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Health, Home, and Happiness: October 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Real Sea Salt (moist celtic sea salt)

Real sea salt was something that I wasn't sure how to use in my cooking until a friend showed me her salt grinder, just like a pepper grinder. I knew that the moist grey sea salt was better for you, but I didn't know what to do with the huge granules, and for whatever reason I didn't realize that you could grind sea salt like pepper.

If you're just starting out your real foods journey, I would recommend starting simply with fresh ground pepper and moist sea salt to flavor your food. I've found that it's best to start simply with things that you're already familiar with, and then move to more complicated things like growing your own herbs, or buying fresh organic (not stale!) spices to liven up your cooking. I was surprised at how good otherwise blah food is with the addition of freshly ground pepper and salt.

Why is it worth it to make the switch?

As 'science' seems to 'discover' on a regular basis, food is best the way it's found naturally. Moist sea salt hasn't been processed to a pure white color and then had synthetic iodine back into it; it contains tiny bits of sea life, as it was designed to. This is biologically appropriate for human consumption.

Isn't salt bad for you?

I have no doubt that processed synthetically iodized salt is bad for you; synthetic chemicals usually are. And it's true that we do need the trace minerals that are naturally present in sea salt, so choosing sea salt and salting food to taste ensures you get these wonderful trace minerals.

I've been reminded of this on two separate occasions (before I found the whole Weston Price way of eating). The first was on Blue Ribbon Baby, the prenatal 'diet' that is designed to prevent preeclampsia in pregnancy it's recommended to salt food to taste. And the second was when my first child started eating solids, she loved the foods from my plate (with plenty of seasonings) but I thought that she was supposed to start on plain steamed veggies, but was puzzled when she wouldn't touch them. A friend suggested I add a little sea salt, and she gobbled them right up. While I don't believe that children know everything about what's best for them (like, say, an 11 month old doesn't need to play with the electrical outlet no matter how much she might think that she needs to), I do believe that for eating, babies do have a pretty good sense of what's needed for them nutritionally, as long as they are offered real foods.

If you have Nourishing Traditions, there is a whole lot more information on dietary salt on page 48 and continuing.

When buying good sea salt, just make sure it's not white- you want it to be grey and moist to have the right stuff in it. The right sea salt is in the link above, and they also sell salt and pepper grinders. Or, I just buy my celtic sea salt in the bulk bin at my health food store and I've seen salt and pepper grinders at Target. Want to skip making a special trip to the health food store? Grigio di Cervia - Gourmet Grey Sea Salt from Italy at Amazon has good salt too. Just like coconut oil, if you order it, have it shipped to your house, it will end up being used! This is a simple thing to switch, I promise.


I have been wanting to talk about real sea salt and fresh ground pepper for a long time now but hadn't gotten around to it.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Modifying GAPS intro to work for us

I was thinking that the GAPS Intro might be a little too low carb for us, and it really was. On the first day we ended up adding in a ripe banana and some coconut oil. And I heated up the coffee that I wasn't going to drink during nap time (hubby had made the whole pot that morning just in case- I think he knows me!). Ahem. I can try to cut back on coffee, really! I can! but I don't think at the moment I'm going to give it up completely.

So GAPS is turning into SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) but keeping the parts of GAPS that worked and make sense to me, like their probiotic, plenty of broth, slowly introducing foods, ginger tea, and when I have enough swagbucks to get another couple $5 amazon certificates (I have gotten $20 in Amazon certificates so far just for searching with their search engine a couple times a day, it's easy to sign up and free- worth a try, and it adds up!) I want to get some organic cold pressed olive oil as recommended, to eat with food (they recommend drizzling it over your food, not cooking with it, as it breaks down during cooking).

On both of these; GAPS and Specific Carbohydrate Diet, you're taking out complex carbohydrates in order to 'starve' the bad bacteria that produce toxins in your body and inhibit the update of nutrients. So I've been playing around with carbohydrates that are easy to digest. The picture is butternut squash, which I hadn't tried before! It is soooo good, I can't believe it's healthy :) Easy to prepare, I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and pulp (there isn't much) and put it cut-side down on a pyrex. Added a couple cups of filtered water and a teaspoon or so of sea salt. Baked at 375 for 45 or so minutes. Scooped it into canning jars to store in the fridge.

