journey with me?

Perhaps once a week you might want the recipe for this yummy, but healthful, lemon poppy seed bread and delicious spinach quiche?


Please let me know via comments, emails or tweets.


“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;” ~ Isaiah 1:19

“Give us this day our daily bread.”~ Matthew 6:11


marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Ok, I am already doing the same. Just have to get this weight under control. Great post. Hugs, Marty

Louise said...

Yes, I am very interested Laura. I hate (not too strong a word) what the fda does not protect us from in this country! It is shocking.

April Dunlap said...

Having been a label reading freak for years now, I can totally relate. The real food does taste better, and once you go clean on food, it's really hard to go back because suddenly your BODY says "No way, sis. I don't feel good when you eat junk!"
I'm just surprised at the numbers of folks who don't give a second thought to the "almost food" they eat; assuming if it's on store shelves it's safe!
Good for you! :)

Karena Albert said...

Laura thank you! I would love to have your recipes. Being widowed, I have really gotten out of the habit of cooking well balanced meals and admit to popping a lean cuisine in the microwave all too often.

It is astounding that there are so many items on the NO list that we think are great antioxidants! I have to say it is a bit upsetting that we must buy organic to have pure foods!

The Arts by Karena

Kelley said...

Yes, I'm there, after my GYN told me it's his professional opinion that all Hashimoto (hypothyroid) sufferers-- like I am-- are gluten intolerant. Whoa. What a deal this has been...

I can't eat pesticide-free here in Manila where there is no such thing. I have been staying away from soybean and HFCS, so your future updates along this vein are much appreciated!

I just added to my personal vision statement today: "I feed my temple what it needs, and I don't feed it what it doesn't. My spirit has dominion over my flesh."

The reality and truth hit me: I am addicted to sugar, plain and simple. Honesty is the best policy. "Do all to the glory of God." Addiction is addiction, and it can never give glory to God.

Happy weekend and thanks, Laura,

openid said...

I live in the garden state and what we don't pick ourselves we get from neighboring farms.
Count me in.
Your Friend,

chris mckinley said...

Sharing recipes is a great idea, we have discovered that buying locally grown fruits and veggies did not impact our food budget too accomplishes two things, supports the local farmers and we do feel better! We need to be a little more careful and diligent in our planing for the work week...all worth if! Glad your family is feeling better!

Denise said...

This is such a timely and well-written post, Laura. I haven't felt really good in years, except for the brief period that my doctor found the right blood pressure med. that actually works for me. But now that my body has gotten used to it, I'm back to feeling tired a lot. I hate to confess that our diet around here is terrible. That wasn't the case when our son was little, but when he got older and I went back to work, we were so busy and eating out constantly.

I have known for a while that I need to make some changes, and your post has given me more incentive and motivation to do so. Thank you so much for sharing all this great information with us. I was discouraged to see that most of my favorite fruits and veggies are on the "dirty" list, but many of my favorites are also on the "clean" list. I, too, like to go to our local farmer's market, and I agree that the taste of locally grown produce is SO much better.

I'm glad you found the source of your health issues and you know how to work on making things better. :) Have a wonderful day!


Denise at Forest Manor

kimber said...

Thank you for sharing this vital info! I would definitely be interested in sharing recipes that will help my family stay away from genetically manufactured foods. My son suffered migraines and it was from preservatives in our "every day foods". I am much more careful about prepacked foods...rarely eat unless prepared by someone else!

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Tucker-Wolek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

When Brian was diagnosed with Gout 8 years ago, I did a lot of research on what he can/cannot have -- so for 8 years we haven't eaten red meat, he hasn't had a drink for 8 years (I already didn't drink), and we watch HIS high fructose corn syrup as that is a Gout indicator -- but we haven't watched mine, and I have watched my weight go UP in groves since I had my gall bladder removed 4 years ago -- so I would love to see your recipes as I need to start looking into foods that are better for all of us :)

Rita C. said...

Will continue following and will be interested in you sharing your knowledge. I have always had an interest in nutrition, but am especially interested now with the impacts of aging (osteoporosis, thyroidism, etc.). What I learn can be passed along to my adult daughters. I'm in!

Joani said...

Yes, I'm in. I've been trying to grow my own vegetables the last couple of years and they taste so much better. Thanks for sharing.

Lisa said...

