Fiesta Chili

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beeffiesta chili
  • 1 lb grass-fed stew meat (venison is awesome in this too!)
  • 5 large tomatoes (or 2 cans diced toms)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 med onion
  • 2 bell peppers (mixed colors)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2-4 cups broth (or H2O)
  • Juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbs bacon grease (optional-used w/ lean meat)

Dice/chop all veggies. In a large pot on stove, melt bacon grease and brown meat with the onion, jalapeño, seasonings and garlic. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add broth, sweet potatoes and tomato paste, simmer for about 10 minutes and add diced bell peppers. Simmer on low until sweet potatoes are done, stir in cilantro and lime/lemon juice. Top with guacamole and serve!

Please bear in mind that I hardly ever measure anything, so feel free to adjust anything to taste!

Charlie’s Birth Story

I spent most of my third trimester telling myself I was going to be late. Charlie is my first and I did not want to be impatient, I wanted this little girl to cook as long as she needed to! About two weeks before my due date I could feel some changes taking place and I then started to wonder if this little one would even make her January 22nd due date! Here is Charlie’s birth story.

newborn     What I remember…Phase 1: The flood of emotions

Around 5:30 pm on January 14th, I was in the kitchen on the phone with my mom, when I felt the completely uncontrollable stream of warm liquid running down my leg.

“Mom, I think my water just broke, I have to go!”

I called my midwife, Denise, right away and we had to laugh because there was a pretty good snowstorm going on and we had actually rescheduled a prenatal appointment that I would have been in at that exact time.

Once I got done making my phone calls, all that was left to do was wait. My husband, Kevin, wouldn’t be home for another hour or so and Denise had told me to try to rest. Yeah right. I moved from excitement, to fear, to anxiety, to tears…there had to be 20 emotions that passed through me in that hour before Kevin got home.

When he did get home he seemed more nervous than I was.  He stirred around the house and kept asking me “what next?” His nerves helped me calm down, as he aired up the pool and picked up the house. I remember getting him to sit for a bit and say a prayer with me.

I started some very mild contractions not long after my water broke, but it wasn’t until around 1 am that they became too uncomfortable to stay in bed. I moved downstairs about the time my sister got to my house from her drive here to be with me. She sat with me for a bit and we timed some contractions together before she went to try to get some rest.

Slowly throughout the morning of the 15th the contractions got more intense. I remember my sister mentioning that I was pretty talkative between them. The pool situation wasn’t looking good, as it had slowly started to deflate overnight, but I wasn’t too worried. I stayed in touch with Denise and she stopped by several times throughout the day to check on us and see how things were progressing. This little one was going to be about a week early but otherwise seemed in no hurry to enter the world. I should have suspected as much, as I felt like I already had to learn a lot of patience though out the pregnancy.

We suspected (hoped!) that after the arrival of my mom that afternoon, labor would speed up a bit. I was so happy that it looked like she would make it here for the delivery! This was not something we had expected and things were working out beautifully in this matter. Her arrival came and went, and labor progression remained on a slow steady track.

Alison (midwife #2) arrived at the house late that night and by then the contractions were intense enough to require my attention. I was starting to loose track of time and just remained focused on my breathing. I had made up a little notecard flip book of quotes and scriptures to reflect on during my labor and there was one verse that I found myself reverting to, over and over again.

2nd Corinthians 12:9

And He said to me, “My grace is enough; it is all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” I just let Christ take over. And so the weaker I get the stronger I become.

Late into the night, Denise and Alison talked me into getting into bed and trying to get some sleep. My body was already exhausted and active labor has not even started. The house was so still and quiet. Time is still a bit of a blur but I can remember waking between more intense contractions and I swear I could hear everyone in the next room breathing.

     What I remember…Phase 2: Time becomes lost 

The morning of the 16th brought time for a change. Once everyone was up and moving, Denise and Alison decided it was time to move to the birth center in Westby; hoping that the new environment would help move things along. As much as I had wanted a home birth, I knew in my heart this was a good decision. I didn’t hesitate to agree, although the thought of sitting upright in a car for half an hour terrified me. The contractions were super intense by now and I had horrible visions of having my baby in the car one the way up. Fortunately this did not happen.

