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Breakfast smoothie

Smoothies are such a great, quick breakfast. My kids love them. At one point in the video, my daughter (2 years old) realized what I was doing. You’ll all the sudden hear her saying “shake, shake, shake” over and over (what you can’t see is her bouncing around in excitement….my own little tigger)

We use approximately these amounts per serving:

2 whole eggs

1-2 Tbs coconut oil

1-2 cups liquid- raw milk, coconut milk, kefir, yogurt, and cream are all awesome options

1 pinch of salt

1/2 tsp -1 tsp vanilla (not imitation)

ice or frozen fruit

The coconut oil is important because it give you great sustained energy, keeps you feeling full longer, and is full of lauric acid. We don’t use any frozen fruit in our shakes- choosing instead to let the natural sweetness come through. If you are used to your smoothies tasting like melted ice cream…… start reducing the fruit as soon as possible. Also- increase the amount of lacto-fermented foods in your diet. This will help reduce your sweet tooth. Remember- taste is a LEARNED response. Exposure is the key to adjusting your taste buds.

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Is the Hallelujah Diet really biblical?

As a believer, I greatly value the Word of God. I do not take lightly the commands, and guidance found in those pages. When someone says “this is the way” or “this is what the Bible teaches” then we should examine that closely and test it to see if it’s true. Unfortunately far too many people just accept the word of another person without any critical thinking.

The Hallelujah diet claims to be the biblically mandated way of eating. I would like to make note here: they do not claim it is “a way of eating” but rather the “only” God approved way of eating. After spending time researching this diet, I was left disappointed with what I found. I found alot of half-truths, plenty of faulty logical thinking, confusion of correlation and causality, and even a blatant disregard for scriptural teachings! If you are going to claim that your painting is an authentic Monet, than it better hold up to scrutiny. In the same way if you are claiming that your diet, is the one and only “God approved” way of eating- based on the bible- then it should pass any test with flying colors!

The hallelujah diet (THD) has  a packet they put out called biblical nutrition 101. They break down different food choices into chapters. So lets take a look at a few of those:

Vegetables and Fruit

THD states that God created fruits and vegetables for us. They claim we are supposed to eat ONLY live fruits and veggies for nutrition. This philosophy is based on Genesis 1:29. I don’t disagree that in the Garden of Eden we ate a vegetarian diet. Every other animal on the face of the earth also ate a vegetarian diet (Genesis 1:30). If you look around the animal kingdom now- you can easily see that is no longer true! Now plant’s bit back! There are anti-nutrient properties in vegetation, grains and beans. Some of these can be neutralized by cooking the food. Even the THD diet recognizes that you can’t get the nutrients you need from the whole food.

 The THD diet acknowledges that at least 65% of the nutrients found in vegetables and fruits are lost through the digestion of them in their whole raw state. They explain that dependant on the health of your gut, you could be absorbing as little as 1% of the nutrients. Their answer? Juicing! Don’t you remember the story about Adam having to take the juicer in to be repaired cause Eve shoved to many apples down it at once?. Yeah- I don’t either. So we are supposed to believe that God, in His ultimate wisdom and power- created the earth from nothing: but didn’t think to create a digestive system that could pull more than 35% of the nutrients out of the only food they were allowed to eat? Nor did He have the forethought to give them a solution (like a juicer)?

What about if you don’t have a juicer? Well THD has an answer for that! They sell several dried juice supplements. So basically- to eat the way God (supposedly) wants you to, you have to eat the food He created- PLUS buy the tools man made, PLUS buy the food THD made. This is sounding less and less like a biblical diet now, and more and more like a man-made adaption. The point of the juicer, according to the THD, is to preserve the live enzymes, while eliminating the fiber. Too much fiber is not healthy for your system (a point on which we agree!). While live enzymes in your diet are a wonderful goal; a better source of live enzymes would be lacto fermented foods. Now those foods are superfoods!

THD says you need a juicer now, but not in the Garden of Eden, because man was healthier, and the world was better, and everything was organic. Hmmm, so before, when God commanded this lifestyle of eating, there were different circumstances. But now, circumstances have changed, so we need to add a bunch of stuff to make it work? Isn’t that possibly the reason why our the diet was commanded to change after the flood?

THD uses alot of circular reasoning, and poor logic to back up their all vegan, mostly raw diet. One example of this is found in their observation of nature. They use the deer’s vegetarian diet, and lack of weight issues as proof positive that we should also be vegetarian. Problem is, you could easily use that same reasoning to look at the cow- after all they eat a vegetarian diet just like the deer. Anyone reading this have goals of looking like a cow? Or how about a tiger? Sleek and strong, fast, cunning- and…….. a meat eater! If only it were as easy as picking an animal whose beauty we appreciate, and then imitating that diet!

