Military Family, Food, & Fitness Fenestrations

Raising the Bar on Personal Expectation

A little about Parenthood

You must already know that there is no sweeter, more pure sound than the genuine, heartfelt, bubbling laughter that flows out of the mouths of our young toddlers. Anyone fortunate enough to be within hearing range of that literal shower of joy and warmth can not doubt but that they are being offered a fleeting glance of what heaven must be like.

Lately other things have been flowing out of our son’s sweet mouth, falling wayshort of heavenly but certainly not hilarity.

I assign nicknames to items or creatures with exceptional value in my life, and the names have no particular underlying rationale or make any sense whatsoever except to me, the only person in the entire world who has any interest in using them. Hearing our son call the dog “Mr. Lookey” immediately doubled me over in delighted mirth. No one else probably understands this.

But anyway, some of my slogans aren’t so sweet when used out of context, so it was to my initial deep mortification to hear our son inform the dog in high-pitched insistence that he had a STINKY BUTT and that he planned to SHOOT him. He waited for a crowded place to tell me the same thing and to take a big handful of my offending butt. Our son is an exceptional speaker for a 2.5 year old, and his volume appears to have an inverse relationship with polite speech. Even if 80% of the Germans around here didn’t speak perfect English, “stink” has the same meaning, and the words “butt” and “shoot” are universal.

Adaptation is necessary for survival, and I think it is because God understands our disparate situation that he has gifted mothers with the skill for promptly achieving it. I don’t get embarrassed by my son’s outbursts nor even by the (so far infrequent) tantrums he pulls in crowded places anymore. This is something I could never understand before as a non-mom. Being on occasion a first-person witness to toddler tantrums was equitable to 100% effective birth control for us, and certainly one of the major factors responsible for our 9-year delay.

Everyone has a different experience and a unique and perfectly justifiable perspective to share, but me — if I could do it all again — I would never delay. My priorities are refocused, material objects just don’t hold much worth anymore, my empathy has deepened, our marriage has strengthened, and I am experiencing wonder and gaining appreciation for normal everyday phenomena all over again. Well, that’s my story 85% of the time, anyway. 75%?

…like this morning, when Ian finally realized that directing his peestream can be fun. Fortunately one of the perks about having a 2.5 year old is that you can completely convince them that cleaning up is a blast too (I will enjoy this short-lived phase as long as I can). Now he just needs to get a little better at it (that does happen eventually, right?) and I can set him loose on the house….

What are your experiences and some novel discoveries you’ve shared with your mouthy toddler?


Free Training…Invitation

I will teach my last fitness class on the 17th of December. Not only is my husband’s automobile unreliable, it has no winter tires. We are saving to purchase a car next year Feb/Mar time frame, and therefore don’t plan on wasting money on tires we will only get to drive a few months. Continuing to make the Tuesday/Thursday drive to Ramstein over winter is impossible.

The good news is, I am willing to provide free training for military spouses from my home in Waldfischbach this winter!! I do the workout one day earlier than the workout of the day found on the CrossFit homepage, so you will always know what to expect. I will supervise and assist you with childcare during your workout, and will scale it appropriately (BrandX provides scaled workouts for the CrossFit WOD). Please let me know if you are interested, so that I can arrange times for the group (daily if necessary) that are acceptable.

Today’s workout:
Complete as many rounds as possible 20 minutes of:
15 Double-unders
15 AbMat (or ball-clenched) Sit-ups
15 Back extensions (can lay down on belly and lift arms/heels)

For those of you not in class last Tuesday, we discussed training for a run (10k or less in length) sometime next spring in March/April time frame. I will try to find out when the next race is that’s sponsored by MWR or Youth Services. Next year on 2 May in Kaiserslautern there is a Half-Marathon run which allows time for feasible progression if anyone is interested. I will supply a training plan, training assistance, and even childcare (when I can) here in Waldfischbach to anyone interested in training for these races! I trained for my second Ironman distance race using a babystroller with my 45lb dog inside (long story). I finished the marathon (at the end of the Ironman) in 4 hours flat.

For anyone who wants a starting benchmark, this weekend on 29 November there is a Weihnachtsmarktlauf (Christmas market run) in Landstuhl. The cost is 6 euro and the distance is 7.6km (just under 5 miles) – you must signup before 11am on race day to participate.

