Tuesday, November 20, 2007

London Times Says "Organic Really Is Better"

At last it looks like people might to take the organic vs. non-organic issue seriously.

An article entitled "Official: organic really is better" appeared in the October 28, 2007, Sunday edition of The London Times.

According to results from a $25-million study on organic food, the largest of its kind to date, this four-year, European-Union-funded study found that:

• Organic fruit and vegetables contain up to 40% more antioxidants
• Organic produce had higher levels of beneficial minerals like iron and zinc
• Milk from organic herds contained up to 90% more antioxidants

The researchers obtained their results after growing fruit and vegetables, and raising cattle, on adjacent organic and non-organic sites. They say that eating organic foods can even help to increase the nutrient intake of people who don’t eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency, which has formerly said that there is no difference between organic and conventional foods, is reviewing the research findings.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Everything Made Easier . . . by Sue Gregg

Sue Gregg's website is full of irresistable healthy recipes that boast delicious flavor and cost-effectiveness. She provides a variety of free sample recipes (with pictures) online, as well as a collection of her cookbooks. Finally, here is someone who can share the secrets of cooking with things such as coconut oil, whole and alternative grains, sprouted/soaked grains, honey and maple syrup, etc. while applying Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions research. Check out Sue Gregg's Desserts cookbook (and her yogurt pie!) and Meals in Minutes cookbook (a time-saving relief).

It is so nice to find a resource for truly natural and healthy recipes. No more guesswork! Enjoy.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Soaking & Sprouting Made Easier

A few weeks ago, I discovered that my husband and I are both sensitive to gluten. Gluten is found in such grains as wheat, spelt, kamut, barley, rye, and oats. After doing some research, I was able to find a variety of companies that sell all sorts of convenient and tasty gluten-free items. But while doing this research, I found information suggesting that those with gluten sensitivities can tolerate these same grains if they have first been soaked or sprouted. (Of course, if I had referred to my Maker's Diet book, I might have rememberd this!)

So I vigorously refreshed my search for a way to make sprouting/soaking easy, convenient, and successful for me. My previous experience soaking flour before using is in breads/muffins resulted in a moderate success, but not what i would call a win. My biggest issue up to now with soaking flour for bread is that the dough is inevitably too runny to cook nicely. I have even felt guilty adding additional flour to my soaked recipes just before baking.

The good news is, I have recently discovered one woman's answer to this baking problem. Sue Gregg offers two free online pamplets which solve the dilemma inherent in soaked flour baking. Her answer? Yes, you absolutely have to add more flour before baking soaked bread ... BUT, you should add sprouted grain flour. This way you get the easy-to-digest benefit of both soaked and sprouted grains, and your bread turns out delicious and moist ... and those with gluten-sensitivities can usually eat it.

Read Sue Gregg's tips on:
Sprouted Bread
The Two Stage Process of Soaking

As you noticed if you read through the above PDFs, Sue Gregg recommends using a food dehydrator and a grain mill. After talking with a few people who sprout their own grain, dry it and grind it, I discovered that you can also dry sprouted grain in your home oven. Many recipes suggest doing so at 150 degree F. However, many ovens nowdays don't go lower than 170 degrees. However, a friend of mine says she dries her sprouts all the time with her oven set to 170 degrees. She periodically opens the oven door to check on them a few times over about 9 hours. So, for those of you not interested in getting a food dehydrator, it is possible to dry grain sprouts in your oven.

However, I have done some research on food dehydrators as well. So, if your interested in purchasing one, my findings are below:

Food Dehydrators:

Option #1: The Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator (I believe it's FD-61), which is recommended by Sue Gregg. It is available one this site for 59.95. It is also avaiable at a variety of other sites, including Bed Bath & Beyond.

Option #2: Wal-Mart version, well reviewed - $44.88

Option #3: Target version, highly reviewed - $69.99

The next thing on the list is getting a grain mill.

I struggled at first with where to get this while keeping in mind the following concerns: cost, quality, and convenience. I spent days doing research online cross-referencing customer reviews on a variety of product models.

I found some very helpful websites for doing this:

This page offers a break-down chart for grain mills based on price, features, convenience, noise, etc. The one they mention called the "Whisper Mill" no longer exists and has been replaced by the Nutrimill: http://waltonfeed.com/self/grinder.html

This page offers more research and specifics on the results of each model reviewed.

This site notes that the “Best Grain Mill" offered by Lehmans.com—which I originally considered purchasing—is more faulty than Lehman’s leads one to believe. This site also notes that the Country Living Grain Mill (turned by hand, not motorized) is the best on the market. However, its costs around $300-$350.

