LoveSelf | Healing with the power of real food and self-love
We share the inspirational stories of those healing with the power of real food and self-love. All of our empowering articles come with a gluten free, refined sugar free recipe. We adore paleo and raw! Share your story! Go ahead love yourself!
An expectant mother’s story of traveling to Malaysia for organic recipes passed through generations, honoring Malaysian heritage, and the art of cooking organic food.
I am expecting my first child and desire only the healthiest food for my family. Join me as I journey to Malaysia to learn the art of organic cooking.
Last year I married an amazing Chinese Malaysian artist named Chow Meng Leong originally from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After our wedding, my new husband hinted to me about his traditional Chinese mothers delicious organic recipes. I pushed his comment to the back of my mind and thought, “Organic? Really? Homegrown? What is the difference?” Soon we were expecting our first child and my entire perspective changed. I wasn’t just eating healthy for myself; I needed to eat healthy for our baby. I began creating new wellness recipes, yet knew I had a lot to learn. What could I do? My only option was to travel to Malaysia and learn from the best!
My mother-in-law, Angeline Chow, was raised in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. Her mother, whom the family calls “Poh Poh,” survived World War II in 1941 when Japan invaded Malaysia.
Mrs. Chow, a petite woman with a jovial smile, has the work ethic and survival instincts of her mother. She grows her own herbs like her mother did, shops at local fish markets for the freshest poultry, and collects homegrown fruit from her sister-in-law’s fertile trees. “Living off the land,” she says.
Authentic Chinese Malaysian dishes with fish, green veggies, and fruit were commonly served in the Chow household during my husband’s childhood. “I think a person is healthier and has a long life,” Mrs. Chow says about eating green and organic foods, “It’s very exciting to grow your own food. You have confidence in what you are eating.” I was eager for her recipes made from organic and homegrown ingredients. Not just for me but for our future healthy children.
We scheduled our trip for an entire month. I assumed by one month’s time I would be fully equipped with a lifetime of new culinary delights, imagining well documented recipes and upcoming cooking lessons. When we arrived I asked my new mother-in-law, “Will you give me the recipes and teach me how to make your traditional Malaysian dishes?”
“I never write anything down,” she says.
“Uh oh. This will be trickier than I thought,” I told my husband.
So every evening for dinner, I examined my plate and attempted to guess the ingredients inside. “Was this marinated with soy sauce and sesame oil?” I ask.
“Some coriander and a little bit of honey,” she responds, “Maybe some fresh lemon and garlic.”
I began to bring my notebook and pen to the kitchen table every evening. I didn’t want to miss a beat. “If you grow on your own, you eat everything,” says Mrs. Chow, “You will not waste food.”
One evening, after many meals served and one aching wrist from hours of recipe writing, I noticed my plate was different from my in-laws plates. “Why is mine different?” I ask.
“I made you something special tonight,” says Mrs. Chow.
Before my eyes was a gorgeous display of salmon seasoned with fresh spring onions accompanied by a multihued orange salad and drizzled with a sweet dressing. “This is Mommy’s specialty,” says my brother-in-law, Ming Sheng. I had to have the recipe!
“May I have the recipe for your salmon?” I asked.
“I didn’t write it down. Let me remember what goes inside,” Mommy Chow said while clearly in thought, “Hmmm. One salmon fillet is marinated with lemon, rosemary, soy sauce, I think. I am not sure. Come back in 30 minutes.”
After 30 minutes of patience, Mrs. Chow’s memory was restored, I wrote down as much as she was able to give me. I am impressed that she cooks all her dishes from memory, no recipes needed. She definitely has control over the kitchen domain too. “It is her kitchen,” says Ming Sheng, “When my brothers and I try to help cook, she tells us no and to do the dishes after.”
Ming Sheng is right. It is “her kitchen.” I am glad I had an opportunity to learn from her and actually participate in some of the cooking process. Now, I can confidently return home with Mommy Chow’s specialty recipes in hand. I am positive my husbands belly will be satisfied with the notebook full of organic Malaysian recipes I lovingly received from his mother. Thank you Mommy Chow!
