May 28, 2012

Zippy Potato Salad

This potato salad is super-yumma-lish.  Anyone who likes potato salad usually loves this one.

6 medium red potatoes with skin on; if I use white potatoes they are usually peeled. I cut either into cubes before boiling.

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
4 heaping teaspoons horseradish, or more
(I buy the non-creamy horseradish in the seafood section)
1 cup chopped organic celery, or more
1 teaspoon sea salt
15 squirts of hot sauce, or more
1 cup chopped (fresh) parsley, or more
1 onion minced or 1 c. green onion, chopped
hard boiled eggs, optional

Don't skimp on the horseradish or fresh parsley.  They really set this potato salad apart from all the others on the picnic table.  Mix, taste and adjust your flavors.  Usually I add mayo and sour cream a spoonful at a time because not all "medium potatoes" are medium.

Potatoes and celery are on the "dirty dozen" so I try to buy organic when I can.

If you're up for mastering a new skill, try making mayonnaise.  Recently I tried making it and found this recipe a good one.  When making mayo, I usually use 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 another milder tasting oil (like safflower or grape seed).  Even if you were to revert to using a *bad* oil like canola, homemade mayonnaise made with pastured egg yolks is waaaaaaay better for you than anything you buy at the grocery store.


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May 25, 2012

How to Make Kickin' Kraut

by Caroline ~age 2
Momma is too tired to tell you about our seven-hour sauerkraut endeavors so she asked me to blog about it for her.  First you need to start with about 40 pounds of cabbage.  You could start with a more realistic amount, say, just one head of cabbage - but my mom likes to make really big messes.  As for recipes, she didn't follow one, exactly but sort of used this one.
Next, shred some carrots.  We used ten pounds today.
 After shredding your cabbage, sprinkle sea salt over the top.
 Don't be stingy.  Be very generous.
And the fun part is squishing it through your hands.  Massage the salt into the cabbage to make the tasty juices come out.
My mom wanted to work out her arms, so she used a giant stick (French rolling pin) as a kraut pounder.
Because we wanted to make a kickin' kraut (not a tame one) we decided to also add about 12 pounds of radishes and 10 pounds of onions and 6 cloves of garlic (thank you Kellogg Valley Farms).  All shredded and stirred together in a 5 gallon bucket (twice).  We also added some whey for good measure.
Be sure to gather your supplies before getting started.  I had a lot of fun with the rings today.  Did you know they make really pretty bracelets?
 Momma and her friend Mrs. Stuckey made about 31 quarts of kickin' kraut today.
Bonus points for those of you who noticed my wardrobe change for the last picture.

Lovin' being in the kitchen with my momma,
age 2

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May 24, 2012

Probiotic Salad Dressing

by Diane Loftness

Here is a probiotic salad dressing that we eat nearly every day.

Before I tell you the ingredients, I need to tell you about my family's favorite way to eat lacto-fermented beets and turnips. (Lacto-fermenting is a fancy way of saying pickled with probiotics.)
The turnips are weighted down with smaller jars inside the gallon jars in the back 
I was given a lot of turnips and beets but I knew we couldn't eat them fast enough. The easiest way to preserve them is to pickle them in gallon jars.  I used a GAPS diet recipe, using a combination of turnips, beets and onions.  One of the beauties of lacto-fermenting is that you can choose your combinations and quantities.  On this page look for Fermenting Vegetables with Whey recipe or the Vegetable Medley recipe.  After they have pickled for a week or so on the counter, everything is a beautiful red.

These are my younger son's favorite pickles!  With two boys plus my husband and I, it didn't take long to get to the bottom of the jar with all the pickles gone and delicious juice left over.

What to do with the juice?
After thinking on it a while, I decided that a great place to hide this delicious and probiotic juice would be in salad dressing.
The second ingredient?  My older son likes spicy brown mustard so we often use that or dijon mustard.

I had a Walmart bottle of mustard that was half empty so I just filled it up with pickle juice, added a teaspoon of unrefined sea salt (to taste), put the lid on and shook it.

Eventually, because my family likes this dressing so much, I started buying mustard by the gallon from Azure Standard.

Then I started mixing it in quart jars because it was easier to pour into and made more.

Be sure to let your children be creative when they make it.  I had to flex a little with my teenager to suit his creativity. I think he has also used whey or kombucha when we were short on fermented pickle juice.  And he definitely prefers the spicy brown mustard over the dijon.

