Jan 31, 2011

Small Beginnings: Where Do I Start?

Wobbling Baby Steps by Amy Gordon Stokes

I’m the reluctant sojourner in this Real Food escapade. While I never drank much soda and opted for real butter over margarine, I didn’t imagine myself making bone broth or buying unadultered diary. Yes, I loved Little House on the Prairie and Laura’s do-it-yourself lifestyle, but really, I was working full time, and boxed food was my friend.

Then, life, as it does, brought its surprises and losses. My lifelong depression sank to a new low. Anxiety increased. Mood swings tumbled me and lack of concentration (labeled ADHD) left me doubting myself. I suffered from migraines, hormone imbalances, perimenopause, itching, weakness, and fatigue, just as I had years before. Fortunately, a sharp doctor helped me out of the worst of it with a mix of Western and homeopathic medicine. But during this streak of trauma, I abandoned the costly treatment and expensive doctor visits. So here I was again, back at square one, but with a few variables this time: newly married, working from home part time, traumatized from recent life changes, and utterly, absolutely exhausted.

My marriage started to fracture. I didn’t have the emotional energy to resolve conflict or the physical energy to work. My husband (Andy) and I noticed a recurring weeklong aloofness in the third week of my cycle. We suspected PMDD. Andy insisted it was physical, not psychological, based on the regularity of the shift. I acknowledged the problem as well, just not during the third week.

Fortunately, a wise friend suggested I return to my doctor. At this point cost was (somewhat) irrelevant. What good is money in the bank when life stops? Sure enough, my dear doctor, Betsy Hendricks, tested me and discovered the cause: gluten intolerance, sprinkled with resistance to several antibiotics. My cycles were regular—just no egg drop.

Huh? Gluten intolerance?

I didn’t suffer from gastrointestinal troubles. (Well, except for those three visits to the ER over a ten-year span. And rare splashes of IBS.) But Dr. H could have knocked me over with a feather. She explained the host of symptoms spurred by gluten intolerance and celiac disease. My sister was diagnosed a year prior, so I knew the consequences: no wheat, barley, rye, triticale, blah, blah, blah for the rest of my life. I grieved my sentence with a glass of milk packed with Chips Ahoy.

Well, since there’s no time like the present, I decided to cease my whining (or taper off) and head to Drug Emporium for a stash of gluten-free goodies. Further examination of my grocer’s shelves showed me that seemingly innocuous foods like cream of mushroom soup were right out. So was cereal. And brownies. Pies. Croutons. Imitation crab. Most soy sauces. Pizza. Even communion wafers. Is ANYthing sacred?

Well yes, but as GF newbie, I didn’t know that yet.

So I slashed from my diet all that was good n’ yummy. At least it felt that way at first. I used these fair-to-middlin’ substitutions to get me through the transition, and I started to research.

Dr. Hendricks’ welcome-to-the-never-touch-gluten lifestyle packet (my term, not hers) included some articles about Dr. Weston Price’s work. Hey, this is the same guy that my friend Julie was telling me about. Maybe she’s not so crazy. The research showed evidence-based health benefits to traditional foods. And, best of all, the good doctor advocated real butter. By taste comparison alone I knew that butter was from God and therefore had to be better than a low-fat, factory-made substitute. Finally I had a way to justify my logic besides religious claims about God’s expertise in the culinary arts. (I’m not the only one to do this. It is Ben Franklin who reminds us that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”) And since I can’t have beer, I could at least feel good about eating butter.

Things were looking up. This Weston Price dude seemed to know a few things about health. Things I needed to know.

So that prompted further reading, searches for GF food and healthier choices, subscribing to the Real Food in Little Rock blog, and more talks with Julie. I figured, since I had to make over my diet anyway, I might as well a head in healthy direction. What I had been eating wasn’t working for me.

Another encouragement was that the Real Food blog graciously spoke of “baby steps.” This notion seemed better than my usual routine: plan major change, buy the right stuff, do the “right” thing for a short while, and then abandon the effort because I was overwhelmed with all the changes. In those baby steps I could hear the words of my friend, who didn’t fuss with perfection, but rather focused on just doing the thing. Thank you. I was too darned tired to bother with perfection.

My start:  kombucha. Odd choice, I know. Nothing like floating faux fungi to raise the hubby’s eyebrows. But it was tasty. And I had I’d conquered the butter baby step years ago.

Now the processed stuff—let’s say it’s a work in progress. Much of that vanished with the GF lifestyle. I found that dinner shortcuts required the long route first—making cream of mushroom soup from scratch. And bone broth. Cooking in bulk, acquiring more freezer space, and a nifty GF Crock-Pot cookbook (Make It Fast, Cook It Slow) helped me spread load the work and save time. Most boxed cereals were now contraband, so I substituted quinoa with raspberries and butter. Then I started adding unadulterated dairy to my bowl. Hard boiled eggs provided quick n’ cheap protein. This Real Food/GF thing wasn’t so impossible after all.