Meat

THD claims that animal products are the number one cause of all human health issues. This section of their information packet is full of errors. They claim that one of the biggest reason meat is an issue is because it lacks fiber. Wait! Earlier- fiber was evil- and needed to be removed from our vegetables- now a lack of it is the reason meat is bad????  THD presents  complete misinformation, blaming heart attacks on cholesterol, and fat- saying it clogs arteries. They claim that protein is fuel for cancer (while not saying anything about sugar feeding cancer). In actuality: The National Cancer Institute states that: “Eating too little protein and calories is the most common nutrition problem facing many cancer patients.” THD uses “the china study” as the basis for many of their claims. This study has HUGE errors in it, and has been debunked many times. They also continue to spread lies by claiming that Dr. Atkins died of a heart attack. He did not. He slipped on ice, and hit his head. The resulting head trauma lead to other complications, and ultimately his death. As if added as an afterthought, THD adds a single statement at the end of this section claiming that pastured meats are the same as industrial meats. This is a complete lie. Just like what we eat impacts our health- the diet of animals impacts their health. A steer raised on grass (which is its normal diet) is much healthier, and had more nutrients, in comparison to a steer finished on grains in an industrial feedlot. We get the nutritional benefit of those animals spending a lifetime eating the living greenery of the earth. That’s why pastured meat vs feedlot meat is so important.

Personally I have issue anytime someone uses one scripture to back up a point, at the exclusion of all other passages. THD uses the genesis model of eating, and ignores all other parts of the bible. Genesis 9:3 says “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” Soit is clear that we are now to look at meat as being equal to previously allowed foods- “even as the green herbs”. In Genesis 18:8, the Lord comes down and visits with Abraham. During that visit it is recorded that God Himself- ate butter, meat, and raw milk. God was the one who controlled what was written in His Word. So we know that since it’s in there, He wanted us to see that He gave His stamp of approval to these food sources. He commanded His priest to eat meat on at least 7 different occasions in the old testament. We can also see in the new testament a similar approach to food. It is recorded that Jesus himself, ate fish and lamb, and on many occasions fed others meat, encouraged the catching of fish for food, and even cooked it. Does it even make sense to claim that God wants us to only eat vegetables when He himself ate and encouraged the eating of meat?

Grains and Sugars and Salt

I appreciated this quote by THD  “This (eating refined grains) leads to overeating! Sadly, this has produced a nation  of overfed, undernourished, predominantly overweight people! (Note: Remember, farmers use grain to increase the weight of their animals.)” I applaud THD’s desire to get away from the Standard American Diet. Full of refined processed chemicals and junk- no one could find health eating that way. It is unfortunate that they have taken the approach of throwing the baby out with the bath water. An interesting side note- they discourage the use of anything cooked in the beginning, saying that the food needs to be able to still grow before we put it in our mouths, and then allow cooked vegan dishes at the end. They also encourage only the simplest of cooked grains- but then list recipes for bread on their website.

Conclusion:

THD confuses correlation with causation. Health is relative. Compared to the individual dying of cancer, the person with a horrible case of the flu is healthier. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a recipe for illness. Making any changes, away from processed food, will result in improved health- but not necessarily optimal health. They site stories of improved health, such as getting off medicines, and no longer needing insulin. THD claims this is from not eating meat, and following THD. In reality it is because they are no longer eating SAD! It’s not meat and saturated fats that are the problem, it’s the processed foods, chemicals, fake foods, and hydrogenated fats! Removing those from the diet will improve health, but only to an extent. You can’t just remove bad foods- you have to add healing nutrients back in. THD says ” when we place these highly concentrated, high quality, incredibly dense nutrients into our body, the body has the building materials needed to produce a cell that is superior to the one it is replacing, as our bodies’ cells die and replace at the rate of approximately 300 million per minute.” It’s a shame they have been fooled into thinking that vegetables and fruits can offer the same dense nutrients as grassfed meats and fats!

THD “looks good” in light of our obsession with vegetarian eating. Somehow eating meat has become a sign of a lower level in terms of both mental and spiritual development. Our world has equated vegetarian, and vegan eating with being a better person and on a higher plane.  A vegetarian is no more righteous than one who chooses to eat meat. Romans 14:2 says “One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only”. They claim that Daniel was proof of the superiority of eating vegetables. Did they read the same story I did? Daniel eating only vegetables and drinking only water, and then ending up healthy was……a MIRACLE! In fact the commander was fearful for his life, that if Daniel did as he planned, he would look sickly at the end. Daniel and the commander both understood the need for meat and fat as part of the diet.

