Oct 28, 2011

Sweet...But Scary: What to Do with Halloween Candy

So...what's got you shaking in your boots right about now?

Christmas shopping on the horizon??  Your neighbor's freaky Halloween displays??  ...OR the idea that in a few days your children might be bringing home a boatload of Halloween "goodies" and then proceeding to bounce off the walls right before your very eyes?! (Never mind possibly get sick.)

We parents sometimes laugh amongst ourselves about the sugar highs and the inevitable sugar crashes our children experience, as if there are no real lasting effects. However, refined sugar (the kind found in candy and other processed treats) is a bit more frightening than many of us realize. Just Google it...for quite the fright, indeed. (Here--I'll do it for ya.) Once you really start doing some research, you will want to run as far away from sugar as you can!

Speaking from personal experience, as one who was utterly and completely given over to an addiction to sugar, there are severe consequences over time. Was I addicted to sugar as a child? Of course, not! But, honestly, it was so readily available to me and any possible consequences so remote and seemingly far-fetched, that eating it as much as I did was simply NOT a big deal whatsoever. So I did. Thank you very much.

And now, at 37, I sincerely regret the life I once lived, nutritionally-speaking. Because NOW here I am with a damaged thyroid** and fatigued adrenals, no thanks to the sweet stuff (among other things). If I could do it all over again, I would. But things don't usually work that way. So instead, I'm trying to train my kiddos to do better. To KNOW better. They will still have personal choices to make, of course, but they will be more educated than I was and are already far healthier--because they eat "real food" and their mean ol' mommy makes them avoid the sugars and corn syrups and other freaky substances found in all those brightly-colored, fun packages at the check-out line...or at the movies. (Resist, people, resist, no matter how cute they look when they beg!)

The truth is, though, we don't always resist. In fact, many times we're not even present when our children are offered the unfriendly fare. And candy-related holidays are certainly not the most helpful to us health-conscious parents. So, we recently polled our Facebook followers for ideas on what to do with the Halloween candy that threatens to destroy our kids could soon fill our kids' buckets. Well, we got a grand total of ONE response, by the way, which is probably an indication that we parents...ummmm...NEED some ideas. So we compiled a handful of options for you.

Top Ten Things to Do With Unwanted Candy

1. Explain to your kids that there are men and women serving our country overseas, and then send a large family donation to the troops through Operation Shoebox. Or perhaps you have a personal favorite soldier!

Operation Shoebox
8360 E Highway 25
Belleview, FL 34420

Along the same vein, maybe your church supports foreign missionaries. Missionaries have kids, too, and they often don't "get" to partake of sweets as readily as we in the States do. You could put together a care package for them. 

2. Lots of churches in central Arkansas participate in Operation Christmas Child, a ministry that sends Christmas packages to needy children all over the world, and could use candy to help fill their boxes. (Chocolate is not the best choice in this case, however.) If interested in this option, leave a comment and I'll get you the proper contact information. National Collection Week is November 14th through 21st.

3. There are other, more local, places to donate candy as well: Food banks, homeless shelters, battered women's shelters, schools, senior citizens' centers, or Dad's friendly office staff.  ;)  Just drop it off and wave a happy goodbye!

4. Save it until Christmas, use it to decorate a gingerbread house...and then give the house to a neighbor or friend.

5. Make a deal with your precious offspring: candy for money. (Toy shopping to follow.) I'm thinking this one could work year-round...

6. If your kids are young, you might manage to get away with hiding it and then hoping they'll just forget about it. It happens. *hangs head in shame*

7. But if that's too deceitful for you, there's always the "Halloween Fairy," the "Candy Fairy," the "Great Pumpkin," or whatever you want to call the one who comes to empty the gigantic bowls (cute trick-or-treat containers, paper bags, etc.) of Halloween candy and put a much-wanted toy or gift inside as a replacement. Convenient service, huh?

8. Have your very own mini-parade (no specific occasion necessary) through your neighborhood. Get all the neighborhood kids on board. Let them ride their bikes, pull their wagons, wear costumes, play instruments, maybe even decorate floats. Be sure to invite everyone to come out for the event. And then? Throw the candy to the onlookers and be done with it.

