Dec 1, 2015

Pasture Raised Eggs (at Kroger)

Buying local pastured eggs is one of my food priorities.  Sometimes however, I can't always find local eggs... or, enough to fill my family's demands.  I have an egg share with Farm Girl but lately my people have been eating a lot.  Unfortunately I think this is a trend that will only continue.  My 11 year old son grew three inches last year.

After talking with a knowledgeable friend, I decided to try the above pictured "Pastured Raised" brand eggs that my Kroger carries.   This morning I was delightfully surprised at the color of the yolk.  The bright orange hue is telling of the chicken's living conditions.  These ladies ate a bit of green grass in their lifetime.  

The dark color in the yolk is evidence of nutritional density.  If you are looking to sneak some nutrition into your family, buy the best quality of eggs you can afford.  Quality eggs taste better, too.

Buy local when possible.  When in a pinch, I will now recommend and buy Pasture Raised brand from box stores.  


Related:: Why you should pay more for eggs and the difference in wording on the cartons.

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Nov 30, 2015

Elderberry Syrup: Remedy for Cold & Flu

image from Wikipedia
Homemade elderberry syrup is a part of my family's winter health regimen.  We each take a teaspoon a day (when I can remember!) When cold or flu symptoms appear we take up to 4 doses a day.  The syrup is soothing for a throat that is irritated from coughing.  My kids love the taste very much.

You can purchase elderberry syrup at Whole Foods or Amazon but it is much more cost effective to make your own.  You may recognize the berries, some people even wild harvest them.
Elderberries are known for their high values of vitamin A, B & C as well as their immune building properties and have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years for healing.

The day I made our year's worth of syrup (yes, it will keep for a year in the fridge if you use local, unprocessed honey), I stopped at Water Buffalo on Rodney Parham for 8oz of dried elderberries.  Water Buffalo is a brewing and gardening store.  You can also buy berries on line.

I followed this recipe from Wellness Mama and also read about it from The Healthy Home Economist, who drizzles it on pancakes.
I like to store the final syrup in a wide mouth mason jar.  You will want to stir the jar before spooning your daily dose.

Shortly after making this batch, my youngest children came down with something that resulted in coughs, fevers and occasional ear aches.  My daughter requested the magical onion for her sore ear.  I am amazed by the results -- and we escaped the doctor's office (and antibiotics), again!

I'm always on the hunt for home remedies that work.  Tell me, what is working for you these days?


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Nov 12, 2015

Cooking Class in My Kitchen

Chicken pot pie is a comfort food that many people love and it can be made very nourishing.  It is a recipe that is easy to double and freeze half.  

When: Monday, November 30, 2015 at 6:30pm
We will start by enjoying a hot chicken pot pie together.
Where: my kitchen, near I-430 & Rodney Parham
Cost: $30 per person, which includes a small chicken pot pie to take home
What to bring: The knife used most in your kitchen.

Some of the culinary topics covered:

- cooking / deboning a whole chicken
- taste testing: crock pot vs. oven roasted chicken
- knife skills
- bone broth basics and why homemade broth is so good for us
- creating cream of chicken / mushroom soup from scratch
- making a pie crust from scratch

Class size is limited to 6 people.  This would be a great class for mom and daughter to take together.  Or a fun gift to give to the person who has everything.  Contact me if you are interested in other group cooking lessons.

luvmyhub AT

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Nov 9, 2015

More About Natural Deodorants.

I love it when people give feedback to this blog.  I learn so much from you readers! There were some comments posted on my previous post about natural deodorant that I thought were worth posting again.  After reading a blog post, on another blog, I do not usually go back and read the comments and assuming the same for you.

The first comment is from the creator of the deodorant I am currently wearing.  (note: I am not compensated in any way for promoting this brand.)  I learned a few things in her comment:

O'Brenda November 7, 2015 at 11:02 AM

Thanks so much for mentioning my deodorant (Ziryab's Body Brew - named after the slave, musician and inventor who is credited with inventing deodorant among other things.) I started selling it because it changed my life.

