Even for those of us that love to cook, we don’t always want to. Others don’t like to cook at all and many just fall in the middle – cooking is not a chore, but frequently a necessary inconvenience. Regardless of our level of love, hate, or indifference for cooking, we all have those days that we just aren’t inspired to make something flavorful and healthy. I began cooking full meals at the age of six and while I have never had any formal training, I was blessed with some wonderful cooks in my life tending my culinary education. Most importantly, God has gifted me with an ability to cook well, a passion for serving others, and a talented husband that loves to cook with me. We love to cook for people!
Before gluten free or celiac were common household words and the only way of diagnosis was a costly and invasive intestinal biopsy, my doctor suggested I eliminate all gluten from my diet to determine if gluten was the cause of my ailments. Gluten free products were mostly unheard of and definitely not readily available. Luckily, I was raised as a ‘scratch’ cook and began developing my own recipes and creating my own gluten free meals and dishes. With a lot of research and trial and error, I learned to cook all over again using these different ingredients that are gluten free, creating meals and even desserts I could proudly serve to others. Even sausages, BBQ spices and BBQ sauces were laden with gluten, so my husband, raised in a meat processing family, created delicious gluten free versions utilizing his God given gifts.
Gluten free products can be life savers for someone suffering from celiac disease or intolerance, however they carry a price of their own. Many of these alternate flours and gluten free ingredients have a higher carb and sugar content and, for me, made it that much easier to gain weight. As the weight increased so did other health issues. Finally desperate to lose the weight I discovered the low carb world. The weight started to fall off, my energy increased, and I started feeling better than I had since I first went gluten free. Bonus: a low carb diet is naturally gluten free – or can be very easily. But I had to learn how to cook all over again for the third time.
For years my husband, known as Grumpa, and I, Nana, have been told that we needed to start a restaurant. Ultimately, we would prefer to serve people directly but we have opted for a method that allows you to enjoy a gourmet meal at your leisure in your own home. Whether you are busy or you don’t like to cook but still want to have a simple, healthy, and flavorful option you can reach for on a moments notice, Nana’s Heat & Eat Meals satisfy that niche.
Bottom line we want to put the power of consumerism back in your hands our customers.
We firmly believe as stated in the Declaration of Independence …. All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it ….
We believe these words to the very core of our being and feel that the ever-reaching arm of government has overstepped its appointed power and become an unruly tyrant to the people. So many governmental rules and mandates, fees and charges levied by (unconstitutional) departments that were never designed to exist and have no accounting back to the very people that it governs. Our government has become an unruly monster that now thinks it knows better, for us and our families, than we do and no longer is held accountable.
Our country was founded on principles of self-governing and doing what is right not because of a rule or mandate, but because in our hearts we want to ‘do unto others as we would have them do unto us.’ Free enterprise is successful because the consumer has all the power. If an enterprise, or business, doesn’t deliver a good product at a reasonable price, eventually that business will not have a market and go out of business. So, any business wishing to survive, let alone thrive, must continually create a desired product with a competitive value and maintain existing customers.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Agriculture, manufactures, commerce and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.” _1stAnnual Message to Congress Dec 8, 1
We are a Private Member Association. This means, by definition, we cannot sell our products to anyone that is not a member of our association. A PMA operates similarly to Costco or Bi-Mart, in that they both require a membership to shop with them. A couple of famous businesses that operate as a PMA are Hobby Lobby and the Boy Scouts of America, so we feel as if we are in good company.