THD closes with this:

My friend reading these closing words, we are living in a world that has many voices crying out to us saying, “This is the way!” But the Bible says in I John 4:1,“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

I agree. Let us “try the spirits (THD), whether they are of God”, using the only appropriate standard: the Word of God. 1 Timothy 4:1-3 says ” Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (emphasis mine)

THD claims to be pulling the diet straight from the bible- yet skips over tons of passages, and adds cooked food. If eating the garden of Eden way was all that was necessary, then why add a cooked dinner? It is NOT a biblically accurate diet. It is one man’s opinion about food that cannot be defended by using either science or the bible as it’s foundation!

Born at home….

Both my children were born at home. It was an amazingly intimate experience. I wouldn’t have it any other way! My mother became a midwife when I was in my teens. I apprenticed under her for a while, and was able to experience home births, and even a handful of hospital births before I became pregnant with my own. Having seen both environments, it was a no-brainer for me. Aside from complications,  I wanted my children born at home. Complications are what hospitals are equiped for, they don’t understand how to allow a woman to birth naturally. They feel the need to “get involved”, and as a result often create complications where there were none. There is such an intense peace, and an air of awe that accompanies a home birth. I’ve had many women tell me that there’s no way they could have a baby at home (because of the lack of epidural). What they don’t realize, is the environments don’t even begin to compare. I don’t think I could have a natural childbirth experience in a hospital: a cold room, people coming in and out, telling me how I have to lay, or sit, drink or not drink, strapped to machines. The experiences are not similar at all! My mom attended both my births, as the midwife for the first, and my support structure (along with my hubby) for the second. It always saddens me when I hear mothers continuing to spread misinformation about the birthing processes. Most women in America are unaware of how beautiful and special birth can be. Just like we have lost touch with where our food comes from, we have lost touch with our bodies, and the act of birth. This lost connection has come with a price. It is not widely known, but we have 2nd highest mortality rate of all developed nations! That’s because of our doctor centered, hospital birthing system.

I read an awesome article on this very subject and I just had to share it with you. Go read it, it’s well worth your time! Huffington Post article on Childbirth in the USA

Oh- and if you are curious…..here’s my story about my second child’s birth – Petal’s Arrival

We’ve all heard the message. Drink 8- 8oz glasses of water each day. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that this piece of advice is the most commonly repeated advice anywhere. You’ll find it mentioned in practically every news segment or article on health or weight loss, by grandmothers across the country, and on blogs all over the internet. Question is; what if that information is wrong, or at the very least misunderstood?

“There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.” –William James (1842-1910), the father of modern psychology

It turns out that the 8 x 8 (8 glasses, of 8 oz each) guideline may be based on a misunderstanding. In 1945 the Food and Nutrition Board, now part of the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine made a recommendation for daily water consumption. They suggested a fifth of a teaspoon per calorie of food consumed. This works out to be about 64 to 80 ounces. The last sentence stated that “most of this water is contained in prepared food”. Somehow, this part of the report has been lost in the communication of the guidelines. Dependant on your diet, the amount of water necessary to supplement your food varies. Most people need 3-4 cups a day, although during strenous exercise, pregnancy or in hot weather that amount goes up. In 2004 the board reviewed their earlier guidelines. The conclusion of their study was that “the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide.”

Dr. Valtin, a kidney specialist, is the author of two textbooks on the kidneys and water balance. He is a professor at Dartmouth Medical School. He spent nearly a year searching for evidence that supported the 8 x 8 guidelines. He couldn’t find a single scientific report supporting the recommendations.  Surveys of fluid intake on both men and women were published as peer-reviewed documents. These strongly suggest that such large amounts of additional fluids are not needed. Since then, other studies have come along supporting his conclusions. It is now being recognized that other fluids, such as coffee, tea, and even alcohol in moderate amounts, can count towards our necessary hydration requirements. Dr. Valtin’s final recommendation was to let your thirst be your guide, rather than force yourself to drink a specific amount of water.

