The Ten Week Challenge Syllabus

I walked people through a ten week challenge, using the following syllabus.

Week 1 - Sugar-free
Week 2 - Whole grains
Week 3 - Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats
Week 4 - Raw dairy
Week 5 - The microwave
Week 6 - Fats and oils
Week 7 - Cultured and fermented foods
Week 8 - Local and organic produce
Week 9 - Processed foods
Week 10 - Implementing lifestyle changes

Visit my Recipe Index over at Going Green in a Pink World.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Week 7 lives on...

I've fallen off the proverbial turnip truck in terms of blogging. Please forgive me. I have been cooking easy favorites, and eating lots of salads with roasted beets (I still have 8 left in the fridge from my Lambert's run last week). Grades closed this week, I got my first grad school rejection, and I've been feeling a bit of the winter blues. That said, stay encouraged, and eat real food. I will be back soon with a few fermented recipes!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Week 7: Fermentation


............................My fermented vegetable collection...........................
From left top: Red peppers, pearl onions, ketchup, ginger carrots, coconut chutney
Left bottom: Beet kvass, sauerkraut, black beans, sweet potato

I hated science class from about fifth grade on. I thought it was either irrelevant or disgusting, or both. If I could pull a Billy Madison, I'd go back in a heart beat though. Science fascinates me, and I'd love another chance to participate in a science fair to compare the effects of temperature and time (and music?!) on fermentation. Or something cool like that. But alas, I'll just have to ferment in the kitchen and hope for the best! This week's, and next week's posts most probably, will hopefully bring out the scientist in you. I'm not going to say it's easy, or you can't mess it up - because it's not, and you just may. What I will say is that fermenting foods gives me such satisfaction, that I think it's definitely worth the extra jars and uncertainty lingering around the kitchen.

What IS Fermentation?
Quite simply, it's a chemical change brought about by yeast, bacteria, and/or mold. People have used fermentation for centuries to preserve their food. Many familiar foods are, or were at one time, fermented, including wine and beer, cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, ketchup (from the Chinese word for fish brine!), and pickles!

Why Should I Ferment?
Let's face it - we spend a good deal of time focusing on our outward appearance. Some more than others, but regardless, I'd bet we all spend more energy on our outward appearance than we do considering what we look like on the inside. Our gut is home to over 200 species of bacteria - microbes help break down the food in our intestines, aiding digestion, fighting off disease (sauerkraut was given to sailors to prevent scurvy), and boosting our immune systems. Maintaining a balance in our intestinal flora is key to our health. If we feed our bodies hard to digest (read: dead and fake) items, fermentation will occur in our bodies, leading to gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and in the long term, possibly diseases and cancer. However, we can also provide our bodies with predigested foods, in the form of fermented goodies, to assist that lovely colony of microbes living under our skin.

Fermentation does more than just preserve food: it increases nutrients, including B vitamins in milk and vitamin C in fermented veggies. It also increases the bioavailability of these vitamins. You may have even heard of some of our microbial friends. Lactobacilli have gained popularity through yogurts like Activia and DanAlive, which both tout the probiotic, or "good bacteria" that the strands of lactobacilli provide. Now, you could just buy a bottle of probiotic pills and be done with it, but you know I'm not going to let you off that easily. The name of this blog is, after all, REAL food. Stay tuned for a post weighing the pros and cons of commercial probiotics, as well as some "How-Tos!"

Fermented Recipes
Coconut Chutney
Kefir
Dosas
Ginger Carrots
Fish Sauce and Ketchup
Beet Kvass
More to come!!

Resources
Wild Fermentation - Includes recipes, FAQs and more!
Fermentation is fun!
Lacto-fermentation

Friday, February 20, 2009

Week 6: Coconut Oil



Coconut oil is my new favorite. Just to prove it, I took out my coconut staples and had a little photo shoot with them. The large one gallon tub is coconut oil, which I buy at Mountain Rose Herbs. There's coconut milk, shredded coconut, coconut chutney, and nut butter in the pic too. I use almost all of these on a regular basis. I take a tablespoon of the oil in my tea in the morning; I add it to my smoothies; I bake with it; I use it as a facial moisturizer; it's become my only hair product; I sprinkle flakes on my yogurt and in my applesauce; I make yummy dishes with the milk - and on, and on. Coconut is rich in lauric acid, which has anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties. Lauric acid, an immune booster, cannot be produced by the liver, but is only present in mother's milk, coconut oil, palm oil, and in small amounts, butterfat. READ: this stuff keeps you healthy! Coconut oil can also help you lose weight and speed up your metabolism. Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon wrote a book detailing everything you ever wanted to know and more, all about coconut oil and fats, called Eat Fat, Lose Fat. It's a must read!

