Friday, July 1, 2011

Whole Food for Kids!

Whole foods can be so easy and simple that even kids can make them! The pictures in this article are of my son making Alfredo Sauce from scratch! In every picture where you see hands, they belong to my 11 y/o son. This recipe has become his trademark. He does a fabulous job. Even he says it is so much better than the jarred sauce we used to buy - and we didn't buy the cheap stuff, either.

We have adapted this recipe from one showcased on "Down Home with the Neelys" on Food Network. 

Alfredo Sauce

2 TBSP Butter (from pasture-raised cows would be best)

1 TSP Minced Garlic (I personally like a bit more)

1 TBSP All Purpose Flour (I would not use whole wheat flour here, as it has     such a strong flavor on it's own, but any neutral flavored flour, as long as it is not self rising, should work here. I use Spelt.)

1 Cup Heavy Cream (we get our cream off of the real, whole, raw milk we drink)

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (grated/shredded)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mise en Place:

1.  Melt Butter in a skillet.

2.  Add chopped garlic.

3.  Stir/sautee for a minute or so. DO NOT brown the butter or garlic. You just want to "wake up" the flavor of the garlic.

4.  Add Flour.

5.  Whisk in pan until smooth.

6.  Add Cream.

7.  Whisk until warm/hot, Not boiling.

8.  Add Cheese.

9.  Keep whisking until cheese has melted completely.

10.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

(OK, time for a confession... I didn't get a picture of the final product. We gobbled it up too quickly. I'll try to remember to get one next time we make this Alfredo Sauce!)

Use anywhere you would use Alfredo Sauce. I love it over chicken or as the sauce on a "white pizza." If you like pasta, this will work with about 1/3 - 1/2 lb of Angel Hair pasta.  

This post is linked up at Traditional Tuesdays and Real Food Wednesdays

Whole Foods vs Empty Carbs

Well, my son is out of town visiting his father, so I have a chance, sans kid, to get back to real food.

We recently moved residences. Add to that a divorce and stuff that was even worse to me emotionally. It all happened within a single month. With my fibromyalgia and the emotional turmoil, I ended up really tired a lot. I did exactly what I knew I shouldn't. We ate a lot of "quick and easy" foods. We ate a lot of sandwiches and pastas. I have even started making bread at home (well, it's better than the store bought stuff, right?). Carbs are bad for me. It seems I have insulin resistance and adrenal fatigue. Guess what those carbs do to me? They spike my insulin, which later crashes, leaving me hungrier. This article explains a bit of why that happens. I'm no scientist, so it helped me to read it and to understand. For some reason, "whole food" carbs like green beans, corn, and even baked potatoes don't seem to bother me as much. Of course I eat them with lots of real butter, not margarine, and sea salt. That might help in the assimilation of nutrients. Butter is a "wonder food!" Butter contains what Dr. Weston A. Price called "Activator X" and is an incredible catalyst that helps the body absorb and utilize minerals. Unadulterated sea salt is full of an amazing array of essential nutrients which white, processed table salt lacks, like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, iodine, manganese, copper and zinc.

Well, several nights ago, I braised some chicken thighs, added a couple of vegetables on the side and was full long before my plate was empty. Processed Carbs make me hungry. Real food doesn't. I feel sated without eating tons of food. It's great. I always thought it was cheaper to eat junk. Maybe it is in the short term, but not in the long term. I end up eating more, craving more, eating more, craving more and it affects my health in a very negative way. I'd be willing to bet it affects your health in a negative way.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lily Livered & Chicken Livers

I recently bought some chicken livers. I was lily-livered about trying them, but I knew they were good for me, so I dove right in. I have hidden liver in our food before, but never just eaten the liver straight up.

I started by soaking them in some buttermilk to draw out any bad stuff, after all, the liver is just a big filter to catch bad stuff. I know if you get organic, pasture raised livers they are far less likely to have anything objectionable in them, but I always want to be extra sure... especially since I am not used to eating liver anyway.

I then trimmed them up, did a double dip (flour, then egg, then flour again), and threw them in a hot fry pan with coconut oil. I fried them up until they were crispy outside and served them alongside cheesy eggs for breakfast. My son just loved them! I think he liked them better than I did. I was very pleasantly surprised! 

