This snack is a staple in our household. Here’s how I make Crispy Nuts:
1.Soak almonds or walnuts (this activates their enzymes) in water with 1 TBS salt for 12 hours.
2. Drain and dehydrate (this preserves their enzymes) on a baking sheet in a warm oven*
until crispy (about 12 hours).
You can do this with virtually any nut; cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, and pine nuts are all particularly good!
*To dehydrate in the oven, set oven at lowest setting and keep the door slightly ajar if over 110 degrees.
I’m sorta pondering cutting way down on blogging during this holiday season. I may not completely shut down, but I just feel like right now there are more important things for me to be doing with my free time (mainly just being quiet and, well, just “being”) than blogging about what I eat.
The point of fasting is to not obsess about what we eat, so I’m trying not to fall into temptation by writing about food right now!
The fast is going well, so far. I’ve been able to keep things pretty simple around here with lots of blended veggie or lentil soups, seafood, and roasted and/or stir-fried veggies. We have been doing more grains/starches lately just because that’s what we have left when we don’t have meat. We’re still definitely sticking with the alkalizing grains (millet, quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat). About once a week I’m serving beans. I am still just trying to maximize the veggies.
Speaking of Veggies
For ye local Portlanders, I am happy to say I’ve discovered the best produce market in town. It’s SO amazingly wonderful. The prices are incredible, and the quality is as good or better than New Season’s or Whole Foods. It’s a little unassuming outdoor covered tent produce place on SE Hawthorne Blvd called Uncle Paul’s Produce. The prices are so good that I now make a trip across town once a week just to go there.
I come home with two bags full of veggies (I mean brimming full, and we eat lots of veggies) for about $20. This is high quality, organic, locally-grown produce. And when you purchase from Uncle Paul, you support a local mom and pop organization without a lot of overhead. No, you don’t get to experience wine and cheese sampling nor can you buy organic dental floss here (it’s JUST produce and some assorted local jams and nuts) but it’s totally worth it.
If you own a Chinook Book, you’ll find 2 coupons for $5 off a $25 purchase. The first time I went, I didn’t even have enough in my very full cart to equal $25!!! I had to add extra apples. That amount of produce at Whole Foods would have cost me close to $50. No joke. I made the mistake of shopping at WF a few weeks ago and realized the error of my ways at the cash register.
In tight economic times like this, we can vote with our dollar to support big chains, or we can give our money to local businesses that pass their savings on to you. If you’re not in Portland, do you have a favorite little “mom and pop” produce market you like to support? If so, do tell!
My college roommate and I once had a dream of opening a cafe and calling it “Viva Los Veggies”. We thought we were very clever. I’m sure someone else has already thought of this catchy title, but I can’t bear to “google it” to find out!
I am writing this post primarily for my Orthodox audience because today marks the beginning of another season of fasting. Today is 40 days before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ (Christmas) and we Orthodox prepare for the feast by fasting for 40 days. Traditionally, the Orthodox fast from meat, dairy, oil, and wine. This is the strictest sense of the fast. Women who are nursing or pregnant are exempt from these rules, as well as invalids or those with restricted diets. The spirit of the fast, however, is to eat less, obesess about food less, and focus more on the season.
Before I became a big fan of Nourishing Traditions and Weston Price, I, like most American Orthodox who fast, relied heavily on pastas and soy products. This left me very sick. Fortunately, I had a respite for several consecutive years because I was either pregnant or nursing. For the record, I’m still nursing, so I am going to do more of a vegetarian fast (including limited amounts of goat milk kefir and eggs).
The whole Weston Price movement is pretty much anti-veganism, and I’ve had to reconcile the fact that no traditional societies are strictly vegan while one significant component of my faith involves fasting. To be fair, fasting is an ancient practice that is seen in nearly every ancient world religion. The ancient Hebrews fasted for periods of time and also fasted two days per week. The Orthodox have practiced fasting since the beginning (Orthodox Christianity is the most ancient form of Christianity).
Fasting has always made sense to me from a spiritual standpoint. We need a break from complicated food processing (usually the most complicated processes, traditionally, involve processing meat and dairy). We need a break from eating too much meat, dairy, and fat; all of which are acid-forming (but healthy!) We need to practice mindfulnessof being filled by something greater than food….we need to remember our weakness as humans and rely upon our Creator.
