Mother’s Day Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up and I wanted to share a new guide I created just for moms!

I know how much of our everyday energy, care, love, attention, focus, and thought goes into supporting others.

Whether it is our immediate family, our extended family, our friends, and those in our community, we tend to do a lot for others.

It’s important to also put some of that energy into caring for ourselves, our needs, and what “fills” us back up.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ways to nurture and care for myself and also products that I love or would love for Mother’s Day.

Click here to download the guide.

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Nourishing Hope Holiday Guide

 

Holiday Gift Guide

I get many in my community who ask about my favorite products. When we are looking to nourish our families in the healthiest ways possible, having great kitchen tools are a must!

The holidays can be a great opportunity to change our our kitchen equipment and having ideas to send to family can be handy.

I’ve created the gift guide below with some of my favorite products for both parents and kids! Foods and treats can be a big part of our holidays and I wanted to share some of the products and brands I use personally.

For Kids

For kids who have higher sensory needs, there are some great products to help! Noise cancelling head phones can be terrific for helping children who have auditory sensitivities be more comfortable in loud places. Whether this is the grocery store, outing with family, or even a home celebration, overwhelming noises can be really challenging for those who are sensitive and this can be a wonderful support.

Sensory swings can also be a fun gift that provide support in addition! These can easily be used at home and provide a cozy haven when a little sensory downtime is needed.

I have also had clients share that their children really enjoy calming sensory lights as a focal point. These can be used near bedtime or even during the day in a darker room.

Sweet treats are something special many children look forward to at the holidays. But, with special diets, food allergies or reactions, and just the desire to have the healthiest diet possible, that can be a tricky topic. These Enjoy Life Rice Milk Christmas Minis can be a good option.  No Whey Santa is another festive and allergen-friendly option. And for that classic holiday treat, Yum Earth Candy Canes give you the delicious peppermint taste without the high fructose corn syrup and food dyes found in other brands.

Gifts for Mom and Dad

Staying hydrated is important for the whole family, including mom and dad! When we take care of our own health, we can better care for our loved ones. I like Hydroflasks or this glass bottle that I use almost daily.  For a truly special gift, my friend and colleague Terri Hirning told me about these VitaJewel bottles or pitchers. They blend the health of drinking out of glass with the stunning beauty of gemstones. Terri loves hers!

Essential oil diffusers can make beautiful yet functional gifts for moms and dads! In this recent blog, I brought up the topic of certain scents causing meltdowns. This can include even more natural scents like essential oils. If your child is reactive, you will want to be careful and avoid those that trigger behavioral issues. But, there are oils that are lower in phenols and can be very soothing and pleasant. This marbled glass diffuser is a beautiful option, as is this domed version with a smaller profile.

Our special dads who shave will love this Harry razor! Another Close Shave makes a clean shave gel that would be a great accompaniment.

My Favorite Tools For the Kitchen

I love things that make it easier and a high powered blender is one of those tools! I have a Vitamix but Blendtec is another great option. The advantage of a blender like these is that it blends foods really finely so when you want to add things like kale to your smoothie, you don’t have to chew it! Another great tool is a juicer. When we aim to get as many healthy vegetables and fruits into our children, smoothies and juices can be easy ways to do so. For juicers, I like masticating because more of the raw enzymes stay intact. This Omega juicer is a nice option. For my fellow gardeners, winter doesn’t have to mean an end to your growing season. I have an Aero Garden like this one. I love being able to have fresh herbs and veggies all year round!

For the Whole Family

As I referred to above, in this recent blog I talked about reactions to common holiday scents, including from candles that can cause meltdowns and other behavioral issues. Bluecorn Candles are 100% pure beeswax, scented by honey, colored by pollen, are paraffin-free and have a lead-free wick. Some of my favorite kitchen tools include this glass kettle and my Instant Pot. They even make an air fryer top that fits on your existing Instant Pot if you wanted to try air frying.

Give the Gift of Hope

And finally, we here at Nourishing Hope are on a mission to support individuals with special needs and their families. We have made it easy for you to give the gift of hope through our new Gift One promotion which gives a family the gift of our Nourishing Hope for Healing Kids program. This program is our most comprehensive offering for individuals and families, it takes you through my proven 12 step program which includes a private Facebook community and live weekly Zoom calls to ask your specific questions. If you know a family that could benefit (or want to pass this on to relatives asking what your family really wants or needs), click here.

Ultimately the best gift we can give our loved ones is the gift of time. Special time together in the kitchen preparing delicious and healthy meals or special holiday treats can mean more than any wrapped gift. Baking cookies is a particular favorite for me and my daughter Ruby. We love these holiday cookie cutters to make delicious and healthy sugar cookies. If you need a GFCFSF sugar cookie recipe, I have a great one here. And for those families looking for a unique gift that also empowers and teaches kids, my good friend Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship has cooking classes for kids! Her classes help your kids learn basic cooking skills (ages 2-12) and encourage healthy eating, the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse makes a wonderful clutter-free gift!