It makes a beautiful salad!  We like to put pansy flowers in our salad over the winter.  Yes, they are edible and the more flowers you pick, the more they will produce.  In the spring when my turnips went to seed, I decided that those beautiful yellow flowers would make a beautiful salad.  And they did!

This dressing does not have oil in it because I put the oil on the greens first.  It helps the liquid to stick to the leaves. (My teenager who is interested in physics says it has something to do with the surface tension of the water molecules on the oil molecules.)

Simply pour olive oil over your salad greens first and toss until the oil is evenly distributed.  Use 2 tablespoonfuls, up to 6 or 8 for a big salad.  I add more or less depending on how much other good fat I have in my meal.  The human body needs fat to help incorporate the vitamins and minerals in the salad.  Eating beautiful greens without the addition of a healthy fat is, well, not so healthy.

The salad ingredients can be mixed in the bowl ahead of time but don't toss with oil and dressing until just before serving.

How to Toss a Salad 
A salad-expert friend of mine taught me how to toss a salad.  Using this method, most of the dressing will stick to the oil and greens instead of going to the bottom of the bowl.

Use two separate utensils, large forks and/or spoons - one for each hand.  Slide the utensils down the side of the bowl until they meet at the bottom.  Then gently lift them up and toss the salad a little into the air so it falls off of the utensils.  Keep turning the bowl as you are doing this until the oil is evenly distributed on the salad ingredients.  Everything in the bowl should have an oil shine on it.  Then add the liquid part of the dressing and toss again.

While typing this, my teenager just told me that this is a good recipe to share!  I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine has.

-Diane Loftness
Conway, Arkansas

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May 17, 2012

Fruit Snacks from...Zucchini

It is almost the time of year when we southerners purposely start locking the car so that random people don't stuff bags of baseball bat sized zucchini behind the driver's seat.

Find yourself in this predicament?  Make fruit snacks.

Start with:
zucchini (or yellow squash)
pineapple juice
grape juice concentrate (optional)
vegetable peeler, sharp knife & cutting board
My zucchinis were about the size of my forearm so the middle needed scooping out.  If you want to use smaller ones, I'm sure they would do just fine but usually people want to give away the big ones.  And the smaller ones are better suited for sautéing.
Be sure to remove the peel.  You don't want anyone to know your dirty little tricks to bite into something hard later.

Then slice and chop.  In the picture I have about 1/2-3/4 inch wide strips and about one inch long.  Next time I will make the pieces much longer.
As you can see, my pieces were not uniform.  (Where's the fun in that?!)  The pineapple juice easily covered the zucchini.  I probably had room for another zucchini.
Above and below: 3 forearm sized zucchini in 6 cups of pineapple juice (the entire tin).  Bring pineapple juice and zucchini to a boil then simmer.  Below is after simmering for 30 minutes.  There's much more juice (or so it seemed).
Being the nerd I am, I had to measure it because I knew you would want to know.  The end result was 5 3/4 cups of juice - only 1/4 cup less than when I started.
The zucchini went into a colander to cool {imagine a picture}.  I forgot to take one because I was so excited about doing the process all over again with the addition of grape juice concentrate.  Because I wasn't following a recipe, I decided to start with 1/4 cup of concentrate.  It made a pretty purple.
Added two more forearm sized zucchini, chopped.  This time the pieces were bigger overall (I guess I was getting lazy).
 Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
Drain in a colander {imagine picture}.  Be sure to let it cool.  People with common sense will know not to touch something after it has just been poured out of boiling liquid.  But I was too excited.  I wanted to know how it tasted.

Yumma.  Like hot pineapple.

Eventually I had to slap little hands (well, not exactly - but they were sad that I told them to stop eating my goods!)

Then I spaced the zucchini on my dehydrator.  You can see the grape flavored zucchini was a weird color.  It had enough grape flavor, but the color is something to be desired.  I think the next time I will try 1/2 cup of concentrate.
I started the dehydrator (at 140*) at 6pm and stopped it at 8am.  The next time I do this, I will start earlier in the day so I can monitor the drying progress.  I would like to taste/feel the consistency of less drying time.  You could most definitely dry these in your oven on its lowest temperature.  Just be sure to watch the zucchini and turn it frequently.
I'll be the first to admit that they look more like bacon, or crispy pork rinds than fruit snacks.  But if you can get over the fact that it is made of zucchini and just get it in your mouth - your taste buds will be happy!
What started as five zucchini the size of my forearm dehydrated to about 1.5 cups worth of dried fruit.  Pineapple flavored is in blue bowl, grape flavor in the glass.