There are endless reasons that you should incorporate coconut oil, and coconut products in general, into your diet. I could rewrite them all in this post, or I could stop here, and just give a few links to check out yourself. I think I'll do the latter. =)

Scientific research on the benefit of coconut oil

Losing weight with coconut oil

Scroll down right past the "Coming Soon!", and you'll see Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Coconut Carnival has a host of coconut inspired reader recipes

Concise benefits of coconut oil

And Gayle, I've been looking into the refined versus unrefined issue, and all that I've been able to uncover is that refined doesn't have the coconut scent/flavor, but nutritionally, they are very similar! Do make sure you buy from a reputable source though. =)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Week 7 News

The weeks are flying by, and I haven't been able to do as many informational postings as I would have liked. So, this coming week and next (the weeks of February 22nd and March 1st), I'm going to call "Week 7," which means no new menu. I'm already anticipating that report cards are due soon, and I want to make sure I am thorough with fermentation, (which I have been doing quite a bit of after that crazy trip to Lambert's!). Just so we are clear, there will be NO menu for the week of March 1st, but instead, I'll be trying to sneak in a few extra postings.

Also, I'd like to hear where everyone is in their work to reach their goals. Please let me know how I can best help you! We are more than half way done with the challenge, so I want to make sure your needs are met. I'll be posting a survey soon, and completion of it will be the entry for our next Free Friday Giveaway! Oh, and congratulations to NewLife who won an Empanada dinner, made and delivered today. Apparently she and her loved ones ate it right up!

Week 7: Shopping List

These weeks are flying by! Here's your list for week 7. If you're going to try to make some of the fermented foods, you may want to purchase or obtain some wide mouth mason jars with banded lids.

Meat
3 lbs ground beef (half if you aren't freezing left over meatballs)
2-3 chicken breasts


Produce
1 bag small onions (about 6)
1lb bag carrots
1 red, 2 green peppers
spinach
1 sweet potato
garlic
eggplant
3 zucchini
bananas
1 lemon
1 1/2 pounds of potatoes
1 large rutabaga
1-2 turnips
1 head lettuce
1 c peas

Canned or Dried Items
1 can coconut milk
rice (1 c)
lentils (2 c)
millet or millet flour
anchovies
2 can crushed or "kitchen ready" tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 c shredded coconut

Dairy
cage free eggs
plain yogurt (Seven Stars Farm, Hawthorne Family Farm)
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
raw cheese for pizza


Other staples
coconut oil (favorite source - Mountain Rose Herbs: $41 for 1 gallon of unrefined or $22 for refined, which will last forever!)

spices: thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, basil, bay leaf, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander seeds

You'll also need, but probably have on hand -

beef stock
1/2 c red wine
bread crumbs
olive oil
whole wheat flour
milk

Week 7: Menu

This week's challenge is to incorporate some lacto-fermented foods into your diet. I'm challenging everyone to make at least one NEW fermented food this week. (If you're a kefir brewer, try something else!)

I've decided to post a list for you to choose from, rather than a weekly menu (as it seems most people are picking and choosing anyway!!) All of the meals will include enough for two nights' dinners, for two people, so you'll be preparing dinner just three evenings (or if you're like me, all in one day to minimize cooking!). Adjust recipes accordingly if you are cooking for more than two.


Features

When necessary, prepare these early in the week so you have them on hand for recipes and munching!

Bread - No Knead Bread (includes a fermentation time!)

Soup - Coconut Chicken or Chicken Rice
Snack - Dosas

Must-Make Recipe of the Week: Coconut Chutney

MENU
Breakfasts
Omlettes

Oatmeal (feel free to substitute other grains for the oats: millet, buckwheat, wheat berries, rye, or a combination!)

Blender Pancakes or Waffles (these can be easily reheated in a small toaster oven)


Lunches
Caesar Salad with sauteed or baked chicken strips

Tuna sandwich on sourdough with a cup of soup

Yogurt Dough Pizza - use a few cups of the sauce from the Meatball dinner, raw cheese, and whatever toppings you can find! You can make this over the weekend and take slices for lunch throughout the week.

Dinner
Indian Vegetable Medley with dosas

Root Vegetable Cobbler with Millet Dumplings

Meatballs and Tomato Sauce (goes perfectly with no knead bread!)


Snacks
Butternut Squash fries

Peanut Butter Cups (Mark and I have eaten about a dozen of these...each...in two days!)