After four months of this life change, my energy increased, moods stabilized, and concentration returned. I didn’t know how sick I was until I started to feel better.

And then, I’m happy to report, another crash into fatigue and exhaustion. More naps on the couch. More zero-productivity days. Why? One October night Andy and I  forgot Dr. H’s warning: “You haven’t been ovulating, but going gluten free usually changes that.” Whoops. What a happy surprise! “Amandy” is now 18 weeks along and should make his or her world debut in late June.

I had taken only a few baby steps, but those have led to a baby! What a difference a diet can make! We’re parents! (Ah!)

For my next trick I’m trying to choke down my fermented cod liver oil. My chiropractor reminded me it’s great for developing the baby’s brain and nerves. So for the sake of Amandy’s SAT score, I endeavor to take my “medicine.” My mother-in-law has promised to remind the little one, “Do you know what your mother did for you!?” when he or she misbehaves. I’ve promised to equip her with her own FLCO stash, with which she can punish the little turkey for wise-cracks and smarting off. Might as well start ‘em young.

Amy Gordon Stokes is writer, editor, and homemaker who lives with her husband, Andy, in Little Rock, Arkansas. She evangelizes about going gluten free and how it has improved her life.

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Jan 30, 2011

Books for Real Food Lovers

Written by Valerie.

Last November I did something unusual....I spent long hours perfecting my Christmas wish list (normally I don't even have a list).  What would cause me to do something so out of character?  Let me backtrack a little.

The past few years I have been transitioning from a "junk foodie" to a "real foodie"  and have sought to embrace more traditional ways of life.

Growing up every food came out of a can, wrapper or box.  If we were trying to be healthy we would buy food that had the label low fat or baked.  For the chemicals and cleaners we would buy ones that said antibacterial or the ones that claimed to be extra strong.  Yikes!!!!  Did I mention that I had chronic health problems as a child?  

As an adult I began to make radical changes in my life, the first of which was giving my life to God (talk to me sometime and I will tell you all about it....it is a great story).  I married a wonderful man and had a double blessing, twins. I also began to prayerfully research all my health problems and discovered a direct correlation between my eating, the chemicals in my home and my health.

Thus I began years of baby steps, changing my eating and my lifestyle.  So, fast forward some years to November and there I was painstakingly researching books for my Christmas list to help continue this healing process.  And I feel like I found some good ones.

Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic LivingMy favorite so far:  Better Basics for the Home, by Annie Berthold-Bond.  Quoting from her book, "It is a book of simple ingredients for simple tasks.  I've tried to retrieve from near oblivion the know-how that was abandoned with the advent of the chemical age."

So, here is my confession:  I bought this book for my kids to give to me.   I didn't even let them wrap it and I started reading it 3 days before Christmas. I couldn't put it down.  It has everything:  how to make your own dish soap, dish detergent, laundry detergent and every type of cleaner imaginable. She goes in depth on skin care, which is a blessing for me, because I have been fretting over those chemicals in my store bought products.  There is a section on whole body care, a section on gardening, and a section on whole house care (even how to make your own paint).  Every recipe is simple and if I don't know what something is she has a glossary for every ingredient she uses.  To me this is a book filled with the great-grandmotherly sort of wisdom for just about every task you can think of.

Tender Grassfed Meat: Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy MeatFirst Runner Up:  Tender Grassfed Meat:  Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy Meat, by Stanley A. Fishman.   In Fishman's words, "Grassfed beef is tough only when cooked wrong.  This book is all about cooking it right.  Cook it right and it is tender and delicious."   Fishman is an attorney who, for health reasons, taught himself to cook grassfed meats through his own research and study.  He writes like a real person who has by trial and error learned and perfected his cooking.  The book is broken into two parts.  In the first part, he discusses the differences between grassfed and grassfinished animals, the ingredients in depth (the right kinds of fats and oils), the equipment (types of safe cookware) and techniques.  In part two he has a section on broths, which I thought were great.  Then he has recipes on beef (steak, roast, pan roast, pot roast, stew, stir-fry, ground beef).  He also has bison and lamb recipes, plus liver recipes (he mixes all his with sausage), some marinades and side dishes.  This book is a good find for me because it covers the essentials of cooking grassfed meat.  Fishman explains everything and his recipes are simple.  All the ingredients are basic, usually some herbs and an onion or garlic.  Straightforward, easy, nuts and bolts....just what I needed. 

