Dr- Natasha Campbell-McBride

How to Use Trunk Rolls to Improve Reflux and Colic Symptoms in Babies Naturally

What are trunk rolls and why do we use them? I'll give you a hint. They have to do with reflux and colic.

Unfortunately, having a baby with reflux or colic is becoming a common parental experience. But just because it's common does not mean it's normal!

Colic (severe, fluctuating abdominal pain that causes crying and screaming in an infant) and reflux (leakage of stomach contents into the esophagus through an open sphincter causing pain and spit-up in infants) are challenges for parents and caregivers, not to mention the babies! But these conditions don't have to be tolerated!

They are symptoms, signals from the body that something is wrong! And when that root cause is addressed, the symptoms of reflux and colic will go away! Addressing the root cause of colic or reflux takes at least a few days, and in some cases (like prematurity) it may need to be managed for a little longer.

While you are waiting for the root cause to be corrected, trunk rolls can be a helpful tool to keep your baby comfortable and hopefully reduce the frequency of these symptoms. Simply put, trunk rolls are blanket splints placed on either side of the baby before they are swaddled. They keep the abdomen from getting "squished," which reduces the likelihood of reflux (a cause of colic crying).

Watch the video demonstration to see how to use these correctly for your baby. Because of all the extra blankets, it's important to keep the blankets away from the baby's face, and monitor their blanket position frequently. This technique is most helpful when holding, picking up and moving the baby around, and may not be as needed during longer sleeping periods (like at night). Also, the trunk roll should never be used inside the buckles in a carseat, as this would prevent the carseat from doing its job in keeping the baby safe and secure.

The trunk roll is a helpful tool, but it is not going to fix the root cause. If your baby is struggling with reflux or colic, please contact me so we can eliminate the underlying problem that is causing your baby pain!  

GAPS Friendly Waffle Recipe

Recently the idea struck me to try to make a GAPS waffle. I had made many GAPS pancakes, so I thought maybe it could be done. And it turns out... it can! It was not a simple task, however.

The ratios are fairly different than a GAPS pancake... for one thing, putting in too many eggs caused it to overflow and made quite a mess. But after some trial and error I found a recipe that is delicious, and delivered consistent results (which is a big deal when cooking without flour).

I was also excited to make this a dairy-free recipe (except for the whey). Unfortunately, I can't make it nut free, the almond butter is essential! I hope you enjoy them!

GAPS Friendly Waffles

(makes about 8 waffle squares or 2 full-size waffles)

GAPs legal waffle Batter Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash

  • 4 TBS fermented almond butter (see note)

  • 1 TBS melted lard

  • 2 eggs

  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Additional Ingredients

  • About ¼ cup melted lard or butter to grease the waffle iron

Tools for gaps legal waffles

  • Food processor or high-powered blender

  • Waffle iron

  • Chopsticks (this is very helpful to get the waffles off in one piece)

Directions for gaps legal waffles

This recipe is quick to put together if you do a little prep work first!

Prep the Fermented Almond Butter:
At least 24 hours in advance, ferment the almond butter. Add 2 TBS whey to 1 cup almond butter. Stir. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours. This will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

Prep the Butternut Squash:
Cut the butternut squash in half and place face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 min until soft. Remove the squash flesh and place in a bowl.

For the GAPS Waffles:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth and mixed.

gaps-legal-waffles-how-to-make-waffles-for-the-gaps-diet-paleo-waffles-butternut-squash-waffles-how-to-make-waffles-gaps-legal-waffle-recipe-waffles-for-the-gaps-protocol-healing-gut-waffles

I recommend pouring the mixture into a bag and using it like a pastry bag. The more quickly you can get the waffle batter on the iron and close the lid, the better it turns out!

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When everything is ready, and the waffle iron is hot, use the pastry brush to spread fat on the upper and lower waffle irons. Do this as quickly as possible.

Add batter to the waffle iron, then close the lid.

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There is a lot of moisture in this recipe, so expect a lot of steam!

Wait for the green light to go on, and then another 30 seconds or so.

Slowly open the waffle iron.

gaps-legal-waffles-how-to-make-waffles-for-the-gaps-diet-paleo-waffles-butternut-squash-waffles-how-to-make-waffles-gaps-legal-waffle-recipe-waffles-for-the-gaps-protocol-healing-gut-waffles

Remove the waffles from the iron, using the chopstick in the groves in any areas it is sticking.Top with fried eggs, honey, date syrup, berries, homemade whipped cream, or anything you want to!

gaps-legal-waffles-how-to-make-waffles-for-the-gaps-diet-paleo-waffles-butternut-squash-waffles-how-to-make-waffles-gaps-legal-waffle-recipe-waffles-for-the-gaps-protocol-healing-gut-waffles

Enjoy!


GAPS Friendly Waffle Recipe

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

ingredients:

Waffle Batter Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash
  • 4 TBS fermented almond butter (see note)
  • 1 TBS melted lard
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
Additional Ingredients
  • About ¼ cup melted lard or butter to grease the waffle iron
Tools Needed
  • Food processor or high-powered blender
  • Waffle iron
  • Chopsticks (this is very helpful to get the waffles off in one piece)

instructions:

How to cook GAPS Friendly Waffle Recipe

  1. This recipe is quick to put together if you do a little prep work first!
  2. Prep the Fermented Almond Butter:
  3. At least 24 hours in advance, ferment the almond butter. Add 2 TBS whey to 1 cup almond butter. Stir. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours. This will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.
  4. Prep the Butternut Squash:
  5. Cut the butternut squash in half and place face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 min until soft. Remove the squash flesh and place in a bowl.
  6. For the GAPS Waffles:
  7. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth and mixed.
  8. I recommend pouring the mixture into a bag and using it like a pastry bag. The more quickly you can get the waffle batter on the iron and close the lid, the better it turns out!
  9. When everything is ready, and the waffle iron is hot, use the pastry brush to spread fat on the upper and lower waffle irons. Do this as quickly as possible.
  10. Add batter to the waffle iron, then close the lid.
  11. There is a lot of moisture in this recipe, so expect a lot of steam!
  12. Wait for the green light to go on, and then another 30 seconds or so.
  13. Slowly open the waffle iron.
  14. Remove the waffles from the iron, using the chopstick in the groves in any areas it is sticking. Top with fried eggs, honey, date syrup, berries, homemade whipped cream, or anything you want to!
Created using The Recipes Generator

GAPS Friendly Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe

Strawberry rhubarb pie has always been one of my favorites! In the past I have modified recipes to make a strawberry rhubarb dessert, but this year I decided I wanted to use my growing knowledge and skill in the kitchen and make a delicious GAPS-legal pie. My added challenges? I wanted to make it with a fermented almond crust, and use a different sweetener than honey. Finally, I wanted to have a modification that made not only GAPS legal, but dairy-free, nut-free and egg-free.

Overall, I would call the experiment a success. But to get that success I had to make more multiples of this recipe than I ever have for any previous recipe I've posted. Because of the crust. Not that my "tester" friends and family complained.

Turns out almond flour crust doesn't play nice with a wetter pie filling. Actually, the problem is that it plays too nice! It wants to combine with the filling; get up close and personal. Not what a pie crust is supposed to do. I did not fully overcome the pie-crust conundrum, but every recipe I made turned out delicious. So instead of chocking it up as a "failed recipe," I decided to share with you what I made... a good pie that happens to have a crust with boundary issues! And, of course, I will share the modified recipe for egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free strawberry rhubarb dessert. Keep reading!

Ingredients FOr Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

For the Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour

  • 1/4 cup whey (enough to moisten)

  • 1/2 cup room-temperature butter (or lard)

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Filling:

  • 3 1/2 cups rhubarb pieces

  • 2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/2 cup date syrup (I use this one)

  • 2 TBS gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water

  • Optional: zest from 1/2 lemon

Directions for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Mix almond flour and whey together. Cover and leave on the counter for 24 hours to ferment.

After 24 hours, this mixture keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To the fermented flour mixture, add butter or lard and sea salt. Mix well, getting all clumps out.

Then butter a pie pan well. Press the crust mixture into the pan and form a crust using your fingers.

Bake at 400° for 5-8 minutes until a little dry and just turning brown.  

Combine all ingredients for the filling. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the juices increase.

Add the filling to your pre-baked crust.

Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes until light brown.

Directions for Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert

A delicious nut free alternative served hot or at room temperature!

Mix the filling the same, except add 2 additional TBS of gelatin and dissolve in 1/2 cup of hot water.