Power Bars

Crispy or sprouted nuts


Natural yogurt (no added sugars or "vitamins") with unsweetened coconut, soaked nuts, and cocoa powder

Hummus with veggies or crackers

Homemade popcorn, popped on stove in coconut oil

celery with all natural peanut butter and raisins

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Three Types of Fats

You've heard all the hype about the "good" fats, like those found in nuts, avocados, and olive oil. Well, I'd like to give you a brief run-down of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. My own diet consists of mostly saturated fats, including coconut oil, butter, and animal fats, with some monounsaturated fats in the form of nuts and olive oil salad dressings, and zero unnatural polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated Fats

Common Types:Animal fats and tropical oils (palm, coconut)

Uses: Baking, sauteing, and topically

Structure:Stable, and solid, making them useful for high temperature cooking

Health Benefits: Numerous; Good for chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, mood swings, thyroid imbalance, food cravings, gallbladder ailments, bacterial infections, fungal issues, digestive problems, gas and bloating, skin problems (eczema), wrinkles, dandruff, protects liver against toxins, like tylenol...

Drawbacks: They've been vilified by the media and the FDA for decades.

Notes: Fifty percent of our cell membranes are made of saturated fat. Because of their solid nature, they give stiffness and integrity to our cells, and some say even prevent saggy, wrinkly skin. Dr. Mary Enig even recommends including coconut oil in the diet to combat cellulite! An article in the Food Lipids and Bone Health journal claims that in order for calcium to be properly assimilated into our bones, our diet should consist of 50% saturated fat.


Monosaturated Fats

Common Types: Olive oil, sesame oil, nuts, avocados

Uses: Baking, stir frying, snacking and topically

Structure:Liquid at room temperature, solid when refrigerated

Health Benefits:Antioxidant rich, protects against cancer, contributes to healthy hair and skin

Drawbacks: You want to make sure that you're not heating the oils past their smoking point (which varies depending on how it's been processed). Once an oil is heated to its smoking point, the composition of the oil breaks down, leaving you with free radicals - the very thing you were hoping your anti-oxidant rich oil was protecting you against!! Because of this, I try to only use olive oil for stir frying and light sauteing. Check out this chart for a full list of smoking points.

If you use a lot of olive oil, it's important to understand the various terms:
* Extra-virgin: derived from the first pressing of the olives (has the most delicate flavor).
* Fine virgin: created from the second pressing of the olives.
* Refined oil: unlike extra-virgin and fine virgin olive oils, which only use mechanical means to press the oil, refined oil is created by using chemicals to extract the oil from the olives.
* Pure oil: a bit of a misnomer, it indicates oil that is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. (WHFoods)

Polyunsaturated Fats

Common Types:Industrial processed oils, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower, and vegetable; also, small amounts are found naturally in legumes, grains, nuts, green vegetables, fish, olive oil and animal fats

Uses: Stay away from unnatural sources of polyunsaturated fats if at all possible

Structure:Liquid

Health Benefits: ?? None that I can come up with.

Drawbacks: According to Dr. Mary Enig's well-researched article on fats,
"Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including increased cancer and heart disease; immune system dysfunction; damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs; digestive disorders; depressed learning ability; impaired growth; and weight gain."

The main issue with these fats is that free radicals are formed in the high temperature, high pressure processing, which leads to a host of issues as mentioned above. I recently looked at a bottle of Canola oil and was shocked to see that it was touting itself as "heart healthy" and "rich in Vitamin E". Perhaps it was rich in vitamin E at one point, but the processing renders these benefits unavailable to us. If that weren't reason enough, how about the hexane they use to extract the pulp from the seeds? Although most of it burns off, 100 parts per million can still remain. Eek! Just goes to show that money talks, and usually, it's not saying anything good...

For more information on Canola oil, check out this article. Enjoy your fats!

Week 6: Fats 101

This is the most challenging, and yet most crucial week, in my opinion. It's challenging because it flies in the face of what we've learned in school, messages from the media, and even our doctors' advice. My goal is to give you another point of view to consider, and my hope is that you will read this week's entries with an open mind. The majority of this information comes from the Weston A. Price website, and Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon

What is fat?
Simply, fats, also called lipids, are substances that don't dissolve in water. Generally, we call the solid substances fats, and the liquid substances oils. Lipids is the name for both kinds.

The Lipid Hypothesis
Many of us learned about the Lipid Hypothesis in school. The food pyramid has been structured around its presumptions. In the 1950s, a scientist named Ancel Keys developed a theory that the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet directly correlates with incidents of coronary heart disease. The logic is as follows:

Eat saturated fat and cholesterol, increase cholesterol in blood.
High Cholesterol in blood causes atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis causes heart disease.