Somewhere along this drive is about when I began to loose track of time. I think my eyes were closed almost the whole trip as I tried to focus on breathing.

I remember really just wanting someone to hold my hand each time a contraction came on, and my mom and my sister took turns at this from the back seat.

I remember having to stop on the stairs up to the birth center for one of the strongest contractions yet.

I remember the relief of finally getting into the pool, and then some fear of not feeling grounded enough when a contraction came. I labored there for awhile, clinging to the edge of the pool and feeling the cool cloths being placed on my neck and back, until I got too hot and had to get out.

I remember the fleeting moments of panic I would get whenever Denise or Alison asked me to move or try to go to the bathroom.

I remember the sound of my moms voice and Alison encouraging me to make low sounds just like her…move the sound down, let the pain come, that is what is bringing your baby.

I remember looking at my mom, asking her in amazement, “you did this three times?!?!”

I remember my husbands touch, his bearded face somewhere between an encouraging smile and worry for me, for pain he couldn’t fix. He told me later, that when I looked at him, I would either tell him I loved him or look like I wanted to punch him.

I remember being on all fours and hearing my mom tell them about the tattoos on my back. I am not sure how much later it happened, but sometime after Denise and Alison began to sing,

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, Let It Be.”

These words are tattooed on my back for my father, Charlie. Words that were played at his funeral. If I had energy for tears, they would have come then.

I remember finding energy for tears at one point, coming back from the bathroom. I think it was because I knew it was almost time to meet my baby, but I am honestly not sure.

I remember sleeping in between the last of the contractions before the pushing came. After two nights of pretty much no sleep I had to be exhausted. I may have found labor land, but I am not sure. All I know is that I was ready to be done, but my baby had other plans. Again, a test of my patience. I wish I could say I embraced it but I feel like I fought it at times. Ran from the pain.

     What I remember…Phase 3: The power of creation moves through you

The final check came and I was dilated to 10.  It was time to think about pushing! I think I was honestly more scared than excited at this point. The biggest job, the hardest job yet, and I already felt like I had completed the worlds longest endurance race.

I remember the low relaxing light of the room and more of Alison’s words; It’s the hardest job you will ever do…All women find the strength. The urge to push did not come right away but the memory of that first push will never leave me. It was the most powerful and intense feeling I have ever had. There are no words to appropriately describe it.

I remember trying several different pushing positions…if the thought of moving before had scared me, it was downright terrifying now. I could tell my baby was getting lower and lower just by the position of the Dopplar each time Denise checked the heartbeat. Steady the whole time.

I remember only finding two positions that worked for me. One was seated backwards on a chair, bracing myself on Alison’s legs for a time, then switching to Kevin’s lap. I broke the top of that chair, fortunately not beyond repair. I was not be able to deliver in that position though, they couldn’t see the baby well enough. I found myself back in the other position that worked for me; lying on my side with one foot braced on someone’s shoulder and the other into someone’s knee. I am pretty sure almost everyone took a turn helping me here.

I remember when my husband finally came back into the room, as his voice stands out in my mind the most. I could feel the tears in his beard as he rubbed my back, held my hand and told me how great I was doing. I could almost hear the smile and anticipation in his voice.

I remember the might and power of my baby moving lower and lower as we worked together. I remember Alison telling me the sounds that worked the best when I would bear down and make the most progress. She told me when I could reach down first fam picand feel the baby’s head getting lower and lower as I pushed.

I remember getting scared again, running from the intensity. Even as the baby was crowning I remember feeling scared over excited. But I knew it was finally time to meet my baby! This unknown person who already owned my heart in ways I never though possible. I did find the strength, and the feeling of relief when I felt her head come out was insane. The next contraction brought my daughter into the world, complete with a set of lungs. The crying baby was placed on my chest and I think I may have asked about her little conehead before I even asked if it was a boy or a girl. She was perfect, my little Charlie JoAnn.