Our inspiring person, Melanie, created this gluten free, grain free recipe in honor of her LoveSelf inspiring feature. Learn how she healed from body image issues, an eating disorder, and depression with the power of self-love and food.
A story of a mother and her pre-school age daughter working through the challenges of Celiac Disease. Learn how intuition and a mother’s love brought healing to a baby girl.
There is something inherently special about a bond between a mother and a child. There is a connection between the two that goes beyond understanding, beyond anything of this Earth—a spiritual connection. Because of this connection, mothers instinctively sense changes in their children that even a doctor can’t detect.
Meet Kelly Johnson, a loving mother to two beautiful children, Elliana 4 and Luca 2. Kelly is living proof that mother always knows best.
Kelly has always felt a special connection with her daughter, Elliana, from the moment she was born. Kelly believes that the two of them were meant to find each other and journey through this life together. “A long time ago, our souls agreed that she would be my daughter and I would be her mother,” she said. Looking at her daughter, she sees the inherent wisdom she held as a child and feels the tug of her heartstrings as her old soul resonates with her daughter’s.
“A long time ago, our souls agreed that she would be my daughter and I would be her mother.”
As a mother-daughter duo, the two share more than just similar sensibilities; their connection to one another was affirmed by genetics after a diagnosis of Celiac Disease; first in Kelly and then in Elliana.
After Kelly gave birth to her second child, Luca, she really started to notice an increase in her symptoms. She had suffered for years from migraines, from gastrointestinal issues, frequent ear infections, sinus issues, and countless other ailments. Yet this time was worse. Her acid reflux became so bad that she found herself buying antacids in bulk, trying desperately to get rid of it. She also had issues with her bowel movements, leading the doctor to suspect Irritable Bowel Syndrome. All effort to remedy the issues, through medication and cutting out certain foods like meats, offered her no relief.
At a family gathering Kelly’s relatives began questioning the condition of her health. She had given birth recently and her weight loss had been rapid. The change was dramatic enough that her mother approached her, saying the family was worried she had an eating disorder. Kelly was devastated to hear these words come from her mother’s mouth. She knew she’d been eating and hadn’t realized her significant weight loss had become an issue, not realizing at the time that this was a symptom of Celiac Disease.
She consulted her doctor who ran further tests and discovered that her liver enzymes were high. Still, her doctor was short on answers as to what was wrong, leaving Kelly to search out answers on her own. A friend suggested that Kelly try cutting out gluten and willing to try anything to help ease the gastrointestinal issues, she gave it a shot. After just a week, her symptoms subsided.
A friend suggested that Kelly try cutting out gluten and willing to try anything to help ease the gastrointestinal issues, she gave it a shot. After just a week, her symptoms subsided.
This relief turned out to be the missing puzzle piece she’d been looking for. Armed with her new information, she consulted her doctor about Celiac, but wasn’t immediately presented with a diagnosis. The doctors still thought it was an IBS flare and were hesitant to test for Celiac disease. “It’s often the doctors and the people around you telling you it’s all in your head because you look okay,” Kelly said. She was frustrated that they weren’t listening to her. She knew her body and, trusting herself, she kept pushing, kept researching, and kept seeing out doctors until she was finally tested for Celiac and diagnosed.
“It’s often the doctors and the people around you telling you it’s all in your head because you look okay.”
Due to her own experience with Celiac Disease, Kelly was able to recognize an echo of her symptoms in her young daughter. Because Celiac is a genetic condition, Kelly realized she needed to be on the lookout for symptoms in her children. “I honestly wouldn’t have asked to get my daughter tested if I hadn’t felt some of the symptoms myself,” Kelly said.
Like Kelly, her daughter, as a baby, suffered from what they assumed was acid reflux. She was experiencing frequent loose stools and would spend most of the day screaming. As a first-time mom, Kelly had a lot of self-doubt on how she was taking care of her baby, and having her constantly crying made her question her ability to parent. Her husband was a big help, but sleep deprivation and the constant crying pushed her to her limits. Her doctor recommended adding oatmeal to her milk, still unaware that gluten was the problem.
