Dec 29, 2010

Baby's First Foods: Yogurt

She's almost 8 months old and is scarfing down the yogurt - which boosts the beneficial bacteria in her belly that helps to fight cold and flu viruses floating around.

Today's was flavored with a mashed banana. Babies and adults alike need full-fat yogurt (not low fat varieties) for brain function and development. Plain is a great option because it can be flavored with virtually anything.

I happened to score full-fat plain Greek yogurt at my mother-in-law's grocery store. Anyone found it in Little Rock?


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Homemade Shampoo

It's not really all that crazy when you think about it. Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of a bottle of shampoo? If I can't pronounce it or have any inkling what part of God's creation it came from, then I have a hard time putting it on my head, the house for my brain. Do I make everything homemade? Uh...(hahahaha!) But because, for years, I scoured the countryside (granted, an exaggeration) looking for hair care products for my children that did not contain cancer-causing parabens (among other awful ingredients), and when I didn't have just a whole lot of luck, I finally came to the realization that it can't be that hard to make myself. And, oh yeah, it helps to read a really great blog called Passionate Homemaking, written by a really clever au naturel gal who tries these things out and then vouches for them. 

My entire family started using this homemade shampoo back around March and, after all this time, I can safely and confidently say that it is good stuff. It lathers. It cleans well. It rinses out easily and beautifully! It saves us money. It doesn't cause me to fret over what chemicals are being absorbed into my beloved family members' largest organ--their skin! And I can't foresee us ever going back to the bottled kind.

So here's how it's done.

You'll need:

3/4 Tablespoon tea tree essential oil and Vitamin E essential oil (a combined 3/4 Tablespoon, that is)
1/4 cup water

I just funnel all the necessary ingredients into a spray bottle. (This shampoo must be sprayed on, as it's very liquidy--nothing like traditional shampoos.) You'll need a decent spray bottle. And voila! That's all there is to it.

Using the baby mild soap means you can use it "across the board" at your house (from Daddy to baby), but it's also unscented, which is a good thing since the tea tree oil is pretty strong all by itself. I actually like the invigorating effect the scent has on me, especially since, on any given morning, I'm the bleary-eyed mama trying to face a day of cleaning and corralling after not much sleep. Ahem... It helps me wake up a bit.  ;)

Originally posted at The Davidson Den, today's post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.


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Dec 25, 2010

How to Spend Your Gift Cards

If you got a gift card for Christmas, whether from Kohl's, Target, Williams and Sonoma, Amazon or elsewhere - below I've listed a few ideas of how you could use it in your real food kitchen.

immersible blender for making soups, refried beans, lacto-fermented mayonnaise, eggnog.

Nourishing Traditions - excellent book.Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

pyrex bowls or storage containers - I love Love LOVE mine.  I use them. All. the. time.  I love that they have lids.  I love that they can be used in the oven and freezer.

a good sharp knife - I have a Global chef's knife and a Henckels paring knife.

Pampered Chef stone - I use the pizza stone and the bar pan a lot.

Cast iron skillet - like your grandma had. I've seen them at yard sales, Goodwill, and already seasoned at WalMart.

Got cash?
Use it to buy quality unrefined coconut or olive oil, or maybe even pastured meats from a local farmer.  Fermented cod liver oil is another healthy - but not so tasty option.

Let us know what you decide to buy!


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Dec 24, 2010

Collard Greens

She likes them.

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Dec 23, 2010

New Azure Delivery Location in Central Arkansas

If you're unfamiliar with Azure Standard, and would like to save money on bulk and natural foods - keep reading...

Little Rock, Benton, Maumelle and Conway have a bulk ordering option.  It is called Azure Standard which delivers via semi-truck once a month.  I ordered for the first time in April 2010 and was pleased with the prices, quality, and service.  The pick-up was organized and quick.
In many instances, I could buy organic cheaper than conventional at Kroger or WalMart.  Along with bulk grains they offer fresh produce, frozen items, dairy, bulk grains and host of other things (think: what could I buy at Whole Foods? - but cheaper.).  EDIT:: Here's a list of what I buy.
You can place an order directly from their website or you can request a paper catalog to be sent to your home.  See what Lisa orders here.
If you want to order, go to the website and set up an account.  You will be sent an e-mail telling how to activate your account.  (I never got an e-mail so I called and a very pleasant representative activated it for me).  After the account is activated you can view all the inventory and prices.  You can put anything you are interested in into a “favorites” basket, then go back later to decide what items you want to put in your cart.  
When you check out you will need a truck code which depends on where you’d like to pick up your order. 