Hydration

As I was doing research on hydration I found a fascinating correlation between weight and hydration levels. Water in the body is measured in two ways; dehydration is measured by the amount (or lack of) of water circulating along with the blood, while hydration is the amount of water being held in bodily tissue. Dehydration occurs when the concentration of blood has risen by 5 percent. Body water percentages are helpful for understanding hydration. It would be easy to think that if you want to hydrate, then you just drink more fluids. It’s not quite that simple. The body is a finely tuned balancing machine. Drinking excess water doesn’t actually increase hydration, it only decreases the blood concentration (by increasing the blood volume), and throws the electrolytes out of balance. Hydration is the body holding onto the fluid, storing it in the tissues. The bodily tissues that retain water, and are used for measuring our hydration levels, are muscle, and fat. So based on the amount of muscle and fat your body contains, you have a limit on your potential hydration levels. Turns out muscles hold more water in their fibers than fats do. A fat cell can only hold 15%- 25% water, whereas a healthy muscle cell can hold up to 72%. In light of this information, I started tracking my own body hydration percentages, and found this to be true. Over the last 2 months, as my body fat percentage has gone down, my body hydration percentages have gone up. It is difficult to be properly hydrated if you are overweight. To increase hydration you need to increase your muscle mass and decrease excess fat. Without having proper “storage tanks” guzzling water will only make you have to go to the bathroom more, and deplete your nutritional stores.

What could be the harm in drinking too much??

We often like to think of water as being the perfect “healthy” drink at best, and at worst, totally harmless. Dr Valtin, said “The fact is, there is potentially harm, even in water”. Too much water can cause water intoxication. The symptoms of water intoxication include mental confusion, seizures, and even death. Unfortunately deaths from water intoxications do occur.  In 2007 a young mother lost her life due to water intoxication. She was participating in a radio station contest “hold your wee for a wii” and drank too much water. A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine highlighted the case of a runner in the London marathon who collapsed and died, after crossing the finish line, due to exercise-associated water intoxication.  Most cases involving death, are the results of a prank/contest, ecstasy use (causes the sensation of extreme thirsty), or uneducated athletes consuming excess amounts of water in an attempt to avoid dehydration. What most people don’t realize is that harm can and is done to the body long before the intoxication reaches fatal levels.

There is a popular theory going around that drinking more water is necessary to properly detox the toxins in our body. This might be true if the kidneys worked like a carbon filter, forcing water to trickle through at a slow and steady pace. There is no filter controlling the flow of water. The more you drink (esp. at one time) the faster the water flows into your kidneys. Your kidney filters, in part, using a series of capillary beds called glomeruli. The glomeruli do get damaged by wear and tear. Drowning your kidneys with large amounts of water is one of the suspected causes of this wear and tear. As far as removing toxins, one study found that at best, drinking water resulted in little to no increase in the ability to remove toxins, and at worse, the body was actually LESS able to remove toxins (as is the case with the glomeruli in the kidneys). So it’s hard on your kidneys to drink excessive amounts of water, and has little benefit, if any at all.

When your body processes water, it not only removes toxins- but also uses and loses minerals. When we drink too much water, a mineral imbalance occurs. Thanks to commercials for Gatorade, most people have an idea of what electrolytes are. Although I would not recommend Gatorade as a healthy drink, they at least understand that water alone does not create the proper balance needed. The electrolytes necessary for the body are: sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate, and sulfate. Despite the bad rap that sodium (salt) gets in the media, it’s a vital nutrient. Hyponatraemia develops when you don’t have the proper salt to water ratio. Acute hyponatraemia can result in a coma, brain herniation, and death. Potassium is another one of the minerals that is lost with excess water. This can lead to constipation. It’s actually not the water that keeps our stools soft, it is potassium. Potassium helps the body reabsorb water, and a deficit results in hard stools. Calcium is another important mineral lost through excess water. Lose too much calcium and you may end up paying the price with kidney stones. Other conditions potentially created by mineral loss are: heart disease, heart attack, angina, arrhythmia, unstable blood pressure, degenerative bone diseases, muscular disorders, fibromyalgia and fatigue.

One more downside to guzzling unnecessary amounts of water is unnecessary trips to the bathroom! True, it’s a silly complaint- but if we don’t need all that water, why waste time with all those bathroom trips? I don’t know about you, but as a mom- time is at a premium. Plus- I don’t want leave a 20 month old alone for too long- man-o-man can they think up a lot of “no no’s” to do in a short amount of time!

What about when you’re sick????

