My name is Abby Butterfield, wife and homeschooling mama of 4 living in the beautiful Sierra Nevada with about 20 chickens and a goofy coonhound.
I grew up with an alarmingly unhealthy love of sugar, absolutely no clue or interest as to where my food was coming from or the number of chemicals in our home, and complete lack of consideration as to what was going on in the world around me.
I remember having ice cream on top of oatmeal for breakfast, eating McDonald’s every night after work when I was in High School, and having candy bars whenever I had the chance. I started having stomach pains my junior year of High School and found myself consuming an obscene amount of Pepto Bismol to get by. Looking back, I wonder if the large doses of antidepressants I was taking starting at age 12 exacerbated the stomach pain. After graduating, I decided to move to be near my sister in Reno, Nevada. I got a job as a veterinary technician working for an Orthopedic Veterinary surgeon and began night classes at the local community college. It was there that I formed a friendship with a classmate that was far ahead of the herd when it came to eating healthy and having any interest in the politics of food. She was everything I wasn’t and everything I wanted to be. She had dreadlocks, a hip style and lived a radical vegan lifestyle that I wanted to adopt as my own. I wouldn’t say I was boring, but I wanted to be involved in something relevant and her friendship was the start of that journey. In retrospect, there are many things I would have done differently as I later learned her views on life weren’t necessarily the absolute way to live my life. But isn’t part of growing up learning from the mistakes of others as well as yourself?
Fast forward several years. I had moved to Washington after deciding Reno wasn’t for me, and surely the grass would be greener on the other side. At this point I had taken up a regular drinking habit, blacking out on occasion. I was a hardcore and very obnoxious vegan, voicing my opinions on animal rights to anyone I deemed needed a lecture. One of the most frustrating things for me to acknowledge was that I wasn’t even eating healthy! Sugar upon sugar, fake meats made from loads of gluten and an insane amount of processed flours were part of my daily diet. I’m not even sure if dark leafy greens and vegetables ever made their way into my fridge. I had jobs ranging from gymnastics coach, veterinary technician, nanny, and deli manager. That last one put me front and center of a local food co-op in a wealthy town just outside of Seattle, and later as a cashier for a Natural Food Market in Tacoma, Washington. Working at these two stores gave me the opportunity to learn from some amazing people about whole foods, medicinal herbs and reducing my carbon footprint so to speak.
I later became pregnant with my first baby, I was 23. The day I found I was pregnant, I knew the drinking had to stop and my self-absorbed lifestyle had to come to an end. I was confronted with a fear of being a wreck of a mother if I didn’t make drastic and much-needed changes. Thankfully, it was around this time by God’s Grace that I was saved.“ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. I was however, still heavy into the vegan diet, and eating tons of sugar.
I had my son, Emrick, with a midwife at a local birthing inn. My labor was long and hard as I naively thought I didn’t need to use any relaxation techniques…oh, I was so wrong! It’s so hard when we are unteachable and full of pride, thinking we have the answers to all of life’s challenges. “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12.
After Emrick was born I lost my health benefits and soon ran out of the antidepressants I was taking. I decided to go cold turkey off the medication I had been taking for over 11 years. It was like being slammed into a wall. I had to run urgently to the bathroom every morning (this went on for the next 5 years), and there were 6 months of awful withdrawals. My stomach was destroyed and I believe the shock of childbirth and years of toxins building up in my body were now showing their ugly head. I started to research homemade baby food, as I didn’t want Emrick to have the same sugar/carb addiction I held. I hadn’t been able to cook anything besides scrambled eggs before leaving home, so this was a bit daunting until I threw myself into it. I soon found myself creating yummy and mostly organic baby food that I could freeze in ice-cube trays, and send with the sitter when I as at work. This was my first time really cooking, and I loved it.
When my husband and I made the chancy decision for me to stay home full-time with Emrick, I had the opportunity to experiment with different foods and recipes. I was still eating tons of processed soy (yuck!), breads and pastas etc. Then I became pregnant with my daughter Ladd, I had her when I was 28 and eating cookies in the middle of the night throughout my pregnancy. Ladd was born at home, everything went much more smoothly as I had practiced the Bradley Method for months prior to my labor. Everything seemed to be going well after her birth until I noticed she had horrible bloody diaper rash, and I was having sharp pains in my breasts. This was the beginning of a major turning point as Ladd and I were diagnosed with a severe case of thrush which is also known as a form of candida. It wasn’t just a simple case of thrush that could be treated with an anti-fungal, it was full-blown systemic candida. This, my friends, is when my radical 12-year journey of being vegan came to an end. After meeting with a wonderful Naturopath, she suggested I go on a low carb high protein and no sugar diet. If any of you have ever eaten paleo, you know getting protein is important so being vegan was no longer an option. The most amazing thing happened when I started eating this way, my 5 years of running to the bathroom every morning was over. Done. Never to return, unless I slipped up and went back to old eating habits. I started to eat eggs and fish, although meat and dairy are not something I have ever gone back to.Although I do eat a mostly paleo/ketogenic diet, it is not a typical one as I can’t handle most fruits aside from berries and cherries, no potatoes of any kind and the only sugar I can tolerate is coconut sugar, xylitol, erythritol or stevia.
Since then, I have had two more daughters named Simone and Irie, also born at home with midwives.
In addition to diet, I have learned to treat most illnesses at home with medicinal herbs and essential oils. My sweet husband and I try to make most things from scratch including body care products and furniture, but I have a strong desire to learn more and live off our small 1/3 acre land homestead style.
I have not arrived, I don’t have all the answers and I won’t pretend that I do. I live a paleoish/mostly organic lifestyle but I by no means expect this from everyone around me. Do what works for you! I understand tight budgets and a lack of time can be a hinderance to eating healthy, so my hope is to simplify some of these obstacles for you with workarounds. My desire is to share a natural way of living in a cost efficient manner with like-minded folk. It is a scary thing to put yourself out there starting a blog when the world is so critical and I often compare myself to others, but I will never know if I can do it unless I give it a shot.
Many of the recipes I post will be the adaptations of some of my favorite paleo bloggers, and I will certainly give them due credit if it is not an original recipe of my own. My goal is to share my trek with you, dear reader, in hopes that we can learn and grow with each other on this crazy adventure called wife, mother, teacher, and aspiring chef.