Sunday, September 5, 2021

On the 9/11 Twentieth Anniversary, Eat Steak

 For the last several days I have been watching documentaries and news programs dedicated to remembering the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Everyone agrees: they remember where they were and who they were with when the horrendous events of that day unfolded. I am no different. I remember where and who, and have been struggling with whether I should reach out to let them know I remember. I decided not to make contact, and the reason why may come as a surprise.

I graduated from college the preceding spring, an energetic blonde who believed every problem presented to me was a puzzle I was capable of solving. I loved my job as a nuclear medicine technologist at a regional medical center, and I wanted to “win” every day, be at the top of my game, solving other people’s puzzles. The only thing getting in my way was my body’s terrible glycemic control. 

Blood sugar issues plagued me my entire life! I failed a glucose tolerance test at the age of 9, and subsequently was allowed to keep cheese (Kraft singles) and crackers (Triscuits) at my desk (lucky girl). When I was a college student and working (and eating) at McDonald’s, I became ill every day after eating, nausea, headaches, brain fog that bordered on blacking out. Eventually, my doctor asked me to follow a low carbohydrate diet (after many visits where I was only given a pregnancy test, then sent home with no answers). My doctor made Xerox copies of pages in a diabetes diet book from the 1970’s and handed me an issue of Muscle and Fitness magazine. She believed that I was diabetic, but did not want to confirm with blood work because I was uninsured. She explained that I could be denied medical insurance for the rest of my life if I received this diagnoses (this was the late 1990’s). She further explained that the eating plan recommended to body builders was high in protein and low in carbohydrates, similar enough to the “old” diabetic diet that it would be a useful resource for meal and recipe ideas.

I followed doctor’s orders for the next year (with the addition of lots of alcohol consumption - glug, glug, glug). I got myself a subscription to Muscle and Fitness, learned about more than just diet, and began using the college gym. By the end of that first year (August 2000), I was feeling really great, but then it was time for me to start a 40 hour per week for 2 semesters internship at a hospital. I had an hour long commute each way, and a preschooler. The lifting weights was over. The work break room was filled with doughnuts. I worked with a couple of temps who were given large food allowances, and they insisted on using it to buy restaurant lunches for me almost every day. My God, I got fat! And my blood sugar would crash between meals, leaving me angry, sometimes in tears, unable to handle the slightest emotional distress. 

Over Christmas break, I was offered a job at the hospital. This was 4 hours on top of my internship hours after break was over, leaving me with 12 hour work days. One of the temps was not using the furnished apartment provided to him, and offered it to me. That cut out the commute, but also insured I would only see my 5 year old son on the weekends. Graduation was coming in April, so I went for it. I got my crap together in that little apartment, got back on my low carbohydrate diet, and started using the hospital gym before work in the mornings. I was able to bounce back pretty quickly, but my routine changed again after graduation. I rented an apartment of  my own and moved my son into it with me. I found him daycare, but I really didn’t have time for workouts until he started kindergarten that August. I still could not handle eating any amount of carbohydrates. My co-workers believed that my aversion to sweets was mental, that I was nauseated  and my head ached because of the “guilt” I felt from eating junk food. Did you know that healthcare workers are some of the most unhealthy people on the planet? And horrible enablers when it comes to junk and comfort foods? And mean-spirited saboteurs of people who are trying to lose weight and/or improve their health? Yup.

Now, on our timeline, we have come to September 11th of 2001. Dan, the exercise physiologist (and my only co-worker interested in diet and exercise), flagged me down in the hallway, said there was something going on that I needed to see. He brought me into an outpatient waiting room where we sat and watched Matt Lauer talk us through unbelievable video footage from New York City. We were glued there, watching the World Trade Center burn and crumble. Additionally, there were reports of unthinkable tragedy in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. Time slowed to a crawl that morning.

