Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Make a Difference - Part 3

The #3 diet change is natural sweeteners.

Actually, eliminating artificial and refined sugars is #1 on my list, but here's how to add in the good ones.


Monosaccharides (mono means one) are the smallest breakdown of carbohydrates and include fructose, glucose, galactose, etc. Monosaccharides can be immediately absorbed into the bloodstream because there is no further process necessary to break them down.

Disaccharides (di meaning two) are a combination of two monosaccharides (such as glucose + galactose = lactose) and include lactose (milk sugar), sucrose (table sugar) and maltose (found in beer). These require enzymes to break them down into the individual monosaccharides, and thus 'usually' are less quickly absorbed. (I need you chemistry majors to help me out on this one in case I've got my facts wrong)

So why is all this important?

Glucose (from sucrose and sometimes lactose)

Glucose is really a good substance. Our cells use it to make energy! The hormone Insulin is responsible for helping your cells to utilize all of the syrup you just poured over your buttermilk pancake, but if your pancreas is just plain overloaded from all that sugar (genetic pre-disposition is a factor as well), it may cease to function. Think of a horse pulling a sled with more and more stones added. There comes a point at which he can't carry all that weight and has to come to a halt. And since gravity is against him, his chances of being able to move again are slim.

When no more insulin is produced, all of that glucose in your bloodstream can't go anywhere, and will cause death.

Many, many people right now are in what is called the 'Pre-diabetes' stage (within a few years will develop type 2 diabetes). It is so rampant, it is actually a clinically diagnosed condition! When is the time to prevent the irreversible damage that Diabetes can cause? NOW! God made our bodies with a miraculous ability to recover from abuse. The pancreas often just needs a break from all that sugar in order to heal.


* Raw Honey - I hate to use this in baking because heat destroys the enzymes, but it really adds a lot to cakes, breads and cookies. Use 1/2 - 3/4 of the amount of honey that you would normally use of white sugar in a recipe. Pour raw honey over anything that needs sweetener -heaven!

* Raw Agave - the light, mild flavor of this syrup makes it perfect for a panckade topping substitute. My family mixes it with maple syrup for enhancing the flavor, since Agave is cheaper than maple syrup. I have also used it with success in place of honey and sugar in recipes.

* 100% Maple Syrup - you don't need any encouragement on this one :)

* Stevia (glycerine-based) - use in homemade icecream, hot chocolate warmer, tea, yogurt, or anything else that needs a touch of sweetener. The alcohol-based Stevia extract leaves a bitter aftertaste, so it does not make a good substitute.

- Chai Tea

1 tsp. loose black tea (or herbal tea)

4 cloves

1/2 cinnamon stick

4 cardamom pods

1 C. water

Simmer in a covered saucepan for about 10 minutes. Strain into a mug and add raw milk and stevia to taste!

* Blackstrap Molasses - full of Vitamin B6, B2, Thiamin, Calcium, Copper, Iron (extremely rich source), Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc. With that list, how could you go wrong? One of my favorite snacks is fresh homemade sourdough bread with raw butter and molasses - the ultimate in flavor! Use molasses on oatmeal, in bread, granola, on toast, and in place of syrup.

- Energy-packed Smoothie

1 C. raw milk

1 raw egg (minus the shell)
1-2 T. blackstrap molasses

1 banana

* Less refined cane sugars like Rapadura, Sucanat, and Turbinado (Demerara). I hesitate to put that last one in because it is pretty refined, but the taste is great and makes a good transition sweetener.

Avoid refined Fructose like the plague. If you want fructose, eat honey, fruit and vegetables. Crystalline Fructose (often used in healthy cookbooks) can actually be derived from High Fructose Corn Syrup!

High Fructose Corn Syrup and table sugar (sucrose) are both a combination of glucose and fructose, that cause hyperactivity in kids, addiction (have you ever asked a family member or friend to give up that daily can of soda or cookie? Fructose has an alcohol-like effect on the body.), and spiking of blood sugar causing the pancreas to cry 'I surrender!'

In my typical symplistic understanding, Agave and Coconut sugars are called 'low-glycemic' and safe for diabetics because they contain very little glucose. But they still need to be consumed in moderation because of the high level of fructose (unlike being immediately utilized by cells, fructose is sent to the liver to be converted into fat). The benefit of Agave lies in the fact that it is unrefined and contains a lot of beneficial enzymes and minerals.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Make a Difference - Part 2

The #2 food to add to your diet is whole grains.