No matter what your plans are for this holiday season, from our Nourishing Hope family to yours, wishing you love and joy.

Self-Care for Parents

As a parent, there is a lot to juggle.

Getting everyone fed, to school, picked up, driven around, fed again, and to sleep…

And even more to do if your child has special needs….

To finally have a few moments to ourselves.

It’s possible we didn’t have any time for ourselves all day.

It’s so easy to be focused on our children, and not ourselves.

I’m certainly guilty of this.

Putting my needs aside to take care of everyone else.

After all it is in our nature as mothers (and parents), to nurture others.

But the truth is, taking care of ourselves may be one of the most important things we do.

We must have our cup filled up to fill up others.

And we must stay healthy and have energy to care for them.

And we want to live long lives so we can be there for our children… even more so when they have special needs.

For me, I don’t have a child with special needs, but I’ve struggled with anxiety (and depression), mostly anxiety. But if the depression hits it’s bad. So I’m best to stay on top of things.

See, I have very similar underlying biochemistry to children with autism and ADHD, mainly methylation issues, but for me it manifests as anxiety and depression.

I have worked for years on the diet and biochemistry part and I’m doing very well. But life is life and when it throws a curveball, I have to pull out all the strategies I can. I don’t struggle daily, but I do know what it feels like to struggle so I can relate to other moms, and I need to do self-care so I don’t fall into that.

Whether we have anxiety or depression, we all need self-care.

Self-care can:

  • Nourish our body
  • Calm our mind
  • Put our body in a more healing state
  • Help us have more energy and vitality

Self-compassion and Self-care

Personally, I needed to learn how to get to self-compassion. I didn’t have examples of it growing up, so I was really at a loss of what it really was.

After years of therapy, I still couldn’t get to the esoteric concept of “self-compassion” without a tangible path. For me, that became self-care.

I realized I could “practice” self-compassion through acts of self-love… and that I could express through these self-care strategies.

I see it like this… Self-care -> self-love -> self-compassion

And self-care has the added benefit of helping us heal and be healthier… and likely happier.

Some strategies are VERY simple because they need to be. When someone is so depressed they don’t want to do anything for themselves, the simple act of brushing one’s teeth or taking a shower is a sign of self-love. And should be celebrated. Not shamed.

Other strategies are more long-term health oriented.

Maybe you don’t have anxiety or depression, but you want to know how to take good care of yourself with good self-care strategies because you want to have energy and vitality to live a rewarding life and help your child.

Making time for yourself

Maybe like you, I’m focusing on self-care at this time. Focusing on my physical health and mental health, my emotional and spiritual health.

I’ve come to realize that after 20 years of waiting for life to slow down so I could take care of ME that it’s not going to slow down!

So I’ve learned, I have to PRIORITIZE ME!

I consider this time a luxury (that I’m grateful for), but it is also a necessity (in order to do what I do).

Sometimes, I feel guilty…

…Taking “too much” time for myself.

But I’ve learned…

…If you want to do big things in the world, you need a lot of energy and vitality, so you need to take care of yourself.

Let’s face it, whether healing your child or helping others, it takes a lot of energy.

We all know the sentiment, “Put your mask on before assisting others” or

“You cannot pour from an empty cup.”

It’s true. We need to have energy and capacity to help others. Taking time for ourselves makes us GOOD moms/humans, not selfish ones.

And we need energy and capacity to create.

Instead of self-care as a luxury, consider it a necessity.

 

 

Only you can prioritize you.

Appreciate everything you do for yourself. No act of self-care is too small.

I think self-care is so fundamental, it is a step in my Nourishing Hope nutrition program for parents.

But it doesn’t matter if you are a parent or not, whether this is personal or

professional, self-care is important.

Self-Care Strategies

I have a long and growing list of self-care strategies I have used over the years to help me when life gets hard.

And I’ve created a Self-Care for Parents guide that I will be sharing with you this year. It’s divided into 12 different categories of self-care. Some of my favorites are:

  1. Nourish your body
  2. Beauty and expression
  3. Nature

If you’d like to receive my Self-Care Guide when it comes out, you can let me know here (and you’ll get my 6 Nutrition Essentials in the meantime).

Here are 7 of my favorite strategies for Self-Care:

Breathe.

Focus on my breathing and the present moment. This is not a small task. It’s a powerful one. It will always be available to you. I just needed this one yesterday… and today, now that I think about it. Breathing is easy to access in a moment of stress.

Buy or cut flowers.

I love beautiful things. They make me happy. Self-care includes exposing yourself to beauty. Spring is on us and there are lilacs and camellias outside. So I put together a vase to make me happy.

Touch and talk to a tree.