So, what other books were a part of my Christmas jackpot? 
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture FoodsBones: Recipes, History, and LoreBones:  Recipes, History, & Lore by Jennifer McLagan 

Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz  

Now comes the next part, setting the pace and baby steps.

Warmest blessings.


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Jan 28, 2011

Remedy: Sweet and Sour

My son woke early this morning with an icky cough, the kind that sounds like it's causing vocal cord damage.

The home-grown remedy?  A sweet and sour.  Our family made up the name mostly because we were drinking so much and needed a quick reference name other than "that drink that feels good on my sore throat."

It is one part honey and raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) with two parts warm water.  Adults prefer hot water.  :)  Or, for those wanting more exact measurements...roughly 3T honey, 3T ACV and 6-8oz water.  Taste and adjust.  Children prefer it sweeter, I like mine on the sour side.  We like it so much we even drink it when our throats are feeling fine.

Honey is soothing on your throat.  Raw ACV has antiseptic (germ-killing) properties.  Read here for other home remedies using ACV.


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Jan 27, 2011

Small Beginnings: Where Do I Start?

The following is written by Melissa, who shared her Real Food Resolutions a few weeks ago.

When my family began our real food journey we began very s.l.o.w.l.y. In fact, I don’t think my family knows they are on a journey, much less started one! That’s because I KNOW my family. And if I go home and announce we are now going to eat healthy and begin throwing away all unhealthy items, there’d be mutiny my friends.  Not to mention, I think I have to trick myself into believing that much isn’t really changing…or I might go over the edge as well.

So I began by changing things I knew would be applauded. 

Things like switching from margarine to butter. I had always used a spread on things like bread because it was always soft from the fridge.  When we visited a friend in Ohio who had switched her family to butter, my kids would say, “Mom, Stacy’s grilled cheese is so much better than YOURS!” (It was the butter.) SO I knew making the butter switch would be easy.  I immediately ordered a butter keeper for my friend and me and now I had soft butter to serve my family!

Then, I switched to real maple syrup.  I mean, come on…who doesn’t LOVE maple syrup over that high fructose corn syrup fake stuff?  My family raved!  Sure, the cost is prohibitive but we weren’t consuming that much syrup to begin with so I took it in stride knowing I couldn’t go back to the other stuff.

Next up?  Oil.  I bought myself a little jar of refined coconut oil from Whole Foods. I began with refined because A) I didn’t know better and B) Since it didn’t smell like coconuts I thought that might help it go undetected in our food. I used it in anything that called for oil and sure enough they never knew it was there. By the next purchase of oil I knew unrefined was best so I tried that with no one even noticing the difference. I now order it by the gallon as it is much more cost effective that way!

Probably the easiest thing of all to switch is salt. Buying Redmond’s Real Salt at Whole Foods (I now buy it from Azure) was not expensive and it tastes so much better than regular table salt.  My husband even stuck his finger in the container and was pleased with how it tasted straight!

Finally, I switched us to whole milk.  We had been drinking 1% mostly and I also bought a gallon of whole milk for the baby.  When the 1% would run out, my boys would grab the whole milk with little comment.  I finally just bought the whole milk.  My oldest son is a BIG milk drinker and he commented that he preferred whole milk so much more.  This was a hard switch for my husband and me.   Growing up in a world that tells you skim milk is healthy makes it really hard to drink the whole stuff. It feels so decadent and unhealthy!  It was an easier switch for me than Keith simply because I had been reading the research.  He was just taking my word for it.  He still is!

I want you to know something very honest about my food journey because I know there are those of you out there feeling great guilt and great stress about your family’s food choices.   I can still look in my pantry and see two worlds colliding.  It’s true.  Even though I KNOW certain foods or ingredients are not good for my family, I will find myself stumbling over the price of the healthier option or simply over a habit that is hard to break.  There are canned goods and boxed cereals in there.  There is some store bread alongside the homemade stuff and bottled juice alongside the raw milk and kombucha.  When I have to pack my boys lunch once a week for a class they take, I grab processed stuff (gasp, I hate confessing that) to make it easier for me.

My goal?  To slowly (remember that word from the beginning?) replace that stuff as I go through it…or even before.  I have the recipes and tools to replace a lot of canned items.  I love to bake so there is little reason to stuff processed foods into my kids’ lunches.  And as I remind myself more and more of the benefits of real food, I learn how to manage my budget to accommodate the higher prices.  I just wanted you to know I am NOT doing it all perfectly.  Sheesh, I am not even doing it all!  I am just doing what I can and knowing that this time next year I will be that much farther along on the journey!  You will too!

