Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cheese and Vegetable Chowder

This soup is so lovely.  The vegetables are the star, but the nutrition is boosted by all the homemade stock, cream and cheese in the background.  This is perfect for our family, since we are fighting off the sniffles.  My E and M slurped their bowls up with gusto tonight before going to bed a little earlier than usual.  I hope they heal a little as they sleep.  

Read about how the healing properties of homemade bone broth here.  I had a lot of stock on hand from Thanksgiving when I made turkey stock.  After making a double recipe of this soup, I still have two large containers of stock left in my fridge!  

(I will probably make tomato cream soup later this week, and I will post the recipe when I do.  Plus, I have another turkey I need to roast soon, so I'll have even more stock to make nourishing soups with.  This is very important at this time of year when our immune systems can take a beating, and we don't get as many vitamins from the sun.) 

Cheese and Vegetable Chowder
4-6 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, split lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 T. sprouted whole grain flour
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
3 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 turnip, peeled and finely diced
several large broccoli florets, chopped
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1½ cups raw cream or half-and-half
10½ oz. mature raw Cheddar cheese, grated
fresh chopped parsley, to sprinkle on top
salt and pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan or stockpot over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and leek. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes, taking care it doesn't burn.
  2. Stir the flour into the vegetables and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add a little of the stock and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in the flour. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and slowly stir in the rest of the stock.
  3. Add the carrots, celery, turnip, broccoli, thyme and bay leaf. Reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf and the thyme branches.
  4. Add the cheese a few handfuls at a time, stirring constantly for about a minute after each addition, to make sure it is completely melted. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, adding salt if needed, and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream until warmed through.  Ladle immediately into warm bowls, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Things M Says (Part 36)

M: "I'm not going to spend my money from now alllllll the way until I am a grown-up."
me: "Oh yeah?  What are you saving it for?"
M: "I want to go to outer space."
me: "Well, going to outer space is very expensive."
M: "So they don't have coupons for that?"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Candy-Making and Cookie-Baking Extravaganza 2010

So I've been making quite a bit of progress on my Candy-Making and Cookie-Baking Extravaganza 2010!  I've also taken a lot of my favorite recipes and morphed them into my favorite versions.  Now they can truly be called k's.  So far I have made these items:
Peanut Butter Cups
Almond Joy cups
Coconut Citrus Fudge
Homemade Eggnog (in a blender)
Maple Shortbread and Classic Shortbread

And I've made these:
Cinnamon and Vanilla Nuts (I used pecans and cashews, gonna try walnuts and almonds later today or tomorrow)
Lemon Curd Bars (we have SO MANY lemons from Ryan's parents' house)

And of course we will be having some lovely breakfasts, like:
Baked Oatmeal with Dried Fruit, Yogurt and Maple Syrup
Crepes with Berries and Cream
Blueberry Buckle (recipe coming soon!)

And back to the treats again.  There are so many other recipes I want to try this week, like:
Almond Roca
Traditional Fudge
Caramel Corn
Bûche de Noël
Sugar Plums
Buckwheat Sourdoughnuts
Molasses & Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls
Sprouted Grain Doughnuts with Coconut Vanilla Glaze
Maple Sugar Candied Nuts

Homemade Eggnog

As a child, I never liked eggnog.  We would buy eggnog in a carton from the grocery store, but it was too thick and sweet for my liking.  Now I know, from reading eggnog labels the last couple of years, that I probably didn't like the flavors of high fructose corn syrup and thickeners in store-bought eggnog.  

A few years ago I tried Silknog, an eggnog-flavored soy milk.  It's thinner but still has that nice holiday flavor.  We drank it for a couple of years during the holidays, but in the last year I have learned about many problems surrounding soy.  Soy has a very high phytic acid content, and should only be consumed in moderation and properly fermented.  Good sources of fermented soy include natto, naturally fermented soy sauce, and fermented miso.

This year I have been missing my thinner, eggnog drink.  So I started looking around for a real food version of eggnog using raw milk and cream, raw egg yolks (but no raw egg whites, they have enzyme inhibitors!), wholesome sweeteners like maple syrup and raw honey, and as my friend likes to call them "Christmas spices".  Using this recipe as inspiration, I upped the cream and yolks and made delicious eggnog in my blender!  How easy was it? VERY.

You place all the ingredients in a blender, blend them up, and then pour and serve.  If you have seen the way classic eggnog is made, then you'll be impressed with this method.  In the original recipes you are supposed to separate eggs, whip the whites, whip the cream, fold them in at different times, and so on.  I don't have time to mess with that!  And I don't want to eat the raw white anyway.

So enjoy this quick recipe.  It makes delicious, healthy, homemade eggnog that has that not-too-thick texture.  Even R liked it!  And as R would say: "You can really taste the nog."

Homemade Eggnog
1 cup whole milk (preferably raw and grass-fed)
3/4 cup cream (preferably raw and grass-fed)
4 egg yolks (preferably pastured)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cloves
pinch of allspice
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey (I used syrup)
dash sea salt
Bourbon, rum, cognac, to taste (optional)

1. Place everything in a blender and blend for a minute or so.  Pour into glasses and garnish with another grating of nutmeg, or a stirring stick of cinnamon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coconut Citrus Fudge

Coconut Citrus Fudge
1 cup coconut butter
2-3 tablespoons raw honey
2 tablespoons coconut oil, gently melted
1 tablespoon orange, lemon, grapefruit or other citrus zest
1 teaspoon orange, lemon, grapefruit or other citrus extract (if using oil, use a few drops)

1. In a food processor pulse coconut butter and honey until combined.  Then with the processor running, add the coconut oil in a steady stream.  Add zest and extract or oil, and mix until combined.

2. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper, spoon mixture and form into a rectangle.  Press with your hands to make the thickness even, about 1/4 inch thick.  Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
3. Remove from the fridge, and lift parchment or wax paper off the cookie sheet and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into little squares or whatever bites you like.  