When she noticed that her daughter wasn’t gaining weight, she knew that something was wrong. Once again, doing her own research, she had to be an advocate. This time for her tiny daughter who couldn’t communicate for herself. The doctors, like with Kelly, were again hesitant to test for Celiac, but her mother’s intuition detected what the doctors couldn’t see. Kelly insisted her daughter get tested for Celiac. When the doctor called with the results of her daughter’s tests, Kelly cried. She cried because she had known, and there was a sense of relief in confirming that her mommy instincts had been right and she was able to help her daughter. “Because of me, we caught it early and she is less likely to develop another auto-immune deficiency.”
Once again, doing her own research, she had to be an advocate. This time for her tiny daughter who couldn’t communicate for herself.
Elliana is now in pre-school and having a child that young with Celiac has been challenging. Kelly is teaching her daughter all about gluten and what foods she can and cannot have. She feels guilty at times because she thinks she’s denying her daughter Elliana a normal childhood. When other families are eating fast food, she has to explain about cross-contamination and why she can’t eat french fries.
Kelly often reminds herself that she’s giving her child the opportunity to nourish her body with healthier options. And Elliana has been a trooper throughout the whole process. She has learned to enjoy the foods that she’s allowed to eat and even reminding adults that she has to eat gluten-free when they offer her something she can’t have. “A classmate brought cupcakes for their birthday, and my daughter told them ‘I can’t have that’ and happily ate her grapes,” Kelly described, beaming with pride at her the wisdom of her four-year-old.
“In being a mom, I found the opportunity to love me and have a voice. Because through my love for me I can love them even more.”
As a parent, trusting yourself and your instincts can be hard. You’re going to make mistakes and challenging things are inevitably going to happen, whether that be discipline issues, arguments, or health scares. “But you can’t know the good without the bad,” Kelly says. You have to trust yourself, as she has learned to do, and love yourself for just being human and keep trying your best, no matter what. That is where the healing starts. Trust your mommy instincts—they’re never wrong.
You have to trust yourself, love yourself for just being human, and keep trying your best, no matter what.
The three beneficial HOWs of Turmeric! How does it work? How do you buy it and how do you use it? All answered here by our amazing contributing physician Beth Ricanati, MD.
Looking for a food ingredient that has a tremendous amount of science behind it, tastes good, and keeps us healthy? Let’s talk about the iconic Indian spice, turmeric. Ayurvedic and Indian medicine practitioners have been using turmeric for thousands of years; now researchers have been able to pinpoint what the Ayurvedic practitioners knew all along: turmeric is an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory substance.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has documented anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin also contains other important nutrients for our health, like magnesium and iron.
Why should you care about curcumin? Simply, many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer obesity and even Alzheimer’s disease, are in large part caused by inflammation in the body. In addition, inflammation is the culprit behind aches and pains like what you might experience with diseases like arthritis, and even just after a hard workout.
1. How does turmeric work? Research shows that curcumin prevents cellular oxidation, which is a fancy way of saying it blocks a molecule in our bodies that turns on the “inflammatory cascade”. No “inflammatory cascade”, no inflammation! Thus, turmeric helps to stop inflammation before it even starts!
2. How to buy turmeric? Turmeric is available in root form, powdered form and in a pill. It’s hard to grind yourself, so buy the powdered form unless you are throwng a piece into a strong mixer for a smoothie! Turmeric as a spice comes from two places in India, Alleppey and Madras. Look for the powdered turmeric from Alleppey; it has more curcumin in it.
3. How to use turmeric? Although most of us recognize turmeric in Indian curries, recently it has been showing up in a diverse array of dishes. I have found it’s great in smoothies, soups and stews. I have even seen it recently in beverages and with just hot water, ginger and lemon. My current personal favorite are dark leafy greens stir-fried with eggs and a hefty dose of turmeric!
Introducing healthy fast food! Gluten free, paleo, sugar free, non-GMO, and the dietician mom that made it happen.
For as long as I can remember I have been telling anyone who would listen about my vision for healthy fast food. A place of tasty wellness that rounds out the perfect road trip or a quick and easy option for working families.
