Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christmas is Coming Soon!

Okay, I'll be honest. I've been thinking of Christmas for a while. I don't usually start thinking about it before the end of November, but this year, we'll be adding little Evan to our clan and I wanted to do most our Christmas shopping/planning before then. And, I've gotten a lot done so far.

One thing I'm really excited about as well is sending out our Christmas card. I know it seems a little silly, but we'll be getting our first family portraits made (as a family of four) and I can't wait to share them with our family and friends.

The last few years, we've used Shutterfly to design our own photo Christmas cards. Photo cards, contrary to popular belief, are often cheaper than the ones you buy in the store. They are so much more exciting too! Who doesn't love to receive a photo card to put on their fridge during Christmas? Shutterfly is a great website for designing your card, and they always come out so cute, and I've been checking out their selection for this year. They have traditional, folded Christmas cards that are really nice! Many of them are less than $1 a piece, which is much less expensive than ordering through a professional photographer.

They have 3 different types of photo Christmas cards, but my favorites are the flat photo cards, which also happen to be the cheapest. They start at about .30 a piece! And, many of them allow you to select multiple photos for your card. This is the card we've used in the past for Christmas and for Owen's birthday invitations.

If you are looking to go really glitzy this Christmas, try creating holiday address labels. These are really nice too! You can even coordinate your label with your card, if you are really anal.

(sample Shutterfly card)

I know this post is a little out of the ordinary for me, but I'm just so dang excited I just can't stand it! I'm probably more excited about family Christmas photos than anything else. I can't wait to show off my hotty husband and two adorable boys. :) Of course, I'll still be like 2 weeks postpartum when we get them done, so I'll be hiding in the back. ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Value of Food

"Eating healthy is expensive!" I've heard many people say. I've even said it myself. And, sometimes, this is true. Produce can be expensive, as can meat and cheese and milk, especially if you buy organic, grass-fed, and hormone-free. But, it's expensive compared to what? To hamburger helper? Potato chips? A box of Easy Mac? No, healthy food is not as expensive as most people think.

What is expensive are "health food products" - food products are marketed to be healthy. Usually, these are highly processed foods. For example, "fat-free yogurt", where the second ingredient is sugar, followed by a list of about 10 other ingredients, is quite a bit more expensive than plain, whole milk yogurt. Soy "milk" is more expensive than regular whole milk. Energy/protein bars are a lot more expensive than just eating a couple eggs ($1 a bar versus .30 for two free range eggs). Most of these "health food products" aren't really better for you than the junk food they try to replace. They are still filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners, they are highly processed with a lot of chemicals and msg added, they still contain trans fats, and most of their nutritional value is added back in after processing.

Aside from the lies of the "health food industry", we've been taught from childhood (via commercials usually) how we should value food. How do you value food? What is a good deal? What is a good price? And, when we go to the grocery store and see that apples are $1.69 a lb (about .75 an apple) and a bag of chips is $3 (the equivalent of 4 apples), and we realize we can feed like 8 people with the chips and only 4 with the apples, we say that the chips are more valuable.

But, we have it all backwards. Instead of looking at quantity of calories, we need to look at quantity and quality of nutrition. Those apples are packed with fiber and vitamins. They are filling and sweet and leave you much more satisfied than the bag of chips. You'll eat less over all. If you value food based on its nutritional value, foods that seem expensive will seem much less so, and foods that seem cheap will seem outlandishly expensive. That $4 box of butter will seem much more valuable than the $1 box of margarine. The gallon of whole milk is so much richer in nutrients than the 2 2-liters coke you could get for the same price. A dozen eggs goes a lot further towards your health than the box of cereal.

For the family on a budget (like us!), real food is less expensive. When I'm being really good about eating all real food, my grocery bill actually goes down. Buying produce at a local produce stand is often cheaper than Walmart (apples at Redmond Boys in Seneca are only $1 a lb, versus $1.29 at Walmart). Eating cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast is a lot cheaper than cereal and milk. Making your own bread costs pennies.

Real food is not always as convenient, and it does take some time in the kitchen. But, I actually read a study the other day that said people who make their dinners from scratch and people who use "box mixes" (like Hamburger Helper) actually spend pretty close to the same amount of time cooking dinner, and the family who makes dinner together from scratch, is often happier in general, and their kids eat healthier.

Looking for tips on how to cook healthy for cheap? Check out this awesome blog: Well Fed Family

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Picky Eating Doesn't Equal Unhealthy Eating

Owen is getting picky. It's a pretty new development, actually, which I've heard is quite normal at 16 months. There are some foods he just won't eat. He tends to be pretty picky with his veggies. But, there are other foods that some days he loves, and the next day he freaks out if it's touching his tray. (Of course, I have a "must-stay-on-your-tray" rule. He doesn't have to eat it, but he can't give it to me or throw it on the floor or stuff it in his seat, etc. He hates this rule so much!)