Fast forward 20 years, I am 44 years old, married with two more sons. I will never subject myself to the stress and toxic personalities of working full-time in a hospital environment ever again. And my current doctor will never know I was once a type II diabetic because I do not eat carbs (yeah, mom, I know I had corn-on-the-cob and a little white rice today, but I also walked 7 miles and set 4 PR’s at the gym). I have dabbled with “healthy whole grains” and thought “maybe it is wheat and I can be healthy if I am just gluten-free.” Both of these experiments failed. I cannot have carbohydrates and feel well, no matter how little I weigh, how many miles per day I walk or run, and no matter how heavy the weights I lift are.

On this, the twentieth anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11, I thought, “ I wonder what Dan is up to these days.” I found him on LinkedIn, he lives in New Hampshire. He went back to school, and then back to school again. He is a doctor now.  He had a review article he wrote published in a medical journal. He is still interested in diet, as is apparent by the title of his article  “Plant-Based Diet in Standard of Care in Diabetes Type II.” I read the article, and for this reason Dan will not be getting a Patriot Day greeting from me. You see, in his article, he concluded that type II diabetic patients should eliminate meat from their diets as treatment for diabetes. Meat heals, and that is the hill I am willing to die on. Is it petty of me to be  so turned off by his highly-educated opinion on meat and DM-II? Probably. I am just fed up with the book-learned continuing to ignore what is working for humans living their lives outside of a laboratory experiment

Friday, January 31, 2014

USDA Free Breakfast Program

My child's school started free breakfast for all the kids January 29th. Wonderful! Or is it? The Following is the email exchange that took place in response to my child's "breakfast" of Trix yogurt, Rice Krispie chewy granola bar, and orange juice.

Dear Superintendent Newcombe, Members of the Board of Education, and Principal Kraut,

Have you ever heard the saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch?” What about free breakfast? The USDA’s free breakfast program is not free. It comes with a cost much greater than our community can afford. Tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes are ultimately the price of this program, along with the burden of additional healthcare expense. These conditions (which are largely brought on by the overconsumption of sugar) are associated with coronary artery disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and many other degenerative and chronic diseases.

USDA granting these “foods” (in quotes because if it doesn’t rot it isn’t actually digestible) flies in the face of programs by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control, and in fact, contradicts its own recommendations for total sugar consumption by children.  From the USDA’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010”:

For most people, no more than about 5 to 15 percent of calories from solid fats and added sugars can be reasonably accommodated in the USDA Food Patterns, which are designed to meet nutrient needs within calorie limits.

Over 38% of calories in my child’s breakfast this morning were derived from added sugar in the forms of corn syrup, fructose, sugar, and molasses. This is 23 grams of added sugar, the equivalent of almost 6 teaspoons of sugar! Daily recommendation for a child’s sugar consumption by the American Heart Association is 3-4 teaspoons daily. This 6 teaspoon tally does not include the fructose and lactose naturally occurring in the juice, yogurt, and milk that are offered. That is an additional load of 20 grams of sugar for OJ and 12 grams for skim milk, another 3-5 teaspoons depending which beverage was chosen. Also not included is the non-fiber and non-sugar carbohydrates, all of which are converted to sugar by the body. Another 24 grams of sugar, or 6 more teaspoons if you prefer, bring our grand total to about 67 grams of sugar (1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) for the children that chose orange juice. The fat and protein consumed were miniscule at 3 ½ and 3 grams respectively. This brings the breakdown of macronutrients to fat 10%, protein 4%, sugars 81% (I realize this does not add up to 100%, we can chalk that up to liberties taken with the nutrition labels). Two bags of peanut M & M’s contain an equivalent amount of sugar and have higher protein content.

We cannot allow the promise of “free food” entice us to participate in the sickening and degeneration of our own community. This program was designed to benefit the children of an impoverished community, those least likely to get dental care and most likely to have diabetes, cancer, and learning problems. Other conditions associated with over consumption of sugar include, but is not limited to: depression, early puberty, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, gallstones, fatty liver disease, and sleep apnea.