Let the filling sit for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors mix.

Line muffin tins.

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes until the tops are just browning.

Serve warm or room temperature. These gooey treats are a bit messy, so eat with a spoon. They are delicious!  

Enjoy!


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

ingredients:

For the Pie Crust:
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup whey (enough to moisten)
  • 1/2 cup room-temperature butter (or lard)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
For the Filling:
  • 3 1/2 cups rhubarb pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup date syrup (I use this one)
  • 2 TBS gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
  • Optional: zest from 1/2 lemon

instructions:

How to cook Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

24 Hours Before
  1. Mix almond flour and whey together. Cover and leave on the counter for 24 hours to ferment.
  2. After 24 hours, this mixture keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week.
The Next Day
  1. To the fermented flour mixture, add butter or lard and sea salt. Mix well, getting all clumps out.
  2. Then butter a pie pan well. Press the crust mixture into the pan and form a crust using your fingers.
  3. Bake at 400° for 5-8 minutes until a little dry and just turning brown.
  4. Combine all ingredients for the filling. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the juices increase.
  5. Add the filling to your pre-baked crust.
  6. Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes until light brown.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups rhubarb pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup date syrup (I use this one)
  • 2 TBS gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
  • Optional: zest from 1/2 lemon

instructions:

How to cook Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert

  1. Mix the filling the same, except add 2 additional TBS of gelatin and dissolve in 1/2 cup of hot water.
  2. Let the filling sit for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors mix.
  3. Line muffin tins.
  4. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes until the tops are just browning.
  5. Serve warm or room temperature. These gooey treats are a bit messy, so eat with a spoon. They are delicious!
Created using The Recipes Generator

New Year's Resolutions: Six Habits I Recommend on a Regular Basis

Happy New Year everyone!

In the last post, I shared about mindsets to have (or not) that will help with successful habit change. This week I want to share about some of the habits I think are most important to consider integrating into your family. This is not an exhaustive list! These habits are simple and sound. They are not flashy or trendy (necessarily), and they have stood the test of time. And remember, I am not suggesting you start ALL of these habits at once, or that these are the highest priority for your family. I am merely suggesting ones I think are important. For your consideration. Here they are:  

Six Habits I Recommend on a Regular Basis:

1. Eat More Animal Fat

This is my number one recommendation, and it is something you can incorporate into your food right now! Everyone should be eating more animal fat! Here's a post about why you should add more animal fat to your diet. Animal fats are butter, lard, tallow, ghee, chicken, duck and goose fat, bacon, and sour cream. This is where the money is! But what about avocados, coconut oil, and all the "healthy fats"? Those fats are fine and healthy (if they are good quality), but they cannot replace the amazing benefits that animal fats bring to your body. Those fats are fine to eat, but focus on increasing the animal fats. I recommend people work up to eating a minimum of 1/2 cup added animal fat per person per day. This includes children (they need fat for their developing brain!) This can be accomplished by adding fat to everything! Fry everything in butter, lard or bacon grease. Butter your steak! Eat butter cubes and dried fruit for a snack. Eat a tub of sour cream with a spoon! These are just some ideas to get you started. And if you are worried about fat and heart disease or obesity, I recommend you check out the book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride called Put Your Heart in Your Mouth, which explains the real reason for these epidemic diseases.

2. Drink Meat Stock Daily

Meat stock (not necessarily bone broth) is a liquid gold that I think every person can benefit from. To learn how to make it, view my post about it. I recommend that every person (children included) consume at least 1 mug of meat stock every day. With every meal is even better. This doesn't have to be in the form of soup—it can be a mug of the strained stock. And this is great place to add in extra fat (see previous point). And yes, there is a difference between store-bought and homemade—you can make something of infinitely higher quality than anything you can buy. And please, even if you use a microwave for other things, warm up your meat stock on the stove!

3. Eat a Fermented Food

Until the age of refrigeration, we naturally had some time of fermented food at least once a day. Either foods were fermented on purpose to preserve them longer (like sauerkraut), or during the course of a few days stored at room temperature, they grew some amount of mold, yeast, or bacteria on them.

Today, food in this state goes instantly into the trash (often container included), but for most of history food was rarely wasted due to a little mold! Now, I am not saying you should eat food that is molded or rotten, but our bodies function in a more healthy state if we regularly eat microbes. After all, a large part of our bodies are microbes! Here is a fun little video about how microbes work in your body. To help your body get or stay healthy, it's good to get these healthy microbes in us! You can do this by taking a probiotic, or eating fermented foods. There are different reasons why one is better than the other, and sometimes both are needed, but eating a ferment (or fermented food) is a great way to start out! 

You can buy your ferment (like live, refrigerated sauerkraut), or make it yourself. In addition to sauerkraut, beet kvass and vegetable medley are two of my favorites. When you start with any probiotic or fermented food, go slowly! Too much too fast can cause what's known as a die-off or Herx reaction. This is not fun, but can be avoided by increasing the amount you eat slowly! Start with one bite of sauerkraut, or 1 ounce of beet kvass. See how you feel for the next 24 hours, then use that as a guide to let you know how fast you can increase (or if you need to decrease).  

The last three habits are related to detoxing and cleansing your body.

4. Filter Your Water

This is a fairly simple change to make, yet it can reap large benefits. City water, most bottled water, and some well water contains chlorine in one or more forms. It is put there to keep species of bacteria, fungus and other microbes from multiplying to unhealthy levels. However, when we drink this same water the chlorine negatively affects the flora living inside us as well. And when we bathe and shower in it, not only do the chemicals dry out our skin and the fumes irritate our lungs, the protective barrier of our skin (maintained by skin flora) is damaged. You can largely prevent all of these things by filtering the chlorine (and some other things) out of your water. There are many levels of filters, and depending on how sick you are and what's in your water supply, a stronger filter may be necessary. But most people see benefit with simple filters for their drinking, cooking and bathing water. I use this filter or this filter for my drinking and cooking water, this filter for my baths, and this filter for my shower. You could get them all, or start with one and build from there.

5. Take a Detox Bath

A detox bath is an excellent way to help your body get rid of toxins that have accumulated there. There are three factors in a detox bath: water temperature, time, and amount of detox material. You can adjust all three of these to find your perfect bath! Common detoxing materials are Epsom salt, baking soda, and raw apple cider vinegar with the mother. And as we just discussed, dechlorinated water is preferred. The goal of a detox bath is to make you feel lighter, clearer and better. If you go too high on any of the three detox bath factors, you may get nauseated, a headache, increased heart rate, brain fog, muscle cramps, irritability or other like symptoms. If this happens during your bath, no worries! Just get out of the bath right away, drink plenty of water, and your symptoms will usually disappear in a few minutes. If they don't, lie down for a little while to let your body rest and recover.

  • Water temperature: you want a warm bath, but if it gets really hot, your body can jump to that other level of detoxing that will give you all the undesirable symptoms. This temperature will be determined by you, and may vary slightly day by day.

  • Time in the bath: to detox, most people need to stay in the bath about 20 minutes. You can stay in longer. But sometimes staying in more time can cause you to start having symptoms. If that happens, bath time is over! It's time to get out! Shorten your bath time by a few minutes the next time.

  • Amount of detoxing materials: for each bath, you want to use one of the detox materials listed above. Amounts vary between 1/4-1 cup. Test and see what works for you. It's good to rotate the material, using all three at different times, for a more comprehensive detoxing.

Enjoy your bath!

6. Walk Outside in the Sun

This is actually a two-for-one! Sunbathing (with nothing on your skin) is a great way to detox AND increase your levels of vitamin D. Of course, different seasons will have a different influence on vitamin D levels, but talking a walk in the sunshine has undeniable benefits (and probably ones we don't even understand yet!) The full light spectrum can help fight daytime fatigue, which in turn helps our hormones to balance. And you are getting gentle movement exercise on top of it! This will stimulate blood flow and increase your body's ability to remove toxins, as well as stimulate lymph movement, which does the same. It's important to expose your skin to the sun without any barrier, including light barriers such as coconut oil. Commercial sunscreens should be avoided altogether as they contain many known carcinogens. If your skin is not ready for the amount of sun exposure it's going to get, it's best to cover up with clothing, and/or gradually work up the time in the sun. As a side benefit, the more animal fat you eat the less likely you are to sunburn! So use this winter wisely! By the time spring and summer come, you should be able to increase your sun time gradually without problems! And yes, this includes you blondes, redheads, and fair-skinned people!