I think a lot of moms are in the same boat as me. Your one year old has developed some preferences and opinions about how he should eat, and it's very annoying. However, just because your toddler is picky about food, it does not mean that they can't eat healthy! I think one of the big mistakes parents often make when it comes to feeding their toddler is that they substitute the food their child is averse to with a less healthy option. This is especially difficult if your child grows attached one particular "less healthy" food option. From my experience and observation, it seems pretty common for toddlers to grow "attached" to a limited menu of foods, and often these are not the best foods.

So, is there any hope with toddlers? Any parents knows, there is no forcing a toddler to eat anything! I do think there is hope for even the pickiest of toddlers to continue to eat healthy. Here are some of tips (mostly the tips given to me by many veteran moms).

Make all his/her options healthy ones. If you only allow healthy choices for your toddler, beginning in infancy, they will not become attached to those unhealthy foods. If you don't want your toddler demanding McDonald's chicken nuggets at every meal, never introduce them! Or stop feeding them to him. If you only feed your child healthy foods, those foods your child becomes attached to will all be healthy (though no less annoying).

Should you never allow your child a chicken nugget or a cup of ice cream? I'm not saying that. But, those foods should be so rare that they don't become those "attached" foods. Often, your child will become attached to the foods they eat the most. So, feed your child healthy foods the most, and keep the foods you don't want them begging for constantly to a minimum.

Eliminate substitutions. This is a hard one. What do you do when your toddler will not eat? Should you allow them to skip a whole meal? The thought is enough to make a mother's heart ache with guilt.

I'm not saying that you should send your child to bed hungry. But, if you give your toddler his favorite food (even if it's a healthy one) every time he refuses to eat a meal, you'll teach them that they are the boss and can eat whatever they want. You are the parent, and you need to stay in charge.

So, what's a mom to do? Try pairing a favorite food and a new food at each meal. If your toddler refuses to eat the new food, at least he's not starving to death. Also, try to introduce a new food during at least one meal a day, but not all three meals. Try combining a favorite food with a new food. For example, if your child won't eat yogurt but loves grapes, combine the yogurt and grapes. If your child won't eat broccoli but loves chicken, make a chicken broccoli casserole. There are lots of ways to coax your child into food exploration. Toddlers are sneaky, and you can be too. ;)

Eat what your toddler eats. Try to eat what your toddler eats as much as possible. If your toddler is eating yogurt, you eat yogurt. If your toddler is eating peas, you eat peas. It's important for your child to see you enjoying the same foods. Be happy while you eat. Eat as a family. Say the food names in silly voices and have fun eating. Toddlers want to be like you, and that includes eating like you.

Don't expect too much from your child. Your toddler will probably not be a perfect eater. He probably won't eat everything you put in front of him. He won't want to eat everything all the time. There will be foods that he just doesn't like. You are the same way. I don't want to eat bananas every day. Some days, I want an apple or an orange. I don't like every vegetable or meat. Why should we expect our kids to be different from us? Recognize that your toddler is an individual. He will prefer certain foods and dislike others. All you can hope for is to instill a love of real food, an open mind, and a healthy appetite.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Recipe: Flour Tortillas

My husband LOVES burritos. I think it may be his favorite food, definitely if it comes from Chipotle. But, I've had trouble finding tortillas without soy, hydrogenated oils, bleached flour, etc. So, I thought I'd try my hand at making my own. They are quite yummy, if I do say so myself!

3 cups flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 unbleached white)
1 Tbsp salt
1/3 oil (I use coconut, but olive oil would probably work just as well. I don't use any other veg. oils. And, lard would probably taste the most authentic, but I haven't been able to find non-hydrogenated lard in the store.)
1 cup warm water

1) Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and kneed.
2) On a greased surface, roll dough into balls. For larger, burrito-sized tortillas, roll balls a little smaller than tennis ball sized. For taco-size tortillas, stick to golf ball sized.

3) Roll one ball of dough as flat and thin as you can get it! This is the tricky part. Make sure your work surface is well greased. Tortillas should be very thin.

4) Heat griddle to Medium heat and heat tortilla until both sides are slightly browned.
5) Repeat for all tortillas.

Total time: About 20 minutes Total yield: About 10 Total cost: About 50 cents

This is not a difficult recipe. However, the first few tortillas you make may be a little tricky. I had trouble getting the tortillas thin enough at first, and also rolling them into symmetrical circles. I also like to make a double recipe batch and freeze them for later use.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Real Food and Pregnancy

I'm 25 weeks pregnant with my second child. The pregnancies have been similar. I started out heavier (I was still breastfeeding when I got pregnant, and I hadn't lost all the baby weight), but I've gained weight more slowly. Being completely candid, I'm not the best at eating right while pregnant. So many things sound gross to me and for other things, I have a insatiable hunger. I've ended up eating too much sugar and too little produce, and I blame it on my first trimester of only being able to stomach grains. However, even with my many eating "sins", there are a few things that I try to do diligently, because I believe that they are essential to a healthy pregnancy.