Our children are being told that these are “healthy” food options, but it is unlikely the school would find a health professional that would label this meal as healthy. The children of this community deserve better than this. We will be submitting letters to state and federal law makers to ask that this program be reevaluated and changed to provide a better foundation of health for our children. Our children’s meals are not the place for politics. I would say that our children are being “force fed” highly subsidized, commodity agricultural products, however, children will willingly accept sugar-loaded goodies without question. We should not set them up for a lifetime of struggling with health concerns contributed to by excessive sugar consumption.

Bay City Public Schools have a unique opportunity to apply for grants through the Bay Area Community Foundation for projects that better our community. It would be a large endeavor, but I’m sure the school system has land available (as does the city) that could be turned into a food forest, greenhouse, or community garden. We could have chicken tractors on the lawns of our elementary schools (yes, this is being done in progressive cities in the United States). We need to promote a culture of health and food self-sufficiency in our city and in our schools. Putting such a program into motion would give us the ability to say “no thank you” to the USDA and the hidden costs of their program.



Matthew and Lyndsey Johnson

Parents of Levi, first grader at Kolb elementary

Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.  Thank you for sharing your perspective on the breakfast program at Kolb.   I think that there is no question that we could eat healthier as a society.  Schools are one place for that, home is another.  Our District like all others across the nation have implemented new standards put in place under the Obama Administration to provide more nutritious food choices in schools.  While I believe this is important, it has also had implications on school food programs because many students are opting out of eating healthier foods and portion sizes and or are throwing much more food out.  On a positive note, we are seeing more students eat healthier with salads, fruits, and vegetables gaining popularity.  We already receive grants in our District for students to get introduced to fruits and vegetables.  That will continue.   

I believe the lesson is that healthier eating is going to have to evolve in our society over time because you cannot force students or parents to accept healthier eating and there are many opinions on what that means.  

In the meantime, we do know that there are almost 12 million students participating nationwide in school breakfast programs.  Our universal breakfast program is a choice for each student and parent, not a requirement.  We are regulated in what we serve by the Federal Government.  You may or may not agree with those standards and that is your choice.  We also have to consider the fact that many students in our schools come from homes situations where for a variety of reasons they are not getting regular meals.  We have students who look forward to school because it is the only decent meals they have if they even have regular meals.  Lack of food and nutrition has a direct impact on student learning- we know that and we see that.   

Beyond the government guidelines, we are also working with registered dietitians and our menus are reviewed by the State.   

In closing, your ideas are interesting and something that we may explore at some point in time.  We are constantly looking for new recipes or ideas that introduce students to different healthy eating options.   I again thank you for taking the time to share your ideas. 