4. You can store these in the fridge, or even on the counter in an airtight container.  The coconut butter keeps it shape well, even at room temperature.  And this time of year our houses are on the cooler side.  Enjoy!

(Inspired by a review of Cooking to Heal by Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet, I have made this "fudge" a few times.  It is very light, very nourishing, and kid-friendly.  My kids love it.  I have changed it a little, mostly to incorporate more coconut oil and achieve a smoother feel.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Joyous Almond Cups

Whenever I make these peanut butter cups I always end up making these Almond Joy-esque cups as well.  I use the same mini cupcake pan, the same spot in the freezer to freeze the two layers, and we end up with two flavors of cups to choose from for a sweet, but nourishing treat.  This recipe is my version after being inspired, as usual, by a recipe from Kimi over at The Nourishing Gourmet.

Even more so than the peanut butter cups, these joyous almond cups have a lot of coconut oil incorporated into the recipe.  Coconut oil has many benefits.  Coconut oil has a lot saturated fat.  But don't fear.  This saturated fat is good for you.  Yes you read that right.  The saturated fat in coconut oil is comprised of medium chain fatty acids, 50% of which are the fatty acid lauric acid.  Medium chain fatty acids are more easily digested, reducing strain on the liver, pancreas, and digestive system.  Coconut oil benefits a sluggish thyroid by this same logic: it takes less energy to digest coconut oil, freeing up your thyroid to heal and function better.  Coconut oil helps with energy levels and weight loss.  Coconut oil heals you from the inside out.

So when you wonder why I go through all the trouble of researching coconut oil, finding different kinds of coconut oil, and then incorporating it into my diet despite my lack of love for it's flavor, this is why.  I feel better when I have it in my daily diet.  I know the science behind it and am more than happy to have it's help healing my body.

Now let's get back to the treat part.  I make these either with or without chopped almonds.  Sort in the vein of sometimes feeling like a nut...But when I do add the nuts I make sure they are from my soaked and dehydrated stash.  Soaking nuts overnight in salt water helps neutralize the naturally-occuring enzyme inhibitors present in most nuts.  Then dehydrating them returns them back to their crispy state.  The almonds I used in this recipe were soaked, dehydrated, and then toasted for 20 minutes at 300 degrees just to bring out their flavor a little before I chopped them and added them in.

Joyous Almond Cups
coconut base:
1/2 cup gently melted coconut oil
1/4 cup gently melted raw honey
1 1/4 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds, preferably soaked and dehydrated, then toasted for 20 min. at 300 degrees

chocolate topping:
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons raw honey
3/4 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon coffee liqueur

1. Make coconut base: Combine melted coconut oil and raw honey.  Whisk well to combine.  Add shredded coconut and almond extract.  

2. Using a small ice cream scoop, divide among 24 mini cupcake molds.  Sprinkle each one with a little of the chopped almonds, dividing evenly.  Place in the freezer on a level surface for 30 minutes to harden.  

3. In the meantime, make chocolate topping: combine cocoa powder, honey, and coconut oil in a glass bowl set over simmering water.  Whisk until coconut oil is almost completely smooth.  Remove from heat and continue whisking, adding vanilla and coffee liqueur.

4. Remove frozen coconut bases, and spoon a little of the chocolate topping on each cup.  Place back in the freezer for another 30 minutes until frozen and set.  

5. To remove, pop out with a spoon or butter knife immediately after removing from the freezer.  Store in the freezer, or else they will melt.  To eat, I like to remove from the freezer and let sit for a few minutes to soften.  Enjoy with cold, whole raw milk, yum!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Cups

I love these peanut butter cups.  I made them last February for R for Valentine's Day.  I wrote the other day about looking for candy for Christmas at the store, but coming up empty.  Even in my compromising mindset I couldn't find anything that would work.  So I am making a few different candies and confections to help satisfy M's and E's sweet teeth on that magical morning.

But back to the peanut butter cups.  I have tweaked the recipe just a bit.  I watch Ina Garten on the Food Network quite a bit, and on her show Barefoot Contessa she occasionally shows how she tests recipes.  Ever since she explained how chocolate is enhanced by a little bit of coffee I have been paying attention to how she pairs them in different recipes.  She says that you do not end up tasting the coffee, but the chocolate tastes better.

Sometimes she uses leftover brewed coffee, sometimes it's instant coffee or espresso granules, and sometimes it's coffee liqueur.  I have Kahlua, so I have used that recently in any chocolate recipe I make.  I just eyeball between a teaspoon and a tablespoon.  I don't know enough about how they make instant coffee crystals to use them confidently, and I don't brew coffee at home.  (The caffeine affects my adrenals and such.)

Oh, and one last thing: after I use up the natural peanut butter in the jars in my fridge I want to make my own peanut butter.  It's very handy to have peanut butter around, so I think it's worth the trouble to soak peanuts in salt water, dehydrate them and then put them through the food processor.  The point of doing all of that is to avoid the enzyme inhibitors present in peanuts and nuts in general.  The soaking process neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors, helping you to not only digest them better but absorb more nutrients from the nuts.

Peanut Butter Cups
peanut butter base:
3/4 cup natural peanut butter, preferably from soaked and dehydrated peanuts
1/4 cup gently melted coconut oil*
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup chopped nuts, preferably soaked/dehydrated/roasted at a low temperature (300), optional**

chocolate topping:
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coffee liqueur

1. Mix peanut butter and coconut oil together until smooth, using a rubber spatula.  Add honey and vanilla and stir until smooth.  Using a small ice cream scoop, divide among the 24 mini cupcake molds in a mini cupcake pan.  Put into the freezer for 20 minutes or so while you make the chocolate topping.

2. In a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stir chocolate, honey, vanilla and coffee liqueur with a wooden spoon until almost smooth.  Remove from the pot and set onto a hot pot holder while you continue to stir until completely smooth.