Some time in my late 20’s I began visiting the doctor with complaints of constipation, intestinal pain and blood sugar crashes: overall not feeling well and started gaining weight. The doctors would tell me – eat healthier, drink more water, eat more fiber, and exercise more. So, I would consciously eat more vegetables, reduce fats and meats, concentrate on ‘healthy’ whole grains. I didn’t like the low-fat milk so I just quit drinking milk and would get my dairy from yogurt, with healthy gut bacteria, and low-fat cottage cheese. I began to eat every three to four hours to avoid the shakiness, sweating, anxiety, headache, weakness & more – all associated with being a glucose burning body. Although I have never liked exercise, I recognized that I needed to keep moving in order to keep moving and would exercise either at the gym or create a routine at home but, my chronic aches and pains would increase or I would get sick and stop my routine. My constipation and intestinal discomfort were getting worse and I was producing a stench that would rival any landfill on a hot summer day. I would go back to the doctor and sometimes tests would get run (all showing normal levels), most often they would just jump straight to the recommendation - eat healthier, drink more water, eat more fiber, and exercise more. One Dr actually told me that my gas was an attitude and culture issue, ‘if I lived in a different country, say France, gas is actually a compliment to the chef.’ Not my kind of compliment!
Finally, after many years of yo-yo dieting and exercise – chronic aches turning to chronic pain, weight spiraling out of control, depression, eczema, constipation, hypoglycemia turned pre-diabetes and more - never finding relief, never finding help… I was starting to feel like a hypochondriac – after all if the doctors keep telling me nothing is wrong, obviously I am making it all up… Right?
But then, my husband and I observed that if we went out to eat; before getting home, I couldn’t stand up straight and would have to unbutton my pants before they would just ‘cut me in half.’ The bloating and pain were horrible. We narrowed the symptoms to commercially processed breads and baked items. We thought maybe it had to do with the bleaching done to flour for commercial baking, because my home baked items with unbleached flours didn’t cause this level of pain. I mentioned this to my Dr’s Physician’s Assistant, and she said that she had been reading about something called gluten intolerance and celiac disease. The tests were still very inconclusive and/or expensive and/or invasive. The blood testing was still in trial basis so the only true test was a biopsy of the intestine, and we opted not to do that. She recommended I research it on the internet and eliminate anything with gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye). As it turns out it didn’t matter if it was bleached or unbleached flour, whole grains or any number of hidden glutens used for thickening, binding or filling a food or medicine, I reacted to even the smallest amount. This was in early 2000’s, years before the ‘Gluten Free’ movement was even a thing. We got very good at reading labels and watching for the hidden glutens. My husband, bless his heart, would snatch things out of my hand, to read the ingredients label and protect me, when I was frustrated or ‘weak’ and just wanted something easy. But I started feeling better – we thought, Hallelujah! It seemed I was finally going to get better. I have always been a whole foods scratch cook so developing recipes was something I could do, and as the awareness grew and options became more available, it started getting even easier. But even gluten free, I never got fully better, and I continued to gain weight and experience more and more pain.
Shortly after this, in 2005 I visited a holistic Dr over an hour from my home. I learned that in addition to my gluten allergy, my compromised immune system was registering allergies to many common whole foods. Rather than just avoiding eating, he introduced me to fasting and introducing foods individually every few days based around a low carb diet, to get the body into a ketogenic state. He did say that this was for results and healing and for the ‘short term only’, not as a lifestyle. After starting to eat low carb, my teenage daughter just trimmed up beautifully, not that she was even considered pudgy, but now we had to worry about the boys, lol. I lost a little weight, but remembering to not be on it too long I tried to cycle it with a regular ‘healthy USDA recommended’ diet – but ultimately slipped away from it and back into my old habits until the short term weight loss came back adding even more pounds and the low carb diet was forgotten.