Doug Newcombe
Dear Superintendent Newcombe,
Thank you for your consideration regarding our opinions. Please know that we understand that our fight is with the USDA and the nutritional monopoly of Registered Dieticians sponsored by corporate food manufacturers. Our criticism is meant to be purely constructive, and we would gladly volunteer our time and expertise to plan and implement programs to educate and feed impoverished families at the local level. We would love to have our school system take a stand with us against policy that is disguised as help for poor families when it is actually designed to support our current, highly subsidized agricultural paradigm.
Our stance is that only a diet based on whole foods, with very little processed food in packages and little to no sugar, is the only diet with health protective attributes. My children also have a low tolerance to soy, dairy, and wheat. As such, I spend a lot of time cooking and sourcing food and our children are typically not allowed food outside the home. Our kids will readily accept any goody in a package, especially if their over-protective parents are not watching. Our oldest son, Luke Poindexter, is a senior at Central with a 3.5 GPA. He has been denied the pleasure of hot lunch since the middle of first grade due to inattentiveness and obesity. Luke is also a high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder member. His health and school struggles largely turned around when I started denying any and all processed food in our home while he was attending Handy. He is now nearly 6 feet tall, weighs 170 pounds, and has been accepted to 4 colleges and universities for the fall. When presented with chicken nuggets, pizza, or corndogs, he will make every attempt to make up for lost time. He is the reigning two-time champion of the BCC band’s annual St. Patrick’s Day pancake eating contest.
While we have our own struggles with nutrition for our family, we can’t help but be concerned with the nutrition of other local families. We absolutely understand the need to feed these children at school, but how unfair to advertise a bolus of sugar as a nutritious free meal! Our family knows all too well the harm that can be caused by low-quality, processed food, and we cannot agree that “something is better than nothing.” Providing high-sugar foods to children with limited parental involvement or support we feel is compounding an already tough situation. By giving at-risk children a sugar laden breakfast, the schools are potentially increasing their risk of problem behavior, including aggression and inattentiveness, lowering their achievement and continuing to set them on a path of disadvantage. High-sugar bodies are literally a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria, fungus, and viruses. We would like the school to be setting a healthy example for these children whom truly need guidance.
We recognize that the latest Food and Nutrition Service guidelines for school meals are an improvement on the previous version, but they leave a lot to be desired .The emphasis on reduced fat, sodium, and calories with disregard for food quality will not make any improvement in our health as a nation at large. It is, in fact, just more of the same advice that has been failing us since the mid-1980s. Registered Dieticians put much less emphasis on food quality and are primarily interested in calories consumed. We have already been involved with the fight against the dietary monopoly that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics holds, and that fight will continue. While it is true the My Plate guidelines are an improvement on the Food Guide Pyramid, the FNS school meals guidelines don’t follow it.
We would like to make sure you are aware of another USDA program called Farm to School. From :
Beginning January 2014 through June 2014, the USDA Farm to School Program will host two webinars each month to showcase the variety of ways school districts can purchase local foods.
The Farm to School program also provides grants, along with other resources. Our rich agricultural tradition in the areas surrounding our community puts us at a prime advantage when it comes to locally sourcing whole foods. Food should come from farms, not factories. Local farmers would be more than happy to use our schools’ food waste to feed hogs and chickens. I am sure an exchange of goods between our local farmers and the school system would be financially beneficial and not a burden. Not using our local resources is truly a waste. For further information on this program, we encourage you to contact the Department of Education’s Marla Moss at or 5173734337, Diane Golzynski at or 5173733383, or Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems Colleen Matts at or 5174320310.
In addition, there is an organization by the name of Chiwara Permaculture based in the Ann Arbor area ( that we think would be a fabulous resource and partner to help us promote a culture of learning and healthy eating in our community.
Thank you again for your thoughtful response to our concerns. Food security at the local level, family nutrition, public policy, as well as industrial agricultural practices are topics that we are passionate about. We will continue our activism at the state and federal level, what we hope for is change at the local level.
Matthew and Lyndsey Johnson

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On Two Parties and the Balance of Power: President Washington’s Farewell Address

 The founders of our nation never intended on a two party system, and it needs to end. I have reproduced a portion of George Washington's farewell address (it is part of the public domain). I felt it necessary to translated it into more common, modern language. Let's face it, our public education isn't what the founders envisioned, either (those guys were wordy). Feel free to read both or skip ahead to my translation, either way, weigh in (constructively) with your opinion on our current system or my translating skills.

“Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

“This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

“Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

“It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

“There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

“It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way, which the constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for, though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.”

Excerpt verses 20 through 26

Farewell Address
George Washington, with the assistance of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
United States - September 17, 1796

2012 Translation by Yours Truly

Let me do a thorough examination, and seriously caution you against the destructive or poisonous effects of organizing people with common political opinions and purposes into groups for gaining political influence and governmental control (political parties).

As emotional beings, we cannot escape from forming alliances with like-minded individuals, it is human nature. All governments suffer from division and taking sides, however, it is smothered or subdued to different degrees. This dissection is antagonistic in the most prevalent forms of government, and is particularly strong.

The passing of control back-and-forth between parties while punishing each other for maintaining different opinions promotes oppression and abuse of authority (as well as the root cause of many heinous acts against other people in the history of civilization). The tyranny of the two party political system will become permanent. The resulting confusion and hopelessness has a tendency to make people look to one leader, a dictator, for security and peace. Eventually, one of the party leaders “more able or more fortunate than his competitors,” will take advantage of this situation, filling the role of “wise leader,” and destroying Public Liberty.