Behind the squash is my new 8-quart stockpot. You can see I'm still taking pictures with my webcam, so a pot is a higher priority than a camera in this house ~smile~. I linked to the one I bought (it's really nice!) on Amazon, but I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond- it was the same as Amazon's price, but I had a 20% off coupon so that made it the best deal I could find. It's taken me a while to figure it out, but it's worth it to me to buy really nice quality things in the kitchen, and just have less.

Part of Fight Back Friday (A collection of rebel bloggers who use real food)

More:
What happened to my camera? Why am I taking these lame pictures with my web cam?
Starting GAPS post
Book reviews on GAPS, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, and more
How coconut oil can be used to reduce cravings and (really!) doesn't cause weight gain

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ginger tea for GAPS and sore throats

1.25 pound ginger root from Walmart $3.88

Part of the GAPS diet is ginger tea with honey. Here is a whole ginger root, I've never bought one this big. It's not organic, but the organic ginger roots that I've seen lately are shriveled sad little things- and expensive. So we're doing not organic right now.

Ginger tea is warming for fall mornings, and is also a natural sore throat remedy.

Put filtered water in a sauce pan to boil.
Break off a knob of the ginger, about thumb-sized.
Peel with a knife and slice thinly (I've been using a steak knife for slicing because it gets through the fibers easily) into rounds.
Simmer in water for about 5 minutes.
Pour into your cup, I use a fork to hold back the ginger rounds.
Add honey to taste.


This real food fresh tea is a part of Real Food Wednesday!

More staying healthy this winter posts:

Chicken Stock for real homemade chicken soup is easy to make, and it really is healing to prevent and heal illness.

My thoughts on food vs supplements for immune function

Nourishing meal and snack ideas to work with busy winter schedules

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Starting GAPS


It doesn't look like much all set out on the table here, but I've been gathering information and ingredients to start the GAPS intro for the past couple weeks. I have, a bowl of my crockpot chicken, GAPS Guide, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Breaking the Vicious Cycle from the library, glass jars of chicken stock (what the intro portion of the diet is based on), milk-free sauerkraut, a jar to keep the fat from the chicken in, fish oil, cod liver oil, bio-kult probiotic, an immersion blender for making blended soups, Klean Kanteen (the only way I've gotten my little one to 'eat' soup), and some organic broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.

The GAPS Intro is outlined here. I would rather hold real books in my hand than only have them on the web, so I bought the GAPS Guide, which does have the introduction diet in it and I'm using that. I read through the website before deciding to buy the books, though.

GAPS starts out with a diet based on meat and veggie soup, and slowly adds in other easily digestible foods (no grains, though, for a long time). The idea is that it gives the gut nourishing healing foods, and allows it to repopulate good flora (the kind of bacteria in yogurt and lactofermented veggies), which helps our digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as keeping nutrients that aren't broken down all the way from passing through to the bloodstream prematurely. I think it's fascinating. It's almost like setting the 'reset button' on your gut flora after a lifetime of antibiotics and toxins. I'm curious to see how it works, I'd love to get rid of my milk allergy, and maybe even improve my handwriting (which looks like chicken scratch- thought to be related to dyslexia) and spelling ability (I rely heavily on spell check).

My baby is nearly a year now, and I'll continue to nurse him through GAPS. It's supposed to be more baby-friendly than other cleanses, more gentle, so I think we'll be okay. Of course if I see any bad symptoms in him, I'll go ahead and stop.

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section. I'm not an expert in GAPS at all, but I have been reading quite a bit about it lately. I'll most likely be posting about non-GAPS related things during this since the diet is very simple and not a lot to blog about ;)


More:
Books I've been reading recently
A post here and here by Kelly on GAPS.
Kelly is also hosting a giveaway for a premium water filter.
Chicken Stock is nourishing and warm, whether you're doing GAPS this winter or not. Here are pictures and instructions.
Keeper of the Home wrote about a different cleanse that she was doing over here, must be the season!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading, as talked about back in this post, I prefer getting solid information from books, rather than just reading blog posts.


Nourishing Traditions- This is the first book I bought related to Real Food. I found it overwhelming at first; there are recipes, informational essays, and many quotes from other books and studies in the margins. I recently cleaned out my cook books and now am down to this one and Joy of Cooking. If you already know quite a bit about physiology and nutrition, this is a great book to start with, otherwise I would buy Eat Fat Lose Fat or The Maker's Diet first as they are geared more as an introduction.

