immune boosters

as we are right in the middle of winter cold & flu season, i thought i would post some tips that have really helped us stay healthy. these are just a few things that i personally have found preserved my kids health as well as my own. i am not a huge fan of medication for the kids & because i have been pregnant or breastfeeding the past few years, i have not been able to utilize conventional defenses or medications once sick and so it became my project this winter to keep us all healthy, all of the time. and to my surprise any of the below tips have worked far better than anything i have ever bought at a pharmacy.
  • exercise: keeping active increases your circulation by 5x which helps move those immune fluids up to 5x more than if you were not active (this is just maintaining 30 minutes of activity throughout the day - without that activity, your immune fluids may circulate just once throughout your body during the day)
  • fresh air: even if it's just opening the kid's bedroom windows for a few minutes before bed, it really helps increase the amount of oxygen in your system, which powers your immune system
  • sleep: well rested kids, are not only happy kids, they are healthy kids. i always have to remind myself of this truth when i feel the pressure to clean or tidy while they are napping. i should be resting (especially if i feel like i am coming down with something). an early bedtime for mom, is a gift for everyone!
  • manage your stress: nothing is worse for your immune system than stress. so adapt healthy ways of coping. i personally love our hot tub just before bed or a hot bath (also good at blasting out germs - it imitates a fever which puts your body on guard). i also just love reading - it takes my mind to another world. taking a deep breath also does wonders (and increases oxygen) or a good 10 minutes of stretching. a darn good giggle works to. learning to make relaxing apart of your daily routine is difficult when you have little ones but it's worth it.
  • eat well everyday: this one is probably the most difficult to maintain in a busy lifestyle. while asking a pharmacist to guide me to the best super vitamin i could take, he said just eat a lot of blueberries & drink a ton of water. i guess most multivitamins don't get digested properly and that makes them ineffective & expensive. so with that new philosophy in mind, i make sure my kids eat tons & tons of blueberries, strawberries, oranges...any high fibre, probiotic & organic food. it also helps to limit your intake of refined sugar and overly processed foods (refined sugars contribute to an increase in 'bad' bacteria, which can weaken your immune system). so home cooked and limited sugar is best. slipping veggies into everything and learning to cook all veggies with the most nutritional value intact has also been helpful (no need to eat a carrot that has had all of the nutrition boiled out of it). i add flaxseed (but be careful, it is a diarrhetic), wheat germ & ground sunflower seeds to everything from muffins to yogurt to baby food. they add fibre & omega fats which boost immune function. you can get just about any vitamins you need from just having a salad for lunch & fruit for breakfast. having said this i do give davith the jameson brand chewable vitamin (brand with least amount sugar) and chewable calcium. the twins get a liquid vitamin supplement as liquid is much easier to digest. and i just take vitamin D through the winter (it helps improve mood) & liquid iron while pregnant or breastfeeding (boosts my energy).
  • taking my "gos-pills": so cheesy, i know! but it works! i find the better my relationship with God is, the better my relationship with the world is. reading the word is a spiritual defense that protects my mind & my body. i have also, personally, found that speaking in tongues has been a great defense too. while doing it, i don't always feel the immediate benefit, but i know somewhere down the line i will reap a benefit tenfold, spiritually & physically. i have really felt strongly since having kids to make a habit out of practicing the presence of God. as i am sure most mom's can relate, there may or may not be a set time to just sit down uninterrupted and so i do it on the go, while i am feeding babies & changing diapers (practicing the presence of God by brother lawerence was a huge inspiration)
below is an article i found good on specific benefits to specific foods (i always find i can motivate myself to eat just about anything if i know what the benefit is): http://hubpages.com/hub/top-immune-system-boosters

hope that helps! it's kept us well all winter long, which is a first for the wilkins clan. it's a lot of work, especially during the winter when my natural inclination is to hibernate in a cave of sugar, but i cannot even imagine what the alternative would have been like!


banana pops

growing up, a favourite in the rickey household was a dessert we affectionately entitled “poop-on-a-cloud” otherwise known as just peanut butter on ice cream. now having my own family, a huge hit in our home are banana pops. a super easy, extra healthy option for a treat! and it’s a super fun activity to do with the kids… i love including them!

all you need is : 8 wooden ice-pop sticks or wooden skewers, 4 bananas, 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, 4 tsp of butter or margarine, ¼ cup crushed whole-grain rice cereal (I just crush a rice cracker), 2 tbsp of flaxseed meal, ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut or crushed peanuts or any other favourite sprinkling like mini-m&m's and such

STEP 1: break bananas in half and insert wooden popsicle stick in the flat end of each half.combine chocolate chips & butter and microwave for 40-50 seconds on high until completely melted and stir.

