"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top Recommendations for Nutritional Healing

My brother and my mom working in the garden.

I was going through old emails today, and I came across this list that my mom wrote. She emailed it to a friend awhile back who was interested in changing her family's diet but didn't know where to begin. I saved this list because I liked it and thought it was very good. I'm sharing it on my blog in hopes that it benefits others. 

Nutritional Healing

These are my top recommendations for where to begin:

1.    Learn to make bone broth and incorporate more soups into your meal planning. Bone broth is immune boosting. It is rich in minerals, gelatin and other nutrients that are extremely beneficial to your health. (Two resources I highly recommend are the book Nourishing Traditions –see the section on soups and The Healthy Home Economist website thehealthyhomeeconomist.com see recipes and videos section)

2.    STOP drinking pasteurized milk. Buy raw milk and consume it plain or as homemade yogurt or kefir. (Kefir is extremely easy to make. We like it in smoothies and drink one almost every day. I know that the raw milk is more expensive… but we are able to afford it because of the money we save not buying processed foods.)

3.    STOP buying as many processed foods as you can. Begin transitioning into buying only single ingredients: vegetables, fruit, meat, butter, good oils, dried beans, etc. Make oatmeal or granola instead of boxed breakfast cereal. Make your own salad dressing, mayonnaise, catsup, mustard, etc.. 

4.    Eat free-range, pastured chicken eggs as a low-cost alternative to meat.

5.    Buy grains in the most natural state you can afford. (Start with brown rice, oatmeal…down the road, consider getting a grain mill and grinding your own wheat and corn flour. A grain mill is a great investment. It will pay off in the long run.) Eventually you can learn to make sourdough bread instead of yeast bread. Traditional cultures used natural yeast from the air (i.e. “sourdough starter”) to leaven their bread…industrial yeast is a modern invention and is less digestible.

6.    Soak your beans and grains according to the directions in Nourishing Traditions or on The Healthy Home Economist website.

7.    Even if you’re not grinding your own flour, whenever possible make your baked goods with whole ingredients, don’t buy boxed mixes or pre-made baked goods! (bread, cookies, muffins, pancakes, etc.)

8.    STOP using refined oils such as corn, vegetable (which is really soybean) and canola oil! Use only extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and (down the road when you can make it yourself) tallow or lard. I usually buy my coconut oil by the gallon and order with a group to save on shipping. 

9.    Replace refined salt with ancient sea salt. Your body needs the minerals and micro-nutrients that are found in ancient sea salt. It is refined white salt that has given salt a bad reputation. Even white sea salt is refined. Only use ancient sea salt, which will be speckled pink or gray in color. I buy it from a co-op in bulk. 

10.  Replace refined white sugar with raw honey, succanat, or rapadura. Natural sweeteners have not had the nutrients removed…so you are getting nutrition along with the sweetness. Beware of Agave…which is being touted as a healthy sweetener  but is highly refined. (I get raw honey from a local farmer and I buy succanat from a co-op in bulk) Even natural sweeteners need to be used in moderation…no more the 2-3 Tablespoons per day. (One other healthy natural sweetener is stevia leaf which is nice in herbal tea…again be careful because the green leaf stevia is much better than the white powder because it is less refined)

11. There are many wonderful herbal teas that nourish and strengthen the body. Herbal teas can be used as vitamin supplements. I highly recommend the Bulk Herb Store. Check them out at thebulkherbstore.com.

12. Learn to make naturally fermented drinks (such as kombucha and water kefir/natural soda pop) and naturally fermented vegetables (such as sauerkraut and salsa). These will be amazingly healing to the gut due to the large amounts of enzymes, probiotics and micronutrients. They also rid the body of toxins. 

Just think…baby steps! Each step you take is an investment in your health.

