Hot Cross Bun Recipe and Good Friday

Two fresh glazed Hot Cross Buns on a wooden cutting board with copyspace

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Good Friday wouldn’t be the same in our house without freshly baked hot cross buns.  I start them late in the morning, and serve them fresh after we pray our Mercy Chaplet at 3pm.  Until we eat those delicious buns, we eat nothing – fasting in remembrance of the death of Jesus.

After our evening Way of the Cross at our church, led by our youth (including some of mine!), we come home to the soft light of candles and spend an evening with the lights off playing games as a family.  We have candles lit, but we also use some battery powered camping lights too (for safety’s sake).  We avoid the computer and other social media to complete our day of sacrifice.  We did this every Sunday during Lent also, and everyone enjoyed it.

Check out some of our other Easter weekend traditions here.  What is your favourite Easter tradition?

I make a triple batch with raisins, and a single batch with no raisins/currants.  Lots of mouths to feed!

Good Friday Hot Cross Buns

Bakes at 375°F for about 20 minutes.

  • 1/4 cup oil (I use olive.  You can also use butter.)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Add the above ingredients to a large bowl and beat them together using an electric mixer.  Add:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm milk or water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. quick rising yeast

Beat the mixture again.  Add:

  • 3/4 cup raisins or currants
  • 2 1/4 more cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cut candied peel (This is optional, and I don’t usually add it.)

Stir mixture with a large spoon or spatula.  Mix well.  You may need to add a bit more flour to make a soft dough.  Dump the dough out onto floured surface (I like to use a cookie sheet with sides to contain the mess and make clean up easier.)  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and then knead it until it is smooth and elastic.  Place some oil in the bowl and return the dough to the bowl.  Turn the dough in the bowl to completely coat the dough and bowl in oil.  Cover, place in a warm place and let rise until double in size (about an hour).

Punch dough down.  Shape into about 16 balls.  Place on greased baking sheet, allowing room for expansion.  Cut a deep cross in each bun with a sharp knife.  Cover and let rise again until light and almost double in size.

Bake in 375°F oven for about 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Brush with butter and allow to cool before eating (It’s hard to wait, but worth it!).

Enjoy!

 

 

 

My Easter Letter and a Free Printable

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Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

This year I decided to start the tradition of writing an Easter letter of thanksgiving to my Saviour.  Why not make it part of your Easter traditions too!

My Easter letter:
Jesus, how can I thank you for all you’ve done for me? You suffered and died for me, You rose after 3 days in the tomb and You redeemed me. Because of Your sacrifice, when I enter the confessional and confess, I am absolved of my sins and made whole again. I am made whiter than snow.
This week, I got to experience that awesome feeling of being whiter than snow once again. Thank you for that gift in my life. I really and truly am in love with Your church and all the good it has to offer me.
When I am at mass and receive You in Holy Communion, my heart swells with love for You. How blessed I am to be chosen by You! How blessed I am to know you! How blessed I am to serve You!
I am once again reduced to tears of gratitude to think of all You do for me! Not only at that first Easter but every day of my life.
I want nothing more than to serve You with My whole heart. I don’t want to hold any part of my heart and my life back from You. I am yours. Thank You for being mine.
All my love,
Melina.

Easter 2001 and my First Miscarriage

Easter 2001 and my first miscarriage

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

The thing each expectant mother dreads:  miscarriage.  It was the year 2001.  I started spotting on Good Friday. What a fearful sight!  This was my 8th pregnancy, but my first experience with a miscarriage.  I was scared, but I started working on an action plan right away.

I knew that I had to take it easy if I wanted to try to save this baby growing within me. My mother had successfully saved my brother with complete bed rest for most of her pregnancy.

How could I manage doing nothing for the next 6 months???  I had 7 children already, and my oldest was only 8 years old.  Just the thought was overwhelming.  Even though I didn’t choose complete bed rest, I did decide that I would try to avoid anything strenuous, take life at a slow pace and avoid heavy lifting.  I was still planning lots of bed rest and ready to get the kids to help in every way possible.  I was willing to sacrifice for this little one.