Isn't that what's become common knowledge? "Don't eat too many eggs, too much red meat, bacon, cheese, whole milk, butter..." and on and on. Well, the Lipid Hypothesis doesn't stand on as much incontrovertible evidence as one would hope, considering an entire nation has built their food lifestyle around it. And yes, just a nation, and not the world. Our diet, called "SAD" (Standard American Diet), is considered to be just that - SAD! - to the majority of the world.

Ancel Keys was only one of a number of scientists who conducted a series of studies to explain a rapid rise in heart disease. In the early 1900s, less than 10 percent of the population died from heart disease. This number jumped to 30 percent in just a few decades. (It's now at 45% of all deaths today!!) Keys' peers had different opinions, and Dr. Dudley White, a well-known cardiologist of that era, pointed out that animal fats and butter consumption decreased during this time period, and margarine and vegetable oils more than tripled. Dr. White (who also happened to be President Eisenhower's physician), along with many others in the scientific community, was a proponent of going back to a more traditional diet, including meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. There were still others who backed Ancel Keys and pointed to work by a researcher named David Kritchevsky, who conducted a study using oxidized cholesterol and rabbits. He found that by injecting the rabbits with this cholesterol, they developed plaque in their arteries. This would have been a compelling study if not for two major flaws: one, the plaque the rabbits developed was different than that which develops in humans; and two, the cholesterol was not from a natural source, but rather was denatured through heavy processing, so the findings are not considered scientifically viable or relevant!

So Why Is The Lipid Hypothesis Still Kicking Around?!
By the 1970s, the powerful food industry had a food hold. The Lipid Hypothesis provided justification for the inclusion of cheap vegetable oils in processed foods (which were gaining popularity as both adults in the home began working - or the only adult in the home worked - and preparing food was no longer a luxury or a priority). Grants and funding were given to those whose research would support the use of processed vegetable oils, but scientists looking to investigate more traditional fats have consistently struggled to gain support for their work. Additionally, the multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry has been able to profit greatly from the idea that high cholesterol leads to heart disease. If the results from the International Atherosclerosis Project, published in Laboratory Investigations had been given the attention it deserved, perhaps we wouldn't need Big Pharma much at all. Researchers working on the project performed 22,000 autopsies on corpses from 14 nations. Their findings were remarkable. Despite the diet of the population - from vegetarian to those consuming high levels of animal products - they found the same levels of artery blockage in those who had LOW cholesterol as in those who had HIGH cholesterol, thus refuting the idea that high cholesterol causes heart disease.

There's study after study contradicting the lipid hypothesis. I'm not going to go through them all here, because others have done an excellent job compiling the information. If you're interested, check out Dr. Mary Enig's article, "The Skinny on Fats."

So What Does This Mean for Me?
Well, I'm hoping you'll consider adding some more fats to your diet. Stay tuned for posts on the three types of fats!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Week 6: Shopping List

We'll be learning about the benefits of coconut oil, butter, and ::gasp:: lard! So if you don't have coconut oil already, I suggest you buy a small jar of unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil.

Meat
1.5 pounds of stewing beef, hormone free
4 pork chops, organic
1 lb turkey breast for lunches (Applegate Farms is a great brand - but anything that is nitrate, nitrite free is good!)
1.5 pounds shrimp (jumbo would be great...but do as $$ permits)
6 chicken breasts (for 6 servings)


Produce
1 bag small onions (about 6)
2lb bag carrots
greens (chard, kale, spinach, or broccoli)
garlic
1 lime
bananas
frozen berries
1 red, 1 green pepper
lemon
red or green cabbage
cucumber
green onions
3 apples
ginger

Canned or Dried Items
2 cans tomato paste
1 c freshly ground peanut butter
oats
tamari (soy sauce)
shredded coconut
rice vinegar (not absolutely necessary, but helpful to have)

Dairy
cage free eggs
naturally sweetened or plain yogurt (Seven Stars Farm, Hawthorne Family Farm)
1 c creme fraiche
1/2 c Parmesan cheese


Other staples
coconut oil (favorite source - Mountain Rose Herbs: $41 for 1 gallon of unrefined or $22 for refined, which will last forever!)

spices: turmeric, cumin, cardamom, sage, fenugreek seeds, paprika, curry, cinnamon

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Week 6: Menu

This week's challenge is to start incorporating good fats into your diet, and reduce the bad ones.

I've decided to post a list for you to choose from, rather than a weekly menu (as it seems most people are picking and choosing anyway!!) All of the meals will include enough for two nights' dinners, for two people, so you'll be preparing dinner just three evenings (or if you're like me, all in one day to minimize cooking!). Adjust recipes accordingly if you are cooking for more than two.