However, it's good to know that some people can't wear baking soda deodorants as easily as others. My deodorant works by raising the alkaline under the arms so that the smelling acid-loving bacteria can't grow. Baking Soda is super effective because of its high alkaline level. Alum salt works the same way but its alkaline level is lower. I use a little in my Mineral Deodorant (an alternative for people who can't take the higher alkaline level of the original; deodorant) but focus on the high alkaline minerals of magnesium and calcium. I chose to add a little Alum because it is my understanding that unlike the Aluminum in antiperspirants which works by entering the pores and when wet, swells and plugs your pores, preventing you from sweating. I'm no scientist but I believe Alum works only by raising alkaline. Aluminum is the third most prevalent mineral on earth, so by itself, it probably doesn't pose too much of a health risk. That said, there is a great article here that stresses the need for us to reduce our exposure in other ways including environmental activism. Anyway, I will continue to research and decide whether to take Alum out entirely from Mineral Deo (there is none in my original deodorant featured here.)

When trying natural deodorants with baking soda, there is a chance you will rash either at first or sometime during your early use of it. If so, don't give up on the deodorant too quickly as there are things you can do like wear less, and as above, do not overlayer. You can also apply a soothing coconut oil or aloe on first and avoid use after shaving, Good luck to everyone in finding the perfect deodorant for you. There is one!

Another commenter wrote:

Tonya November 4, 2015 at 8:46 AM

I recently was reading that aluminum pans only secreted aluminum if they were scraped (like with a knife or metal utensil). It would be interesting to read more and see if there is more about this.

Another brand of natural deodorant to try:

mhutsell November 6, 2015 at 8:38 PM

My fav deodorant is Pit Paste. I have tried MANY kinds and always end up back at pit paste. It does not feel sticky going on, it smells nice (lavender is my fave), and works well. Like you, I have to reapply if I am going to be sweating a lot. By the end of the day if I haven't reapplied, I might notice a smell but then I just wash my pits before bed. Like you I prefer the hassle to the toxins!

Martin Eisele sent an email saying:

The Arm & Hammer product contains triclosan which is under review by the FDA. Animal studies have shown some links to hormone disruption, among other things, but inconclusive on humans.  Read more in this article.  Besides hand sanitizers and the like, you can find it in toothpastes such as Colgate. Conspiracy theorists claim it is a sister chemical to Agent Orange, but chemicals similar in structure may be completely different. Chemical, nonetheless.

Thanks everyone for your input!

Finally, after publishing the previous post, I thought of another way I reduce aluminum: by using aluminum-free baking powder. I buy Rumford brand (in the red can), which is also GMO-free.  The Kroger nearest me does not sell it anymore but some larger Krogers will sell it.  Otherwise, look for it at Whole Foods and Drug Emporium.

If all of this talk of toxins stresses you out, let me be the first to say: do what you can, when you can then rest knowing what you've done is good enough.  There is more to this world than stressing about what goes into your body.  Jesus said, "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth."

On the journey with you,

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Nov 3, 2015

Natural Deodorants:: A Review

It not unusual to talk with someone who has a loved one suffering from dementia.  Both of my grandmothers showed signs before passing on.  From the limited research I've done (please do your own), aluminum in the brain seems to be a common factor among Alzheimer patients.  Most every deodorant - antiperspirants in particular - are made with aluminum or some derivative (check your label).

If you apply antiperspirant every day, I'm thinking there is a possibility that antiperspirant could be contributing to the increase in aluminum deposits in the body.

[Just so our terms are similar: deodorant helps you smell better, antiperspirant keeps a person from sweating.  I recognize there are times when it isn't cool to sweat, like on your wedding day.  For the most part though, you should encourage sweating.  That is one way to remove toxins from the body.]

One baby step I am taking toward cleaner living is to reduce my intake of aluminum by choosing to wear deodorant without antiperspirant.  I have not found a "normal" or store bought women's deodorant without antiperspirant.