In 2004 a study was done to see whether increasing fluids (ie, past the point of thirst) when sick was beneficial, benign, or harmful. This study published in the British Medical Journal. I was very surprised to see the results of their findings. Apparently when sick, the body releases an anti-diuretic hormone. The release of this hormone is most common in lower respiratory infections (chesty colds). The body is trying to conserve all its energy and nutrients for healing. It seems like it would make sense to drink extra water, especially with mucus as a symptom.  Instead, giving extra fluids while sick might lead to hyponatraemia and fluid overload. In the data they cited, there were several deaths in children caused by this. The conclusions reached by the research team are:

 “We found data to suggest that giving increased fluids to patients with respiratory infections may cause harm. To date there are no randomized controlled trials to provide definitive evidence, and these need to be done. Until we have this evidence, we should be cautious about universally recommending increased fluids to patients, especially those with infections of the lower respiratory tract”

I would like to point out that this data is for “increased fluids”. I don’t think we need to limit fluids while sick, just reassess the common practice of “pushing fluids” Certain illnesses will require more water. For example, having a fever increases the need for hydration by about 1 cup per day. Trusting your thirst mechanism should supply your body with the fluids you need.

Common water myths:

  • Thirst = Dehydration
    • It’s on blogs, in articles, and now even in those “forward to your friends if you care” chain emails. It reads something like this “If you are thirsty than it’s too late: you are already dehydrated!” While that might be a nice scare tactic to sell more bottles of water, it’s total malarkey. Your thirst mechanism is triggered by a 2% rise in blood concentration. Dehydration does not occur until a 5% rise in blood concentration. So just being thirsty, does not mean you are dehydrated. Studies done by Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutrition sciences at Pennsylvania State University, found no evidence that people are chronically dehydrated. Apart from some drugs that cause problems with thirst regulation, she feels that most people are adequately hydrated.
  • Urine should be clear
    • No. Although urine should not be dark brown, it shouldn’t be clear either. Urine color is affected by concentration levels, vitamins, minerals, medications, and the foods we eat. A lemony yellow is perfectly acceptable for urine color. Every person is different, and the color and output amount is going to vary from person to person. If you have to wake up in the middle of the night, or go more than 5 times per day- (and aren’t pregnant!) then you are drinking too much.
  • Weight loss is improved
    • The theory goes: drink more water, feel more full, lose more weight. There are a couple of issues with this thinking. 
      1.  Having the goal of a “full stomach” results in a stretched out stomach. Eating to satiety (using fat) is a much more effective way to lose and then maintain weight.
      2.  Although you might feel full at the table: that “feeling” goes away rather quickly once you get up
      3. Drinking water with your meal dilutes your digestive enzymes. Besides making your body less effective at digestion, this can also lead to heart burn, acid reflux, and other digestive issues
    • Let’s get real here: We as a society are drinking more water than ever! Take a look around you next time you’re out somewhere and see how many people are walking around with water bottles. Are we seeing a decline in obesity levels? No, they are still increasing. So while this myth might seem like the magic weight loss pill, it’s obviously not having a positive effect on our waistlines!

Summary-

Ok- so bottom line? I have come to the conclusion we need to let our healthy thirst signals be our guide. Unfortunately – our thirst mechanism isn’t always health. It’s out of whack from guzzling water so much, that our body is in “flush” mode. This is because the body senses the huge amount of liquid you’re suddenly downing and releases a diuretic hormone in an attempt to bring your fluid levels back to normal. In the short-term, this reactive offloading (your half hourly flights to the bathroom) can be over-compensatory, leaving you dehydrated.

 Here’s my suggestions. Note- these suggestions are not necessarily for someone on the Standard American Diet. The SAD has too much grains and fiber in it. Excess fiber basically “spoils” in your intestines, and requires more water to work its way through your system. Ever eat a couple of crackers without any water? Even if you are eating the SAD – rethink how much water you are drinking. Don’t feel guilty if it’s not the 8×8. After all- as we established above- there is no scientific evidence backing it up, and even some studies suggesting it’s too much. For my readers who are eating a traditional food diet, a low carb- high fat diet, or the liberation diet, let’s retrain our bodies to have accurate thirst indicators on them. My thirst indicator was out of whack, and with Kevin’s (author of the liberation diet) encouragement and guidance, this is what I did.

