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Maple Pumpkin Spiral



I love happy accidents that turn out to be works of art! I went to cut my pumpkin into rings to use in the same way acorn squash is in THIS RECIPE. I started cutting my first ring and the knife sliced a little sideways. OK, *I* sliced a little sideways because I was turning the little pie pumpkin in a circle thinking it would be more efficient. Well, it was efficient, all right. I kept going and ended up with a spiral cut pumpkin. It was sorta mesmerizing. I could pull the stem and the whole thing popped up like a slinky.

I decided to go with it. After scooping out the guts and seeds I put it in a stainless bowl on its side, slathered it with butter and poured Grade B maple syrup all over it. I sprinkled it with some spices and a few hazelnuts and dried cranberries and popped it in the oven. Out came an amazing, moist, slightly sweet ball of YUM!  It was even pretty.  So I took a photo…what else would I do? It looks great and tastes even better!

Here’s what passes as a recipe for me…

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1 small Pie Pumpkin

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup real maple syrup (I ended up using about half cup in the end)

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves)

Handful of nuts and raisins, dates and/or cranberries


Spiral cut the pumpkin and clean out the seeds and netting.

Place in a baking dish on its side.

Spread butter between spirals.

Pour syrup over the top and let it pool in the dish.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes turning over once.

To serve, cut the pumpkin in half and the slices will come apart.




Daylight Saving Time Puts Your Health at Risk


Early to bed, early to rise is an age-old saying and some pretty great advice (unless you’re a teenager when body rhythms change a bit naturally). The biggest cue in telling your body to wake up is LIGHT. The sun comes up, the body wakes up. In her book, The Sleep Solution Emily Benefit talks about the importance of a dark room at night and getting lots of light during the day. Waking up with the sun is healthy and feels amazing.

Unfortunately, we’ve created a society that runs on time schedules instead of light schedules, which would be a lot better for our health. Imagine if your meeting were scheduled by the sun. Work would start at “Sunrise +1.5 hours”. Or you’d drop the kids off at school at “Sunrise +1 hour”  instead of a rigid 8:00 am.  Bedtime would be shortly after sunset and you’d get to sleep until the sun rose every day. Sleep is a big deal! In fact, the Monday after Daylight Saving time has been shown to have an increase in traffic accidents, workplace accidents, and suicides because of the loss of that precious hour of sleep. Web surfing increases that day, too and sends productivity plummeting.

For our family, the effects of Daylight Saving time are a nuisance in the fall. We don’t use alarm clocks, so waking up at a set time is tricky when the light is slowly disappearing. I’ve thought about using one of the many fun wake-up apps for mobile devices, but we don’t keep our mobile devices by our bed for other health reasons.

I’ve even thought about buying a wake up light (like this one). I don’t like the idea of a temporary fix, but I can’t exactly tell my kids’ school that we don’t observe Daylight Saving time. My husband has a flexible schedule and he does end up going in later as the light changes in the winter. Lucky!

Every year, I wait anxiously for the change back to standard time. (IT’S ON NOVEMBER 3rd!) YAY! Some of my friends mourn the loss of the extra light in the evening, but I know that it is great for natural sleep rhythms and will help bring on the droopy eyes earlier in the evening. The kids sleep better, we all wake up happier and life is good.

Now, to convince the world to go back to using sundials…




How I QUIT Acid Blockers After 20 Years


Like a lot of students, my second year in college consisted of lots of stress and super cheap food. I started having pain I couldn’t figure out so I went to the health center and had some tests done. The diagnosis… GERD. Acid reflux.  Heartburn? at 17?  Yep! The lovely barium x-ray confirmed it.

The miracle drug of the moment was prescription Zantac and I went home with a bunch of it. That was just the beginning. More than 20 years later I was STILL on acid blockers. Oh, I graduated to the latest and greatest every few years, but if I skipped taking it for one day I was in serious pain. When the pills were released over the counter, I bought the stuff by the cart-full and took it daily like a good girl.

What I didn’t know until recently was that excess acid was NOT my problem. In fact, by reducing the acid in my stomach, I was inhibiting my stomach’s natural ability to process and absorb the nutrients in my food. My blood levels consistently showed lack of various nutrients, particularly proteins and iron.