If you are hesitant to try new foods, just think: mind over matter. Jump in! You can do it. Baby step your way to better health. Pick one new food each trip you make to the store and try it. If you want some really good recipes, some great research, and some ideas on what new foods you might want to try, check out Sally Fallon's book "Nourishing Traditions." It's worth every penny you might spend on it!

Opening my Mind

OK, so I don't want my mind to be so open that anything falls out, but having an open mind in the area of what I eat and allow in my body is a good thing. 

I grew up as most of us middle-class American kids did. We ate pretty good food. We ate mostly what mom made from scratch, as there were not nearly as many options out there as there are now. Now, you can have every conceivable combination of food/spices you can think of thrown into a tomato sauce and buy your spaghetti sauce pre-made. There weren't choices that vast in the 70s and 80s. 

When I joined the United States Air Force and moved far away from home, I ate a lot of "chow hall" food and made some small amounts of food from scratch. Considering that we had two stoves for the entire building of airmen (about 300 of us), home cooking often happened in an electric skillet or the occasional crock pot. I liked to cook and enjoyed apartment sitting for my married friends when they went on vacations, but I didn't eat well, even though I thought I did.

Fast forward to being married. I tried my hardest to please him, but he had no taste for anything besides salt and pepper. He liked garbage from cans and boxes. He loved any pre-made pasta. I packed on weight trying to please his palate!  

Two kids and ten years later, and my son was diagnosed with asthma. In a casual conversation with the mom of one of my five year old son's friends, I discovered a crack in the facade of what "the establishment" had been telling us. Raw milk cured her three year old son's asthma. RAW MILK? Was she nuts? Didn't she know that drinking that stuff could kill you? I look back on my naivete now and laugh. Raw milk cured my son's asthma, too.

That one step started me on the path I still continue to trod today. I am constantly growing and learning and changing. I am opening my mind to see that what the FDA, CDC, AHA and all the others is not necessarily gospel truth. I see now that the closer I eat to the way God intended, eating what grows from the earth, not what comes out of cans and boxes, the healthier I become. I have been diagnosed with all manner of illnesses, not the least of which is Fibromyalgia. The more real, whole foods I eat, the fewer and less severe the symptoms. I think I'll continue.

Won't you join me on my journey to better foods and better health?

I'm Baaaack!

Sorry I have been Missing In Action for a while. Life, with it's twists and turns, got all jumbled up and tossed around. That's fine, if you happen to be a salad. It's not so great if you aren't.

Things are settling down a little bit and I think I can string two thoughts together now and attempt to post more often. Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Real Chicken Nuggets!

OK, y'all. It's time to share this secret. Chicken Nuggets aren't real food. I know it's shocking, but it's true.

Back in seventh grade, in my home economics class (yes, they still had those back in the 80s), I learned to make real chicken nuggets. This was - brace yourself - before McDonald's had them! And the ones I learned to make had Real Chicken Meat!

Would you like to know how ridiculously simple they are to make?

I've long since lost the recipe for exact measurements of ingredients, so I usually just "wing it" and you can, too.

*Boneless, skinless, uncooked chicken meat. We tend to like the thigh meat, as it has so much flavor, but the breasts would be fine.  
*Bread Crumbs. You can use them from a can, but why? They put so much in there that isn't even bread! If you make your own bread or even have a favorite brand of bread, that will work great. Toast it up until it's quite dry then put it in the food processor or blender! Viola - bread crumbs.
*Spices. You can add whatever strikes your fancy. You can go relatively plain with a bit of sea salt and parsley. You can add a teaspoon or two of mixed italian seasonings and parmesan cheese. You can add curry and turmeric. It really is up to you what you want your nuggets to taste like.
*Egg or Butter. You need a coating agent!

Now, it depends on how much chicken you are making on how much of each of the others you will need. 
Let's say you have two large breasts. Er, that you have two large chicken breasts... 
--Cut them into about one inch cubes 
--dip them into about a stick of melted butter or into a couple of lightly agitated eggs. 
--remove from butter/egg
--roll in about 1-2 cups of bread crumbs mixed with spices

Put in a single layer on a cookie sheet and cook at 400 F for about 15 minutes. That is it! 

