Finding my new normal

Please help me welcome a guest blogger who is full of special for me. Gretchen came into my life a year ago, our connection continues today and I know you will love her as much as I do. Make sure to visit her at, her words are the definition of inspiration. ~~~

Before connecting with Hannah, my relationship with food was unconscious and very emotional.  I had special foods I craved for every occasion, situation and time of day.  I knew I didn't feel right but I blamed it on all sorts of external stresses or thought something was intrinsically wrong with my body.  I decided to join the cleanse but with some hesitation.

You see, I used to get panicky if I thought there wasn't going to be enough food around.  I also hated being in the kitchen.  I avoided cooking at all costs or cooked with such bitterness that nothing tasted good.  I thought cooking and preparing food was just not my thing.  I thought a cleanse was a period of time where I could only eat soup or juice or barely eat.  I was SO WRONG!

One of Hannah's biggest gifts is that she is incredibly compassionate and gentle while giving you everything you need to be successful and grow in your awareness of your body.  Before the cleanse, she provided a shopping list with lots of familiar items and some new, exciting things to try.  This was a huge sense of relief for me.  Then she connected all these wonderful women together via email so we were able to start sharing our process with each other as well as more ideas.  It was so comforting throughout the day to check my email and find the real experiences of other women mirroring my own experience.  What we were concerned about, what we were excited about, how our bodies were feeling at the beginning and how we hoped the cleanse would help us.  I learned quickly to create a filter in my email because these messages I did not want to miss amongst the other business emails.

Throughout the cleanse, Hannah provided recipes for all that food in the refrigerator.  Yummy, simple, fantastic recipes.  I had to print mine out because I got tired of trying to find them.  They have become some of my "go to" recipes.  Hannah completely understands what it takes for a Mama to make herself a priority and make different food for 10 days that the other family members probably won't eat.  She supports the recipes with inspiration and tools to keep the momentum going.  After the first couple of days of my body adjusting, I felt so good, it was easy to stick with it.  I started realizing that I could feel nourished and empowered in a very visceral way.  My brain felt light and clear, my body slimmed and moved with ease and those weird little skin and body symptoms that I had almost forgot were happening, cleared up.  I had been looking for these results in so many other places while eating foods that completely countered this desire.

I am so grateful for this cleanse opportunity.  I now view it as a sort of re-boot.  I look forward to connecting with the other women and learning more from their discoveries and ideas.  Each time I make myself and my food a priority with these cleanses, my relationship with food becomes stronger and less intimidating.  I am a different woman from the one I was before.

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The discovery of a gluten intolerance and its link to her chronic depression acted as motivation for writer, educator, and urban farmer Gretchen O'Byrne to make Self a priority among the responsibilities of family.  She has found motherhood to be a constant inspiration for living more simply and sustainably.  Gretchen reflects on self discovery after motherhood, living with her family's food intolerances, and the family's transition to growing much of their own food at

Eli Ate It

I know I've mentioned that my kids love mushrooms. On pizza, in pasta or with fish they couldn't be happier. I have never tried it in soup for them until now. The pickiest of the three, Eli, ate it. Which means that I must share it with you. I added the beans in after he had 3 bowls of it. He does not like beans, thanks. I made this soup for myself one day as I was feeling a cold start to creep in. Typically I fight a cold or a flu or a bug of any kind. I imagine myself fighting with the invaders and it's always a losing battle. So I have switched tactics. I am lovingly nurturing anything that threatens to attack. That one shift in perception has made a difference. Instead of attacking,  you lovingly melt away or love up the invaders, and they change their tune. When I would get sick I would be angry and crabby, when in attack mode that would make sense. With the shift into nurture, the mood is able to shift and calm.

The energy inside of us is shift-able. We are our creation each day, each moment. It is a choice. So to fight or nurture, our choice makes an energy shift.

This soup was one of the ways I decided to nurture. Full of garlic and ginger, healing chicken broth and mushrooms, it will take you out of attack mode.

Portabello and Ginger Soup

1 small onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 tsp grated ginger 5 portebello mushroom caps, black inside removed (you can use a spoon and scrape it out), and chopped 2 celery stalks, finely diced 1-2Tb wheat free tamari soy sauce juice of 1/2 lemon 8 cups chicken stock

optional 1 can Eden Organic butter beans, rinsed 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Saute the onion, garlic, ginger until soft. Add mushrooms, celery, soy, lemon and stock and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add beans and parsley before serving.


Are you in attack mode when you start to feel sick?

What feelings come up for you when the blahs invade?

Kid Platter

I have a little boy who will eat cucumbers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, lentils, beans, hummus, most fruit and green olives, watch out! He is not yet 2. At some point he will turn 2 and then 2 1/2 and developmentally will hit a picky eating stage. Eli, now a month away from 5, used to eat quesadillas with brown rice, lentils and seaweed inside. The he turned 3 and wanted all his food separate. He hit his picky eating stage and for almost 3 years he has gone without a piece of lettuce entering his body. It has always been offered, available, but not eaten by this little boy. So he has had lots of steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower, raw carrots, cucumber and celery and recently green smoothies. It seemed to me lettuce was just not his thing. He saw all of us eat it. He has planted it, picked it, purchased it at the farmer's markets and even helped make salads.

Imagine my surprise at his preschool the other day as the children sampled different parts of plants that you eat, he picks up a lettuce leave and says, "Mmm, I just love these juicy little lettuce leaves." Juicy little lettuce leaves! Going with the flow of our children can be so challenging. Feeding our family a beautiful and healthy meal that makes everyone happy can become a battle unless we simplify.

I have a guiding word for the year and it is simplify. Simplify. It is guiding me to find balance and get closer to the vision of what is important to my life. I have used simplify to guide my meals, which means keeping recipes to a minimum, using fresh foods as the centerpiece. I was a mama who would bribe for a child to eat 3 bites of food, I have even gone on dinner strike. Which means I refused to cook dinner because it felt so unrewarding to have kids turn up their noses to all the work you have just done. Learning that children eat differently takes some time. Bribing in my opinion is how to set up life long eating disorders and issues with food. Offering simple fresh foods that your children love, and some they can learn to love, is how to build a life long love and appreciation of the health that food can bring us. Try to look at food through your child's eyes. A bowl of chunky soup may seem really strange and foreign, but that same soup blended up with some crackers for dipping could be a lot of fun. Or perhaps a deconstructed soup or just the broth with some torn turkey lunch meat in it and cucumbers on the side. It takes some time to figure each of our children out. Once you do, planning meals gets much easier.

The other night, Patrick cooked up some sliced chicken in oil, salt and pepper and put it in the fridge until it was time to eat. I sliced strawberries, pulled out some arugula and baby lettuce from the fridge, made a quick dressing with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and we all sat down to eat. Chloe wanted only green baby lettuce, strawberries and chicken. Eli had purple baby lettuce, strawberries and chicken. Lucas had everything and fed it all to the dog. Patrick and I made huge bowls full of greens topped with strawberry chicken salad. When Lucas started complaining, I pulled out a bag of frozen blueberries and that made all children happy while Patrick and I finished our salads.


Are there ways you can simplify your family meals?