[stextbox id=”gr”]No wonder I felt like yuck and just kept getting sicker. And no wonder my bowels were ALWAYS messed up. We’re talking emergency, know where every restroom is from point a to point b, MESSED UP. Every day. For 20 years.[/stextbox]

How did I get off of the acid blockers? How did I get off of the acid blockers? I started eating differently. I stopped eating processed foods. I started feeding my body real food with real nutrients. Like fat! Yes, FAT. Lard and butter and coconut oil and more. I switched my dairy products to fresh raw, and grass fed. I started sprouting, soaking or souring my grains. I made sure I was eating real fresh food and choosing better sugars and fruits instead of junk or processed ‘health’ foods.

With the help of an integrated medicine doctor, I started taking a digestive enzyme with something in it that might be surprising…MORE ACID. Yep. Ox bile (from an ox) and hydrochloric acid. See, the problem was NOT too much acid. It was not ENOUGH. Not enough because the food I was eating was pretty much void of the enzymes needed to help my stomach produce enough acid to digest what I put in there. I know…it’s the opposite of everything we’ve been told. And, you know what? It’s doable even WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTS!

Craig Fear, certified Nutritional Therapist, explains this (much better than I ever could) in his book The 30-Day Heartburn Solution – A 3-Step Nutrition Program to Stop Acid Reflux Without Drugs. He explains how chronic heartburn can be eliminated with proper nutrition. And if you eat the right foods, right away, you can probably even skip the step of supplementation with enzymes and acid. No pills, just FOOD. Real, yummy, fatty food!

He does go on to talk about stress and what THAT does to the digestive system. I’m working on that one, but I’ve got it down to about half of what it used to be. I could do better, but even with just the changes I’ve made so far…

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How is that for healing? Not just treating symptoms. REAL HEALING!  In these six months of eating nutrient dense food, I have also been able to switch from conventional NSAIDs, which further complicate the stomach acid problem, to natural anti-inflammatory supplements (read more about that here!). The plan is to heal my body through nutrition and avoiding daily toxins as much as possible, so that I won’t even need the natural supplements. YOU can do it, too.

Get rid of heartburn, get off of those pills and get your body nourished and ‘healed for real’!
Get The 30 Day Heartburn Solution by Craig Fear 

And if you want to get serious about eating REAL FOOD, you MUST also get
Have Your Cake and Lose Weight Too! by Danelle Wolford of Weed ’em and Reap.
She takes you through the right foods and nutrients you’ll need to be on your way to restoring your health. Losing weight is a major plus, but it will also keep your stomach acids in check and doing what they were meant to do!

Get the books, change the diet, destroy the heartburn!

Le Creuset SUPER Giveaway!!

The RELUCTANT HEALTHWIFE facebook page has officially changed to HEALING FOR REAL!! If you haven’t liked the page already, here’s an ‘easy button’!
like healing200

I am SO happy to be able to celebrate my new site name with a HUGE giveaway.  BIG! As in $400 value BIG! I would not be able to give you a chance to win such a great prize on my own. I have partnered up with some of my favorite real food blogs. Be sure to go and visit their sites (listed below) and like their pages on facebook! The information they post is so useful and goes right along with my theme and new name. We’re all about healing naturally and eating REAL food.

This set of Le Creuset Cast Iron pans is perfect for all your bubbly real food dishes. You REALLY want to win this. It’s value is almost $400! (If you win and you are outside the US or Canada, you will receive an amazon gift card for the value of the prize).

So, here’s how you can enter!

1. Go click that like button up there if you haven’t already. You probably have, so YAY!
2. Check out the cookware set here: LE CREUSET COOKWARE SET
3. Sign up for my special announcements and once in a while newsletter below. (Not required, but you know you want to see what great things are coming up.)
4. Follow the steps in the official rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post to confirm your entries. The winner will be chosen through that widget, so make sure you hit that one!

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You can go and enter again at EACH of these lovely blogs.