3. Remove mini cupcake pan from freezer and spoon chocolate mixture onto each peanut butter cup, smoothing a little with the back of a spoon.  Place back into the freezer until solid, about 20 minutes or more.

4. Remove with a spoon or butter knife.  They should pop out with a little elbow grease, as long as they are completely solid.  If they mush together at all, put them back into the freezer for a few minutes and try again.  Store in the freezer until you want to eat them.

5. To eat, I like to take a few out and let them rest on a plate for a few minutes to soften.  And, of course, my favorite way to eat them is with a cold glass of whole, raw milk.  Enjoy.

*You can use virgin coconut oil (which will taste like coconut), or expeller-pressed coconut oil (which will have neutral taste).  I prefer the expeller-pressed, but I have tried it both ways and the coconut flavor does work in this recipe.

**(I didn't add these, E can't chew them very well; he choked on a swiped cashew yesterday when I wasn't looking, scary!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My New Quest: Make My Own Candy for Christmas

I was at Trader Joe's today, one of my favorite places to go.  I had grand plans to buy some candies there to use for stocking stuffers.  I remembered from last year that there was a lot of variety.  So I was excited.  However, that did not pan out the way I wanted it to.

First of all, I could not find a single piece of chocolate without soy lecithin in it.  The reason I am avoiding soy is due to it's effect on hormone levels, not to mention it is usually genetically modified.  Then I looked at some jelly beans and cookies.  They contained soy flours, corn syrup, and soybean/sunflower/canola oils.  Is it so much to ask for foods made with recognizable ingredients?  I just want whole grain flour, butter, whole sugar, natural flavors.  Sheesh.

But then I remembered these chocolate macadamias sprinkled with sea salt from last year, which I have still not attempted.  But I did make peanut butter cups and coconut-chocolate mounds this year for Valentine's Day and they were wonderful.  I also have loved this coconut-orange fudge recipe.  At least I know I can make those from experience and try some new recipes too.  I can make a few kinds of candies and then put them in a cute package for each of our stockings.

I also have an excellent pair of shortbread recipes that I need to whip up.  It's a good thing I started sprouting some white wheat berries tonight.  I even found recipes for basic chocolate fudge, caramel corn, and these almond cookies!  Maybe something that looks similar to this Nature's Candy Box idea.  It really is worth it to me.  I'm going to do it, dammit!

I may even try to convert some of my old favorites into nourishing versions and see how it goes.  I really love these cookies, and these sugar cookies, and these peanut butter cup cookies, and these checkerboard cookies, and these mexican wedding cookies.  I want to have all of them again.  Wish me luck, I will be blogging my success!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Banishing Ceremony

(We are thrilled to announce that kmillecam has agreed to join Exponent as a new perma. Welcome! She is a feminist, dancer, reader, wife, liberal, real foodie, abuse survivor, activist, yogi, green, pilates-loving, EWG-reading mama.  Her two little boys keep her days busy, along with her quest for living life fully awake. In addition to guest posting at Doves & Serpents, and sharing here at The Exponent, she blogs about real food and abuse survivorship at her personal blog k-land.)
The day after the full moon, or the first day of the waning moon, is the day reserved for banishing rituals. It's a time to remove obstacles and release those patterns in our lives that no longer serve us.
I have been thinking about motherhood and the full moon. I feel the brokenness of my maternal line back to my ancestors, how my own mother is a void in my life. My grandmother died earlier this year. I sat on her grave a few weeks ago, under a tree, on the edge of the cemetery. I spoke to her and kissed the stone that covered her. I did sun salutations, felt the grass and the sun warming my face and torso. I cried, felt connected to her, all without any answers about the next life.
At Phoenix Youth at Risk we set soul-shaking goals.  My first goal was to do the Forgiveness Process with my father who sexually and physically abused me when I was a child.  After I completed that goal via several weeks preparation and a lot of outside support, I got to thinking about my mom.
My mom most likely suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder.  I had been so distracted by the obvious abuse in my life from my father, that I had not been able to understand why my own mother never knew how to love me.  Until now.  Why did she require my emotional sacrifice as she treated me like an appendage to her broken life?  Why couldn't I make her realize what she was doing to me, and what she continues to do?
On a weekend this past October, I decided it was time to have my banishing ceremony.  I did not banish my mother, I banished my toxic beliefs and patterns that I got from her.  The mother I have always wanted doesn’t exist. I released the fantasy of finding her. I let go of hoping she would change. I wanted no more expectations. I released and let go.
The night before my ceremony, I stood in the moonlight of my front yard for a solitary full moon ceremony.  I cried under the moon, my constant comfort in the sky.  I directed the energy from the moon to my heart center. I pressed my hands to my heart, and talked to the moon about how I wanted to feel right and focused during my banishing ceremony the following night. I realized then that even though my mom-link is missing in my life, the moon is always there. The Goddess is my source of strength. I am a goddess. The moon is my mother. I am a mother. I am a good mother.
My banishing ceremony the next day was beautiful.  I met with friends and family, most importantly my husband and children, to light candles to the four directions under the bright, misty moon.  We held hands and stood together in a circle.  I read my thoughts about my mother, and I offered up the papers of journaling I had been saving.  Everyone took a slip of paper to write a personal issue to release into the flame of the center candle.
We burned our conflicts, our negativity, our unhealthy attachments.  We healed together.  Since that night I have felt catharsis and emotional upheaval.  I feel so much better and yet I feel the exhaustion of healing from deep, emotional work.  I still think of the brick circle in my front yard I stood in alone under the full moon.  I still think of the circle we created under the waning moon at the park, as we held hands and listened to each other.
The circle is never-ending, reminding us of the cycle of life. My ceremony is over and the circle is undone, but never broken.