The Maker's Diet takes a refreshing look at what food God designed and Jesus actually ate. Engaging to read, Jordan Rubin talks about how he personally was healed using the diet of real foods from the Bible. A great book to start with if you are currently eating low-fat or otherwise a typical American diet.



Do you love the idea of traditional foods, but are left wondering how this works? Will I raise my cholesterol level by eating traditional fats- coconut oil and butter? Nina Planck shares the science behind eating traditionally, as well as how wonderful you feel when eating this way.  A great book for people just starting on  their Real Foods journey, though I also enjoyed it and learned plenty when I read it earlier this year.



Also by Nina Planck, Real Food for Mother and Baby is an awesome guide to eating the essential nutrients in our childbearing years, as well as what's needed for the baby's first couple years.  This book is so convincing and makes eating healthily so easy!  It inspired me to make a few changes in how our family eats; mainly eating more fish.  See my more in-depth review of Real Food for Mother and Baby here.

I just borrowed this book from the library recently. Another great starter book, especially if you're one who has been counting calories or on and off the weight-loss bandwagon for most of your life. I talked a little more about it back here. I was one who was constantly tallying up calories and eating 'low fat' back in High School, only to be frustrated daily that my weight kept going up, not down, and I was always wanting to eat more (I weighed about 15-20 lbs more then, 10ish years ago, than I do now. I know that's not much, but it was frustrating all the same. And I was swimming 3 or so hours a day). Once I started using real fats as much as I wanted, I easily lost weight. My weight problem wasn't a self-control issue, it was my body screaming at me that I needed more good real fats. Since then I've gained 65 lbs for each pregnancy (which is kind of ridiculous, but my babies have been healthy, so I suppose that's what I just do) and have easily lost it in a reasonable amount of time by following the principals in this book. I notice that if I'm eating too much refined food and not enough healthy fat, my weight will start to creep up again, but I can easily get it back down again without feeling deprived at all.

I'm talking quite a bit about this book, but it's because I care and I don't want others to have to suffer from the misinformation that a low fat diet is how you lose weight. A low fat diet makes you feel deprived and obsess on food. Or, at least it did for me.



Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price. Absolutely fascinating. I'm only about 3/4 through it right now, but so far it has been amazing. Written by Weston A Price about his trip to native and newly-modernized cultures around the world. As a dentist, he was studying cultures to see why some had excellent teeth without decay and without the need of braces to straighten, and others had decaying crooked teeth. He recognized that cultures living on real food- whole grains, plenty of animal fats through meat or milk- had beautiful teeth. Narrow jaws and crooked teeth, what I have always heard is caused by genetics, was markedly absent when prenatal nutrition was correct. Tons of pictures to demonstrate this, most interesting to me were pictures where older children had beautiful teeth, and then younger children in the same family had teeth typical of our modern youth; the change occurred when the family became modernized and started eating refined foods. Though mostly about teeth, he notes that people on a real-food diet are much less susceptible to disease and other 'deformities' that we generally attribute to genetics. Convicting, and absolutely not politically correct.


Fascinating information about the important roll that gut flora (good bacteria in the intestines) play in digesting food, assimilating nutrients, keeping a person healthy, and mental health. If 'gluten free' or 'gluten free and casein free' have worked for you or your child, this might be the next step. After reading this, I wholeheartedly believe that most of us in Western cultures have been harmed by the routine medications that we have taken, especially antibiotics.

More on intestinal/psychological health, Breaking the Vicious Cycle is, again, using food to correct problems such as Crohn's and other intestinal issues. Based on the specific carbohydrate diet (so is GAPS) it promotes a diet for healing rather than just avoiding symptoms.

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About

A recent picture of my boy and me. I have a 3-year-old girl as well. Generally I don't show their faces on the internet.


I like sharing pictures of Nourishing Traditions and Maker's Diet cooking, because both of those books are lacking in pictures, and sometimes pictures are inspiring! I didn't really plan on having a cooking and health blog but it turns out that it's pretty easy to blog about food since I am cooking it anyway. Supposedly I'll also be talking about home and happiness throughout; though cooking does seem to dictate the natural rhythm of our home, and a belly full of healthy food does quite a bit to contribute to happiness.

