Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Dragging My Kids Into It

For the most part, my kids are up for the changes we’ve made recently. Probably because I’ve fed them better than I’ve fed myself for the past 10 years so there wasn’t a TON to change. They asked for mac-n-cheese on a night my husband and I planned to be out and I gave the raised eyebrow. “Like Annie’s Organic!” our daughter added quickly. She’s catching on! Still processed, but closer. I’m OK with a couple of exceptions here and there as long as I know they are getting what they need from the food I make for them on a regular basis. The free donuts for A’s at Krispy Kreme I am not so keen on. I’m hoping they’ll just forget. If not, I may have to make these.

One thing my 14 year old daughter missed when fake food stopped coming home in the grocery bags was Taco Bell mild sauce. We eat a lot of Mexican food and she puts it on pretty much everything. She tried making her own with water and our homemade taco seasoning but it wasn’t great. Tonight, we looked up the actual ingredients and she made some pretty much on her own.

6 oz Organic Tomato Paste (we used canned, but jarred would be better to avoid bpa)
3 cups water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp chili powder (where to buy spices)
2 tsp real salt (where to buy salt)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (we used 35,000 btu)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 Serrano pepper
2 tsp arrow root powder (or organic cornstarch)

She whisked the tomato paste and water while it was heating up to medium on the stove. She’s not into chunks so we put the Serrano pepper in a tea ball and let it add some heat, but then took it out at the end. She added the salt and spices and whisked in the arrowroot. (I would have dissolved it in water first to prevent clumping.) She let it simmer for 3 minutes or so and then turned it off and let it cool. I helped her strain it into the bottles – no chunks allowed. We had saved a few Taco Bell bottles, but a mason jar would work, too.


Cost-wise this was about $.50 – $.75 per bottle vs. $1.99 per bottle. Health-wise, we are avoiding a bunch of gunk including preservatives and soy. We all had Kelsey’s taco sauce for dinner tonight and everyone loved it. My husband said “Sold!” We won’t be buying fake sauce any more.

Even better than the upgraded sauce, is the fact that my daughter is getting involved in making her own real food. I love that she can see that a little effort pays off with a finished product that tastes great.

My 6 year old son is involved, too in his own way. He eats pretty much everything including raw onions and cilantro and bell peppers. But, then again, he also runs around at a pinewood derby saying “Sugar is evil.” (not our words) while grabbing cookies and shoving them in his mouth, then asking if the cups are organic. We’re working on him!

This post is also shared at: Butter Believer

Oh, Sweet Ricotta! This Was Supposed to Be Yogurt.


This is the story of a failure that turned around. This blog is not about how much I know about real food or how great I am at making all of it. It’s about MY personal experiences and some of those will definitely be experiences at FAILING. I am sharing my failures so that you can laugh with me and learn with me. I am SO not an expert at this stuff. The only way I will become one is by DOING IT, whether I fail or succeed. So…here’s my semi-fail for the week:

This week, my first attempt at yogurt FAILED. I tried this recipe and it didn’t thicken at all. I figured maybe it needed more time but I could see little curds in there and knew it was past the point of yogurt consistency. Still, I am so in love with raw milk, it’s not even funny. Not only because it tastes great and has a bunch of nutrients I NEED, but because it is so forgiving. If I mess up a recipe, the mess still has uses! As an example, my first attempt at fresh mozzarella was somewhat of a failure, but guess what… It still tasted awesome on a pizza.

When I saw that my yogurt hadn’t thickened at all, I looked up how to attempt to save it. I tried heating it again, but it just ended up all curdled. I thought it was a lost cause. Not a lost cause. Turns out it made a nice sweet (yeah, I used a flavored yogurt for the starter) ricotta. The kind that goes in a breakfast danish – only better! This morning’s breakfast…sweet ricotta on einkorn sourdough toast. Just checked on my second try at yogurt using live cultures instead and it has succeeded! I made sure the temp stayed up by putting some jars of hot water in with the jars of yogurt and it has firmed up nicely! It will go in the fridge to cool and by afternoon, the kids will have a great after school snack. I’ll have to add some honey because this batch was earmarked for savory ricotta if it failed. Nothing wrong with having a plan B.


Sourdough Part Deux

super-easy-sourdoughxSadly, my old neglected sourdough starter just wasn’t coming back to life. I am assuming the wrong kind of bacteria (protein-eating) took over the starch-eating bacteria. I went ahead and tossed it and started anew. The Fresh Loaf had a starter I was particularly interested in because it used a bit of juice to get the bubbling going. I used fresh squeezed orange juice and tended to it a few times a day. After about 4 days…lots of bubbly goodness. I made my first loaves at the 7 day mark using a recipe from weed’em and reap (recipe close to the bottom of the post). Total fermenting and rising time was about 7 hours for today so it doesn’t have a super strong flavor. Just enough. No commercial yeast. Just fermented flour, water and juice.