9. Run and hide. Seriously. Go somewhere entirely non-Halloween-related as a family. This way you avoid the crowds at your front door (and, by default, don't have to shop for them) and your children will have empty treat bags! Or...turn off your front lights, go to the back of the house, and hide there for a special family movie night with your own much-healthier, homemade treats like ice cream, caramel corn, or soaked cookies.

10. There's always the trash can.

One more friendly tip:  If you DO give out "treats" at your own house to all the cute, masked door-knockers, do yourself a favor and give out non-candy treats so you won't have to deal with the leftovers. Things like stickers, bubbles, small toys, party-favor-type-doohickeys, or small bags of pretzels, trail-mix, popcorn, and small boxes of raisins.

Whatever you choose to do with the stuff, the key is in educating your children about making healthy choices and why it's important.

We'd love to hear any other creative ideas our readers may have!

**I'm attending the upcoming thyroid/adrenal workshop. Are you??


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Oct 26, 2011

Gelatinous Chicken Broth: Secret Ingredients

Want to know my secret ingredient for making gelatinous bone broth?

Chicken feet.

Looks gross, I know.  But hey, it is time for Halloween and I'm banking that you have seen nastier displays in the store.

Earlier this week I emailed my neighbor pictures from my kitchen when making broth and she promptly let me know that she would not be eating at my house any time soon.

While chicken feet do not look appetizing to our western eyes, several friends living around the globe have assured me that other cultures revere chicken feet.  Indeed, a hallmark of traditional food is bone broth.

If you're grossed out by the fact that chickens have been scratching around in who knows what, blanch the feet for a few minutes (alone) before adding them to the rest of your bones.  The feet that I bought through Cove Creek Acres were clean (as in, had been scalded in the processing of the chicken).  However, another farmer friend gave me some very dirty feet that I boiled for 15 minutes before using in broth making.
When I cook a chicken, part of the overall process for me is knowing I will also make chicken broth.  Making nutrient dense broth helps me justify paying more for a pastured chicken, locally grown.  Meat broth can be made as you cook a chicken in a slow cooker.  The above chicken was roasted in the oven then I pulled off the meat (below).
To the carcass I added a package of chicken feet.
They look quite gnarly, I will give you that.
Toss all your bones in a pot. (If you want to make a lot of broth, you can buy "stock parts - necks and backs.")

Cover the bones with water.  Add a splash of vinegar - a couple of tablespoons will do.  This acid helps to pull out minerals from the bones.  If you forget, forgive yourself and vow to do better next time.  The broth will still be good for you!

For added flavor, you can add some celery, carrot, onion and or garlic all in big chunks.  Usually I do not take the extra time to add the veggies.

After simmering for several hours (3-24 hours, more is better and I usually plug up my slow cooker outside, overnight) the feet will look even more disgusting than when frozen.  Keep the end in mind.  Broth is soooo good for you.  Food tastes better when prepared with broth (instead of water.)
For gelatinous broth, it is not imperative that feet are used.  However if you can muster the courage to find and use feet, the broth will result in more gelatin which is very good and healing for the body.
A common mistake when making broth is to use too much water.  If you just cover the bones with water, the more likely you are to have gelatinous broth.

linked with Kelly the Kitchen Kop


1.  The Healthy Home Economist wrote about the wonders of gelatin and how to get more in your stock.

2.  Every Sunday Cheeseslave answers readers' questions.  In July she posted this about gelatinous broth:

Chicken feet are some of the boniest parts of the bird (chicken necks and heads are also very bony), and they produce the most gelatin.

Gelatin is essentailly collagen, which when heated becomes gelatin. It’s what helps things GELL (hence the name). This is also where the words jelly and JELL-O come from (JELL-O is made from gelatin which comes from the bones and skins of animals).

Collagen is what helps to give us strong bones as well as beautiful skin. Collagen fills in and plumps up your skin so that you don’t get wrinkles and saggy folds.  Read this post about how broth can cure cellulite.

Gelatin also helps to heal the gut lining, so for people who are suffering from intestinal disorders or food allergies, consuming lots of gelatin-rich stock is essential for recovery.

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Oct 25, 2011

Key Nutrients for Brain Development

Lisa shared some of this at a recent Weston A. Price chapter meeting; I stumbled upon it again and thought it was worth posting for the masses.

The following list is from Nourishing Our Children specifically the section on being malnourished.  I think it is safe to say that Americans are well-fed yet malnourished.