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Jan 26, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Coffee Substitute - Dandy Blend

Dandy Blend oh how I love you.  Let me count the ways…

Actually, I love coffee but Dandy Blend, an herbal coffee substitute, is a close second.

When I was pregnant I gave up coffee because the caffeine made me all jittery and crazy feeling.  Decaffeinated coffee gave me headaches.  [Cheeseslave recently wrote 30 Reasons to Quit Coffee - it's a good read.  She also wrote How to Quit.]

Let me clarify, I wasn't hard core addicted.  Mostly I like something warm to drink first thing the morning, especially when it is cold outside.  So, when I decided to give up coffee in the spring, it wasn't that big of a deal.

But once the weather finally started getting cooler this fall, I found myself longing for my friend - Mr. Strong Coffee.

About this time I went to visit a like-minded Nourishing Traditions friend in Phoenix.  She has searched the globe, high and low, for a suitable coffee substitute.  I've tasted some of her discoveries.  Blech.

I scoffed when she offered to make a cup of Dandy Blend.

"No thank you!"

But this one is different.

"Yeah, right…like all the rest."

Reluctantly I tried one sip of hers.

***Big mistake.  Instantly hooked.  Seriously good stuff.***

It tastes a bit like a latte with a subtle sweetness and mild chicory overtones.  Definitely reminiscent of coffee. Extra bonus for being caffeine free and virtually calorie free.  Ingredients:  dandelion, chicory and beet roots, barley and rye grains.

Because I am nursing, I need to drink a lot.  Drinking water all day long is boring.  Juice has too many empty calories; carbonated mineral water makes my baby scream.  Dandy Blend is perfect all hours of the day.

I drink it strong (2 teaspoons), hot, and with cream in the mornings. Mid-day I might have it (1/2 teaspoon) in a glass of cold milk.  When evening rolls around, I like to curl up with another hot cup.  It would be embarrassing to tell you how much I've drank since my first sip.

Many of my friends have tried it, too.  If they remotely like coffee, they like Dandy Blend.

Because it is a powder, it can also be used interchangeably for instant coffee in other recipes - like tiramisu.

until midnight Tuesday, Feb 1. CLOSED

You have three chances to win a 7oz bag (which is good for 100 cups) or single servings:

1. Leave a comment telling us if you're addicted to Joe or just curious 'bout Dandy.

2. Leave another comment after you've "liked" us on Facebook.

3.  Subscribe to Real Food in Little Rock, either via email (see subscription box at upper right) or some other RSS feed.  Leave a separate comment after doing so.

Where to buy: In Little Rock, Drug Emporium (corner of Reservoir and Rodney Parham) is now carrying it.  Otherwise contact Dandy Blend, or look on Amazon.

 - Julie

also linked to Real Food Wednesday , Monday Mania and Fight Back Friday.

Disclaimer: Dandy Blend sent a package for personal use along with the giveaway package.  Even if they didn't donate the goods, I would still be raving about the product. Uh-may-zing.

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Jan 25, 2011

The Root Cafe

One of my husband’s, chief complaints about me is that I’m impossible to take out for dinner. It’s a legitimate complaint. I’m just flat picky. I find myself sitting in front of my food wondering how far it traveled and what kind of atrocities it went through to get to my plate. Then I start thinking “I could make this so much better myself. I bet with a little broth, some real vegetables, real cheese, butter, etc. I could make it actually taste good.”

When my family recently ate at a restaurant in Branson, I asked the waiter where the beef came from. We had passed a lot of cattle grazing in the fields on the way to Branson, so I was naively waiting to hear that it was grass-fed beef from down the road. No, this beef was corn-fed in Nebraska, of course. My husband instructed me to “behave” before I was able to ask additional questions about the food. I guess sometimes it can be embarrassing to be married to an activist.

But like every other homemaker, I do occasionally walk into the kitchen and want to say, “I’m just too tired to make dinner tonight; let’s go out.” But the trouble is deciding where I want to go. When I get to pick, I try to find a place that serves some fresh local food, like Za Za’s, but the choices (especially ones that fit our budget) are limited. So I usually just choose to throw something together. Some “clean-out-the-refrigerator” soup or grass-fed beef tacos are quick standbys when I haven’t planned ahead.

Because of my “food issues,” you might imagine my joy when I heard about Jack Sundell’s and Corri Bristow-Sundell’s plans for a truly local food restaurant, the Root Café. While Jack and Corrie have been working through the restaurant planning phase, they have hosted numerous workshops and special events – giving us a preview of the kind of tasty local food we can expect from them. You have to admire people who take time to plan well. I’ve been watching the Root Café’s careful progress with anticipation and am very excited to report some major steps that have been taken forward this winter.