So there you have it!

The top six changes I recommend on a regular basis. Let me know which one you tried out first, and how it went!

Onward!

Buckeye Cookies {GAPS Legal}

Another one of my favorite Christmas cookies are Buckeyes. These delicious cookies are traditionally peanut butter and powder sugar balls dipped in chocolate, made to look like the buckeye nut. The buckeye nut is commonly found back East, like Ohio and Michigan, where my family is originally from.

The roots for this recipe go deep in our family. Much like the Force.  

Ok, maybe not the Force (although I am excited for the new Star Wars movie that comes out this week!)

But we do make Buckeye cookies a lot. Since powdered sugar is hardly GAPS legal, I haven't had these cookies for a while either. But all that is about the change!  

Introducing GAPS legal Buckeye cookies!  

These no-bake cookies are egg free, and casein and lactose free (contains whey and butter). They are also coconut free!  

Please note that while cassava flour is not technically on the GAPS-illegal list, it is still quite starchy. These cookies should be a special treat, and consumed infrequently and in small amounts. Same with cocoa powder. And, as always, observe if YOUR body is okay with this particular food at this time. Just because something is "GAPS legal" does not give you a free pass to eat it! Pay attention to what your body is telling you. But if it's telling you that these cookies are okay for you, then by all means ENJOY THEM!!!

GAPS Legal Buckeye Cookies

Makes about 48 cookies

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 1 cup peanut butter

  • 2 cups cassava flour

  • 8 TBS whey

  • 1/2-1 cup honey

  • 8 oz butter

  • 2 tsp vanilla

Coating:

  • 1 1/2 cup cocoa butter chips

  • 1/8 cup raw honey

  • 1 TBS cocoa powder

Directions:

Prep time: Need to start this recipe 24 hours in advance, 5 minutes prep time. Then it takes about 30-45 minutes to finish on the following day.  

Filling:

Twenty-four hours in advance: mix 1/2 cup peanut butter, 4 TBS whey, and 1 cup cassava flour together until everything is moist and crumbly. Try to eliminate as many clumps as possible. Leave on the countertop in a glass container with a lid. This is to give the legumes and cassava flour a chance to lacto-ferment. This makes them more digestible and increase the nutritional value. For more on why we should only eat nuts and seeds that have been properly prepared, watch my video on this.

After 24 hours, the mixture should look something like this...just a little more moist than what you started with the day before.

Add to this the vanilla extract, honey and 8 oz of softened butter (it's not the end of the world if you melt it, but try not to).

I used 1 cup of honey for this recipe, and to my non-sugar eating palate they are very sweet (which is the point, I suppose)! I plan to reduce the honey by about half the next time I make this. The mixture just needs to be formed into balls.

Mix well, and smooth out as many clumps as possible. You should be able to easily for this mixture into little balls.

Form the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper

Place the balls in the freezer to chill (about 10-15 minutes)   Next, make the coating   The most important part of making the coating is to heat things just hot enough to melt. Nothing should be cooked here! You are gently heating them up to mix. Then gradually cooling them back down again.  

Using a double boiler (or as I just discovered, my glass 2 cup measuring container fits perfectly into a medium saucepan) On low heat, melt the cacao butter chips.

When they are fully melted, turn off the heat and add the honey.

Next, stir in the cocoa powder (I recommend using a whisk to mix well.) 

Finally, remove the mixture in the top half of the double boiler to the coating is allowed to start cooling   Continue whisking the coating mixture occasionally. The honey cools faster than the cocoa butter, and you need to keep them mixed.

When the mixture is cool enough, remove the dough balls from the freezer. Stick a toothpick (or broken-off bamboo skewer in our case) into a ball and dip it into the coating. Depending on the temperature of the coating, you may need to dip more than once to achieve a satisfactory coating. After allowing the extra coating to drip off for a few moments, return the ball to the parchment paper.

Maintain the coating within a narow temperature margin. Keep the water from the lower part of your double-boiler ready. If your coating begins to cool too much, slip the top of the double-boiler back on top of the hot water for a minute or so to warm it back up (you probably don't need to turn on the heat). Do not let it cool too much or reheat it too quickly or too much—these can cause the chocolate to clump (this happened), and there's not going back from this. You would just need to start over making the coating.  

Traditionally the coating is darker than this recipe. I originally made a darker coating, but more cocoa powder required more honey, which seemed to throw everything off balance. I think this is part of why it clumped. Once you master the basics of temperature and consistency, you can try increasing the cocoa powder to darken the color. I will be doing that myself. In the meantime, even though this isn't as dark as traditional Buckeye cookies, the coating dries hard at room temperature. I'm calling that a win!

When they are all dipped to your satisfaction, use a toothpick to roll over the holes, filling them in.

There you have it! Rich, delicious Buckeye cookies.

Enjoy!


Buckeye Cookies

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

ingredients:

Filling:
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups cassava flour
  • 8 TBS whey
  • 1/2-1 cup honey
  • 8 oz butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Coating:
  • 1 1/2 cup cocoa butter chips
  • 1/8 cup raw honey
  • 1 TBS cocoa powder

instructions:

How to cook Buckeye Cookies

24 Hours in Advance:
  1. Twenty-four hours in advance: mix 1/2 cup peanut butter, 4 TBS whey, and 1 cup cassava flour together until everything is moist and crumbly. Try to eliminate as many clumps as possible. Leave on the countertop in a glass container with a lid. This is to give the legumes and cassava flour a chance to lacto-ferment. This makes them more digestible and increase the nutritional value. For more on why we should only eat nuts and seeds that have been properly prepared, watch my video onthis.
The Next Day:
  1. After 24 hours, the mixture should look something like this...just a little more moist than what you started with the day before.
  2. Add to this the vanilla extract, honey and 8 oz of softened butter (it's not the end of the world if you melt it, but try not to).
  3. I used 1 cup of honey for this recipe, and to my non-sugar eating palate they are very sweet (which is the point, I suppose)! I plan to reduce the honey by about half the next time I make this. The mixture just needs to be formed into balls.
  4. Mix well, and smooth out as many clumps as possible. You should be able to easily for this mixture into little balls.
  5. Form the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper
  6. Place the balls in the freezer to chill (about 10-15 minutes) Next, make the coating The most important part of making the coating is to heat things just hot enough to melt. Nothing should be cooked here! You are gently heating them up to mix. Then gradually cooling them back down again.
  7. Using a double boiler (or as I just discovered, my glass 2 cup measuring container fits perfectly into a medium saucepan) On low heat, melt the cacao butter chips.
  8. When they are fully melted, turn off the heat and add the honey.
  9. Next, stir in the cocoa powder (I recommend using a whisk to mix well.)
  10. Finally, remove the mixture in the top half of the double boiler to the coating is allowed to start cooling Continue whisking the coating mixture occasionally. The honey cools faster than the cocoa butter, and you need to keep them mixed.
  11. When the mixture is cool enough, remove the dough balls from the freezer. Stick a toothpick (or broken-off bamboo skewer in our case) into a ball and dip it into the coating. Depending on the temperature of the coating, you may need to dip more than once to achieve a satisfactory coating. After allowing the extra coating to drip off for a few moments, return the ball to the parchment paper.
  12. Maintain the coating within a narow temperature margin. Keep the water from the lower part of your double-boiler ready. If your coating begins to cool too much, slip the top of the double-boiler back on top of the hot water for a minute or so to warm it back up (you probably don't need to turn on the heat). Do not let it cool too much or reheat it too quickly or too much—these can cause the chocolate to clump (this happened), and there's not going back from this. You would just need to start over making the coating.
  13. Traditionally the coating is darker than this recipe. I originally made a darker coating, but more cocoa powder required more honey, which seemed to throw everything off balance. I think this is part of why it clumped. Once you master the basics of temperature and consistency, you can try increasing the cocoa powder to darken the color. I will be doing that myself. In the meantime, even though this isn't as dark as traditional Buckeye cookies, the coating dries hard at room temperature. I'm calling that a win!
  14. When they are all dipped to your satisfaction, use a toothpick to roll over the holes, filling them in.
  15. There you have it! Rich, delicious Buckeye cookies.
Created using The Recipes Generator

New Year's Resolutions: How to Make Successful Habit Changes

As I'm writing this, we are almost half way through December. This time of year is about getting ready for the holidays AND the new year.   As we are looking forward to the new year, most of us are thinking about new habits we want to start (or renew). But this can be tricky. You only have so much time and energy to spend on habit change, and some health trends are not actually helpful to you. I want to help you plan for this upcoming year. Let's talk about how decide what habits are right for you!