And the taste?  Yum.  If you like dried apples, I think you will like dried zucchini (first simmered in pineapple juice).

Oh, I almost forgot!  The extra juice I saved for when I can get my grubby little hands on more zucchini.  My car is unlocked.


PS - Thank you, Missy Stuckey, for sending me this link where blog author used Kool-Aid and white sugar to achieve similar results.

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May 16, 2012

Fluoride Free Toothpaste: Reader's Suggestions

I have learned much about toothpaste since posting the picture of my family's toothpaste!  This is yet another prime example that as consumers we must be diligent to read labels.  Read them and understand what they mean.

Thank you to all who contributed information and comments.

First of all, Kelli Stuart bursted my toothpaste bubble by sharing this link, saying that if a toothpaste has glycerin in it (both Tom's and Jason have glycerin), it will prevent teeth from remineralizing.

The author of the above post recommends making your own toothpaste.  Well, I have - and I don't like the taste.

If that wasn't enough, another friend, Jill DeLon pointed out that Tom's uses Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) (known carcinogen and hormone disruptor.)

GAAHHHH!!!  Just when I thought I was winning the war in the toothpaste arena by going fluoride free, there is still work to be done.

Truth be told, I will not throw away any of our toothpaste.  What we are using is still better than the fluoridated toothpastes.  I am OK with glycerin in the Jason brand.  I will not buy Tom's again for our children.

Brands that were recommended by readers:

Blog commenter jcurran said: "I tried a few recipes of homemade toothpaste, as well as Orawellness Brushing Blend. What I've settled on, because I don't mind the salty taste of baking soda, is a little baking soda with a little squirt of Tooth Soap Peppermint Whip. The Whip I get from Amazon. It's too foamy for me without the baking soda (and too expensive). Together they're just right."

Linda Green emailed to say: "My personal favorite fluoride free toothpaste is anise flavored by Nature's Gate. I starting using this brand about twelve years ago. My oldest grandson is 16 and he switched to this brand 2 years ago."  {Julie's NOTE: ingredients include glycerin and Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (I've not researched Sarcosinate)}

Another friend mentioned MI Paste and said, "  did a good job of reducing the sensitivity for me.  The downside was that after a period of time my teeth turned gray :{  It took a lot of scrubbing with baking soda to get it off.  I can't imagine that it happens often or they couldn't stay in business."

Lisa Lipe chimed in to say:  "Dr. Hendricks told me she recently researched toothpaste and decided on Design for Health Periobiotic Spearmint.  Her stipulations when she started looking were no flouride, no SLS, no NutraSweet, no artificial color, and it must have xylitol and calcium.  The bonus on this one is the probiotics, but it does have glycerin.  She also said that she purchased Spry for Kids for the children in her family. "

So, dear readers, keep reading... labels especially.  And chime in when you find a great tasting, fluoride-free, SLS free, and glycerin free toothpaste.

Thanks again to all who contributed to make this blog post possible.


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May 13, 2012

Fluoride Free Toothpaste

Since boasting of being cavity-free for four years despite switching to fluoride-free toothpaste and drinking non-fluorideated water, some people have asked what toothpaste I use.

Finding a fluoride-free toothpaste that my fit my family's taste buds was no small feat.

Actually, my children have been easy to long as it is not too "hot."  I bought fruity flavored toddler fluoride-free toothpaste for them for a long time until I stumbled upon Tom's Children's Silly Strawberry toothpaste.   Tom's can be found in most box stores.  Be warned: Tom's also has fluoridated children's toothpaste.   Read your labels.

But landing on a fluoride-free toothpaste for Hubby and myself - that is another epic story.  It took many failed attempts before we landed on JĀSÖN. The Colony West Kroger sells it.  If you order through Azure Standard, it is also available through them.  We like both the peppermint and spearmint flavors.

Do you have a fluoride-free toothpaste to recommend?

I am not compensated in anyway to recommend these brands.

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May 10, 2012

Why I'm a Water Snob

Vividly I can recall my first real encounter with a water snob.

We were in Phoenix, Arizona - standing in a hot church vestibule. My new friend took a drink of her bottled water.  With a crumpled face she said, "Yech!  This tastes nasty!"