The Root Café is now offering a beautiful breakfast of fresh baked goods and coffee at Arkansas Sustainability Network's Food Club on Saturday mornings, complete with Café tables so you can stop and visit with friends (or make some new ones). They have also obtained a building downtown on the corner of Main and 15th which will hopefully be ready to open for business in the spring, and they have “gone live” with their website.

I encourage you to check out the Root Café’ website and learn more. It will help you catch the vision of a truly local restaurant. You won’t find any GMO corn-fed beef from Nebraska in this establishment. Read the list of Arkansas farmers who are supplying the ingredients. I’m sure you’ll recognize many of them. Here’s the Root Café mission statement:

Simply put, our mission is to build community through local food. We seek to foster a sense of connectedness among the individuals, families, organizations, and businesses of central Arkansas by offering a focal point for sustainable activities in the area. We have delicious sandwiches, soups, salads, burgers, and homemade pies that feature fresh seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers, as well as locally roasted coffees and the best of Arkansas beer and wine. We also host a range of activities from workshops, classes, and speakers, to music events and art openings. Through food, education, and community, the Root is striving to make Little Rock a better place to live by creating a just, sustainable and delicious food system for central Arkansas.
We’ll let you know when the doors open!

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Jan 24, 2011

New Year's Real Food Resolutions

Rachael's daughter is now 4yrs and the twin boys are 3 yrs.
This post is written by my (Julie) best friend from Phoenix.  Rachael is to be blamed one of the reasons I'm on a real food journey; she's an excellent mother of three preschoolers and is a preacher's wife.

Get the Junk (Back!) Out

We had been successful in ridding the pantry of all taboo (according to Nourishing Traditions) ingredients, but as time slips past, some of those no-no’s surreptitiously crept in again.  They all began as “just this once” or “I need to have something easy for Sunday while we wait for Daddy.”  Slowly but surely, they have become regulars.

The following items need to be eliminated again:

Packaged Snacks (with all sorts of heinous ingredients, I’m sure)
Too frequent desserts

To be successful I will need to get in the kitchen to prepare the alternatives.  This is where the real work begins, right?  To help me with my plight, my daughter needs to do a candida cleanse which will necessitate getting my tail in gear.  I MUST have something prepared to satisfy the 4-year-old, “But, Mommy, I NEED a snack!”

Removing the poor food choices is never enough though, is it?  I also need to:

Add the Good Stuff--CONSISTENTLY!

I have really good intentions, honestly I do.  But as they are wont to do, busy days come and we skip the cod liver oil “just this once--we’ll do it at dinner.”   Most of the following items have been a part of our healthy lifestyle in the past, but this Mama needs to get back on the wagon!  Here are some of the things I would like to add (and keep!) this year:

Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Vitamins and other supplements
Homemade, Soaked Bread
Kombucha for the children (Mama and Daddy have been hoarding it!)
At least one organ meat recipe that everyone loves (okay, tolerates would be sufficient)

Thankfully, my children help me remember their vitamins and cod liver oil, if I’ve been half-way regular in giving it to them.  I am blessed that all three of my preschoolers take their CLO right off the spoon!

The big theme that I’m seeing in these goals (and others for the new year) is that I need more routines and structure.  From cod liver oil to a regular baking day to having the children help tidy the house,
Mama needs a routine.  And I need to stick with it!  I’ve never been much good at sticking to a system and maybe I should start out by figuring out why.  It may be that I try to overhaul my life in a single day or it could be that I don’t like being told what I have to do, even if I’m the one telling me!

If anyone out there has suggestions or what has worked for them, please leave a comment.


Click here to read previous posts from others about their 2011 Real Food Resolutions.

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Jan 22, 2011

Arkansas Farmers Market Associations Conference

Arkansas Farmers Market Associations, Certified Arkansas Farmers' and the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show have partnered for a three-day educational conference February 25-27, 2011 in Little Rock at the Statehouse Convention Center.

The Conference will be the state's premier gathering of small farmers, agricultural students, farmers’ market managers and others involved in the small farm industry. The three-day educational conference includes day-long short courses and on-farm tours, focused workshops, engaging keynote addresses and numerous networking opportunities.

Friday, February 25 
8:00am - 5:00pm - AFMA Conference

Development of robust farmers’ markets is vital to sustainable agriculture across the United States. Farmers’ markets promote nutrition education, healthy eating, and purchase of locally grown products. Markets showcase local growers’ freshest products and provide healthy and nutritious options for local communities. The Arkansas Farmers’ Market Association (AFMA) links growers,market managers and consumers, acting as an umbrella under which Arkansas farmers’ markets thrive, expand, and educate. Topics such as, Building a Community Farmers' Market,WIC/EBT/Senior Program, Food Safety, Farmers' Market Promotion Program, AFMA Business Meeting, and more. For more information, contact Stephanie Buckley at arkansasfarmersmarket AT gmail.com.