Warm Soups

Our “reasonable price” for a home made upgrade requirements inevitable. Our single-wage-earner income restricts freedom to do so….at least until after we muscle through all the one-time-but-significant fees associated with purchasing a home in Germany (detailed blog post to come on that subject). Insulation is hanging from the unfinished ceiling of our toddler son’s room and he has no heat in there, but anyway there is currently no distinguishable temperature difference from the rest of the home being that we’ve run out of oil and spend evenings huddled around wood scraps the former owners left us.

Over the past couple weeks we’ve grown a deep appreciation for basic heat. We close the rouladen shades tightly at night, yell at each other when doors to infrequently-used rooms are left open, and though an infinitesimally-cracked door shove the dog in and out at tightly controlled intervals during the day so that he can answer nature’s call. Ah THIS is how Europeans live! I was informed by civil employees in charge of utilities (water & electricity) here in town that we would be charged a little more per month than the average German family in anticipation of our greater use of resources. We are American, after all. This actually might be one of the easiest areas where we can defy expectation and prejudice, but I dunno….we do have a sauna (yea)! We will keep you posted.

We’ve tried to use this experience to kindle a sense of adventure in our son. When he wakes and complains about the cold I explain we are living like early pioneers only much, much better: we have TV, a pressure cooker, running (cold) water, and one working automobile. No mortal danger sources surrounding this docile neighbourhood save from a 400% increase in traffic due to careening white Polish vans in search of hot SpärMüll deals. I’m not complaining – bulk trash pickup is only scheduled twice per year, and anyway we’ve personally benefited: I’ve found a perfectly good soccer ball and sturdy shopping basket people threw out on their curbs so far.

Anyway, no scarcity of subjects to blog about, and I will be regular now that we are moved in.

I mentioned the pressure cooker…. our stove (circa 1980) protests with a loud CREEEEEAK and flying rust each time we open the door. The electric cooktop is more emotional than even I – there are numbers on the dials but they don’t seem to correspond with any degree gradient of temperature increase. Of COURSE as you can imagine, my sladky-approval rating on cuisine has suffered accordingly, but I’ve come to rely on ole faithful pressure cooker. So in its honour, here are two soup recipes I made in the last two days which earned the highest rating from mein Mann just in time for Thanksgiving

Cauliflower Cheese and Mustard Soup I altered a recipe I found from Nigel Slater. Mine serves 2-3 if you use it as the main course.

1/5 slice from block of German bio (organic) butter (50g)
1 red onion sliced thin
3 cloves FRESH soft purple garlic (any garlic will do) minced
2 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
a small potato, sliced relatively thin
1-2 tbsp mustard
1 bio vegetable bouillon cube or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
50g parmesan cheese, diced
50g Emmentaler cheese, diced
2 tbsp Crème fraîche

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the onion and garlic and fry until soft. Dump the cauliflower in and stir well to coat florets then add potato, mustard, bouillon and water, seal pressure cooker and find a good red wine….(I will blog soon about some excellent sources we found in our neighbourhood).

After about 10min on level II (or cook according to the settings/recommendations of your personal pressure cooker) I removed the soup from heat and released the steam. I threw in cheese chunks and used an immersion blender to blend before adding a little more pepper and a couple tablespoons of Crème fraîche. Nigel recommends frying bread cubes in butter (croutons) and sprinkling them on top (yum) but I forgot and we were hungry….remember everything is healthier without bread, anyway! We grilled steak and zucchini, and this soup was the perfect accompaniment.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

1/5 slice from block of German bio (organic) butter (50g)
3 cloves FRESH soft purple garlic (any garlic will do) minced
2 medium broccoli, broken into florets
a small potato, sliced relatively thin
1 bio vegetable bouillon cube or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the garlic and fry until soft. Dump the broccoli in and stir well to coat florets then add potato, bouillon, and water, seal pressure cooker and cook for about 10 minutes on level II, or according to the settings/recommendations of your personal pressure cooker. Immersion blend and season to taste – I served with roasted chicken and mushrooms.


Support Free Fitness Programs for Overseas Military Families

The FamFit proposal provides a detailed plan to introduce free fitness programs for overseas military families. There are comparatively few military family fitness programs currently offered for US Army and Air Force families stationed overseas, and many of those available are offered at considerable expense (for the average military family), inconvenience, and/or month-to-month uncertainty. I wrote the FamFit Proposal in order to introduce a feasible and permanent method of implementing family fitness programs for overseas military families at no cost. More importantly, however, I wrote it to raise awareness of the cause for providing free family fitness programs to overseas military families.