Imagine a vibrant colorful storefront beckoning you in the doors. Now envision being greeted by happy people and endless amounts of prepared dishes just waiting for you to take home and gobble up. And the dream doesn’t end there! Suddenly the story gets even better because this beautifully prepared food is not only delicious it is healing. As you enthusiastically explore you find gluten free, paleo, non-GMO, vegan, refined sugar free, dairy free, and so much more. Lasagna! Pancakes! Enchiladas! Oh my goodness!!! Don’t pinch me I may wake up.
Paleo, Gluten Free, Non-GMO, dairy free! Lasagna! Pancakes! Enchiladas! Oh my goodness! Don’t pinch me, I may wake up.
Guess what? Such utopia does exist and not just in our dreams. Welcome to Snap Kitchen and the lovely woman that helps make this dream a reality. Introducing Ms. Andrea Hinsdale, dietician, mom, and the first member of the Snap Kitchen team.
Snap Kitchen was founded by Martin Berson. Martins’s inspiration came from his desire to help his diabetic wife with wellness food options. His goal of no white sugar or flour, healthy, and convenient options was a revolutionary new concept. .
Andrea is part of the Snap Kitchen dietician and chef led foodie-duo. Partnering with Executive Chef Matt Reinhart, Andrea and Matt together create a menu that will forever change your concept of fast food. Recall that enchilada I spoke to you about? Not only is it gluten free, paleo, and dairy free, it is delicious!! The dynamic duo created a cashew vegan cream that will make your taste buds giggle. Do you love meatballs or salmon? How about pancakes or a fruit tart? Cold pressed juice? A stunning quinoa salad? Snap Kitchen has it all! Every item is meticulously selected for its optimal ingredients and as Andrea says, “we keep working until the dishes are perfect”. And perfect they are. No GMO’s. Organic. Bright seasonal ingredients. YUM!
The dynamic duo created a cashew vegan cream that will make your taste buds giggle.
Because she walks her talk, kale was one of the first things Andrea fed to her two young children. She knew that her food wisdom had been heard when her young daughter came home from school and suggested better options for the school lunch menu. Andrea desires this knowledge for all children. She knows that we must teach our kids about healthy food and make nutrition accessible to everyone.
I asked Andrea what makes her heart sing. She spoke of never feeling like she has worked a day in her life because everyday is a contribution. “Food makes us happy”, she tells me. Yes it does!
Changing Hospital Food to Healing Food!
Learn how a hospital dietician defied convention to create an organic vegetable garden for her patients.
I have a vision. A vision of a healthy world with happy people. A vision of a colorful healed earth full of abundant life. In this beautiful dream, people walk on mama earth’s soil and have so much gratitude for her gifts. I imagine bright orange carrots, plump fruit, and little grinning healthy kids with berry juice running down their face.
Some people tell me this is a fantasy. They talk about all the things wrong with the world. I am not naïve to the world we live in yet I choose to tell the stories of inspiration. The stories of brilliant kind people taking steps to make a difference.
Joetta Redlin, Director of Nutrition Services and her team at Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah, Iowa are choosing to make such a difference.
Whoa, whaaaat you are thinking. A hospital?? Am I reading a counterfeit LoveSelf article? Nope this is the real thing and you will be offering hugs to Joetta and the team at Winneshiek Medical Center by the time you wrap up the last words of this story.
What comes to mind when you think of hospital food? If you are like me, it is something like “yuck” and Jell-O. I will confess. Healthy and tasty are not descriptors that occur to me. In other words, will someone run to the organic grocery store and bring this poor patient some good food?!
Guess what? Joetta and her team are working really hard to prove me wrong. A food is medicine inspiration for all healthcare centers!
What was once a barren courtyard has now become a beautiful edible landscape. Complete with bright flowers and stunning vegetables. In August of 2009, collaboration between the hospital leadership, with support from the Kellogg Foundation, sparked the idea of creating a healthy garden. The garden was designed to feed the patients and their families healthy naturally grown produce.
Joetta spoke to me about “not needing all those pills if we eat healthy food”. The team truly believes that health is not just “absence of illness… it is about well being”.
Imagine swiss chard, fresh herbs, bright green broccoli, gorgeous cabbage, asparagus to launch a beautiful spring, tomatoes, peppers, and kale. I could go on and on yet you get the idea. Hungry yet?