Friday evening 5:30pm - 8:00pm
Arkansas Flavors Farm to Table Dinner - Peabody Ballroom

The event opens with an hour long meet-and-greet and book signing by Deborah Madison. Cash bar available. After dinner, Madison will talk about "Why Farm to Table is a Great Idea."  Tickets are $60 per person and must be purchased in advance through the Arkansas Flower & Garden show website.
Saturday, February 26
8:00am - 4:30pm - CAFM Conference

Main Speakers: John-Paul Courtens and Jody Bolluyt  Roxbury Farm, Kinderhook, New York,
 "Scaling Up Your Highly Diversified Farming Operation."

Scaled up from 30 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members to more than 1100 shares located throughout the Hudson Valley, including New York City with vegetables fruit, beef, lamb and pork. Jean-Paul Courtens and Jody Bolluyt will talk about how they did it, including appropriately scaled equipment, crew management, harvest systems, crop rotation and farm organization. With their production systems, they manage 11 employees during peak season.

For more information on CAFM Conference, click here.

Tickets to either conference includes a ticket to the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, for more information, click here.

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Jan 21, 2011

Soaked Bread in the Bread Maker

Eleven years ago, someone gave me a bread maker as a wedding gift.  I've loved it.  But, when I started learning how bad white bread was and that I should soak wheat bread, I almost stopped making bread.  Almost.

I love bread.

The below recipe works for my bread maker.  I hope it works in yours, too.  If you don't have a bread maker - keep your eye out for one at your mother's house Goodwill or a garage sale this summer.

Overnight soak:
9 oz warm to hot water
1 oz apple cider vinegar
2 T butter, soft or melted
3 1/3 cups freshly milled wheat flour (I've not tried this with store bought whole wheat.  The texture will be different.)

I turn on the bread maker long enough to mix the dough. I think the first cycle is 5 minutes in my machine.  Then I unplug it - so there's no chance of it becoming possessed and making bread in the night.

The next morning I add the remaining ingredients just before I turn on the machine again.  This time for the duration.

1.5 t yeast (or 1 pkg)
1.5 T honey or other sweetener
1.5 t salt

I've used both the basic and whole wheat settings.  Both make yummy bread.

See what others are making for Fight Back Fridays with Food Renegade.

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Spring Special - Pastured Meat from Cove Creek Acres

Herman Hostetler at Cove Creek Acres would like to extend his "Spring Special" to the Real Food in Little Rock readers.

Cove Creek Acres moves its poultry to fresh grass twice daily and is supplemented with organically grown grain.  The grain is not "USDA certified organic" but the farmer from whom Cove Creek Acres purchases the grain assures Herman that it is non-GMO and is grown with organic practices, meaning no pesticides or herbicides.  Cove Creek Acres provides top quality meat, grown without antibiotics or hormones.  They butcher the poultry on the farm.

How does this spring special work?

You want quality meat for your family and Cove Creek Acres wants to supply that for you.  However, in the farming business it is helpful to have "seed money" to get things going in the spring.  This spring special is a way to help both consumer and farmer.

If you pre-order now, you can receive a discount on pastured meat through the fall.

Think about your meat needs for the next year.  Do you eat one chicken a week?  Three chickens a month? Like to try a pastured turkey for Thanksgiving? Want to eat nitrate-free pork?

Let Herman know by Tuesday, February 1 how much meat you would like to pre-order.

The first installment of chicken will be delivered to the River Market around May 1, pork at the end of May, and turkeys nearer to Thanksgiving.  You can receive all or some of your meat at that time.  If you do not have ample freezer space, Cove Creek Acres can deliver your meat a few pounds at a time.  However, you must act now to take advantage of this offer.

Cove Creek Acres will be supplying fresh meat through the end of November. Pre-order at discount prices by February 1 to receive meat all summer and fall.  It is recommended that you pay 75% now and the remainder when you pick up your meat from the River Market.

Chicken - average 4 pounds
Regular price: $3.50/lb
pre-order ten or fewer chickens: $3.25/lb
pre-order more than ten chickens: $3.00/lb

Turkey - average 15-20 pounds
regular price: $3.75/lb
pre-order price: $3.50/lb

half hog - average 100-125 pounds, which will fit approximately in two of these coolers.
regular price: $3.50/lb (live weight)
pre-order price: $3.00/lb

I want to pre-order 11 chickens:
11 chickens x (4lbs/each) x $3/lb = $132
75% x $132 = $99 deposit

Albeit pricier, this is one of the easier baby steps to take.  Pastured, local meats are so much healthier than the feed lot counter parts.