STEP 2: mix the coconut or crushed peanuts or other favourite sprinkling substances with rice cereal & flaxseed meal. dip bananas in the melted chocolate and roll in the dry mixture of sprinklings. place bananas on a plate covered in wax paper.

STEP 3: freeze for about an hour before serving & enjoy!

this recipe is from one of my absolute favourite cookbook which I turn to religiously throughout my week called “double delicious” by jessica seinfeld (her first book, “deceptively delicious”, is also a fantastic resource). she hides healthy veggies into everyday kid’s favourites & you can’t taste it! hence the ‘deceptively delicious’. i originally bought this book for me as i hate the taste of veggies. who knew it would be so useful?!


a turkish rock band in the making...

before any of our little winkles were born, steve & i kept a running list of things that we wanted to define our family. things that would be hallmarks of our home, a vision of sorts. one of those hallmarks was to have a home that rang with music. i had always grown up in a musical home but only ever taking the opportunity to learn the flute. steve had only ever played the sax in high school. steve described a friend's home once, that so inspired me. the room that would have traditionally housed the t.v. had this really big antique optometrist chair that had belonged to their grandfather. it was surrounded by just about every instrument imaginable. but that wasn't the inspiring part. it was that that sat down every night and jammed away together. they didn't waste the hours away zoned out to the t.v. they created, together. i just love that picture. now steve's friend is in a fairly popular turkish rock band. not that i have dreams of our kids becoming turkish rock stars, that's not the point. it's about a family with something else as it's centre other than the t.v.
and so it got me thinking. there are so many instruments that i wish i had learned when i was younger like the piano, the drums or the violin... just to name a few. but i think it was c.s. lewis that said it's never too late to set a new goal or dream a new dream. with that in mind, it dawned on me that it may not be too late to learn any of those instruments. we could even learn the same time as the kids.
what got me really excited about all this is, tonight steve came home with a guitar! our first instrument! a prophetic investment in our family vision. still lots of work ahead but so looking forward to it. tonight i got my old flute out & steve strummed away and the kids danced & grooved & giggled. we don't really know what we're doing yet but they don't seem to mind. thank-you Lord for these incredible opportunities!
*on a side note: here is a little footage of our little turkish rock band in the making...


the chosen fast

although fasting has not always been the most popular discipline, it is a strong biblical one. one to which i feel i have neglected recently. in the past i have often felt led to fast in varying capacities. when i was a teen, i felt led to do a media fast for a year which opened my eyes and my mind in an incredible way. i loved it. i wish i had the courage to do it again. i have done the typical fast of not eating, just drinking water but only ever for a few days at a time. while i was pregnant with the twins & still nursing davith, i really felt led to make a habit out of fast one day of the week to just be able to prioritize my need for Christ & clarity of mind. i had a few issues in my own life that i desperately wanted to see breakthrough in and so dedicated myself to the daniel fast (only eating fruits & vegetables, no processed food, dairy or any liquid other than tea & water & i also added the caveat of no t.v.). it changed my life drastically. i have never learned more about discipline in my physical body as well as spiritual and mental discipline. i often long for the intimacy that i so enjoyed with the Lord during those days (not that i am not intimate with Him now, but there is such a unique, sweet intimacy while fasting). this week, i felt a strong leading to fast & pray over an issue here in the church. all of the other fasts i had partaken in had been totally selfish. I have never fasted on someone else's behalf before. it was so powerful. i have to admit that i don't really do well without food, and so steve & i decided that i would just fast dinner (please note, if you are fasting while breastfeeding you need to drink a load of water & also be sure to take a multivitamin - i personally would limit a no food fast to just a meal or two). i was sooo grumpy. after feeding the kids, bathing them & tucking them into bed, i was exhausted and just wanted a giant piece of cake. i could have made an easy out with a legitimate excuse, but i knew that God had stirred my heart to do this & i couldn't let the emotion of the day steal that away. so i pulled it together and gathered with some others to pray over this issue, and soon forgot any pangs of hunger. i channeled my grumpiness into a righteous anger over the enemies work in a family that we loved & cared for. it was an incredible time in the Holy Spirit. i felt so refreshed & renewed. i can only hope we shook heaven... no, i know we shook heaven. i cannot wait to see what happens next.

* a side note: i have found jentezen franklin's book on fasting especially inspiring if you're up for any extra curricular reading. but beware, it may just inspire you to fast!