This first day though was a shock.  My husband was off for the weekend.  He would take care of the kids and the house, and I was to spend the weekend in bed.  All plans were cancelled. This left me with plenty of time by myself to think.

I remember laying in my bed listening to the sound of my family beyond my closed door.  Even though I tried, sleep evaded me.

I thought only of this little one growing within me.  I gently caressed my belly, my heart filled with love and my eyes filled with tears.

It had actually been a very hard year so far.  I won’t go into details here, but trust me when I say it was hard.  I had already been through so much.  I sure didn’t want to go through this now.  I was afraid and I was hurting.  In the silence of my bedroom, my soul cried out to God.  I reached out to Him, and He answered.  The fear lessened and I trusted.  No matter what happened, God held me and my little one close to His heart.

Saturday morning arrived.  I had spent the previous day in bed, with visits from my kids. The littlest had snuggled with me and nursed whenever he was hungry.  My husband had quite competently taken care of everything else.  Now, I spent a little time with the kids at the kitchen table and we decorated Easter eggs.  Then back to bed.  Except for the eggs, I got out of bed only for supper and for the bathroom.

I think this was the least I had done since my first child was born.  I just slept, read, ate and prayed.  God knew that I needed a rest.  I just wish it hadn’t come with such a price.

Sunday morning I miscarried my baby.  Even though I had known from the beginning that this was a possibility, it still hit me.  I felt empty.  What was I supposed to do now? How was I supposed to feel?  It was like life was going on around me and I wasn’t a part of things.  I did however feel peace.  I thought this was the wrong thing to feel, yet it persisted.

My husband piled the kids into the van and drove us to the hospital.  They took me in right away.  A quick exam revealed that it had been a complete miscarriage and nothing more was needed.

I remember the doctor asking me if this was a wanted pregnancy.  Assured that it was, he then expressed his condolences.  I wasn’t insulted by his question, just saddened by it. What kind of society do we live in when a doctor needs to ask this question first?

I was alone during all of this because my husband was watching our 7 kids in the waiting room. It didn’t take long though before I was released and we were on our way.

We were home before noon.  Easter morning mass would have just ended.  The kids were finally able to eat their Easter treats and that kept them busy for the rest of the day.  I again took myself to bed, this time to rest and recover.  Again, there was so much quiet time to think and to pray.

It wasn’t lost on me that this miscarriage had begun on Good Friday and had ended on Easter morning.  I thought of Jesus as He hung from His cross on that first Good Friday. He gave His life in sacrifice for us so that we might have eternal life.  It was as if He spread His arms wide and said, “I love you THIS much.”  My little one was most likely dead on Good Friday too.  He imitated His Saviour and reminded me of His love.

That first Easter morning revealed Jesus’ resurrection.  Death had no victory over Him. He had conquered evil, and now evil knew it had no power over Him.  Jesus was Life, and He gives us life, life to the fullest, when we trust in Him.

Now we had our own resurrection to celebrate, a real reminder of Jesus’ resurrection. Every Easter would be a chance to remember.  My life, and the life of my little one, had always been in Jesus’ hands.  That didn’t change now just because my little one was no longer here with us. His life continues.

Heaven is the life we all aspire to.  A life where there is no more pain, no more death.  It is also the life I aspire to for each of my children.  Knowing that I had a little one already in heaven was a victory to me.

A life where there is no more pain, no more death.  This was God’s promise to me as it is to each of us.  All these struggles I had been going through this year, they were nothing in the grand scheme of things.  Jesus had already conquered evil.  God had a plan for my life.  I was to love and care for those God entrusted to me, and raise them in full knowledge that God also had a plan for their lives.  A plan they could trust.  This is why I was filled with peace, because I trusted.

And always I would come back to my favourite scripture passage:  And she laughs at the days to come (Proverbs 31:25).  This reminded not to worry about the future and what will happen.  I have no control over most of what will happen.  So enjoy today, God’s gift to me.