  • Stop drinking water……..take a deep breath. I said water, not liquids. Water depletes our system, while not really adding anything of value back in. Although I still drink an occasional glass of water, especially if I’m out, it’s not the first thing I grab anymore. Kefir, water kefir, moderate amounts of raw milk, herbal tea, small amounts of coffee (esp. with raw cream), kombucha, and even a good bone broth are all great ways to hydrate your body. Although they still require nutrients to process (like water), they are adding something back to your body at the same time.
  • Ditch the “Texas sized” glasses. Confession time- I grew up loving big glasses. In fact, once I moved out on my own, I would steal one or two of my favorites (from my mom), to keep at my house (Sorry mom!). Right now my cabinet is full of 24 oz glasses. In the past I would fill them to the brim, and then stand at the sink and chug, chug, chug away. Now that I’ve found my natural balance, I still use them, but I only fill them about 1/3 of the way full (including ice) – and sip over time.
  • Give it a week or two. Honestly, I was so used to over hydrating, that I trained my body to be prepared for that. Kevin encouraged me to drink just a small amount a day (read: normal) for a week, and not to drink 3 hours before bed. At first I found that really difficult. I had become accustomed to taking that 24 oz glass to bed and drinking it all before I went to sleep. It was mostly mental, but my mouth felt dry at night. I found sucking on an ice-cube for a min or two really helped at those times. For me, it was less than 1 week until I had “reset” my thirst mechanism. I don’t walk around feeling thirsty. My urine is a nice lemon yellow, my skin looks hydrated, and I have energy.
  • Get a tea-cup. Now I know you think I’ve lost my mind, but this really helps. Until your body is balanced, and not in flush mode- when you are thirsty, drink you choice of beverage (not water) from a tea-cup (not a coffee cup). Now I don’t mean stand there and fill it up over and over! Fill it up once, drink (not guzzle), and then walk away. Most the time you will find that your thirst is quite quenched. If not, then go back and get some more 😀

Want to read more? Here are some of the articles and resources about water I used.

http://drbenkim.com/drink-too-much-water-dangerous.htm

http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/283/5/R993

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~news/releases/2002/aug/080802.html

http://jasn.asnjournals.org/cgi/content/long/19/6/1041

http://www.liberationdiet.com/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020809071640.htm

http://www.paktribune.com/pforums/posts.php?t=1491&start=1

http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/eserv/UQ:74274/UQ_PV_74274.pdf (this one is the study on drinking extra fluid while sick)

This post is part of Fight back fridays- at food renegade

Morrocan Eggplant

I got a great deal on eggplant last week. As in- I have 10 pounds of it. So I decided to lacto ferment it with some indian/morrocan flavors

3 eggplants

1.5 tsp gram masala

2 tsp curry

1 tbs salt

1/2 onion

Let it sit out for about a week, and then put it in the fridge. Eggplant really seems to take a while to soften. So I didn’t care for it the first couple of weeks. It’s now about 3 months old…..and really good. The spices are strong- so if you are not used to indian food, you might want to tame the spices down some. It sure is a pretty color. This eggplant is a nice accompaniment to grilled meat, and not really intended just as a snacking food. It’s too strong for that.

Water kefir

There are a thousand and one  recipes on the internet for water kefir. Most of them are pretty similar. I think I just might have tried them all. At its most basic- water kefir is the kefir grains, sugar, and water. Brewed like that- it’s slightly carbonated, just barely sweet, and pretty bland and unappealing. You can take those grains though, and add a vast combination of juices, fruits, extract, and flavorings to create a wonderfully carbonated just slightly sweet VERY refreshing drink. I’m enjoying some right now.

There are basically 3 ways I prefir to make water kefir.  They range in strength of flavor, and cost to make. I mostly tend to make the least expensive option- cause my family can put it away-faster than I can make it 😀

1. Apple Cider Kefir

This taste very similar to a hard cider- without the alcohol. It’s wonderfully strong and full of apple flavor. Since it’s brewed in straight apple juice- it’s also the most expensive. This is hands down, my husbands favorite kefir recipe.

Ingredients:

1 gallon organic apple juice. No preservatives! (I buy the not from concentrate apple juice at our local health store. YUM!)

3-4 Tbs water kefir grains (or milk kefir grains that have been transitioned to use as water kefir)

Combine both ingredients in a large jar. Place a lid on. On my normal water kefir I use a tight fighting lid. My big jars don’t have a tight-fitting lid- so I just use what it came with, and it works fine. Let sit for 48 hours. Strain the kefir out, and bottle. I use the swing top bottles, because we like the carbonation. If you want carbonation- after bottling let it sit out for another day or two- then place in the fridge and enjoy!