On Fat Acceptance

It remains a radical act to be a fat and happy woman in America. If you're fat, you're not only meant to be unhappy, but deeply ashamed of yourself, projecting at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of your everlasting remorse for having wrought your monstrous self upon the world. You are certainly not meant to be bold, or assertive, or confident—and should you manage to overcome the constant drumbeat of messages that you are ugly and unsexy and have earned equally society's disdain and your own self-hatred, should you forget your place and walk into the world one day with your head held high, you are to be reminded by the cow-calls and contemptuous looks of perfect strangers that you are not supposed to have self-esteem; you don't deserve it. Being publicly fat and happy is hard; being publicly, shamelessly, unshakably fat and happy is an act of both will and bravery.
--Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, on Fat Hatred
I am fat.  This is not my way of fishing for a compliment.  It is just the truth.  I have had two babies in five years and the second baby was nearly more than my body could handle.  Having my baby E caused my hormones to get imbalanced, which caused my adrenals and thyroid to work overtime, which caused my weight gain and subsequent inability to shed the pounds.  I did not know the cause at the time of my pregnancy.  I was very mystified when I would eat normal portions of food and still balloon out as if eating twice as much as usual.
I am very lucky to have found out the cause of my weight gain.  With increased awareness of my body, and by taking care to rebuild my adrenal and thyroid function, I have been able to drop a few pounds in the last month.  I have found that weight loss has to do with reducing my stress, eating healthy fats, mindfulness while eating a meal, and accepting who I am.
As I stayed fat for the last 2 years or so, I started to notice that I was being treated differently.  People seemed sorry for me that I was just so fat.  People seemed angry with me that I just could not lose that weight. People seemed to think that it was such a shame that I had so severe a personal failing that I couldn't starve myself enough to lose the baby weight within the acceptable time frame after giving birth to E.  I started to believe that something was wrong with me, that I really lacked self-control or I would be thin again.
But the bottom line is that I am still ME, fat or thin.  Realizing that I still had worth even though I am fat, has been a huge victory for me.  We are constantly bombarded with images of what is acceptable for women.  Fat men can be jolly, even sexy and desirable if they are funny and endearing.  But fat women are just gross.  They need to get their act together and start looking good again.  Fat women have no business being sexy, or wanting full relationships, or being happy.  Fat women are expected to hang their heads in shame that they dare to be fat without apologizing for it.
Being fat in society is not easy.  Thin privilege is all around us.  If you are thin, you enjoy the privilege of eating whatever you like without anyone commenting on your portions.  You can feel happy without anyone shaming you.  You can go to the doctor without being belittled for your mass.  You don't have to brace yourself for any dirty looks or comments when you eat food in public.  You don't have to defend your very existence in the face of outright hatred, simply because of how you look.
I hate how I am treated now that I am fat.  Remember, I have been thin before.  I know how differently I am treated now.  In my fat body is the same brain, the same personality, the same wit, the same capability that I have always had.  In fact, it is that brain and capability that has aided me in tenaciously figuring out my body in the face of so much disdain from the society around me.
In spite of being considered subhuman, I have learned to love myself now in all my fat gloryI will love myself when I am thin again too, albeit with a wiser understanding of the privilege it will bring.

(cross-posted at The Exponent)

Blogging at The Exponent

 I was recently added as a permablogger at The Exponent.  I am very happy with my monthly contribution on the schedule.  Go ahead, click the link and see my cute little kmillecam picture over there.  I'm so excited!

My first post was last month about My Banishing Ceremony.  And today was my second official blog post: On Fat Acceptance.  I was feeling particularly open and candid today when I wrote my essay.  So there I am, laying my (very tender) thoughts out.  So far so good.  I have been happy to read a lot of comments over there that are happy to be having a conversation about such an oft-overlooked subject.  Which is funny, because we all struggle in some way with body image.

My decision to permablog there has been a stretch for me.  I question my writing abilities, and it is hard for me to meet deadlines without feeling like I am incapable.  But after I made a goal to write more and commit myself to writing deadlines, the fear has gotten better.  Making a goal isn't something that I just think of either.  I'm talking sit-down-and-make-a-goal-by-writing-specifics-on-a-goal-sheet-in-a-Phoenix-Youth-At-Risk-way kind of a goal.  This kind of goal starts with a personal declaration, details daily and weekly steps, and outlines clear outcomes.  This kind of a goal should scare you a little, make you stretch, make you grow.  These goals, and the support of my PYAR community, have allowed me to approach some intense issues over the last several months.

One previous goal was to get a measure of catharsis with my mom.  I did that with my banishing ceremony, the same ceremony I blogged about here and on The Exponent for my perma debut.  Another previous goal was to do the forgiveness process with my dad.  I called him and forgave him for abusing me.  It was very powerful.  That was the first time this year that I thought about consciously facing fears. When I told her about this, a friend of mine said something I will never forget: "every time I notice that I am afraid to do something, I have to do it".

So that brings me to writing and blogging.  I fear rejection.  I don't want to be an out-of-practice stay-at-home mom trying to write, but failing.  But then I realized that in order to write well...I have to write!  Now I have embraced writing.  I will blog at The Exponent once a month.  I will continue to blog here and work on clarity and quality.  I will even write for the Exponent publication and have my name in print.  This is all part of my grand plan to return to school and my career path when E gets a bit older.

So, go and read my feminist thoughts at The Exponent.  Maybe you can comment and let me know what you think. :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things M Says (Part 35)

earlier today, for the millionth time:

M: "Mom, we're going to make popsicles, right?"
me: "No, and if you say 'popsicles' again you will go to time out.  Don't ask me again."

just now:

M (very concerned and upset): "Mom.  I feel like saying 'popsicles' again."
me, bursting out laughing: "It's okay buddy, I know you really really want to make them!  But we can't, we don't have frozen berries."
M (feeling much better after seeing me laugh): "Okay, we will make them another day." (and then, overcome with love and relief after realizing, again, that I'm not mad) "Mom, I love you SO MUCH!"