Awesome post! I would love getting tips and recipes about healthy eating. Sometimes it is all so overwhelming! I'm glad you got a correct diagnosis and are on the path to wellness.

Lady Dorothy said...

Good for you! I have been on this learning journey for awhile now. It is eye-opening, isn't it?

You may want to check out This was started by my daughter and friend. They are VERY into healthy eating and have many FRUGAL ideas and recipes. Two seriously smart girls. :-)

You can also visit them on Facebook.

Blackberry Lane said...

Count me in too. John has diabetes and we already watch our sugar intake.

Lorrie said...

I've eaten this way for several years - lots of vegetables, organic when I can. We grow as much as we can in our back yard garden. No processed faux food. No packaged mixes. I make everything from scratch (ok, there is a bottle of ketchup in my fridge, but it's been there over a year.) I'd love to share recipes with you. My food blog has only whole food recipes and I'm always looking for more.
I'm so glad you feel better already, Laura. I think that if our governments would spend more money and time on ensuring the safety of our food production, the cost of health care would go way down.

Maureen Wyatt said...

Making the transition to organic, whole foods takes time. I'm in my second year and it gets easier all the time. Cost was a major issue for me but, as I've learned to eat foods in season, preserve for the winter months and learn new cooking methods, I don't think it is now costing me any more than I spent before. I've even learned how to make good meals in the same time it would take me to make junk food. I truly believe we can change the food industry if we withhold our $ from GMO/chemical laden products. And, you are so right about the taste!

Jen said...

Thank you for sharing. I learned so much about this when I started my weight loss journey just over a year ago. We only eat "clean" (90% for the kiddos) in our home and season with natural ingredients. Besides the appreciation for the real flavor of foods, The change has been astounding! Not only have I lost over 100 pounds, but my husband has come off of FOUR blood pressure medicines, cholesterol medicine and an anti-depressant that he took to counteract the affects of those meds. And I haven't had a migraine in 11 months and I was having at least one a month!

I am so glad you were able to find out the problems for your family!

Catherine Holman said...

I've lost three lbs. since i started eating gluten free foods. Good luck! said...

Yes, Please! I would love it if you would share what you are learning on this journey and the recipes. I struggle with eating healthy. I know a lot of should, but I don't practice them. It has been harder since we moved to a small town with fewer choices. But, even so, that should not be an excuse for eating the bad stuff. You are inspiring me to try harder. Thanks!

Lillibeth said...

So glad you are feeling better! I know how it feels to have to re-vamp the family meals for special diets. One member of my family first became allergic to dairy, and I thought that was difficult to cook without, until we got to the soy allergy. When he discovered the soy allergy (that landed him in the ER), all convenience food and boxed and canned ingredients were off the grocery list! I learned to cook a lot of things by scratch. Now I am on a low-oxalate diet; seems like there is nothing left to eat but cauliflower. I'm just waiting for someone else to come down with gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy to round out the family special diets!

maggiegracecreates said...

I am an avid reader of yours and last night at my ladies bootcamp work out i expressed my body image issues are haunting (taunting) me. I am so very interested in the recipes and tips. I already pinned the dirty dozen graphic to my healthy choice pin board.
I'm excited.

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

At first it is hard learning all the knew things, but it gets easier. It looks like you are well on your way to success. Of the grocery stores, Sprouts has the best prices for organic produce. The farmer's market in our neighborhood is high compared to the one where we use to live.

My daughter is on a gluten-free diet, and she can't have a lot of dairy either, because she is also lactose intolerant. My spouse is allergic to cruciferous vegetables.

I never have been tested! There are a few foods I try to avoid, because they don't digest well.

We are trying to grow a garden this year.

The Star Gal said...

Definitely would love to see some great receipes on your blog!

Gloria in Virginia

Cindy Nettles said...

I would be interested also. Started reading labels more when my oldest was diagnosed with Celiac Disease while away at college. Other son has dairy allergy. We have found that having a garden is an effective way to get some of our veggies.
Recipes would be welcome!

Karen L said...

It must be devine intervention as I have just discovered your blog. I would love to see the recipes and learn to eat healthier!
Thanks for the inspiration!
Karen L.

Katherines Corner said...

I am happy to learn that you are finding things that make you and your daughter feel better. Living with a multitude of health issues I can certainly understand the frustration. I send hugs your way and prayers for continued good health . xo