Features

When necessary, prepare these early in the week so you have them on hand for recipes and munching!

Bread - Choose your own bread! (Note: If you are trying to lose weight, I would cut out the bread...)

Soup - Tomato Balsamic Soup

Snack - Peanut Butter Cups

Must-Make Recipe of the Week: Peanut Butter Cups!!!!

MENU
Breakfasts
Smoothies

Baked Oatmeal

Thin Herb Fritatas (scroll past Kiku recipe)


Lunches
Vegetable Salad

Peanut Butter Stir-Fry

Turkey Bacon Sandwiches


Dinner
Easy Apple Pork with green salad and/or garlic smashed or roasted red potatoes

Coconut Shrimp with Indian Rice and some sort of steamed green vegetable (kale, collards, broccoli), with butter!

Spiced Chicken with leftover Indian Rice and Roasted Carrot Puree

Snacks
Butternut Squash fries

Peanut Butter Cups (Mark and I have eaten about a dozen of these...each...in two days!)

Power Bars

Crispy or sprouted nuts


Natural yogurt (no added sugars or "vitamins") with unsweetened coconut, soaked nuts, and cocoa powder

Hummus with veggies or crackers

Homemade popcorn, popped on stove in coconut oil

celery with all natural peanut butter and raisins

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LAST CALL FOR RAW MILK!!

I have a few orders already, and I'll be picking up the milk sometime next week. Please either comment below, or send me an email and let me know if you'd like me to order you some. Indicate how many HALF gallon jugs you'd like. It's $5 for a half gallon. There are pastured eggs as well, for $4.50 a dozen. I've been drinking a nutrient dense glass of raw milk tonic daily for the past few days -

1 c raw milk
1 T molasses
1 raw egg yolk

Whisk. Enjoy.

Hump Day Challenge - Get Outside!!

I've been waiting patiently for this one. =) It's supposed to hit 53 degrees in Massachusetts tomorrow, so get your butt out there and go for a walk! If you work until the sun goes down, cut your lunch break short and do a quick lap - even if it's in a parking lot. Sun = good. =)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Week 5: Microwave 101

The microwave is a symbol for American culture. Microwaves scream, "We want it now!" and if you're living and breathing in the United States, it's hard to not see that our culture often screams the same thing. Whether we're talking about food, high-paying jobs, sex, or fame - we want it now. Ask someone to get rid of their microwave, and they'll look at you like you asked them for a kidney. Tell someone you haven't actually used a microwave in two years, and well, it's worse than admitting you voted for George Bush in a Blue State. So I understand that this week may be a tough pill to swallow. Add that to the fact that there really isn't a slew of conclusive scientific evidence (due to government censorship, in my opinion) to support the convictions of the anti-microwave party, and I feel the pain of an uphill battle. But I march on...

What IS a Microwave, Exactly?

Let me bring you back to eighth grade science class. Microwaves have magnetrons, which are tubes that send out radiation waves. The waves have energy. Foods have positive and negative polarity. The energy in the waves works to change the polarity in the food each time the wave goes through a cycle, which ends up being millions of times every second. These changes create friction, which heats up the food. Sounds good, right? Well, the friction can also create damage to its neighboring molecules, sometimes forcefully denaturing them. The scientific name for this deformation is "structural isomerism". Minerals remain unaffected, but because the structures of the molecules are so compromised, the cells, precious store houses of vitamins, are at serious risk. One study shows that 97% of the nutrients in vegetables are lost in this process!!

Where Did Microwaves Come From?
Oh, I'm so glad you asked! Those do-gooders, the Nazis, invented the first microwaves to assist them in food preparation as they moved towards invading Russia. The Russians ended up doing research on microwaves after the German occupation ended, and in 1976, they banned microwaves for a time, due to their findings that microwaves denatured nutrients and transformed them into carcinogens (read: cancer-causing!). The free radicals that were found to result from microwaving your food can lead to a host of issues - including arthritis, cancer, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and on and on.

Why Isn't This Public Knowledge?
Well, a food scientist by the name of Dr. Hans Ulrich Hertel conducted research on the effects of microwaves on food and the blood of those who consumed the food. His research concluded that the nutrients in the food were changed, resulting in degenerative changes in the subjects' blood, as well as poor immune function, and the morphing of normally healthy cells into cancerous cells. However, in 1992, the Swiss Association of Dealers for Electro-apparatuses for Households and Industry charged Hertel with "interfering with commerce" and his research was banned from publication. The FDA insists that microwaves are safe, but they seem to dismiss the warning from Young Families, the Minnesota Extension Service of the University of Minnesota, who declared that babies' bottles should not be microwaved because the protective properties of the milk may be destroyed. Nor are they commenting on the patient receiving a blood transfusion who died because the blood was microwaved!