I just did this yesterday when I was clipping flowers. I walked around, touch the trees and talked to them. I love trees. Truly, what’s more grounded – and grounding – then trees? I find it very soothing.

Drink water.

I bought 2 one-liter glass water bottles that I fill up at the beginning of the day. I’m reminded to drink it, and I have a good understanding of how much water I’ve had for the day.

Eat something healthy.

As a nutritionist, nourishing myself is a key part of self-care. I focus on boosting the nutritional value of each meal. Choose anything that’s nourishing for you. Sometimes it’s a soup, other times it’s a bowl of greens for me. There are many choices you can make each day.

Watercolor painting by Julie

Painting. I took up watercolor painting. I tend towards anxiety so I took up coloring a few years ago. I just decided to try coloring with watercolor paints and now I’m dabbling in watercolor paint. I love the feeling of the brush. It’s meditative like coloring and there is more ease in the brush strokes. Creative endeavors clear my mind so I can create. It’s meditative, a mindfulness practice.

Dancing or rolling out.

I like to add a body centered activity to my day. It gets me out of my head, since nutritional biochemistry is so cerebral, and helps me be more balanced. I love “poi” a form of fire dancing (that can be done without fire). But more recently I’ve just been dancing or even rolling out on a foam roller. My poi teacher, Isa Isaacs taught me this one… to do any body-centered practice every day.

Do you have self-care activities you do?

Make a list of ways you can nourish yourself. Add to this list and use it to remind yourself of what you can do when you’re in the need of self- care.

I hope you have a chance to create a list of creative endeavors you’d like to accomplish, or begin one right now.

And share them on our blog.

Dump the Resolutions and Focus on Self-Care

I love the new year…Well, sort of. Let me explain.

I love the opportunity during the new year to reflect on what I want to create.

I dislike the “pressure” of the “New Year’s Resolution.”

It feels so forced. And if you know me, you know I dislike feeling forced to do anything… even if it is “supposed to be” good for me. 😉

So, I’ve made this time something I enjoy. Rather than a list of obligatory New Year’s resolutions, I’ve created my own ritual for the New Year.

What do I do?

I create.

…AND I nurture myself.

Every year I take a couple weeks during the Christmas to New Year period, when it’s slow and quiet, and schedule it for myself. In addition to lots of free time with my daughter and my family…

I make sure I schedule time for myself, usually one week, ALL to myself.

But the amount of time doesn’t matter.

It’s about…

Creativity and self-care.

I love creating… new programs, new handouts, new articles, new presentations, and new webinars…

Right now, I’m working on writing the outline for my new book that’s in the works with my new literary agent!

I also have a new nutrition program for parents that I will be working and releasing this year.

But I’m also focusing on self-care during this time. Focusing on my physical health and mental health, my emotional and spiritual health. All of it aimed at self-care. Reflecting on new habits/routines I want to create for this year… and right now.

I’ve come to realize that after 20 years of waiting for life to slow down so I could take care of ME that it’s not going to slow down! So I’ve learned, I have to PRIORITIZE ME!

I consider this time a luxury (that I’m grateful for), but it is also a necessity (in order to do what I do).

Sometimes, I feel guilty…

…Taking this much time for myself.

But I’ve learned…

If you want to do big things in the world, you need a lot of energy and vitality, so you need to take care of yourself.

Let’s face it, whether healing your child or helping others, it takes a lot of energy.

We all know the sentiment,

“Put your mask on before assisting others” or

“You cannot pour from an empty cup.”

It’s true.

We need to have energy and capacity to help others. Taking time for ourselves makes us GOOD moms/humans, not selfish ones.

And we need energy and capacity to create.

Instead of self-care as a luxury, consider it a necessity.

Only you can prioritize you.

Appreciate everything you do for yourself.

No act of self-care is too small.

I have a long and growing list of self-care strategies I have used over the years to help me when life gets hard, that I will be sharing with you this year. In fact, self-care for mom and dad is part of my program for parents to help their child with autism.

But it doesn’t matter if you are a parent or not, whether this is personal or professional, self-care is important.

Here are some of my current favorites that I used this week.

Breathe. Focus on my breath and the present moment. This is not a small task. It’s a powerful one. It will always be available to you.

Drink water. I bought 2 one-liter glass water bottles that I fill up at the beginning of the day. I’m reminded to drink it, and I have a good understanding of how much water I’ve had for the day.

Eat something healthy. As a nutritionist, nourishing myself is a key part of self-care. I focus on boosting the nutritional value of each meal. This week I just added Brazil nuts as a snack for extra selenium during cold/flu season (as Terri Hirning, my friend and colleague, reminded me the other day). Choose anything that’s nourishing for you. Sometimes it’s a soup, other times it’s a bowl of greens for me. There are many choices you can make each day.