Many blessings,


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dairy Kefir

Dairy Kefir is a fermented yogurt-like milk. It is slightly sour and not as thick as yogurt, and it contains more probiotics than yogurt. Dairy kefir grains (they are not real grains, but a SCOBY –symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) are required for making kefir. Kefir is alive with beneficial bacteria and yeast which depend and work in harmony with each other. Just as the kombucha culture feeds off of the sugar, dairy kefir grains feed on the sugar in milk (lactose). That is why people who are lactose intolerant are generally able to drink kefir without problems.  

Kefir is one of the easiest and healthiest things you can make. All you have to do is pour milk over a small amount of grains in a glass jar. Cover with a cloth or coffee filter, and let it sit for 24 hours. It’s ready after 24-48 hours, when the milk has thickened. Strain out the grains, and you’re ready to make a kefir smoothie. After you strain off your kefir yogurt drink, refrigerate. It is alive, and it will keep getting stronger in flavor if left at room temperature.

Dairy kefir grains are reusable, and they don’t need to be rinsed between batches of kefir. They multiply slowly over time, if taken care of and fed. They don’t go bad, unless something contaminated the batch and caused mold. Don’t forget that metal will harm the culture. Stir the kefir with a plastic or wooden spoon, use a plastic strainer, and store in glass jars.

Raw milk is best for making kefir, but pasteurized milk can also be used. However, ultra-pasteurized milk will not make kefir. It is dead milk, and won’t ferment correctly. Grass-fed milk is safest for the health of the culture and for you.

Health Benefits:
Raw milk kefir is full of enzymes and vitamins that help with overall health. Kefir can even reverse health problems by healing the digestive tract and restoring proper gut flora. People with lactose intolerance can usually drink RAW milk kefir. Kefir is known to heal heartburn, and heal an imbalanced gut.

The most popular way to drink kefir is in a fruit smoothie sweetened with honey.

Other uses: You can experiment with creating thicker kefir to use as cream cheese or sour cream, by letting it sit on the counter for a couple more days than normal. Sour cream is made the same way as normal kefir, but with cream instead of milk. Kefir cream cheese is also made the same way as normal kefir, but let it sit longer until it separates into curds and whey (a couple days). Wrap it in cheesecloth and hang over a bowl to strain off the whey. Use the cream cheese like you normally would, and use the whey for other homemade fermented foods. Kefir can also be used as leaven in sourdough bread. It can be used in place of yogurt or sour cream in recipes, or used however you like.

There is also a water kefir version of the culture. It feeds off of sugar instead of milk. It’s similar to kombucha, except it is not vinegary in flavor. It doesn’t have the same detoxifying qualities as kombucha, but it contains more probiotics (the same as dairy kefir, but less concentrated). 

Visit Culturesforhealth.com for more information, or to order dehydrated kefir grains. 


What is kombucha?
Kombucha is fermented tea that is full of beneficial bacteria/probiotics and yeast. It is a very detoxifying, energizing, and refreshing beverage. Kombucha’s origins date back to ancient China and Japan. It has been popular in many different countries for its health benefits, and it is known by many names. Before Kombucha was brought to the United States, it was a traditional Russian beverage called “tea Kvass.”

Kombucha SCOBY:
In order to brew your own kombucha tea, you need a kombucha “mushroom” or SCOBY. A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. This SCOBY mushroom is what ferments the tea and adds all the health benefits. The SCOBY lives off of sugar (which you add to the tea), the vitamins and minerals found in tea, and oxygen (it needs to breathe). The SCOBY culture looks like a flat pancake or mushroom. It’s not a real mushroom or fungus, but many refer to it as such because of its appearance.

The SCOBY is alive, and fermenting the tea with the SCOBY causes the tea to become alive and full of probiotics. The yeast and bacteria which make up the “mushroom” live in symbiotic harmony and dependence with each other, creating a community or culture. The culture will fight against harmful invaders, and fills your tea with beneficial bacteria and yeast. However, you have to properly care for the kombucha culture or it will die and not ferment tea.