For these loaves I ground half spelt berries and half Einkorn berries. Einkorn is a non-hybridized ancient wheat variety that my husband has been wanting to try out. It is imported from Italy by Jovial Foods. (See the video at the end of this post for more info on Einkorn.) The flavor is so great and I can’t tell if it’s the Einkorn or the fresh starter or both. Einkorn is a bit more expensive than organic spelt or wheat. We don’t eat a lot of bread, so cost won’t be much of a problem. Although…with it being this good, you never know. My husband likes that this recipe has no sugar. It doesn’t need it at all! The kids scarfed it down a little too fast and I enjoyed it with butter dripping down my fingers. I will definitely be making this again.

This post is also shared at: RealFoodForager, Nourishing Joy, nourishingtreasures, skiptomylou, The Prairie Homestead, Holistic Squid, Thank Your Body

How Real Foods Made My Plantar Fasciitis Worse

plantarThose darn real foods! Raw milk, bone broths and sprouted grains have taken a toll on my poor feet. How is this even possible, you ask? It’s been about 4 weeks since I committed to eating at least 80% real food instead of my usual of less than 50% (depending on the day and my cravings for processed treats and sweets). The first noticeable change – increased energy. I sit down to rest between tasks as I have for the past few years dealing with autoimmune issues and the side effects of the drugs that come along with them, but I don’t stay there to recover for an hour or so anymore. Within a few minutes I think of something else that needs to be done, most likely cutting grids into my settling cheese or feeding the sourdough starter, and I pop up and go do it. My poor feet aren’t used to all the standing and running around completing long-neglected tasks. They scream at me when I head up the…STAIRS! By the end of the night, they kind of hate real food. I, however, will not back down.

After just a short time eating mostly real foods and NOT eating processed foods, I have successfully replaced a couple of my pharmaceuticals with natural supplements(NP doctor approved). My joint pain is no worse, and if I think about how I felt a month ago, I’d even say it’s a little better. I am optimistic for the first time in years. My energy level is almost incomparable. My husband says he’s surprised at all of the things I’m getting done lately. I am surprised. My feet are surprised.

What have I changed? A lot.

  • I am eating a lot of raw whole milk products I make myself. Kefir, sour cream, mozzarella cheese, ice cream, whey.
  • I am eating organic local pastured meats and eggs, making broth from the bones and using it in my cooking.
  • I am eating fresh (or lacto fermented) whole organic fruits and vegetables, especially fatty ones like olives and avocados (and no – I’m not gaining weight from eating more fat, I’ve lost 5 lbs, although that’s not my main focus right now).
  • I am drinking lots of filtered water and using lots of good quality sea salt.
  • If I have sugar it is in the form of raw local honey, succanat or grade b maple syrup.
  • If I have grains, they are whole, organic and usually sprouted or soaked.
  • I am taking fermented cod liver oil (seriously!) and a couple other supplements to help me digest and heal quicker.
  • I am replacing chemical versions of my household cleaners and beauty products with natural non-toxic formulas.
  • I am expending energy in enjoyable and stress-free ways.
  • I am attempting to get more sleep.
  • I am FEEDING my body the nutrients it needs to heal instead of putting emphasis on restricting entire food groups.

I expect to progress more and more as I heal and change my lifestyle, but if the changes I’ve seen so far were the only ones to ever happen, I would still be thrilled. I’ll take sore feet over days in bed anytime. Besides, thanks to my awesome friend Catherine, and her recommendation of the book Every Woman’s Guide to Healing Foot Pain, I can work with sore feet as I keep on changing for the better.

This post is also shared on Holistic Squid, My Cultured Palate, Thank Your Body, Food Renegade, Our Heritage of Health, Mamaandbabylove,Butter Believer

FREE Healthy Life Summit


I’m super excited about this online conference coming up in a week or so. I’ve been reading some of the presenters books and blogs for a few months and it will be great to hear them speak. The summit is free to listen to that day, but I went ahead and pre-ordered the whole conference on DVD so I can go back and listen to it as I have time. It’s $49 right now (75% off!) Just until March 23rd. You can register for free or pre-order the dvds HERE.

I am particularly interested in hearing Sally Fallon, co-author of Nourishing Traditions, speak about what to feed our kids so that they don’t have the same degenerative issues that we do. My daughter already has my inherited migraines and I would LOVE to be able to fix that while she’s young. Sally’s new book The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care was just released and I am excited to hear her speak on the topic.