Key nutrients for brain development:

Vitamin A - Cod liver oil; liver, butter and egg yolks from grass-fed animals
Vitamin D - Cod liver oil, shellfish; lard, butter and egg yolks from grass-fed animals
Choline - Cod liver oil; egg yolks from grass-fed animals
DHA - Cod liver oil; liver, butter, and egg yolks from grass-fed animals
Zinc - Red meat of grass-fed animals, shellfish
Tryptophan - Meat of grass-fed animals
Cholesterol - Seafood; dairy foods, eggs and meat of grass-fed animals

You might notice the repetition of cod liver oil, egg yolk from grass fed animals, as well as meat from grass-fed animals.  {I wrote a few months ago how not all eggs are created equal.}  If you're new to a real food diet, a baby step for you could be to obtain a healthy source for eggs and meat and incorporate these things into your diet.

Here in central Arkansas options abound for grass fed meats and eggs.  I order fermented cod liver oil through Green Pasture, from my research it is the highest quality cod liver oil available.

If the above list was interesting to you, Nourishing Our Children is running a special on their educational DVD package.  However, a great amount of the content is available, free.  Be sure to check out some of their free downloads, too.

Disclaimer: I am not compensated for any of the above organizations.  My opinions have been stated freely.

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Oct 19, 2011

Workshop: Thyroid/Adrenal and Low Fat Myth Class

Saturday, November 12th

On Saturday, November 12, 2011, Sharon New, owner and creator of Local Food Beat in Annapolis, Maryland, will be in Little Rock to teach a one-day workshop at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church.

The first class (from 10am-noon) is a “Thyroid/Adrenal Education Class,” which has now been taught in the mid-Atlantic area to over 200 people and is one of her most popular classes and has received excellent reviews and feedback from attendees.

If you have been told by a doctor that your blood tests indicate that your thyroid is “normal”, or you’ve been put on an anti-depressant, or the less you eat the more you gain weight, then this class is for you.

“Thank you for such a comprehensive presentation with well researched information on thyroid and adrenals. The many resources that you have pulled together are very helpful as I take next steps in my recovery. I appreciate your holistic approach from nutrient dense, real food to understanding our bodies.”

The second class (from 1:30-2:30pm) is “Politically Incorrect Nutrition: Debunking the Low-Fat Myth.” Sharon lost almost 25 lbs last year eating a diet high in saturated fats. She cannot state it enough: Fat doesn’t make you fat….sugar makes you fat!!

Come to this class and learn why you need fat and cholesterol and what cholesterol has to do with Vitamin D, nerve and brain development, your hormones and the importance of eating a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet.

She will also talk about foods that can decrease inflammation and identify those foods which cause inflammation.

"I attended your Politically Incorrect food seminar and was fascinated by much of the material. The slides showing the progression of obesity rates from the CDC site was memorable, followed by your explanation of the impact corn and soy products have on the food system. As you recommended, I went home and watched Food, Inc. which is a very disturbing film. That convinced me to take your advice and try ingesting grass-fed animal products. I started this on Saturday and have already noticed a difference in:

(a) the amount of food I eat which is so much less than before; 
(b) my mood is terrific;
(c) my energy levels are fantastic; and 
(d) I am sleeping soundly without waking up at night. 

What a difference! I was a little suspicious about your claim that you lost 20+ lbs just eating properly....now, I understand how you did it. It really is true that you can easily control appetite when eating the right, but politically incorrect, foods."

For lunch (noon-1:30) we will all eat at The Root CafĂ© which is right next door to the church.  Please feel free to join us for lunch even if you are just attending one class.

There are three different prices. For the full-day workshop, it is a specially discounted rate of $50; for the Thyroid class only it is $35 and for the Low-Fat Myth class it is $25.

Please go to her website to read more about the Real Food for Real Health Workshop and to register.

Sharon New, MS, is a Food and Health Educator who teaches sustainable food cooking classes and health classes in Annapolis/ Baltimore/DC area. Sustainable foods are those that are local and raised responsibly and are healthy for the consumer. “I don’t think of food as either good or bad. Rather I ask, 'Is the food on my plate Real or Fake and where does it come from?'”

Over four years ago, Sharon read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and thus began her journey into the world of locally grown, sustainable foods. Sharon has researched the benefits of grass-fed food and the benefits of eating “real” food…food that heals the land and you rather than ”fake” foods that steal nutrients from you and the earth.

After working as a paralegal and legal secretary for over 12 years, Sharon made a decision to re-career and in 2002 enrolled in graduate school. Sharon holds a Masters of Science in Health Science, is Certified Health Education Specialist. Her article entitled Good Food is Relationship Based was published in the Summer/Fall 2009 City of Annapolis Magazine.

Three years ago this past April, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After treatment she began to investigate the relation of her thyroid to her adrenals and overall health. Her thyroid/adrenal education class will teach you how to become an advocate for your own health.

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Oct 16, 2011

Baby Likes LF BP

Pizza is on the menu about once a week at my house.  This week my 17-month old baby was throwin' a fit to have something from the table.  It thrilled my soul when I realized that it was the lacto-fermented banana peppers!

She ate more peppers than anyone that night.
So as to keep it real, the girl likes her chocolate, too.  She found a bowl in the dishwasher with chocolate on it.  At first she swiped it with her hand then quickly realized the rubber spatula would be more efficient!

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Oct 14, 2011

Batch Cooking

HB and I have tucked another batch cooking day under our belts.  This was our fourth cooking day together and it just keeps getting easier. {Click for first, second and third days.} Today's meals came together relatively easy, they weren't labor intensive.  All the credit needs to go to my bestest gal pal for her wonderful planning.  She is too good to me!  

When brainstorming our menu for today, we wanted to use a generous amount of green bell peppers from my mom's garden as well as a mixture of beef and chicken.  My husband does not prefer ground beef so that limits our recipe choices.  We also talked about the fact that this is the season to use a slow cooker. Many of our family favorites can be started early in the morning and slow cooked throughout the day. [A helpful resource for slow-cooking is this blog].

And a plug for batch cooking: you just got to try it.  Find someone whose family eats similarly to yours and double a couple recipes.  The time in the kitchen is more fun with another person plus when that crazy hour of 4 o'clock rolls around you will be so glad you have something for dinner from the freezer.  I cannot speak highly enough of batch cooking.  It has made me a better mother.  I am tired in the afternoons - and so are my children.  They need my attention during those crazy hours just before Daddy gets home.  The days that we have a meal waiting for us EVERYONE is happier.  My husband loves that I have been batch cooking.

The five meals made today:

Chicken and Rice Soup
This is the soup we serve our loved ones when they are sick.  Chicken broth is so nourishing and super delicious!  Now that the weather is cooling and the sniffles are in the air, this soup is even better.  Simple to make: chicken, chicken broth, mirepoix (that's a fancy word for the trinity: celery, carrots and onion), and rice.  Here's a grain free version.  We packaged this in smaller 2 cup containers, as well as 2 quart portions.

Has anyone ever tried a recipe by the Pioneer Woman they didn't like?  That woman can cook! This sandwich was amazing.  Both families ate them for dinner tonight.  The weather was utterly perfect for eating outside.

Another recipe chosen to use green bell peppers and cube steak but a crowd pleaser nonetheless!

Beef Tips
The last time HB and I cooked together she made these for us.  Uh- MAY-zing.  Seriously good food.   I hope to get this recipe to you peeps, soon.  It is delicious!

Mexican Chicken
What's not to like about lots of cheese, chicken and cream with a bit of tomato, peppers and corn tortillas?  This recipe was assembled and frozen in 8x8 pans.

I didn't take many pictures today, but I truly enjoyed the whole day.  It was not stressful.  At one point during the craziness, there were 4 women and 6 children in the house and it was LOUD.  The house was extra messy and crazy but I loved every single minute.  There are nourishing meals in my fridge and I got to hang out with friends today.  Does it get better than this?!  My friends even helped clean up.

And yes, that's a Chick-fil-A cup on the counter - one of my neighbors stopped by.   Almost directly above the Chick-fil-A cup you'll see another white bottle.  I burned myself by pouring a LOT of HOT chicken broth on my hand so I used liquid bentonite for the burn.  It works better than aloe.  Amazing stuff.

Linked with Monday Mania.

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Batch Cooking

HB and I have been planning another batch cooking day.
Yesterday's trip to the grocery store found me with the following (labeled by 80/20)

The good 80%
2 bunches organic celery
5 lbs onions
3.5 lbs mushrooms
2 lbs tomatoes
2 quarts cream - ultra-pasteurized but will be cooked at temperatures of at least 350* anyway.
cheese - which could be better quality and not pre-sliced or shredded but it is still REAL cheese and NOT Velveeta.  :)

Already at my house
6 lbs stew meat, grass fed
6 lbs round steak, grass fed
8 lbs pasture raised chicken, cooked in a crock pot, used the bones for broth
5 lbs organic carrots
5+ lbs organic bell peppers (Thanks, Mom!)
shiitake mushrooms from Argenta's farmers market (8oz?)
5+ lbs organic butter I found on sale last week.

The compromise 20%
hoagie rolls
corn tortillas
2 boxes of chai - it was buy one get one free and is made with cane sugar.  Definitely a treat at my house.

Stay tuned for recipes and more cooking fun!

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Oct 12, 2011

Radish Relish

The weekends are few that the farmers markets will be open. Take advantage of this incredible weather and visit one on Saturday! I enjoy going to Argenta but don't forget there's also one near Pulaski Heights Baptist Church on Kavanaugh.

Last Saturday I came home from the market with turnips and LOTS of radishes.
After trimming and washing them,
I shredded them with carrots, onions and a bit of garlic.
Added some salt and whey and put it in a jar.  It will sit on my counter for 3-4 days, while it does its lacto-fermenting magic. (This is a simple way to preserve food while increasing its nutritional value.)

In the Fall 2011 Wise Traditions (journal for the Weston A. Price Foundation), on page 65 Jen Allbritton, CN, writes:

Lacto-fermented foods encourage digestion and absorption of nutrients, build the good bacterial ecology in the gut, boost immunity, assist in detoxification and taste delicious!

Making this relish helps me to accomplish two of my new year's real food resolutions: to eat locally and to eat a fermented food with every meal.

What to do with this relish?

Lacto-fermented veggies are eaten as a condiment, a couple tablespoons at a time, not as a side dish.  I use this relish on tacos, in salads, or on a hamburger.  Now that soup-season is here, the saltiness goes well in soups (add after the soup is cooled a bit so as not to kill all the active enzymes and beneficial bacteria.)

One of the great things about lacto-fermenting is that you can do it in any quantity, from a pint jar up to a gallon or more.  The limit is the size of your container. 

Ingredients for 3 quarts:
radishes, about 8 bunches
turnips, about 6-8
3 large carrots
one yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
3 Tablespoons of Real Salt (not iodized)
1/2 cup whey
filtered water to cover the veggies, if there is not enough juice.

Other posts on lacto-fermenting:
Radish and kohlrabi (from the spring)
kimchi (a delicious Korean sauerkraut)


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Oct 10, 2011

80/20 Principle

A conversation with a friend today caused me to think of a first-century conversation between Roman ruler, Festus, and the Apostle Paul.

It is recorded that Festus said to Paul, "...your great learning is driving you out of your mind."

Sometimes I feel this way about real food.  It seems like the more I read and learn, the more I feel trapped about what I should and shouldn't eat.  Sometimes my learning about traditional foods drives me crazy.

When I start to feel discouraged, I remind myself to follow the eighty-twenty principle.

Never heard of it?

Simply it means that 80% of the time I do what I can to give my family nutrient dense foods.  The remaining 20% of the time I must remember that life happens.  The baby gets sick.  The laundry is encroaching on our living space.  Guests stay an extended period.  And life happens.

We are all given 24-hours in a day.  Do what you can to keep nourishing food on the table then relax.  Give yourself some grace.

Jesus himself said that "life is more than food."


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Oct 9, 2011

Linky Love

Would you eat gray Cheetos? - Ruth's Real Food

Loosing Pregnancy Weight part 1 and part 2 - The Nourishing Gourmet

Is Edamame Good for You? - Kelly the Kitchen Kop

7 Signs and Symptoms You Are Addicted to Junk Food

New 2011 Dirty Dozen List - excellent commentary by Kitchen Stewardship

Getting Grandparents on Board with Real Food - Cheeseslave

FYI: Kellogg Valley Farms has about 10 shares available of their CSA.  Go here for details.


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