There are several men's deodorants without antiperspirant.  I have worn this on occasion but I don't really like smelling like men's cologne.

I've tried several natural deodorants.   None will ever have to stink-stay-away-power that a chemical laden antiperspirant wields.

Note: I am not a very sweaty person even when exerting.   Most of my life is in a climate controlled environment.  Plus the people closest to me are children who emit smells of their own.  I figure, what do I have to loose when experimenting with deodorants?  Believe me, I have experimented for years with varying amounts of success.  At the bottom of the post I will tell you my favorite natural deodorant.

Here is a bit of advice I can give for those who desire to make the switch to a more natural remedy.

Start with clean pits -- use soap and water, daily.  When I used conventional deodorant/anti-persperant there were occasional days when I would not shower but reapply.  Woah Nellie! You cannot get away with that trick when wearing natural deodorants.  Start with a clean slate everyday. Sometimes on super sweaty days I need to grab a washcloth mid-day and reapply.  That small inconvenience is one price I am willing to pay to keep toxins out of my body.

If I remember correctly, the first few days after switching from conventional antiperspirants to natural deodorants, the detox effect was particularly, um, pronounced.  As in, your body is working hard to detox through your pores and you might have a stronger body odor in the beginning.  Don't give up!  It doesn't last forever.  The winter (now!) is a perfect time to make the switch.  In fact, there have been winters where I have not worn any deodorant at all.  I'm keepin' it real today!

When trying to decide which natural deodorant to use, the first step is similar to eating packaged food.  Flip it over and read the ingredient label.  Above is Burt's Bees, a container I bought at the beginning of my journey and knew next to nothing.  For those of you who have essential oils, you can make this one.  But it didn't work for me.  At all.  It smells nice when applying though.

Below is a product from Arm & Hammer that I can buy at Kroger for about $1.  For the most part, I like its effectiveness.  I don't like the long list of ingredients.  Aluminum and parabens aren't mentioned but there are several other shady ingredients.  I have used this deodorant on and off for years.
[EDIT: a reader wrote to say:
 The Arm & Hammer product contains triclosan which is under review by the FDA. Animal studies have shown some links to hormone disruption, among other things, but inconclusive on humans. Read more here.  Besides hand sanitizers and the like, you can find it in toothpastes such as Colgate. Conspiracy theorists claim it is a sister chemical to Agent Orange, but chemicals similar in structure may be completely different. Chemical, nonetheless.   -- Martin Eisele]

The next product is local.  Everything I've purchased from Tammy Sue I love.  This deodorant worked well for me - I love her ingredients.  However, the price point was a little high at $7.
Recently a friend emailed me to tell me about the below deodorant she has been buying on Etsy.  It was recommended by her naturopath.  I read some of the reviews and decided to give it a try.  I'm sold.  And, I've even convinced my husband to wear it!  The pictured 2 oz travel size liquid bottle costs $5 has worked for my husband and I for a couple months and we have several more weeks usage left.  I like it so much I just ordered a 16oz refill.

What about a crystal rock like this one?  The website rightly states there is no aluminum in the crystal.  However, this article explains that alum contains aluminum and if you want to avoid aluminum in your bloodstream, you should avoid the crystal deodorants.

Other places to reduce your aluminum intake: I don't use aluminum cookware in my kitchen.  I will, however, use aluminum over food and I will cook on occasion in disposable aluminum pans.  I also use aluminum-free baking powder.  Look for the red can of Rumford brand.

My husband and I are also refusing vaccines for our children (yes, there is aluminum in vaccines -- going directly to your blood stream ---scary!!  A two month old vaccinated baby will have 705-2125mcg aluminum in their blood stream, by 18 months a fully vaccinated child will have 2795-6830mcg of aluminum.  Read more stats here.  PLEASE EDUCATE before you vaccinate.)