While always keeping this unfortunate scenario in mind, but not dwelling on it, it is the people’s duty to discourage and limit the antics of the opposing parties.

The constant arguing, banter, and revenge tactics employed by opposing parties distract from the issues of substance and handicaps progress. It makes people turn on one another over minutia, fuels unfounded hatred and bigotry, and encourages disorder, revolt, and rebellion. By promoting selfish agendas, it invites foreign bodies into the affairs of the republic, corrupting our system of rule. Therefore, the course of action and the power of choosing the course of action will not belong to the United States of America, it would be that of interfering foreign factions.

If we bowed to a king or queen, there may be advantages to partisan politics. It could serve to promote the principles of Liberty and be desirable for Patriotism. Not so in a government made of elected officials. If the intentions are pure, Liberty and Patriotism will always be present. Public opinion should be to keep the parties in check, as going beyond what is proper is always a threat. “A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.” (I like that line too much to translate it.)

We have three branches of government for a reason, checks and balances. It is important for elected and appointed officials to know their role and respect the role of others. Politicians overstepping their bounds could easily consolidate our three branches into one, thus promoting tyranny. If you look honestly at humans’ infatuation with power and money, you will know this to be true. Keeping the three branches separate and independent, protecting them from one another, has been tried experimentally by us and civilizations before us. The architects of our government felt it important to implement the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches, and it is now the duty of the people to protect them. The constitution may be amended if it is the opinion of the people that the division of power and duties amongst the three branches are not correct, but the appropriate channels must be followed, or we die by our own sword. The benefits must be carefully weighed against the risks.

In Conclusion: 

We failed as a nation to get Dr. Ron Paul on the ballot this year, but Liberty will be on the ballot. Research third party candidates, see who's not talking out both sides of their mouths, and find a candidate that you can stand behind. American voices are more numerous than two (interrupting, inaccurate, misleading, condescending voices...).

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Liberty Garden

Too Many Reasons to Not Depend on the Grocery Store

The Liberty Garden

There are few things more satisfying than eating food nurtured by your own hand. I hope I can inspire more people to grow food where they live. The summer of 2012 well be memorable for many due to the early bloom, followed by a freeze. A prolonged drought followed by torrential rains. Many farmers had to feed livestock their winter hay supply in the hot summer months because of the dead, dry grass. In Michigan, we are expecting a 10% fruit crop (cherries, apples, peaches, etc) because of the warm-then-cold spring.Drought caused this year's corn crop to be a goner, then the rain decimated the chances of soy-based feed. The fate of these mono crops is bitter sweet to me. Partially, I am overjoyed that the cattle will be spared from this nutrition-lacking fare, however, due to a lack of foresight there aren't any other options for them and they must be slaughtered or starve.
I wish I could say that I feel sorry for our nation's poor. Corn flakes and soy infant formula are going to be expensive this year. My hope for them is that they will be forced to source more nutrient dense food. Beef liver should be readily available.
The time to take responsibility for your own sustenance is now. I urge everyone to pick a sunny spot in their yard (or someone else's yard if necessary) and make some plans to start a lasagna garden next spring. If I hear anyone complain about the price of groceries, I am prepared to ask them if they grow any of their own food. It takes some effort, but is well worth the rewards.
As I walk through my neighborhood, I'm struck buy yard after yard of lush, green lawn, despite the drought. Imagine if communities put that effort (and watering) into edible landscaping? Fruit trees are beautiful in the spring. Herbs, sweet potato and green bean vines are beautiful in the summer. In the fall, you have gorgeous heads of cabbages and blueberry bushes turn a handsome red. There are so many edible options!
My Backyard