Local Ramstein Air Force Base Services Division management has been extremely supportive in allowing Military Family-Friendly Fitness Programs at Ramstein Air Force Base. The Services Division now offers fitness programs (yoga, prenatal, and core-strength), which allow participants to bring their kids (currently ranging in age from 3 months to 5 years) with them to class. I’ve updated the FamFit proposal (See Section III, Point 2,B) with more details. Unfortunately participants must pay a fee to attend any of these family-friendly fitness courses.

This is progress, however! Here’s more persuasive evidence that Family Fitness programs work for military overseas families, that they can be implemented in a safe manner for all involved, that they are enormously effective in enhancing participant fitness levels, that they are in high demand despite their fee for participation (all courses are currently wait-listed), and by all accounts (see testimonials) that they impact entire families’ perspectives regarding fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

At Ramstein Air Force Base Southside gym, FREE indoor cycling classes (currently 9 with 3 more planned for January), body sculpt classes (2), ab/core classes (2), a step class and a kickbox class (with 2 more planned in January) are currently offered. But all instructors are volunteers, and not one receives funding for their certifications, music, clothing, or personal childcare. Childcare is not provided for class participants; children are prohibited from being in the facility during a class (although a separate parent room is provided, it is unsupervised).

Although it is commendable that most military fitness facilities, at least in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, offer a room containing exercise equipment (normally a treadmill and an elliptical machine, sometimes a bike) equipped with toys and sometimes a TV for childrens’ entertainment, more can be done and needs to be done for military overseas families. Many stateside bases offer free childcare. In October 2008, DoD contracted the Armed Services YMCA to offer free “family” memberships with free child watch programs at local YMCAs to many military families living stateside (32,000 of which already actively participate in the program). Many family-centered fitness programs are already offered free to stateside-based military families. Now it is time to provide the same free services to Military families stationed overseas who arguably stand to gain far more in health and wellness benefits (read proposal for detailed explanation of the overseas military community need for such services).

Support us by joining our Facebook Group, being a “follower” on the Proposal’s Homepage, and by helping us spread the word!

Voilà Dinner in 15-Minutes

We are moving into the house we bought in Waldfischbach starting this Saturday, so we’ve got a fair amount of monetary stress at the moment… sure you may be able to empathize somewhat if you’ve ever been a homeowner – but then multiply by a factor of 10 for purchasing a home on foreign soil using a foreign language. It is not really a question of whether we neglected to consider some tax or fee – it’s a matter of exactly when that surprise tax or fee will hit our bank account.

Monetary stress provocations strike in clusters of four, I’ve found, and the last seven days proved no exception. We had to take our Subaru Outback to the repair shop last week on Thursday because a stream of smoke was coming out from under the hood. The incessant blinking “check engine” light has been a function of its operation since the 13th month following its purchase in 2000, along with a near-infinite number of other issues from which multiple Subaru (and other) dealerships have profited – but as yet not been conclusively able to resolve. I believe seething ire regarding misadventures with our Subaru could easily be the subject of its own future post, but the main point for now is just that at long and excruciating last the vehicle could actually in earnest be in its final throes of existence.

Then, last Saturday a tire blew in our BMW (a one-series which we purchased in used condition, so please banish any idea that we are some sort of atypical wealthy military family). We had run-flat tires so were able to limp into the nearest automobile dealership which happened to be AUTOHAUS HÖBEL VOLKSWAGEN + AUDI HÄNDLER in Waldfischbach. We were extremely lucky to find them, and I would unreservedly recommend their service (of course especially if you own a Volkswagon or Audi). They advised against attempting to drive our car to the nearest BMW dealer in Kaiserslautern explaining helpfully that we could go to German jail if something were to happen, and then they recommended purchasing two run-flat tires because not only was one completely kaputt, another one was inexplicably not run-flat. Autohaus Höbel went to enormous pains attempting to get two Pirelli run-flats in time for me to make my Tuesday morning fitness class and I am extremely grateful, but I missed the class anyway and now owe them and the BMW dealership in Kaiserslautern an apple cake (the Volkswagon dealership had to promise cake in order to insure prompt tire delivery). I will provide the recipe on the blogsite later – a delicious German-style apple cake, but not at all low-carb… don’t worry, at some point I will blog about the necessity of “cheat” days/meals.