From a cosmic perspective, there is wisdom in fasting. From a village/agrarian perspective (one that most of us have lost in the factory-farm/supermarket era), there’s a realization that the animals need a break from producing milk— the hens don’t lay as many eggs in the wintertime— the body needs a chance to cleanse from digesting meat and oils….
Nutritionally speaking, I believe it’s possible to fast and be healthy, but in America, it can be difficult to instinctively know what to do. Here are my top 5 Do’s and top 5 Don’ts for fasting. The point is to cleanse, both spiritually and physically. I don’t believe the point of fasting is to get to the point of complete exhaustion, sickness, and ultimatly deficiency. That’s not a good thing.
Don’t: Rely on soy, especially not processed soy. If it looks like meat, tastes like meat, but isn’t meat; you probably shouldn’t eat it!
Do: Try fermented soy such as miso. Soy was never meant to be eaten without fermenting. Traditional tofu is also a fermented product, and if you can find it, by all means, try it!
Don’t: Make pasta (or grains, for that matter) your mainstay. If you must do pasta, limit yourself to a few days per week and use whole-grain sprouted pastas or gluten-free options (Trader Joe’s has great ones!)
Do: Try incorporating more of the alkalizing seed-grains such as millet, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat. Quinoa in particular is very nourishing as it is a complete protein. Make sure that before you cook these grains you let them soak in a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar for 12 hours to break down phytic acid.
Don’t: Give in to the temptation to gorge on “vegan” cookies or treats. In fact, if I highly reccommend fasting from sugar (particularly during this winter season). Yes, Oreos are vegan, but nutritionally, they’re just a big black hole.
Do: Try to eat 50% (or more) raw during a fasting time. This is particularly cleansing and will help fill you up and provide vital nutrients. Some suggestions:
*Sprouted sunflower seeds added to salads
* Make and eat sauerkraut or pickles with every meal, especially if you’re eating beans and grains. this will add a “cheese-like” flavor and will help your body digest the extra starches.
* Add fat-rich olives and avocados, as well as dehydrated sprouted nuts to a salad to give a huge nutritional boost.
*Kombucha, juice kefir, and beet kvass are inexpensive, vitamin-rich tonics that provide B vitamins and help alkalize the blood.
Don’t: Obsess about beans. Many people try to just replace meat protein with soy or bean protein. Protein is important for sure, but since beans are so high in starch they should be limited to 1-2 meals per week so that you’re not taxing your digestive system so much.
Do: Eat from the sea. The Orthodox have always permitted shellfish during fasting periods. Although these should always be eaten sparingly due to mercury content, having scallops or shrimp once or twice per week is a great way to get protien and vitamin D. Don’t forget to try seaweed in a veggie saute.
Don’t: Be a pharisee. Don’t become a glutton, or judgemental, or too hard on yourself. This defeats the purpose of fasting!
Do: Most importantly, take advantage of the myriad of delicious vegetables available to us today. It’s amazing how filling and revitalizing a plateful of steamed veggies can be! Not to mention rich in vitamins and minerals. Fresh juicing, if you have a juicer, is a highly beneficial component to fasting.
I hope these tips are helpful to those of you who are embarking on the journey to Nativity. May all of your advent seasons be blessed as we journey to welcome the Light of the World!
This post is modified from an article I wrote for our church’s school, of which I am a board member. I thought I would share these tips for healthy lunches for school, work, or simply being on the go with little ones!
One of the biggest challenges we as parents face is feeding our children. Good, nourishing food is essential for their growth and development, as well as for their brains and learning. Packing a healthy, nutrient-dense lunch that will appeal to young children can be tricky, but it will pay off dividends in your child’s energy levels, immunity, and overall well-being.
Sugar,white-flour, and unhealthy fats form the backbone of a typical school lunch. White bread, jelly, peanut butter filled with sugar and hydrogenated oil coupled with fruit juice and chips may be appealing for children, but the high carbohydrate intake can cause a major “crash” in blood sugar after lunch. This “crash” (for lack of a better word) can lead to brain fogginess and lack of focus, and ultimately hunger, later in the afternoon.