  1. Real Food Outlaws:
  2. Hollywood Homestead:
  3. Fancy Nonsense:
  4. The Paleo Mama:
  5. House Barn Farm:
  6. Healing for Real:
  7. Meatified:
  8. The Darling Bakers:
  9. Yuppie Farm Girl:
  10. Naturally Mindful:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apple Chicken Fall Salad


The weather this time of year can be a bit…fickle. The other day it was cold and we had hearty stew. Today it was warmer so we had a salad. Not a fancy summer salad. A meaty and fruity fall salad. I love the combination of the soft butter lettuces with the crunch of the apples. Add in the chicken and it’s filling and refreshing. Here’s how we made it this time:

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Apple Chicken Fall Salad
Serves 4
4 cups or more of butter or Boston lettuces
2 cups of spinach
8 oz Organic free-range chicken breast (cooked and diced)
1 apple cored and diced
1/4 cup diced raw cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp red onions diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Splash of red wine vinegar if desired

Toss and serve.




It’s fall or autumn or whatever you call it. I call it Soup Season. I love soups. They are warm and cozy and economical. Like curling up with a dollar bill. OK, maybe not. But they sure are yummy comfort food that can be made with REAL FOOD ingredients that don’t break the bank. I have two soups on the menu this week.

Later in the week I’ll be making a vegetable beef stew with the other 2.5 lbs of potatoes in the bag I bought, but today…it’s Rosemary Potato “Throw-It-In” soup. Why do I call it that?Because it’s one that doesn’t take a lot of precise measuring. It’s quick to get in the pot and quick to get on the table. I make this one in my pretty crockpot because when I do it on the stove, there is ALWAYS a scorched layer on the bottom. Every time, no matter how low I turn it down. The crockpot solves that problem for me. Here’s how I remember making it today (AKA: my version of a recipe).

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Rosemary Potato ‘Throw-It-In’ Soup



1. Quarter 2.5 lbs of red, russet or yellow potatoes and add to crockpot
2. Chop and add 2 tbsp scallions
3. Press in 2 cloves of garlic
4. Add 1/2 gallon milk (I use grass-fed raw)
5. Add 1 tsp Real Salt and a pinch of black pepper(add more later if desired)
6. Add a dollop (about 2 tbsp) of lard (from foraged pigs) or other quality fat like butter or coconut oil
7. Sprinkle in 1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary
8. Cook on high setting for 3 hours and then mash the potatoes with a potato masher
9. Add more milk if needed and cook for another hour.
10. Top with scallions, ham, bacon or cheese (or all of those)!



11 Great Ways to Use Lavender


Instead of a bunch of flowers in my front yard landscaping, I planted a couple and filled in the rest with lavender and rosemary plants. I didn’t save the tags on my lavender plants but I am pretty sure I have two varieties. One is English Lavender and the other is most likely Folgate or Royal Purple.  I’ve harvested bunches of lavender and tied them in bundles and hung them to dry. When they are dry, I will separate the buds from the stems and store them in a mason jar. I’ve tried to give some away to neighbors and they take the rosemary, but they end up saying “I wouldn’t know what to do with lavender.”  So, here are a few ideas.


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1. Lavender Bath

This is my favorite. Adding lavender buds to your bath water gives off such a relaxing and calming scent.  With essential oils, the scent can dissipate quickly, but the scent from the buds lasts quite a while.  I learned the hard way that just sprinkling the buds in the bathwater can get very messy and it can make a huge disaster of your hair! (I picked buds out of my hair for days). Instead, I recommend putting a tablespoon or two of buds in a sachet or tying them up in some cheesecloth and adding a drop or two of vanilla. You can then toss it in the water as your bath fills up and the scent will fill the room. It’s lovely! And don’t forget to neutralize the chlorine in your bathwater.

2. Lavender Sachet

I like to put some lavender in sachets my dresser drawers to keep my clothes smelling fresh. This also keeps moths away. I use little bags like this and place them in drawers and on shelves in my closet. The scent is not too feminine, so my husband doesn’t mind having it in the closet we share.

3. Lavender Carpet Refresher

Crush some of the buds lightly in your hand and then sprinkle over your carpet. Let them sit for a few minutes and then vacuum the room. The lavender will freshen the carpet and make the room smell great.


4. Lavender Fabric Refresher

Steep 4 tbsp of lavender buds in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain the water into a spray bottle. Let it cool and you have an all natural linen spray. Spray it on your drapes and bed linens or on your clothes to give them a boost. This also works to encourage sleep if it’s sprayed on your pillow before bed.