I try to keep this list updated. If anyone has new information please email me:
 luvmyhub AT gmail DOT com

Maumelle pickup is at New Life Church (8000 Crystal Hill Rd.), not far from the 430 exit. Leah is the coordinator of that drop point.  Email her {indianheadlake AT} to find out the code you will need to order.

West Little Rock (WLR) pick up is in the south east corner of the parking lot of FamilyLife at 5800 Ranch Dr (can be seen off Hwy 10 near the Bible Church). The coordinator there is Debra Richardson.  Email her {deb-bryanrich AT juno DOT com} to find out the ordering code for WLR.

Conway: Contact Tracy McNair: mcnairfamily AT hughes DOT net if you order for the Conway delivery - in a vacant parking lot on Dave Ward Road and Highway 286 at Amity Road.

Bentonat Gateway Church, 1201 W. Longhills Rd.  The new drop coordinator is Traci Craft:   tracinotes AT aol DOT com
  •  Items are paid for on-line. CODs are not accepted.  Azure has an 8.5% delivery charge for purchases on our route but they do not charge sales tax.  
  • When the weather is warm, arrive on time so that your order doesn’t bake in the sun.  
  • The drop site coordinator is notified of delays, one of the reasons you would want to email one of the women, above.   
  • Each participant picks up their own order, unless they arrange for someone else to do it. If you do not make it to the drop site in time to pick up your order, the site coordinator will take your order to her home.  There is a 5% fee for this service.
  • If your order is less than $50, there is a $5 surcharge.  Or, avoid this by combining your order with a friend's. 
  • The driver unloads the food for the drop site.  It is then sorted and divided up and loaded into vehicles by those who meet the truck.
  •  When I’ve ordered something that didn't come on the truck (it was out of stock), my credit card was not charged.


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Dec 22, 2010

Food Safety Bill Passed by Both Senate and House

I'm sorry to report that the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act has now passed both the Senate and the House and will become law after the President's signature. You can read the details here on how this bill was passed in spite of all the controversy surrounding it.

Thank you to everyone who sent e-mails and made phone calls letting our representatives know how we feel about protecting our local food supply. There are varying opinions on the danger this measure poses to our small local farmers. One of the best things we can do now is to keep the demand for fresh quality local food high.


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Dec 21, 2010

Food Safety Bill Underhandly Passed by Senate:

Keeping up with the latest news on the food safety legislation is a challenge with all the swift manuvering going on. The Alliance for Natural Health has been very quick to send me updates, with the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund not far behind. Both of these organizations as well as the Weston A. Price Foundation do NOT support the food safety bill because of the amount of discretionary power it gives to the FDA.

The latest news is that the Senate stuck the food safety bill onto an unrelated bill, H.R. 2751, the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act. Where it passed unanimously. Now it goes to the house. It may be voted on by the House as early as today. You can click this link from the Alliance for Natural Health to send the message below to Nancy Pelosi and your representative.

You can also get information and contact directions from the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense fund here.


I was shocked to learn that late Sunday night, the Senate tacked the language of its Food Safety bill (S.510) onto one of your own bills, H.R. 2751, as Senate amendment SA 4890, then passed it with a unanimous consent agreement. This bill will not make our food one bit safer, but will forever transform the food and farming industries for the worse. And it will have a devastating effect on small food producers, like organic farms or mom-and-pop roadside stands.Now the bill is in your hands. I am begging you--please strip H.R. 2751 of this terrible Food Safety amendment!

I understand there is a possibility that it may be brought up "under suspension," but please don't! Please let the Food Safety issue be raised only under regular order--our citizens need to make their voices heard, and this cannot be done with expedited procedures, or with underhanded maneuvers like the one the Senate employed to get this bill pushed through without anyone noticing!

Please make sure the Food Safety bill language is not attached to any other bill, either. This is an issue that affects me and my family intimately. It affects our health, our very lives. Please don't allow it to be pushed through in such a devious way! The Senate's actions, passing such important legislation by sneaking it into a recycling bill, at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night when they thought no one was watching, were unconscionable.

I am ashamed that my senators acted so dishonorably. Please don't allow the House of Representatives to take a similarly untrustworthy action.

While I am pleased that the exemption for supplements from Codex language and the Tester amendment that protects small farms from some of the bill's provisions remain intact, this bill would make a terrible change in the language of the federal FD&C Act. Currently, if an FDA inspector "has credible evidence or information" that something in a food facility "presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals," the inspector may order that item be "detained"--that is, prohibit its sale. But under this bill, the inspector can detain any product if he or she "has reason to believe that such article is adulterated or misbranded."

The FDA says a food or supplement may be deemed "adulterated" if there have been any record-keeping violations. They have demonstrated that "misbranded" can mean that the producer makes a completely true statement about the product but without FDA permission.
So when the FDA is inspecting a facility, if they merely believe an item is misbranded or adulterated--no concrete evidence is required--they can confiscate all of that product. If there is a suspected record-keeping error for a supplement, the entire stock can be taken by the FDA.