My Essential Pregnancy Foods:
1) Whole Milk
Pregnancy completely depletes your body of calcium, and pregnant women should eat as many calcium-rich foods as possible! The stories of women with severe tooth decay during pregnancy completely gross me out. I craved milk like nothing else when I was pregnant with my oldest son, and I drank it to my heart's content. When I went to the dentist near the end of my pregnancy, my dentist said I had some of the healthiest looking "pregnant teeth" he's ever seen.

So, give in to the dairy craving! If you don't prefer milk (and I recommend whole, because the fats are essential to your little baby's brain development), give yogurt, cheese, broccoli, or broth a try. Yes, I said broth. Broth is a very rich source of calcium. In cultures that aren't particularly fond of milk, like Asian cultures, they traditionally eat broth at every meal! Eat as much calcium as you crave, and probably more!

2) Healthy Fats and Protein
I know that sounds gross, but I really have a hard time eating meat while pregnant. It really ruins my appetite to cook it, and I often don't eat the dinners I cook. However, healthy fat and protein are essential. You are building a child, and, if you breastfeed, everything you eat and drink will sustain that child well beyond the delivery. A baby's brain needs lots and lots of fat. Wild Salmon is a great, low in mercury choice for healthy fats. I also never feel bad about indulging in a piece of homemade bread with lots of butter and a big hunk of cheese on the side. Fat and protein will also help you crave the carby, sugary foods less.

Also, don't skip the salad dressing or the butter on your veggies! Your body needs the fat to absorb the nutrients in the vegetables. Eating a salad with fat-free dressing or your veggies steamed with nothing on them is a waist, a moot point. It's a waist of money and time, because your body doesn't actually get anything from your food. Generally, produce costs more than crap. So, if you are spending the money on veggies, get your money's worth and put a little butter on it.

3) Water
I'll go ahead and admit, I was a little better with this one when I was pregnant with Owen. It was cold and dry outside, and I was talking and singing all day long. I drank water like it was going out of style. I'd fill up my water bottle 3 times before lunch, and another 5 or 6 times after that. Sufficed to say, I was in the bathroom a LOT! But, water is great for you and baby. Your blood volume has increased 40% and your making amniotic fluid. Drink lots of water to help bring down swelling as well. As soon as I start feeling swollen, I begin downing water and it usually brings down the swelling most of the way, if not completely. Your body retains water if you aren't drinking enough. So, drink a lot of water!

There are lots of other things that are good to eat while pregnant. Produce is essential! You should eat lots of it every day. Fiber-rich foods will help you "go", since constipation is one of the most pleasant things about pregnancy. Cutting down on sugar and carbs will increase energy, but don't feel bad about indulging in a bowl of ice cream every now and then. It's not a completely empty food, like a potato chip. Rich in calcium and fat, it does have a few things you need. If you are going to buy ice cream, go for the vanilla bean. It usually has the fewest added ingredient. Add a little cinnamon and some pecans and enjoy! (But not too much! It still has lots of sugar!)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Calcium Supplimentation Linked to Heart Attacks

A new study shows that supplemental calcium can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks. This study found that heart attacks occurred 20-30% more frequently. It also points out that the so-called benefits of calcium supplements are uncertain and unproven. The doctor in the article urges women who are fighting osteoporosis to look to medication, not supplementation, to heal their bones. I propose that we look at real food first to heal osteoporosis, not big pharma.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Infant Nutrition (Part 2)

aka - "What I Did Do"

So, last time I posted on infant nutrition, I talked about several things I didn't do when feeding my son Owen. This time, I thought I'd talk about a few things I did do.

1) I made my own food, mostly.
I was fortunate that Owen started eating real food in the late summer, when he was 6 months old. Good, local produce was plentiful and cheap, and I had the best time making Owen's food! Making your own food is not only more economical, but it's also healthier. You can make organic food without spending a fortune on organic baby food. There are no preservatives. There are no weird ingredients.

It's really not hard and requires few tools. I found it to be quite fun, and I made Owen's food exclusively until he was about 10 months old, when I started buying some baby food and table food, simply because of the huge amount of food he was eating. You'll need a food processor and ice trays and some big freezer bags. That's it!

The first foods I made were sweet potatoes and applesauce. He loved squash too! Check out Wholesome Baby Food for great recipes and tips! I somewhat followed the guidelines for when to start certain fruits and veggies, but I wasn't super strict. I also didn't follow the 5 day rule, except when I was trying a food like strawberries or milk that is highly allergenic.

2) I fed Owen meat and egg yolks.
Most cultures have traditionally fed babies meat and egg yolks (and liver) as a first food. One good reason for this is the need for iron and protein. Doctors recommend supplements and fortified cereals for breast fed babies, so that they can receive adequate iron. If God intended for babies to need iron at 6 months old, don't you think He also provided perfect ways to get it? Grass-fed beef is excellent for babies to receive iron, and it doesn't take much. You'll be hard-pressed to find an iron source that is more easily absorbed by the human body, except maybe for liver (which I'm too chicken to eat). Most countries, including England and Canada, now recommend beef as a first food (though it's been a traditional first food in most cultures), which is another good reason to make food yourself, since it's almost impossible to find high-quality meat baby food in the store.