Like all things that are worth having, the garden is hard work. Planting, tending, maintaining, harvesting, cooking, and serving are a labor of love for the Winneshiek staff. Joetta will tell you she is not your average dietician. As a matter of fact, she laughed stating, “I think I may be weird”. At LoveSelf we think weird is awesome. Especially when it means following your own path to empower healing. Joetta spoke to me about “not needing all those pills if we eat healthy food”. The team truly believes that health is not just “absence of illness… it is about well being”. Oh my goodness!!! Are you feeling that hug yet?!
As a matter of fact, she laughed stating, “I think I may be weird”. At LoveSelf we think weird is awesome. Especially when it means following your own path to empower healing.
Remember the vision that launched this story? Well, I have a vision for Winneshiek Medical Center and it is quite a lofty goal. Keep up the great work. Feed all your patients natural healthy yummy vegetables. Heal their bodies and spirit with earth inspired decadence. Continue to be the light for all medical centers.
Joetta and all those who support your great work, thank you for being a shining example of what happens when you take the steps into the colorful healed earth dream.
The story of a Vietnam era couple whose exposure to Agent Orange changed the way they look at GMO and chemical farming practices today.
In a little desert town known more for its cowboys than its food you will find an unexpected couple. A duo from the Vietnam era with a mission to introduce healthy farming practices and organic principles to the Verde Valley in Arizona. Introducing Merle and Michele Herrick, organic farmers and Non-GMO activists.
Michele and Merle are founders of GMO Free Verde Valley; an organization dedicated to educating people on the dangers of genetically modified food. Both lifelong organic gardeners, Merle grew up eating fresh vegetables grown naturally by his grandmother. He later found himself in the horrors of war and the results that come with it. While in Vietnam he was repeatedly exposed to chemical sprays, including Agent Orange. He returned home with health issues. In his research to heal his body, he discovered the frightening similarities between the toxic chemicals he was exposed to in Vietnam and well known herbicides sprayed in copious amounts on crops and vegetation. He was able to return to health through organic eating and natural detoxification yet the seed was planted for his life’s work.
Many years later Merle met Michele. She describes him as her neighbor that had become her best friend. A fellow organic gardener, and naïve to his romantic interests, she had found a most compatible pal. One day he held her hand and didn’t let go. That was eighteen years ago. She still lights up when referring to her ‘bestie’ and now husband.
Michele, an RN, and Merle, a plumbing contractor by trade, retired and relocated to Arizona yet definitely did not choose the path of R&R. Instead they started Heartstone Farm; selling their produce and worms (yep, worms!) to those interested in vermiculture as a composting method. (Vermiculture is a system of using worms and organic food to enhance the nutrients in soil). Michele describes having gratitude for her family choosing to raise her on all organic real food. She tells me about her Northern California family growing their own food, grinding their own feed and flours, canning, and even drying and smoking to ensure that nothing was wasted. She proudly refers to raising her children the same way.
The couple first became aware of genetic modification long before any of us had heard the term GMO. They can tell you little known facts from decades of research. Ask them! As GMO was becoming more and more prevalent, their concern over the dangers grew. Rather than sit back and hope for a fix, they decided to utilize their knowledge to educate the community. Michele and Merle began by purchasing non-GMO education materials and shopping guides (charging to their credit card to be exact) to hand out at the farmer’s market. Merle received his first donation and was inspired to take the work to greater heights. Today they conduct workshops, show films, and lead speaking engagements all with the goal of healing the earth and helping us live healthier lives.
To learn more about the issues of GMO check out Michele and Merle’s Website. Even better take a trip to Arizona, drive to Camp Verde and ask for Michele and Merle. The neighbors will point you in the direction of their home and together you can take steps to ensure we all eat healthy clean food.
In honor of Spring renewal, introducing our six favorite benefits of asparagus and recipes!
Spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere and with it the return of our beloved asparagus. In honor of mama earth renewal and her little green sprouts, we are so excited to share with you the six benefits of asparagus and fabulous recipes!