I believe it was around 12 hours of active labor and approximately 4 hours of pushing. I could not have asked for a better team of midwives or support. The whole pregnancy and on past the birth, Denise and Alison have surpassed all of my expectations and I am forever grateful. I will cherish these women for the rest of my life.



“You must understand that humans are an animal species, a species of mammal with mammalian requirements for health.”

– Dr. James Chestnut, from The Wellness and Prevention Paradigm

Figuring out how to introduce this blog has been a challenge for me. I chose this particular quote because it takes us to as close to a beginning as I can get. Dr. Chestnut repeatedly reminds his readers in The Wellness and Prevention Paradigm, that humans are not governed outside the laws of nature and as animals, we need to eat, move and think in a way that is congruent with our genetic makeup. This was something our hunter-gatherer ancestors innately knew two million years ago. I invite you to toss away the conventional fork and spoon, and dig in, as we learn together about the paleolithic lifestyle.

I was fortunate enough to begin my life with athletic and health conscious parents. Soda was a rare thing to find in our fridge and if there was a sugary cereal it was not a breakfast option, it was a treat. I wish I could say that these habits carried over into my adult life. I wish I had understood the reasons behind their motives. Was their idea of a healthy diet 100% correct? Of course not. There is simply too much information and new research surfacing continually. All we can do is learn as much as possible and use the information to the best of our ability.

It wasn’t until many years later, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I began to struggle with my own weight and anxiety issues, that I truly began to care about what I put into my body. Watching my athletic father waste away with pancreatic cancer is impossible to explain in a few words. How could someone seemingly so healthy, become so sick? After his passing I went a few rounds with doctors prescribing me various anti-depressants (trying to find one with side effects that would least affect my day-to-day life).

In hindsight, this seems so completely absurd.  My father had just died, of course I was depressed. My job was so stressful and my diet was so full of sugar and other various “comfort foods” that it was no wonder I was having anxiety attacks. After many miserable months of pill popping, I began to wish for the anxiety attacks to come back. I can only give one tiny bit of credit to the little white pills; My head was just clear enough to realize that I did not want to live my life like this.

I took it upon myself to change my lifestyle, and began reading everything I could about natural anxiety relief, only to really discover that health and wellness simply boils down to what we put into our bodies. This applies not only to good quality, real food, but also providing your body with exercise and positive actions and thoughts.

I have to give the first round of credit to my mentor and now employer, Dr. Steve Czys. After several months of chiropractic appointments and discussions, I finally decided to heed his advice, and cut all forms of sugar from my diet. What took me so long to come to this decision was that sugar includes all forms of wheat and grains. He led me to a lifestyle that involves feeding your genetics, just as our ancestors did. Making this decision was one of the best things I have ever done for my health and wellbeing.

When I first started to learn about the health and wellness of the human species, my head became so packed with information and ideas. I wanted to shout the truth to the world and some days, I felt like I might internally combust. The fact of the matter is, I can’t unlearn things, nor would I ever want to. Dr. Chestnut tells us that humans have gone from being a super species to the sickest species, in less than a century. I almost have to close myself off in my own little world when I grocery shop, because it breaks my heart to see so many people committing slow suicide with their supermarket choices. Am I innocent of this? Of course not. It was a learning process; one that I hope never ends. I made the decision to seek my own information. Ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is literally killing us.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2010 that; “Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis – are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.” More frightening still,the report goes on to tell us that these preventable illnesses are responsible for 7 out of every 10 deaths in America alone.

There is one word in all of this that gives me hope; “preventable.” Humans get to choose how to live their lives, to learn about their own health and wellness. There will never be a “cure” for cancer, because the “cure” is taking steps to not develop it in the first place. In today’s industrial world, it is nearly impossible to avoid exposure to toxins that may cause cancer, but I think it is even more frustrating that we don’t try.

The fact that we can’t even drink out of our own natural water supply tells us a lot. Think of it like this; we learn about our ancestors and our history from the planet itself, correct? The ground is like one giant blueprint or timeline. It records, and even fossilizes things that are left behind. Now think about what we dump into the ground today – such as the chemicals and pesticides we spray onto our plants that seep into the earth. Think of the laboratory made food-like substances that are marketed to make us think we getting complete nutrition. It seems crazy to me to that man thinks he can do this better than God and nature.