I suppose my facial expression said nothing short of: you're weird.

She quickly followed up her water snobishness by saying, "I forgot that I refilled this bottle from the water fountain."

Really?  You can actually taste the difference between your plastic bottled water (which was probably bottled from tap water!), and the water fountain?  I was impressed.  Until that day, I could not taste the difference between bottled water and tap water.

That was seven years ago.  My husband and I had just moved to the Valley of the Sun.  We had not lived there long enough to realize that nobody drank the tap water.  It tasted that bad.

We had lived in Phoenix long enough for me to see the water stations, or water stores, where filtered or reverse osmosis water (RO) is sold but it had not registered why there were so many!  Soon I came to the realization that people drank filtered water in their homes, not just because it was trendy but out of necessity.  The tap water in the desert was laden with icky-tasting minerals.

Fast-forward four years when we moved back to Little Rock, and I had been drinking filtered water in Phoenix.  After moving back to Arkansas, I realized I'd become a water snob.  The tap water that I drank just four years earlier in Little Rock no longer tasted good to me.  The tap water had not changed; my taste buds had.

Where to Find Clean Water
Whole Foods has a reverse osmosis machine at the front of the store, which isn't far from my home.  For a year, I hauled five gallons home every week.  My dear husband later installed a reverse osmosis (RO) filter under the sink that we purchased at Lowe's.  We now have RO water on tap!

In summary, my top three reasons to drink filtered or RO water:

1. Tastes better.

2. Not chlorinated - I work too hard to add beneficial bacteria to my gut (yogurt, kefir, kombucha, radish relish) just to have it killed by the chlorine in tap water.  By the way, Brita or other filters like the one in your fridge door do not eliminate chlorine.  Sitting a pitcher of uncovered water on the counter overnight will allow chlorine to evaporate.

3. Not fluoridated - I'm not convinced fluoride is necessary - esp. if you're eating green leafy veggies.

Now I share a kindred spirit with my water snob friend from Phoenix and even carry a water bottle with me - with RO water from my house.

See also Erin's post on the dangers of fluoride. And if you missed my post gloating celebrating 4 years of being cavity-free despite the fact I've given up fluoride.

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May 9, 2012

Survey on Pregnancy Outcomes

Sponsored by the Weston A. Price Foundation

If you have given birth between May 1, 2010 and May 1, 2012, we welcome your participation in our survey. The purpose of this survey is to collect information that can help us determine how certain foods and supplements affect the health of pregnant mothers and their newly born infants, in the hopes of improving the experience of future mothers and the levels of health their babies achieve.

It is important to us that a large number of mothers with different dietary habits and different pregnancy outcomes participate in our survey. Whether you perceive your dietary habits as usual or unusual, and whether you consider your pregnancy to have been eventful or uneventful, we welcome your participation.

The survey should take less than twenty minutes to complete. {It took me, Julie, less than 10 minutes} We will incorporate the information you provide into statistics that we may eventually publish, but we will not publish the individual, personal information you share with us, nor will we share it with anyone publicly or privately. If you would like to participate, please do so by September 30, 2012.

Thank you for your invaluable participation in this survey.


PLEASE SEND THIS SURVEY TO OTHER GROUPS:  In order to achieve the fullest participation possible, we ask that you send this survey to other groups, such as groups involving midwives, new mothers, young families, etc.

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May 8, 2012

From the Dentist Chair

I was a bit nervous when my semi-annual dental appointment rolled around this week.  My dental history has been speckled with sticky probes in the crevasses of my teeth.  However, I'm glad to announce that I was cavity-free!

It has been almost four years since I've had a cavity.

Driving home from the dentist's office, I began to think about these last four years and how my life has changed.

- It started with the nourishing food that went into my body.

- Counterintuitively, I stopped using fluorinated toothpaste or drinking fluorinated water.  Please do your own research on fluoride.  You can start with Erin's post on the dangers of fluoride.  (And I'm not so proud to report that I floss my teeth less than once a week; usually brush just once a day. *gasp* - don't tell the dentist!)

- Being consistent taking my fermented cod liver oil.

- Probably the biggest contributing factor to zero cavities has been the major reduction of sugar in our home.

The dentist even commented as I was leaving, saying, "This isn't par for the course for you!  It used to be you had a lot of cavities."

I smiled.  A cavity-free smile.


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