There are many other options for feeding yourself. Over the winter, I grew lettuce under a light in my basement (so much more awesome than a bag of lettuce at the grocery store). There are also food co-ops and CSA's. They may let you trade work for food. An important aspect to remember is getting to know your neighbors. You can swap food. There may be things you can grow that your neighbor can't and vice-versa. Don't forget about things already growing in your yard like dandelions, violets, chicory, purselane, and lambsquarters. One of my kids once said, "you feed us like goats!" Bleat bleat!
Don't delay, there is a learning curve with gardening. I don't want you to wait until your life depends on it to start!
Basement Lettuce Just Starting

Beautiful Blogger Award

 Forgive my blogging absence. I have been much to busy "doing" (and learning) to write about it. At the request of a special friend, Jess Proctor of fruitfulpursuits, I will be making a concerted effort to give unsolicited advice in the form of this blog. Resuming my keyboard duties has nothing to do with Jess nominating me for the "Beautiful Blogger" award. (Well, maybe a little...Thank you, Jess!)


Anyway, here's how this works.
  1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo and post in your post
  2. Thank you the person who nominated you (but wouldn't you do that anyway ;) )
  3. Tell us 7 things about yourself
  4. Nominate 7 other bloggers and comment on their blog to let them know
So, I'll tell you a little about myself (more like 7 excuses why my life is not suitable for blogging):

Uh, exploding sour dough

1) I like a schedule, a list, a plan. My husband likes to fly by the seat of his pants. The only thing I don't like to plan is pregnancies. 2) Of which, I have had three, resulting in three beautiful sons, ages 17 years, 4 years, and 18 months. 3) One son inherited my love of lists and dreaming, one inherited my nose, teeth and giggle, and the little one inherited my love of sausage. 4) I have spent some long nights helping my husband stuff sausage casings. We like to do everything ourselves, but there are limits. I've recently taken to turning sausage into meatballs and smoking them. So far, this is superior to sausage in entrails.

5) One task not worth doing? Baking bread. Not too bad if you use a store bought bag of flour and yeast , but crazy me needs to grind the wheat and sour the dough. That sucks, but not as bad as growing the wheat, harvesting the wheat with a scythe, then sprouting the wheat. Now I don't have to do the post on Essene Bread. The birds wouldn't even eat it. Furthermore, we have given up bread.
Inedible homemade bread
6) I really, really, really would like to do a blog called "What I Learned on Dr. Oz Today." It would be filled with pseudo-science, demonstrations that have a weak analogy to the physiology being explained, and a heavy reliance on products, products, products. But who has the time to watch Dr. Oz everyday? 7) I created an exercise routine to "The Young and the Restless." It was pretty awesome. I based it on Doug MacGuff's Body By Science. I haven't worked out since before the 4th of July.

Now, for Bloggers I find Beautiful? It would have to be the ladies I have looked to for information and guidance repeatedly. Thanks to this silly internet world for bringing these women (and their enormous, beautiful minds) to me!

Liz  @ Cave Girl Eats

Diane @ Balanced Bites | Holistic & Paleo Nutrition Education

Emily Dean@ Evolutionary Psychiatry

Amy @  Homestead Revival

Kendra @ New Life On A Homestead

Sheri, Leana, Grace, Jill, Brie, and Erin @ Polyface Hen House (that's one, right?)

Lindsay @ Passionate Homemaking

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Immersion Blender- Tool of Delight