Watercolor painting by Julie

Painting. I took up watercolor painting. I tend towards anxiety so I took up coloring a few years ago. I just decided to try coloring with watercolor paints and now I’m dabbling in watercolor paint. I love the feeling of the brush. It’s meditative like coloring and there is more ease in the brush strokes. Creative endeavors clear my mind so I can create. It’s meditative, a mindfulness practice.

Dancing or rolling out. I like to add a body centered activity to my day. It gets me out of my head, since nutritional biochemistry is so cerebral, and helps me be more balanced. I love “poi” a form of fire dancing (that can be done without fire). But more recently I’ve just been dancing or even rolling out on a foam roller. My poi teacher, Isa Isaacs taught me this one… to do any body-centered practice every day.

Buy flowers. I love beautiful things. They make me happy. Self-care includes exposing yourself to beauty. I bought three plants and I have to laugh because my favorite is the one in my bathroom. Every time I’m there, I get a little burst of joy. Haha.

Do you have self-care activities you do?

Make a list of ways you can nourishing yourself. Add to this list and use it to remind yourself of what you can do when you’re in the need of self- care.

I hope you have a chance to create a list of creative endeavors you’d like to accomplish, or begin one right now.

And share them on our blog.

Sharing my heart… on my birthday

Today’s my birthday!

As I reflect on my 48 years on this planet, I want to share what’s in my heart.

I’m so grateful for all of my autism parents.

My life is so significantly enriched with you in it.

You are brave.

You are real.

You are aware and open-minded.

You are loving.

You are strong.

You inspire me every day.

What could be better than spending my days supporting you… and learning from you.

I’m grateful.

Life isn’t always easy. We all have our struggles. We all have our wounding. And if you knew mine, you would realize that in many ways we are alike, just with a different set of struggles.

I have methylation issues and anxiety, as many of my autism families. I’m emotionally sensitive and sometimes (fortunately, not too often) I’m blindsided by depression.

Most are surprised to find I struggle as I do. (Life looks so perfect with the “sizzle reel” of Facebook. Doesn’t it?)

Sometimes I find life hard. As I know many of you do.

I’m not comparing my situation to an autism family’s, I’m just saying there is so much we can gain from each other…

Learning about healing. Compassion. Unconditional love.

And I have learned strength from you.

And helping your children and families has given my life meaning and purpose, and strength in my darkest days.

Last week when my husband and I were in Sedona, we came across Robert, the flute player, at Boynton Canyon Vortex.

He gave us hearts made from the red rock, and he played 7 songs. I wish I remembered all of them. The three I remember are LOVE and JOY… along with this one on LETTING IT GO.

I have struggled with this, as I tend to worry a lot.

So on my birthday, I’m going to set a prayer for releasing everything negative that does not serve me. To trust and have faith.

And if it feels good to you, I invite you to too.

Here is Robert perched on top of the red rocks, playing his flute, while I dance poi (a fire dancing, flow art form, that I use as meditation) as Martin, my husband, films.

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJZyPRjDgJ0″]

Stay the course. There are people who love you and support you.

You’ve enriched my 48 years on this planet. Sending you love on this special day.

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Traveling on a Special Diet

Now that summer has arrived, I’d like to share some tips for traveling on a special diet.

Traveling with children can be challenging enough.  If you or your child is on a special diet, the idea of taking a trip can make any mother think twice and consider just staying home.

You cannot simply rely on stopping into any convenience store or airport deli to pick up food to eat. While some places may carry gluten-free and casein-free options, I’ve been to places that do not have a single choice in the store. You don’t want to be caught without any choices, as it puts you in danger of breaking your special diet.  But also, don’t let a special diet stop you from having fun!

Whether you’re taking a daytrip or overnight vacation, learning a few simple strategies can help families eat well, while sticking to a special diet.

I often travel while speaking at autism and nutrition conferences (sometimes even bringing my family along), and have gathered some personal tips and tricks over the years for gluten-free and special diet living.

The most important thing is to plan ahead.  Research online the restaurants, hotels, and markets near your destination.  Locate gluten-free and allergy-friendly restaurants that understand your special dietary needs.  Book a hotel that has a kitchenette or refrigerator, depending on whether you prefer to cook your own meals or not.  See if there are any natural food stores near where you are staying.  Addressing these queries in advance will help greatly.

For example, if I’m flying and will not have a car, I determine whether there is a market close to my hotel or on the cab ride from the airport.  If so, I typically go and get the bulk of my food needs when I arrive.  However, if there are none, I’ll have to bring more food with me.

For families considering a destination vacation like a theme park or cruise, some companies really go the extra mile to serve people with food allergies.  Disney Land, Disney World, and Disney Cruises all have delicious gluten-free and allergen-free food (see previous post). Fortunately, most cruises offer plenty of allergy-free choices – so you can always eat well on a cruise, even when you have food allergies.  Check your destination for their food policy as some parks and zoos do not allow you to bring food in from the outside (silly, I know).  You’ll want to learn their exemption process so you can be prepared.