I would miss this little one that I never got to hold in my arms.  I would never get to watch him grow, never hear him laugh.  However, I believe He is somewhere even better than anything I can ever imagine.  I believe that he prays for me and his family.  I believe I will meet him one day.

Our own little saint – perfect in every way.

This post can also be seen on Women of Laughter and Faith.

A Christian Passover Seder Meal

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seder meal 2

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Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

The Passover Seder Meal is the same meal Jesus shared with His disciples at the Last Supper before His crucifixion.  The Seder Meal is a yearly reminder of all the great things God has done for us and continues to do for us.  It is a time to remember and to celebrate!

Our family celebrates this meal each year, and I encourage you to start this tradition in your family too.  We don’t usually have this meal on the Passover, but choose a day (often the Sunday before Easter) when it is convenient to get people together.

We usually split the prayers between the different people at the meal, with the youngest boy asking the question:  Why is this night different from all other nights?

We add songs to our Seder celebration and make it a time of joy and coming together.  My favourite part is when we list all God did for His people and answer:  It would have been enough for us.

Even though this is not the format we use, I really like the simplicity of the one from Godventure to use with families.  They have a printable pdf  for you to use.

Make the meal special by including a tablecloth and flowers, special dishes and some wine (or sparkling grape juice), and of course candlelight.

Make sure your meal is prepared before the celebration.  Keep warm until ready to serve.  A couple of reminders when preparing the meal:  no leavening is used at the Passover, so no bread and desserts will have no leavening (ice cream, cheese cake, pie…), and pork is never eaten by Jewish people and should not be served.

As shown in the above picture, you will need a few ceremonial foods placed on a platter:

charoset – a salad made of apples, walnuts (opt.), grape juice and cinnamon to represent the mortar used by the Jewish slaves in Egypt.  It can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated.  Check out THIS RECIPE or find one of your own online.

unleavened bread – there was no time for leavening the bread when the slaves escaped from Egypt.  This is best served fresh.  Check out THIS RECIPE or find one of your own online.

You will also need a lamb bone (you may cook lamb for the meal or ask your butcher for one), prepared horseradish, parsley or lettuce, an egg, and salt water.  A Cup of Elijah will be a glass of wine/grape juice set aside and not used for the meal or the ceremony.  A couple of candles will also be needed as well as a wine glass to fill and pass around the table.

Besides the salt water and parsley on the ceremonial platter, place a few on the table to be shared during the ceremony.  Make enough charoset, unleavened bread and hard boiled eggs to serve with the meal.

And how about a colouring page for the kids?  It will help them remember the meal.

seder meal colouring page 2

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Other Easter and Lent posts that may interest you:

Resurrection Eggs

Sacrifice Beans

Lent and Lights Out!

Meatless Lenten Meals for kids (and adults!)

LENT – A Time to Fast, A Time to Grow

Lent – a Time for Spiritual Growth

 

 

 

Nanny’s White Bread and the Bear Who Came to Visit

buns-3

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

We grew up to the smell of baking bread.  We enjoyed walking up to the house and smelling that wonderful smell even before we got to the open front door.  But we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed that heavenly smell.

First, a little background.  For a couple of years my family owned and ran a campground in the 1970’s up near Timmins, Ontario.  Yes – every kid’s dream.  I loved it!  We lived in a chalet overlooking Nighthawk Lake.  Sometimes we even had visitors arrive by seaplane.  We would watch them land on the lake and ferry up close to shore.

What adventures we had!  We had private islands, we would walk the rocky shores and explore, we even found an abandoned cabin in the woods.  All summer we would swim, play in our treehouse and sunbathe.  Every child camping was a new friend.  No wonder I loved it.

But back to that heavenly smelling bread.  One day, while Mom was baking bread, she heard a noise at the door, only to look up into the hungry face of a bear!  She managed to scare the bear away only to realize that it was headed up towards the campers, where kids often played outside.  She bravely grabbed her broom to chase after that bear.