For a healthy lunch, it’s important to focus on healthy fats, proteins, veggies, and whole-grains. These foods provide not only essential nutrients, but also provide fiber that slows down digestion so that you avoid that dreaded “crash” after lunch.
Luckily, there are some simply things you can do to transform the “typical school lunch” into a wholesome, healthy lunch that your kids will eat.
Sprouted Ezekiel Bread or Brown Rice Tortillas for sandwiches If you are grain-free, use sheets of nori for nutrient-dense roll-ups and make “sushi”. Leftover grain-free pancakes made from almond flour can be spread with nut butter and a touch of honey for sandwhiches as well.
Whole grain crackers or veggie sticks, raw cheddar or Swiss cheese slices (not processed!), and nitrate-free ham or turkey, smoked salmon, or left over roast beef.
Purchase a soup thermos and fill your child’s lunch with homemade soups or leftovers. Simply heat up a small portion in the morning before school and put in thermos and it will stay warm until eaten!
Dehydrated veggies (carrots, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes). Trader Joe’s has some yummy “plantain chips” that are high in potassium and additive-free. Seaweed chips are also a delicous, mineral-rick potato chip replacement.
Fruit juice boxes
Iced herbal tea sweetened with honey or stevia. There are so many sweet, fruity herbal teas that when lightly sweetened taste great with next to no sugar! We like Stash’s mango-passionfruit herbal tea as well as Teavana’s herbal teas (but they are a Thrifty Oreganic indulgence and not an everyday staple!)
Shelf-stable, ultrapastuerized fat free chocolate milk
Raw milk blended with real, unsweetened cocoa with stevia or maple syrup to taste.
Jell-O chocolate pudding cups
Chocolate banana- avocado pudding (puree 1-2 avocados with 1 banana in food processor. Add 1-2 tsp cocoa powder and 1 TBS honey or to taste)
As you can see, it takes only some small changes on your shopping list to yield big benefits to your child’s health, your budget, as well as the environment. Packaged “convenience” lunch foods (like juice boxes, lunchables, “uncrustables” and pudding cups) are both expensive and not eco-friendly. While I realize that these can be tempting (primarily because big box stores like Wal-Mart and Costco can sell these at a pretty appealing price), DON’T be fooled. A little more money spent on quality ingredients (like nitrate-free ham, avocados, and Ezekial bread) will save you money on co-pays and prescription drugs or supplements because your child is less likely to fall prey to illnesses when consuming real food! This may sound like bogus claim, but I encourage you to take the Real Food Challenge and see what happens!
Finally the winter chill is on here in Oregon, and it seems like these are the days that people seem to get afflicted with head colds, sore throats, fevers, and the like.
I wanted to share a few tips for avoiding the bugs in hopes that my readers can enjoy a healthy season.
Through my reading and research, my eyes have been opened to the fact that there is actually an alternative to the “germ theory” put forth by Louis Pastuer. I have much more to write about that in another post, but suffice to say there is also a “host theory” of disease, which says that when the “host’s” (or person’s) internal “balance” is off, disease takes over.
The fact is that pathogens are always present in our guts; really icky ones, in fact, including e coli and all kinds of other less-than-helpful critters that make their homes inside of us. Usually, the bad bugs are outnumbered by the beneficial ones, and as long as we feed our body food that nourishes, we will grow the good guys who can then keep the bad guys in check.
In this theory, disease hits when we get off balance. Sugar is a major disrupter to the body chemistry. Stress also depleats the body of vitamin and mineral stores which nourish our glands. When the “ammo” (i.e. vitamins and minerals) is gone, the bad guys start to multiply and take over.
The result is the body’s immune response. They send in the “big guns”, like mucus to trap and excrete excess toxins. Sneezing and coughing are other mechanisms the body uses to detox from these nasty bugs. The resulting symptoms indicate a “cold”.
The body has amazing ways of cleansing toxins. Fevers are another way the body heals, as well as diarrhea and vomiting. All of these things appear to be “the flu”, but as we know “the flu” and “a cold” cannot be cured by antibiotics or any sort of medicine. Over-the-counter cold remedies only suppress the very symptoms the body uses to clease and heal!!! Why else do we always hear that there are “always new strains of flu and colds each year”?