2. Fruit flavored kefir

Ingredients

3-4 Tbs kefir grains

1 1/2 – 2 quarts filtered or spring water

4 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp ground up egg shells (I use the shells from hard-boiled eggs. Once they are dried I blend into a powder using a small spice grinder or coffee grinder. I then store in a jar until needed)

Combine all ingredients in 1 gallon jar, or 2 quart mason jars. Cover tightly and allow to sit out for 24-48 hours. Strain kefir grains. Before bottling, fill the bottle 1/4 of the way full with your choice of juice.  Add the kefir water prevously made, and fill the bottle. Allow to sit out for another day or two to build carbonation. Place in fridge and enjoy. Grape juice kefir is a great one to start with. It’s going to appeal most to those used soda pop. I had a friend tell me it tasted like a non alcoholic sangria. Other favorite flavors at our house are peach, and pineapple. It’s important to use good organic juices for these. This is where your flavor comes from. I’ve read that orange juice doesn’t do so well do to the pulp. Haven’t tried it myself to know for sure though. One helpful hint- when I am experimenting with new flavors, I pour kefir water into a pitcher, and start adding juice (keeping in mind the percentages, so i can match it again in the future if it’s a winner) Then I taste and adjust. If I end up with a flavor I don’t care for (we didn’t like grapefruit kefir) just add grape juice. It’s such a strong flavor- it gets it back on track and taste great!

3. Ginger Lemon Kefir

This is the batch I make the most of. It’s wonderfully light, and dances on your tongue. Plus – it’s really inexpensive to make.

Ingredients

3-4 Tbs kefir grains

1 1/2 – 1 3/4 quarts filtered or spring water

4 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp ground up egg shells (I use the shells from hard-boiled eggs. Once they are dried I blend into a powder using a small spice grinder or coffee grinder. I then store in a jar until needed)

1/2 organic lemon or lime (peel if it’s not organic)

2 tsp ginger juice

1-2 dried figs

I typically make this it two quart jars. Just split the ingredients between the two jars. Place the kefir and sugar in the jars. Squeeze the lemon or lime a little into the jar, and then drop it in also. For simplicity, I juice about 1/3-1/2 a cup of ginger juice at a time, and then keep it in the fridge. I go through it pretty quick. If you don’t have a juicer, or don’t want to juice the ginger, you can peel it and slice it and add that to the jars. It’s the way I originally did it- but I got tired of picking the ginger out, and trying to separate it from the kefir grains. The figs are optional. They can be a little pricy, so I jump back and forth between added them and not. They add an additional depth of flavor. Add the ginger, and figs. Sprinkle the egg shells over everything. The eggshells add minerals and calcium to the hungry little kefir grains. Once everything is in the jar,  fill them about 3/4 of the way full. Place a tight lid on, give them a good shake, and put to the side. 24-48 hours later strain and bottle. Again, for extra carbonation (although it’s good straight from the mason jar too) leave out for an extra day. I think the taste is somewhere between a less sweet 7up and gingerale.

Kefir, kombucha and lacto ferments are all living works of art. The are influenced greatly by time and temperature. When you are first playing with any of these, taste often at different stages. It wont be long until you will develop an understanding and figure out at what stage your family enjoys them best.

This chutney has quickly become my favorite lacto-fermentaion recipe. Like many cultured recipes, the flavors meld and become more sweet over time. When first put together, it taste too salty- just give it a couple of months in the fridge and you’ll fall in love with it too!

 4 plums

1/4 tsp mustard seeds, ground

1/8 tsp star anise, ground

pinch – 1/8 tsp cloves (to taste)

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp-1 tsp ground chipolte pepper

1 bunch green onions -bottoms only, sliced

1/4 cup chopped raisins

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 Tbs whey

2 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients. I put it in a mason jar, mash lightly and covered tightly. Unscrew and release the built up pressure once a day.  Let sit at room temperature for 3-4 days. Afterwards place in the fridge. This is not a sweet chutney to start with, but it really mellows out over time. It’s really great with chicken or pork. Enjoy!

This post is part of  Real Food Renegades – Fight back Friday!

melons growing like crazy, and in the distance, basil and tomatoes

Time for a garden update! This year has been exponentially better than last year in the garden. We have made a bunch of changes. We’ve increased the garden space to 300 square feet, although it isn’t all planted at the moment. A huge and WELCOME change was in the area of watering. My dear husband installed a drip system on automatic timers for me. It’s saving me about 8 hours a week in watering! Thanks babe!!!!    

My herb spiral. I love this!

 I got the idea for this herb spiral from some websites on permaculture. You place the thirstier plants towards the base, and herbs that need less water towards the top.    