Even though I wasn’t there at the time, I can picture Mom waving her broom and yelling at the bear – then bravely hiding behind the nearest tree.  Of course, she had to do this more than once.  Even though we laugh about it now, I’m sure Mom was doing anything but laughing at the time.  And she saved the day!  That bear took off into the woods in the opposite direction from the campers.

A trap was set up right after that, and that bear was moved to another location, far from our campground.  All I know is that he never made it back to our front door again.

Mom learned to bake bread and got this recipe from her friend Pat and we have enjoyed it ever since.  Thanks Pat!

This makes a big batch, so feel free to adjust as necessary.

Nanny’s White Bread/Buns (Makes 5 loaves, or several dozen buns)

Bakes at 375°F.

  • 12 cups white flour
  • 2 Tbsp. instant yeast
  • 6 cups hot water (not boiling)
  • 1 cup cooking oil

Add the yeast to the flour and blend in well.  Add the oil to the hot water.  Now add the water and oil mixture to the flour and yeast mixture.  Start by mixing it all with a large spoon. Eventually you will have to start mixing it with your hands.  Make sure that all of the flour gets mixed in.

Now, cover the table (or a large baking sheet to cut down on the mess) with flour and dump the dough out onto it.  Sprinkle flour over the dough and begin to knead the dough by rocking it gently back and forth with the heal of your hands a few times, folding it, turning it and kneading some more.  Keep your table covered in flour so that the dough doesn’t stick, and keep sprinkling flour on the dough so that it doesn’t stick (too much!) to your hands.  Continue kneading for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

Grease the sides and bottom of a large bowl.  Place the dough in the greased bowl.  Cover the dough with a clean cloth and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise until double (approx. 1 hour).

Uncover the bowl and punch that dough!  Right in the middle!  My kids love this part.  You can hear the air escaping the dough.

Dump the dough onto a floured table (or floured baking sheet).  Knead the bread just until the air bubbles are gone.  It doesn’t take long.  Shape into loaves of bread and place in greased loaf pans, or shape into buns and place side by side on a greased baking sheet.  It is okay if they are touching.   Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for 30-45 minutes.

Bake at 375° F for 30 – 40 minutes for loaves, or for 20-30 minutes for buns.

Butter the top of the buns, if desired, while warm.  This step isn’t necessary, but will keep the buns soft.

Buns can be bagged and frozen, but taste best served fresh.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Banana Loaf/Muffins and Our Battle with Food Allergies

banana-loafmuffins

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

(Dairy free and egg free alternatives.)

When my oldest son was only 5 weeks old, we realized that he had food allergies.  I woke in the early hours of the morning with him thrashing in my arms trying to draw a breath.  He had aspirated some stomach contents.  After spending 10 days in the hospital just before Christmas, his eczema was already starting to flare.  Next began the arduous process of elimination, trying to determine what he was allergic to.

He was anaphylactic to eggs, dairy and peanuts, but he also had adverse reactions to wheat, soya, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, alcohol (through breast milk), fruit with sugar….  We ended up tweaking a few recipes, including this one.  This is the original recipe.  We ended up changing the wheat flour to oat flour and eliminating the eggs (which makes them heavy muffins – more like a biscuit), but still tasty.  Using very ripe bananas gives this recipe a stronger banana flavour.

This recipe is often requested as a birthday dessert in our home.  For those special occasions, I will ice the muffins (cupcakes) or make a broiled coconut topping on my cake.

This is a great recipe that earns me many compliments wherever I bring it.  Enjoy!

Banana Loaf/Muffins

(makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins)

Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F if using a dark coloured pan).

  • 1/2 cup lard or shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs (may be omitted)
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Mix the above ingredients well with a hand mixer.  Add:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix well with a spatula.  Spoon filling into well greased muffin cups 3/4 full , or fill your well greased loaf pan or well greased 9×13 cake pan.  Bake for time indicated below in a preheated 350°F oven (325°F oven for dark coloured pans).