Part of the reason I dislike the idea of the raw food diet is because it totally disregards the staple of mankind - baked bread. Biblically, you see the term 'bread' and 'food' used interchangeably. Some would argue that baking bread on a rock in the sunlight (dehydrating) is the way to go, but that is not historically the way bread is usually made.

Bread is filling, contains many minerals and vitamins, and the right kinds of grains provide complex carbohydrates and protein in a convenient and great-tasting package. It is also less expensive and a great choice for the majority of us who cannot afford to purchase tons of produce to make up the majority of our diets.

To Sprout or Not to Sprout... That is the Question

Do you soak grains or beans? How long are you supposed to soak them? Should you allow them to sprout? Are there dangers to eating too much sprouted food? Is it even worth the effort to sprout grains that are going to be baked? What about naturally fermented sourdough bread?

Soaking makes a lot of sense. Beans become more digestible when soaked, and soaking grains is a definate help to those with irritable stomach issues or difficulty with digestion. However, Nourishing Traditions says that eating unsoaked grains is bad because they contain phytic acid which is harmful. Sue Becker clears up this misunderstanding: when you eat bread containing phytic acid, it actually stimulates your small intestine to manufacture the enzyme phytase, which solves the problem since phytase will allow you to eat and digest phytic acid. When phytase activity is increased in the small intestine, mineral absorbtion is also increased! Phytic acid also protects the colon from cancer. It also releases Inositol (a B vitamin), Choline and Lecithin - all a part of keeping cholesterol at the proper level and reducing depression.

So I would recommend eating both soaked and unsoaked grains, but primarily unsoaked.

And what about fermentation:

The way I understand it, there are two kinds of fermentation:

Alcoholic (ethanol) fermentation: yeast and certain types of bacteria feed on sugar (like the fructose in grapes) and form ethanol and carbon dioxide. In wines, the alcohol is the desired ingredient, and the carbon dioxide is released. In bread, the baking process gets rid of the alcohol.

Lactic acid fermentation: certain bacteria (lactobaccili is one) and fungi turn sugar into lactic acid (think milk products). This sometimes further breaks down into carbon dioxide, but does not create alcohol.

So when you put whole grain flour into a jar with an equal amount of water, let it sit on the counter for a few days, the bubbling that occurs is ethanol fermentation acting on the carbohydrates. When you bake bread using that as a starter, the result is 'Sourdough' because the sugars have been pre-digested. You also do not have to use yeast, because the natural yeast will cause your bread to rise. Fermentation (and I believe sprouting as well) increases the enzyme content of food, but since enzymes are destroyed in the baking process, the most benefit is seen when you eat raw sprouts and raw yogurt from lacto-fermentation.

Again, I love the taste of sourdough, and variety in your diet is always good. But it is not the first and only option in the art of breadmaking.


Buy whole grains from a co-op dedicated to acquiring non GMO products from local producers. You avoid a lot of the plastic packaging and waste that happens when you buy supermarket fare, and save a lot of money in the process.

Have an 1/8th acre or so lying around? Grow your own! This is so worth it if you develop superior soil. Information on how to do this is found in the book, 'Nourishment Home Grown' by A. F. Beddoe.

My list of grains for bread-making in order of preference (taste, performance and nutritional value):

1. Spelt (great taste and nutrition, as it is the ancestor of wheat)

2. Hard White Wheat (good taste, not as good nutritional value)

3. Kamut (I have not used this too much, as it is expensive, but very good for you)

4. Hard Red Wheat (makes a dense bread, and the flavor is not as good, but is higher in protein)

For rolls, pastries, pie crusts, cookies, etc. use Soft White Wheat (any of the above work as well, but the soft white wheat is a good transition grain for your family as it's color and texture are light).


Get a grain mill. I have been pleased for the most part with my Nutrimill, but the motor and electric parts require a professional to service it when any problem occurs, so I would love to have a manual grain mill (stone-ground) someday. Don't have enough money for a mill? See if a friend would let you use theirs, or perhaps your local health-food distributer has a source, or buy a used one, or use your blender (this produces course flour, but when you are just starting out, may be a good choice).


Flour is almost completely rancid and worthless within 24 hours of milling. This means you are paying for something that may be harmful, not helpful. The one exception to this is oats - I would recommend buying a big bag of thick rolled oats and freezing them in ziplock bags. If you do not have room, store in a cool pantry, and focus more on your other grains. Brown and wild rice needs to be stored in the freezer.


Get those tasty whole grains into your family's diet in every way possible. It's amazing how many options there are!