I do earn some income on here, both through affiliate links (Mountain Rose Herbs, Amazon, and Naturoli soap nuts right now), and I receive products from time to time to try out. I'm pretty picky about what I recommend, I won't recommend that you try something that I wouldn't personally buy.   Right now we're following Dave Ramsey's plan to pay down debt and save to purchase a home, so that's what my blogging income goes for. 

I love comments! Please always feel free to ask anything in the comments and I'll do my best to answer. Or just say whatever!

About my blog setup:

The About section explains my focus with the blog; primarily to show you how and why we eat real whole foods.  Included in here is our journey to real foods from the standard American diet, about the Maker's diet, and then to keep it real, Confessions is what I label the refined non-whole foods that somehow find themselves in our kitchen from time to time.

On The Menu has my food posts sorted into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Soups, and Menu Plans.  I'm still going back through and re-labeling older posts to fit in these, but I've got some of my favorites up there now.

Traditional Foods is everything non-refined, wholesome, and Nourishing Traditions inspired.  Down below there are some links to easy things to start with like Real Salt, Soaked Wheat Bread, and Coconut Oil.

Grain Free has my adventures in GAPS, along with some related subsections and recipes.

Natural Health is where all the alternative medicines, bath and body, holistic dentistry, and supplement posts live.

Stewardship addresses the issue of fitting real food into a real budget and doing the best with the resources available to us. In that subsection are 'Do It Yourself and Save' posts; things that we found are especially useful and simple to do yourself.

Pregnancy and Babies is everything baby/child/mother related, including breastfeeding, diapers, and natural remedies for common childhood issues.

Under Learn More I have my book reviews, as well as the list of health/food related movies that I've seen and think are worth watching.  I feel that good books are vitally important in making informed decisions for our families, and they do a great job of point out flaws in what shows up in mainstream news and medicine.  My blog is mostly about how we incorporate what we've learned into our family life, I'd encourage you to check out recommended books for more of the technical 'why' we do what we do. I don't recommend books because I agree with them 100%, but more because I think they are worth reading and are at least mostly accurate.  It's important to not blindly follow anything and always use discernment.  (Do you like my disclaimer? ~grin~)

When it comes to informative posts about why I use quite a bit of saturated fat, why grass fed meat is preferable, why I love coconut oil, the dangers of GMO food; I'd rather just point you in the direction of the books that I have learned from, and the Weston Price website where most everything is covered (most of the links above go to the Weston Price Website).

Mostly, though, I would encourage you to check out some of the books on my sidebar from the library. I find that reading real books is generally more enriching than reading blog posts ~smile~ If you don't have time to search your library, you might be able to search what is available online and reserve it. That's what I do, so I only have to go over to the reserved area and grab my books and do the self checkout. I also can request books through our library's website, and often they buy them, which surprised me.

I'm not an expert on the subject of real foods, but rather am just a mom trying to do what's best for her family. I fully expect to learn more and change as time goes on, that's the joy of life, isn't it?

Anyway, for more in depth reading, I recommend books pretty often.  Yes, I get a kickback from Amazon if you place an order on there using my links. 


About me and our family in no particular order


We are conservative Christians. We believe in young earth creation.  We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. We believe Jesus has us be loving and kind, not condemning and judgmental (ie I'm not going to yell at you if you're different from me).

We're a homeschooling family with a Waldorf/Charolette Mason/Classical approach, which we like because it seems to be a holistic view of schooling. 

I voted for Ron Paul :)

I originally went to college to be a RN, but decided not to continue when I got married to my honey at 20 years old.  I worked as a nurse's aid and experienced how draining a career in hands-on health care can be, as well as how much of mainstream healthcare doesn't practice evidence based medicine, so chose to do medical transcription instead and I did that until my first was about a year old, from home.  I have an associate's degree in science, and I thoroughly enjoy natural sciences, especially when they are evidence based ;)

I grew up in Northern California but we moved to Montana to escape the crowds, rocky economy, and housing costs shortly after we were married. A lot of my granola ways came from California. A lot of my conservative ways are right at home in Montana though.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Consolidating Lactofermented Veggies into Relish

The bottom shelf of my fridge was buckling under the weight of all my lactofermented veggies. Some of the pickles I did (above) were a little softer than we liked, but I thought they would still make fine relish. So I drained 4 jars of pickles and added some peppers for color, and pulsed to chop in my food processor.
Did the same with my radishes and the rest of the peppers.
Consolidated 9 jars down to two, and was able to finally put away the rest of my groceries (grin). Plus, I find relish to be easy to add to sandwiches, burritos, soup, etc.