Pack a Cooler

Whether you are going by plane, train, or car you’ll want to pack a cooler.  You’ll want to bring at least enough food to get you to your destination, plus one extra emergency “layover” day in case you get stuck while in transit.  If you are going by car, you can take food for the trip.  If you are traveling by plane, you can check an extra cooler of food, ship food to your destination, and handle food once you’ve arrived.  Use dry ice if you want it to stay fully frozen for a couple days.

Consider which food you’re bringing.  Apple are great because they are hard and don’t bruise easily. If you bring bananas, make sure they’re not too ripe or they will smash all over your bag (not fun at all).  My three staple foods for all traveling are: hardboiled eggs, apples, and almond butter (single serve squeeze packets).  Here are more.

Gluten-free and dairy-free foods to pack in your cooler:

  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Cooked bacon
  • Non-dairy yogurt, either homemade or store bought
  • Roasted chicken drumstick
  • Nut butter (Put on celery, apple, or crackers)
  • Hummus (Dip celery or GF bread)
  • Celery
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kale Salad
  • GF Bread
  • Home baked gluten-free healthy banana bread

Foods that do not require cold storage:

  • Sardines (with oil and bones for added calcium)
  • Canned salmon or tuna and avocado for easy tuna salad
  • Beef or salmon jerky
  • Apples
  • Kale or carrot chips
  • GF crackers like Glutino
  • Snack bars like Lara Bars or Macro Bars

Hot Thermos (for cold weather days)

  • Chicken broth
  • Soup
  • Tea
  • Stew
  • Hot lunch

Meal ideas

With your cooler packed with these staples there are many wonderful meals you can throw together quickly and easily while on the road.

Most of these foods are “ready to eat,” requiring no preparation while out and about: Hardboiled eggs, bacon, yogurt, drumsticks, beef jerky, apples, carrot chips and snack bars.  Others are simple parings: nut butter on apple or crackers, hummus with celery, tuna salad made simply with avocado, and sardines with crackers.   Bringing foods that are mix-and-match provides lots of options for the family so each member can find something they like, without mom having to plan and prepare snack and meals for four people.

Sauerkraut makes a wonderful “salad”—while not a true salad, I often eat it in place of the common side dish because it requires no preparation on the night before and provides easy vegetables for the trip.  Kale salad is also great because it’s hearty and holds up to travel well—all you need to do is substitute lettuce with kale leaves (de-stem and rip into pieces).

Salmon-Avocado Salad

This is a great recipe on the road because neither the canned fish nor avocado need refrigeration.  You can carry the food without a cooler, and prepare it onsite for perfectly fresh salmon salad.  It is also a wonderful egg-free alternative.

If you are traveling, you do need to remember to bring a knife for the avocado, something to mix it with like a fork, and a bowl.

  • 1 can of salmon or “lower-mercury” tuna (such as Vital Choice)
  • 1 avocado
  • Smash tuna and avocado together and serve!  It’s that easy!

Storing Food

BentoBoxThe cooler you choose is vital.  We learned the hard way that a couple of our soft-sided coolers were not waterproof, so melting ice leaked to the outside of the cooler and soaked things near it—in one case the contents of the backpack it was in, and in the other the hotel floor where it was left overnight.  Test things ahead of time to avoid surprises and inconveniences.  Ice packs work much better than ice cubes.

Remember to bring a plastic utensil set or two, plenty of napkins, extra Ziplock bags, and a bowl with a lid that can be used for mixing, serving, and storing food like the tuna salad. For a bowl, I like the Pyrex/Rubbermaid bowls with a lid, prepare and store the extra.  I’ve never had security stop me for traveling with glass.

If you find it easier, pack an individual lunch for the kids, rather than “family-style” meals.  A few of my favorite containers are: PlanetBox, Laptop Lunches, Eco Lunchboxes, and LifeFactory glass water bottles.

Hotel Rooms –Refrigerators and Kitchenettes

Since you will have food with you, you’ll want to plan ahead for a refrigerator in your own.  Even in standard hotels that do not have kitchenettes, most hotels can accommodate a mini refrigerator in room.  Even a freezer is possible—if the room refrigerator does not have a freezer, you are often able to use the hotel kitchen freezer by checking your frozen items in with them through the front desk.

Always call ahead to reserve a refrigerator.  Some hotels will reserve refrigerators, while others will not.  If the hotel has a first-come first-serve policy on refrigerators, bring your food in a cooler.  If you keep your food fully covered in ice, it will stay good for at least 5 days, or until the food would normally perish.

Some hotels charge for a refrigerator, typically $10-25 per day, while others offer it for no charge.  I love when hotels don’t charge, but even when they do, it’s still worth it because of the flexibility it gives.  And even with the added expense you save much more money than you spend in bringing your own food versus eating out.