If you are unable to pay 75% by February 1 and would still like to get in on this great deal, Cove Creek Acres is willing to work out a payment plan with you.  Call Herman, or his wife, Mabel for details.

To place your order or ask questions it is best to call their home: (479) 754-0868.  Herman has access to email but it is on his cell phone: hermanhostetler AT gmail.com

Feel free to tell your friends who would like a good deal on pastured meats.


Read here how I met Herman.

Read Tracy Youngblood's article on benefits of bulk buying local meats or Lisa's thoughts on how to buy bulk local meat.

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"Planning Your Organic Spring Garden" Workshop Rescheduled

The next Weston A. Price chapter meeting is rescheduled for this Thursday. Please note the new location will be McMath library near Parkview High School. You don't have to be a member to come. Bring your friends! Even if you're not interested in gardening, come socialize with other people on a real food journey.

“Planning Your Organic Spring Garden”
Robert Lashley of Willow Springs Market Garden
Thursday, January 27th 6:30 – 7:30pm
Sidney S. McMath Library
2100 John Barrow Road
Little Rock, AR 72204

When I have organic gardening questions, Robert Lashley's booth is at the North Little Rock Certified Arkansas Farmers Market is a good place to visit. I know Robert enjoys sharing his wealth of organic gardening information both at his booth and in workshops, so I asked him to present a winter garden planning workshop for Real Food in Little Rock.

If you're like me, the gardening bug doesn't really hit until things start turning green, but by that time plans for a productive garden should already be in place. The seed catalogs started coming to my mailbox this week, a reminder that now is the time for planning.

In addition to helping us get ready to garden in the spring, Robert is bringing some door prizes from Willow Springs Market Garden. How great is that? - a free workshop, prizes, and you get to meet one of our local farmers! If you're thinking about gardening this spring, you won’t want to miss this great opportunity!


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Jan 20, 2011

Baby's First Foods

Left overs from my dinner last night were collard greens and roasted sweet potatoes. This became Baby's lunch today. She's 8.5 months old.

I put it in a Mason jar with some homemade chicken broth, which was cold and a bit jellied.

The stick blender pureed it nicely.

Baby loved it.


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Gardening Workshop: CANCELLED

is cancelled for this evening due to the winter weather. We will try to reschedule this with Robert Lashley soon.

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Jan 19, 2011

Pineapple Cheeseball

Here's an easy Real Food appetizer (or quick lunch idea):

Pineapple Cheeseball

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
2 Tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
1 Tablespoon Real seasoned salt (I get mine at Azure Standard)
2 cups chopped pecans, divided

Mix together the first five ingredients plus 1 cup of the chopped pecans.

At this point, I scrape as much off the sides of the bowl as I can to form a somewhat spherical mound in the bottom of the bowl. Then I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour. Once the cream cheese has firmed up a bit, I carefully add the remaining pecans, pouring with one hand and with the other, pressing them into the cheese. I also save some for the bottom once I've removed the cheeseball from the bowl.

The pecans that fall to the side in the bowl get mushed into the cheese as I form the ball with my hands. I then turn it upside down in the bowl and add the last of the pecans.

I like this cheeseball best with good, sturdy crackers. If you haven't tried these homemade crackers, they're worth a try. Just be sure to roll them reeeeally thin. And I add quite a bit more salt than the recommended amount. Just 'cause I like salt. Enjoy!

This post is linked up at Works for Me Wednesday.


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Jan 16, 2011

New Year's Real Food Resolutions

This post is written by Kelli who wrote here about how real food started for her.
I can’t believe it’s been almost one year since I came home and told my husband I wanted to change our diet and our lifestyle…and my husband thought his world was ending. HA! Looking back over the year I’ve been thinking about a song from “Hairspray”: “I know we’ve come so far, but we’ve got so far to go.” (I know. A bit random, but it fits.)

It’s been a year of firsts: First time to bake bread without the aid of a bread machine, drink raw milk, grind my own flour, embrace fat, wash my hair WITHOUT shampoo, make a sourdough starter, learn that there was something even called “Kombucha”…I could go on and on.

I’m not huge into the whole New Year’s Resolution thing, but I have been thinking about some things I would like to see happen in the coming year.

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
1. One of the best Christmas gifts I received this year was Nourishing Traditions. I want to read through and absorb the wealth of information.

2. Drink some kombucha everyday – even if it’s only half a cup. (Still acclimating to the slight fermented flavor. Teetotaler here.) Experiment with flavors beyond fresh pineapple – my go-to flavor. An added health bonus is that it seems to help with muscle soreness. I’m training for a marathon and need all the help I can get in that area!