Egg yolks may also seem like an odd choice, since eggs are a highly allergenic food and generally not recommended until a year. However, it is usually the egg white that is the allergenic part. Egg yolks contain a nutritional make-up that is very similar to breast milk, in terms of its protein/fat/carb ratio, thus it is a natural food for babies to begin with. Check out the Weston A. Price website for more reasons why.

3) I gave Owen whole milk yogurt at 6 months.
Yogurt is an amazing food! It's filled with everything your infant's tummy needs to digest all those weird foods you've been giving him. We've all heard of probiotics, that good bacteria (naturally found in raw milk, btw) that is essential for healthy digestion. If you are breastfeeding, your baby is getting some of these probiotics in your breast milk as well. It's amazing that God made milk such an easily and naturally preservable food!

I didn't buy the organic kid yogurt that they sell in the store, like Yo Baby! yogurt. For one, it's filled with "organic" sugar. Also, soy. Whole milk yogurt is cheap and plain, with no added anything. It's best if you can make your own, but I don't. I just buy a big carton of whole milk yogurt at Walmart. It's like $2 for a 16oz carton. Pretty inexpensive. Then I just add in applesauce or smashed peaches or bananas. Owen LOVES it. It's easy, naturally, homemade, and great for your kid!

Hope this helps. Next time I'll post about toddler nutrition and how Owen eats now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Recipe: Roasted Chicken with Veggies

This is really one of the easiest recipes ever, and my husband loves it. The chicken comes out very tender and veggies are delicious. And, it's very inexpensive. I can do this meal, which feeds a family of 4 easily, for about $6. It takes about 3 hours to bake, but less than 10 minutes to prep. It's very healthy, and the juice from the chicken gives the veggies a great taste and helps you absorb the nutrients in them.

1 Whole Chicken
9 x 13 baking pan
salt and pepper
various veggies

1) Wash the chicken and remove giblets (if included)
2) Place breast-side up in baking pan. (I have a lasagna pan that works great for this! It's deep and it has handles, which makes it great for picking up this heavy dish.)
3) Fill pan about 1/2 full with water.
4) Add various veggies to pan. I like to add fresh cut carrots, green beans, cut up potatoes, and broccoli, but you could add pretty much whatever you want. Onions, peas, sweat potatoes, and even frozen veggies would work great! (Obviously, wash and prep the veggies before putting them in!) Try to make sure that water is covering most of your veggies.
5) Salt and pepper chicken and veggies.
6) Bake on 350 for about 2 hours, then 400 for an hour. Cut into it to make sure that all the juices run clear. I like to broil it right at the end, to give the skin that yummy crispiness!
7) Serve!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nina Planck

My journey into discovering "real food" started with Nina Planck, author of Real Food and Real Food for Mother and Baby. Her books are absolutely fantastic! Real Food is an excellent book for those interested in exploring traditional food.

Nina grew up on a farm, eating traditional foods. As an adult, she turned her back on traditional foods an embraced Veganism. After several years of weight gain, depression, and health problems, she made a "180" back into the arms of real food. She's been one of the biggest advocates of farmers markets, introducing London to the concept.

She's written two books published in the US - Real Food and Real Food for Mother and Baby. Both are full of great information, providing research supporting real food, evidence of its superiority, history of traditional and industrialized food, and some practical how-to on eat traditionally. I wish she'd write a cookbook next.

I often read her facebook updates, and she posts some excellent quotes and information about real food. One she posted today really struck me:

What does the original American food writer, Betty Fussell, say about food? This: 'And yet many of us Americans believe food kills us. Stupidly we make it an enemy — we say food makes us fat, ugly, sick, anxious, greedy, brutal, murderous. Hey, we’re humans who did not create ourselves nor the grounds of our condition.... We embody the basic contradiction that we are born to die and that in order to live we feed on fellow creatures — plants and animals. It’s not food that does us in. It’s life.
So let’s treasure and pleasure it while we may, with all our senses flashing a red alert of joy. To look, taste, touch, savor — nothing does that better than sex but food.'

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ode to Butter

In my opinion, butter is one of the most slandered foods in the West. It has a horrible reputation, which has been ill-earned. Everything "tastes like butter," but nothing is made with butter anymore. "For a heart-healthy recipe," your cookbook says, "use margarine instead of butter."
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is a staple item in most US homes. But, has butter gotten a bad rap? Let's take a brief look at the history of this ancient food and learn why butter is better.

Butter has been around for a very long time. As long as humans have been keeping domestic animals, we have used butter, along with milk and cheese and plenty of other dairy foods. The Bible often refers to butter in reference to wealth. In fact, for millennia, pretty much every culture has viewed butter as a symbol of health, wealth, and prosperity.