You can tell your story to the manager and see if you may be bumped to the top of the list because your child needs a special diet.  You can also ask for a “medical refrigerator.”  Sometimes they are even free in this case.  Now this choice depends on your conscience—if you have medications or supplements that need refrigeration, this request is honest, and many of us feel food is a “medical” necessity.

Motels/Residence Inns with a kitchen

Depending on the duration of your stay and locale, you can find motels, condos, and privately owned properties with kitchens and kitchenettes.  Here are some popular chains with kitchenettes (you can Google others):

  • Residence Inn
  • Motel 6 Extended Stay
  • Extended Stay Studio Suites
  • Homestead Studio Suites
  • Hyatt Summerfield Suites now Hyatt House
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • Staybridge Suites

Restaurants

Eating out can be a tricky thing, but with a few pointers and practice you’ll navigate it smoothly.

For breakfast, skip the buffet—cross-contamination is almost guaranteed with buffet food.  Tell your waiter you’ll need your entire meal cooked fresh for you.  Especially with eggs, do not let them give you the buffet trough scrambled eggs (they might contain dairy!).  Make sure the chef is using a clean pan, olive oil (no sprays or margarine or butter), and fresh utensils.  Remind them of the importance of a clean work area free of flour, crumbs, and other sources of cross-contamination.

Hand them a card, like my GFCF Travel Card that they can take to the back to check with the chef or manager.  If they seem confused or uncertain, ask to speak with the manager.

When you ask about whether their fries are gluten-free, remember to ask them if they cook flour-breaded items in the same fryer

Nationwide Restaurants with Gluten-Free Menus

Sonic Drive-In, Five Guys, and In-N-Out Burger (west coast only) are great burger joints that offer gluten-free hamburger patties wrapped in lettuce and gluten-free fries

The following restaurant chains have gluten-free menus (Google more):

  • Applebee’s
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Chili’s
  • Old Sausage Factory
  • Olive Garden
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • PF Chang’s
  • Red Robin
  • UNO’s Chicago Grill
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Il Fornaio Restaurant – a high-end Italian restaurant with 20 locations on the West Coast

When you eat out at restaurants make sure your server understands what gluten is and what foods might contain gluten or dairy.  Consider handing them a card that they can take to the manager or chef to ensure your meal does not contain any problematic ingredients. (see the one I created at our website).

GFCF Travel Card

product image_medCLICK HERE or the CARD to the right and Download our GFCF Travel card that you can use at restaurants to help communicate your GFCF needs to your server.

Trip Ups when You’re on a Trip

Most families have a safe routine when they eat at home; they know all the products and their ingredients. When traveling and eating out, you don’t have control over the kitchen, the ingredients, or cross-contamination.  Here are some common slip ups when eating out:

  • Sauces and gravies thickened with flour
  • Demi-glaze on roasted chicken can contains flour
  • Salad dressings can be thickened with flour
  • Soy sauce and teriyaki sauce contain gluten
  • Worcestershire sauce has gluten
  • Malt vinegar and malt sweetener are made with barley
  • Some ketchups, BBQ sauces, and mustards have a gluten grain-based vinegar or gluten-based flavoring
  • Frozen and pre-packaged French fries at restaurants are often dusted with flour before packaging to keep potatoes from sticking.
  • Even gluten-free potatoes may be fried in fryer that also cooks battered (floured) foods
  • Many bolognas and hot dogs contain gluten

“Flavorings,” “spices,” and spice blends may contain gluten.  It’s best if the restaurant prepares all of the dishes with fresh ingredients

Consider Digestive Enzymes

To help support accidental infractions when traveling, digestive enzymes containing DPPIV (Dipeptidyl peptidase-4) help breakdown gluten, casein and soy.  While they are not for those with celiac disease, many families find them helpful for gluten and casein sensitivity, and supporting infractions or cross-contamination that occur when they are away from home.

Accidental food infractions for people with food allergies can ruin a vacation.  However, with some trip planning and preparation, you can and your family can eat well when you’re out. No more stress of finding a restaurant while the kids are have a “starving” meltdown, what to eat, or concerns over food allergens.

With a little forethought, you can have a wonderful time, enjoy the sights, relax, and rejuvenate.

Happy travels!

Julie

New Year’s Sleep Resolution: Sleep Like a Baby

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New Year’s sleep resolution… Are you in?

The best thing about this “resolution” is that you don’t have to do ANYTHING! …Just sleep.

While Nourishing Hope is about healthy food and nutrition that nourishes our children (and nourishes hope for a healthy future for your family), I think it is essential this year to talk about nourishing PARENTS too.

That’s why I want to share my New Year’s Sleep Resolution with you, which involves going to bed EARLY, and give you some of the reasons why getting enough sleep is so important (to both children and adults). To be healthy individuals, functioning adults, and good parents, getting enough sleep is crucial. Though most parents have actually been sleep deprived for years.