This is outrageous.I'm also concerned that all facilities will be inspected much more frequently--particularly the low-risk facilities. The FDA will need to hire an additional 5,000 employees to do all the inspections--and the FDA will be so bogged down inspecting all the smaller operations that they won't have time to focus on the big guys--where the actual food safety problems arise.
Under this bill, if the FDA finds there to be a reasonable probability that a product may cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, the FDA may suspend that facility's registration, effectively shutting it down. This seems reasonable, but there is only one informal opportunity for companies to reinstate registration, with no opportunity whatsoever to appeal--they are at the mercy of an FDA inspector's whim.

The FDA currently has all the regulatory authority it needs to keep our nation's food safe. More to the point, the FDA needs to focus on large producers--particularly the CAFOs--not waste its time creating harsh new regulations for small farmers and businesses.

As my representative and my leaders in Congress, you are my voice--please make sure the Food Safety Act does not become law just because it was attached to some unrelated last-minute legislation!

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Dec 19, 2010

Future Guacamole Queen

Tonight's dinner: mashed avocado with Real Salt. She gobbled it up.

I had to mash seconds and thirds. Since she's a beginning eater, I added water to thin it out. You could also add chicken broth.

It's been her favorite so far.

I can't say guacamole without thinking of this YouTube video.  Love Rhett and Link.
Warning - it's a catchy tune.

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Dec 15, 2010

Quick! I Have to Bring (Real) Food!

Cooking the "real food" way does have its drawbacks.

1. People often think you're weird.

2. You often have to explain the whys and wherefores of the ingredients in a dish.

3. Cooking, in general, takes a little longer than America's standard "3 minutes in the microwave."

4. Things take more imagination than what can be contained in a cardboard box.

5. And non-real food-eating families usually have kids who subsist on Chicken McNuggets and Kraft Mac-n-Cheese alone and will turn their noses up to whatever you serve.

That's just the way it is. And while I don't have a problem with explaining myself to people (hey, they may just learn something and take a tiny baby step toward eating healthier), it's not always practical when it comes to all the many and varied social gatherings to which we get invited. Besides, when the gatherings ARE many and varied (Helloooo??! Anyone notice the holidays are now upon us?), well...frankly, who has the time? I need something quick and easy and painless and preferably that doesn't freak others out. BUT I'm not willing to sacrifice my own foodie principles for a social shindig. (Let's remember my family and I will need to have something reasonably healthy to eat ourselves while there!)


What's a momma/grandmama/wife/lady/(guy?) to do?! Well, I've compiled a few suggestions from fellow foodies, plus some of my own. Hopefully these will help you relax a little when it comes to the stresses in life, at least where social eating is concerned...

Cheese and crackers. Slice up some raw cheese. Or just bring the whole block along with a slicer for self-service! And bring along your favorite crackers. Maybe you're awesome and make them homemade. Or make a cheese ball. Get creative and come up with your own interesting additions. People love the classic cream cheese block with pepper jelly on top. I make a pineapple cheese ball, which sounds sort of gross but is absolutely to-die-for! Stay tuned. Maybe I'll be generous and share it with ya. Maybe.

Baked goods. I especially like things I can make ahead of time and freeze until the event. Like soaked oatmeal cookies. Or just make the tried-and-true Tollhouse cookies, but do them with Sucanat instead of sugar. Or bring along a batch of Brookies. (Not just a breakfast food.) My kids liked this chocolate cake recipe. I made it as cupcakes. (They freeze well, too.) Or bake some fruit. Ever had a baked apple? Oh, my goodness. My mom used to make them in the fall and winter. I have such good, yummy memories about them. Core an apple and then stuff it with butter, cinnamon, and sugar (or other natural sweetener). And then bake until tender and bubbling. Or make a fruit-filled pie or fruit crisp. My rhubarb crisp is out-of-this-world! (Goodness. There I go teasing you again. Hmmm... Another recipe to share, I suppose.) I made an apple crisp one night for my kids. It was their "special-treat-'cause-Daddy's-gone" dinner!! (Sometimes one needs to indulge a bit...) Organic cinnamon, Sucanat, a little flour, a little water for steaming, and lots of butter! Does that sound good or what?