#1 Make changes that make sense

Starting habits you can't keep doing is so common we write comic strips about it! This can happen for several reasons: we try to change too much at once, we don't put forth enough effort, or we are trying to make a change we are not ready for.   No matter what you decide to change, all change requires energy and effort. And sometimes we fail to make a change because we take on too much or are lazy. But most of us do want to change. We have every intention of making changes and sticking with them.

So what's the problem?

Often, we try to make changes based on what we think we should change, instead of what makes sense, in our life, to change.

For example: You read a health trend article on social media about doing interval training five days a week. There are so many benefits! So you decide to start doing thirty minutes a day. But you had an old knee injury that is easily aggravated, and by the third day you are in so much pain you have to take medication. You make it to the fifth day, glad for the break. After two rest days you are still walking with a limp, and decide not to continue the interval training until you can walk without pain again. It takes three weeks to feel fully recovered, but you never start up your interval training again.

What do you think this shows? Too many changes? No, let say that this was the only thing you decided to change at this time. Laziness? Many people (my old self included) would say that this you were lazy, or a wimp. But you did show dedication. You pushed through the pain to see if it would get better. But it didn't. In fact, it took your body almost a month to recover. You body let you know that you weren't ready for that change in that way.  

There was a time that if I had been living the above scenario, I would have felt like a failure, and called myself all kinds of names.

But now I look at that scenario and see it as a victory. You stopped because you were listening to your body! It told you this was too much for it right now, and you listened. That's not a failure, that's a win! To seal the victory, you need to try something else. Exercise can be challenging. Just because it is doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Find something that is a slight challenge for you... maybe it's a five or ten minute walk. Maybe it's a bike ride, or yoga. Maybe it's a martial arts class. Find something, listen to your body, and don't give up without a reason ("it's too hard" is not a reason, although "it hurts too much" is a clue to try something else).   When we make changes that make sense, we are working with our body instead of fighting against it. This creates a two-against-one scenario, and you are more likely to succeed!

#2 Don't make too many changes at once

The beginning of the new year is a great time to make changes. And I'm not saying you shouldn't take advantage of the timing, the motivation, and even the cultural shift to choose healthy over unhealthy. But making too many changes at one time doesn't set you up for success.

Most experts agree that we can only successfully make 1-3 changes at a time. Maybe with the new year energy you can make three. (Especially if they are opposites, like cut out soda and drink more water.)   There are very few people that can successfully create many new habits at one time. Let's assume you are not one of these people!   Did I just cut your resolutions list in half? Or more? You probably have some great habit changes on that list. How can you eliminate some?

First, cross off any habit changes that you only put on there because you saw it on social media and feel guilty for not doing it. Maybe that habit change is a good idea, but making a change solely because of guilt is not likely to end well. Second, out of the remaining habits, circle the ones that seem simpler to complete and the ones that make the most sense related to what is going on in your life right now (physically and circumstantially). Third, pick (at most) three habits to begin with. These may be the simplest (avoid chlorinated water: buy a shower and sink filter), or the most pressing (make meat stock every day to calm constant joint pain).

When you pick the habits that are most important or simple for you to change right now, you are more likely to succeed in those habits. This will create momentum (not to mention make you feel better, which leads to increased energy), which you can use to make the next set of important habit changes. (Which you can start making when the first set are well established, or about three weeks.)

#3 It's a marathon!

Habit change is not a sprint—it's a marathon. When you are training for a marathon, you don't run 26.2 miles every day. You run more some days, and less on others. Some days you don't run at all! Don't think of your habit change as a sprint... all or nothing and if you have one little mess up, you are out of the race. Our lives are not like that. We have built-in room for error (our race is approximately 80-90 years long). Everything we do either builds our body up (anabolic) or tears and wears it down (catabolic). We are never stable, we are always moving and changing. Being perfect is not the goal—making forward progress and positive change is.

As I wrote last week, get off the bandwagon bandwagon! There is no bandwagon to fall off of! The bandwagon is a myth! If you don't do a habit one day or another, you haven't lost your chances of success. Each choice that you make simply adds to the anabolic or catabolic side of the scale. But one (or even several) negative choices don't have to cause a downward spiral. They don't have that kind of power unless you give it to them.   There you go. Three ways to choose the habits that are best for you right now (which are also the ones in which you are most likely to succeed)! Now you know how to choose habits. Next time I will give you a list of some of my top habit suggestions for you to consider... one's that give you a lot of bang for you buck (or should I say results for you time)!   Until next time,

Onward!

Christmas Wreath Cookies {GAPS Legal}

It's the holiday season! More specifically, it's cookie season!   I love making, giving away (and eating) Christmas cookies. But it's been a long time since I have enjoyed many of the cookies I grew up making, so this year I decided I wanted to create real-food versions of some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes.  

First up, Christmas Wreath cookies!

  This cookie is traditionally a mix of corn flakes, marshmallows, and butter. So let's look at the ingredients...

  • The butter is already a real food!

  • Marshmallows I have made before, modified from Mommypotamus' marshmallow recipe.

So all I had to do was figure out a substitution for the corn flakes (and see if the marshmallows actually work the same as the commercial variety).   Challenge accepted!

Christmas Wreath Cookies

Makes about 36 cookies (recipe can be halved)

Ingredients

For Marshmallows

  • 2 cups honey

  • 1 cup of filtered water

  • 2 tsp vanilla

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 6 TBS grass-fed beef gelatin

  • 1 cup of filtered water

For Wreath Cookies

  • Marshmallow paste (above)

  • 8 ounces organic butter

  • 14 cups coconut flakes (approximately 20 ounces)

  • Red hots (my homemade recipe)

  • Natural food coloring, blue and yellow packets (I used this one)

Directions

Place the coconut flakes in the oven at 200°

Toast the coconut until they are light brown—this makes the cookies crispier! When done, remove them from the oven Place in a large bowl, set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat When melted, remove from heat and set aside   Next, make the marshmallow paste. See recipe here.

Soften the gelatin

  • Add gelatin to 1 cup hot water

  • Stir and allow to to sit, keep warm (not on stove)

While gelatin is softening... Heat honey and water in a medium saucepan (medium to high heat), stirring frequently, until it reaches the soft ball candy stage (about 235°F).

If you don't have a thermometer, you can check by dripping the heated honey into a glass of cold water. When the candy forms a ball, it is ready!

When the honey has reached the soft ball stage, remove from heat. Add the heated mixture to the softened gelatin in a large bowl. Add vanilla.

Do these steps quickly, you don't want honey mixture to cool off too much!

Whisk the mixture using an electric mixer or stand mixer for about 10 minutes.

When the mixture is thick and looks like marshmallow paste, it's done!  

If you want marshmallows, you can stop here. Put the marshmallow paste in a greased glass 9x11 dish and allow to cool and dry for a 24-36 hrs. Then cut up and serve.  

But we are not stopping here! To make traditional Christmas wreath cookies you melt the marshmallows and turn them back into paste-which is what you just created!  

Next, stir the melted butter into the mixture. It will deflate the mixture somewhat, this is normal.

Mix in the blue and yellow food coloring packets. This will turn it green (not neon green—that's an artificial color). But when it's made into wreathes it does look green—although you're going to have to take my word for it!

Pour the marshmallow mixture into the bowl with the toasted coconut flakes. Mix until the flakes are coated.

Finally, form the warm mixture into wreath-shaped cookies on parchment paper.

Add decorative red hots as berries (see my homemade recipe) Allow to cool.

See, I told you they look green!

All that's left is to share and enjoy these delicious treats!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your trust is important. I only recommend products I trust. 