More posts:

All About Lactofermented Veggies

Not into experimenting with veggies? You can still good probiotics with yogurt- easy to make in the cooler.

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Pizza from spinach artichoke parmaesan dip


I used our dip to top the next night's pizza, along with 'crockpot chicken'. So good that hubby took the other half of the pizza with him for lunch the next day. Mmm.

Dip Recipe
Make affordable organic 'lunch meat' in the crock pot

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Imitation: Spinach Artichoke Parmesan Dip

We love dip. I've been buying the spinach artichoke parmesan dip at Costco way too often for the $7 price tag and hydrogenated soybean oil that it contains. Looking at the label last time, I recognized that I could make it on my own.

I added a little more spinach than they must, since mine turned bright greeen, but spinach dip is good too.

In my food processor I combined

homemade mayo to replace their hydroginated stuff (about 1/3 cup, not a ton)
2 cloves of garlic (not heads... but the little individual wedge things)
and pureed

Added 1/2 cup spinach that I had steamed beforehand (not sure if this is necessary
Artichoke Hearts (these were quartered, I think I put in about 8-10 quarters)

Pulsed to chop

Added a good amount (about a pound) of shredded parmesan cheese and again pulsed the food processor again to mix but not puree. And that's it.  We eat it with the organic corn chips from costco that are really reasonably priced for organic!

More:
Homemade Mayo
Make your own Clif Bars

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Homemade Refried Beans

We love these refried beans. They're cheap and organic- super healthy. We use them for tacos, burritos, bean dip, and put them in quesadillas. I do them in the crock pot, it's a kind of long process but like most of our nourishing foods, it has very little hands-on time.

First I put about 3-4 cups of dried pinto beans from my health food store's bulk section in the bottom of the crock pot. Cover with filtered water. Let soak overnight.

Drain.

Fill again to mostly to the top.

Cover, cook on low overnight


Drain again.

Smash with a wooden spoon
I add quite a bit of chicken broth, both for it's health benefits and because I have it on hand from making my crockpot chicken. I've used water before too.
Add enough water or stock to make it runny, then cover and cook again for a few hours. My chicken stock has a layer of fat at the top, so I use that as my fat. It will thicken up.

I keep my refried beans in the fridge, and I usually add sea salt as I'm cooking with it. Not much to look at, but we like them :)

Part of Pennywise Platter Thursday @ the Nourishing Gourmet (my favorite Nourishing Traditions weekly carnival!) and Kitchen Stewardship's Super Foods Carnival (check out how easy it is to pack a nutritional punch into every day meals)

Other posts:

My weekly crockpot chicken, lunchmeat and broth

Other slow food that takes a while, but doesn't have a bunch of hands on work- Soaked Wheat Bread

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Homemade GFCF organic fried chicken- menu change

Organic chicken breasts were on sale at Costco. We haven't had homemade chicken nuggets in a long time since I normally buy whole chickens and I just cook those in the crockpot. I was excited about my find, so I switched from our planned out menu to accommodate.

I marinated the chicken in red pepper salad dressing over night
Cut into strips- across the 'grain' of the meat
Put some gluten free pancake mix in a gallon ziplock- about 2 cups. Regular unbleached flour works as well, I've never tried whole wheat before.



I'd put about one chicken breast-worth of meat in the ziplock at a time and shook to coat. Laid in a single layer in a big pyrex dish while I shook up the rest of the chicken.

On some, I dipped a second time in a beaten egg, then again shook it in the flour. This gave it more of a breading once fried. The ones only dipped once were fine too.

With the flour mixture on, I covered and returned to the fridge until dinner. I've found that doing the breading ahead of time and then letting it sit keeps it from falling off when you fry it. When I try and fry it right away, the breading falls off in the oil.

To fry, I used olive oil because I didn't want to use up all my good coconut oil on frying. Keeping the oil hot (but not smoking) keeps the chicken crispy and from being grease-soaked and soggy. Fried until golden brown, turned, and fried on that side until golden brown as well.