Chips and Dip.  I make bean burritos at my house (for quick, easy dinners). They consist mostly of refried beans (sometimes homemade, sometimes not), shredded cheese, and sour cream. And if I'm feeling ultra-guilty about vitamins, etc. I might shred a carrot and sprinkle a little of that in, too. But I say all this to say that Julie once brought the very same combination to my house...only--just wait until you get the genius of this--she layered it in a dish and baked it until the cheese was bubbly and melted. THEN. She served it with tortilla chips!! Yes. She did. Now why didn't I think of that?! It was scrum-diddly-umptious, too. Takes maybe ten minutes. And that counts the grabbing of the bag of chips. Of course, you can always make hummus. That's a definite party-pleaser. It's especially good this time of year with roasted red peppers...IMO. Mmmmm! Another popular treat is artichoke dip (with or without spinach). Mix lots of mayonnaise, freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, salt to taste, and finely-chopped artichoke hearts together and bake until bubbling. Serve with crackers or chips. And there's always guacamole! (I never miss an opportunity to dip my chip into some good ol' green goodness.) Grab a couple of ripe avocados. Fork mash in a shallow dish and stir in some Real garlic salt and about a quarter cup of your favorite salsa (chunky or otherwise). That's the quick, last-minute way to do it. No need to chop anything and certainly no need for that scary packet of powdered chemicals they sell at the grocery store!

Popcorn. Quick, cheap, and goooooood. Cook yours on the stovetop in coconut oil. You can drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with Real Salt and then listen as everybody oohs and ahhs over it. Or just go with the salt (if you're at all worried about tiny, buttery fingers being wiped all over someone else's upholstery). Was that a bit of a confession on my part?? Kick the popcorn up a notch and make it caramel popcorn. Especially a favorite this time of year. It's frugal, it's easy, and you probably have all these ingredients on hand at any given moment.

Eggs. If you like 'em, devil 'em. I'm not a fan, but my kids and many, many other fellow Southerners find deviled eggs quite comforting. I'll just take straight-up hard-boiled eggs and a salt shaker myself. Which wouldn't be an entirely awful thing to bring.

Fruit. You can almost never go wrong there. Kids and adults alike will eat fruit. You can peel, chop, cut, skewer, garnish, etc. to your heart's content. But I'd go for several bunches of grapes washed and in a pretty bowl. Voila! And it took you all of twenty seconds. If I have a little more time, I'll core and slice apples and serve them with a dish of natural peanut butter. Everybody loves that combo.!

Fresh baked bread. You can't go wrong with fresh bread! (Mmmmm...I love me some sourdough...) Serve your bread with lots of butter. HB posted her recipe here. And Lisa makes a mean sprouted-flour loaf (my kids couldn't eat enough!) with the most basic of ingredients. I even have documentation!!

Sneaky, aren't I?

Sandwiches. I do so hate making more than...I don't know...three to four sandwiches at a time, but if you have any little helpers (elves?) hanging around your house, you could make short order of the chore. Peanut butter and honey is classic and healthy. Or cream cheese with fresh dill mixed in and combined with sliced cucumbers. Or you could get extra fancy and serve toasted bagels with self-serve cream cheese, smoked wild-caught salmon, and capers. Yum! You could even make some black bean burgers and cut them into fourths for a unique sandwich presentation.

Pizza. Make it homemade. You can control the toppings. Use lots of raw cheese! I've noticed my raw cheese melts really well! Pizza doesn't take long to bake and still tastes relatively good after sitting out a bit, depending on your toppings, etc. It also makes a great finger food, sliced accordingly. And, duh, kids love it.

Veggie tray. Celery sticks, broccoli florets, sliced carrots, grape tomatoes, etc. Serve with homemade dressing for dipping. Of course, I don't know why you couldn't serve a tray of roasted Brussels sprouts (my favorite way to eat them), baked sweet potato fries (I take these all. the. time.), or Kale Krisps broken into finger-food-size pieces.

Salads. A great stand-by. Buy local greens, whip up some quick, homemade salad dressing, and toss in some fun toppings. Years ago I learned, in the cookbook How to Cook Without a Book, to choose only two or three additions: I like to include a protein (cheese, egg, meat, etc.), a fruit or veggie (tomato, onion, apple, etc.), and something crunchy (homemade croutons, nuts, sunflower seeds, etc.). Keep it simple. Or you could make a soaked quinoa salad, tabbouleh, or something similar. My family likes this couscous salad recipe, which is quite a bit milder than tabbouleh, but has a similar consistency.

Nuts and dried fruit. Bring some of your homemade granola (I use this recipe) or make a trail mix with crispy nuts, raisins, and other favorite nibbles. One time all I had time to do was dump some raisins and dried cranberries into a dish! Life went on, and by the way, the dish was completely empty when the event was over.