In Conclusion...
**This information is taken from The Global Healing Center's website

Ten Reasons to Throw out your Microwave Oven

From the conclusions of the Swiss, Russian and German scientific clinical studies, the following main points have emerged:

1. Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term - permanent - brain damage by "shorting out" electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue].

2. The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.

3. Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.

4. The effects of microwaved food by-products are residual [long term, permanent] within the human body.

5. Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.

6. The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.

7. Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths [tumors]. This may explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in America.

8. The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.

9. Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.

10. Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Week 5 Shopping List

Meat
1lb chicken breasts or thighs
2lb stew beef
white fish
1 lb turkey bacon or organic pork bacon
1 lb turkey breast (Applegate Farms is a great brand - but anything that is nitrate, nitrite free is good!)


Produce
1 butternut squash
1 apple
1 bag small onions (about 6)
1lb bag carrots
4-5 potatoes
greens (chard, kale, spinach)
garlic
bananas
frozen berries
2 red peppers
lemon

Canned or Dried Items
white wine
red wine
2-3 c red quinoa
1.5 c wheat berries
sun dried tomatoes
Oatmeal (try steel cut!)
whole wheat flour


Dairy
cage free eggs
naturally sweetened or plain yogurt (Seven Stars Farm, Hawthorne Family Farm)
1/2 c creme fraiche
1/2 - 1 c Parmesan cheese

...and does anyone want some raw milk?? Post a comment and let me know.

Other staples
coconut oil (favorite source - Mountain Rose Herbs: $41 for 1 gallon of unrefined or $22 for refined, which will last forever!)
Real Maple syrup
spices: bay leaves, dill, oregano, thyme, basil

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Week 5 Menu

This week's challenge is to go without microwaving any of your food. Can you do it?! It may require some advanced planning, but I think it's well worth it. (Did you know the Nazis invented the microwave?) The kitchen's desperate for a cleaning before yoga tonight, but all recipes will have active links soon - check back again!

On the menu this week are some more quick, easy meals. I've been getting positive feedback on the crockpot meals, so enjoy! Hopefully you were able to make stock during week 4, so you'll have a rich base for the soups.

All of the meals will include enough for two nights' dinners, for two people, so you'll be preparing dinner just three evenings (or if you're like me, all in one day to minimize cooking!). Adjust recipes accordingly if you are cooking for more than two.


Features

When necessary, prepare these early in the week so you have them on hand for recipes and munching!

Grain - Quinoa (keen-WA)
Bread - Yogurt Herb Bread
Soup - Butternut Squash Soup
Snack - Popcorn (Pop a huge pot so you have some to munch on all week!)

Must-Make Recipe of the Week: Gingerbread Pancakes

MENU
Prep: Soak flour in yogurt for yogurt dough

Day 1
Breakfast - Smoothies
Lunch - Red Pepper Quiche
Dinner - Beef Stew

Day 2
Breakfast - Dirty Scrambled Eggs (scrambled eggs with bits of veggies mixed in)
Lunch - Crockpot Chicken and Red Quinoa (keen-WA)
Dinner - Beef Stew

Day 3
Breakfast - Oatmeal
Lunch - Red Pepper Quiche
Dinner - Crockpot Chicken and Red Quinoa (keen-WA)


Day 4

Breakfast - Kiku
Lunch - Yogurt Parfait
Dinner - Butternut Squash Soup

Day 5
Breakfast - Kiku
Lunch - Turkey bacon sandwich on sourdough or homemade bread
Dinner - White fish, steamed greens with lemon and garlic, and quinoa

Day 6
Breakfast - Gingerbread Pancakes
Lunch - Butternut Squash Soup
Dinner - Leftover White fish, steamed broccoli with lemon and garlic, and quinoa


Day 7

You'll probably have enough leftovers to take you through the day! Most people enjoy a meal or two out once a week as well, so these recipes should take you through.


Snacks
Power Bars

Crispy or sprouted nuts


Natural yogurt (no added sugars or "vitamins") with unsweetened coconut, soaked nuts, and cocoa powder

Hummus with veggies or crackers

Homemade popcorn, popped on stove in coconut oil

celery with all natural peanut butter and raisins

potato skins or sweet potato fries

Week 4: Kefir 101

**Please note: If you recently received kefir grains from us, you'll probably have to give it a few cycles before the kefir is at a regular consistency. You can use the first few batches in pancakes, baking, or smoothies mixed with yogurt to thicken.

There's been a resurgence in interest in kefir and raw milk, so Mark and I put together some videos, and I'm re-posting this entry from Green in a Pink World.