As for homemade deodorants: I've made a few recipes and was never satisfied for various reasons.  If you have one that works for you --WAHOO!  A friend of mine uses equal parts coconut oil and arrowroot powder.  I tried this for a few days and liked the results.  I didn't have problems with stains on my clothes.  My complaint was more along the lines of messy application.

Have you tried any of the ones pictured above?  Do you have a solution that you could share?


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Aug 24, 2015

Natural Remedy for Ear Aches

My children have never had ear infections (that I can think of).  That all changed Friday night when my 5-year old started to complain of an ear ache while we were at the pool.  It seems that this time of year swimmers ear is common at our pool.  Not sure why.

My husband took her home after I'd given him instructions to put peroxide in her ear first.  We usually use alcohol to dry up the water after swimming but she has scabs inside her ear and wouldn't let us use alcohol because it burns.  I've also heard of white vinegar used in the ears after swimming to combat swimmers ear.

For ear aches (or any other minor aches) we use lavender essential oil.  My husband rubbed lavender on the outside and around the ear.  I also recommended a warm compress.  He heated a rice bag until warm and applied it to her ear.  

These things brought some comfort but by the time I got home from the pool with the boys she was crying from pain.

After texting another naturally minded momma for ideas, the remedy that came back sounded so strange: steam an onion.

I was desperate for my baby to have relief so I was willing to try anything.  Even crazy home remedies.

How to Juice An Onion
In a small saucepan with a lid, over low heat I warmed a couple tablespoons of olive oil then added half an onion, cut side in the olive oil.  I steamed the onion for several minutes until it seemed the onion was soft through.  Not completely falling-apart-mushy, just soft.

When the onion was cool to the touch (so as not to burn myself when I picked it up with bare hands), I covered the onion with an old rag.

The next part of this story is not an exaggeration.

My daughter was crying, sobbing with tears running down her face.  I placed the warm onion on her ear and within a minute she had fallen asleep.  It was crazy.  Bizarre.  If I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes, I might not have believed it.  [That is precisely what my remedy-momma-friend told me to expect.]

I walked to the next room and asked my 11 year old son if he had heard the crying.  Of course he did. I told him that Sister was now asleep.  He couldn't believe it either.  She slept through the night.

The next day she didn't complain at all about her ear hurting.

That night was a different story.  She was up several times complaining of ear ache.  I tried lavender oil which brought some relief but she was still in pain.  I had thrown away the onion from the previous night (and didn't want to steam another onion at 2am).  In my arsenal however, I had the onion juice in olive oil in a syringe.  I dropped a few drops in her ears (both ears hurt the second night) and almost instantly she was back asleep again.  Crazy I tell you!  I can't remember if I had to do that 3 or 4 times --things are foggy in the night.  With confidence I can say that each time after applying the onion oil she was asleep within 30 seconds.

The next morning, she told us that she had been cured by "magical onions."

I read similar story here (be sure to read the comments for other testimonies).

What do you think?  Is this a coincidence?  Will you try steamed onions the next time?

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor but I play one at home and practice non-toxic remedies on my family.  

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Aug 23, 2015

Okra Season!

Last week I pickled some okra from Rattle's Garden.  Actually, I lacto-fermented them to boost their nutritional value.  I followed a recipe similar to my pickle recipe by making a simple brine and adding starter juice from Bubbies pickles or sauerkraut.  I used horseradish leaves again for tannins to help keep the okra crispy.  The dill from my garden is long gone so I used dried dill.  Not wanting to make another trip to the grocery, I re-used (fermented again?) garlic from a previous batch of pickles.  They still had potency!

As you can see from the picture above, I weighted the okra with a smaller jar, filled with water.  Otherwise the okra was floating out of the brine.  It needs to stay submerged.  

End result?  I liked them.  My 2.5 year old liked them.  The other members of my family were not fans.  Not everybody likes the okra.  

However, if you like okra be sure to try out these recipes that we've posted on the blog before -

Ginger Peach Gumbo - use purple hull peas for bonus!