* Oatmeal (soak for a day in the crockpot with a couple T. of whey, then cook overnight with a bit of salt and butter. Serve the next morning with raw milk, raisins, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, and raw honey)

* Granola - combine 10 C. rolled oats, 1 C. wheat germ or oat bran (I don't advocate separating germ/bran from the whole grain, but adding a bit extra into the diet won't hurt), 2 C. dried shredded coconut, 2 C. sunflower seeds, 1 C. sesame seeds, 3 C. chopped nuts, and flax seeds in a large bowl. Heat 1 1/2 C. honey/maple syrup/agave (a mixture is good), 1/2 C. blackstrap molasses, 1 1/2 C. water, 1 1/2 C. olive/coconut oil, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 T. each real vanilla and orange extract in a saucepan over low heat until dissolved and well-combined. Mix wet and dry ingredients together, and spread granola on trays in your dehydrator. Once completely dry, store in bags in the freezer what you will not use right away.

* Brown Rice - 1 C. rice to 2 C. water. Add salt, butter, spices, chicken broth, beans, sliced almonds and other ingredients for variety and flavor.

* Whole Grain Crackers (Nourishing Traditions) - Mix 2 1/2 C. spelt flour with 1 C. raw plain yogurt and leave covered overnight. Then add 1 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 C. soft butter, and 2 T. sesame seeds and mix well. Roll dough out to about 1/8th inch thick and slice into cracker-size squares. Place on dehydrator sheets and dry well. Very delicious tart flavor!

* Rice 'n' Oat Bran Cereal (Sue Gregg) - Bring 3 C. water to boiling, whisk in 1 C. oat bran, 3/4 C. coursely ground brown rice, and a couple dashes of salt. Continue to cook it and as it thickens, gradually add 3 C. real milk and finish it off with a bit 'o real butter. Serve with a natural sweetener, if desired. This is a real family favorite - my sisters ask, 'are we having 'fawina' today?' (we used to buy refined cream of wheat (also known as Farina) at the grocery store, and this looks a lot like it but is better for you).

* Popcorn - use a kettle over the stove.

* Cream Cheese Breakfast Pastries (Nourishing Traditions) - combine 1/2 C. soft butter, 1 C. homemade cream cheese, and 2 C. whole wheat pastry flour and let sit overnight. In the morning, add 1/2 C. rapadura (or other natural dry sweetener), 1 T. vanilla, and 1 tsp. salt and mix well. Roll into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick on floured cutting board and spread 1/4 C. melted butter, 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 C. chopped pecans or walnuts over the top. Roll up starting from the long side (cinnamon-bun style), slice the roll into 1 1/2 inch lenths and place on a cookie sheet to bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes. These are rich and a satisfying treat.

* Spelt Bread (Sue Gregg) - I love the flavor of this bread. Proof 2 tsp. yeast in 1/4 C. warm water with 1/2 tsp. honey. Blend in a separate bowl 2 C. cool water, 3 C. spelt flour and add the yeast mixture. Cover bowl and let sit overnight. Then add 2 tsp. salt, 1/3 C. olive oil, 1/3 C. honey, and enough spelt flour to become correct consistency (about 6-7 C.). Knead for about 20 minutes (or in your food processesor), set in greased bowl and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours (if placed in a pre-warmed oven, it takes less than an hour) until risen double. Punch dough down, divide and place in bread pans. Let rise for 45 minutes until double. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

Bread really is good. I don't have the technique even close to being totally correct, but I'm learning, and always appreciate some tips from those of you who are experts in this area.

* Sourdough bread - there really is nothing simpler than making the starter for homemade sourdough. Add 2 C. rye flour (I have tried using wheat, but rye really is the best choice) to 2 C. cold water, let sit in a bowl on the counter covered with a cloth, and each day dump in a clean bowl and add a small amount of rye flour and water to feed the fermentation. The dark liquid, bubbling, and 'sour' smell are all normal. After a full week, you can use in breadmaking, store in the refrigerator, keep adding more flour/water, whatever. Traditional sourdough is basically using a quart or two of starter, adding some flour and water until it is the correct consistency, and adding about 1 tsp. salt per loaf of bread. Then you divide and place in bread pans, let rise for 4-12 hours in a warm place, and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. If you need specific amounts, please consult a good recipe :)

And last but not least, transition your family from white flour by adding half whole grain flour to any recipe - cornbread, muffins, cookies, cakes, pies, rolls, everything! The flavor is excellent, and the only downside is a slightly heavier, more filling, and perhaps drier/crumblier texture that takes some getting used to. Now, everything made with white flour just tastes bland to me.