All too frequently, (often due to necessity) parents do not have time to take care of themselves as much as they’d like or need.  However, parents must stay healthy and energetic so we can fully care of our children. And kids with special needs require even more time and energy.  For many years, I’ve spoken and written about nourishing our bodies for good health and healing. Today, I’m compelled to write about sleep, as sleep is crucial to our overall health as much as healthy eating is.

My resolution (still in place through week two of 2015) is going to sleep early. Not only does getting to bed earlier lead to more sleep in general (and better health), there is evidence that the quality of sleep improves with an early bedtime too.

I’ve always been a “night owl.” I have a tendency to stay up a bit too late in the evenings (10:30 or 11:30), not every day – but several days each week. I enjoy being the only one awake and having some personal “alone time.” But doing this causes my bedtime to vary by a couple hours from day to day.

While I enjoy having this “free time,” it is bad for my adrenals, and yours. Our adrenals manage the stress we experience, as well our circadian rhythm (body’s time clock). When our sleep/wake cycle varies daily, our adrenals become overworked and pushed to the limit. Being consistent, not only with the number of hours of sleep, but with the time we go to sleep and wake, is tremendously helpful for allowing our adrenals to get maximum rest and rejuvenation.

Additionally, sleep is very important to mental health. In a study by James E. Gangwisch, et. al, adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24% more likely to suffer from depression and 20% more likely to have suicidal ideation than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10:00 PM or earlier. The researchers concluded, “The results from this study provide new evidence to strengthen the argument that short sleep duration could play a role in the etiology of depression.” Sleep more, be happier.

Ideally, bedtime should be about 3 hours after the sun goes down. From the book, Lights Out, authors Wiley and Formby state that from an NIH mouse study, “It takes 6 hours of prolactin production, in the dark, minimum, to maintain immune function (T cell and beneficial killer cell production). It takes 3.5 hours of melatonin secretion before prolactin begins to be released. It has to be dark with enough serotonin to secrete melatonin.” The implication here is that if someone goes to bed too late, they will have missed crucial hours of darkness that are essential for good sleep and immune function (time they cannot make up at dawn).

In the summer, 3 hours after sunset (10:30 pm or later) is a fairly easy bedtime for most people. But in wintertime, 3 hours after sunset can be as early as 7:30pm (to about 8:00/8:30 pm). Hmm…who goes to bed then?

My 2015 Sleep Resolution stemmed from a recent illuminating yet “eye-closing” experience. Our daughter Ruby typically falls sleep at 7:30 or 8:00pm. Over the holidays, while putting her to bed on several occasions – my husband and I accidentally fell asleep! I was a bit surprised; I didn’t know I could even fall asleep that early. We regained awareness around 11pm, giggling at what happened and still wearing our jeans. But you know what, after that we intentionally went to bed at the same time as Ruby on a few other occasions. We loved it, and felt great in the morning!

So we decided to make it a resolution for the New Year – to go to sleep at our daughter’s bedtime (or close to it), every day for one month! Some days we go to bed with her – other times, if she’s in bed earlier, we might stay up a bit longer. Some of you have children that go to bed at 7 pm, so this second strategy might work better for you.

Specifically, we’ve set a goal of going to bed in the 8 o’clock range. Sometimes it’s 8:00, but other days it’s 8:55. The exact time is not so important, but the point is to make it an early bedtime (whatever early is for you, and with enough time to get 8 hours of sleep during total darkness). For us, we chose a time that was “ridiculously” early so we were more likely to radically change our pattern and be successful.

We have given ourselves permission to skip the dishes, or cleaning, or even working out on occasion, if need be. Of course, things like exercise are also essential for us to be healthy and have proper sleep – point is do what it takes in the short-term and work toward making it sustainable. Let’s face it, getting to bed that early means that we really might have to give up something else while we find a way to reprioritize or reschedule.

For myself, I’m enjoying sleeping as many hours as possible. For my husband, he prefers to wake up early (still after 8 or 9 hours of sleep) and get some work done before everyone else wakes up. Each person will have different health needs and objectives, and different sleep patterns.

It’s working great! For the first time in a long time, I feel rested and ready to get out of bed in the morning.

Our goal for this month is to see what more sleep can do, particularly consistent sleep that’s early to bed.

If you find you have trouble falling asleep, try some bedtime hygiene strategies. Have a routine. Do something relaxing before bed. Avoid TV, computer and electronic screens before bedtime, instead read a paperback book if you’d like. Remove electronic equipment from your room that can emit EMFs, such as clocks and cell phones. Avoid caffeine (even in the morning). Make sure your room is very dark. There are many good books on the subject for much more information.

If you have a child with special needs that doesn’t sleep well, this sleep resolution may be challenging.  If your child does not sleep well, you are a single parent, or your spouse is out of town during the week, you may need to modify things.  However, I encourage you to try and find some way to try to get some extra sleep.  Maybe you can switch off with your partner, one of you watching your child while the other gets to bed early, or maybe for a weekend grandparents or a friend can watch your child and you can get some extra sleep, or try a daytime nap while your child is in school.