Christmas Wreath Cookies

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

ingredients:

For Marshmallows
  • 2 cups honey
  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 6 TBS grass-fed beef gelatin
  • 1 cup of filtered water
For Wreath Cookies
  • Marshmallow paste (above)
  • 8 ounces organic butter
  • 14 cups coconut flakes (approximately 20 ounces)
  • Red hots (my homemaderecipe)
  • Natural food coloring, blue and yellow packets (I used this one)

instructions:

How to cook Christmas Wreath Cookies

  1. Place the coconut flakes in the oven at 200°
  2. Toast the coconut until they are light brown—this makes the cookies crispier! When done, remove them from the oven Place in a large bowl, set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat When melted, remove from heat and set aside Next, make the marshmallow paste. See recipe here.
  4. Soften the gelatin
  5. Add gelatin to 1 cup hot water
  6. Stir and allow to to sit, keep warm (not on stove)
  7. While gelatin is softening... Heat honey and water in a medium saucepan (medium to high heat), stirring frequently, until it reaches the soft ball candy stage (about 235°F).
  8. If you don't have a thermometer, you can check by dripping the heated honey into a glass of cold water. When the candy forms a ball, it is ready!
  9. When the honey has reached the soft ball stage, remove from heat. Add the heated mixture to the softened gelatin in a large bowl. Add vanilla.
  10. Do these steps quickly, you don't want honey mixture to cool off too much!
  11. Whisk the mixture using an electric mixer or stand mixer for about 10 minutes.
  12. When the mixture is thick and looks like marshmallow paste, it's done!
  13. If you want marshmallows, you can stop here. Put the marshmallow paste in a greased glass 9x11 dish and allow to cool and dry for a 24-36 hrs. Then cut up and serve.
  14. But we are not stopping here! To make traditional Christmas wreath cookies you melt the marshmallows and turn them back into paste-which is what you just created!
  15. Next, stir the melted butter into the mixture. It will deflate the mixture somewhat, this is normal.
  16. Mix in the blue and yellow food coloring packets. This will turn it green (not neon green—that's an artificial color). But when it's made into wreathes it does look green—although you're going to have to take my word for it!
  17. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the bowl with the toasted coconut flakes. Mix until the flakes are coated.
  18. Finally, form the warm mixture into wreath-shaped cookies on parchment paper.
  19. Add decorative red hots as berries (see my homemade recipe) Allow to cool.
  20. See, I told you they look green!
  21. All that's left is to share and enjoy these delicious treats!
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Homemade Red Hots {GAPS Legal}

I have been getting more bold in the kitchen, and this December I decided to create alternative recipes featuring some of my favorite Christmas cookies. To enjoy.

I decided on my first cookie to make, Christmas Wreath cookies. And as I was running through my ingredients and working out substitutions I came to the decorative red hots.

And I was faced with a dilemma... could I create a red hot, or should I simply bite the bullet and just use traditional red hots. Maybe I could even find a healthy brand...

But my all-or-nothing attitude kicked in. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right.

And that meant making red hots. From scratch. A quick search revealed that it was possible... in essence red hots are a sugar brittle flavored with spices, like cinnamon.

I knew how to make candy out of honey. This could work.

It did work. But I'll admit that when I make the Christmas Wreaths in the future I may use boughten red hots... and tell people they are just for decoration and to pick them off.  

Because making homemade red hots is a labor of love. There is no other way to put it. But being able to put healthy, three ingredient red hots on your Christmas cookies is amazing! And if you don't care if they are rounded into tiny, holly-berry decorative balls, then this is a really easy candy to make!  

GAPS Legal Homemade Red Hots / Cinnamon Hard Candy

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup honey

  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 package natural red coloring (I used this one)

Directions:

Combine the honey and water on the stovetop in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently.

You want to heat it at a temperature that is not too hot that it burns, but if it's too low it will take forever to get to temperature.

You're going to have to find your heat sweet spot. It should take between 5-10 minutes to get to soft ball stage, if it's taking longer, turn it up!

Soft ball stage occurs around 235°. If you don't have a thermometer available, you can drip some into a clear glass of cold water. It will form into a little ball upon hitting the water. For a little harder candy (I recommend this), let it go a minute or two after you hit the soft-ball stage.  

After whisking thoroughly, pour the liquid onto some parchment paper to cool When it has cooled enough to touch (doesn't take very long), then use well buttered fingers to form tiny little balls

Not tolerating butter? Any fat will do—the key is to prevent sticking!

Roll those little suckers quickly... after a while the candy will get too hard to work with. You can reheat it to soften in up, but believe me, you will be ready to stop rolling balls. Better yet, recruit a friend (or two) to roll with you!

Set the balls in a cold place (outside works for us right now!) When they are hard, gather them up and store them in a container in the fridge. This prevents the balls from clumping.   This candy could be made into any size (I only chose red hot size because of the Christmas wreath cookies)... or simply cooled and broken into pieces. It is a delicious treat!

Enjoy!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your trust is important. I only recommend products I trust. 


Homemade Red Hots

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 package natural red coloring (I usedthis one)

instructions:

How to cook Homemade Red Hots

  1. Combine the honey and water on the stovetop in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently.
  2. You want to heat it at a temperature that is not too hot that it burns, but if it's too low it will take forever to get to temperature.
  3. You're going to have to find your heat sweet spot. It should take between 5-10 minutes to get to soft ball stage, if it's taking longer, turn it up!
  4. Soft ball stage occurs around 235°. If you don't have a thermometer available, you can drip some into a clear glass of cold water. It will form into a little ball upon hitting the water. For a little harder candy (I recommend this), let it go a minute or two after you hit the soft-ball stage.
  5. After whisking thoroughly, pour the liquid onto some parchment paper to cool When it has cooled enough to touch (doesn't take very long), then use well buttered fingers to form tiny little balls
  6. Not tolerating butter? Any fat will do—the key is to prevent sticking!
  7. Roll those little suckers quickly... after a while the candy will get too hard to work with. You can reheat it to soften in up, but believe me, you will be ready to stop rolling balls. Better yet, recruit a friend (or two) to roll with you!
  8. Set the balls in a cold place (outside works for us right now!) When they are hard, gather them up and store them in a container in the fridge. This prevents the balls from clumping. This candy could be made into any size (I only chose red hot size because of the Christmas wreath cookies)... or simply cooled and broken into pieces. It is a delicious treat!
  9. Enjoy!
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Fruit Chutney for your Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the best things about November is the focus on being grateful and thankful. Everywhere you look there are posts and tweets showing gratitude. And we sure have a lot to be thankful for! Some things are so obvious we often forget to be thankful for. These are things like safe drinking water, warm houses, smart phones and electricity are so everyday for us that we forget how much we have.

Sometime this week, I encourage you to write a list of all the things you have to be thankful for. Don't feel silly including things like water, or your favorite pair of jeans. See how long you can make the list! Even if you don't feel like being thankful, I encourage you to do this exercise—gratitude changes our perception and experience of life, even if nothing is circumstantially different.

This is not to say that you don't have hard things in your life, or that you should pretend they aren't difficult. They are. Hard things are part of life and are very, very real. Remembering that there are good things in your life as well will help YOU through difficult situations.  

As you know, most of my posts (so far, at least) aren't recipes. But it's Thanksgiving! The start of holidays and delicious, rich, made-with-love food. Well this recipe is definitely delicious, rich and made-with-love!

I took the recipe out of Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Cambell-McBride. If you are following the GAPS diet this is legal on stage 5 or 6, when you are tolerating dried spices and peppercorns.

This recipe is very simple—chop and combine ingredients, simmer for a while, then store in jars. It would be a great recipe to make in a crockpot... you really could fix it and forget it! But simple doesn't mean plain. It's delicious and adds flavor to any meat you are eating. And I'm told, quite excellent with turkey!  

*This dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free recipe would be great for gifts as well—ladle into pint jars and add a bow!

Fruit Chutney

Makes 3-4 quarts

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs dried dates (without stones, cut in half)

  • 2 lbs cooking apples (about 7 cups of pieces)

  • 1 lb plumbs (I used packaged prunes)

  • 3 medium onions (about 3 cups, finely diced)

  • 3 peppers (about 2 cups, finely diced)

  • 2 cups raw apple cider vinegar

  • 1-2 tsp whole peppercorns (freshly crushed)

  • 1-2 tsp aromatic seeds (I used cumin and dill)

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 1-2 tsp natural salt

Directions:

Cut dates in half (and remove stones (seeds) if needed)

Slowly boil the dates in about 1 cup of water in a large pot until soft (about 10 minutes)

If you live in Colorado like me, and don't use a lid (also like me), you may need to add extra water during this process.

When the dates are soft, turn off heat and mash them with a potato masher—they don't have to be perfectly smooth, just mashed.  

While you were softening the dates, I hope you were furiously chopping! I completely underestimated the time it was going to take to chop everything I needed for this recipe. If you want the process to go smoother, I would recommend chopping everything at the beginning. Then as soon as the dates are soft you can add the rest, stir occasionally, and walk away!

The directions from Dr. Natasha are:

Add everything else to the dates and simmer 1-1/2 hours on very low heat, stirring occasionally.