Black tea is traditionally used for kombucha because it has all the necessary nutrients and minerals for the culture. Green tea can be mixed with black tea for a milder flavor. Really, any true tea (not herbal tea) can be used. Oils from herbal teas can damage the culture. Organic tea is best for kombucha, because it is free of pesticides which are harmful to the kombucha culture. Sugar is what the culture feeds on. The sugar isn’t an issue for those who drink kombucha, because most of the sugar is metabolized by the SCOBY. A full term brewing period will result in very minimal traces of sugar. White sugar is easiest for the SCOBY to digest, and that is what most people recommend.

While fermenting and feeding on the sugar, the kombucha tea is transformed into a tea full of vitamins, acids, minerals, enzymes, carbon dioxide, and many different strands of beneficial bacteria and yeast (probiotics). This is great for us, because the beneficial bacteria in kombucha balances gut flora, which contributes to overall health. The tea tastes like a cross between apple cider, sweet tea, and vinegar. Stronger brews taste like vinegar or beer. The makeup and nutrients of Kombucha is very similar to that of apple cider vinegar. Kombucha can become bubbly like soda, because of the carbon dioxide produced. It also contains a trace amount of alcohol (no more than .5%).

Health Benefits:
Some of the health benefits reported from drinking kombucha include energy, overall good feeling from removal of toxins, and improved digestion. It has also been said to clear up acne, aid hair growth, prevent gray hair, and helps with weight loss if taken before meals. It helps athletes recover after strenuous workouts, by eliminating the bad lactic acid (the cause of sore muscles) from the muscles. It is also said to fight against cancer. Kombucha tea is full of B vitamins, folic acid, and L-lactic acid (it removes the bad DL-lactic acid from your body). Kombucha contains glucuronic acid which binds up poisons and toxins and pulls them out of the body. The acids in kombucha are what make it so detoxifying; because the powerful acids are what pull the toxins out. These acids bring toxins straight to the kidneys for excretion. Some people call kombucha a “second liver.” The enzymes in kombucha are what help with digestion. It contains probiotics (but not as many as kefir), and boosts the immune system. Some drink kombucha as a healthy replacement for soda, or as a coffee alternative.

Be careful when first drinking kombucha tea. Start with only a couple ounces a day. Slowly build up to about 12 ounces a day. Drinking too much can cause headaches or nausea, because it will detoxify your body too fast. Detoxing is something that should be done slowly as to not overwhelm your body. Also, there may be a die-off of pathogenic bacteria and yeast in your gut, because the kombucha is replacing it with beneficial bacteria and yeast. This can cause flu-like symptoms if too much kombucha is consumed too soon.

How to Make Kombucha:
You will need tea (black or green),
sugar (white sugar is best),
1 SCOBY mushroom,
starter tea (already brewed kombucha tea),
and purified water (city water will kill the kombucha culture because of poisons like fluoride and chlorine).

Don’t worry about the caffeine or white sugar in the tea, because the SCOBY metabolizes it.  
You will also need a glass jar or bowl, plastic strainer, and glass bottles.
Never let metal touch your kombucha tea or SCOBY. Kombucha will pull out metals and leech plastic. That is why it is so detoxing. It pulls metals and toxins from our bodies when we drink it. Plastic is ok for straining the kombucha. However, kombucha should only be stored and brewed in clear glass. Crystal is also harmful because it contains lead.

Here is a basic recipe: Boil 2-3 quarts of water. Add 1 cup of sugar, and 4 tea bags. Let it steep until completely cool. Pour the sweetened tea into a glass bowl/jar and add ½ cup of starter (already brewed kombucha tea). Place the SCOBY in the tea mixture, and cover with a cloth or coffee filter. Secure cloth with a rubber band so that fruit flies can’t get in. Let the tea ferment for 7-10 days. It will be ready when a baby mushroom has formed on top of the tea, and the flavor of the tea is slightly sour yet pleasant. Refrigerate your harvested batch of tea or it will keep fermenting and turn to vinegar. Most people like to store their harvested kombucha in glass bottles to retain fizzy-ness. 