In case you'd like to get all fancy schmancy, be sure to check out this post, where you can find lots of great gluten-free appetizer recipes. Whatever you decide to bring, though, the most important advice I can give on this topic is to relax. You can still stick to your principles and participate in social events, even when you're bringing food to share. It doesn't have to be extravagant or involved. And when you get there, just remember the 80/20 rule: try to eat well 80% of the time; the other 20% of the time, give yourself a break and enjoy the food that others bring. It's okay.


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Dec 14, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

Macaroons are simple cookies that are easy to make and relatively good for you. {wink wink}

This time of year I find myself with an abundance of egg whites (from using the yolks for egg nog).  What's a girl to do?  I must make macaroons!

2 3/4 cups shredded coconut
2/3 cup sugar  (if using sweetened coconut decrease or omit sugar)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 t salt
4 egg whites (or 1/2 cup)
1/2 t almond extract or vanilla

Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl, stir well.  Add egg whites and extract, stir well.  Drop by teaspoonfuls on greased baking sheets or parchment paper push in almonds.  If you want to be doubly naughty, add some chocolate chips.

Bake at 325 for 22 minutes or until golden (watch close!) Remove immediately to cool.


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Dec 10, 2010

Baby's First Foods

I had a fussy baby while I tried to make dinner this week. I sat her on the counter and gave her a slice of dried canteloupe, from The Russian Farmer.

I bought it last Saturday at Argenta. (Yep, there are a few renegade farmers that sell there on Saturdays. I also bought lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, and persimmons.)

She eats it like beef jerky. Well, slobbers on it is a better description. It was too sweet for me.

But my 7 month old loved it. When she was finished (I took it away before she was finished, not wanting her to choke on it) it felt like a wet fish. *grin*

And today she ate puréed acorn squash (from Kellogg Valley Farms) with coconut cream and a dash of Real Salt.


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The Fight Continues: Food Safety Bill

From the Allinance for Natural Health:

On December 8, the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) H.R.3082. A CR is supposed to provide temporary, stopgap funding for the government while budget bills are worked out. But this CR included the language of the Senate food safety bill—language that will still affect small food producers (organic farms, small farms, mom-and-pop roadside stands, etc.) most of all. It will completely transform the food and farming industries—for the worse.

Putting the text of another bill into a CR is a prime example of the way Congress operates. It is ethically wrong; indeed it is an example of corruption. We saw this kind of slight of hand in the passage of the health reform legislation, and the American public should be fed up with it.

Now this House CR goes back to the Senate, which is expected to pick it up by the middle of next week. The rumor is that instead of dealing with the CR directly, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) will introduce the Senate’s own omnibus bill (even larger than the CR) that will also contain the food safety language along and who knows what else.

Three specific concerns remain, all major:

1. The bill mandates that every registered facility must be inspected by the FDA: high-risk facilities will be inspected initially within the first five years and then every three years thereafter; low-risk facilities, initially within seven years, and then every five. The FDA will need to hire an additional 5,000 employees to do all the inspections. Big companies love this, because the FDA will be so bogged down inspecting all the smaller operations that they won’t have time to focus on the big guys—where the actual food safety problems arise. Food safety legislation should be targeted at the large industrial farms, but, no surprise, this bill does just the opposite.

2. Language in the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act currently reads:
An officer or qualified employee of the Food and Drug Administration may order the detention, in accordance with this subsection, of any article of food that is found during an inspection, examination, or investigation under this chapter conducted by such officer or qualified employee, if the officer or qualified employee has credible evidence or information indicating that such article presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.

Under this bill, the boldfaced text above would be changed to:

if the officer or qualified employee has reason to believe that such article is adulterated or misbranded. And remember, as interpreted by the FDA, a food or supplement may be deemed “adulterated” if there have been any record-keeping violations. “Misbranded” can mean that the producer makes a completely true statement about the product but without FDA permission.

So when the FDA is inspecting a facility, if they merely believe an item is misbranded or adulterated—no concrete evidence is required—they can confiscate all of that product. If there is a suspected record-keeping error for a supplement, the entire stock can be taken by the FDA.

3. A company has to be registered to operate. Under this bill, if the FDA finds there to be a reasonable probability that a product may cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, the FDA may suspend that facility’s registration, effectively shutting it down. This seems reasonable, but there is only one informal opportunity for companies to reinstate registration, with no opportunity whatsoever to appeal—they are at the mercy of an FDA inspector’s whim. This should not be allowed in America.

Why does all of this matter? Keep in mind the FDA has consistently done Big Pharma’s bidding and has attacked supplement companies and small food producers (such as the cherry and walnut growers). The bill gives the FDA unbridled authority to ratchet things up even further. The FDA needs to focus on large producers, not get its tentacles onto small producers.

Please contact your senators TODAY and ask them to oppose the food safety bill language that is currently in the CR (though it might be found in the omnibus bill next week). This may be our last chance to defeat this bill—please take action immediately!