It wasn't until the mid-1900s that butter began to get a bad reputation. Heart disease sky rocketed in the early 1900s, even though butter consumption plummeted. Food marketers began pushing margarine as a better alternative to butter, because it was less expensive to produce (a huge selling point during The Great Depression), and they could patent it as a product. A food product once only used by the impoverished now became in vogue. Food manufacturers labeled butter as the cause of heart disease (after research that fed butter to herbivorous animals who would, of course, get sick when eating an animal product). All this was occurring at the same point in history where food manufacturers marketed cigarettes as non-addictive and advertised to children, a time when baby formula virtually replaced breastfeeding, because it was "psychologically dangerous" to infants.

Butter never recovered. Though it is widely accepted that the transfat found in margarine was one of the major causes of heart disease, butter is still viewed as a dangerous food. This lie has so saturated our culture that it is absurd to think otherwise. Read some information below from The Weston A. Price Foundation on butter's nutritional value.

Butter & Heart Disease

Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America's number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not a cause. Actually butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America's best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.

Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant--containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ.

Butter is also a good dietary source cholesterol. What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals--usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils.3 A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.4

Butter & Cancer

In the 1940's research indicated that increased fat intake caused cancer.5 The abandonment of butter accelerated; margarine--formerly a poor man's food-- was accepted by the well-to-do. But there was a small problem with the way this research was presented to the public. The popular press neglected to stress that fact that the "saturated" fats used in these experiments were not naturally saturated fats but partially hydrogenated or hardened fats--the kind found mostly in margarine but not in butter. Researchers stated--they may have even believed it--that there was no difference between naturally saturated fats in butter and artificially hardened fats in margarine and shortening. So butter was tarred with the black brush of the fabricated fats, and in such a way that the villains got passed off as heroes.

Actually many of the saturated fats in butter have strong anti-cancer properties. Butter is rich in short and medium chain fatty acid chains that have strong anti-tumor effects.6 Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid which gives excellent protection against cancer.7

Vitamin A and the anti-oxidants in butter--vitamin E, selenium and cholesterol--protect against cancer as well as heart disease.

Butter & the Immune System

Vitamin A found in butter is essential to a healthy immune system; short and medium chain fatty acids also have immune system strengthening properties. But hydrogenated fats and an excess of long chain fatty acids found in polyunsaturated oils and many butter substitutes both have a deleterious effect on the immune system.8

Butter & Arthritis

The Wulzen or "anti-stiffness" factor is a nutrient unique to butter. Dutch researcher Wulzen found that it protects against calcification of the joints--degenerative arthritis--as well as hardening of the arteries, cataracts and calcification of the pineal gland.9 Unfortunately this vital substance is destroyed during pasteurization. Calves fed pasteurized milk or skim milk develop joint stiffness and do not thrive. Their symptoms are reversed when raw butterfat is added to the diet.

Butter & Osteoporosis

Vitamins A and D in butter are essential to the proper absorption of calcium and hence necessary for strong bones and teeth. The plague of osteoporosis in milk-drinking western nations may be due to the fact that most people choose skim milk over whole, thinking it is good for them. Butter also has anti-cariogenic effects, that is, it protects against tooth decay.10

Butter & the Thyroid Gland

Butter is a good source of iodine, in highly absorbable form. Butter consumption prevents goiter in mountainous areas where seafood is not available. In addition, vitamin A in butter is essential for proper functioning of the thyroid gland.11

Butter & Gastrointestinal Health

Butterfat contains glycospingolipids, a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastro-intestinal infection, especially in the very young and the elderly. For this reason, children who drink skim milk have diarrhea at rates three to five times greater than children who drink whole milk.12 Cholesterol in butterfat promotes health of the intestinal wall and protects against cancer of the colon.13Short and medium chain fatty acids protect against pathogens and have strong anti-fungal effects.14 Butter thus has an important role to play in the treatment of candida overgrowth.

Butter & Weight Gain

The notion that butter causes weight gain is a sad misconception. The short and medium chain fatty acids in butter are not stored in the adipose tissue, but are used for quick energy. Fat tissue in humans is composed mainly of longer chain fatty acids.15 These come from olive oil and polyunsaturated oils as well as from refined carbohydrates. Because butter is rich in nutrients, it confers a feeling of satisfaction when consumed. Can it be that consumption of margarine and other butter substitutes results in cravings and bingeing because these highly fabricated products don't give the body what it needs?.

Butter for Growth & Development

Many factors in butter ensure optimal growth of children. Chief among them is vitamin A. Individuals who have been deprived of sufficient vitamin A during gestation tend to have narrow faces and skeletal structure, small palates and crowded teeth.16 Extreme vitamin A deprivation results in blindness, skeletal problems and other birth defects.17 Individuals receiving optimal vitamin A from the time of conception have broad handsome faces, strong straight teeth, and excellent bone structure. Vitamin A also plays an important role in the development of the sex characteristics. Calves fed butter substitutes sicken and die before reaching maturity.18

The X factor, discovered by Dr. Weston Price (and now believed to be vitamin K2), is also essential for optimum growth. It is only present in butterfat from cows on green pasture.19 Cholesterol found in butterfat plays an important role in the development of the brain and nervous system.20 Mother's milk is high in cholesterol and contains over 50 percent of its calories as butterfat. Low fat diets have been linked to failure to thrive in children21--yet low-fat diets are often recommended for youngsters! Children need the many factors in butter and other animal fats for optimal development.