So anyway, both my husband and I have been riding our bicycles all over Pfälzerwald due to both automobiles being out of service. The ride from Queidersbach to Waldfischbach is approximately 15k, and I’ve made it three times in the last two days with the child-trailer attached and fully-loaded (our son is in the middle of potty-training) thinking the tires would arrive and I could return with the BMW. Yesterday morning, about 5k short of Waldfischbach, I ran over a fragment of a branch cloaked by fallen leaves and crammed with inch-long spiked thorns which slid like butter into the left tire of the child-trailer…pop. I left the branch in, and made it all the way to town. On the bright side, we do already have a spare tube.

Anyway, I know many of you have days just like mine, and really one of the best things to have on hand is a 15-minute dinner for four, so here it is.

whisk together in first bowl:
3 small freerange eggs
1/8 c cream

Chop 1.5cups macadamia nuts (but not-too-finely) in a second bowl

Take 4 Turkey breasts (pound them flat with a tenderizer or get them at your favorite Metzgerei and specify they will be used as schnitzel) you’ve covered with salt, pepper, and suβ Paprika according to your taste, dip first in egg mixture and then in nuts. Fry in simmering butter on medium heat approximately 5 minutes each side. Voilà.

Steam some broccoli around 5 minutes. In separate frypan sauté one minced garlic clove in butter or preferably bacon fat for 60 seconds and then add steamed broccoli – stir well and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes. Inspired by Dr. Eades’ foray with macadamia nut encrusted chicken breast in The 6-Week Cure . Both chicken breast and turkey breast are fail-proof.

…and more Meatballs

Finding a good Metzgerei is such a huge priority for me, so it was to my absolute delight that I found Pfeffer Metzgerei in our very own town: Waldfischbach-Burgalben. Johann Karl uses all-natural ingredients (including, yes, a prudent application of pepper), and no sweeteners, which I’ve never encountered before in a German Metzgerei. No glucose syrup, no sugar, and completely delicious. The quality and taste of his meat cuts and wursts are out of this world, and worth every bit of the current 20-minute drive 3x per week to get there. Our new house is a bike-ride away from his Metzgerei, and I don’t know who is more tickled over the prospect, he or I.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday he offers raw bratwursts for sale, and below I’ve provided a very powerful use for them inside a recipe I found on Mark’s Daily Apple (MDA). I altered the recipe slightly to suit our own tastes, but it’s a near-duplicate. MDA has color photos of the finished product. Used wisely, this recipe will insure you are forgiven any number of sins (overspending, slothfulness, forgetfulness, loss-of-an-expensive-item, etc).

1/2 lb ground sirloin (just because we needed to use it up)
2 lb Pfeffer Metzgerei (or other) raw bratwurst (sausages)
3 cloves minced garlic
a pinch of fresh rosemary
1 tbsp minced thyme
a couple shakes of dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 red onion finely chopped
1/2 cup almond meal
3 small eggs, whisked
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 twists black pepper
1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan

Remove sausage from skins and combine with other ingredients. Fry in a 1/4 cup or so bacon fat. Pfeffer Metzgerei sells bacon too (Dörfleisch, pronounced Duh-flysh…it is a bit salty alone, and perfect for use in this recipe with no extra salt needed). How quick, easy, and (more importantly) Sladky-approved.

Eating Fat and DISMANTLING the lipid hypothesis

(the lipid hypothesis asserts that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease)
Guess what? There is no compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. I’d like to try to get you comfortable with the concept that saturated fats can be prudently integrated into your diet.
Mary Enig, Ph.D. is one of the foremost scientific researchers in dietary fat and health. She asserts that medical research strongly supports the health of diets in which incoming fat is composed of up to 50% saturated fat. From her Principles of Healthy Diets:

Saturated fats, such as butter, meat fats, coconut oil and palm oil… according to conventional nutritional dogma…are to blame for most of our modern diseases–heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, malfunction of cell membranes and even nervous disorders like multiple sclerosis. However, many scientific studies indicate that it is processed liquid vegetable oil–which is laden with free radicals formed during processing–and artificially hardened vegetable oil–called trans fat–that are the culprits in these modern conditions, not natural saturated fats.
Saturated fats do not clog arteries or cause heart disease. In fact, the preferred food for the heart is saturated fat; and saturated fats lower a substance called Lp(a), which is a very accurate marker for proneness to heart disease.

Dr. Eades in The 6-Week Cure adds:

Currently there are no medications to lower Lp(a); the only dietary means of lowering this substance is eating saturated fat.