freshly whipped parsley-garlic butter on pretzel rolls
 Once in a blue moon, a piece of equipment comes along that changes our lives forever. The Water Closet, Cyrus McCormick's Reaper, the iPhone. I swear I am not a Luddite, but I could easily make arguments that said devices have been a detriment to our society and environment. Maybe I will work on that, but today, I bring you an invention with no downside: the stick blender.
Have you ever attempted to churn your own butter? If you get a butter churn with a hand crank, you have to paddle that cream for at least 30 minutes! Well, I guess I could stick in my earbuds, enjoy a podcast, and set a timer to switch arms so they get an equal pump. What's that? My kids just flushed 2 hotwheels and a washcloth? Whoops! Was too busy churning butter...
So why not buy butter? The price, for one thing! If I had access to fresh, raw cream (the Tyrants!), I would be whipping that into butter, but I don't. What I do have access to is 8 oz of whipping cream for a buck (will make $2-3 worth of butter, that is called economical) and a Cuisinart immersion blender. What else do I have on hand? Garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, dill, oregano, chives, tarragon, cilantro, lavender, lemon balm, parsley, basil, and mint. All free, growing in my back yard. So, I can throw any combo of herbs and spices I like in with my cream and whip up a compound butter. Did I mention it literally takes about a minute with this kitchen wizard? Does that butter your buns? Well, it could, but may I suggest Yukon Golds and a ribeye?
If making your own butter doesn't appeal to you, maybe you like a velvety soup or sauce? I have used pureed veggies to thicken gravy (bye-bye gluten and corn starch), and just about any vegetable soup can be delightfully zipped up. When making apple sauce, I leave the peel on and whiz it right into the sauce (it's ok, no chemicals on my apples). Now you have pink, extra fiber applesauce. And when canning tomatoes? Depending on the variety, I leave the skin and the seeds, and just zip them all up. Yogurt & fruit smoothies are a quick and easy snack (that isn't a milk shake? Shhhh! Don't tell my kids).

And now, for the pièce de résistance, mayonnaise, baby.

How is it possible that oil, eggs, and vinegar can be so delicious? Store-bought mayo has some less than desirable ingredients. Here is Hellmann's list:
I am eliminating soybean oil from my family's life. We don't need it. Oh? Hellmann's makes olive oil mayo? Ach! Here's that list:
Canola mayo? Probably the least horrific of jarred mayonnaises. However, can't we just make some with our stick blender? Oh, Yeah. And with the wonder-oil, coconut!

Why isn't Hellmann's yellow? They must not have paleo chickens.
Homemade Infertility Treatment Coconut Mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • Dijon mustard optional
  • 3-4 fresh free-range egg yolks (at your own risk)
  • 1 cup gently melted coconut oil
  1. Put lemon juice, salt, pepper, mustard, and yolks in a pint jar.
  2. Whip with your immersion blender
  3. Slowly pour in coconut oil (Does not have to be a drip like with a blender) blending constantly and moving blender up and down. you will know when it is done.
  4. Refrigerate. Use within a week.
FYI: I haven't tried it yet, but I'm pretty sure if I left out the mustard and added in some melted chocolate or cocoa powder this would make an awesome chocolate mousse.

Additional Info:

Saturated fat & fertility

A good source of tips & tricks:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DIY Sauerkraut