Beyond Margarine

It's no longer a secret that the margarine Americans have been spreading on their toast, and the hydrogenated fats they eat in commercial baked goods like cookies and crackers, is the chief culprit in our current plague of cancer and heart disease.22 But mainline nutrition writers continue to denigrate butter--recommending new fangled tub spreads instead.23 These may not contain hydrogenated fats but they are composed of highly processed rancid vegetable oils, soy protein isolate and a host of additives. A glitzy cookbook called Butter Busters promotes butter buds, made from maltodextrin, a carbohydrate derived from corn, along with dozens of other highly processed so-called low-fat commercial products.

Who benefits from the propaganda blitz against butter? The list is a long one and includes orthodox medicine, hospitals, the drug companies and food processors. But the chief beneficiary is the large corporate farm and the cartels that buy their products--chiefly cotton, corn and soy--America's three main crops, which are usually grown as monocultures on large farms, requiring extensive use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. All three--soy, cotton and corn--can be used to make both margarine and the new designer spreads. In order to make these products acceptable to the up-scale consumer, food processors and agribusiness see to it that they are promoted as health foods. We are fools to believe them.

Many of you will read this and not believe it. We've been lied to so many times and for so long that it is inconceivable that butter could not only be "not bad" for you, but also good for you. Did you know that if you cook your vegetables in butter, you dramatically increase the number of nutrients your body absorbs, compared to steamed veggies? Do note, however, that the best butter comes from raw milk from grass-fed, organic cows. It's richer in vitamins, healthier, and richer in omega-3s. It even tastes better!

So, smear that butter on your bread! Smother your sweet potatoes in it! Bake apple pies with real butter in the crust! It's good for you!

I'm going to post below several articles and websites that support this view of butter (just in case you are doubtful). You'll find plenty of articles on both sides of the debate, but ask yourself this single question: What do I trust more - a food product created from chemicals that has only been consumed for the past hundred years, or a food that has thousands of years backing it up and is an all-natural, sustainable food that God made easy to obtain from the cows He created? This is the question that sealed it for me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Born Again Omnivores (Part One)

Veganism is obviously the healthiest way to eat, right? Wrong! Humans are not herbivores or carnivores. We are omnivores, and we should be proud of it! Veganism, as a movement, mostly stems from the inhumane treatment of animals. And, I couldn't agree with them more on this issue, which is one reason why I support the idea of traditional food. I believe that animals are the best for us when raised the way God intended for them to be raised. Cows grazing on green grass. Chickens eating bugs and worms that they have to work to find. Pigs rummaging. It's better tasting, healthier meat from happy animals.

Much of the problems modern science has found with so-called "unhealthy" meats is because of the unnatural ways that they are raised today. For example, grass-fed cows have leaner, more nutritionally dense meat and none of the harmful strains of e. coli, which evolved because of the highly acidic stomachs of the corn-fed cows. Free-range chickens lay eggs much higher in omega-3s.

I got this article off of the facebook of Nina Planck (author of Real Food and Real Food for Mother and Baby). It's the story of several Vegans who are joining the growing movement of those throwing away their soy milk and embracing real food again: Born Again Onmivores.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sally Fallon's Testimony to the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee

Sally Fallon is the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, an advocate foundation for real and traditional foods. Here is a copy of her testimony to the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee, which she gave today:

By Sally Fallon Morell, President
The Weston A. Price Foundation
July 8, 2010
The proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines perpetuate the mistakes of previous guidelines in demonizing saturated fats and animal foods rich in saturated fatty acids such as egg yolks, butter, whole milk, cheese, fatty meats like bacon and animal fats for cooking. The current obesity epidemic emerged as vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates replaced these healthy, nutrient-dense traditional fats. Animal fats supply many essential nutrients that are difficult to obtain from other sources. Furthermore, basic biochemistry shows that the human body has a very high requirement for saturated fats and cholesterol in all cell membranes; if we do not eat saturated fats, the body will simply make them from carbohydrates, but excess carbohydrate increases blood levels of triglyceride and small, dense LDL and compromises blood vessel function. High-carbohydrate diets, moreover, fail to satisfy the appetite as well as diets rich in traditional fats, leading to higher caloric intakes and often to bingeing and splurging on empty foods, resulting in rapid weight gain.