5. Lavender Dryer Bag

Put a tbsp of lavender buds in a sachet bag and place in the dryer instead of dryer sheets. Alternately if you use wool dryer balls, you can put the balls in a bag with lavender buds for a few days and the next time you use the balls, the scent will carry over to the clothes.

6. Lavender Floral Arrangements

Lavender can be worked into many floral arrangements or can stand on its own in a a vase or even a mason jar. It can also be woven into wreaths or sprays or used in table centerpieces for special occasions. Plant it in strategic locations in your yard to add interest and texture to your landscaping. Not to mention, you’ll have it ready whenever you need it!


7. Lavender Tea

Steep lavender buds in boiling water for 5-10 minutes and then strain the buds out. Lavender tea can help soothe the stomach, relieve insomnia and alleviate migraines. It can also relieve stress. As with all herbs, be careful about ingesting when pregnant or breastfeeding.

8. Lavender Salad

This would be a fun one to try out! The flowers of the lavender buds can be sprinkled over salads to give it a pop of color and a bold taste similar to rosemary. The leaves of the lavender plant can be substituted for rosemary in most dishes.

9. Lavender Ice Cream

Yes, ice cream. There are several recipes that use lavender with honey, lemon, vanilla, berries and more. It’s pretty good, actually. I haven’t tried it out on the kids yet, but it’s on my list. Here’s a photo from Healthy Green Kitchen that goes with a recipe for Honey Lavender Ice Cream. Try it out! http://www.healthygreenkitchen.com/lavender-honey-ice-cream.html


10. Lavender Headache and Stress Relief

Carry some buds of lavender with you in a tiny tin or container. If you feel a headache coming on or just need some stress relief, open the tin and take the aroma in through your nose. For a headache, you can also rub the buds between your fingers and then rub it on your temples.

11. Lavender Bug Repellent

Lavender is a great insect repellent. You can make a spray with other essential oils, or just hang bunches of lavender around the area you’ll be spending time in. It’s nicer to look at than store bought citronella candles.



This list could go on and on, but these are my favorite uses for lavender. I like to look at it growing and blossoming in my yard, which is stress relief in itself. I plan on adding another 6 or 8 plants in the back yard this fall so it will grow like crazy next spring and summer. It’s a great little herb to have on hand. For more ideas from another blogging friend, click here.




What’s in the Real Food Lunchbox?


One of the hardest things I’ve had to figure out since switching to real food from standard processed foods, is how to get real food on the go. Specifically for my kids’ lunches. They’re not really big on sandwiches, so we’ve had to get creative. I end up sending them with things like:

  • Sprouted almonds, pumpkin seeds or other nuts

  • Slices of raw Cheese
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Organic nitrate free sliced meats
  • Sliced or whole Fruit
  • Sprouted grain tortilla or bagel
  • Raw Vegetables (sliced peppers, carrots, and even basil leaves)
  • Left over meats like chicken or salmon (My 2nd grader is in love with salmon!)
  • Dried fruits (sugar and sulfate free)
  • Homemade Kefir or Yogurt
  • Homemade granola
  • Homemade granola bars or date bars (similar to Lara Bars)
  • Organic applesauce

There is also the occasional ‘better’ packaged snack. These are NOT the absolute best choices as they often have sweeteners like agave or sometimes soy lecithin or other preservatives we’re trying to avoid, but they are a step up from the junk that used to fill the kids lunch bags. Some people steer clear of any packaged food and that is probably the better choice, but I allow a few treats in on occasion. I opt for things like:

I can’t get my oldest to take a lunch box and my youngest has lost three so we do paper bags. SOMEDAY I would like them to use something cool and waste-free like THESE. it may never happen, but it’s a nice thought.

Silicon Lunch BoxLunch Bots

If you’re in need of more ideas on how to fill your child’s lunch box (or YOURS, for that matter) with real, nutrient dense food, there is a new facebook page dedicated to JUST THAT. ONLY THAT! It’s pretty amazing and you might just see my cute little lunch on that page. Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/realfoodlunchboxideasforbusymoms


Spaghetti Squash The Anti-Pasta

Right now in the squash patch, a variety of colors of oval colored globes lay all over the ground. The RIPE ones are golden yellow and hard skinned. Hard enough that you can’t pierce the skin with a fingernail. That hard skin is what makes these squash last for a month on the counter top or longer in a cool storage area. They’re great for getting fresh produce into your diet in the winter.