My weight was still rising, slowly every year. My chronic pain, ultimately diagnosed as Fibromyalgia, was still there and getting worse. My constipation was still an issue. Just before turning 40, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and began the joy of invasive colonoscopies every couple of years, way too young. My menstrual cycles were shortening drastically to about every 17-21 days with very heavy bleeding. My hypoglycemia had shifted to pre-diabetes. My blood pressure, notoriously low, was beginning to rise. The doctor started referring to me as a high-risk patient, telling me, “This happens with age.” Over the years, doctors would offer all kinds of prescriptions to address the depression, prescriptions to help limit my appetite, expensive steroid creams to combat the eczema symptoms, and other prescriptions to control the discomfort in my intestines. Pills to mask the symptoms but never anything to address the root cause of my pains and poor health. I resigned myself to accepting that this is just life and getting older. Obviously, I was just ‘blessed’ with bad genes, so I started trying to make the best of it. I hired a housekeeper to keep from over-exerting myself and that would allow me to attend some functions with family or friends. But then, between over-exertion and exposure to gluten cross contamination – I would spend the next 3-7 days feeling similar to the on-set of the flu. Achy, lethargic, brain fog, and completely disappointed and depressed. Was this really all that I had to look forward to? I have (and have had) others in my life that I have watched their health deteriorate remarkably fast and they are getting (or got) no help or relief from the medical profession that is supposedly there to help us to get, be and stay healthy.
The severe decline I had experienced over the last 5-10 years had me looking toward retirement, and questioning... If I can’t do things now without increasing pain …. What is 20 years from now going to be like? What am I condemning my husband to? I have no doubt he would take care of me in my obese, invalid state, but that’s not the retirement we have dreamed of. Not the retirement I would wish on him. This is not the life I want for him or myself. I want to see my granddaughter grow up; I want to participate in her life. I do not want be too ‘sick’ to be there for her, like others in my life have been.
2018 was a turning point for me. I prayed for some help and guidance from God. I was going to make one final attempt to ‘get healthy’ before finally resigning myself to chronic poor health and the downward spiral I was experiencing. Truly, I was looking for nothing short of a miracle. Desperate for help and not knowing where to turn, but remembering the low carb results from years ago, I started a Google search for help, trusting that my prayers would help lead me towards an honest, sustainable healthful way to improve my health. Almost immediately I found a website called Diet Dr and read about a book designed around ‘The Keto Lifestyle.’ I bought the book and almost devoured it! I started making changes to my diet. – I was already eating mostly vegetables, meats and grains, but now I was skipping the grains, passing on the potatoes, focusing on getting healthy fats, proteins and above ground vegetables. Very quickly I was no longer a slave to eating every 3-4 hours, instead I generally eat 2 very delicious and satisfying meals a day (sometimes only one meal when I get busy). I dropped 35 pounds rather quickly, started feeling better, and started doing more and moving more. I actually got rid of the housekeeper and between a robot vacuum and my own efforts, keep the house clean. I attend regular outings. I don’t skip family functions. I’m volunteering more at church. My husband is elated that I actually ask to go do things now. I still have days that I overdo, or get cross-contaminated by gluten, and I am still cautious about meals with others. I do not eat foods that I don’t know, for certain, are gluten free. But I am not ‘sick’ for the next 3 or more days, instead I may have some discomfort for a day or two at most. I was experiencing so much improvement that my husband began seeing the changes in me and opted to join the Keto lifestyle with me.
About a year into the journey I stalled and while I was feeling so much better with less inflammation and less pain, the weight loss mostly stopped. I had learned this was a sustainable diet, a lifestyle rather, that would help reverse many of my ailments and even though I wasn’t actively losing weight I wasn’t going to stop the progress and the healing that I had begun. I was, however, beginning to feel a little discouraged about a year into the stall. I decided to double down. I needed to learn more, study more and trust God more.
As I began studying the Keto lifestyle more and recommitted myself to being more diligent, I learned that I had been making some very common mistakes that were jeopardizing my success. There is a lot of bad information out there. I also came to realize a desire to help others get healthy, feel better and avoid some of the common mistakes and pitfalls. During my Keto Coach training, I have lost another 30 pounds, shed inches and become even stronger and healthier. I know with every cell within me, God has been grooming me all these years for a very important adventure. With all the Keto training for my certifications and continuing studies paired with my love of developing recipes and cooking for others, I am confident I can help others enjoy life a little more zest. Please feel free to reach out, I would love to help you experience a healthier life.