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I've lost...

...8 pounds since starting my Eat Fat, Lose Fat goal.  When I started this goal in September, I think I was eating too much food for my body to shed extra pounds.  So I have shaved each meal down a little, paying closer attention to when I am full.  The reduced calories allow me to feel hungry between meals, something I am learning to even enjoy.  By the time I am hungry, boil water to melt my 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, take the coconut oil "tea", and then wait 20 minutes to eat my meal, I am already slowing down more than I used to to really think about what I am going to eat, and how much.

This mindfulness has come hand in hand with increased meditation and self-awareness.  Savoring the textures and flavors of my meal is more pleasant now that I am not rushing through it.  When you have little boys you are watching over at home, it's easy to get caught in the hurry hurry hurry of keeping them on time to school, fed, dressed, and happy.  I am finding more quiet moments with them, where I am not off to the next thing, but simply being with them.

I don't finish my food if I am not hungry.  I save it for the next meal, which helps me feel good about myself, frugal, and not wasteful.  I am more in touch with how my body is feeling, what I really need.  I have to believe that this will also affect my adrenals and thyroid.

My body has gotten to a point after three pregnancies, two births, 2 full years of breastfeeding, reaching 30, dealing with PTSD from my abusive childhood, and stress where my adrenals and thyroid are barely hanging on.  My hormone levels are all wacky, I am tired all the time, I cannot lose weight with normal eating, and I do not feel like myself.  However, after nearly one year of real food, I think I am finally starting to heal.

It was last December that I was going to wean E, because the thought of pumping my breastmilk and feeding him bottles beyond his first birthday was simply more than I could emotionally handle.  I had read Nourishing Traditions, and I knew what our food should be like; but it's difficult to change all your habits at once.  Knowing that real food commitment would help the health of the whole family (but especially E with his health problems) was the push I needed.

Fortunately, I was one year ago when I was ready to fully embrace real food-dom.  We started buying raw milk, switched to only grass-fed and pastured meats, dairy, cheese, butter and eggs, took cod liver oil every day, soaked our grains, and even started eating organ meats (liver, yum!).  We kept eating our local, organic produce, remaining supportive of our AZ farmers and sustainably-minded.  It hasn't been that hard, I promise :)

So now I am looking at this December, knowing so much more about what is going on inside my body than I ever have before.  I hope to continue slowly dropping pounds as my adrenals and thyroid heal.  I am reading a book about how to heal adrenal fatigue and thyroid problems called The Mood Cure.  I was already doing a lot of things right, but with the help of the book I have been able to pinpoint what specific symptoms I have.  For example, by taking 5-HTP this week my mood has improved and my energy levels are up.

As I read it seems that a lot of my questions are finding answers.  More on that to come as I blog more this week about adrenal fatigue and thyroid function.  For today simply celebrate my 8-pound-loss victory with me!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Antibiotics Perspective

If you can manage, try not to take antibiotics.  It's better for your immune system to fight off infection by itself.  I have heard it explained like this: when we take antibiotics for every sickness, we are trading the long term benefit of a healthy immune system for the short term benefit of feeling better "today".  You should be able to manage avoiding antibiotics generally if you eat well, sleep well, and make your health a priority.  

For example, I have daily: fermented cod liver oil, raw B vitamin complex, 5-HTP, maca root, local and pastured eggs, raw and whole milk, Kerrygold butter, fresh produce, lacto-fermented veggies (pickles, carrots, sauerkraut), raw cheese, kefir water, kvass, and some kind of pastured or grass-fed meat.

But sometimes you can't keep your immune system up, no matter your attention to diet, exercise, stress and sleep.  And sometimes it doesn't matter how many probiotics you take or eat, it's not enough to fight off infection.  I eat very well, and I make sleep and health a priority.  But I still got VERY sick over the weekend.

I try to always remind myself that there are many variables at play when it comes to optimum health.  Environmental toxins around me that can take their toll, from plastics to pollution.  Generations of family before me ate margarine, Crisco, lots of vegetable oils (canola, safflower, soybean), battery chickens, white flour, white sugar, CAFO beef and pork, and believed that saturated fat was "bad".  The last two or three generations have been fed these kinds of lies for years now.

I had been taking care of a sick M for 5 days when I got sick.  Couple that with my recent hormone, adrenal, and thyroid issues, and being a little more stressed than usual by making pies and such for Thanksgiving, and I came down with a sore throat.

That sore throat was brutal, but I fought it off after three days.  I felt better for several hours, but that night I came down with a very painful ear infection, with a bit of hearing loss, and tender mastoid bones (behind the ear).  I fought that off after a day or so, but then I relapsed again with renewed throat pain, and now two sore ears with hearing loss and a LOT of pressure and pain in the mastoid area.  Here I was on day five, backsliding and in as much pain as when I was in labor with E.

Full disclosure, I was mad that I couldn't fight this off.  I had done everything I could think of to combat my sickness.  I went to bed early, I took care of my stress levels, I used my neti pot three times a day, I drank mullein tea, I drank fenugreek tea, I put coconut oil in my ears, I gargled with salt water three times a day, I took Emergen-C, I took extra cod liver oil, vitamin C, B complex, maca root, zinc, I drank extra kefir and water, I washed my hands and took warm showers.  But it wasn't enough.  I almost fought it off twice, but it wasn't quite enough.

I admit that I cried quite a few times as I waited for my pain relievers to kick in on Sunday, and hoped I would make it to Monday and feel a miraculous change.  Instead, I was up all night in pain waiting to go to the doctor at the crack of dawn to break down and beg for antibiotics and narcotics.  Yes, it was that bad.

