"When a woman stays at home and cooks with good judgment and understanding, peace and happiness result. She thus controls the family's health and destiny, also her husband's mood, disposition and feeling, and assures the futures of her children." - Jaques DeLangre

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Raw Milk Smoothies

Raw Milk Smoothies

We have these all the time! Smoothies and muffins for breakfast. Smoothies and tuna melts for lunch or dinner. Smoothies for dessert! Kids feel like they are getting a treat, you know they are getting healthy, REAL food!

Start with:

3 frozen bananas
1 TBLS raw honey
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 cups raw milk

Blend well in your blender.

If you like banana smoothies stop here and enjoy! Or try these variations.

Add to your blended mixture:

4-5 frozen strawberries


2 TBLS cocoa powder and 1/4 cup natural peanut butter

You can also buy organic coconut milk and add 1/2 a can of it to your fruit smoothies. The possibilities are endless!

Why I Changed My Mind About Cheese and Milk

When I went almost vegan 7 years ago I was convinced that all animal products were bad for our bodies. I cut out all animal products from my cooking and thought that our low-fat diet was the way to go. Not too long after that I read a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS. He told the story of his quest to find out why his American patients had such rampant tooth decay and other health issues. He decided to travel around to little isolated towns and villages throughout the world. Places where the "modern" Western diet hadn't been eaten. The book documents his findings with written words and pictures of people in these isolated places. What he found was that people who ate their native, traditional diet had strong bones, no tooth decay, no tooth crowding, no diseases, etc. The diets they followed differed a little from town to town, but they all basically ate what they grew from the ground and the animals they raised. They all ate animal fat, grain, veggies and fruit in their season and most of them ate dairy products.

What really caught my attention was that NOT ONE of these healthy populations ate a vegetarian diet. There was something in the animal products that contributed to the great health of these people. Dr. Price called it Activator X. I decided then to add eggs and a little cheese into our diet, and even some skim milk. We had maybe one serving of dairy a day. We still kept to a very low-fat diet. I mostly used olive oil and vegetable shortening when I cooked. I rarely used butter. I kept a few sticks of it in the fridge for buttering toast or putting on popcorn. My theory was that milk was meant for turning a 100 pound calf into a 500 pound cow as quickly as possible. It was not meant for humans. We are the only mammal that drinks the milk of another mammal.

As my food education progressed I learned about the terrible conditions cows and chickens were raised in. I felt even more sure that meat,milk, and eggs should play a very small role in our diet. Not to mention all the saturated fat these things contained! EW!

My food education took a huge detour when I really started to read and study Dr. Price's ideas and the books written by Sally Fallon. (She, by the way, is the president of the Weston A. Price foundation. They have a great website, check it out! I'll put the link at the bottom of this post.) The idea that people have been living healthy lives eating traditional foods for thousands of years really made me stop and think. I had to throw out my milk theory because I saw how plain silly it was. If you want to get crazy with that theory you can. We shouldn't eat eggs because they are potentially baby chicks who deserve to live! We shouldn't eat any meat because animals have rights! We shouldn't eat honey because it is stealing from the bees who work so hard to produce it. Do you see what I mean? What about the theory that a loving God created these things to sustain and nourish us? That's the theory I feel best about right now.

I also feel strongly that grains and fruits and veggies should make up the bulk of our diet. In a minute I'll give some sample menu plans I follow. The thing is, we need to be very careful about our FOOD SOURCES! We need to get our food from our own back yards as much as possible and then after that look for ways to get food that has not been doctored up with hormones, chemicals, and antibiotics.

I also feel strongly that a low-fat diet is actually BAD FOR YOU. That is why I am okay with the cheese and butter and milk. We have to get fat in our diets. If you go walk around the grocery store on a Fat Hunt, what will you find? Fat in peanut butter (hydrogenated), fat in cookies (hydrogenated), fat in processed oils, ie. canola, safflower, LIGHT olive oil, (rotten and bleached!) vegetable shortening (hydrogenated) processed milk products (DEAD and full of hormones and chemicals, eggs (from confined chickens fed a corn & grain based diet - not natural to their species), meat (from animals raised in confinement and therefore dosed with hormones and antibiotics, not to mention the poor diet they eat!) SO... where can we get healthy fats?