Final Brewing Tips and Warnings:
Size doesn’t matter when first starting with a kombucha mushroom. It will eventually grow a baby SCOBY that covers the surface area of your glass container. Holes in the mushroom are fine, and the little strands of brown yeast are normal. On the other hand, mold is bad, and means the culture is sick or dead. If you see mold, throw it away. You should be able to use your SCOBY for a long period of time. It will grow thicker each time you ferment tea. However, you want to replace your mother SCOBY with one of her babies, eventually. A good sign that you need to replace a kombucha SCOBY is when it turns dark brown. The dark brown color means the mushroom is worn out and old.

The kombucha SCOBY is sensitive to light, noise, temperature (ideal is between 70 and 80 degrees), fruit/oils, and environment. It’s best to ferment the tea in a semi-dark and quiet area. The tea also has to be able to breathe while it ferments, and should be covered with a cloth. A batch of tea takes at least 7-10 days to ferment, and a healthy mushroom produces a new baby each time. SCOBYs can’t be heated. Always make sure your tea is cool before placing the mushroom in it. If a culture sinks to the bottom of the jar, this could mean that the tea is still too warm. SCOBYs can be refrigerated in a glass jar if you need to take a break from fermenting.

Other uses for Komucha: You can use kombucha to make a sourdough bread starter, vinegar, or flavored fruit juice kombucha.
You can double ferment you tea with fruit or juice to make it more effervescent, but only after the SCOBY is removed. If you want to experiment with different teas or sugars, use an extra culture that you can discard if it doesn’t turn out. Don’t add it back to the original brew.

Visit Culturesforhealth.com for more information, or to order a dehydrated SCOBY.

Sources: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Kombucha Phenomenon by Besty Pryor and Sanford Holst, and my personal experience. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Favorite Links from this Week #1

I didn't have time to write a blog post this week, so I decided to post my favorite articles from other blogs. This is very random, but I will try to post the links in some sort of order. 

My new FAVORITE website is HealthImpactNews.com. Needless to say, I'm linking to several of their articles. Here they are: 

3.  Is it Safe to Eat Bacon? (Hint: It depends on how it's raised.)

5.  Elderberries  (A natural flu-fighting remedy!)

I hope you find these links helpful and informative. Thanks for reading! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Green Tea and Coconut Oil: A simple remedy for energy, weight loss, glowing skin, & preventing cancer.

Jasmine Green Tea and Organic Coconut Oil

I’ve been re-inspired to blog about the benefits of coconut oil. While I was babysitting the other day, I grabbed my coconut oil book and started reading. My original plan was to skim the book to refresh my memory. As the kids played outside, I ended up filling several papers with notes. Unfortunately, I only got through the first 2 chapters. I hardly scratched the surface.

I’ve realized that I’m going to need to be more selective with my note taking. In order to produce a decent blog post, I only need to highlight the most important things…. But there is just so much information!! It’s all important. --You see, I’m not a good blogger. I start writing books instead of articles. When I realize I don’t have enough time to complete my book-articles, I become overwhelmed. My notes are then saved in my large collection of drafts –never to be seen by the blog world.

However, I’m learning that I don’t need to wait for perfection before I can share my notes. While my exhaustive coconut oil notes sit in drafts (with all the others), I’m writing this simple post about a remedy I love. I’m also linking to other articles which contain the information I want to share. This is my new motto: “a simple blog post is better than no blog post.” So, don’t expect to be impressed! ;-)

 Green Tea and Coconut Oil: A simple remedy for energy, weight loss, glowing skin, & preventing cancer. 

In recent months, I’ve gotten away from the habit of adding coconut oil to my daily diet. Re-reading the benefits caused me to remember that I need to start taking it again. My favorite way to take coconut oil is in green tea.
I have multiple reasons for doing this, besides that fact that it’s just plain healthy.