So I did.  By the time I got my hands on antibiotics, pseudoephedrine (yes, it was that bad), and acetaminophen with codeine (again, yes, it was THAT bad), I was still unable to move for about 8 hours after taking my first dose.  Every time I moved my head would throb and I would weep from how painful it was.  My saint of a MIL came over to clean my kitchen, make us dinner, and take M to the doctor (he was diagnosed with strep throat and had also started to backslide like I was.)  We were a sorry lot yesterday.

Antibiotics are truly amazing.  I am a different person today than I would have been without them.  I could have been hospitalized if I didn't get this infection under control.  Keep that in mind when you try to avoid antibiotics, and don't take it too far.  Sometimes your body loses the battle, and you need a little help.  Just make sure to have lots of probiotic food during and after your round of antibiotics.  I am eating a lot of naturally fermented pickles, and drinking the juice to boot!  I am also trying to drink lots of of kvass and kefir, more than I usually do.

I feel so much better, and I'm happy to have the wisdom of both modern medicine and the traditional, whole foods of my ancestors.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Real Jumbleberry Pie

I made my sprouted flour pie crusts last week, the recipe is here.  I pulled some out of the freezer this morning, rolled them out and made my favorite pie: jumbleberry.  Enjoy!

Jumbleberry Pie Filling

Mix together:
5 cups of berries--I eyeballed equal amounts of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
3/4 cup rapadura (or Sucanat, maple sugar, palm sugar)
1/3 cup sprouted wheat flour
2 tsp. lemon zest (optional) (I forgot this)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When ready to roll out, pull ONE flattened ball out of fridge and roll on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Have your pie dish ready so you can properly estimate how large to roll your dough. When dough round is the right size, use your rolling pin to move it by rolling your dough around the rolling pin like a scroll and gently transferring it to unroll over the dish. Ease it into the dish and press down flush.
2. Pour filling into pie. Set aside.
3. Take out remaining ball of pie dough from fridge. Roll out on a floured surface, not as big as the last round since it only needs to be on top of the pie. Transfer over to filled pie. Press edges together with fingers. Cut excess off of edges of pie with a sharp knife. Press edges again with a fork, dipped in a little flour if sticking to pie dough edge. Poke decorative holes into top of pie with sharp knife. Brush entire top of pie with whole milk. Sprinkle with coarse sugar (I used a little turbinado sugar I am trying to get rid of; you could use rapadura, but it would look darker). Cover edges with foil to prevent over-browning.
4. Bake for 25-50 minutes, longer for frozen berries. Then remove foil and let bake completely uncovered for another 20-30 minutes or so until the pie looks perfectly brown. Cool on a wire rack.
(Serve with real whipped cream sweetened with rapadura, or homemade vanilla ice cream made with raw milk and raw cream. Yum!!!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pie Crust

It's that time of year to make pie!  Complete with rapadura instead of sugar and sprouted wheat flour instead of white flour, this pie crust is a hit among the my family, even those not avoiding sugar or white flour. 

I say this is a nourishing pie because if you buy grass-fed butter (like Kerrygold) it is full of vitamin K2. You can google vitamin K2 and get a lot of information about it, but I like these two links here (basic K2 info) and here (list of vitamin K2-rich foods).

The rapadura is full of nutrients because it is the only form of sugar processed without ever being separated from the molasses. It is considered a whole food.

Sprouted flour is neutralized of it's phytic acid, so you can absorb all the good trace elements in the grain like calcium, magnesium, etc. You can buy sprouted flour or make your own.

Double Pie Crust

3 cups sprouted wheat flour
3 and 1/4 sticks (26 Tablespoons) of grass-fed butter, cut into small pieces, very cold, preferably straight from the fridge
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons rapadura (or Sucanat, maple sugar, palm sugar)
3/4 cup ice water

1. Make pie dough: Mix flour, salt and sugar with a whisk in a bowl to sift.
2. Take butter out of the fridge and sprinkle small pieces over flour mixture. Using a combination of a pastry cutter and your hands (or just your hands), cut in the butter until the crumbs are between the size of peas and olives. You can also use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or a food processor.  Add ice water a little at a time, blending with your hands, until the dough comes together.
3. Lay out two pieces of plastic wrap and put half of your pie dough on each. Using your hands and the plastic wrap, form each pile into a ball, then flatten into a disk and wrap up tightly. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Or, store in the freezer up to a month.  To use, transfer to the refrigerator a few hours before you want to roll it out and use it.

Vote NO on S. 510

The FDA already wields too much power.  In theory, they could use that power to protect our rights to good, whole, raw, local, organic, traditional foods.  Instead, they let the money talk. They support the interests of Monsanto and other huge companies who tend to screw up basic foods like meat and eggs.  Remember all those meat recalls?  Remember when that dirty-egg company got away with dangerous safety standards?  We, as consumers, pay the price.

The FDA should be protecting our interests, but they do not.  Don't be fooled by their doublespeak as they talk about "food safety".  We know the truth.  When we can talk to the farmers we buy food from, we have control over what we put into our bodies.  If that option is taken away, we have no choice but to wonder if the eggs at the supermarket are dangerous.  We don't know where they came from, and the FDA has shown no interest in making sure large food corporations pay the price for their bad food.

Urge your senators to vote NO on S. 510.  Urge your state representatives to vote NO on S. 510.

If this bill passes, your local foods sources will be hit.  Have you noticed that the real food movement has been gaining momentum?  We consumers have been demanding better food.  We have been demanding to know where it comes from, and if good practices are in place.  Don't let the FDA take that from us.  It's our right. It will only take a few minutes to write a small paragraph or two to your state senators and representatives.  We will rise up!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lunch: Green Salad w/ Leftover Chicken, Tomato, Onion, Kefir

I didn't get hungry for lunch until nearly noon, and then I was busy so I didn't take my coconut oil until closer to one.  Then I made this salad, poured my kefir, and by then I wasn't starving anymore.  I ate my salad calmly and now I sit here satiated but with fewer calories in my belly than usual.  I hope this works and I start losing some pounds again.