Other foods I include in this all-important category are:

* Raw nuts (soak in a salt water solution for a day, then dehydrate for good flavor/digestibility)


- Add to smoothies

- Use as snacks

- Add to granola, cereal, even grind in a blender and add to breads

Nutty Butter Balls (Sue Gregg) - Chop and mix together: 1/2 C. dried fruit, 3/4 C. nuts, 1/4 C. wheat germ, 1/4 C. rolled oats, 1/4 C. dried coconut, 3/4 C. nut butter, 2 T. raw honey, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Roll into balls and refrigerate. Yum!

* Seeds (sunflower, sesame, flax, poppy, pumpkin)


- Use same as nuts

Sunflower Biscuits (Sue Gregg) - mix together 1 C. ground sunflower seeds, 1 C. whole wheat pastry flour, 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 2/3 C. buttermilk, and 4 T. melted butter. Drop by large spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. Absolutely heavenly with raw honey!

* Beans

- Soak in leftover beef roast drippings, add salt, onions, garlic, herbs/spices and cook in crockpot for a great side dish.

- Lentils and rice

- Beef and bean stew

- Soup

- I've even heard of grinding beans and adding to bread

So go for it! Add these tasty foods one at a time and see the results in your health. I've heard it takes 10 times of introducing a food until most kids will actually eat it and like it, and it seems to be true. My brothers love some of the breads that I make, and other foods have even become all-time favorites which they prefer over unhealthy versions.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Make a Difference - Part 1

The #1 food to add to your diet is raw milk.

Don't believe me?

Ask and I will send you my commentary and observations from the past few years - if I post it to this blog, my readers who are less interested in this subject will fall asleep ;) If enough of you ask, I will post it.

The purpose behind this post isn't to try to step on your toes, but to help you find new ways to introduce this wonderful food into your family's diet.


The best option is to find and visit a local farm that produces raw milk and purchase the amount you need. Visit it often, encourage the farmer with kind words that show your appreciation, and keep him or her accountable to continue to improve the product.

The next best option (and in my mind more fun) if money is the issue: find a neighbor with a cow, and offer to milk two or three times a week for a fair portion of the milking. You sure learn to appreciate your food. This may require a long drive into the country if you live in the city, but the clean air and exercise is more than worth the effort.

The last option, but certainly one I do not deter you from undertaking, is for those of you who own at least a couple acres and are willing to work hard and stay home more often: get a cow (or goat). See all of my previous posts on dairying for help in this area. The #1 mistake you could make is bringing home a nice cow without doing any preparation in the area of visiting dairies, talking with dairymen, learning to hand milk, reading a lot of information, and preparing your pasture to receive a grazing animal. If you avoid some of the mistakes that I made, your cow or goat will not only pay for itself within the first year, but you may be able to make some profit if you want to sell extra milk to grateful friends.


Make your own:

* Yogurt - simply whisk 1/2 gallon of raw milk brought to skin temperature gradually into a container with 1/2 to 1 C. of storebought whole milk yogurt with natural acidophilus and live cultures (Nancy's). Let sit in a warm place for 12 hours or until thickened.

* Buttermilk - same as yogurt, only use storebought buttermilk as starter.

* Sour cream - same as yogurt, only milk does not have to be warmed, and it may take 2-3 days.
* Kefir - get kefir granules from a local source (such as a food co-op) and culture same as yogurt.

* Filmjolk - obtain a jar of starter culture, use up to half at a time and add cold or warm milk to refill each time.

* Butter - skim cream off the top of the jar of cold milk (at least a day old) with a gravy ladle right into a blender (add some skim milk if it is too thick). Let it sit for at least a few hours, but not a whole day. Blend until it turns into whipped cream and after that stage if you continue to whip it, it will separate into liquid buttermilk and chunks of yellow butter. Pour the whole lot through a strainer into a bowl and save the buttermilk, then dump the butter into a bowl and trickle cold water over it from the faucet while you knead out the excess buttermilk. I'm not too picky with this process - it simply cultures (sours) faster if you leave some of the milk in. When you're satisfied or run out of patience, squeeze out remaining moisture and salt to taste (optional). The taste of raw butter is superior to the pale, greasy, tasteless stuff from the store, but some people find the smell to be too strong as it cultures. If that is the case, keep it refrigerated. If not, raw butter can easily sit at room temperature for weeks.

* Whipped cream - um, if you need help with this one...

