Real Food Recovery: Wisdom on How to HEAL Kids from a Foster Mom and Nutritional Therapist
By Jill Boman
Mother Teresa may not still be here, but the same spirit is among us as evidenced by people like Mandy Blume, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner whose compassionate heart drives her to selflessly love and serve the most vulnerable, marginalized and hurting people in society.
Mandy loves, and I mean LOVES, foster children. She’s had a heart for orphans from the time she was a child and has answered this lifelong call by not only fostering many children in her home with her husband over the years, but coming alongside other foster parents and foster children in supportive ways, including community gardening projects and nutrition education to support the body’s efforts to heal the chronic illnesses that every foster child she’s ever met is plagued with.
Did you catch that? Every foster child she has ever met suffered from chronic illness of some kind! Today in America 1 in 2 children suffer from chronic illnesses like:
- Food Allergies: 1 in 12
- Autism: 1 in 31 boys/ 1 in 68 children (or 1 in 45, depending on source)
- Learning Disabilities: 1 in 6
- ADHD: 1 in 10
- Mental Illness: 1 in 30
- Diabetes: 1 in 3 will be diagnosed in their lifetime
While these are staggering figures for 50% of the general childhood population, 100% of foster children fall into this category. And it is these children and this very problem, a problem most would feel too overwhelmed to even touch, that drives Mandy.
I left Mandy’s talk at the Wise Traditions conference last month feeling uplifted and inspired. Even with the sad stories she told, and lived—read about one here: Our story of fostering: Cancer and Adoption, her overriding message was one of hope. While every foster child she’s ever met has been chronically ill, every foster child under her care has recovered much if not all of their health, not to mention how they have thrived and healed emotionally in the nurturing and loving environment of her family.
The foster kids who come into her home are pre-accustomed to addictive junk food.
These diets leave their bodies and minds dysfunctional and weak, adding insult to injury with their emotional circumstances, and leaves their tastebuds conditioned to only recognize non-food “food”.
Not surprisingly, these kids tend to reject real food when it’s first offered. But when real food is the ONLY food available, something eventually gives. The longest hunger strike Mandy’s had to wait out was a day and a half, but that was an especially stubborn case (of course delicious and nourishing food was available the entire time)!
“If they’re putting something in their mouth at my house, it will be real food.” — Mandy Blume
Mandy shared a neat example of how she engages her foster children in their new way of eating. She brought one little boy with her to their garden where they harvested fresh basil together, after which he helped her make some beautiful pesto. When he tasted it (as the family cheered him on), he experienced something flavorful, fresh, and delicious that HE helped create from harvest to finished product, adding a sense of accomplishment and awe to a bright new flavor experience!
According to Mandy it takes 2 weeks to change tastebuds and 2 months to change behavior.
Once nutrient deficiencies begin to be filled the body learns to crave what nourishes it. As healing in the gut and the rest of the body commences, the brain and emotions begin functioning better and the child starts to transform into their real self.
Through nutritional support Mandy has witnessed the recovery of foster children with autism, ADD, ADHD, allergies, cancer and eczema.
The cool thing is, she’s accomplishing all of this within the constraints of the foster system, which leaves foster parents with very limited options in terms of healthcare and fairly narrow rules to function within. Mandy likes to point out that if she can recover health in foster children within the system's limits, YOU can recover the health of your children and your family.
Mandy recently published a cookbook of her simple, healing recipes.
She wrote Real Food Recovery for busy moms who don’t have a lot of time to fuss over complicated meals or who need recipes for foods that support healing but may not currently be able to dive headfirst into an involved and demanding protocol such as GAPS.
Real Food Recovery begins with her foster parenting story and an encouragement for all parents as they begin their journey:
Mandy’s basic protocol:
- Eliminate gluten and dairy
- Reduce or eliminate sugar (use limited amounts of natural sweeteners like honey only)
- Cook nourishing real food from cookbooks like Nourishing Traditions, Real Food Recovery, and your grandma’s (or great grandma’s) recipes
She explains why a gluten-free (a protein in wheat and other grains) and casein-free (a protein in milk) and low sugar diet are important common features of healing diets.
Some of her recipes are Paleo, some GAPS, some AIP (Autoimmune Protocol), some contain gluten-free grains or legumes, but all fit within those parameters held in common by just about any healing dietary protocol. Unfortunately, the basic recommendation of avoiding gluten and dairy isn't enough because it's still possible to subsist on processed GFCF foods. To heal kids, you must not only remove the offending and inflammatory foods, but add in deeply nourishing foods to provide the necessary building blocks to repair and fill nutritional deficiencies.
Readers of Real Food Recovery will gain an understanding of not only what should be avoided, but what a real food, nutrient-dense diet looks like; they won't, however, have to read hundreds of pages to gain that understanding. Mandy wrote Real Food Recovery for BUSY moms so she condensed the most important information into easily digested, brief sections before jumping into recipes. A nice addition is the references at the bottom of many of the pages to scientific studies that back the information and advice she shares.
Note: Most people whose bodies are healthy and functioning optimally—i.e. no leaky gut—do fine with well sourced and properly prepared wheat, grains, and dairy products, but chronically ill people usually require at least temporary elimination of these foods to heal.