  1. Coconut oil helps with weight loss. I’m trying to become nice and slim for my sister’s wedding in May (I'm a bride's maid). Coconut oil helps to control/balance appetite, if taken before a meal or as a snack. I have fewer cravings, because my body is satisfied and nourished by the coconut oil. Articles: Coconut Oil and Weight Loss --Fact vs. Fiction: what you need to know about coconut oil and losing weight!, and Stomp the Weight Loss Accelerator Using Coconut Oil.  
  1. Coconut oil is a super energy booster! Try it. It’s not like caffeine. The energy I’m talking about is longer lasting and stable. Coconut oil helps me focus.

3.   Coconut oil makes my skin glow and my hair shiny. Especially if you struggle with acne, try taking coconut oil everyday. I even put coconut oil topically on my skin. Just remember that a little goes a long way. Article: Coconut Oil for Skin Health

Some people have a hard time eating coconut oil, but I find it quite enjoyable with a cup of green tea. I stir a heaping teaspoon of coconut oil into a warm cup of tea (so that it melts). I also add a little raw honey to sweeten it. I like to think of my coconut green tea as my special, healthy, beauty drink... :-)

Green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants and cancer-preventing properties. Please take the time to read the Bulk Herb Store’s article about the benefits of green tea. My favorite flavors are Jasmine Green Tea and Pomegranate. Here is the most recent article I found from the American Botanical Council about Green Tea.   

I hope you try this tasty coconut tea blend! Even if you don’t find it tasty at first, you’ll learn to love it. You’ll feel great after drinking it everyday. However, I have one precaution to give. If you’re not used to eating coconut oil, do not eat more than a teaspoon a day. Coconut oil is very detoxing. Gradually introduce coconut oil into your diet until your body adjusts to it.

Coconut oil sources: Tropical Traditions and Mountain Rose Herbs.  

Thanks for reading. 

This post is linked to Natural Living Link-Up!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Simple Country Fried Chicken

So delicious.

I made fried chicken the other night. It was very delicious! So, I’m sharing here. :-)
 My mom and I kind of made up this recipe. The measurements may not be exact, but here’s the general idea. 

The best quality chicken you can afford (quartered –I used drumsticks and thighs).
Coconut oil for frying! (I used organic expeller-pressed coconut oil. It doesn't have a strong coconut flavor).
Flour, sea salt, eggs, and milk.

Chicken, eggs, flour, coconut oil.
Mix 2 cups flour and 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a dish. Next, whisk together 2 eggs, ½ cup milk, and 1 teaspoon of salt. (You may have to double this amount if frying 2 sets of large chicken pieces... like I did.)

Roll the chicken in the flour/salt mixture until coated. Dip the floured chicken into the egg/milk mixture. Roll coated chicken in flour a second time. The chicken should be thoroughly covered in batter.

Heat coconut oil in a frying pan (I prefer an iron skillet). There should be enough oil in the pan to measure about 1/2 inch. Heat oil until it starts bubbling when the chicken in placed in. Gently lay the chicken pieces skin down in the hot oil. Be careful not to let the oil get so hot that it starts splattering. The chicken will probably need to cook for about 10 minutes on each side. Turn the chicken over with tongs. I would use a knife to check the chicken after about 5 minutes. The cooking time really does vary. (My chicken pieces were very large, and they took forever to cook through. I had to turn the temperature down so that the outside didn't get too dark while the inside was cooking.) The chicken is done once it looks like the inside is cooked through, and the outside is brown and crispy. Remove the chicken to a rack or paper towels, so that the extra oil drips off. The fried chicken can be served hot or cold.

That’s it! Enjoy.

A note about coconut oil:
Coconut oil is a much better choice for frying than rancid genetically modified vegetable oil. I've heard that shortening makes crispy fried chicken, but so does coconut oil! Coconut oil is a natural and heat-stable fat. It also will not make you fat, but will satisfy and nourish your body. If I ever have some spare time, I’ll write a blog post about my research on the health benefits of coconut oil. But for now, you’ll have to take my word for it. Or, better yet, Google the health benefits of coconut oil yourself! You’ll be a coconut lover like me.

Edit: Shared with Homemaking Link-Up! and Whole Foods Wednesday