There are 35 different speakers on topics like breastfeeding, Paleo diets, metabolism, hormones in your 40’s and ReWilding yourself. I like that one. ūüôā Check it out and register for FREE!!

Perennials with Bad Haircuts

perennialIt’s a little bit sunny and even a touch WARM lately and getting outside is just what I’ve needed. I cut the ornamental grasses back ¬†so the new stuff can grow, but they may refuse to come up again because I gave them such bad haircuts (or should I say HACK JOBS?!) I should have read a little more before I went out with trimmers.

I’ve got a few books on my Kindle list to read before we start the garden.
These books are either free or super cheap, so snap them up before you go dig in the dirt.


I kind of hacked the heck out of the lavender today and I am not sure if it’s coming back. ¬†I really need to learn more about all the plants I stuck in the round last year.¬†I’m hoping this book will help me figure out how to best grow¬†herbs like lavender and rosemary in the park strip in front of my house.¬†The city requires part vegetation, ¬†so I might as well grow something I can use. 99 cents…I can handle that. My plants will thank me.


This book is FREE today. ¬†tomatoes this year.¬†I’ve had seeds started inside by this time the last couple of years, but I haven’t done anything yet this year. We may actually have a nice long spring, so maybe the tomatoes could go in early. I’m hoping to grow some pretty (or ugly!) heirlooms.¬†We’ve done Earth Boxes the past few years and the tomatoes love them. ¬†I may try some in the raised beds and some in the Earth Boxes.


This one is really interesting. If you wonder why we use heirloom seeds over standard commercial seeds, this book explains it all. And it’s FREE!¬†The seeds that come from heirloom plants can be gathered and used again. It’s like a nice savings account, really.

Looks like I have a bit of reading to do…What are your favorite gardening books?


My Fridge is Changing, Too

Photo © newmediaandmarketing.com

15 years ago, my fridge would have looked like the standard american diet fridge. Lots of processed foods, fat-free, sugar free, ‘health’ foods along with a sprinkle of fruits. The vegetables would have been in the freezer. At one point I was trying out the Atkins diet so there would have been lots of processed bacon, cheese, cream cheese, deli meats, ground beef, and such. Diet sodas and 1% milk would have been in the door, and aspartame yogurt on the shelf for the kids. I don’t even like to picture it now.

2 years ago, it would have looked better with fresh organic produce, organic milk and butter, small amounts of organic meat, pots of beans and rice. Much better.

Today, my fridge looks weird and cool(pun intended). It has ‘weird’ stuff like whey and kefir. Fermented vegetables and homemade bone broth. Butter and cheese with no commercial wrappers because I made them. Sprouted grain tortillas, pastured eggs, cultures of various kinds. Raw milk in a glass jar. A JAR, like in the 50’s. Fermented Cod Liver Oil, grass fed beef cuts. Weird stuff. GREAT stuff. Stuff that makes me feel better than I have in YEARS. Stuff that I feel good feeding to my kids. I’m looking forward to fewer packages once the farmer’s markets get going this summer. It’s different and it’s weird…it’s REAL FOOD. I am embracing weird and I love how my fridge is changing with me.


Pretty Cheese – No Microwave

The first time I made mozzarella, it wasn’t pretty. It was a crumbly mess. (See last image below). It tasted SO great on homemade pizza so wasn’t a total loss, but I wanted to know what I did wrong. After reading a bunch of different cheese-making sites, I figured it out. I had used Pioneer Woman’s recipe on her site, but because the husband is not a fan of the microwave, I skipped the microwave steps and just tried to get all the whey out by kneading. Now, I understand that getting the curds warm enough to melt together is key. Not wanting to use the microwave, I thought about what else might work. It was a gamble, but crumbly cheese is still good cheese, so I went for it. (On a side note, I also decided that since the recipe is the same for cottage cheese, I would make 1/3 of the gallon into cottage cheese.)

I used the standard mozzarella recipe: (some references – Pioneer Woman, cheesemaking.com)

1/4 tablet of vegetable rennet dissolved in 1/2 cup filtered water
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1 gallon RAW local full-fat milk
1 tsp salt

I used two pots. One was heating about 6 cups of water on low and the other was for the milk. I poured the gallon of milk in one of the large stainless steel stock pots and turned the stove on med heat.
I sprinkled the citric acid over the milk and stirred it in. I heated the milk to 85 degrees, turned off the burner and poured the dissolved rennet water into the pot and lightly stirred again and then stilled the milk. It sat for 5 minutes until it had set. I cut through the set in a grid pattern. (At this point I took out 1/3 of the curds and put them in a bowl to sit longer for cottage cheese). I heated the curds and whey to 105 – until the curds started to melt and stretch. Using a slotted spoon, I scooped out the curds and put them in a colander in a bowl and drained the whey off.