Bake muffins for 10 – 15 minutes (until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean), bake loaf for 45-50 minutes (until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean), bake 9×13 cake for 30-35 minutes (until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean).

 

Garlic Spare Ribs

garlic-spare-ribs

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

My mom made this recipe when we were growing up, and she got the recipe from my Auntie Joyce.  Some of my kids will request this meal for their birthday.  I like to serve it with rice.

Being Chinese New year today, I also made a vegetable stir fry and heated some potstickers. For dessert we had 6 varieties of ice cream (our favourite finale at a Chinese buffet).

And of course, I have to quadruple the sauce to cover all our ribs!

I cut up my pork ribs and boil them for 15 minutes.  Drain.  Add them to the Garlic Sauce below.

GARLIC SAUCE for ribs:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup Cola
  • 2 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup soya sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • garlic – to taste

Combine all ingredients in a tall pot.  Heat to boiling.  Boil 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat. Add your cooked ribs to the sauce.  The longer you let the ribs sit, the more flavour seeps into them.  Reheat as necessary and serve with rice.

I just found out from Auntie Joyce that after coating the ribs in sauce, she bakes them in the oven for an hour to carmelize the sauce.  I’ll have to try that next time.  My cousin Danny called them candy meat.

Note:  we have different food restrictions in our house, so I changed up the sauce a bit tonight. I used caffeine free cola and eliminated the soya sauce, but added salt.  Still good!

Rosary Step 1 – Learning the Prayers

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Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

My husband and I started praying the rosary together before we were married.  When we first started having kids we would pray the rosary as a family after supper before the kids went to bed.  When our oldest was not even walking yet, we were late starting our prayers and she crawled over to where our rosaries hung and pointed to them, letting us know that she was ready.  We eventually moved that rosary time to the morning before our school lessons and have been faithful all these years.  My husband now works shift work and joins us when he can.  We do miss days, but the rosary and Mary are an important part our faith journey.

It might seem a bit obvious, but learning the prayers in the rosary is the first step to praying the rosary.  Maybe you’re starting this rosary journey on your own, or maybe you’re teaching your kids at the same time.  They are never too young to start!

You can print off a hard copy of the PRAYERS USED IN PRAYING THE ROSARY to get you started or to help you remember.  Take time as you learn these prayers to think about the words.  Discuss the meaning behind the words with your kids if they’re joining you.  Think about the words and meditate on them.  So often we just ‘say’ our prayers and forget to ‘pray’ them.

Start practicing by praying the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be when you wake up and before you go to bed.  Practice during the day.  Have the kids memorize them line by line.  Each day memorize another line and have them repeat the whole prayer up to that point.  Before you know it – the prayers will be memorized.

You don’t have to wait to start praying the rosary until you have these prayers perfectly memorized, but being comfortable praying them will help.

Take at least a week to learn these prayers, longer if needed.  And really pray them.  They have the power to change your life.

PRAYERS USED IN PRAYING THE ROSARY

THE ROSARY – PRAYERS AND MYSTERIES

Printable copy of HOW TO PRAY THE ROSARY.

 

 

 

Eliminating Candida – the Diet

salad

Hi!  My name is Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Now that I have done a 3 Day Cleanse,  I’m ready for the next stage of my fight against Candida.  Yeast is a tricky thing to get rid of but I have found the keys are education, dedication and willpower.

Learning as much as you can about the fight against yeast, what it does and how to get rid of it, is important.

Yeast grows when you feed it.  So you have to starve it.  There are foods you need to avoid, especially sugar, but also anything high in carbohydrates.  Our bodies convert carbs into sugar which is why we need to avoid them.  So as well as sugars, we also need to avoid fruit, grains and starchy vegetables.  Check out this more complete list of foods to avoid.  Don’t worry though, there are still lots of foods to choose from. Keep reading.

