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Mary Ann Lana of Hopscotch & Dandelions Feeds Her Family WELL- So Can YOU!

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Today we’re happy to welcome education specialist and one of our favorite photographers and friends, Ms. Mary Ann Lana. By day Mary Ann is traveling from classroom to classroom improving the literacy of New York school children. Her weekends are dedicated to Hopscotch & Dandelions, her family and family photography firm. Mary Ann is also mother to three cool kids! You might remember reading her post last year, The Hiding of the Green where she talked of her new adventure feeding her youngest son green power foods in all of his meals. Mary Ann has been inspired to accentuate her family’s health by going organic and gluten free. We asked if she’d like to tell other readers about her experiences because we know so many of you have busy lives like us and wonder, “how can I feed my kids well amid the crazy schedule???” Like Juli Novotny of Pure Mamas said in her interview with us recently, “if you have time for a Facebook account, then you have time to cook.” And, it’s true! So, check out Mary Ann’s dedicated family adventure and tell us about how your family is making changes at home

W E   H A V E   M A D E some big changes to our family’s nutrition plan over the past two months and we love the benefits so far. I know that with continued dedication to this lifestyle we’ll only get healthier. It wasn’t an easy start, but with some coaching and guidance from Christine, we were on our way.

It took about three weeks to get in the groove and learn to shop again, remembering to read labels and search out organics. I do have to plan ahead for meals and snacks, stick to the list and the menu and shop at select markets. Chopping and freezing has become second nature. I also have to wake up a little earlier each day to get my smoothie made, and I have to remember to pack my lunch (my little guy hangs a note on the front door for me). Surprisingly, though I’ve added things to my routine, I actually have the energy to do them. It’s also easier for us to do this as a household than it was to do for one child as we had done in the past.

Some of the changes we have made include incorporating a lot more veggies and fruit and eliminating refined sugars. We’re also gluten free and soy free now, and we make every attempt to be dairy free with some limited exceptions in very small infrequent amounts. I added the use of grape seed and coconut oils to my cooking regimen, and use coconut oil in my smoothies as well as for a topical cream for my husband’s psoriasis. We eat more raw nuts and a variety of nut butters too. Something else we’re trying is to stop relying on is the dreaded processed foods. It’s challenging when packing lunches; we’re still grabbing 2-3 organic gluten free packaged snack items each week for our little guy. And, we permit him to buy an ice cream treat on Fridays at school. I also still buy organic gluten free cereal and frozen waffles. The difference is that now, these are not an every day meal.

In a short amount of time, here is what we have seen:

  • My 8 y/o son’s pallor has improved, along with his energy level. He is completing schoolwork and I’m not hearing from the teacher on a regular basis anymore. No news is good news.
  • I’ve lost 5 pounds; my husband has lost 14.
  • My 19 y/o daughter’s frequent headaches have lessened and we’re learning more about what sets them off like hair styling chemicals and needing an updated eyeglasses prescription. Regarding her diet that formerly consisted of 85% junk food, she is also finding this more of an adventure than a burden.
  • I have mental clarity (I’d say it’s an increase, but I don’t think I ever had it) and renewed energy. I actually move faster, think faster and have more patience. As I told Christine: I feel freaking awesome. For weeks at a time I would have heart palpitations and be in a fog. That’s gone now.
  • I’m smiling more and am altogether happier. My headaches have disappeared and so has my 2:00 PM slump. I sleep better at night and fall asleep when I’m supposed to.
  • My husband’s arthritis is not bothering him at all right now, and thanks to the added application of coconut oil, his skin is looking better too.

This path has also led us to many unexpected results. For one thing, it’s surprisingly fun to shop for tons of vegetables and fruits, and even to experiment with new recipes. I also now understand why everyone is crazy for kale chips! And, I have stopped buying desserts so instead we reach for a clementine or some pineapple when we crave sweets. Speaking of sweets, I cut my highly addictive French Vanilla Creamer completely out of my coffee routine. That has enabled me to reduce my daily coffee intake from three cups to one. I then replaced the missing coffee with green tea with lemon, and I’m finding I really enjoy it with just a touch of organic cane sugar.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that eating this way limits what you can have. Quite the contrary I’m finding. Our fridge, pantry and counters are full of foods we never used to buy. We’re so pleased with the variety of food we have, we actually look forward to cooking and eating meals again. And the flavor! I load up on the herbs and spices and you would never guess we’re “depriving” ourselves of anything.

I’m excited to see what the next two months will bring for my family and our health. Knowing how good we feel now and that we’ll only be getting better is an exciting prospect for us.

Mary Ann

Have you or your family recently been inspired to make healthy changes at home? Tell us about what you’re trying in your kitchen and what’s working for your family!



  1. Karen Reynolds says

    Wonderful article, wonderful family! The Lana’s continue to inspire me every day, Thank you!

  2. Pingback: Out Smelling The Flowers, And Planting Them! | Garden Eats

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