What is Kefir?
On my quest to eating a traditional diet, I discovered kefir - a fermented drink that resembles milk and yogurt. It's made of milk and kefir grains, which are really a mother culture of lactic bacteria and yeast. It's amazing for digestion and filled with probiotics. The benefits of kefir are multifaceted. It has been said to help in numerous ways, from eliminating acne in adolescents, to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, to enhancing immune function. It's also touted as a gastrointestinal "friend," and Mark's Crohn's symptoms disappeared after one week of consuming kefir smoothies - and haven't returned!

Our experiences with the grains
I tried buying Kefir grains a year ago, and ended up with a sour, nasty mess that smelled like a dead mouse, so I threw away the mother culture and dismissed the idea that I was capable of success. Fast forward 8 months, and I grew interested in kefir again, with a renewed sense of determination. I can brew this myself. I ordered some grains from someone in the Kefir-making yahoo group, and she sent them almost immediately, and for free! I began fermenting my kefir with 1 T of grains and 1-1.5 c of raw milk. The first few batches were almost intolerably tangy, and thin, but I made smoothies out of them and knocked it down. However, now my kefir is thicker and milder. I've begun to acquire a taste for drinking it plain, and use it to pour over my morning granola! Mark's favorite use though, is smoothies.

The parenting process
video

Our grains are like our children. They require daily care and feeding. However, the kefir making process is really easy. You take a glass pint or quart jar, or anything else that may work, and add about 1 T of grains to 1 c of milk.

Leave the jar covered for about 24 hours, until you see a separation of the curds and whey, and the kefir has a yeasty, almost beery smell.

Then, with a small holed strainer, strain out the grains, and the result is a ready to drink kefir! You should leave the kefir loosely covered at room temp for 1 - 4 days to maximize the nutritional profile. The folic acid content goes through the roof! (When/if I get pregnant, I will be consuming this bioavailable source of FA instead of the less effective capsules.)

Save the grains, put them back into the jar, and pour in some more milk, and you'll have another jar of kefir ready the next day. Watch out though, as the grains multiply! You can play around with the ratio, ferment time, and temperature, as you like!

This was a very basic tutorial, but Dom's Kefir site is the bible of kefir making. It must be checked out to fully appreciate the benefits of kefir. My grains are great and multiply weekly, so please let me know if you would like to share!


Note: Commercial kefir can be found for $4 per pint or so at the grocery store, but the price is exorbitant and commercially made kefir is really just a sugary drink with vitamins added back into it. It is made with only a few strands of yeast and bacteria, thus not giving the benefits of the active, reproducing grains.

Hump Day Exercise Challenge



Here's a quick 15 minute ab workout with Sparkpeople.com. This is good for those days when you just can't seem to carve out time, or motivate yourself!

**I have to say though, without a regular cardio/exercise routine, you won't see that belly flab disappear!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Week 4: Yogurt 101

Yogurt is one of my comfort foods. When I need something sweet, I go for yogurt; creamy, yogurt; sour, yogurt. I use it to bake and cook, as a base for smoothies, and for a meal with yummy add-ins, like nuts, coconut, chia seeds, fruit, and cocoa.

I used to buy Dannon yogurt with apple and cinnamon added to it, but now I find that too sweet for my taste. I've posted this in a few different places, but it bears repeating - full fat yogurts, with natural sweetners, such as vanilla, honey, or maple syrup, are best. Your yogurt should have 2-3 ingredients - milk, some strand of probiotic or culture, and a natural sweetener, if desired. Make sure your yogurt says "Contains LIVE cultures." They don't do much good if they've been cooked away...

What are probiotics and how can they help?
Probiotics, meaning literally "for life," are microorganisms that help to maintain the intestinal flora and health. Basically, they're bugs that help us digest our food, and they beat up on the "bad" bugs. (If you've been taking antibiotics, your gut has essentially been sterilized, so not only do you lack the bad bugs, but your good ones are gone too!) The benefits of probiotics are numerous. In the last decade, lactobacilli, a particular strand of probiotics, have gained the respect they deserve. Here are just a few of the touted benefits of our microbial friends (Taken from Oprah's website):

*Ameliorate vaginal (bacterial and yeast), urinary tract and bladder infections.

*Ameliorate inflammatory intestinal disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

*Ameliorate food allergies and inflammatory, allergic conditions like asthma and eczema.

*Reduce several risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

*Reduce several risk factors for intestinal cancers.

*Reduce the duration of gastroenteritis and rotavirus-induced diarrhea in infants.

*Reduce the rate of childhood respiratory infections.