Coconut Oil: 2 tablespoons taken in hot water with squeeze of orange.

  • 2 cups greens, 1/2 cup leftover shredded chicken, one diced tomato, 1/4 - 1/2 diced onion, 2 tablespoons Basic Salad Dressing
  • 1 cup strawberry water kefir

Water Kefir

Water Kefir
1 package hydrated kefir grains
1/2 cup organic sugar
1-2 tablespoons molasses
1 pastured egg shell, rinsed clean
1 cup diced fruit

Note: do not use tap water, it will kill your kefir grains; do not use Brita water, it doesn't remove flouride and other toxins that can kill your kefir grains

1. Fill a half gallon glass jar with filtered water.  Now pour a little of the water out into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn off heat and add sugar to boiling water, stirring until sugar dissolves, and then pour sugar-water back into the jar to fill it up again.  
2. Add molasses to the jar of water and stir with a wooden spoon to mix in.  Gently add water kefir grains and egg shell.
3. Cover with a dish towel or cheesecloth to keep out dust and bugs and so the kefir can breathe.
4.  Let sit on the counter for 1-2 days.  Then, pour contents through a strainer into a new jar.  Discard egg shell.  Reuse kefir grains for your next batch.
5.  With the strained kefir in the new jar, you can now choose a fruit to flavor the kefir.  I like using strawberries.  Add diced fruit to kefir jar, cover again, and let sit at room temperature for 1 more day.
6.  Remove cover and replace with a screw top lid.  Leave at room temperature for a couple of hours to build up fizziness.  Place in refrigerator to stop the fermentation process.

Breakfast: Fried Egg, Bacon, Orange, Milk

In my previous post I mentioned that I haven't been losing weight the last few weeks. The recipes I have posted from Eat Fat, Lose Fat so far on k-land have been Phase 1 recipes, so today I am starting to post Phase 2 recipes.  Breakfast isn't so much a recipe as a list of foods.

Coconut Oil and FCLO (taken 20 minutes before breakfast): 2 tablespoons coconut oil taken in hot water and a squeeze of orange, and 2 capsules fermented cod liver oil.

  • 1 fried egg
  • 2 slices nitrate-free, pastured bacon (Trader Joe's carries uncured (nitrate-free) Niman Ranch (pastured) bacon for $4.69/12 oz.--it's the best deal I have found)
  • 1/2 grapefruit w/ Coconut Sprinkles (I had a plain orange instead)
  • one cup raw, whole milk
I was worried that I would be hungry and grouchy after eating less in the morning, but this has been a pretty good breakfast.  I wasn't feeling hungry until about noon, so that was a nice surprise.

(I did end up being grumpy, but that is more to do with my crazy morning.  I drove all over the place to get R somewhere and then to work, pick up my Azure Standard order that was a day late due to truck trouble, and pick up raw milk, all while getting M to and from school on time.  Argh!)

Moving to Phase 2

Phase 2 recipes in Eat Fat, Lost Fat are slightly lower in calories, but still offer nutrients and healthy fats.  Since I have plateaued and even gained a pound or two the last couple of weeks, I have decided that it is time.  Phase 1 didn't cut it, so Phase 2 here I come!  I will NOT be keeping this baby weight on any more, I'm done.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lunch: Green Salad w/ Chicken, Strawberries, Milk

I haven't posted any recipes lately, because I have been recycling through many of them I have already posted here.  But today I can put up my lunch because it was so easy.  I'll get around to posting last night's roast chicken over onions and potatoes later :)

Coconut Oil and FCLO: two tablespoons taken melted in hot water and lemon, two capsules fermented cod liver oil (because I forgot at breakfast!)

  • Leftover Vegetable Soup (will post recipe tomorrow)
  • Green Salad with Leftover Roast Chicken, shredded raw cheddar, celery, carrots, and Homemade Basic Dressing
  • Handful of strawberries
  • Beet Kvass
  • Raw Milk
Green Salad w/ Leftover Chicken
serves one
handful salad greens
one carrot, peeled and sliced
one rib celery, sliced
leftover chicken, shredded
handful shredded cheese
Basic Salad Dressing

1. Layer in a bowl: greens, carrots and celery, chicken, cheese, dressing.  Salad for one, real food style!

Beet Kvass

Beet Kvass
2-4 beets, peeled, and cut in a large dice
1/4 cup whey
1 tablespoon sea salt

1. Place beets into a half gallon glass jar.  They should fill the jar about 1/3 of the way up.  Add whey and salt.  Add water to fill the jar.  
2.  Cover with a cloth to keep bugs and dust out, leave at room temperature for 2 days.  
3.  Using a strainer, remove diced beets from kvass.  Then using a screw top lid, transfer to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process.

Basic Salad Dressing

Basic Salad Dressing

1 cup olive oil (I use Chaffin Family Farms from CA, it's very mild and buttery)
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg's)
1 teaspoon onion powder
2-3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon sea salt (I use Celtic Grey Sea Salt)

1.  Add ingredients in order to a jar or salad dressing shaker.  Shake together to emulsify and pour over salads.  Store in the refrigerator.

Rogue Cinema: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I am crazy about this new website called Doves & Serpents.  The pictures and posts are beautiful and thoughtful.  The writers are amazing, and the comments are always fun to read.  I love it over there!

I especially love their Rogue Cinema column on Fridays.  A movie schedule is up so that you can watch a film every Friday and then read and comment on the film's review.  I suggested we watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in comments, one of my favorite films of all time.  Lo and behold, I was asked to write the review myself.  How exciting!

Yesterday I finished my contribution, and this morning it went up officially.  I love cultivating my writing this way.  It's fun, and I push myself at the same time.