Asparagus is another of nature’s miracle foods. When Spring arrives so do these amazing little green asparagus spears.
Did you know that asparagus is only recognizable several days each year as the stems we so adore? These delicious green vegetables are the first sign of Spring. The asparagus not harvested will quite rapidly turn into a three to four foot feathery tree.
Ready for the healing benefits of this happy little stalk?!
Asparagus is packed with vitamins and minerals and even contains the incredible glutathione known for its liver cleansing properties.
These happy green stalks are an anti-inflammatory and are said to have healing effects on autoimmune disease.
Asparagus also supports digestive health as an inulin containing prebiotic.
Amazingly asparagus may aid in the prevention of kidney stones.
5)Full of Antioxidants
Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals in the body, which can significantly reduce stress, prevent disease and slow the degeneration of cell tissue.
6)Fabulous Vitamins and Minerals
A serving of asparagus provides the body with nearly 60% the recommended daily amount of Folate. Folate is especially crucial for pregnant and nursing mamas. Folate is also known to support heart health and prevent liver disease.
How to live your dreams well into your 90’s. Lessons from an organic gardener and how to make a grass sandwich.
I have fallen in love with a man named Harry. Harry is 94. Witty, brilliant, kind, and endearingly cranky.
Introducing Harry Hilde! Organic gardener and my new beau.
Harry has created sacred ground in a public ditch just outside his trailer park north of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The soil that nurtures his broccoli, kale, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, beets, beans, swiss chard, and oh so many other mama earth veggies is officially owned by MNDOT. (For you non- Minnesotan’s that means the Minnesota Department of Transportation). Don’t worry. They don’t seem to mind. Last year when the road crew came, knowing a legend when they saw one, they built a fence around Harry’s garden to keep it safe.
My introduction to Harry began with a sassy welcome. “You’re late! Did you bring your hoe”? He stated with a twinkle in his eye. Uh oh. I was in trouble already.
Harry was born in 1922 and tells me with pride that he is full Norwegian, speaks the language, and has been to his heritage homeland seven times. He spent four years in the Armed Guard in the South Pacific, returned to Minnesota and fell in love. Okay, so not exactly. It seems his bride of 66 years knew immediately he was the man for her and despite Harry’s insistence that he “doesn’t date”, he married Orpha and spent the rest of his life taking her on a date every weekend until she passed last year. The Hilde lineage has resulted in 38 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Well…. 38 the family thinks?? They keep losing count.
In addition to his family, Harry has two loves. One is baseball and the other is his organic garden. Harry played for the Saint Paul Saints Seniors and competed in the Senior World Olympics when he was 75! That would seem like a record, except he was still playing baseball at 91. To keep his family healthy, Harry raised his children on a true hobby farm, complete with cows, chickens, raw milk, and all the organic vegetables one can eat. Harry’s daughter speaks of his compassion for the earth and all of us. She told me how he gardens from the heart and prefers to give away his lovingly raised produce. Why? Because according to Harry we all deserve to be “big and healthy”! Yes, we do!
Harry and I talked about what is now called “organic”, was once just called food. I asked him why he doesn’t use pesticides. His snappy and perfect response was to tell me “Eat those chemicals and they will kill ya”!
Yep, true words from the spry wisdom of 94 years.
And what about those grass sandwiches? Let me just tell you this… The description “grass sandwiches” is the understatement of the year. Rather the decadence he is so humbly describing is organic kale or collards straight from his garden wrapped around bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. “You can add beets too”, Harry tells me, referring to his daily meal. I wondered if I ought to mention that his grass sandwiches are actually chef driven farm to table culinary genius?! Instead I suggested we start a food truck and travel the world feeding people his earth inspired goodness.
I came into Harry’s world to write about his wonderful garden, and inspiring life. Yet, the truth is, he came into my life as an angel with a gruff facade, reminding me to stay the course and as a reassurance that life is the joy we make it.
Want to talk to Harry? That may be a challenge. He doesn’t like phones. Has never owned a computer or used email. Your best bet to find him is to drive down a big ol’ highway, look towards the ditch, and see a fabulous old gentlemen weeding his beloved garden or resting under his favorite tree. In this new place called heaven.