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Jun 5, 2015

Easy Pickle Making (Canning Not Required)

If you like pickles, go to the farmers market and grab some cucumbers.  Make this recipe ASAP.  
I made them by lacto-fermentation, which means they are power packed with probiotics.  It's a rather easy method as you will see below.

4 Reasons to Ferment Veggies

1.  Ferments build your immune system with probiotics to fight the bad bugs in your belly.
2.  Ferments provide digestive support (especially as we age, our digestive systems slow.)
3.  Ferments create enzymes that enable your body to assimilate nutrients (i.e. incorporate the healthy food you eat!)
4.  Fermenting is fun!  And easy! And you don't have to boil water and make your kitchen a sauna to get the job done.

dill, fresh or dried
other spices - mustard seed, red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, whole cloves
sea salt (iodized salt is antibacterial, we are trying to encourage bacteria to grow!)
non-chlorinated water (again, trying to grow bacteria!)
starter (I prefer using juice from either Bubbies pickles or sauerkraut)

*Local and organic produce is best.  By using local, you are getting peak freshness.  I recommend organic because the process of fermentation makes food easier to digest (see reason #2, above).  If the food is easier to digest, then any chemicals used on the veggies will be easier to digest, too.  I don't want to be digesting chemicals.  Use organic when fermenting.

**Below are the tannins I used: horseradish and oak leaves.  Pictured on the right is fresh dill (all from my garden!)
I really liked the flavor the horseradish imparted to the pickles.  However, oak is just fine, too.  You can also use grape leaves for tannins.  You definitely want to use some kind of tannin, otherwise you will have flabby pickles.

I basically used this recipe from Cultures for Health.  I didn't have mustard seed.  Other spices I used were 2 large cloves of garlic, two sprigs of dill, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a few black peppercorns.  I followed the recipe except, I used about 1/4 cup of Bubbies juice to the half gallon jar of ferment to act as a starter.  In the quart jar, I used about 2T of Bubbies juice.  Cultures for Health doesn't mention using a starter in that recipe, but in my experience, using a starter helps to achieve a consistent and palatable flavor.

In the half gallon I used less red pepper, more oak leaves and some horseradish.   The quart jar was spicier and only used horseradish for tannins (no oak leaves).  There is a subtle oak flavor when using oak leaves, emphasis on subtle.  If I didn't tell you about the oak, you probably couldn't put your finger on it.

The picture on the left is just after assembly, the one on the right is 36 hours later.  Notice how the brine is becoming cloudier.  That means magic is happening in the jar.

 You'll see in the picture below that on the third day the jar is even cloudier.  If your kitchen is warmer than 70*, I recommend fermenting in a cooler with a block of ice (not touching).  Ferments prefer to do their magic in the 60-70* range.  Anything warmer than that can cause an imbalance of proper bacteria.  Read more about warm weather care for ferments here.  Here you will find more tips for crunchier lacto-fermented pickles.
They taste just like Bubbies brand.  One of my taste testers went so far as to say they were better.

Don't just take my word for it.  Go make some!

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Jun 2, 2015

Good Fats in My Kitchen

Thankfully the skinny is out on the low-fat diet trend.  People are opening their eyes to the wisdom of healthy traditional cultures who eat great amounts of saturated fats.  

Fat is what makes food taste good.  And it's what helps stabilize your hormones and blood sugars.  Oh, and did you know if you dehydrated your brain, half of it would be ...wait for it...FAT.  Growing children need lots of good fat.  Hormonal women need fat.  Want to think clearly?  Eat fat.  Trying to loose weight?  Eat fat.

As I was making pancakes one day, it dawned on me to write a blog post about the different kind of fats I use in the kitchen. (However, putting that thought into action has taken a month...or two.)

In no particular order, here are a few pictures and reasons I use each of these fats.

Pork Lard is excellent for frying as it lends itself well to high heat.  I don't recommend lard from the grocery store, as it has been hydrogenated for a longer shelf life.  This industrialized process deems it very unhealthy.  