I can only hope as this blog progresses, that I can inspire someone to take a look at their own life. If one person reads this and makes the decision to learn more and make changes to their lifestyle, then I will have accomplished what I set out to do; save a life.

Pregnant and Out of Control…Part II

The Third Trimester:

I have to admit, I almost decided not to publish this Part II followup to my previous post…I honestly feel like I didn’t have too many complaints or humorous stories. My third trimester was the only time I actually enjoyed being pregnant. I attribute this largely to the fact that I finally LOOKED pregnant, not chubby. Plus I could finally feel the baby moving; and man did she move a lot! I was worried that she would never sleep because I swear the only time she wasn’t moving was when I was the one moving.

(Fortunately this is not the case, Charlie is pretty much a rockstar sleeper and I couldn’t ask for a better baby. I hate to brag…ok not really…but she sleeps like 5-7 hours at a time, almost every night! We have, of course, had our bad nights, but not too many of them!)bow bw1

Of course there were a few things that were definitely not normal for me…raging hormones and leaky boobs were mildly annoying. I am not much of a crier, but it was like someone flipped a switch on around week 28. Fortunately this was on a come-and-go basis, not a daily thing.

I can’t go without mentioning the continuing saga of the super smeller and my hubby’s gym shoes.

At the time, I couldn’t even stand next to him when he was wearing them. I distinctly recall a night when he left them in the bedroom with me. I may or may not have thrown them down the stairs… I then took full advantage of the Christmas season during this time and Kevin received a new pair of shoes and some socks for his gift. (Love you Kev!)

Let’s talk briefly about nesting and pregnancy brain…both of these are very real things! It was nearly impossible for me to simply just “sweep” or “vacuum.” I am also pretty sure it took me like a whole week to vacuum my bedroom because I took it upon myself to move all the furniture and get into every corner. One morning I set out to clean a cupboard shelf for bottles…four and a half hours later I emerged from my squeaky clean, super organized kitchen with a giant garbage back of discarded items.

As far as the pregnancy brain goes, I am pretty sure I drove past the turn for work no less than 10 times, somehow managed to accidentally wipe my boss’s camera SD card, misplaced another camera at work (fortunately recovered), and left a stove burner on (with the pan still on it)…sigh…

There were a few little things, such as the cankles. Fortunately I figured out that this swelling was directly related to my intake of sweet foods and I bumpwas able to get a handle on this. I did have this weird thing where my right leg would fall asleep, usually while standing or up teaching a class. I never did figure that one out and it hasn’t happened since baby came.

The calf spasms…oh the calf spasms! I was lucky enough not to have many, but each one stands out with a burning vibrance in my memory. I had one that woke me up in tears, like my leg was having seizure. I just couldn’t get my foot to flex the way it needed to, to release the cramp. I pretty much flew out of bed and had to smash my foot flat onto the floor. Poor Kevin probably felt as if he were under attack in the early hours of that morning.

In hindsight this all seems pretty minor, especially given the wonderful gift I received at the end of it all! I actually felt so good that I even did an arm workout the day my water broke. I am looking forward to sharing Charlie’s birth story with anyone interested and will post this soon. (Sooner if I get enough requests for it!)

Until next time dear readers, stay healthy!


Beet Soup with Tarragon

beet soupSo this simple soup turned out amazing and I had to share! I used the stellar performance if a Vitamix blender for this so please adjust as needed.

*And my disclaimer, as always, I don’t really measure anything, so always adjust to your tastes!

  • 4-6 medium sized beets
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 organic lemon (or juice of 1 whole lemon if no high powered blender)
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • Fresh Tarragon leaves
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Dice and steam your beets. I steamed the garlic as well for a milder garlic flavor. SAVE THE WATER! Add cooked beets to the blender with the rest of your ingredients plus approximately 1 cup of the remaining water from steaming. You want this because there are nutrients in the water from the beets! Adjust quantity according to desired texture. May need to add more plain water. Purée in blender till smooth!