Here's my list:
Olive Oil - NOT the LIGHT variety - it's processed too.
Raw Milk
Pasture fed meat
Pasture fed chicken eggs
Raw nuts and raw nut spreads
Sour Cream

This is why I'm okay with cheese, butter, and sour cream:
I would not buy my local store's brand of cheese or sour cream. I use Tillamook cheese. It is made from cultured, natural, no hormones added milk. We don't eat tons of it, but I use it almost daily to jazz up what I am making. I look for the best quality butter I can. Butter is a simple fat that is easily digested by our bodies. Butter is real! While I have not been able to find any made from raw milk, butter is a better choice for cooking and flavoring than the hydrogenated shortenings and the newfangled oils that are SO over-processed and just plain bad for you. I'm still trying to learn more about butter. I just can't cook everything in olive oil! I buy Daisy sour cream. The ingredient list is short - Cultured Cream. Sour cream is great made into dip, in soup, on pizza, I LOVE it! Someday I will have a few cows and make my own cheese and butter. In the mean time I'm just trying to get the best I can.

Bottom line:
We need fats in our diet. I'm going to use the fats that are naturally occurring on the earth, that are not processed and that have been valued as a healthy part of diets for thousands of years. I feel good about my choice.

A Few Sample Menus:

B - Soaked oatmeal w/ cream, raisins and apples
L - Pizza: soaked whole-wheat dough, organic pepperoni, tomato sauce, cheese
D - Chili: soaked beans, spices, home-canned tomatoes and soaked dough rolls

B - Scrambled eggs, fruit, and milk
L - Raw milk smoothies and soaked dough apple muffins
D - Soaked dough cheese sandwiches

B - Soaked dough muffins, fruit and milk
L - Soaked rice, zucchini(fried in butter) soaked rolls and carrots
D - Roast beef, veggies and soaked rolls

I try to have chopped veggies or air-popped, buttered popcorn for snacks. I also try to set out lacto-fermented pickled beets or pickles with the meals. Butter and cheese are not a big part of the meals. The raw milk and grains are. I use raw milk to culture buttermilk for the soaked dough, so we get it there too.

This has been a really long post!! Thanks for reading it. This topic has been rolling around in my head and I REALLY needed to get it out! Please ask me questions if there are any I haven't answered.

Here's the link for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ketchup In The Kitchen

SO, I tried my hand at making ketchup last night! First I will tell you that it tastes great and my kids like it! They had it on their scrambled eggs this morning. I have yet to be able to find an affordable brand of store-bought ketchup without high fructose corn syrup in it, so I planted 30 tomato plants in the spring with the goal in mind of making a years supply of ketchup myself.

Here's what I used:

A lot of tomatoes! Probably 20 pounds. Next time I make it I will measure!
2 large organic onions
5 cloves of garlic
1 cup real apple cider vinegar
2 cups sucanat (sweetener)
2-3 tbls salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Here's what we did:
I filled a large pot half way full of hot water and brought it to a boil. Dillon put about 10 tomatoes at a time in the water and scalded them for 30 seconds. He took them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl. He filled the bowl with cold water and let them sit for a minute. While he kept scalding the tomatoes I took the cooled ones and cut the core out of the top and sliced each tomato in half. Then I used my thumbs to press out the seeds and mushy stuff in the middle. I gave the tomato a squeeze to get any extra fluid out and then plopped it in my big stainless-steel pot. We worked like that until the pot was about 3/4ths full. I then chopped up the onions and pressed the garlic and put that in the pan. I stirred in the vinegar, sucanat, salt and pepper. I turned the heat under the pot to medium and crossed my fingers. After several hours of simmering I turned off the heat. I then got out the blender and blended about three cups of the soupy stuff at a time. (It's hot! Put a towel over the top in case any bubbles out.) After each batch of it was blended I poured it into a smaller stock pot I have. Once it was all blended and in the other pot I put the pot on a burner at about medium heat. This blended mixture simmered for another hour or so. You want to cook the tomatoes down until you get the consistency of ketchup. While it simmered I got 6 quart jars and lids ready. I took the pot off the heat and used a funnel to fill each jar. I put lids and rings on each one and then used my steamer to process 5 of them for 30 minutes. (You can use a water-bath to process them if that's what you have.) I stuck the other jar in the fridge to use right away.

The most important things I learned from this endeavor are:
1. Use Roma tomatoes if you can. They have less seeds.
2. Wear rubber gloves. Tomatoes are hard on your skin.
3. Start the whole process in the morning. I started at 4 in the afternoon and it took a long time!
4. You don't have to follow my recipe. Put what sounds good in it to you!

The final word on making ketchup it that it takes a long time, but is worth the effort! I am excited to make another batch soon!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Burnt Cake And A Messy Kitchen

Saturday was my son's eighth birthday. I wanted the day to be fabulous and the food amazing and REAL. Friday I got out the healthy cookbook and looked at the cake recipes. I called my son in and asked him which cake he would like to have. He picked the flour less chocolate cake. We decided to frost it with whipped cream and drizzle mashed strawberries over it. We planned to make ice cream too! I checked to make sure we had all the ingredients we needed and was very excited to have all our family over to be wowed by the tasty, healthy treats.