Buy lard from a local farmer or render some yourself, it isn't difficult. Pigs that roam outdoors absorb vitamin D from the sun and this vitamin D is passed along to me (as opposed to industrial pork that never sees the light of day).  Eat lard and don't feel guilty.  Freckle Face Farm is usually at the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Saturdays.
With lard, I like to deep fry falafel, fry pancakes on the griddle, frying potatoes, making tortillas, pie crusts and even biscuits.  Some people like to pop their popcorn in lard.  However, I prefer to pop mine in a combination of coconut oil and palm oil (below, palm oil is the reddish orange oil).  Movie popcorn originally used palm oil (thus the nice orange color of popcorn at the theater).
Coconut oil can be used in baking or frying.  Unrefined coconut oil will impart a bit of a coconut flavor, whereas lard is a neutrally flavored fat.  I have purchased gallons coconut oil from Tropical Traditions and Mountain Rose Herbs and prefer the latter.

Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat.  If you roast a chicken, or cook one in a crock pot, the fat that rises to the top of the broth is schmaltz.  It can be skimmed and used for frying and lower temperatures.  I like to sauté veggies, especially onions in schmaltz.
Butter - oh man, do we eat some butter.  In the winter it seems we eat almost twice as much as the rest of the year.  It is not uncommon for our family of 5 to eat 2 pounds a week.  We slather butter on most anything (my husband has been known to put it on bananas!)  One of the many benefits of butter is that it is already packaged in handy proportions.  You will find conventional butter (not organic) in my fridge most days because I'd break the bank buying organic butter.  The way I figure it, the majority of my family's fats are from clean, local sources so I don't feel guilty about buying conventional butter.  I buy organic butter occasionally - esp. if it is on sale.

Not pictured:
Tallow - rendered beef fat can be used similarly as pork lard.  Currently I do not have any in my kitchen but when I do, we like to fry potatoes in it.

Bacon grease -  It's like gold.  I save it in a jar in the fridge - it will keep for months.  My favorite application is to flavor sautéed kale or fry eggs (lard is good for eggs too).  I've even used bacon grease to make a maple/bacon salad dressing.  Bacon is good on everything. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - I buy at least a gallon a year from Chaffin Family Orchards and use it for salad dressing and mayonnaise.

For salads, we also add nuts, cheese and avocado for more satiating power.

Toasted Expeller Pressed Sesame Oil - frying Asian inspired foods at higher temps and in salad dressing.  I use it sparingly because the flavor can be quite strong.

Grapeseed Oil - this isn't a super healthy oil but it has a neutral flavor and I feel it is better for me than canola oil.  I use equal portions of grape seed and olive oil when making mayonnaise.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil from Green Pasture.  These are used as supplements (aka vitamins). 

Which fats have I forgotten?  Do you have a favorite?

Eat some healthy fat at every meal,

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May 30, 2015

Tip for Fresh (& Organic!) Veggies

The sight of insects or worms can be unnerving if you aren't used to seeing them in your produce.    Grocery store produce has been washed throughly and is often sterile.  Whereas local produce will have a bit more, shall I say... character

This week in my local veggies, cabbage worms (caterpillars) greeted me.  Upon seeing them, I gave thanks that my farmer wasn't using chemicals to fight the bad guys.  I could fight them in the sink. 

I texted several of my friends, warning them about the crawlies, and encouraged them to eat the broccoli soon. 
One friend texted back with sage wisdom.  In the event you find crawlies in your veggies this summer I'll share her words.  She said, "Mom used to soak veggies in a sink of salt water which would make the worms crawl to the top."

Makes sense to me.  And I tried it - it works.  Once visible, I flicked 'em back in the water where they died.  Soaking in salt water is a bit more laborious than just picking and squishing.  But if squishing gives you the jeebies then try salt water. 
And the next time you see bugs (or bug marks) on your produce from a farmers market, give thanks for chemical-free food!


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