If you are like me and work better with a little note of panic, then by all means, chop furiously and add things as you chop. For all you step-by-steppers like me, below are pictures to show what I added.

Sterilize the jars.

Dr. Natasha recommends doing this in an oven. I had never done this but it seemed to work great! Place cold jars in a cold oven. Heat the oven to 250°F, then leave it at that temperature for 40 minutes to sterilize the jars. Pull the jars out of the oven one-by-one as you are ready to fill them so they stay hot. Use oven mitts!

Ladle the hot chutney into the jars.

A jar funnel is a lifesaver here!

I left just a little room for air, much less than my fermenting self wanted, but no jars exploded so it must be okay!

Wipe off any chutney on the rim of the jar. Then immediately seal the jar, tightening the lid.

Again, use an oven mitt—the jars are hot!  

Place the jar on the counter, some distance between them.

It's better to not move the jars until they are cool, so place them where you will not need to move them for many hours, overnight is better.

When cool, place the jars into the refrigerator.

This is not a fermented food, so it does require refrigeration.  

Serve with meats and fish. Good cold or warm.

It's delicious! I made this for our Thanksgiving feast in a few days, but tried it out with some chicken today. I enjoyed it thoroughly! I hope you enjoy it as well!

Onward!


Fruit Chutney

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

ingredients:

  • 2 lbs dried dates (without stones, cut in half)
  • 2 lbs cooking apples (about 7 cups of pieces)
  • 1 lb plumbs (I used packaged prunes)
  • 3 medium onions (about 3 cups, finely diced)
  • 3 peppers (about 2 cups, finely diced)
  • 2 cups raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp whole peppercorns (freshly crushed)
  • 1-2 tsp aromatic seeds (I used cumin and dill)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tsp natural salt

instructions:

How to cook Fruit Chutney

  1. Cut dates in half (and remove stones (seeds) if needed)
  2. Slowly boil the dates in about 1 cup of water in a large pot until soft (about 10 minutes)
  3. If you live in Colorado like me, and don't use a lid (also like me), you may need to add extra water during this process.
  4. When the dates are soft, turn off heat and mash them with a potato masher—they don't have to be perfectly smooth, just mashed.
  5. While you were softening the dates, I hope you were furiously chopping! I completely underestimated the time it was going to take to chop everything I needed for this recipe. If you want the process to go smoother, I would recommend chopping everything at the beginning. Then as soon as the dates are soft you can add the rest, stir occasionally, and walk away!
  6. The directions from Dr. Natasha are:
  7. Add everything else to the dates and simmer 1-1/2 hours on very low heat, stirring occasionally.
  8. If you are like me and work better with a little note of panic, then by all means, chop furiously and add things as you chop. For all you step-by-steppers like me, below are pictures to show what I added.
  9. Sterilize the jars.
  10. Dr. Natasha recommends doing this in an oven. I had never done this but it seemed to work great! Place cold jars in a cold oven. Heat the oven to 250°F, then leave it at that temperature for 40 minutes to sterilize the jars. Pull the jars out of the oven one-by-one as you are ready to fill them so they stay hot. Use oven mitts!
  11. Ladle the hot chutney into the jars.
  12. A jar funnel is a lifesaver here!
  13. I left just a little room for air, much less than my fermenting self wanted, but no jars exploded so it must be okay!
  14. Wipe off any chutney on the rim of the jar. Then immediately seal the jar, tightening the lid.
  15. Again, use an oven mitt—the jars are hot!
  16. Place the jar on the counter, some distance between them.
  17. It's better to not move the jars until they are cool, so place them where you will not need to move them for many hours, overnight is better.
  18. When cool, place the jars into the refrigerator.
  19. This is not a fermented food, so it does require refrigeration.
  20. Serve with meats and fish. Good cold or warm.
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The Silver Lining to the Omnivore's Dilemma

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat" background_size="initial" _builder_version="3.0.85" background_layout="light"] In 2006, a book was published that sought to give the reader a better understanding of where their food comes from. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan followed three major tracks, or sourcing, of food. The public reaction to this book was significant and varied, and it evoked discussion from vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. The main premise of the title is discussed in chapter 17 of the book (among other places) and presents the idea that we have a particular dilemma facing us (humans): we have a choice (perhaps even moral and ethical in front of us) because we can eat anything. So what do we choose to eat? I appreciate Michael Pollan’s exposure of the true nature of the environments in which most of the food that we purchase is raised. I also agree with him (and many others) that there is a weightiness to our position as meat-eaters. It is this weight that I want to talk about today.   I believe it’s important to realize the weight of death. I think it helps us.   I don’t think the act of eating meat is immoral or unethical. But I do think that eating without a thought of responsibility is wrong. Except for the last hundred years, humans have been completely connected to the food (animal or plant) that they ate. They either had to raise, hunt, gather or cultivate their food. They took responsibility for caring for the plants and animals that were to become their food because they understood that these things were connected to their own life and health. Now, with mass production and commercialization, we have become removed from this natural responsibility and awareness. That being said, we can still make conscious choices about the food we purchase: we can make sure we know where it comes from and how it was treated. But I think we have the potential to lose something if we are that removed from food. Something big and underlying. When I say “we” I am talking about the collective “we” of our modern culture. And I know there are many discussions we could have in relation to food about toxins, hormones, antibiotics, nutrient density, and animal treatment. And although these are important, that's not what I would like to discuss today. Today I want to discuss what I think are some of the  moral and ethical implications of being removed from raising and killing our own food. As I said earlier, I think that being exposed to and understanding the weight of death is important. I think it strengthens our idea of responsibility, and gives us an attitude of soberness about death, which causes us to put a value on life.  

Let me explain with some examples:

  When I was growing up I learned the responsibility of caring for animals on our “hobby farm.” My parents taught me the importance of putting the needs of the animals in our care before my own. As these animals were domesticated and confined, they were unable to provide for themselves. They depended on us to give them what they needed to live. I understood (and experienced) that a lack of care or attention on my part could lead to an unintended death.

Lesson: Growing up in this environment taught me that it’s my responsibility to care for things that are weaker. When we believe that it is our responsibility to care for those who, in that moment at least, are not able to do what we can, we will not bully and abuse them. This is true not only for how we treat animals, but also for how we treat people.

    As an adult, I have had some opportunity to keep the chickens, ducks, geese, and pigs. The lives of these animals were then fully in my hands, and even unintentional mistakes or omissions could and did have life or death consequences. Awareness of that responsibility would get me out of bed in the middle the night, or cause me to carry water down a steep hill in freezing temperatures so my animals could drink.

Lesson:Increased responsibility taught me that I could be depended on, and that there are consequences for my actions. Learning how to shoulder responsibility, be dependable, and take responsibility for actions are all admirable and desirable character qualities that will help any person succeed in their life.

    When the time came for these animals to be in the freezer, I did not send them to a processing plant, but did the slaughtering and butchering myself. In this way I allowed my animals to die the same way that they lived, happy and without fear. While it cost me emotionally to do the killing myself, it was something I was glad to do. I had accepted responsibility for these animals, and I wanted to fulfill that responsibility to the end of their life.

Lesson: Processing my own animals for meat helped me to put others before myself. When we think of others first, we learn to treat people with kindness, and we can develop good, lasting relationships.

    The last few years I have attempted (with some success) to obtain my meat through hunting—true wild-caught, grass feed meat! In case you've never been hunting before I'll let you in on a little secret... the animals have a HUGE advantage. Their natural instincts give them the ability to hear or smell us and leave the area often without us even being aware of their presence. When I am successful in my hunt (which doesn't happen every year—including this one), I am excited and sobered. Excited at the prospect of good quality, delicious meat (I love elk!). But sobered because there is a weight to death—all death—even that of a wild animal.

Lesson: Soberness is a correct and helpful emotion to have in regard to death. It's an important experience for everyone to have (in one way or another) because it helps us remember the value of life. It's vital to regard life as precious, and something to be guarded and cared for, not thrown away carelessly.