Basement Kraut
 I love sauerkraut! Problem is, I've never had real kraut. I'm descended from Polish/German homesteaders, and yet the homemade kraut died with a great-grandfather in the 70's. Most modern sauerkraut is made with a vinegar/salt brine and then heat processed. This process ensures no bugs survive, not discriminating between good and evil. Traditional kraut, however, is a naturally fermented food. The inclusion of lactic acid fermented foods in the diet has a long history throughout the world.  And so, I've made an attempt at DIY kraut.
I've been making my own yogurt and kefir for a while now. I would love to get my hands on some raw milk to use, but thanks to an overreaching government, I'm only allowed to consume fresh, raw milk if I own the cow. (I would totally own a cow if the city didn't have an ordinance against them. I am allowed a nice little flock of laying hens in my yard, however. Big government = another post for another day. You're welcome.) I've experimented with different cultures and different fat content. So far, my favorite yogurt has been made with half & half and a combination of kefir cultures and  Stonyfield Farms Oikos yogurt. The texture is unlike any yogurt you've bought out of the dairy case, Greek or otherwise, and any sweetening beyond some berries is unnecessary.
Last fall, I tried my hand at beet kvass with beets grown in my own back yard. Not very tasty, but I felt a little high afterwards. Kvass is supposed to be energizing, indeed it was. I'm going to try another batch as soon as I have some home-grown, organic beets. I stopped drinking it around Christmas time due to potluck acquired vomiting and diarrhea. It took a long time to get my intestinal flora back to near normal.
Back to the subject at hand: Sauerkraut. I followed a very basic recipe (cabbage & salt) using a half-gallon Ball jar and Sandor Ellix Katz's book,  Wild Fermentation. Basically,  shred cabbage and layer with salt (2.5 lbs cabbage to 1.5 Tbls salt), stuff into jar and make sure enough juice comes out of cabbage to cover (this may take a few hours for the salt to draw out enough liquid). I placed a jelly jar into the mouth of my kraut jar and placed a three pound weight on top to keep cabbage under juice.
 I taste-tested it about 1 week out. Not sour, still quite crunchy, I then used some on a taco (tell me that isn't an ingenious use of lactofermented vegetables). I tried again 2 weeks out. Hmmm, smells a bit like trash can, still crunchy, barely soured. At that point, I chose to feed it to the family. Jack's original brats, homemade German potato salad, and "basement kraut" was a hit. (I won't lie, the four-year-old didn't even taste my sauerkraut, and the 15-month-old spit his out. It'll grow on them I'm sure.)
A good flavor with some tang was reached after fermenting in my basement about three weeks. I moved it to storage containers in my fridge to arrest the fermentation process and proceeded to make "deconstructed reubens with Russian rice" (maybe I can come up with a better name at some point).
A chive blossom as garnish (edible, but kids don't like them!)

Deconstructed Reubens with Russian Rice (Celiac/gluten-intolerance friendly :0) )

  • sauerkraut
  • corned venison or beef
  • rice (I use Nishiki/sushi rice)
  • butter/lard/tallow/schmaltz, your choice
  • onion
  • garlic
  • stock
  • sour cream or plain yogurt
  • ketchup or tomato paste
  • fresh or dried dill
  • chives
  • Swiss cheese (I use Caraway Swiss from William's Cheese)
  • caraway seeds if not using Caraway Swiss
  1. Prepare corned meat. (If you are making your own, be sure to allow 5-7 days to cure and plenty of hours for it to cook before you start the rice.)
  2. Put a good spoonful of fat-of-choice into a saucepan/dutchoven with good fitting lid over medium heat.
  3. Saute a chopped up onion (size & color of your choice) in the fat until translucent.
  4. Add rice (I use 1 1/2 cups of Nishiki, use amount you want of rice you want. Be sure to adjust liquid to fall in line with directions on your rice). Stir occasionally until rice is translucent from absorbing some fat.
  5. Add a clove (more or less) of garlic, minced or grated. Stir.
  6. Add stock (about 2 cups for Nishiki, again, adjust for your rice), stir, bring to a boil, cover with lid, back heat off to a slow simmer about 20 minutes. (OMG! You aren't using Minute Rice, are you? Brown rice? Yuck!) 
  7. Let rice stand about 5 minutes off of heat.
  8. Add a glob of sour cream/yogurt, a squirt of ketchup (or small glob of tomato paste), and a handful each of finely chopped dill and chives (about a teaspoon each if using dry). Mix thoroughly.
  9. Plate up: 1/2 cup of rice or so, topped with a slice of Swiss (and a light sprinkle of caraway seeds if using), a portion of the corned meat, and a serving of sauerkraut (a serving is however much you can handle, it may only be a teaspoon full. And, for crying out loud! Don't heat up the kraut!).

Additional Information:

I'm going to refer you to some info that I think is interesting and some articles written by professionals that are qualified to give nutrition advice.

Akea Life (I believe this is a supplement company. Provided for information purposes only! My life philosphy is to only swallow JERF. Yo! What up,
This is a paper about Okinawan fermented tofu, may be a little in depth for your purposes, but I wanted to share anyways:
Masaaki Yasuda: Japanese researcher

Update 5/23/2012:
Check out this article on probiotics from Dr. Mercola!

Update 6/27/2012:
Neat product for home fermenting