Hubby asked what I did to make them so tender and juicy, which I find amusing since the guy lived on chili from a can, beer, and McDonald's when I met him ~grin~ He's become quite the food connoisseur. Anyway, I'm guessing it's the organic chicken, we find that organic is almost always way better than conventional. I haven't done homemade nuggets with organic chicken before.


More:

Crockpot Chicken Posts
Menu ideas for Fall/Winter

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday's Dinner: Rice, salmon, gravy, avocado

Sunday night I looked in the fridge to see what we could have for dinner that followed our 'eating healthy to stay healthy' principals that we talked about back here and here. My camera got 'washed' by my 3 year old, or you'd have a picture. Ahem.

We had leftover brown rice cooked in chicken stock with sea salt and basil in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap, a package of smoked wild-caught salmon from Costco, lots of chicken stock, and ripe avocados. To follow is what I did. My family enjoyed it, and it was a nice way to use up the odds and ends in my fridge. I need to remember to buy a bag of frozen broccoli to add to make-up dinners like this.

Rice/salmon/gravy casserole with avocado

I greased an 8x8 pyrex with oil, stirred about 1/3 pound of the smoked salmon into the brown rice (about 4 cups) and then put in the pyrex, baked uncovered @ 350 for 30 minutes or so.

In the meantime I made the gravy; melted a coconut oil/ghee mixture in the bottom of a large pot (2ish tablespoons) and added about 1/4 cup GF flour mix as my thickener. Flour would have worked too. I added a sprinkle off sea salt and whisked until it was a good gravy paste. Then I slowly added, a few tablespoons at a time, chicken stock and cooked over medium heat until it was gravyish. In the end I added about 1 cup chicken stock.

After turning the gravy to low, I cut up 3 avocados. We served it by putting the rice/salmon mixture in a bowl, spooning gravy over the top of that, then adding avocado on top of that. I think steamed broccoli would have been good too, but we didn't have any. For some reason my family isn't a fan of mixed up casseroles, but if I layer the same stuff in a bowl, everyone is happy.

There wasn't a ton of salmon in the meal, but the chicken broth/stock is supposed to have a protein sparing effect as well as many other healthy properties to it (read about it on the Weston Price website here).

Off topic note:
Last week I bought a used laptop and we took down the desktop because it took up too much space. This laptop does have a webcam, I'm going to see if I can get it to work good enough for food pictures until I can find a good used camera, which we'll make a better attempt to keep out of the dish water ~smile~ I'm loving buying used more and more as I get into it, from thrift store clothing (Gap jeans for 1.29?) to this laptop.

This post is a part of Pennywise Platter Thursday at Nourishing Gourmet and the Super Foods October Fest @ Kitchen Stewardship

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eating to stay healthy this Fall/Winter - menu ideas

We're wanting to make sure the bulk of our food this fall and winter is wholesome real food so that we are in tip top shape to avoid illness. Here some ideas, since sometimes thinking of what to cook is more work than actually cooking it.

Breakfast:

As always, eggs and whole grain (soaked) toast. We like ours with coconut oil right now, and crabapple jelly, though that has refined sugar in it I decided it still fit in my '80/20 goal'

Soaked waffles can be made in a large batch on the weekends, then popped in the toaster on week days. With good quality butter or coconut oil and natural peanut butter, this is an easy breakfast. I've found that adding apple or pear sauce to the waffle batter helps them to be lighter and crisper. When I don't add the apple sauce, I think they taste too much like bread.

If you're avoiding gluten, I really like some of the gluten free mixes that use brown rice (whole grain!) flour in them. I try to avoid refined grains (white rice) for my gluten free baking as well.

Soaked cereals, you can vary the grains. One of our local health food stores has a great bulk section, where we get bulk organic grains for pennies a serving. We store them in glass jars in the pantry. Right now we have oats, millet, buckwheat, and brown rice we eat as cereal too. Adding in lots of fat (if you're confused, check out what the Weston Price Foundation says about fats) and this breakfast will stick with you much better than 'low fat' cereal, hot or cold. We like to stir in about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and a little real maple syrup.

Smoothies- kind of cold for these, but some of you dislike breakfast, so I thought I'd list them anyway. I add raw eggs to mine, usually 2 or 3, and 2 tablespoons of good quality coconut oil. Without the oil at least (I know that many aren't going to go for raw eggs) it is a much more satisfying complete meal.