3. Be more diligent about taking my fermented cod liver oil and red raspberry leaf supplement.

4. Focus on gaining strength, especially in my upper body. As a long-distance runner I have plenty of endurance, but no upper-body strength, which is common among us runners. I plan on getting into a routine of pilates and free weights along with my running.

5. Make a better effort to eat well outside my home, which will mean bringing my own food a lot of times. Learn to plan ahead for this. Have a mental list of foods that are quick and easy to throw together in a short amount of time, and are made from ingredients I typically have on hand.

6. Discover the perfect recipe for a natural facial moisturizer: one that moisturizes without drying me out OR causing pimples. No small feat. Any recipes would be appreciated.

None of these things are earth-shattering in their impact, but all of these steps together will go a long ways in improving my overall health and quality of life. After all, it’s all about the Baby Steps!


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Spring Garden Workshop!

Reminder - The next Weston A. Price chapter meeting is this Thursday.  You don't have to be a member to come.  Bring your friends!  Even if you're not interested in gardening, come socialize with other people on a real food journey.

Robert Lashley of Willow Springs Market Garden has agreed to present a free workshop for us:

“Planning Your Organic Spring Garden”
Thursday, January 20th 6:30 – 7:30pm
John Gould Fletcher Library Meeting Room
823 North Buchanan StreetLittle Rock, AR 72205

When I have organic gardening questions, Robert Lashley's booth is at the North Little Rock Certified Arkansas Farmers Market is a good place to visit. I know Robert enjoys sharing his wealth of organic gardening information both at his booth and in workshops, so I asked him to present a winter garden planning workshop for Real Food in Little Rock.

If you're like me, the gardening bug doesn't really hit until things start turning green, but by that time plans for a productive garden should already be in place. The seed catalogs started coming to my mailbox this week, a reminder that now is the time for planning.

In addition to helping us get ready to garden in the spring, Robert is bringing some door prizes from Willow Springs Market Garden. How great is that? - a free workshop, prizes, and you get to meet one of our local farmers! If you're thinking about gardening this spring, you won’t want to miss this great opportunity!


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Jan 15, 2011

He Loves His 'Bucha


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Jan 13, 2011


I scored a dehydrator at Goodwill with an adjustable thermostat!!


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Jan 12, 2011


My husband wrote earlier that his friends say he eats like a girl. Crepes would probably be one of those meals.  It sounds like a fancy name however it's not much more than a flat pancake with yummy fillings.

After dinner my six-year old son gave it thumbs up.  He's not always been a hearty eater.  We've had more food battles than I care to talk about.  It looks like the parents are finally winning. {fingers crossed}

The first time I remember eating crepes was a few years ago at a friend's house.  She and her professional basketball player husband had lived in Switzerland for several years.  Because his salary was not like that of the NBA, they learned to eat frugally.

Crepes are not only frugal but they can also be very nutritious.  The best part for me?  Dinner can be on the table quick!

The batter is made with 3 ingredients: flour, milk, eggs.  I used mostly whole wheat flour and soaked it in a bit of kefir for a few hours (to break down the phytates).

Yield: 8 crepes, 9 inches in diameter
1 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 eggs, from chickens on pasture

Heat griddle to medium-high heat, when it it hot {important detail} add a pat of butter then pour batter - evenly distributing it.  I've not tried it, but if you have a griddle (and not a cast iron skillet,) I'm sure it would work.
After 1-2 minutes the edges should be cooked enough to slip a spatula under; flip and cook the other side.  I stack finished crepes on top of each other on a dinner plate on the counter.
In a separate pot, melt bacon grease or butter and saute a clove or two of chopped garlic.
 I happened to have some shiitake mushrooms in the fridge so I chopped a few and added them to the garlic.
Add a pound of fresh spinach or any other greens then add the lid so the greens can steam and wilt.

The above looks like a huge amount of spinach but it wilts like a fair maiden at the beach.  Be generous with your fresh greens!
I suppose you could also use frozen spinach.  Be sure to squeeze out the water once it's thawed.

Back to the crepes.

Once you've made a stack, then put one back on your griddle and melt 1-2 slices of cheese.  We like the pairings of greens with swiss cheese.
When the cheese is slightly melted, add a bit of wilted spinach.

Then fold the crepe on itself and serve.
The recipe makes about 8 crepes.  My husband and I ate two, my son ate one (that's a total of 5).  The the three extra crepes we ate for dessert: rolled up and drizzled with maple syrup - and a generous dallop of whipped cream on the side.


This recipe is posted to Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Pennywise Platter Thursday with the Nourishing Gourmet.

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