Here's some contact information and a petition from the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

TAKE ACTION People need to contact their Senators now to tell them to Vote "NO" on Cloture for H.R. 3082 and Oppose the "FDA Food Safety Modernization Act" (Division D of H.R. 3082).

STEP 1 - Send a live fax message to your Senators through the online petition at even if you've already used the petition this week.

STEP 2 - Call your Senators and be sure to give your zip code
Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121; ask to be connected to your Senator's office. OR
Go to; enter your zip code on the right side under "Get Involved" and click "Go". Click on your Senators' names then click the "Contact" tab to get office phone number(s). If you get voicemail, leave a brief message with your zip code. If the line is busy, keep calling until you get through.


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Dec 9, 2010

Winter Health Linky Love

Are you afraid to eat liver because you think of that organ as the body's toxin storehouse? Read this explanation and be sure to study the chart comparing the vast difference in supplied vitamins and minerals in liver to fruits and veggies. Makes me want to jump in the liver game with both feet.

Suffering from a cold yet? Yep. That would be me. If you had a house full of runny-nose little kids, it would be you, too! I just read Dr. Mercola's article on beating and preventing the common cold. You list-makers out there will love it. Check off all the things you're already doing and add a few more. Raw milk? Check. Coconut oil? Check. Pastured eggs? Check. Hydrogen peroxide drops in your ear? Uh--no.  ??!!  You get my drift.

It always strikes me as sickeningly funny that anyone would have to make arguments for real food vs. modernized versions of food (aka "fake food"). But if you can get past this blogger's idea that "Mother Nature provided" anything at all, you'll find some very reasonable logic in favor of real eggs, pork, and butter, as opposed to what the government entities, with their verrrry lined pockets, would like you to buy. (Ingredient labels included.) Better health starts with the basics.

Continuing to eat locally is one of the best things you can do for yourself during the winter months. Why not visit Argenta Market or check out the Arkansas Sustainability Network website? (Conway readers can go here.) You can place your order online and pick up your local goodies on Saturday. Get fresh eggs, raw cheeses, frozen summer produce, meats, winter greens, herbs, etc. By the way, one of our very own local favorites, North Pulaski Farms, was featured on Fox16. Some of us missed it when it originally aired (darn "9:00 News" weirdness). If you missed it, you can watch the segment here.

Buy yourself some good, organic raw apple cider vinegar. Not only can apple cider vinegar be used for many, many things in your home, but it can also keep you healthy. Try a "Sweet and Sour," made with one tablespoon of "ACV," one tablespoon of raw honey, and eight ounces of water. Drink it hot like a tea.

For garlic lovers and haters alike, here's an article with lots of information about the healing properties of garlic. I can personally attest to several miraculous recoveries thanks to the use of raw garlic!! In fact, just the other day while suffering from the cold I mentioned above, I minced a clove, covered it in raw honey, and downed it in one swallow. The next day I was symptom-free. No lie.

And speaking of garlic, Erin once told me about GOOT, a mixture of raw garlic, olive oil, and coconut oil, and I have used it successfully on many occasions. Sinus infections, for instance! It's amazing stuff! I keep some in the fridge at all times. Read here about its usefulness and how to make it. (SO easy!)

Stay well!


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Dec 8, 2010

Roasted Black Mission Figs

by Jan Robertson

This is how I made a four-ingredient, delicious dessert by roasting Black Mission Figs:

-The ingredients are Evaporated Palm Sugar, Coconut Ghee, Black Mission Figs and salt.

-Cut the figs in half and place on a greased cookie sheet.

-Make a crumbly mixture of the palm sugar and coconut ghee. I found that a ratio of approximately two parts palm sugar to one part coconut ghee worked well but you can adjust to your liking. Make little balls of this mixture and press onto the surface of each fig. Sprinkle with a little salt to balance the sweetness.

-Roast in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes. Roasting time will vary according to the ripeness of the figs. You want them to cook until they soften. Then turn your oven to broil. Stay close and watch for the tops of the figs to begin to caramelize and for the syrup to run off and harden- about five minutes.

-Place figs in a bowl and drizzle with pan syrup. Don't forget to add a piece of the candy that formed on the cookie sheet during broiling.

We ate these right out of the oven. I added a little Piima Cream to mine but I think they would also be delicious served over vanilla ice cream.

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Dec 7, 2010

UPDATE: Food Safety Bill Fight Continues

Here's the lastest information on S.510 from the Weston A. Price Foundation:

Last week, the Senate passed S510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, with the Tester-Hagan amendment. Almost immediately, members of the House of Representatives raised objections that S510 includes provisions for user fees, which they argued were revenue raising provisions that violated the Constitutional requirement that all tax provisions originate in the House.