Her recipe section includes 92 kid-approved, nourishing recipes for:
- Broths, stocks, and soups
- Veggies and many ways to prepare them (sample recipe below)
- Meat, poultry, and fish based dishes (sample recipe below)
- Nuts and legumes (properly prepared to minimize anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors)
- Fermented foods: beverages, krauts, pickles, and condiments
- Gluten free breads
- Party foods and sweet treats
- Seasoning mixes, condiments, and homemade dairy substitutes
- Plus info on healthy salt, fats, working within a budget, natural therapies and detoxifying your home, and brief “Mom to Mom” stories, tips, wisdom, and pep talks.
The recipes are ALL simple and quick to prepare, but mindfully created to incorporate therapeutic ingredients that provide nutrients most are deficient in plus detox, gut healing, and immune support. I also loved the color photographs of food and family liberally sprinkled throughout the book!
Recently I made two Real Food Recovery recipes for dinner. Both were really tasty and satisfying. I'll definitely make them again!
Super Beef Meatloaf
(I will never make “traditional” log-shaped meatloaf again! It was SO much easier pressed and baked in a baking dish and the spaghetti sauce on top was a welcome change from boring ketchup!)
- 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 quarts filtered water
- 1/2 cup blended beef or chicken liver or liver pate — this is optional, but I'm personally so glad I tried it! I added pureed chicken livers and hearts and they were completely undetectable in the finished meatloaf! I now have a new way to use up leftover chicken liver pate, which I will also try adding to hamburgers. Note from Kelly: see how I hide liver around here: The BEST way to get your kids to eat liver and beef heart, it really works!)
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped and
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
- 1/2 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (I used homemade spaghetti sauce ingredients that I should have simmered first–you'll notice in the picture below that I included chopped carrots, which remained a little crunchy even after baking. It was still delicious though!)
- Soak hamburger in salt and filtered water for 30 minutes and rinse. (It's a quick way to clean the meat. Plus, the flavor is much better.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together hamburger, liver or liver pate, garlic salt, pepper, paprika, onion, and basil or parsley.
- Transfer mixture to a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and pat down to smooth the top. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the meatloaf and bake for 40 minutes or until medium with a little pink in the middle.
Easy Cauliflower Bake
(I actually put this in the oven before I started making the meatloaf to give it a head start cooking, which worked out perfectly because it took longer to cook to the tenderness level I wanted and they both ended up done at the same time.)
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil or ghee (I used butter, and probably about 3 Tablespoons worth—but we're not dairy-free)
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Olive oil for drizzling — make sure it's REAL. Read more here about the corruption in the olive oil industry…
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rub the coconut oil or ghee around the whole head of cauliflower. Rub the curry powder, turmeric, and salt into the oil to coat the cauliflower.
- Place the head of cauliflower in a shallow baking dish, uncovered, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. (Mine baked for at least an hour.)
- Remove the cauliflower from the oven and drizzle with olive oil. Chop the cauliflower head into individual helpings and serve.
You can see in the photos below that I mixed the spices and salt directly into softened butter and rubbed that on the cauliflower.
Additional tips and wisdom from Mandy:
- If you're too busy to make a 30 minute meal, something needs to be dropped.
- Don't be angry or mad while making dinner!
- Don't demonize healthy food. The most destructive thing you can say is, “I know you won’t like it, but it’s healthy for you, so eat it!” Instead say, “Tonight it’s Super Hero Burgers to build those muscles!” Then serve a juicy, grass fed organic burger fortified with 30% liver pate on a lettuce wrap or plantain bun (there is a super easy recipe for savory plantain waffle burger buns in Real Food Recovery).
- If you don't like your doctor, get a new one. Be sure to read her tip for minimizing risk of vaccine injury here!
- As a long term strategy to prevent and heal illness in your family, build relationships with local farmers, chiropractors, naturopaths, Nutritional Therapy Practitioners, and holistic dentists and M.D.s.
- If someone in your family is sick, here's how to heal kids and anyone: do something different!
- Eat real food seasonally.
- Take real food supplements.
- Switch to non-toxic cleaning products: baking soda, vinegar, lemon, rubbing alcohol, essential oils.
- Seek out holistic health practitioners with successful patients.
- Learn to use home remedies like essential oils, elderberry syrup, kefir for yeast infections and diaper rash, enemas, etc.
One more neat thing: Recently a director at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where her first foster child received cancer treatment, asked Mandy to help with their food plan initiative. Of course she said yes!
Grab a copy of Real Food Recovery: The Busy Mom's Guide to Health & Healing. Proceeds benefit orphan, foster, and group homes to build gardens, offer empowering classes on what and how to eat healthfully, and by funding the purchase of nourishing food. Some of the beautiful young people who will benefit from sales are shown in this photo at left. You can read about Mandy's nonprofit organization here.
Real Food Recovery would also make a fantastic gift for foster parents!
Check out the Real Food Recovery blog for more on how to heal kids.
Follow Mandy and Real Food Recovery on Facebook.
- Don't Shake That Vial! (Strategy for Forced Vaccinations)
- Healing Kids with Real Food: Our Story of Fostering, Cancer, and Adoption
- Suffering from eczema? I've heard this book, The Eczema Diet, is really good.
- See all of Jill's posts here
About Jill: My husband and I live in Waco, TX, along with our two awesome young adult kids (AND now in Dallas during the week while my husband attends chiropractic college). I have a small business selling handmade personal and home care products at our farmer’s market and local retail sites. I am also Kelly’s blog assistant.? I am passionate about real food nutrition, natural health, local food, and I love to cook. Fortunately we have access to lots of local food via Waco’s fantastic year-round farmer’s market, nearby farms, and even a grocery store that sources much of its food locally. See all my posts here.