* Cream cheese - two options. One: make a strong-tasting cheese by allowing to naturally curd (let fresh, warm cream sit on the counter for a day or until it feels like jello) and then heat to 120 degrees slowly over low heat and then pour into a cheesecloth and let hang so all the whey drains out. Two: heat to skin temperature and add rennet (follow package instructions) and proceed as normal once it has curded (30 min. to several hours).

* Cottage cheese - same as cream cheese, only use skim milk, cut the curds as 1/4" squares, and heat very, very slowly and carefully until it feels the right texture when pinched between your fingers. If you heat it too much, it will become hard. I personally have not had much success with cottage cheese, the texture always is a bit funny, and I'm not sure if that is normal for homemade cheese, or I am simply not following the right directions.

* Hard cheese - same as cream cheese, use whole or skim milk. Once the cheese has drained in the cheesecloth overnight, wrap tightly and put in a cheese press (or use any method on earth that has something to do with weighting down the top of the cheese ball). If I remember correctly, let it stay there overnight and then flip the cheese over and weight the other side for a day. Then take the cheese out, set in a COOL place (seriously, don't make cheese in the summertime unless you have an extremely cold basement. It will be an absolute headache otherwise.) and turn daily for a few days or until the outside dries and forms a yellow rind. Then rub with salt daily for 3 days, then rub with butter for 3 days and less often afterwards as needed to keep it from drying out too much. Another option includes dipping the whole cheese in wax instead of using butter as a sealant - but I have not tried this. Also cut away any mold that grows on the cheese. It is not a problem unless it gets out of hand.

* Whey - soak your grains, beans, oatmeal, add to smoothies, use instead of water in some recipes, and drink it if you can.


Use milk in raw icecream, smoothies, pudding, raw hot chocolate, raw custurd, for baking, poured over oatmeal or granola, and drink, drink DRINK your raw milk!

Raw Icecream - scoop the cream from two jars of milk, pour into your icecream maker and add an equal amount of skim. Add a couple dashes of fine celtic sea salt, a teaspoon or two of real vanilla extract, about 1/2 C. each fresh or frozen raspberries and blueberries (or use 1 C. strawberries, slightly mashed - equally yummy!), and about 5 droppers of stevia (glycerine-based). Freeze according to directions and enjoy! Another recipe my brothers created uses cocoa powder, nut butter (grind your own peanuts or almonds), salt and maple syrup.

Raw Hot Chocolate - 1 C. milk, 1-2 T. cocoa powder, dash of salt, bit of vanilla, and stevia to taste (5-10 drops is about right). Heat in a saucepan until it is very warm to your taste, but not close to boiling.

Strawberry Smoothie - put 2 bananas, 1-2 C. strawberries, 1/2 C. walnuts, flax seeds, and even sneak in some natural-flavored cod liver oil into your blender. Pour in about 3 C. of raw milk and blend. This is a family favorite (though my brothers always seem to detect the cod liver oil).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Psalm 91

Take a look at this tiny chicken egg my brother found...
Guys, the UNIVERSE is smaller than this in God's sight, yet He holds each of you in the very palm of His hand.

Psalm 91 (NKJV) -

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust."

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation." "

Friday, January 1, 2010

Great News!!!

I know I've already told most of you, but here's a real answer to prayer...


The vet confirmed it: Jani is due around June 12th, and Mattie is due around July 12th. Better late than never.

Well, I've learned a dozen ways to NOT help a cow get pregnant, so I'll share a few with you.

1. Do not attempt to get them bred in the winter. This is unnatural and usually requires artificial hormones.

2. Feed needs to be very high quality, and supplemented with natural sources of minerals and herbs.

3. When you're learning all about detecting heats and such, the worst thing you can do is attempt to use AI. The window of opportunity is so narrow, and it is so hard to get a guy to come out the very day that you need it done. Get a bull to take care of things until you're more experienced.

4. I know you want purebred offspring, but let me give you some advice: You want a calf. Period. Worry about getting the breed you want AFTER you have had success in this arena.

5. There is a new blood preg. test out called BioPRYN which is said to be 95% accurate. I'm going to spend a day with the local vet and learn how to draw blood so I can take care of the pregnancy testing in the future. Vet calls get expensive, and manual palpitation (though I have tried it) is very difficult to do unless you spend a lot of time getting experienced at it. Sending in a test right away will allow you to test quickly and efficiently and allow time to try again if the first breeding failed.

I pray that the Lord will get Mattie and Jani through their pregnancies safely - Jerseys are really good at birthing large calves, but the dad is a huge Angus, and nothing is certain.