Number 47: my first year without her

Mother's Day 2013. She had no idea she was already sick inside. Only a few months later she was diagnosed, and a few months later she was gone.  This experience has strengthened my mission to encourage others to do all that IS possible (knowing some things are out of our control) to keep this from happening to their family.

Mother’s Day 2013. She had no idea she was already sick inside. Only a few months later she was diagnosed, and a few months later she was gone. This experience has strengthened my mission to encourage others to do all that IS possible (knowing some things are out of our control) to keep this from happening to their family.

Hello again, dear readers. Some of you may not know why my last post was all the way back in January, so I’m bringing y’all up to date today. On February 6, 2014 my mom passed away from an infection caused by the ordeal of stage 4 inoperable pancreatic and liver cancer. As I read that sentence over again, it still does not seem real. I have not wanted to blog since that day. It has been overwhelming sadness at times, but getting better as the weeks go by. It is a strange thing to lose a parent. It’s “stranger” than I thought it would be. I get lost in thoughts about her, our relationship, how I do and do not want to emulate certain qualities.  Mostly I just miss her, because she was one of my most favorite people in the world. Feelings pop up and tears roll down at very unexpected times and places. Nothing feels quite right in life.  And even though I usually only saw her every couple of months when she was alive, I miss being able to pick up the phone to ask a question or send a quick email. My friends who have lost parents tell me the hole never goes away, but it does get smaller with time. I imagine this next year of “firsts” will be difficult.  Since February, it has certainly been a process of grief, and has left me feeling unmotivated to write, since I needed to work through the grief before writing about it. That is starting to change now, 5 months later, as I am starting to feel glimmers of excitement over information I want to share with you, and ways I want to encourage you and your family.  I have a lot of things in the works, nothing is quite ready to post yet, but I feel my passion for Organic Eater coming back as my cortisol levels are decreasing. And I have learned a lot about cortisol and stress that I want to share with you, especially you moms! Wow, does it affect health like nothing else!

So, know that I have not forgotten about you or this blog. I am processing, praying, and pondering my next posts. Yes, I still love alliteration:) I have been posting most days on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but just haven’t been ready to come back here to do this yet. I am just about ready to get back to this. God is carrying me through, revealing things about myself and His love for me; doing the cathartic healing that is completed only by “casting all your cares upon Him”, and giving me new vision for the spiritual direction He wants me to take at Organic Eater. Thanks for all of your encouragement and support in the last few months!  Hang in there with me healthy friends, I will be back.

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

First Video: How to cook kale

My very first attempt at creating a how-to video, so please be patient and forgiving!:) Cooking kale this way is so easy! And since many of you have asked for a lesson on how to cook kale in a frying pan, I knew I needed to create this video in order to share the kale love with all my foodie friends! I grew up with boiled and steamed kale, and hated every minute of the disgusting smell in our house. These are not your granny’s greens. No boiled greens in this house. Everyone I have ever made this for is surprised that kale can taste so good. The tricks are dry leaves (wash and dry) before throwing it in the pan, coconut oil (or oil of choice), salt, and garlic. Yep, that easy.  Watch this and leave any questions in the Comments section. I hope you try this amazingly simple way of preparing kale or ANY other greens (except lettuce) and open your heart to the possibility that you just might love kale too!

Encouraging Kale,

Organic Eater

As always, use as many organic ingredients as possible, especially since kale is on the Dirty Dozen list for pesticides. If you cannot find organic, be sure to wash them thoroughly with Vermont Soap’s Veggie cleaner. Good stuff!

Butternut Squash Soup and Concept Cooking


I realized today that my beloved butternut squash soup recipe was not on the blog. I think it’s because after I learned how to make it, I never needed the recipe again. It’s so easy! And so forgiving, you can just add amounts of a few basic ingredients until you get it to your liking. I like to call it “concept cooking” rather than using a recipe. The 3 main parts are the vegetable, stock or broth, and milk of choice. Add seasonings (and apples for sweetness) and you have soup. Use this “concept” to experiment with all kinds of veggie soups like sweet potato, acorn squash, carrot, etc. But here’s a recipe if you would rather have it. This comes from my friend who used to blog at HomeCookedHealthy, but she no longer blogs, and was willing to share her recipe us.