No one in the Senate apparently noticed this problem, yet unnamed House members supposedly spotted it within hours. Other bills that have originated in the Senate have included user fees and passed without objection. There may be Constitutional problems with the provisions, but it also may be a maneuver to stall the bill in order to make changes.

With the clock ticking on the lame duck session, the procedural objections might finally kill this bill. But don't count on it! The SAME day that the procedural objections were announced, Agribusiness lobby groups sent letters urging House members to conference S510 with HR 2749 (the House version), for the single specific purpose of stripping out the Tester-Hagan amendment. Until the procedural objections were raised, the House leadership had pledged to bring S510 to a vote without conferencing the bills. It's suspicious that the Agribusiness groups were prepared to immediately take advantage of the delay to try to remove the protections of the Tester-Hagan amendment.

To quote from Agribusiness: one letter was signed by produce industry groups, which represent the majority of fresh fruits and vegetables sold in the United States, while the second letter was sent by organizations that represent the vast majority of growers, producers, shippers, distributors, processors, packers, and wholesalers. In other words, these lobby groups represent the industrial food system that has been the source of the problems. Yet they are working to convince House members to impose the same regulations on local farmers market producers as on their huge corporate operations.

To be clear, we dont think S.510 is a good bill even with the Tester-Hagan amendment. It increases FDA's power, which will undoubtedly lead to even more battles between FDA and local food producers and consumers. FDA has abused the powers it already has, and that will almost certainly continue, with or without this bill. But as bad as the bill is now, it would be even worse without the amendment.

Agribusiness's real concern about the Tester-Hagan amendment isn't food safety, but the precedent set by having Congress recognize that small, direct-marketing producers are different, and should be regulated differently, from the large Agribusinesses.

Please CALL or EMAIL your Congressman! You can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or go to to find their website (if the phone lines are busy, the best way to reach them is through the Contact page on their website)

Message: My name is ____, and I am a constituent who is concerned that FDA will abuse its new authority under the food safety bill to hurt small farmers and local food producers. IF the food safety bill passes, it's critical that it at least include the Tester-Hagan amendment to protect small-scale producers from the regulations for hazard analysis plans and growing and harvesting standards. And whether this bill passes or not, I want my Congressman to take steps to rein in the FDA's abuses, through limiting appropriations and overseeing the agency's rulemaking. I would like to talk with you more about this, please call me back at ________.

The structure and language of the Tester-Hagan amendment is complex because every piece of this amendment was fiercely fought by the opponents. To be understood, the amendment needs to be read in the context of S510 and the existing background law, including the 2002 Bioterrorism Act.

Here are some of the key provisions of the amendment:

* For farmers selling fresh fruits and vegetables: if the producer grosses under half a million dollars, adjusted for inflation, and sells at least half of their produce directly to qualified end users (see below), then the farmer is exempt from the produce safety standards (i.e. regulations in which FDA would tell farmers how to grow and harvest their crops). See pages 16-19 of the amendment. Note that the FDA has already started working on these growing and harvesting standards, and claims that the existing law -- without S510 or Tester-Hagan -- gives it authority to impose the standards on ALL farmers.

* For farmers and producers who sell processed or value-added foods: if they sell more than half of their products directly to individual consumers, they do not have to register with the FDA nor develop a hazard analysis plan. This is due to the provision entitled clarification of intent that directs FDA how to define retail food establishments, see pages 1-2 of the amendment.

* For farmers and producers who sell processed or value-added foods, but do not sell more than half of their products directly to individual consumers: they are ALREADY under a legal requirement to register with the FDA due to the 2002 Bioterrorism Act. The Tester-Hagan amendment provides that these producers can avoid having to comply with S510s extensive requirements for hazard analysis plans by:

1) Submitting documentation that they gross under half a million dollars, adjusted for inflation, and sell more than half their products directly to qualified end users (see below), and

2) EITHER providing documentation that they comply with state and local laws such as a copy of their commercial kitchen license OR preparing a simplified hazard plan. See pages 5-6 (the or is found on line 4 of page 6)

* Qualified end users are (a) individual consumers, WITHOUT any restriction on their location or proximity to the producer, and (b) restaurants and retail food establishments that are either in-state OR within 275 miles. The farmers and producers will NOT have to ask individual consumers where they come from. See pages 7-8 & 18.

* The $500,000 limit on the exemptions is adjusted for inflation. See page 5, lines 13-14, and page 16, line 12

* The amendment also directs FDA to conduct a study that would, for the first time, look at the issues of scale and type of processes in relation to foodborne illness. The directive to do a study is the first attempt to get data to show that smaller-scale producers who don't commingle their products and who do less processing and transportation produce safer food. The bill does NOT mandate that any individual person hand over the information to the government. The FDA is also directed to use the results of the study to define very small businesses that will also be exempt from the hazard analysis plan requirements.