You can read my review here: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Please go comment so I don't go crazy wondering why no one is commenting :D

Monday, November 08, 2010

Real Food Media Keeps Getting Hacked

I usually have a Real Food Media widget over on the right sidebar of my blog.  But this morning I was told to take it down because hackers have attacked Real Food Media for the fourth time in the last few weeks.  Ann Marie over at CHEESESLAVE is the major force behind the Real Food Media machine.  I really feel for her as she has been dealing with this the last several weeks.  The real food movement won't be derailed, we will keep going.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Pumpkin Cake with Sweetened Cream and Chopped Hazelnuts

I made this pumpkin cake last Tuesday, because I just HAD to have something pumpkiny.  It fit the bill!

Pumpkin Cake

2 sticks unsalted grass-fed butter, softened, plus more for baking dish
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon (non-aluminum) baking powder
1 teaspoon (non-aluminum) baking soda
2 cups whole cane sugar (or other whole sweetener like palm sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar, etc.)
4 large pastured eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree 
1 cup warmed milk

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a large 9 X 13 pan, then flour the pan with more sprouted flour and tap out excess.  (You could also use two round cake pans, or two square cake pans.)  Set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda using a whisk.  Set aside.
3.  Place softened 1 cup of butter in a bowl of a stand mixer.  Add sugar and mix on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add pumpkin puree and milk.  Mix in reserved dry ingredients on low.  Mix until just combined.
4.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes.  Place cake on cooking rack and let rest 20 minutes.  
5.  Serve with whipped cream sweetened with a little rapadura or stevia powder (make sure your stevia powder is green; if it's white it is too processed), and a sprinkling of soaked, dehydrated, roasted and chopped hazelnuts.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (Homemade Nutella-type Spread!)

Okay, so I have wanted to make chocolate hazelnut spread for a long time.  I don't like that Nutella has sugar in it, nor milk powder and soy lecithin.  Plus, I like soaking my nuts before I eat them, that way the enzyme inhibitors are neutralized and they are much easier to digest.

Soaked, Dehydrated, and Roasted Hazelnuts

4 cups raw, organic hazelnuts
sea salt
filtered water

1.  Get out a large glass jar and fill halfway with filtered water.  Add 2 tablespoons sea salt and stir with a wooden spoon.  Add hazelnuts and cover with a cloth or coffee filter.  Let sit at room temperature overnight.
2.  The next day, pour out water and put hazelnuts onto a baking sheet or dehydrator sheet.  If using a dehydrator, dry at low heat, less than 150 degrees.  You can do this in the oven if you oven will set a temperature that low.  Or you can set it as low as possible and open the oven every now and then to let the temperature drop.  Dehydrate either way for 12 hours or more, until the nuts are nice and dry and crisp.  How do you know they're done?  Taste one!

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

2 cups (soaked, dehydrated, and roasted) hazelnuts, cooled
1/2 cup raw honey
1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Homemade vanilla
1 teaspoon coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, gently melted (I used expeller-pressed so there is no coconut flavor)

1.  Place hazelnuts, honey, cocoa powder, vanilla, coffee liqueur, and sea salt to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Then turn on the processor and add melted coconut oil in a slow, steady stream.  Add more or less coconut oil depending on the consistency you want.  Serve.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Go-To Meal: Homemade Chicken Soup (with or without Dumplings)

When we all got sick, this was the obvious choice for dinner.  The soup simmers all day, ready for dinner that night.  This is perfect when you don't mind if the stove heats up your house.  Plus, if you simmer a pastured chicken all day, the resulting broth is full of nutrients from all the minerals in the bones and organs.

Even in Arizona, we have had a few days where we can simmer soup all day.  This is my tried and true recipe that I have been making for a few years now.

Homemade Chicken Soup
1 whole pastured chicken including neck and giblets, preferably with head and feet still attached (I can't find heads and feet for a good price around here, so I omit)
2 onions, large diced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
5 ribs celery, including leaves, sliced
2-3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
1-2 bay leaves
1 bunch parsley, finely minced
sea salt and pepper

For the Dumplings/Noodles:
sprouted whole grain flour
1 pastured egg
olive oil or Mary's Oil Blend
garlic powder
onion powder
sea salt and pepper

1.  Remove bag of giblets from the cavity of the chicken.  Rinse chicken in cold water and then place into a large stockpot or large Dutch oven.  Add giblets to the pot carefully.  Add head and feet if you have them and they are separate from the chicken body.  Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Cover chicken and vegetables with cold filtered water, leaving at least an inch below the top of the pot.  Add apple cider vinegar and let stand at room temperature for one hour.  (The vinegar draws the minerals out of the bones of the chicken.)

2.  Turn on burner under the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to keep soup at a simmer.  Add bay leaves and salt and pepper.  Let simmer all day long, preferably 8 hours or more.  (Try and start the pot very early in the morning to time it right).

3.  About an hour before you want to serve the soup, remove chicken from the pot, along with giblets and head and feet.  Discard the feet and head and giblets.  Remove chicken meat from the bones and discard the bones.  Cut chicken meat into cubes, or shred with a fork and then return to the pot.  Add half of the minced parsley to the pot, cover and keep simmering while you make the dumplings/noodles.

4.  Make dumplings/noodles.  Combine one cup of flour and the egg in a small bowl.  Add a few tablespoons of oil and mix with a spoon until a dough forms.  Add seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.  For a simple version of the soup, use a small ice cream scoop to drop spoonfuls of dough into the simmering soup to make dumplings.  For a fancier version, or if you like the shape of flat noodles, roll out the dough and cut into small strips with a knife or pizza cutter to make noodles.  Drop into the soup a few at a time to keep them from sticking together.

5.  The dumplings/noodles cook up in only a few minutes.  Try one and see if the texture is what you like.  Serve immediately with homemade crackers floating on top, or with buttered sourdough toast.  Either way, use the remaining minced parsley to sprinkle on the soup for a fresh herb flavor.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday by Kelly The Kitchen Kop.