Saturday dawned with clouds and rain in the sky. Our plans to picnic at the local reservoir had to be altered. I made a yummy breakfast of hash browns, biscuits and gravy. My son opened his gifts and then wet out to play. I turned my attention to the boxes and bags of produce on my counter that needed to be taken care of before I made the cake. There were beets to pickle, tomatoes waiting to be made into ketchup, carrots to trim and put away, and apricots in serious need of being washed and either eaten or dried. I also had to make a trip to the dairy to buy cream for the ice cream and the whipped cream. I still needed to fix lunch and dinner too! Can you sense a disaster about to happen?

I jumped in and started working! First there was ice cream to be made. It turned out just fine. Luckily my wonderful mother showed up about this time to help me. She started on the pile of dishes while I went to work on the produce. Eventually it was time to make the cake. This wasn't going to be just any cake. The directions were complicated, but the vision I had in my head of this fabulous, two layer, whipped cream and berry topped cake made me so excited! I followed the directions carefully. From what I could tell it would be like a chocolate angel-food cake. There were several steps in the process. At one point I tasted the batter and it was NOT sweet enough. I melted a little honey and added it to the mixture. It tasted great! I put the batter in two buttered, round pans, placed them in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes. I did just what the book said, except for the little bit of honey.

25 minutes later the timer rang. With great anticipation I went to open the oven. I was expecting to see two fluffy layers cooked to perfection. I opened the door and my nose was greeted with a funny burnt smell! I removed the pans and, to my great horror, saw two flat-looking things! Where was the fluff? I stood over those two things and got madder and madder! I finally put them in the pantry to cool so I wouldn't have to look at them. I consoled myself by saying that I would just frost them really thickly and they would be okay.

My mom, my daughter and I started getting dinner ready. There was still lots of veggies on the counter and a few dishes. The kitchen was naturally a bit of a mess after all we had been working on, but I wasn't too worried about it. As far as I knew only a few people were coming for the party and they wouldn't mind. I kept putting thoughts of the cake out of my mind.

Dinner turned out nicely. Potato wedges, corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes and watermelon. Just as we finished eating family started coming over. Thankfully they went out back to play. That's when I found out that that my aunt was coming! I had invited her and my paternal grandparents to come, but I hadn't heard back from them so I thought they weren't coming. Now, I LOVE having my family over. I really enjoy hosting a crowd of people and serving good food. I usually try to tidy up the house before people come, but the busy day had made that a little impossible. Things weren't too bad, but the kitchen was still pretty messy. I normally wouldn't worry - we're raising up a houseful of kids and trying to preserve a garden full of food! But when I found out my aunt was coming I panicked! She is one of those amazing ladies who can be a mother, work a business, sew costumes for her kids plays and keep a perfectly clean and organized home. I mean perfectly. You could eat off the floors in her bathroom! I couldn't help but be a little self conscious!

My aunt and grandparents arrived and graciously ignored the mess. I ushered them into the back yard and decided I had better tackle the cake. I began to whip the cream. I don't know what I did wrong, but the cream pretty much turned to butter!
In frustration I stopped whipping the cream and tried to take the cakes out of the pans. It was awful!! They were BURNT, FLAT, and HOPELESS. I stood there and just cried and cried! I wanted everything to be perfect! My mom offered suggestions on how we could make the cake presentable, but I knew that no matter what I did to it there was no way I could serve that cake to my son! I tried to hide my tears as I stuck my head out the door and called to my husband. He came in and I tearfully told him of what had happened. I asked him to hurry up and run up to Walmart and buy a chocolate cake. He was wonderful and ran out to save the day!

Twenty minutes later we were all sitting around the table singing "Happy Birthday!" to my son. The cake looked great and, even though I knew it was made of garbage, I have never been so thankful for white flour and sugar in my whole life! The party was fun, the food was good and I was EXHAUSTED!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Questions About Making Oatmeal

My amazing sister-in-law asked me two really important questions about making oatmeal the way I do. #1 was why use full-fat yogurt and #2 was why take the time to soak and cook the oats when you can microwave them in a few minutes?

Before we answer the first question we have to toss out the notion that a low-fat diet is a healthy diet. In this day and age low-fat foods are all around us and we are bombarded daily with the message that low-fat is the way to go. This is simply not true. Our ancestors valued fats for their nourishing properties. Most of these fats were saturated fats. Saturated fats come to us naturally without having to be processed. I highly recommend reading Sally Fallon's books, Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat, Loose Fat for a detailed lesson on the truth about fats.