You will very likely NOT need any kind of dipping sauce, as the nuggets will actually have flavor! If you think you need it, try this fabulous, homemade ranch dressing.

I have often thought about making a bunch of these ahead of time and freezing them. Unfortunately, they never last long enough. If you manage to do it, write and tell me about it!

Cooking is not about following specific recipes all the time. It is often about "winging it" and finding out what works for you and your family. Trying new things, new flavors, new methods, new ideas. You can do it! Trust me, if I can do it, you can too!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sneaking in some Liver

Today, I did a total Mom thing. I got sneaky.
See, I have been doing a lot of reading and have discovered something amazing: did you know that liver is good for you? I didn't grow up eating liver. My parents both detested it. Liverwurst on crackers, we did, but not liver per se. The only way most people knew to cook it back then was until it was gray and grainy and maybe with some onions thrown in for good measure.  It doesn't have to be that way!

I have an acquaintance in my home town. Some of you might know him if you watch the Food Network. His name is Hans Rueffert. He came in second for the first season of "The Next Food Network Star." He said that liver doesn't have to be gray and grainy! He said it can even be pink inside and then it won't be grainy. Really! He inspired me to find out about it. 

Reading Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions taught me that liver provides copper, zinc, iron and vitamins A and D in abundance as well as being a fabulous source of antioxidants. Sally says to get very fresh, organic liver and soak it in lemon juice for several hours to draw out possible impurities. I have heard elsewhere to soak it in milk (I assume, of course, that raw milk would be best) to accomplish the same thing. So, I decided to try some liver... 

OK, the huge calves liver I saw at the store was quite daunting, so I decided to start small with chicken livers. Then, I saw a wonderful package of turkey offal (pretty much: neck, liver, heart, and gizzard, I think) for 70 cents.  There was the liver we could start with. I know organic would have been tremendously better, but I am on a severely restricted budget right now, so I had to go with what I could get.

Somehow, I didn't think my 11 y/o son would just jump for joy at the thought of turkey liver, seeing how he had never had liver and had grown up hearing everyone around say that it was yucky, so I got "Mom Sneaky." I chopped the liver into teeny, tiny pieces. Hamburgers were on tap for this evening's meal, so I casually mixed in the minuscule pieces... quickly before he got home from playing. I usually mix the hamburger and spices with my hands. I tossed in the pieces after soaking them a while in milk and straining them. Guess what? It looked awful! They were not hiding well. They looked like little brown leeches in the burgers and even stuck to my hands like the little suckers. Thinking quickly, I made the patties and got them on the outdoor grill before he got home. The sun had just set, so he couldn't easily see the meat on the grill. We usually take our burgers medium, but I let them go a bit longer to cook through.

He raved about the wonderful burgers. He had half a pound's worth of meat! He put cheese on his and ate it on a bun. I sauteed some mushrooms in butter and poured it over mine, sans bun. The burgers were insanely divine! After we were done eating, I told him that he had eaten liver in his burger. At first his eyes got really big, then he just said that they were pretty good burgers in spite of the liver. I have to wonder though: was it in spite of the liver or because of the liver?

I guess we'll have to try some different liver applications in the future to find out for sure.

Leave a comment and tell me about your liver recipes or funny experiences!

I'm linking this post to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's "Real Food Wednesday." Head on over to her blog and check out some of the fabulous links to real food recipes and stories. Definitely worth a look!

Monday, January 24, 2011

This post isn't about food. It's about a very special life.

This week marks yet another anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.  Please, do not deluge me with hate mail if you do not agree with my position.  I am the mother of a child not deemed worthy of life by many.  I felt the need to share this today.  Please read my story.

My daughter was considered "disposable" by most of the medical community.  She had a fairly rare chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18.  Although "so-called termination" was never considered, we opted for an amnio to find out what we were dealing with.  When the results came back with a problem where 85% of pregnancies end in stillbirth or miscarriage and 90% of those 700 or so born alive each year will not live to their first birthday, the perinatologist "recommended a D&C."  When I commented that my baby was still alive, he said, "If you know she is going to die anyway, does it really matter when?"  I was horrified.  YES.  It does matter.
Our baby girl survived and defied so many dire predictions!  She lived with us almost seven months before going home to Jesus' comforting arms!  We had 206 days to cuddle and snuggle.  We had over six months to build memories of her with our (then) four year old son.  Seven people accepted Christ's invitation for a personal relationship at her Celebration of Life Service.  That this tiny life had a purpose!  She was here for a reason!  Was she perfect physically?  No.  Had she lived, would she have been mentally agile?  No.  Could she love and understand love?  I believe she did.
What is the measure by which we deem life "worth" keeping?  Where is the scale we use to measure a life's worthiness?  Is it really up to us to make those calls?  We chose to let God be God and determine the number of her days and we have been so blessed by the doing.