Yellow wax beans and roma tomatoes

 
 
 
 
 
 

Black eye peas

daikon raddishes and pepper plants

 I’ve never grown black-eyed peas before. They seem pretty easy so far. My plan is to let them dry on the plant, and then store them for this winter!    

arugula and salad greens

  

cucumbers and baby okra plants

   

yard long beans in the back, tomatoes in the front, peppers in the middle

tomatoes in the front, okra in the back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we’ve been (hit and miss) tracking our garden’s production. We’ve been eating lots and lots of lacto fermented pickles, and pickled okra! Yum Yum!

fresh basil and peppers

So far we have harvested 25 pounds of cucumbers, 8 pounds of okra, 1.5 pounds of basil, and  9.5 pounds of various other vegetables. Our yard long beans are just about ready to start producing. I can’t wait! Love fresh vegetables straight from the garden!

pickled okra, dill pickles, spicy carrots

When I was younger my great-grandmother came to visit for a couple of weeks. While she was there I watched her peel and slice brocoli stems and place them in the pickle jar with old pickle juice. She would also drink leftover pickle juice. At the time I thought she was obsessed with pickles, and maybe just a little nuts. Little did I realize she was tapping into an ancient nutritional truth. I bet she didn’t even know what she was doing or why. It was simplly what she was taught and she was repeating that act (although the brine from store-bought pickles had zero nutritional value).

Pickles weren’t always an item on the shelve in the grocery store, made by Claussen, Vlassic and others. To glimpse a time when pickles were a health food, you have to go back. Back before the grocery store pickles, back before the little housewife in the kitchen working hard to can her pickles. Originally pickles, sauerkraut and many other foods were made by a process called lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermentation is how families preserved their food for generations. This was an art-form, handed down from mother to daughter throughout generations. So what happened? World war II. When all the able-bodied men went off to fight in world war II, the countries work force suffered. For the first time in our history, women were being told we were more valuable (or only valuable) working outside of the home.  So we went to work. In drones, women joined the work force. All the sudden, there was no one in the home to do all the work that came with running a household. No one to make the bread or cook dinner, much less make the pickles. So the manufacturing industry stepped in – enter white bread and tv dinners! Pickles were a problem though. Lacto-fermentation can’t be done on a large-scale. It’s an art form, not an exact science. So they figured out a way to make something that “tasted like” pickles. The manufacturing industry discovered that canning pickles in vinegar created a similar taste and texture and that it could be done on a massive scale. And so was born the modern pickle. Most of the flavor and texture, none of the health benefits.

So what makes pickles healthy? What is lacto fermentation? Lacto fermentation is a process that converts the sugars and starches in food into lactic acid. This occurs through the works of friendly bacteria.  Now don’t be scared by the word “bacteria”. Our bodies need good bacteria, also called probiotics. This bacteria, and their by-product lactic acid actually improves the nutrition and digestibility of the food.

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”

Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89

So the process of lacto-fermentation increases your health beyond just the range of vitamin and minerals nutrition. It is like a boost to your digestion and immune system. So how about reaching for a lacto-fermented pickle to enjoy with your lunch tomorrow? Oh- and did I mention? They taste WAY better than brine and canned pickles. Yeah for healthy pickles! I’ll be posting some EASY lacto fermented recipes in the coming days. In the meantime- there is one small brand I know of that still uses lacto fermentation. Bubbies brand makes dill, bread & butter pickles, plus saurkraut. You can find it in health type grocery stores- Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market- ect. It will always be in the refridgerated section- because it is alive (like a yogurt). Check it out- you won’t be sorry!

What if…..

What if…….. everything you’ve been told about nutrition was wrong.

What if………the people that  were deciding what we “should” eat – were the same ones profiting from our choices

What if……..the reason our society was overweight was the food pyramid

What if……You’ve been LIED to…………………

 Sounds like a giant conspiracy theory doesn’t it? Personally I’d like to think that the powers to be in the government have our best interest in mind. Unfortunately, that’s often not the cause. Money speaks. Money speaks. Money speaks. The food industry is a huge money-maker. Approximately 10 billion dollars a year is spent on advertising food….. just to children! I recently started researching food, nutrition, and the food industry. I was blown away by what I found. “Studies” manipulated to support the theory that was desired, other studies completely ignored. The organizations that sell food, directly involved in funding the consumer education campaigns designed to tell us what to eat! Talk about a conflict of interest! Join me as I separate the truth from the lies, and add clarity to the confusing world of what to eat, or not! We can’t continue on the path we are on. Although modern medicine is working harder and harder to keep us alive- our nutrition is killing us. We may be living longer than our grandparents- but certainly not longer than their grandparents, and we are definitely not living a better, healthier, stronger life!  It’s time for a change!