Lunches

Leftovers, as always

Sandwiches

Cheese, if you can do that, and whole grain crackers. We buy beef summer sausage too, which has nitrates in it. I'm sure there is nitrate free available at health food stores, but I'm pretty sure that's out of our price range.


Dinners:

We've been doing a lot of brown rice with red meat sauce over it lately. I like the rice better than wholegrain pasta. I like brown rice the best when I cook it for a long time, at least 1 hour. And I use a little more liquid than called for in the recipe, usually at least part chicken broth from Monday's Crockpot Chicken.

Lentil soup. Lentils are packed with nutrients. A little organic ground beef can be stretched in this, and coconut oil can be added to make it more substantial. I like cubed potatoes in mine, and we add carrots and celery and lots of garlic too.

Chili and cornbread. I do buy organic cornmeal so it's not genetically modified. Both chili and cornbread freeze well.

Snacks:

Nuts and fruit

Peanut butter on toast

Smoothie, as described above

Popcorn, made with coconut oil and sprinkled with real sea salt

Home made clif bars.

Not great, but better than junk: Fruit leathers that Costco has, they're made with all fruit puree (but lack the rest of the good stuff that comes from real fresh whole fruit)


I'll get back to posting what we eat more often again, with pictures. We eat pretty simply, but I try to make sure we don't just eat the same thing over and over again. I'm doing gluten free/casein free with my daughter right now, so that has kind of consumed my brainpower and hasn't left much left for posting or cooking a whole lot. We try to make our meals mostly GFCF so that we all eat the same thing together, but I often add cheese to hubby's or use wheat bread for both hubby and I.

This week's Menu

I don't plan out my snacks, so here is breakfast/lunch/dinner with snacks as listed above

Monday:
Soaked oats, coconut oil, maple syrup. We buy GF oats

Fried rice; leftover brown rice with 2 scrambled eggs, chicken

Brown Rice, Red sauce with ground beef (cook 1 lb ground beef, add 1 can red pasta sauce - I use the organic stuff from Costco-cook over Med until heated through)

Tuesday:

Eggs, GF waffles (toaster), coconut oil, jelly
Leftover rice & meat sauce for the kids and I; sandwich, tortilla chips, banana, cookies for hubby
Homemade pizza for dinner, with cooked veggies

Wednesday:

PB and coconut oil on waffles
Tuna salad with homemade mayo and brown rice crackers (Costco has these)
toquitoes (beans, brown rice, ground beef wrapped inside a corn tortilla, baked with the seam down) served with guacamole

Thursday:
Eggs
Leftovers
Waffles, eggs, beef sausage, fruit as toppings. Thursday is our breakfast-for-dinner night

Friday:
Soaked Buckwheat cereal, coconut oil, walnuts
Rice and chicken soup
Quesadillas (corn tortillas with beans for the kids and I, cheese too for hubby), salsa

Saturday:
Eggs, toast
Cheese/meat on crackers
Friends over for dinner- Burritos: Homemade refried beans made in the crock pot with chicken stock, brown rice, ground beef seasoned with red pepper and cumin, then all the toppings. Sometimes I make the bean/rice/meat burritos ahead and bake them so the tortilla gets crunchy (we're using white tortillas for this other than my GF girl) then add the toppings as you want at the table.

Sunday:
I don't really plan Sundays. Generally whatever is in the fridge that looks good for breakfast/lunch, then dinner is nitrate free beef or chicken hotdogs.

This monster menu post is part of Menu Plan Monday and Real Food Wednesday, as well as Fight Back Fridays

Another post on the subject:

My thoughts on supplements to prevent illness

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Preventing Sickness in your family this cold and flu season

A friend emailed me asking about supplements to prevent sickness this winter. She has school-aged children as well as a precious little baby, so it's understandable that she'd be concerned about germs!

Here's most of my reply (maybe I'll go look up how to spell echinacea LOL!):

I'm honestly not a big fan of supplements. I take a good quality prenatal (Source of Life brand) that I love, and I give my 3-year-old their children's multi and cod liver oil (fat soluable vitamins in that). I'll take echinacea if I think I've been exposed to something but I've never given it to Hannah. Echinacea is safe to take while nursing, but Goldenseal that it's often paired with isn't safe while pregnant and I don't take it while nursing (it's not really confirmed) but you can get echinacea without goldenseal.