    To summarize, I believe that having a correct understanding of the soberness of death has significant implications. It will cause us to treat all living things with care and love (preventing bullying and animal cruelty). It is a way we can learn and practice responsibility and accept consequences. It teaches us to put others first. It motivates us to spend quality time with those we love (because we remember that they won't be there forever). And it causes us to reflect on our own mortality (which is a good thing to think about sometimes).   Now I’m not saying that you have to live on a farm for you and your kids to learn responsibility and soberness about death! There are multiple ways to teach responsibility and soberness that don't include raising and killing your own animals. You can teach your child the responsibility of care with a pet, or even through simple chores. You can take responsibility in knowing where your food comes from, and invite your children to be part of your decisions. You can tell them that you expect them to treat every living creature with gentleness and care, and give consequences if they don’t obey. You can explain to them your convictions about animal treatment and talk about food quality on a regular basis. There are many opportunities for you to show your child the precious gift that is life, and teach them about responsibility and kindness. My point is that it’s maybe just a little bit harder, and takes a little more effort to pass on these things in our modern world. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. The good things are always worth fighting for. That’s why I believe that it’s a blessing to be an omnivore. There is a loss of life so we can eat, but that creates opportunities to experience deep life lessons when we face the weightiness of death. So there you have it, the silver lining to being an omnivore!  

Onward!

  This post contains affiliate links. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend products that I trust. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Immunity: The Best Defense is a Good Offense {Part One}

Fall is coming! I hope you have been enjoying the cooler nights (and sometimes day) like I have! The onset of cooler weather also means that cold and flu season is coming!

Is your immune system ready? We often respond to illnesses defensively... waiting until we catch something before we take care of it. But there is another way... a way to go on the offensive and give your immune system a running start! The food we eat (or don't eat), our obsession with cleanliness, the frequency medications are prescribed, and the environmental toxins we are exposed to can lead to our bodies being run down, and our immune systems functioning below peak performance level.

In fact, it's pretty amazing that we have any immunity left! I'm thankful for the incredibly complex design of our bodies, which allows them to compensate and continue working, even in sub-optimal conditions. Here is a fun video that explains the workings of the immune system. But doesn't it seem like a good idea to support our bodies—and our immune systems—the best that we can? The good news is that there are ways to support our immune systems!  

  • Eat a diet rich in nourishing foods

  • Support the good microbes in your body and environment

  • Detoxify to give the inflammatory arm of the immune system a break

  • Use essential oils and herbs to support your body's natural defenses

Today let's talk about the first two, and next time we will talk about the other two.  

Nourishing Foods

Eating nourishing foods is a topic I talk about often. If you haven't heard much of what I have to say about this yet, you can check out some other posts like this one and this one. Today I'm going to share with you the nutrient dense foods that your immune system LOVES!

Your immune system is a very hungry organ. It is overseeing the entire body, and needs lots of little soldiers to work properly. For a strong, well-staffed immune system, the body needs to be well supplied with cholesterol, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and more. These nutrients can be found in the same nutrient dense foods that I am always recommending... meat stock, butter, fermented cod liver oil (source), liver (you can get it in a capsule), caviar, egg yolks, full-fat yogurt or kefir, grass-fed beef, and some others. Important minerals can be found in whole salts (sources).

When these types of foods are consumed on a regular basis, the immune system will have enough building blocks to make itself strong. While you are increasing the amount of nutrient-dense foods you are eating, it's a good idea to decrease the amount of empty, processed foods you eat. These foods are mostly empty calories, and any food that contains processed sugar depresses the immune systems for hours after it's eaten. As you fill up with real, whole foods, phase any sugar-containing, processed food out of your diet.

Support Good Microbes

Another reason why our immune systems are struggling is because we have declared a war on microbes. Since the days of Louis Pasteur we have been sterilizing and pasteurizing everything in sight. Even if you don't take antibiotics, you are still getting exposed to them through the food you eat, the water you drink, and often even the soap you wash your hands with. Additionally we obsessively use hand sanitizer, bleach and other cleaners that kill 99.9% of germs. But these sanitizers aren't just killing germs.

They are killing the good microbes as well—microbes that keep balance, and even health, to our bodies and the world around us. Another theory emerged around the time of Pasteur, and with our growing knowledge of the human microbiome, it seems to be the more true of the two. Antoine Bechamp created the cellular theory, with the main hypothesis that it is the environment that causes disease, not the germ. A short recap of these two theories can be found here.

If Pastuer were right, then our bodies should do better and better as we "cleanse" and reduce the number of bacteria and other microbes. But we have found that the opposite is true. Research has shown that those people with fewer species of microbes in their gut are actually more prone to illness and disease, including chronic disease like obesity, autoimmunity and cancer. So stop killing things! Get rid of your antimicrobial soap and Clorox spray! When you need to clean your hands, wash them instead of sanitizing. And expose yourself to the good and helpful microbes that help keep the bad ones in check. you can do this by eating fermented foods, taking a probiotic, and getting into the dirt sometimes. Eating the nourishing foods we talked about will also support helpful microbes in your body.

That should get you started, but come back to learn about the other two ways you can support your immune system. Remember, the best defense is a good offense!

Onward!

Lovely Lard

Eating animal fat is important to our body's health. But eating enough fat can be challenging, especially when there is a dairy allergy. Lard is a great alternative to butter, and its taste is more mild than that of tallow. You can buy lard at the store, but it is expensive and may be hydrogenated or of poor quality. Making your own lard is simple and easy, and can be done for a fraction of the price. To make lard, you first start out with pig fat. This can be obtained from a butcher, or even trimmed off of fatty cuts of pork like the Boston butt. The process of turning fat into lard or tallow is called rendering. In this post I describe rendering lard, but the process for rendering tallow (which is fat from beef, bison, deer, lamb, or elk) is the same, although for tallow it may take a few more hours.   There are two kinds of pig fat. Leaf fat is from fat surrounding the internal organs. It is very mild in taste and used to be reserved for making pies and pastries. Body fat is from the layer of fat beneath the skin. This has a slightly stronger pork taste, and is better used in cooking meat and vegetables. Along with a different taste, there is a different look to the two types of fat. Body fat is in large pieces, and appears more dense and flat. Leaf fat is in smaller pieces, has a fluffier texture, and may contain membranes. The fat you get from a butcher may contain both types of fat. If that is the case, I recommend separating out the two types of fat and rendering them separately so you can use them for different purposes. However, there is no problem in mixing them and rendering them together. (The fat I have pictured below is leaf fat.)  

Making Lard:

First, cut up the pig fat into small 1-2 inch sized cubes. If using leaf fat, remove as much membrane as possible.

Put the fat cubes in a medium saucepan on low heat. You may use a crockpot, but it must have a very low setting or the fat will burn. Stir occasionally and watch closely. Don't let the lard smoke!

With time, the solid pieces of fat will get smaller, and the liquid will increase.

After a few hours, when the lard is liquified, set up your strainer and cloth.

Below you see pictured a jar, jar funnel, and metal strainer. Metal is best because the lard is hot! To finish it off, place a cloth. You can use an old napkin or other cloth, or several layers of cheesecloth.

Pour the liquid into the strainer. The liquid will go into the jar and the cracklings will stay in the cloth.

Squeeze the rest of the liquid out of the cracklings.

Cracklings separated from the liquid lard. Salt and fry these. You can eat them like bacon bits, or just plain.

Allow the jar of lard to cool on the counter.

When the lard is cool you can move it to the fridge, or leave it on the counter.

If you are careful not to contaminate the jar, the lard will last for several months, even left out at room temperature. Use the lard in your cooking— it is a wonderful thing to fry up vegetables or meat and add fat to your diet. Bon appétit!

Onward!


How to Make Lard

Author:
prep time: cook time: total time:

instructions:

How to cook How to Make Lard

  1. First, cut up the pig fat into small 1-2 inch sized cubes. If using leaf fat, remove as much membrane as possible.
  2. Put the fat cubes in a medium saucepan on low heat. You may use a crockpot, but it must have a very low setting or the fat will burn. Stir occasionally and watch closely. Don't let the lard smoke!
  3. With time, the solid pieces of fat will get smaller, and the liquid will increase.
  4. After a few hours, when the lard is liquified, set up your strainer and cloth.
  5. Below you see pictured a jar, jar funnel, and metal strainer. Metal is best because the lard is hot! To finish it off, place a cloth. You can use an old napkin or other cloth, or several layers of cheesecloth.
  6. Pour the liquid into the strainer. The liquid will go into the jar and the cracklings will stay in the cloth.
  7. Squeeze the rest of the liquid out of the cracklings.
  8. Cracklings separated from the liquid lard. Salt and fry these. You can eat them like bacon bits, or just plain.
  9. Allow the jar of lard to cool on the counter.
  10. When the lard is cool you can move it to the fridge, or leave it on the counter.
  11. If you are careful not to contaminate the jar, the lard will last for several months, even left out at room temperature. Use the lard in your cooking— it is a wonderful thing to fry up vegetables or meat and add fat to your diet. Bon appétit!
Created using The Recipes Generator

It's Not Always Best to be Perfect

Grass! It's a wonderful thing to lay in the grass and look up at the sky!