Here are 5 ways our family has been able to avoid major bugs:
1) Fortify your “immune ammo” with supporting vitamins and minerals through food . Here’s my short list of necessities: Cod liver oil is a must, with ample amounts of natural A and D. Vitamin C from Acerola Cherry Powder works wonders when runny noses present themselves. Broth made from real chicken bones chock full of onions and garlic is very nourishing and inexpensive to make. Coconut water is a miracle-working hydrater for when fevers, diarrhea, or vomiting are present. It’s also very high in minerals. Sea vegetables such as kelp, dulse, arame, and wakame are extremely nutrient-dense and easy to digest when properly prepared. Fermented Beet Kvass (a tonic of cubed beets, water, whey, and sea salt, fermented 48 hours) is essential for alkalizing the blood and supplying vital minerals to the body’s stores. We also find Virgin Coconut Oil, with its antifungal and antimicrobial properties as a strong weapon of defense , as well as the superfood Spirulina. Garlic, onion, and chili peppers are also very antifungal.
2. Avoid sugar like the plague: I’ve come to believe that most all of the common colds/flu bugs that children acquire can be easily avoided by a low-sugar or sugar-free diet. White sugar, without question, should be avoided. But it’s also important to limit fruit juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, Rapadura, and all “natural sugars” as well. Even though the latter have more nutritional value, they are still sugar, and sugar feeds the bad bugs. You don’t want it around when your body’s trying to heal. My theory is that those who avoid sugar and white flour have stronger immune systems simply because these things really tax and acidify the system. And by the way, sugar-free does not mean using artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Nutra-Sweet. The only thing I really allow is Stevia, which is simply an herb. I like to use the Stevia Concentrate.
3. Hydrate: It goes without saying that juice, soda pop, gatoraid and virtually all “commercial” drinks are full of sugar and should not be used. Fortunately, there are many other delicious drinks. Water actually helps the lymphatic system (the system repsonsible for flushing toxins out of our body) carry away toxins, so that they don’t have to get “stuck” in our sinuses or anywhere else and make us sick. We love kombucha (which is a fermented tea that is full of beneficial probiotics, minerals, and B vitamins) as well as kefir. For a healthy alternative to “sports drinks”:
2 cups filtered water
40 drops Concentrace Liquid Minerals OR pinch RealSalt
8 drops Stevia
Juice of 1-2 lemons OR Raw Apple Cidar Vinegar
4. Keep moving. I believe that one of the reasons people tend to get sicker in the wintertime is that we are naturally more sedentary and we remain indoors for long periods of time. Exercise helps “pump” the lymphatic system and oxygenates our blood, and bad buggers don’t like oxygen one bit! Don’t forget to get outside e very day for at least 20 minutes, even if it’s cold and rainy. The fresh air does a body good!
5. Don’t fight the healing process: Obviously there are times when symptoms mentioned in this article indicate a serious condition which can only be treated by antibiotics. But those cases are few and far between. For most of us, all we can do is make the best of the situation and get rest, and nourishing food to help the body heal itself. Mentally, it helps to view colds and other discomforts with thankfulness at the body’s amazing way of communicating that something’s “not right”. Tune in and listen. Your body is an amazing, intricate machine. Let it do what it needs to and don’t interfere with loads of “medicines” that only impede the process.
What to do about the annoying factor:
Runny noses: Wet cotton socks with wool socks on top have been known to help clear a stuffed head (it works for my son!)
Ear aches: Garlic olive oil or hydrogen peroxide in the ear have both been very helpful to me.
Sore throat: Gargle with a combo of apple cidar vinegar, raw honey, minced fresh garlic and a dash of cayenne. It works fast. Kefir also has an amazing way of instantly working to soothe and cure a sore throat.
Fever: A fever is the body’s attempt to kill the pathogens/virus by raising the body temperature. You can help the body do that by wrapping yourself or your loved one in a warm blanket and allowing them to “sweat it out”. Beware, of course, of spiky high fevers.
These are just some home remedies from a mama whose kids (thankfully) don’t get sick very often. This is no substitute for medical advise or treatment.
What are your tried and true tips for beating the winter bugs?