You can read the Tester-Hagan amendment for yourself at

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Linky Love

~ Will drinking skim milk make you fat?

~ Here are three ways to naturally beat the winter blues.

Foods for Fertility

~ The next two links really encouraged me in seeking balance with this whole food thing:
Balancing Nutrition and Priorities Part 1 and Part 2 from Passionate Homemaking.

~ As a refresher, here's a list of similarities among traditional diets.

 - Julie

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Dec 6, 2010

Kitchen Help from Kiddos

Long before my now five year old son, Gramm, turned two, I began letting him help me in the kitchen. This was such a fun time for us! I would let him play in the tupperware, or I would put dry beans or rice in a 9x13 pan and let him "cook". It was a great bonding experience and it kept him entertained while I cooked dinner.

My twin girls, Vivian and Brooklyn, are nearing three and I've just started letting them help me in the kitchen. They really aren't much help at all, but I don't think they should have to miss out on time in the kitchen occasionally just because there are two of them at once. And, you know if the twins are cooking, Gramm has to help, too. Having six little hands in the kitchen at one time while I'm trying to cook can get a little crazy. Along the way, I've learned a few things that have helped make our time in the kitchen enjoyable.

First off, get over my bad self and let the kids make a mess. Below is Gramm at 16 months in the kitchen.

Secondly, don't freak out about knives. Seriously, Gramm started using a rounded-tip steak knife to chop vegetables when he was 4. He cut himself one time and it was just a little scratch. I am convinced this helped with his fine motor skills. He still cuts a mad carrot. And, he grates cheddar like it's his job.

Brooklyn wielding a butter knife and showing the mushroom who's boss.

Vivian concentrating hard:

Thirdly, pretend to be Julia Child and explain to your children every single thing you are doing. Gramm has always been very articulate. I've done my pretend cooking shows with him on a very regular basis from birth till now. And, it won't be long till one of my little sweeties tells me "don't crowd the mushrooms!"

Fourthly, it's okay that I don't let my kids help me in the kitchen every time I cook. Helping me is a privilege, it's not a given. It does take more energy from me and I need to be sure I'm in a place where I can tolerate messes being made and children in my kitchen while keeping a smile on my face. I have a strict 'no cussing in the kitchen' policy at my house. If we're in the kitchen, and you're gonna make me cuss, then you gotta get out. :) But, of course, this little man never makes me cuss....this picture was taken in July of this year.

Lastly, enjoy the process. Let your kids be kids, even in the kitchen.

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How I Chop an Onion

Some people swear by the Pampered Chef chopper.  I don't care for them.  They take up precious space in my always full dishwasher.  Plus, I think I can chop an onion faster with my knife than I could if I owned a chopper.  Definitely, I can use my knife to control the size of the onion pieces.

First decide which end is up.
Whack off the top (not the root hairs).
With cut side (top of onion) on your board, cut the onion in half.
Peel off the papery outer layer.
Make slices through the onion, depending on how large you want the pieces.  Be sure not to cut all the way through the root - this is what holds it together. 
In the picture below, the root ball is hidden under my thumb.  The onion is still in tact.  I've just spread it apart to demonstrate the size of slices.
 Lastly, chop perpendicular to the slices you just made.
Voila!  Chopped onion.

See what others are doing for Monday Mania with The Healthy Home Economist

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Dec 3, 2010

Surreptitious Baking

I was making Baked Oatmeal one day last week and had a sudden twinge of laziness.

I didn't feel like peeling my good, organic Honeycrisp apples this morning for the baby and the "texture-issues" child, so......................

I secretly shredded them skin and all.

And nobody noticed a thing.



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Dec 2, 2010

Fieldtrip to Barnhill Orchards

One day at the farmers market I asked Bob Barnhill about his pecans. The conversation was complete with tractors and helmets; I knew my son would love to see the operation.

Mr. Barnhill graciously invited us for a field trip. Well, to be more accurate - I invited myself. And kept calling him to remind him to let me know when he was going to make his trees shake.

The mechanism on the back of the tractor could have a fancy name. I'll call it the tree shaker.
The kids cheered when the trees shook and pecans fell.

Once picked up (the old fashioned way) the pecans are sorted into sizes with this machine.

And cracked in this machine. The nuts still need a bit of elbow grease after being cracked.

We also saw one of the Barnhill gardens.  

And brought home some of the sweetest broccoli I've ever my entire life!

Thanks for showing us around Mr. Barnhill!

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