During this week where we pause and reflect on the sanctity of life, I wanted to add my two cents.  Life is sacred.  Period.  Our little girl has forever changed my life.  I will never be the same person I was before.  I am a bit older, perhaps a bit wiser.  While I had deeply held convictions before Audrey Grace came to stay for a while, they are now a part of my very being.  Every life has a purpose.  Every life has a reason for being.  God doesn't make mistakes.  And through it all, I can say that God is Good, all the time.

Thank you for listening.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Smoothie for Health!

OK. I do not get sick often. I really don't. I haven't been sick, more than occasionally having sniffles or sneezes due to allergies, for the most part since fall of 2009 (It's true that I do get migraines due to incoming storms, but I don't count that as being "sick.").

I've been trying to avoid it for a couple of days, but it got me. I'm sickish. Headache, sinus pressure, ear pain, post nasal drip, achiness, exhaustion, sore throat, swollen glands... I think it was passed along from my son who got it from one of his friends in the neighborhood. We homeschool, so it must have come from one of the traditionally schooled kids...  :P

Today, I haven't felt like making food. I have been drinking broth, boullion, hot tea and eating nothing but crackers. I know the broth and hot tea can help when you are sick, but I felt I needed a bit more, so I went into the kitchen to experiment. This yummy concoction is what I came away with:

(all measurements are approximate)

In a blender combine:

1 Medium Banana
1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
1/2 Cup Applesauce
1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp Raw Honey
1 Raw, Pastured Egg

Pulse in blender until the big chunks are broken up and then blend until it looks good to you. It is super thick, creamy, and delicious. It has fiber from the fruits, protein from the yogurt and egg, tons of probiotics from the yogurt, antibacterial action from the raw honey and it is cold on my sore throat. While it certainly would have been better if everything had been organic and homemade, I think I did pretty good for baby-stepping my way to better health. And this smoothie is good enough to make a regular part of my real food plan!

Do you have any favorite go-to items for when you are feeling under the weather? Please share them in the comments below!

I've linked this post to some wonderful recipes at City Wife / Country Life's Tasty Tuesdays. Why don't you head over there to check it out? She has a fabulous recipe for homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dip with none of the fillers and gums you find in the stuff from the store.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Not Eating Whole Foods

For some reason, I have spent several days really been craving pizza. I mean really wanting pizza. My favorite has always been pepperoni. So, today, I cranked up the bread machine. I put in the ingredients for my favorite pizza crust dough. Unbleached flour, yeast, water, oil, a few seasonings... and I cranked up the machine. An hour later, I kneaded the dough. I let it rise almost as long as indicated (ok, so I was in a bit of a hurry). I slathered on the store bought sauce, pepperoni, and cheeses. I baked that little bit of heaven until it was bubbly. Then, we dug in and I ate a slice and a half. About 30 minutes later, I felt like I had eaten a whale.

It would seem that my body has gotten used to real, whole, natural foods. I noticed a while back (maybe a month or so) that eating at my favorite fast food restaurant left me feeling sick. Now, the not-so-healthy style of pizza I made left me feeling like there was a rock in the pit of my stomach. I am thinking that maybe my body is so happy not eating prefabricated food that it rebels when I do.

So, here's my plan: learn to make pizza dough with whole wheat flour, make the sauce from scratch (I do it with spaghetti sauce, why not just reduce it a bit more until it's thick enough for pizza?), and use veggies and real meat, not overly processed meat like pepperoni. Maybe then, I can enjoy the pizza experience without feeling poorly later.

Have you found you have intolerances after switching to real, whole, natural foods? How did you keep/change the foods you used to enjoy or did you just ditch them all and start from scratch?