The proposed guidelines will perpetuate existing nutrient deficiencies present in all American population groups, including deficiencies in vitamins A, and D, found in animal fats, vitamins B12 and B6 found in meat and seafood, as well as minerals like iron and zinc. Low intakes of vitamin K2, moreover, are associated with increases in the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer, and the main sources of vitamin K2 available to Americans are egg yolks and full-fat cheeses.
By restricting healthy animal fats in school lunches and diets for pregnant women and growing children, the Guidelines will perpetuate the tragic epidemic of learning and behavior disorders. The nutrients found in most abundantly and in some cases exclusively in animal fats—including choline, cholesterol and arachidonic acid—are critical for the development of the brain and the function of receptors that modulate thinking and behavior. Studies show that choline from egg yolks and liver help the brain make critical connections and protect against neurotoxins; animals studies suggest that if choline is abundant during developmental years, the individual is protected for life from developmental decline. The National Academy of Sciences recommends 375 mg per day for children nine through thirteen years of age, 450 mg for pregnant women and 550 mg for lactating women and men aged fourteen and older. These amounts are provided by four or five egg yolks per day—but that would entail consuming 800-1000 mg cholesterol, a crime by USDA standards. The committee referred to this as the “choline problem.” Pregnant women and growing children especially need to eat as many egg yolks as possible—yet the Guidelines demonize this nutrient-dense food.

Choline is also essential to liver health. As the prevalence of obesity has grown to reach epidemic proportions, “fatty liver disease” has emerged as one of its casualties. It is estimated 40 percent of obese Americans have fatty liver. One of the most common ways to induce this disease in animals is to feed them diets deficient in choline and methionine, an amino acid found abundantly in meat. Restricting animal foods in our children’s meals will thus aggravate the consequences of the obesity epidemic.

The Guidelines lump trans fats together with saturated fats—calling them Solid Fats—thereby hiding the difference between unhealthy industrial trans fats and healthy traditional saturated fats. Trans fats contribute to inflammation, depress the immune system, interfere with hormone production, and set up pathological conditions leading to cancer and heart disease, whereas saturated fats fight inflammation, support the immune system, support hormone production and protect against cancer and heart disease.

The vitamins and fatty acids carried uniquely in saturated animal fats are critical to reproduction. The 2010 Guidelines will increase infertility in this country, already at tragically high rates.
The 2010 proposed Guidelines represent a national scandal, the triumph of industry clout over good science and common sense. It must be emphasized that the Guidelines are not based on science but are designed to promote the products of commodity agriculture and—through the back door—encourage the consumption of processed foods. For while the USDA food police pay lip service to reducing our intake of refined sweeteners, trans fats, white flour and salt, this puritanical lowfat prescription ultimately leads to cravings and indulgence in chips, sweets, sodas, breads, desserts and other empty food-and-beverage-like products just loaded with refined sweeteners, trans fats, white flour and salt.
While the ship of state is sinking under a health crisis of enormous proportions, the USDA proposed Guidelines simply rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Without more sensible recommendations, the trend to obesity, learning disorders, chronic disease and infertility will accelerate.

The Weston A. Price Foundation proposes starting over and adopting our Healthy 4 Life Dietary Guidelines, based on four food groups, always with an emphasis on quality through pasture-based feeding and organic, pesticide-free production methods:

Every day, eat high quality, whole foods to provide an abundance of nutrients, chosen from each of the following four groups:
1. Animal foods: meat and organ meats, poultry, and eggs from pastured animals; fish and shellfish; whole raw cheese, milk and other dairy products from pastured animals; and broth made from animal bones.
2. Grains, legumes and nuts: whole-grain baked goods, breakfast porridges, whole grain rice; beans and lentils; peanuts, cashews and nuts, properly prepared to improve digestibility.
3. Fruits and Vegetables: preferably fresh or frozen, preferably locally grown, either raw, cooked or in soups and stews, and also as lacto-fermented condiments.
4. Fats and Oils: unrefined saturated and monounsaturated fats including butter, lard, tallow and other animal fats; palm oil and coconut oil; olive oil; cod liver oil for vitamins A and D.

Avoid: foods containing refined sweeteners such as candies, sodas, cookies, cakes etc.; white flour products such as pasta and white bread; processed foods; modern soy foods; polyunsaturated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods.

Sally Fallon Morell, President
The Weston A. Price Foundation
(202) 363-4394

Infant Nutrition (Part 1)

I get asked a lot about how I feed my son, in light of traditional and real food philosophy. Now, I'm not perfect with this or an expert, but I have tried to use what I've learned in feeding my son. The book Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck gives some excellent advice on this topic, but, frankly, some of it was a little too much for me. I'm still a newb at this, and I can't make baby pate'. But, there is lots of great info, and I definitely recommend it.

I'm going to go through some of the things I did and explain why I decided to do it that way.

Infant Nutrition (Part 1):
Owen did not start eating solid foods until he was about 6 months old. We let him taste things every now and then, but he wasn't eating solids every day until 6 months old, and even then we didn't do much. I did this for several reasons, but the main one was that he didn't need it. He was perfectly fine on breast milk and was growing. I think you'll have a sense for when your infant is ready for food. I remember feeling, especially around 8 months, that solid food was a necessity. He was hungry. I followed his cues in this area.