As well as starving the yeast, you also need to kill it off.  For this you would take anti-fungals. I’ll be taking coconut oil and oregano oil.

But of course you need to add in probiotics as well.  Probiotics crowd out the Candida yeast and replace it with good bacteria.  Probiotics come in capsules and are easy to implement into your daily regime.  Fermented foods, such as yogurt, are also probiotics and are recommended to eat on the diet.  Eventually the good bacteria will win and the Candida will be gone, IF you also change your diet.

Now for the list of foods to eat.  There are quite a few foods on the list, but it does take dedication and willpower to stick to only these foods. The stricter you are with the diet, the sooner you will see results and the sooner you can start introducing new foods.  Every time you introduce a “maybe” food from the list, check to see how it makes you feel.  You should totally avoid that “maybe” list for at least 2 weeks, but more probably longer.  Some noticeable symptoms will include gas and belly swelling.  Listen to your body.  It will let you know. Yesterday we had a gathering at our house for supper, and even though I didn’t eat grains or desserts, I did eat meatballs with sugar in the sauce, cheese, and a few slices of raw apple. Before bed my husband commented that my belly looked swollen.  A clear sign that these were not good for my diet.

The more you cheat the longer your recovery will be, so I strongly recommend being very strict with your diet.  You don’t want to have to start all over again.  You can do this!

I plan to keep a pot of soup on the go, made with bone broth, vegetables and chicken.  As well as soup, I plan to eat a lot of salads and raw veggies.  I don’t eat eggs because I don’t tolerate them, but if you can, keeping hard boiled eggs in the fridge are also a quick snack to fight hunger.  Suppers will consist of meat and veggies.  Snacks will include some nuts and raw veggies. And drink LOTS and LOTS of water or herbal tea.

Besides diet, for the first couple of weeks I will take probiotics 4 times a day to really flood my system – upon waking, just before lunch, just before supper, and just before bed.  After that I will just take them twice a day.  I will take a tablespoon of coconut oil mid morning and mid afternoon.  Around 8pm I will take oil of oregano.  Upon waking, I will also take a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice in a glass of warm water to gently flush my liver.  I will make salad dressings with olive oil and lemon juice. Before bed I will also take a high fibre, psyllium drink to help flush away dead yeast cells.

Read more about how long each stage should last here.

 

 

 

Eliminating Candida – Day 1, 2 and 3 – the Cleanse

cabbage-soup

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11, and Grandmelina to 2!

I took a course of antibiotics recently and DIDN’T replenish my system with probiotics immediately. You think I’d know better by now. This is not my first time getting rid of yeast. Step 1, the cleanse – starting in earnest tomorrow. Already started changing my diet to minimize the candida die-off and starve the yeast.

I started changing my diet by reducing sugar and eliminating grains.  I started eliminating refined sugar, then fruit, next starchy vegetables.  Grains just generally make me feel yucky so they were easy to eliminate.  I usually don’t eat them at all, but we just finished Christmas.  Need I say more?

Tomorrow I will start my candida cleanse.  This will be a very strict diet to start killing off the yeast (candida).  I was checking my fridge to see what I have to work with.  I will make a soup with vegetable broth, onions, garlic, cabbage, celery and tomatoes.  This will be my main food during the cleanse.  I have a couple of cucumbers in the fridge and some celery sticks that I will be feasting on too.  I will also drink LOTS of water, take a tablespoon of coconut oil (a good anti-fungal) a couple of times a day, take oil of oregano (another anti-fungal) with water a couple of times a day, take some Swedish Bitters with my food and add in a fiber supplement before bed.  I might treat myself to a cup or two of herbal tea.

I’ll do this for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  At supper time on Saturday I will probably start adding salad and some white meat to my diet.  I will start taking my probiotics also at supper on Saturday, and take them during the next stage 4 times a day to help replace the yeast.

You can find lots of good cleanse ideas here at The Candida Diet.

The Cabbage Soup recipe I will be following is similar to this one.