For us, eating right is what keeps us from getting sick. This year I'm thinking a good quality coconut oil is helping us too (I read about it in the Eat Fat Lose Fat book). I noticed that we all picked up colds last week, the baby was chewing on a chair at the airport while we waited for my mother-in-law to arrive and we had colds the next day. I was done with mine by Wednesday, the kids were done by Friday, and hubby still has his. The kids and I eat about 80% good food (we do the 80/20 thing, since that seems to be about all that I can handle at this point in my life), and hubby eats maybe 50% good food- he prefers white bread to wheat, isn't a huge fan of coconut oil, and loves cookies. It's not just this time, I notice that when my life gets too busy and I start cooking frozen pizza and corn dogs and buying white bread products, we always get sick within a week.


It's my opinion that we might need an extra boost to fight something off if we know we've been exposed, but all the herbs and vitamins in the world aren't going to make up for anything if our body doesn't have the nutrients it needs to run well.

What do you think?

I'm going to work on getting a list of menu ideas that are simple, somewhat economical, and nutritious. 'Cold and flu season' has a combination of factors stacking against us: Being in confined spaces with other people, whether it's at school or work or a crowded grocery store; the abundance of seasonal junk food (a box of maple syrup cream cookies - not real food- landed in my grocery cart at Costco yesterday); the rush of back-to-school and then the holidays does put stress on us and take energy; the lack of outside time and fresh air as the weather turns.

But thankfully with autumn comes foods that are simple to prepare, warm, and nourishing. I'll write a post for next week with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack ideas that I'm looking forward to preparing this fall, with the intent of keeping us healthy.

What is this 80/20 thing that I'm talking about? I just try to stick to eating real whole foods 80% of the time and then don't worry about the other 20% when I might grab a cookie with refined sugar and flour, or pretzels, or the so-called fruit smoothie at Costco that I'm rather positive has corn syrup in it.

More posts:

Making Chicken Stock- easy, economical, and nutritious. Use that crockpot that's been sitting in your cupboard, all lonely ~grin~

Eat Fat Lose Fat: My ramblings on this book

Confessions (because sometimes I feel too preachy here)

Update: Meal and snack ideas, including a week's menu

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall Reading- Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Eat Fat Lose Fat

A friend told me that if you request books that the library 'needs' through their website, they actually usually get them. So as I see books come up related to real food or other things I'm interested in, I request them. So that's what I've been doing lately, reading real books rather than blogs. If they're really good and I know I'll want to either re-read for inspiration or reference later on, I buy and add them to my book shelf (you can see a growing list of some of these on my sidebar).

Some recent reads:

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
I went ahead and bought this, since I was pretty sure it was worth it. And it is. I really wish I had read it before I got pregnant with Hannah, but I can't change that now. Weston Price (a dentist) went around the world studying native cultures in the 30s and 40s to see how native diets contributed not only to health, but to bone structure and tooth health. He has pictures contrasting siblings born and raised on native (real) foods vs ones raised on modern processed foods and shows how the bone structure of the face changes, dental cavities are rampant, and other health issues. He presents a convincing argument that the need for braces to straighten teeth is due to a nutritional deficiency that lead to a facial deformity. Politically incorrect, I know, but he has lots of convincing pictures and data from studying thousands in native and newly modernized populations.

Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats
The library got this, I'm going to buy it some time though. Lots of information about coconut oil. Sally Fallon also talks about what I found accidentally when I started using coconut milk as creamer in my coffee while eliminating cow's milk from my diet- eating a hefty amount of fat, particularly fat from coconut, keeps me (and apparently others) from craving refined foods or junk foods.

She has some more detailed information on losing weight with a real foods diet, which most likely will be good for me as I get older. Right now (I'm 26) I find that if I just cut out refined foods I get back down to my goal weight (140-145 at 5 foot 8) easily. I can maintain that even if I'm eating about one serving of refined (sugar, white bread products, etc) something a day, but it does creep up if we end up eating the typical American diet for any length of time. I've also gained 65 lbs with each pregnancy, eating more real foods with my second, and eating pretty typical American with my first. As I get better with nutrition I'm curious if this will change or stay the same.

More:

A post about more reading; Special Needs Diets and Real Education

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