Dr. Enig in Principles of Healthy Diets continues:

Saturated fats play many important roles in the body chemistry. They strengthen the immune system and are involved in inter-cellular communication, which means they protect us against cancer. They help the receptors on our cell membranes work properly, including receptors for insulin, thereby protecting us against diabetes. The lungs cannot function without saturated fats, which is why children given butter and full-fat milk have much less asthma than children given reduced-fat milk and margarine. Saturated fats are also involved in kidney function and hormone production.
Saturated fats are required for the nervous system to function properly, and over half the fat in the brain is saturated. Saturated fats also help suppress inflammation. Finally, saturated animal fats carry the vital fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, which we need in large amounts to be healthy.

From The 6-Week Cure

Eating saturated (and other) fats…raises the level of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol.
In middle age, as bone mass begins to decline, an important goal (particularly for women) is to build strong bones. You can’t turn on the television without being told you need calcium for your bones, but do you recall ever hearing that saturated fat is required for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone?
…Research has shown that when women diet, those eating the greatest percentage of the total fat in their diets as saturated fat lose the most weight.

Dr. Enig in Principles of Healthy Diets closes:

Human beings have been consuming saturated fats from animals products, milk products and the tropical oils for thousands of years; it is the advent of modern processed vegetable oil that is associated with the epidemic of modern degenerative disease, not the consumption of saturated fats.

Please take time to read some of the comments that Tim Ferris (of The 4-Hour Workweek fame) receives, after providing a snippet from The 6-Week Cure on his blog. Dr. Eades answers the first few hundred questions, and their questions may help answer some of yours. Tim’s entry is titled very non-provocatively:
7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated FatDr. Eades is currently working on creating a blogsite specifically for the purpose of answering questions generated by his 6-Week Cure book

Other supporting articles/bloggers/books…there are MANY MORE than these presented below:

• Dr. Uffe Ravnskov The Cholesterol Myths, and other articles written by Dr. Ravnskov:

High cholesterol may protect against infections and atherosclerosis
The benefits of high cholesterol
Questionable role of saturated and polyunsaturated fats in cardio disease
Saturated fat is good for you
Retreat of diet-heart hypothesis
Is atherosclerosis caused by high cholesterol?
Cholesterol lowering trials in CHD: frequency of citation and outcome
Diet-heart idea kept alive by selective citation
Cholesterol references

• My personal favourite overview by Dr. Enig and Sally Fallon

The Tokelau Island Migrant Study: The Final Word Dr. Stephan Guyenet, but for a great this-is-what-this-guy-is-saying review of Dr. Guyenet’s information, please visit Free the Animal

• Dr. BG’s totally fascinating rundown on cholesterol particle sizes and what they mean to you – this is a must-read

Fats and Oils, Dr. Kurt G. Harris

• low-cholesterol-certainly-not-healthy by O Primitivo

Dr. William Davis Heart Scan Blog –not all meats are equal

• “Are Saturated Fats Really All That Bad? 6 July 2009, Dr. Steve Parker,

• Gary Taubes and extensively throughout his book Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health if you have the time to read it. Gary Taubes is an award-winning research scientist, and this book is the result of seven years of research in every science connected with the impact of nutrition on health

The Case for not restricting saturated fat on a low carbohydrate diet, Professors Jeff S. Volek and Cassandra E Forsythe, Human Performance Lab, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut

• Dr. Mary Enig & Sally Fallen Morell Eat Fat Lose Fat

Dr. Mark Hyman exposes uselessness of statins as well as common cholesterol myths and provides list of factors which contribute to your overall cardiovascular risk

Saturated Fats, what dietary intake?, J Bruce German, Cora J Dillard, University of California for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

• “Saturated Fat – The misunderstood ingredient“, 4 June 2007, Vreni Gurd, BPHE, HLC 2, CHEK 3, CSEP-CEP, NSCA, ACSM

• This guy could be a little extreme with his personal diet, but he is an amazing researcher & thoroughly picks apart & reanalyzes results from nutritional studies – very interesting reading. Check out some of his posts from August

• And from elite primal athlete Mark Sisson who also believes saturated fat is healthy

Where did we go wrong?

• Men’s Health is one of many sites that researched the history of saturated-fat-fear

• A more extensive read: “The Oiling of America” by Dr. Mary Enig, and Sally Fallon

• Plus, I recommend again Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Healthby Gary Taubes for 447 pages of enlightenment, and The Cholesterol Myths by Dr. Uffe Ravnskov.

Finally, as “sss” mentions in this post’s comments below, don’t forget that it’s not just “saturated fat isn’t bad”, it is that “carbs are the crux” of the health/obesity crisis. Please read my “Real Food” and “Limit or Avoid” posts for more information and references.