I did not give Owen infant cereal at any point. This, I feel pretty strongly about, and I have lots of reasons why.
1) Infants do not have the enzymes needed to digest grain.
2) One major argument for cereal is that they need the iron. Well, if they need the iron, did God intend for them to get in in iron-fortified cereal, which has to be fortified with lots of vitamins in order for the grains to not deplete their body of nutrients? I tried to find iron in natural, real foods, like beef and spinach and raisins. Owen's iron levels were never low, when we took him to the pediatrician.
3) Another argument for cereal is that it's the easiest for them to digest. This is not true. It's hard. In fact, many sources and cultures say not to give grains for at least a year, some even say until two years old. Celiac disease is also becoming increasingly prevalent and grain is one of the top food allergens.
4) Much cereal contains unfermented soy, which I have avoided like the plague, especially when Owen was an infant. Soy is also one of the top allergens.

I didn't give Owen anything with soy in it. Traditionally, soy has been fermented to remove enzymes that are difficult for us humans to digest. In the past several years, however, unfermented soy has become one of the biggest staples of our diet. It's in EVERYTHING. Go to the store and try to find products without it in there. It will be extremely difficult.

The evidence on soy is pretty divided. Some say it causes breast cancer, while others say it prevents it. Some say it makes you healthier, some say it depletes health. Here are the undisputed facts on soy.
1) It contains a LOT of estrogen. Plant estrogen, yes, but your body still treats it like estrogen. (When I was in college, I remember getting on a Luna Bar kick. I loved them, and I'd eat one or two a day in place of breakfast or as a snack. My period got completely messed up. I broke out. I cried all the time. It was like starting the birth control pill. Very similar side effects) I don't want MY SON taking estrogen! No way.
2) It is highly allergenic. Many people are allergic to soy. In fact, it is arguably the most allergenic food. This is where you can see the logic of the food industry unravel. Our kids' pediatricians tell us to not feed our kids peanuts or milk or strawberries or shellfish, because of the potential allergic reactions. Yet, no one says anything about soy or wheat, which are definitely in the top 3. I have yet to find an infant formula without soy in it.
3) It's not a traditional food. Soy has been traditionally fermented and used in Asia for centuries. It is extremely difficult to process soy to be used in food. If God wanted us eating "soy lethicin", I think He would have made it easier to get out of the soybean. Just my opinion.
4) High amounts of soy leave a mark! Recently, inmates in Illinois were given a high-soy diet (soy is marketed and used so much, btw, because it is CHEAP!), and they started having some interesting side effects, including:
This is all I have time for today, but I will post more. Next time I'll talk about what I did feed Owen, and why I did it.

Lots more info on infant and child nutrition can be found at the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Recipe: No-Knead Bread

I love this bread. It is absolutely amazing. I got the original recipe from King Arthur Flour and made a few adjustments to make it a little more "real". I also love this recipe, because it is super inexpensive to make.

A few notes:
1) This bread will go bad after about 5-7 days. You can't keep it as long as store bought bread. Wrap it in cling wrap and put it in an old bread bag (from a previously purchased loaf of bread) and seal it up good.
2) Don't be scared of butter, especially grass-fed butter. Load it on there. It's much more nutritious then the bread itself.
3) I love to eat this with a big chunk of sharp cheddar cheese on the side!
4) For this to be a truly traditional bread, I would need to sprout the grains and mill it myself. I'm not quite that far into my traditional food learnin'. I also use a little white flour. I find that it improves the texture and taste. It's still better than store-bought bread and contains only 5 ingredients. I figure it costs about 75 cents a loaf and contains about 500 calories a loaf, if you follow the loaf size directions.

Rebekkah's No-Knead Bread

1 1/2 cups lukewarm (about 105 degree Fahrenheit) water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 TBSP sea salt
1 packet active dry yeast

(Though my ingredients are different, my recipe directions are the same. So I'm copying and pasting from the King Arthur Website. I made a few edits to go with my recipe.)

1) Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. For first-timers, "lukewarm" means about 105°F, but don't stress over getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine; "OUCH, that's hot!" is not. Yeast is a living thing; treat it nicely.

2) Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don't have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk till everything is combined.

3) Next, you're going to let the dough rise. If you've made the dough in a plastic bucket, you're all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you've made the dough in a bowl that's not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it's going to rise a lot. There's no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it's time to bake bread.

4) Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you're pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it'll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's OK; that's what it's supposed to do.

5) When you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/2 of the dough. It'll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.

6) Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don't fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can.

7) Place the dough on a piece of parchment (if you're going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.

8) Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. It won't appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it'll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you're using one) to 400°F while the dough rests. Place a shallow pan on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go. (I use a cake pan for the water. Works great!)

9) When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's OK, it'll pick right up in the hot oven.

10) Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.

11) Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown.

12) Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

13) Yield: 2 loaves if you cut it in half. You can also make one large loaf.