But…you don’t have to wait for the skin to turn yellow.

Even green soft spaghetti squash cooks up nicely. This makes them a great crop to plant for use in the summer AND through fall and winter. Plant a big patch of them and you’ll have enough to top with fresh pesto and tomato sauces in the summer and hearty preserved sauces and in soups in the winter.



There are a various ways to cook this versatile fruit.

If you’re one to use a microwave for cooking…

  • Place it in the microwave
  • Cook it for about 15-20 minutes. It will steam the strands from the inside.It’s a quick way, but MAKE SURE YOU PUNCTURE THE SQUASH or it can explode. (Yes, this has happened to me and it was a mess to clean up!) Alternately, you can puncture and cook the squash whole in a conventional oven at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

We’ve recently tried to stop using the microwave to cook our food and because the big oven heats up the house so much in the summer I like to use this convection oven. It’s too small to put the whole squash in, so this next method is the way I prefer.

  • Cut the raw squash in half lengthwise.
  • Scoop out the seeds and fibrous strands. (I find it easier to separate the fibrous strands and seeds from the meat strands before cooking the squash.)


    • Place the two halves face down on a baking sheet.


  • Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 45-60 minutes.

You’ll know it’s done when the outer skin gets softer and dimples. Use a fork to separate the noodle-like strands from the skin.

When the squash is tender, use a fork to separate the noodle-like strands from the skin. If you’ve cooked it whole, you’ll cut it in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds and fibers out and then separate the noodle strands.


Now for the fun part!
Using your squash in your favorite recipes.




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My 6 favorite ways to use spaghetti squash:

1. Use the noodles just like you would any pasta. In the summer, we like to make a fresh basil pesto or toss the faux noodles in butter and olive oil with roasted garlic and sea salt and top with garden tomatoes. The kids love it with just butter and salt.
2. Make Chow Mein or other Asian dishes. The ‘noodles’ are soft but slightly crunchy and remind me a little of bean sprouts you would use in Chow Mein, but are a lot thinner. They toss very nicely with vegetables in a wok for stir-fry and are a great vehicle for coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you use it). Here’s an Asian inspired dish from Living Low Carb One Day at a Time.

3. Make a faux noodle soup. Cut the noodles short and use them in your homemade bone broths for texture and flavor without having to roll out sprouted flour noodles. Here’s a great recipe for Sweet and Spicy Squash Noodle Soup from foodloveswriting.com

4. Use the strands in place of shredded potatoes for delicious hash browns or ‘potato’ pancakes. If you’re eating Paleo or GAPS or just watching carbs, spaghetti squash has about 5 grams per half cup where potatoes have about 4 times that many. Check out this Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns recipe from Empowered Sustenance.


5. Use it as a simple side dish in place of rice or potatoes or beans. A little coconut oil and salt and pepper make this into a nice light and colorful companion to your main entree.
6. Roast the seeds! Just like pumpkin seeds, these little things pack a huge nutritional punch( a good source of Protein, Vitamin K, Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Manganese). They are also tasty when roasted and salted. Some people have trouble getting all the fibers off of the seeds, but rinsing them in a colander and shaking them around a bit has always worked for me. Here’s a great squash seed roasting recipe from Healthy Living How to.




A Quick Tip for Freezing Peaches


I am not a big canner. I’ve done peaches and green beans and that’s about it. I plan on canning more when we get our big garden growing next year. I even bought all the cool canning accessories. I am not ready to can right now, BUT peaches are on and we love them. Our neighbor’s tree shares a whole branch with us over the fence. If we don’t pick them, they fall off and get eaten by ants. I need to ask my neighbor what kind of tree they want US to plant to hang over the fence in exchange.

It’s REALLY nice to have some good fruit available in the winter so I have been cutting the peaches up and freezing them (after eating a few, of course). Last year, the gallon size freezer bag was just one big chunk of stuck-together peaches. I had to bang the bag on the counter to get a few slices to detach and then the bag would get holes in it. This year, I remembered a trick I saw on some show like “How It’s Made“. I spread the slices out on a cookie sheet and froze them overnight BEFORE putting them in the freezer bag. It worked beautifully! Now we can grab a handful for smoothies without annoying the neighborhood with all the banging.