*Ameliorate microbe-induced traveler’s diarrhea.

*Help prevent tooth decay.

Food or Supplement?
Many people have heard about these benefits already, and actually pay a decent amount of money on probiotics supplements. Mark and I both did this, until we realized that yogurts, fermented foods, and especially kefir, could much more efficiently and economically supply us with living strands of probiotics. I'll try not to go into my vitamin and supplement industry tirade, but suffice it to say I am disgusted with the marketing gimmicks that have convinced millions of people that nutrition comes in a bottle. There is no scientific evidence that probiotic supplements are able to supply our body with the needed microorganisms to replenish the gut. Eating nutrient dense foods to nourish our body is the best way to achieve this goal.

Challenge
I encourage you to add a full fat yogurt with live cultures and a natural sweetener! If you're wondering why I keep advocating full fat dairy products, check out this quote from the Real Milk website:

"Butterfat contains vitamins A and D needed for assimilation of calcium and protein in the water fraction of the milk. Without them protein and calcium are more difficult to utilize and possibly toxic. Butterfat is rich in short- and medium chain fatty acids which protect against disease and stimulate the immune system. It contains glyco-spingolipids which prevent intestinal distress and conjugated linoleic acid which has strong anticancer properties."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Week 4: Milk 101

Raw milk sounds like a disease waiting to happen right? When I tell people that I drink raw milk, I might as well have told them that I'm a Christian, or that I voted for George W. Bush...twice. It's the gateway to becoming a social pariah, a little like admitting to leprosy. Am I a bit dramatic? Perhaps, but perhaps not. The reactions I receive when people hear that I drive 40 miles once a month to purchase unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk for $8.50 a gallon are about the same as admitting to any of the above statements. Most people, I find, are uneducated about both the benefits and safety of raw milk, and the alternative toxicity of pasteurized milk, as I was. Of course I'm a huge believer in raw milk, but more than anything, I'm a believer in knowledge, and empowering people with the ability to make a choice, rather than blindly doing what "the man" has steered them into believing is correct. My goal is simply to dispel some myths about raw milk, and perhaps shed some light on Big Dairy's dirty little secrets...

The Real Milk website does a great job of expounding on all my ideas (or rather I do an OK job of summarizing theirs =), so I strongly recommend visiting it. The site has a list of raw milk dealers in all states, as well as ways to get involved in changing legislation to make raw milk legal. I recently read an article that deals with the politics of raw milk. It goes into some of the Big Dairy issues too.

Aren't all milks created equal?
Perhaps not. We're beginning to see pasteurized milk as a factor in or cause of many contemporary diseases - from Irritable Bowel and Crohn's disease, to allergies, heart disease, and cancer. Milk is heated to a high temperature to kill all of the harmful bacteria such that all of the enzymes, nutrients and helpful bacteria are killed off as well. So, they add back in the vitamins, but we're receiving synthetic versions of those vitamins, namely vitamin D3, which is considered toxic and linked to heart disease! Baby calves that are fed pasteurized milk fare poorly and often die! Raw milk, on the other hand, is more easily digested, contains lactic-acid producing bacteria that protects against pathogens, and has a full array of in-tact amino acids and proteins.

Now, I agree that back in Louis's day, when people moved in droves to the cities and we couldn't keep the milk clean due to over-population and lack of technology, pasteurization may have been a necessary evil. But today, we have the ability to keep the milk sources clean and free of harmful bacteria, and that is exactly what Terri Lawton of Oake Knoll Ayrshires in Foxborough, MA does. She is visited by government regulated dairy inspectors regularly, and her milk has been found to have no traces of harmful bacteria. She posts their results, so customers can feel safe and confident about her milk. Interestingly enough, farms that pasteurize their milk have far dirtier milk than raw milk dealers, "knowing" that there is room for error because of the heating process. However, that's not always the case. Just last year, four MA residents died of listeriosis from drinking PASTEURIZED milk. There are many cases where this has happened. Do some research and you'll be surprised!

What does this mean for me?
Certainly Terri is not the only conscientious dairy farmer, so if raw milk interests you, I encourage you to find a local farm! I'm more than happy to buy milk for people and meet you somewhere to do the exchange. Supporting small farms is about sustainability, accountability, and community. For me, it's been worth the money, and the effort. When it seems crazy, I like to remember that much of the rest of the world does NOT pasteurize their milk. And as for some fear tactics that the media or even friend try to impose, I think--far more people have died in the Iraqi conflict than from drinking raw milk...

Week 4: Dairy

I'm a little behind in my postings, but I will be doing a dairy 101 post soon. In the meantime, check out Real Milk. It's a storehouse of information about milk and dairy.