Getting back to the yogurt question, look at the ingredients on the back of a low-fat carton of yogurt. You will find high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, and a few things you can't pronounce very well. If you look at the ingredients on a carton of plain, full-fat yogurt you find one thing - cultured milk. It's not hard to pick which one is REAL FOOD.

To answer the question about preparing oats we really need to address two things - the benefits of soaking grains and the idea of tossing out your microwave. First, in the bran of grains there is something called phytic acid. Our bodies have a hard time breaking down this acid making it hard for our bodies to digest and use all the nutrients in grains. Soaking your oats and other grains in a cultured product like buttermilk, yogurt and also whey for 12 - 24 hours breaks down the phytic acid. It also makes the nutrients in the grains easy for your body to use as well as breaking down starches and upping the vitamin content. Wow!

Second, everyone should stop using their microwave ASAP! We gave ours up for good in March of this year. I got a toaster-oven for my birthday and between that and the good old fashioned stove-top I have found I don't miss my microwave at all. Now it takes me 3 minutes to melt my butter for popcorn instead of 30 seconds. I can wait an extra 2.5 minutes to ensure that I'm not dumping chemically altered butter on the food I'm about to serve to my kids. I know, I know, add this to the list of things that make Tara a nut! Google "microwave oven safety" and read the articles that come up with an open mind. What it comes down to is that microwaves alter the protein molecules of the food we cook. I don't really want any altered proteins in me. I've got enough to worry about as is is!

All of this really comes down to preparing foods in ways that our bodies can best use the good stuff in them. Soaking grains ensures that you will get the most nourishment out of them. NOT microwaving foods ensures that your food stays in its proper form.

p.s. I can just see some of you rolling your eyes and saying cooking like this takes too much time and aforethought. It kinda does. I guess it all depends on your attitude. I must confess that for many years I was a cold cereal addict. I could eat Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A huge chunk of my grocery money when to cold cereal each month. (Me, my hubby, and 6 kids chowing down every morning! Can you imagine?) I got heavy into couponing for a while and I had about 50 boxes of cold cereal in my basement! When the number of cereal boxes dipped below 20 I started to panic! What will we eat for breakfast!? Mornings with 6 homeschooling children need to get started quickly and easily. Nothing is easier than opening a box of Shredded Wheat! When I really got serious about no processed food and stopped buying cold cereal I had a major mental shift. I started planning my meals out ahead of time and preparing the night before. It was like a whole new world opened up before me. THERE WERE OTHER THINGS TO EAT FOR BREAKFAST BESIDES COLD CEREAL! Now our breakfasts are nourishing and made of REAL FOODS. Yes it does take a little extra time, but it is SO WORTH IT!

Dairy and Fat

Now that I have convinced you all to switch to raw milk (tee hee!) let's talk for a minute about other dairy products. Butter and cheese are on the top of my list and I am going to focus on them today. For many years butter and cheese were used VERY sparingly in our house. A little butter on toast or popcorn and a little cheese sprinkled on soups or maybe a little in a sandwich. After all, butter and cheese are full of saturated fat and everyone knows saturated fat is bad for you, right?

Let's look back in time several hundred years. How did our ancestors get fat in their diets? Families lived on farms and worked the land. They kept chickens, pigs, and cows for meat, eggs, milk, cheese and butter. They grew acres of wheat and oats, and gardens for produce to supplement their diets. Pretty much all the fat they ate came from animal products in the form of saturated fat. They never used any kind of oil in cooking. Mothers saved bacon grease and used animal fats in cooking.

The saturated fats they used stayed stable/solid at room temperature. They were not processed at high temperatures or changed in any way. They milked the cow, made the butter and ate it. The so called healthy oils, like corn oil, we are told to replace butter with today are processed at extremely high temperatures. They are rancid (rotten) at that point and so the manufacturer bleaches the oil. What sounds more appealing, rotten, bleached corn oil or fresh, REAL butter?

Saturated fat is actually a blessing! Are you a little shocked by that? I know! It took me a long time to accept that as truth. But it makes so much sense to me now. Our ancestors ate saturated fats and heart disease and cancer were rare. When we were told to go "low fat" and avoid all saturated fats heart disease and cancer rates went through the roof.

SO! Put butter and cheese back on the menu. Just be sure that you get good quality products. I use Tillamook cheese. It's the best quality cheese I have found. Right now I buy butter, and the cheese, from Costco. The price is excellent. I use butter in my bread, on rolls and muffins, on popcorn, saute veggies in it, etc. I like to also use olive oil for a few things, but mostly I cook with butter. Kids will eat their veggies gladly when you add a plop of butter and Real Salt to them. Cookies and other treats just taste better with butter!

p.s. I do think there is such a thing as too much butter and cheese. Just use good judgement!