1 med/large butternut squash  You can cook it whole in the oven or peel it and cut it up first to cook it. For me, it’s waaay easier to slit it and throw it in the oven whole, 375 for less than an hour, then scoop out the squash and throw away the skin and seeds. You can also cut it in half and bake in a shallow pan with skin side up, with a little water until soft. You can always bake it ahead of time and store it until ready to make soup. I often bake several squash and sweet potatoes at one time to prep them for cooking later. Another option is to cut it up and cook it on the stove top,  in the stock that’s in the recipe. The cooking time is less than baking it, but you have to spend a lot of time cutting the skin off and cutting the raw squash into pieces, and that is not easy. You will have to try it and figure out what works for you

2T organic or grassed butter (I always use more)

1 small/med onion, chopped

5 cups (app) chicken stock/broth (home made broth is so easy!) Or use less stock and add milk/cream along with stock. Play with this part to get it right for you. Remember “concept” not recipe! If the soup is too thick, add more stock.

1/2t nutmeg

1/4t stevia (or use apples to sweeten)

1/4t sea salt (I used more for mine)

1/4t pepper

1c milk Optional, but gives it the creaminess you may want. I have only used dairy, so I’m not sure how substitutes will work. I use organic or raw whole milk.

Optional: parm or roman cheese grated on top. Organic or grass fed, raw (unpasteurized) is best. Oh my yum! And a sprinkle of nutmeg on top looks pretty for guests!

In a large soup pot, saute onions in butter until soft. I add garlic and sage (sometimes) and s&p in mine. Add the cooked squash (or raw squash that’s been cubed). Add chopped apple if using. After squash (and apple) is soft, you can use a hand blender or put squash and onions (and apple) in a blender to puree, then return to pot. Stir in remaining ingredients and seasonings and continue heating until warm throughout. You may not need the stevia if you have apples in there.  You can also do this in a crock pot on low, after sautéing onions and pureeing all veggies. Eat or freeze in freezer safe jars. Enjoy!

Use pesticide free or organic ingredients as much as possible and reference my “good, better, best” list if you need help knowing what to use.

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

Organic Eater blog 2013 in review

The stats helper prepared a 2013 annual report for the Organic Eater blog. It’s so fun to see what were my top posts and reads. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Chia Seed Dressing post was still in the top 5, even though I wrote that so long ago. I was not surprised by the most views for my Personal Update from Dana, because so many dear people cared enough to read about what is going on with my mom’s cancer situation. Thank you. Thank you for following, liking, and commenting here and on Facebook, instagram, twitter, and pinterest. I never take this for granted, being able to speak into your life, and am honored by your presence here. The year is closing with a lot of uncertainty, but I am certain Who holds my future, and He will carry me through 2014 no matter what lies ahead. I pray blessings over all of you Eaters as you go into 2014. Happy New Year, Eaters!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole


So many of you Eaters “liked” and commented on the spaghetti squash casserole recipe I posted on Instagram and Facebook, that I had to include it as a blog post, so we can all reference it easily next time we need it. The recipe was written on the BellsBestBerries Blog post because they are the pesticide free CSA, who grew the spaghetti squash.

Here are my tips on this: it was actually better the second day, so don’t be afraid of cooking it early and then reheating it. I cooked it with aluminum foil on top, but I do not think I will next time. Some of the water from the squash probably needed to evaporate during cooking and that process may be easier if the wrap is left off. Also, I like my cheesy casserole dishes to be a bit crunchy on the edges, so removing tin foil might help that to happen. Just keep an eye on it while cooking if you don’t use the foil.  I used 1 small to med squash to fill a 9×13 pan with plenty of squash for all 4 of my family members to eat, as the main course of a meal. It would be fine to cook the squash the night before, so the “noodles” are prepped and ready to go when you want to bake this. Go to this site to get the recipe, but leave comments or questions here on this OE post, and I will try to help.

As always, use as many organic or pesticide free ingredients as possible!

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater