Nov 29, 2011

Beef Tongue: Not So Offal

You will notice by the professional quality pictures that this is a guest post by Kelli.  Thanks, Kelli!
Organ meat. Lengua. TONGUE. 

All of those words are enough to strike fear into the heart of the most good-intentioned traditional cook. To be completely honest, getting organ meats into our diet is something I keep putting off myself. I baby-step my way over and around it, then I start working on other steps so that I can justify my failure to include them on a regular basis. Liver…can’t quite figure out how to eat it without gagging a little bit. Heart…let’s not even go there. THEN came the day when I discovered beef tongue.

I can’t remember what first compelled me to order a grass-fed beef tongue from Conway Locally Grown. Perhaps it was the picture of the tasty-looking tongue sandwich they included. It looked a lot like a slice of roast beef. The price per pound was appealing as well when compared to a grass-fed beef roast. Either way, I have purchased and prepared many beef tongues since that original “lapse in judgment.”

The nice thing about tongue is that it is less…organish…than liver. I would compare the texture and taste of the back of the tongue to a pork roast. The front part is a little more of a unique texture. It’s softer. If you really pay attention while chewing, there seems to be a slight – albeit very slight – taste that is distinctive to tongue, but I’m pretty sure if you didn’t know any better you wouldn’t notice it. Using lots of seasoning usually covers it up nicely. I would have loved to been able to serve it the first time without my husband knowing what it was, although after reading THIS ARTICLE by Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship I might would think twice about it.

I am by no means claiming to be an expert on tongue preparation. I am merely sharing the things I’ve figured out in the short amount of time I have been serving tongue. Maybe this post will bring some expert tongue-preparers out of the closet and they will give us all some great tips.

Let’s dive in!
First of all, this is an excellent meat to prepare in the crockpot! Anyway you decide cook it, you start off by a long simmer on low heat. I cook mine for 10 hours on low in the crockpot, and you could definitely go longer, especially for a bigger tongue. It can be kind of mushy if you don’t cook it long enough. The nice thing is that there’s no prep, versus having to season and braise a roast first. You just plop the thing in there with enough water to cover it. (Bonus: It makes a nice stock.)

After it’s cooked, you need to peel all the skin off of it. Sometimes there’s a bit of a film left behind – make sure you scrape that off too. That’s the key to keeping it from having a weird texture, and to keep husbands happy and coming back for seconds.
You have several different options at this point. I’m going to show my favorite way to prepare it: Cut the tongue into slices, and season them with whatever seasonings strike your fancy at the time: cumin, paprika, chili powder are some suggestions. Heat your fat of choice in a skillet – I used refined coconut oil. Fry the pieces until they are browned on both sides. This gives it just a bit of a crisp that takes it from blah to divine! In case I haven’t stressed it enough, when cooking tongue, texture is everything!!!
Now, if the texture doesn’t bother you, you can just skip this step and shred it and eat it like roast beef with rice. Another way we like it is to shred and cook it in the skillet with  taco seasonings. Serve on homemade tortillas for some amazing tacos! When you brown it like I do, it even tastes good cold out of the refrigerator. Ever heard of cold tongue sandwiches? Yum!
Alrighty then. Feel up for the challenge yet? Put on your big girl (or boy) panties, get a beef tongue from your local farmer and get to work! Who knows? It may end up being a regular family favorite!

linked to Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen KopFight Back Friday, and Monday Mania.

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Nov 24, 2011

WAPF Wise Traditions: The Food

One of the things that excited me most about going to the 2011 Wise Traditions conference was the food.  I didn't have to plan or cook it.  No one asked me to do the dishes, either!  Glorious.

The following pictures were taken with camera on my phone.  They just don't do it justice.  (About a year ago, our house was robbed and the greedy thieves took my camera among other things.)

And, because I was so excited about meeting people, I forgot to take pictures of breakfast and lunch on Friday.  Believe me, they were delish.  I drank some of the most wonderful mango yogurt every morning. 

Before I gush any further over the food, I want to tell you one of my BIG takeaways from the conference: when I eat nourishing traditional food I am not tempted to snack.  Not once did I think, "Gee I'm hungry" between meals.  Nor did I dream about a bite (or ten) of chocolate.  My cravings for carbs were non-existant.  I think this is because I was eating plenty of fats and nutrient dense foods.  

The full menu is here.  Can you imagine cooking for 1200-1500 people?  I don't even want to think about it.  Here's a picture of where we ate.
Friday's dinner buffet included:
fall tomato salad with cucumbers, basil and red wine vinaigrette
 Above and to the left is sourdough bread.  Below is beautifully yellow butter from grass-fed cows.  About 800 pounds of said butter were used for the conference.  Yum.
My dinner plate, below: grilled pork and beef sausages, lacto-fermented sauerkraut, potato chips fried in lard, butter, sourdough bread, tomato salad with cucumbers, watermelon slice drizzled with balsamic drizzle, molasses baked beans.
Keepin' it real here - the beans were crunchy.  So later I found chef Monica Corrado and asked her about them because I've cooked crunchy beans before - from soaking them in some acidic medium, as suggested in Nourishing Traditions.  Sometimes no matter how long I cook those babies they are crunchy.  So, I've stopped soaking with an acidic medium.  I've only been soaking in water.  'Cause who wants crunchy beans?  Not me.

Monica told me there was a communication break-down in the kitchen.  After all, she was re-training the chefs from the Sheraton to cook traditionally, Weston A. Price style.

She also told me that she worked with Nourishing Tradition's author, Sally Fallon-Morell, to develop a chart for soaking beans and grains.  Some need an alkaline medium, not acidic!  You can get this handy chart as an app on your smart phone.  Search for Bean and Grain Prep.  It will change your life forever and you can thank me later.

Back to our regularly scheduled food post.

Saurday's lunch was roasted beet salad, lacto-fermented pickles, assorted raw cheeses,  braunschweiger and liverwurst - which I'd already purchased some, honey mustard, sourdough bread and yummy butter, cheesecake with an incredible almond-date crust.

 I knew I wouldn't eat much of the soup because I had so much on my plate already but I had to try the vegetable rice soup in chicken broth.
Saturday's dinner was a banquet.  It started with smoked Sablefish (or black cod) from Vital Choice.  I'm not a big fan of fish so it is a big deal when I say this was good.  It was served chilled but the next day I tasted it warm at the Vital Choice booth and it was amazing.
Main Course: Pot Roast with root veggies and winter squash.  Fermented veggies were passed around the table.  Yum.
 Dessert was a simple red wine poached baked pear with walnuts and carob sauce.  Also very yummy and satisfying.
 Sunday's lunch/brunch: pastured egg casserole, fermented salsa, pork sausage, sourdough french toast and maple syrup, grass-fed butter, melons, liverwurst and honey mustard, slices of parmesan, salmon lox (which I tasted for the first time and it wasn't that bad!)

 The next two pictures are about food, but not of food.  There were some witty t-shirts at this conference.
Below his shirt says "praise the lard."  And on his plate is something I tasted for the first time with Friday's lunch - a coconut wrap.  It would be a good gluten-free tortilla option, albeit pricey.  I will vouch for the flavor = yummy.
And the treat I brought home to my family?  Salmon roe.  My 18-month old was eating it straight off the spoon.  My 7-year old son wanted to spit it out - he struggles with textures.  I'm not a big fish fan but I bought this roe after listening to Sally Fallon-Morell's talk on Healthy Pregnancy.  Vital Choice posted a cute video of children from the conference tasting roe for the first time.
Other posts about the conference worth mentioning: Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS and Cheeseslave.

The conference was wonderful and I sincerely hope that you could go next year.  It is a worthwhile investment.


My other posts about the 2011 conference:

Liverwurst is not the worst. Complete with video of my toddler gobbling it up.
- What I Learned at the 2011 Conference; five overall impressions

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Nov 20, 2011

Stock up for Thanksgiving

by Erin

Ahhh, Thanksgiving.  I love the colors and smells and time with family.  At our meal with extended family this year, I am responsible for the turkey, giblet gravy, and cornbread stuffing.  Homemade stock will play a major role in my recipes.

Making my own stock was one of my first Real Food cooking experiments.  I can honestly say that I've never ruined a batch of stock.  It's pretty near impossible to do.  I've dumped large amounts of it all over my kitchen while trying to pour it into freezer bags (that stuff is slippery!), but at least I knew it had lots of healthy gelatin!

Sure, you can go grab a can or a box of broth from the fancy display at the grocery store.  You can even get bouillon and “make your own.”  But let me encourage you to forsake convenience for nutritional value and yummy-ness.

There are scary things lurking in those packaged items.  One of the scariest ingredients is the excitotoxin known as monosodium glutamate or MSG.  You must be careful even on packaged items which state they have “No MSG.”   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to list MSG only if it's added in its pure form. But several food additives that contain MSG may be included without special labeling.  Here is a list of the ingredients you should watch out for, one of which is autolyzed yeast extract.

Now I have a suggestion.  Rather than trying to remember all those crazy ingredient names (or taking a  list with you), why not make your own stock?!  Then you'll know exactly what is in it.  And it will be full of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur.  You can use it in your mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, vegetable dishes, rice dishes, etc.

Another reason to avoid store bought broth is because of the crazy amounts of salt.  Even the “low sodium” varieties of broth have upwards of 500mg of sodium.  Now, don't get me wrong--I'm a big fan of salt.  But only healthy salt like Real Salt and Celtic salt.  Table salt and the salt used in processed foods has no trace minerals and has moisture absorbing chemicals added.

Tips for stock:
1. Make a batch of chicken stock this week and put it in the freezer to use for your Thanksgiving meal prep.
2. Freeze some broth in ice cube trays in case you need smaller amounts.  Each cube is equal to 1 ounce (or 2 Tablespoons).  It is great to put a few cubes in a mug, add boiling water and Real Salt/Celtic salt, and enjoy a warm mug of broth when you have the sniffles.
3. Once you've cooked your whole chicken and gotten all the meat off the bones, keep the juices and bones in your crockpot.  You can put the crock in the refrigerator if you're not ready to start a batch of stock right then.
4. Instead of throwing away your veggie scraps (like onion, carrot, and celery), throw them into the crock.  They'll add wonderful flavor to your stock.

Other Thanksgiving suggestions:  (these can be done before the actual day, saving you time and stress)

1. Having pumpkin pie?  Try making your own pumpkin puree from an actual pie pumpkin.  Here's a recipe using a slow cooker and here's one for the oven.
2. Make your own whipped topping for your pie (we will be using whipped coconut cream).
3. Buy a pastured turkey from a local farmer.  Why care?  Read below.

<<<WARNING: The following excerpt is rated PG-13 for mature content>>>

From Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver:

“Of the 400 million turkeys Americans consume each year, more than 99 percent of them are a single breed: the Broad-Breasted White, a quick-fattening monster bred specifically for the industrial-scale setting.  Those are the big lugs so famously dumb, they can drown by looking up at the rain. (Friends of mine swear they have seen this happen.) If a Broad-Breasted White should escape slaughter, it likely wouldn't live to be a year old: they get so heavy, their legs collapse.  In mature form they're incapable of flying, foraging, or mating.  That's right, reproduction.  Genes that make turkeys behave like animals are useless to a creature packed wing-to-wing with thousands of others, and might cause it to get uppity or suicidal, so those genes have been bred out of the pool.  Docile lethargy works better, and helps them pack on the pounds.  To some extent, this trend holds for all animals bred for confinement.  For turkeys, the scheme that gave them an extremely breast-heavy body and ultra-rapid growth has also left them with a combination of deformity and idiocy that renders them unable to have turkey s*x.  Poor turkeys.

So how do we get more of them?  Well you might ask.  The sperm must be artificially extracted from live male turkeys by a person, a professional turkey sperm-wrangler if you will, and artificially introduced to the hens, and that is all I'm going to say about that.  If you think they send the toms off to a men's room with little paper cups and Playhen Magazine that's not how it goes.  I will add only this: if you are the sort of parent who threatens your teenagers with a future of unsavory jobs when they ditch school, here's one more career you might want to add to the list.”

More info:
Chicken BROTH is made from chicken meat and chicken parts, with a high flesh to bone ratio.
Chicken STOCK is made from chicken parts that have a very low flesh to bone ratio.  Backs, neck, breast bones, and feet produce the best stock.  Stock is more gelatinous when finished.  It is also known as “bone broth.”
Check out Sally Fallon's article entitled “Broth is Beautiful.”
Here's the secret to gelatinous chicken broth.

This post is a part of Monday Mania.

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Nov 19, 2011

Ranch Dressing

Hey y'all. HB here to share a quick and easy recipe. Who doesn't love a good ranch dressing? I started making my own long before going completely nuts and reading Nourishing Traditions. Now, not only do I make my own ranch dressing, I make my own mayo to go in my ranch dressing. Keep in mind, I don't spend hours a day in my kitchen. Making mayo takes a second or two and this dressing takes even less time. And, if your mayo flops, you can still use it in the dressing!

Ranch Dip or Dressing
3/4 to 1 cup mayo (homemade is best, recipe here)
1 cup sour cream (I use Nancy's organic cultured sour cream)
3/4 t. dried chives
1 t. dried parsley
1/4 to 1/2 t. dried dill weed (flavor intensifies the longer the dressing is refrigerated. I go very light on the dill)
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1/4 to 1/2 t. salt, add to taste
1/4 t. black or white pepper
dash red pepper

Combine above and refrigerate for an hour. This makes a fairly thick consistency, so if you are wanting it to be thinner, you can add milk or water. It also thickens the longer it's been in the fridge. I have to thin the above recipe considerably for salad dressing. I've thinned it with buttermilk before and it was divine. Be sure to taste it after you've mixed it and feel free to add sour cream, spices, etc.

The dressing keeps for quite some time in the fridge. The last time I made it, I had a big ole batch of mayo that didn't set up quite right, so I used my trusty hand mixer to blend the ingredients. It turned out perfect! In retrospect, I don't even think I needed the mixer, I could have whisked it together by hand just as well.

And, since I'm feeling generous, I'll share one more dressing recipe that people lurve (originally discovered here):

Honey Dijon Dressing
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3-4 tablespoons honey (local, of course)
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Keeps well in the fridge.


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Nov 16, 2011

WAPF Wise Traditions: Julie's Guide to Audio

Many of our readers have expressed regret, being unable to attend the 2011 Wise Traditions conference.  Fret not!  Audio is available for purchase.

From over 59 sessions to choose, believe me, it was tough choosing which sessions to attend.  Even though I attended the conference, I bought the MP3 files for two reasons:  to listen again as well as listen the first time to sessions I didn't attend.

Sessions I attended and would recommend listening to:

Traditional cooking by Tara Rayburn.  I heard the last 45 minutes of her talk because I worked the regstration table.  She shared tips on how to make food prettier, or easier to get kids to eat.  Processed foods enhance flavors with chemicals; I need to do it with herbs and essential oils.  Someone in the audience gave a tip for making icing: blend together avocado, maple syrup, and cocoa powder to taste.  It will darken over time as avocado oxidizes. I’m looking forward to listening to the entire talk.

Gut & Psychology/Phisiology Syndrome Part 2 by Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, HMC, CCH.  It was very interesting.  I’ve read about GAPS and was interested in hearing Natasha speak.  She is a convincing speaker.  People suffering from digestive issues would benefit from this information.  She said if a child is a picky eater, only craving sweets or processed foods, the child probably needs the GAPS diet. I think I have relatively good gut health but will eventually listen to all three of her talks.

The Greater Good.  Excellent documentary on vaccines.  I want to get a group together to watch it.  Leslie Manookian, writer and producer of the documentary said it streamed free from a few weeks ago and will stream again soon on another site.  Sign up for The Greater Good email list and find out when and where.

Obesity Myths by Ben Pratt.  From the session overview, “...restricting energy intake and increasing daily activity has long been known as the ultimate solution...(he will) expose the myths behind our dietary and activity soutions that have yet to bring about change."

Industrial Sweeteners Myths by Russ Bianchi.  He didn't score points from me when he said, "now I'm going to read my notes" and read them exclusively.  I decided to walk the exhibition hall and talk to exhibitors.  I bought liverwurst.  I will listen to this session again.  Many people said he had good information.

Salt Myths by Mortin Satin, PhD.  My big take away from this talk is that today we eat half the amount of salt as people before refrigeration and WWII.  Listening recommended.  He showed convincing slides, that could be helpful for visual learners.  At the end of the talk he made this observation, “in the hospital you’re given 5.5 times daily recomended salt via intravenous saline drip but blood pressure typically remains the same.  Why is that?  The body can handle the salt.  What about swollen fingers after eating at an Asian restaurant?  This would be a spike in your salt consumption, it is not hypertension.”

Nutrition and Mental Health Health Topics by Pentti Nupponen, DMD.  He talked about our exposures to toxins (specifically mercury) and how we get so sick.  In his second talk, he gave solutions. Listening recommended.  He was an entertaining speaker.  I want to take this talk to my dentist, as well as a copy of Dr. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

Fat Myths by Chris Masterjohn.  I sat through the entire session but didn’t take notes; Chris is pursuing a PhD so this talk was a bit technical.  Chris is an entertaining speaker but you must engage your brain. He helped separate fact from fiction when it comes to good fats versus bad fats.  “It is overall nutrient density and nutrient bioavailablity of the diet, however, and not the specific content of the fat, that produces health.”

Keynote address by Joseph Mercola, MD.  Dr. Mercola is an easy speaker to follow; he is clear in presenting ideas, uses illustrations and stories, and his slides were helpful.  I recommend listening to this talk.  Be advised he tries to sell a few of his products  half way through his talk (no surprise if you are a Mercola follower).

Healthy Pregnancy by Sally Fallon-Morell. EVERY woman of childbearing age should listen to this talk.  I was familiar with a lot of the information; however I still learned tons.  I will make a copy of this talk and give it to my OB/GYN.

Fever: A Child’s Best Friend by Tom Cowan, MD.  Everyone would benefit from this session. It will compel you to allow fevers, not just in children.  I haven't used Tylenol in years and was convinced even more that this was the right thing to do after hearing Dr. Cowan. He told many stories; I didn’t take many notes but learned much.  My takeaway sentence: A fever is not the problem but the therapeudic response.

In addition to the sessions mentioned above I look forward to hearing the following sessions when my MP3 files arrive in the mail.  Not all sessions are mentioned. A complete list of sessions can be found here.

Sally Fallon-Morell - Traditional Diets
Stephanie Seneff, PhD - Nutrition and Metabolism
Jessica Prentice - Broth Based Soups and Stews
Denise Minger - The China Study Myths
Judith McGeary, Esq - Farm and Food Activism (I heard her speak passionately at the banquet)
Sally Pacholock, RN and Jeffrey Stuart, DO - Vitamin B12
Pam Schoenfield, RD - Vitamin B6
Howard Vlieger - GMOs and Mammal Health
Chris Masterjohn - Vitamin K
Sarah Pope - Infant Care and the WAPF Formula
April Renee - Vaccinations
Jacques Coulet, PhD - The Importance of Trace Minerals
Louisa Williams, MS, ND - Radical Medicine
Monica Corrado - Cooking Nutrient Dense Liver an Enzyme-Rich Raw Meat! (I interacted briefly with Monica around the question of soaking beans during one lunch.  I was impressed with this animated teacher at heart.  PLUS she helped coordinate and oversee the menu for the conference.  Amazing.)

with Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Related Wise Traditions 2011 posts:
-Rock Star Real Food Blogger Sightings
-What I learned at the 2011 conference
Julie fainting to meet Cheeseslave

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Nov 15, 2011


A characteristic of a traditional diet, or a diet recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation, is that the foods are nutrient dense.

{Interesting to note: the USDA also recommends a nutrient dense diet but their modern definition is vastly different than what traditional peoples have eaten for thousands of years.  Our government defines nutrient dense as, "nutrients you need with relatively fewer calories that other foods in the same group."  If you were to offer me TWO heads of iceberg lettuce or ONE avocado, I would choose the avocado because it is nutrient dense.  I do not subscribe to the USDA's definition of nutrient dense.}

About Liver

Liver is nutrient dense and an excellent source of brain boosting, mineral assimilating, fat soluble vitamins A* and D.  The iron found in liver is five times more easily absorbed than iron found in plant sources.  There is more vitamin A in liver than any other food source and one of the few natural sources of vitamin D.  Need more B vitamins?  They're all in liver, particularly B12.  You'll also be eating phosphorus, copper, vitamin C as well as a host of other trace minerals.  It is a super-food.

For a while I've known that liver was extra-good for me and that I should eat it. When I've tried to sneak this miracle organ in enchiladas or hamburgers it made me gag. Could liverwurst be my baby step toward eating straight liver?

US Wellness Meats was giving away samples at their booth at the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions annual conference.  Boldly, my fingers grabbed a toothpick that was anchored into liverwurst and I brought it to my lips before I was able to have second thoughts.

It wasn't that bad.

Ingredients: beef, beef liver, beef kidneys, beef heart, water, sea salt, onion powder, honey, white pepper, coriander, marjoram, allspice

A representative from US Wellness Meats encouraged me to also try the braunschweiger since it had more liver per pound and she thought it tasted less liver-y.  I disagree.

Saturday's lunch at the WAPF conference.
I bought the liverwurst.

The next day at lunch, liverwurst was on the buffet table so I put it on my plate and paired it with lacto-fermented pickles and raw cheese.  Also offered was Amish honey mustard, which was heavy on the honey.  After eating it this way, I knew my family would like it.

And I was right.  All of us like it this way:

Take a hunk of raw cheese - or another strong cheese.  Add a bit of liverwurst then a smidgin' of honey mustard and pop it in your mouth.  It would also be good with olives, capers, or lacto-feremented veggies.

Here's a video of my 18-month old begging for more.  Actually before the video she was more insistent. I suppose she is a bit camera shy.  You will see that she was willingly eating the liverwurst.  And it is next to impossible to get a toddler to eat something they don't want in their mouth.

*If you're interested in reading more information on vitamin A and why it needs to come from an animal source like liver, this is an extensive article by Sally Fallon-Morell and Mary Enig, PhD that explains more than I can.  Vitamin A is necessary for the assimilation of minerals.

This was an honest evaluation of liverwurst. I was not paid or compensated to give an endorsement for US Wellness Meats.

my daughter wears purple beads whether or not she's on camera.  :)

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Nov 14, 2011

WAPF Wise Traditions: What I Learned

After spending three intense days of learning at the Weston A Price Wise Traditions conference it is difficult to put into words all that I learned and experienced.  It was my first time at this conference.  Many people have asked me about it, so here's a first pass.  I hope to find time to write more in coming days, particularly which audio sessions to buy.

Overall Impressions

1.  The food was amazing.  I didn't keep good records, but it seems like I tasted something new at each meal.  I will write a separate post on the food.  It alone was worth the cost of the conference.  Among many other things, I tasted "bubonic tonic" which was beet kvass made by fab ferments.  Potent stuff; it is made with fermented beets, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, and onions.  Other things I tasted for the first time: liverwurst, braunschweiger, lox, caviar, sablefish, pemmican, butter oil and a bunch of food by Zukay.  I bought samples to bring home to my family and friends.  I've wanted to try all these things but too afraid to spend the money to try them.

Personal Action Point: start saving for next year's conference.

2.  Convinced beyond a doubt the necessity of fat-soluable vitamins A, D & K - that only come from animal sources.  I knew some of this, but wow! it was reinforced.  Some notes I took in one of Sally Fallon-Morell's talks:

When you eat the nutrient dense foods your body needs you will not have cravings for pornographic (processed) foods.  I can testify to this.  At the conference I was never hungry or even thought about snacking.  The meals were well balanced.

Primitive diets contained 4 times the calcium and other minerals and 10 times the fat soluable vitamins compared to modern diet.

Deficiency of vitamin K is characterized by underdevelopment bottom 3rd of face - she had a picture that compared two faces and showed this convincingly.

Green grass that pastured animals eat makes vitamins A&K.  Vitamin D comes from the sun as well as from animals who have been in the sun.  It is so important to eat animals who have been on grass.  {see also post on key nutrients for brain development.}

Vitamins A, D, and K are the activators for minerals.  A person cannot assimilate protein or calcium without vitamin A.  {Lori's post on Brain Pow-ah is expands a bit more on this.}

Salmon roe I brought to my family.
Personal Action Points: Keep eating lots of butter! Be consistent about taking fermented cod liver oil.  Learn to like organ meats and make liver in a palatable way. One mom I sat next to at a seminar recommended this recipe by Cheeseslave.  My new friend said she craved it.  I bought liverwurst and salmon roe to bring home from the conference, hoping to win my family over.  Get my children to eat more pastured egg yolks.

3. The awesome power of fermented foods.  Lacto-fermented foods are powerhouses of vitamins, enzymes, beneficial bacteria and flavor!  My family enjoys drinking kombucha and actually I have to ration it for everyone, baby included.   Several people at the conference brought to my attention the need to diversify beneficial bacteria.  I have many jars of lacto-fermented veggies in the fridge but often forget to set them on the table.

Personal Action Point:  Look through the fridge for a lacto-fermented food before I sit at the table.  Keep making kefir smoothies once a week.

4.  Encouraged to keep real food in my kitchen and stay the course.   I heard so many stories of healing because of real, nutrient dense, food.  Incredible stories.  At mealtimes because I missed my children I purposefully tried to sit where I saw children at the table then talked with the mommas.  (There was a children's program at the conference that sounded fabulous!)  Or, if a woman looked to be my age inevitably we talked about children.

5.  There were pretty people at the conference.  This sounds silly but hear me out.  The older women were glowing with beautiful skin.  I hardly saw an overweight person (which is unusual in the south!)  Everyone was friendly.  I think these outward expressions are an indication of what is going on inside a person's body.  Nutrient dense food makes beautiful people.


PS - I added more WAPF foodie blogger sightings to Friday's post.  This is linked to The Healthy Home Economist, who was the first blogger I saw at registration.  She really didn't know what to think of me.  I was a bit, ahem, excited.

PSS - I just read Kelly the Kitchen Kop's tweets and could AMEN every single one.  I met her, too.  :)

If you went to the conference, what were your overall impressions?

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Nov 11, 2011

Wise Traditions Conference

Yesterday I left home for Dallas, only to remember 1.5 hours later that I forgot my wallet! I had to turn around. Thankfully my husband met me half way.

Once in Dallas, I helped fill 1,200 conference bags. Four hours of hard labor, people.

This morning I worked the registration table. Easy peasy job.

I met Sarah the Healthy Home Economist. Very exciting.

Then Sally Fallon-Morell who is president of the Weston A Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions. With her is Pete Kennedy, leading attorney with the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

And I almost didn't recognize Michael Schmidt without his hat. He recently finished a prolonged hunger strike on behalf of fresh, raw milk.

No real food conference would be the same without Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

Or Ann Marie - aka Cheeseslave.
And Jenny from Nourished Kitchen.
Finally, a part of the grocery list for this conference, which includes 800 pounds of butter, 52 gallons of maple syrup and 95 gallons of lacto-fermented vegetables.


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Nov 9, 2011

Brain Pow-ah

If you missed the last Weston A. Price Foundation meeting on "Real Brain Food," I'm here to give you a recap. Because you just might be interested in knowing that what you eat (or do not eat) really does have an impact on your brain. And your brain? Well, it pretty much controls everything about you. Behavior, emotions, attention, body function, growth, learning, immunity...yep...that's about it.

I'd venture to guess there's not a person reading this blog who hasn't at least known someone with cancer, diabetes, or asthma. Perhaps you've even experienced some of the devastation of these diseases firsthand. But let's just say you've been one of those people blessed with great health and a family with great health, and somehow you've managed to not even have a friend who has dealt with any devastating illness. I'll betcha you DO know a little something about allergy problems. Childhood behavior problems? Attention-deficit disorder? Depression? Anxiety?

Well, what if I told you that the people groups Dr. Price studied so long ago (before Western culture infiltrated them) were FREE of these problems? How did they have such robust health and (bonus!) such straight, white, and decay-free teeth? Dr. Price wondered the same thing, until he began to note the differences in their diets, as contrasted with that of the typical American in the 1930s. At this time, Americans were beginning to consume larger portions of white flour and sugar, while the diets of traditional societies all had three main things in common:

1. They consumed no processed foods. *

2. They regularly consumed animal foods of some kind.

3. The foods they ate were nutrient dense.  (In fact, their diets consisted of four times as much calcium and other minerals as our modern diet and ten times as much fat-soluble vitamins (A & D) as our own!)

How did they manage to get so many more nutrients from their food than we? Check into modern farming practices and you'll see. We have to use man-made nitrogen fertilizers because our soil is so deplete of minerals. This thanks to decades and decades of NOT rotating our crops. We kill the land and then move on to kill more somewhere else by planting the same crop year after year.


We came up with ways to process everything under the sun. Flour, bread, soup, cookies, soy beans. Even eggs! And, in case you haven't figured out how processing affects PEOPLE yet, I'll just cut to the chase...

The more something is processed, the less nutritious it is.

Plain and simple.

So how do we go from eating a primarily-processed-foods diet to a "real food" one like those of traditional societies?

1. Just DON'T eat processed foods.  (If it comes in a box, bag, or package, you'd probably do well to avoid it.)

2. Animals foods should be grass-fed or wild caught. And you definitely should include bone broth in your diet.

3. Grains, legumes, and nuts should be properly prepared for digestion. (This means soaking, sprouting, or culturing.)

4. Include some lacto-fermented vegetables and fruits every day.

5. Include fats and oils like butter, lard, coconut oil, cod liver oil, and grass-fed animal fat.

Our brains really do need to be nourished in order to function properly.

Perhaps you'll find this chart to be helpful:

vitamin a
vitamin d
Why do I need it?
Brain cell development, specifically learning and memory (spatial)
Affects proteins throughout brain, which have a hand in learning, memory, motor control, mood, and behavior.
People who have plenty of choline are smart and have memories that don’t fade with age. It is VITAL.
Must have for optimal brain function, learning ability, and mental development. A deficiency of DHA combined with a diet high in trans fats (found in processed foods) has been linked to hyperactivity, depression, and mood disorders.
Improves attention, reasoning, psycho-motor function, hand-eye coordination, mood stability, visual perception, and verbal memory.
Building block for serotonin, which plays a major role in memory function and SLEEP
Affects neurotransmitters in brain
Where can I get it?
ONLY found in grass-fed animal fats**
Animal fats, pastured eggs, and sunlight. However, to make Vitamin D from sunlight, the body must have enough cholesterol.
Pastured eggs
Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat and animal products
Red meat. Because of modern farming practices, which deplete the zinc from the soil, there is not a significant amount found in produce.
Wild-caught fish and seafood, grass-fed red meat, and pastured eggs are among its highest sources.
Found in any mammalian milk and in pastured eggs

**While carotenes from vegetable sources do contain Vitamin A, it must be converted in order for our bodies to be able to use it. This conversion simply cannot happen without the presence of fat. Besides, one would have to eat an astounding amount of vegetables to get anywhere near the daily requirement. And in her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon states, "Dr. Price discovered that the diets of healthy isolated peoples contained at least ten times more vitamin A from animal sources than found in the American diet of his day."

As Julie pointed out after the workshop, it seems if there was a SINGLE thing you could do to impact your nutritional intake, eating lots of pastured eggs would be that thing. Cook them in butter made from the cream of a grass-fed cow, or have the yolks raw in a smoothie made with raw milk, and you've got a healthy helping of almost every one of the "brain food" necessities listed above!

*Now, back to those evil processed foods. Ahem...

What makes 'em so bad??

Well, for starters, they contain:

refined sugars
high fructose corn syrup
trans fats
rancid vegetable oils
white flour
artificial flavors
artificial colors
protein powders
soy protein isolate
artificial sweeteners
nitrates and nitrites

Start Googling, and after just the first couple of items on this list, I am certain you'll become fairly horrified at the damage these can cause. 

So, what things can you cut out from your diet today?? And what things can you put in to promote healthy brain functioning?? 


P.S. If you, like most Americans, were once duped into believing fats were inherently evil, you can see from the chart above, from this post, and from this post that is simply not the case. If you'd like to hear more about the whys and wherefores, be sure to register for Sharon New's "Politically Incorrect Nutrition: Debunking the Low-Fat Myth" workshop to be held this Saturday, November 12th at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church. You may register here.

Linking up at Real Food Wednesday.

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Nov 8, 2011

Wise Traditions This Weekend

Thursday morning I'll be bustin' out of town, headed west on I-30 to Dallas, Texas.  Since I have a scholarship to the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions conference, I was asked to volunteer at least eight hours durning the conference.  Luckily I am able to do half of those hours before the conference begins.

If I can squeeze it in, I desire to blog some while there.  Otherwise, I'll be sure to share after the conference.

Several people have asked "What excites you most about going to this conference?"

Honestly, it will be staying in a hotel room (by myself!) but there are other perks.

1.  Thursday night I'm staying with a friend I haven't seen in seven years.

2. The FOOD - The conference planners go through extreme effort to offer yummy, nourishing, traditional food as a part of the conference experience.  In years' past I remember reading blogs of people who attended and it made my mouth water.  Here's the menu.  Read it and weep.  The best part?  I won't be cooking or washing any dishes.

3. The conference schedule.  It will be really hard to decide which lectures to attend.  Don't worry, I'll be sure to let you know how to download the audio after the conference.

4. Meeting other people passionate about traditional foods and sharing ideas.

Anyone else going?  I'll be working the registration table from 7-11am on Friday.  Be sure to say hello.

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Nov 6, 2011

Chicken: Taking Baby Steps

My journey towards this Real Food life has been slow and gradual.  About ten years in the making with the last three or four years being the most serious.

If ten years ago, you told me that I would be paying $3 a POUND for whole chicken, I would have called you cray-ZAY.  At the time, I would only buy bonless-skinless chicken breasts, on sale for $1/pound.  And I was clueless about how key nutrients for brain development come from grass-fed or pastured meats.

Ten years ago, I wrongly believed that cheaper always meant better.  I was semi-clueless about the poor living conditions for battery raised animals. (Read: not just inhumane but SICK, unhealthy conditions for meat animals results in low quality meat for human consumption.  If you haven't been convinced of this yet, please view Food, Inc. ASAP.)

Now, ten years later, I don't blink a bit when I pay $12-15 for a chicken.  Because I know that I will use the whole bird, even the bones.  Fifteen dollars will get me at least three nutrient dense meals.  And when it comes to feeding my family - nutrient density is the name of the game.

My goal in the kitchen is not just to fill bellies.  I want to develop their brains, make strong bones and straight teeth as well as prevent them from getting sick.

So -

If you find yourself on the beginning of a real food journey and you are used to buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts let me encourage you to take the next step.  You don't have to jump in whole hog chicken (though perfectly fine with me.)

Here is my ten year progression of consuming chicken, each choice being healthier than the last:

- boneless, skinless breasts from the grocery store
- whole chicken from the grocery store
- whole chicken from the grocery store, using bones for broth
- whole, organic, chicken from natural food store using bones for broth
- whole pastured chicken from local farmer, using bones for broth
- whole pastured chicken from local farmer, using bones, neck and feet for broth

The next step for me is to learn to like the organ meats, like liver.  I'm just not ready to be that crazy...yet.

Looking back, one of the biggest hurdles was learning to like the dark meat as well as disciplining myself to make (and use!) broth.  Dark meat is still not my favorite.  Usually it is used in casseroles or other dishes where the meat isn't singled out, like in enchiladas or chicken salad.  Actually, I prefer to use the stronger tasting dark meat in chicken salad.

Where are you in the spectrum?  Are you eating the whole bird?  Using the bones?

as a part of Monday Mania

Why broth is so beneficial and should be eaten regularly.
How I make chicken broth.
Gelatinous Chicken Broth: Secret Ingredients.

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