Regardless of the exact circumstances of your sleep resolution, the goal is to see what extra sleep will do for you, your health, your energy level, and your mood/outlook.

Feel free to share your favorite strategies and experience.

Who’s with me?!

For Autism Mothers on Mother’s Day

happy mother´s dayA free gift for you on Mother’s Day!

People often ask me HOW I gained so much knowledge about food, nutrition, and specialized diets for autism (and beyond). Sure, I have analyzed hundreds of published studies, collaborated with physicians and researchers, and gained extensive experience through my clinical practice over the past decade – but my most influential teachers have been…

Autism Mothers!!!

You are on the front lines – working and striving every day, reading and researching, cooking, keeping a diet log, noticing reactions, and sharing your experiences with others. I have learned so much from you about food reactions, how to support children and families with autism, and about life.

You have taught me about patience, courage, and how be present in the moment to everyday wonders (that many people miss). You are highly conscious individuals, willing to speak the truth and strive for decency that every child deserves. I am fortunate to be connected with YOU, such deep, sincere, and loving parents.

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 5.00.41 PMFor this Mother’s Day, I’d like to give all mothers a GIFT that’ll help you with nourishing hope for your child and family.

It’s my Support Club session on 25 Vegetable a Dozen Kid-Friendly Ways. Hope you and your children really enjoy these kid-friendly vegetable ideas and recipes.  Gain access by clicking here.

Happy Mother’s Day!  I wish you all of the joy and happiness in the world!  Keep nourishing hope!

Love,

Julie

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Love Sauerkraut: Putting Loving Intention into Your Food and Cooking

Not only do we love sauerkraut in our family, but we make “love sauerkraut.”  What do I mean?

Are you familiar with Dr. Masaru Emoto’s work, Messages from Water? He has done experiments where he writes a word on a bottle of water and freezes the water into a “snowflake” crystal.  The results are astonishing.  Water with positive words have beautiful crystals, often having a shape slightly representative of the word.  Polluted water that has been prayed upon has crystals that change radically and beautifully.

Polluted water from the Fujiwara Dam, Japan


Same water from the Fujiwara Dam after a Buddhist prayer

For decades, holistically-minded physicians such as Dr. Deepak Chopra, have extolled the virtues of “positive thinking” on health and healing.  When you realize the effect positive intention and prayer can have on water and that the human body is made up of 70% water, you can see how these positive thoughts and intentions can affect our health.

One day in the kitchen, we took this a step further.

Based on this set of notions, my husband and I have been infusing our homemade fermented foods with love and good intentions for years.  Our first premise is that if we can do this for water, we can do it for our food too. Secondly, we humans have been living synergistically with bacteria for hundreds of thousands of years.  We need them. In fact, we would not be alive without them.  If “prayer” can have a positive effect on water, we assumed it could have a positive effect on our synergistic friends, good bacteria.

We figured several things: 1) We believe in it. 2) It can’t hurt. 3) It makes us feel good to do it. 4) It may even make a big difference.

So being “woo-woo” San Franciscans, we decided to put positive intentions, prayers, and messages on our brand new batches of fermented food we were about to ferment, particularly our kombucha and sauerkraut.  Therefore, every time we make a new batch of fermentations, we “infuse” it with our intention.

We save all the little pieces of paper.  Over the years, here are some of our “messages” and intentions:

  • Love
  • Allowing
  • Positive focus
  • Self confidence
  • Creativity
  • Self compassion and forgiveness
  • Digestion and assimilation
  • Faith and release of fear
  • Feminine power

Most of us feel food is love and cooking with love is something many mothers and grandmothers believe in and have been doing for generations.  This is just another way to do it.

So whether you are making fermented foods or cooking a roasted chicken for dinner, putting love and intention to what you are preparing for your family has many good benefits—including making mom feel good while doing it.  It’s a small moment in our day to slow down (often in all the chaos) and spend one moment focusing on the positive and what we want to create in our lives.

Try it yourself.  Get out a small square of paper, write your intention on it, and tape it to the crock (or a water bottle). Take one moment (20 seconds) to align with your desire then move on to the rest of your day.  When fermentation is complete, transfer it to jars (you can even transfer the word on the individual jars). When you eat it, take a second to remember the message infused into the food, and enjoy!

Whether you are cooking dinner or making a batch of fermented sauerkraut, while you are chopping and preparing, take a moment to reflect on your day and what intention and love you want to infuse into your food.

You’ll never look back and think it was a waste of time.  And if you save those messages, you may be surprised when you reflect back months and years later at the positive things that have manifested.

 

Photo Credits: “Love Kraut” by Julie Matthews, and Crystal images copyright of Dr. Masaru Emoto