Until this weekend, there have only been a few tufts of grass on my property. Most of the landscaping is river rock and mulch. But there was one area of dirt that I have had my eye on for grass, and on Friday it finally happened!

With some (okay, a lot) of help from my sister, we laid patio stones (for a fire pit), pounded in metal edging, and hauled and laid 50 rolls of sod (transported in two trips in the back of my Santa Fe).

Viola! Instant lawn!

Padfoot was quite interested in the goings-on... although he preferred supervising from on top of the rolls of sod still in the back of the car (sorry, I was too dirty and tired to think about getting a picture of it, you'll have to take my word for how adorable it was) or playing in the dirt. Silly puppy didn't want to be on the grass until we were almost done.

In keeping with my desire to be as chemical/pesticide/fertilizer free as possible, I did some research about grass to find out my best option. A quick internet search revealed: There probably isn't such a thing as organic sod, or if it does exist, it would be WAY more expensive. It's possible that sod contains significantly lower amounts of chemicals than I was expecting. While dogs do eat grass, they eat little of it. It would be unlikely that a little grass eaten from a non-organic lawn would be a problem unless I regularly put chemicals on it (which I don't plan on doing). It appears to be possible to get organic grass seed (about $40 to cover 1000 square feet), but I still had questions about what they put in the seed mixes. There was not a huge price difference between any sod company, especially for the small amount of ground I needed to cover (about 500 square feet). So then I was faced with the question... do I just get sod (and take whatever chemicals may be included) or do I get seed so I can get an organic yard? The decision may seem very black and white...the only option for organic grass is seed. So you may think that of course my choice was seed. But first I had to factor in what I call "the reality of life."  

Here is my reality of life:

I am not very good at watering and there is no sprinkler system. If I did seed, the chances of needing to re-seed at least once are high. This adds more time and money. I would have to research if I needed fertilizer or other additions to make my seed grow, and then pick from the available options. It is now the middle of summer. I was planning on doing grass right when I got so sick two months ago. Now it's July. If I want to enjoy a lawn this summer, sod would be faster. My landlord sprays for weeds. He is spraying less with me here (I'm pulling weeds as much as I can), but the ground already has years of stored chemicals in it. It's not organic soil. I've never seeded, but I have laid sod. My brain can only handle so many new things to learn at one time. And learning how to raise an organic lawn didn't feel like the correct focus for me right now. If I sod, I can immediately put up and use the clothesline I bought a month ago (this truly factored in to my thought process, I love line-hung clothes, and I don't have an electric drier).  

So I decided to buy sod.

From Home Depot. I paid with a credit card. I picked it up and put it in the back of my car. You can't get any less alternative than that. But my goal is not to be alternative. My goal is to be healthy, and to make conscious choices. I really want an all-organic yard. And one day I hope I can. But right now (and in the future) I need to make the best of what I've been given. Maybe I could have succeeded in an organic grass seed lawn. Maybe. But I want to do other things with that time. Things that feel more important right now. Because taking time away from important things to do something "perfect" isn't better.  

My plan for making this grass as healthy as possible:

#1 No more chemicals!

I'm sure there have been some chemicals on this grass, but that stops now! Any "fertilizers" will be food-based (like old milk or yogurt, or the Green Pastures product below). Any weeds will be extracted by hand, providing me with sunshine and some light exercise.  

#2 Add back microbes and nutrients!

I purchased a by-product of fermented cod liver oil from Green Pastures called Liquid Fish Soil Rescue to re-vitalize my soil. I actually meant to put some in the ground right before we laid the sod but I couldn't (reality of life check: I was not strong enough to open the container, my neighbor-with-all-the-tools was gone, and I don't own a pipe wrench). So later (when I get it open) I will spread it over the top of the grass. It will be a little fishy for a day, but fish oils smell is not new to me!  

#3 Water to encourage deep roots!

It's recommended to water sod frequently at first, but to still let it become just a little dry to encourage the roots to reach down and establish. Here in Colorado we are having 90 degree days, so I'm needing to water 1-2x/day, and the grass is still getting a little dry in between waterings. Soon I will be able to water less often, and next year I should be able to water once every 2-5 days.

Today's lesson?

You don't have to do everything perfect.

Sometimes the "best choice" is outside your budget for money or time, and sometimes there are circumstances that happen outside of your control.

That's okay... it's normal. That's life. And today, life is good!

Onward!

Real Food: More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Every time I learn more about the complex interactions between the human body and different nutrients, bacteria, and dozens of other factors, I am blown away! Not sure what I mean? As an example, this was mentioned in my latest post. A seed has enough intelligence to protect itself from being digested, but then is able to release those protections when the conditions are right to grow! All while it's still a seed! And that complicated process relates only to the seed. We haven’t even begun to explore the combining of that seed with some other food, or in a different form, or after the seed grows up. Not to mention the effect stomach acid levels, digestive enzyme activity, and different gut flora have on that seed. And the list goes on and on. Therefore we see that our bodies, and the processes that happen inside them, are incredibly intricate. And it begs the question:

Are vitamins, or carb/protein ratios really what it’s all about?

Eating real food is more than eating food-shaped packages of vitamins, proteins, and fibers. Real food is dynamic, and what you get from a particular food is conditional, and depends on several factors.

Growing Conditions: The actual nutritional value of that particular piece of food depends on the conditions it was grown in, including sun exposure, water quality, and the amount of vitamins, minerals and healthy bacteria in the soil or food the animal was eating.

Preparation Methods: After it is grown, different ways of preparing food will make it more or less digestible; helpful, stressful, or even harmful to the human body.

Individual Body Status: Even if it’s prepared properly, each individual body's environment has a role in determining the amount of benefit or harm that food will have.

In fact, a food's helpfulness to an individual body is dependent on the season, metabolic needs, current hormone state, and a myriad of other factors that are going on in the body at that moment. So what's helpful to your body in the summer may be harmful in winter. Or what's beneficial to eat at noon may weigh your body down at dinnertime. Every minute your metabolic needs may be different.

This is why "eating healthy" cannot be reduced to fortifying processed foods with vitamins, or taking the "perfect" supplement mix. It is so, so much more! Now that you know all this, eating healthy may sound like an unattainable goal. And in some ways it is. Even if we are extremely in tune with our bodies, it is unlikely that we will think “I need 5.78 mcg of calcium and 4.24 mg of vitamin D at 2:57pm”… and so on. And this is my first point.

There is no magic pill or secret supplement!

Even if the advertised effects are real, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you! Your body may need something else entirely. If anyone tells you that they have the one product that will fix all your ills, run the other way! On the other hand, the innateintelligence inside our bodies does know what it needs, and how to get it. We can work on listening to what our bodies are telling us. I call this becoming an expert detective (for more, see chapter 7 of Notes From A GAPS Practitioner).

As we renew the partnership with our body, we will begin to understand its signals about what foods will best support our bodies at that moment. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride talks about this in a wonderful article, One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poison. In it she shares how important it is to listen to your body telling you what food to eat at the moment, and how much of it to eat. Becoming an expert detective does not happen overnight. It is a commitment to observe, experiment, create theories, and modify them as needed. It will get easier with time and experience, and every time you learn something, your health will benefit. And you will have taken one more step in your journey toward better health.

Onward!  

Disclosure: Contains an affiliate link, which helps support my blogging. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend resources I trust.

Why Soak Grains? {Video}

Ever wondered about recommendations like "soaking," "sprouting," "fermenting," or "properly preparing" your nuts or grains? Ever wondered what that meant, or why it's better? I did! In fact, when I first heard about "sprouted bread," I thought it was made-up. But there are real reasons why eating properly prepared seeds is better for your body. Check out the video below to find out why.

Did that make sense?

This is just one example of why food preparation matters. And while food preparation techniques used to be passed on from generation to generation, our modern western culture has largely lost that heritage. But some do remember. And some do research. And some teach. And some write it down for us. That is the entire reason behind the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Traditional ways to prepare foods in traditional recipes are recorded in this helpful resource. If we want to return to health, we need to start understanding these principles. Our health depends on it! Still have questions? Have another food preparation question? Ask it in the comments below.

Disclosure: The link in this post is an affiliate link. Links like this help support my blogging. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend resources I trust.