Here’s where recipes call for putting the curds in the microwave, and here’s where my method differs. I worked some of the whey out with my hands, salted the curds and kneaded it just enough to pack the curds together. I placed the whole ball into the pot of heated water (I would guess about 110-120 degrees) and let it sit for about 20 seconds and I pulled it out and kneaded and stretched the ball and then put it back in the water one more time and pulled it out after 20 seconds and formed my final ball.

It looks pretty this time and there was no microwave involved.



NSAIDs and Infertility

I posted this on my family blog over 2 years ago and have had several emails lately from people who came across the information and had no idea. I think it warrants a re-post on this new blog and I hope it finds the people who need it most. For natural alternatives to NSAIDs read more about WHAT I USE INSTEAD.


My public service announcement is about the little-known issue of NSAIDS and infertility. NSAIDS when taken on a regular basis can inhibit ovulation BUT it’s more than that. All tests will appear normal. Hormones will still fluctuate, rise, fall etc as they are supposed to. Fertility charts will look good and indicate ovulation. The follicle, however is unruptured. Meaning no little egg actually goes anywhere. And that’s not all (insert tv infomercial voice)…if it DOES go somewhere by chance, the NSAIDS may even contribute to failed implantation.

How many women know this? How many doctors know this? I can tell you that in the past 6 months, I have listed my medications on 5 different doctor’s information sheets(rheumetologist, OBGYN, GI doc, sleep doc and Naturopath) and told all FIVE that I was trying to conceive and NONE commented on the 2X daily prescription NSAID I was taking. Most likely none of them knew anything about it. Which is why I will be sending them copies of these studies.

CLin-Alert – Google Books
1996!!! Rheumatology Journal

I’m thinking this is a serious enough side effect that ALL NSAIDs should have this warning ON THE LABEL (which was NOT on anything I received with the prescription):

(found on Drugs.com)

Impaired female fertility:

The use of Diclofenac Potassium tablets may impair female fertility and is not recommended in women attempting to conceive. In women who may have difficulties conceiving or who are undergoing investigation of infertility, withdrawal of Diclofenac Potassium tablets should be considered.

So, now here’s my personal case study. After 4+ weeks off of Diclofenac, I have positive pregnancy tests. Plural. Lots of them. Because of my previous failed implantations (aka chemical pregnancy) I tested for 8 days straight. No disappearing lines. I am definitely pregnant. ONE CYCLE OFF OF THIS STUFF. Coincidence? No way. ¬†(Update 2013 – Sadly, this pregnancy ended at 12 weeks. Another pregnancy was confirmed 6 weeks later and was also lost at almost 12 weeks.)

So, I am putting this out there for anyone who may not know: If you are trying to conceive…lay off the NSAIDs. Including creams, patches, pills, syrups. ¬†There are alternatives for pain and inflammation and they work well for me!! READ ABOUT NATURAL NSAID ALTERNATIVES HERE. And…in the spirit of helping people through social media….share! You never know who you will help by passing along this information!

This post is also linked at Holistic Squid & Thank Your Body, Wellness Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday

Processed Salt May Contribute to Autoimmune Disease


The headline reads¬†“Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease” , but read deeper and a specific ingredient in most processed foods reveals itself as the most likely culprit. Refined and processed salt. Having lived with an unspecified autoimmune disease for about 7 years, this is of great interest to me. ¬†We’ve used Redmond Real Salt and some pink¬†Himalayan¬†salt in cooking and at our table for over 10 years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all the salt we were getting. ¬†

We’ve made it a point to buy the good stuff for home, but what about the refined salt in a lot of our processed foods and fast foods? ¬†Have you ever looked at the sodium content in the bread you buy?

I had NO IDEA. According to this article, “Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway–just the bread, no meat, no cheeses, no nothing–has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14 strips of bacon.¬†“ ¬†Wow! ¬†Subway tends to come across as a ‘healthier’ option.

The modern diet of processed foods, takeaways and microwave meals could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema.”If this is the case, then the autoimmune disease I thought couldn’t be ‘my fault’ – pretty much IS. ¬†If bad food is how I got here, maybe good food can get me out.


Read the whole article with references to the studies at preventdisease.com. And then…maybe…stop eating processed foods and go buy some good salt!


This post was also linked up at Butter Believer