Now, that all said. I spoke with my friend who is an avid Maker's Diet cook, and she highly recommended the grain mill attachment for the Kitchenaid mixer as it works well and does not heat up as it grinds the grain. This is a reasonable option for people who already have a Kitchenaid mixer. It costs around $99 and is available through a variety of vendors: Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy's, JcPenney's, Kohl's, etc. And, since I do have a Kitchenaid mixer, I will probably purchase the attachment.

However, for those of you who don't own a Kitchenaid mixer, I have documented some additional grain mill options:

Grain Mills:

Option #1: The Family Grain Mill - only $69 on this site. This same model is also available on this site - but for $109.

Option #2: The Kitchen Mill Wheat Grinder by K-Tec - $168-$211, depending where online you purchase. Here is another seller. It is also available for a little less cost on some sites if you are willing to purchase a slightly used one. If you are interested, do a search on the product to see what is available. This model is motor-based so you don’t have to grind the grain by hand. It grinds very finely, holds up to 24 cups, and grinds at a very low temperature. It has received wonderful reviews online, but like almost all electric grain mills, it makes a lot of noise.

Option #3: The Nutrimill Grain Mill - $259. I've also seen it on Amazon.com for $254. This one has all the great features of The Kitchen Mill Wheat Grinder by K-Tec, but in addition it is very quiet.

Things to remember, though: most electric grain mills like options #2 and #3 above will heat the grain sprouts as they are ground. Most hand-turned grain mills will NOT heat the grain. Heating the grain during the grinding process can compromise some of the nutritional value. So, this is something to keep in mind.

As I did research on the web, the most highly recommended grain mill is the Country Living Grain Mill. However, it can cost between $300 and $375 depending on which website you look at. So, you may find that the options mentioned above will be more practical for your needs.

In addition to a food dehydrator and a grain mill, another appliance which has been highly recommended to me for natural baking/cooking is the Hamilton Beach Countertop Oven with Convection and Rotisserie. This appliance can bake two 12-inch pizzas or cook up to a 4-lb rotisserie chicken. It could also easily be used to dry sprouted grain as well as it's temperature can be set as low as 150 degrees. (This appliance does not have a toaster-oven feature.) The best deal on this item is through Circuit City online, where it is currently on sale for only $76.49.

Let me know if the above information has been helpful. Happy baking!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why Sprout?

Here's another helpful explanation, this one on the health benefits of sprouted grain. This article breaks it down into these categories: Nutrition, Ecology and Economy, Easy to Grow. The article goes on to provide a chart for sprouting a variety of grains, seeds, legumes and other things. These simple how-to tips are very helpful. The article suggests you can simply eat the sprouts as a raw food. Another way to consume them is to dry the sprouts in a 150-degree oven or food dehydrator and then grind them into flour for use in cooking and baking.

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Soaking Nut, Grains, Seeds, and Legumes

Are you curious about the age-old culinary art of soaking foods before cooking them? Have you read my posts on this website and wondered why soaking such things as grains and legumes before cooking and consuming them is so helpful to the digestive system?

Here's your answer: a marvelous explanation of exactly what happens to nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes when you soak them, and a few suggestions as to soaking/cooking methods.

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"Best Nutrient Bang for Your Buck"

Read this wonderfully succinct and informative explanation about how to choose foods that will give you the most "nutrient bang for your buck." For those of you who are new to my blog and often have questions about what really constitutes a "nutritious food," read and enjoy.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Environmental Magazine

I have recently subscribed to emagazine.com, an online environmentally-focused e-magazine, due to its wonderfully informative contents on anything green. Take a look. Very interesting articles this week!

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Funk Butter: Natural Deodorant

Have you been searching for a natural, aluminum-free deodorant that actually works and isn't wet, sticky, and gets all over your clothes? Well, I have your answer: Funk Butter.

Funk Butter is an all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant (it is not an anti-perspirant) made by Oyin Handmade, an online company that provides exceptional service and amazing one-of-a-kind handmade products made especially for you each time you order.

For the first time, I've found a deodorant that actually keeps me smelling ... like absolutely nothing! I've tried the over-the-counter deodorants/anti-persperants, which I know are not healthy for me because of the aluminum contents. I've tried natrual deodorants including Crystal, Avalon, Kiss My Face, and a multitude of online natural deodorants claiming to be IT.

But so far, only one has ever worked! Funk Butter. Check it out. I highly recommend you get only their unscented products as the scents they use are very strong. So if you have allergies or are sensitive to smells, the scents may be too strong for you. And, while they do use some natural essential oils, the ingredients list also mentions essential frangrances, which are not always "natural." So, stick with the unscented. It won't make any difference as far as body odor goes. I use their unscented Funk Butter and never even miss a scent to mask any smell . . . why? Because there is none. Thanks to Oyin!

Since each product you order is handmade, once your order is processed, it can take up to 2 weeks for your order to be shipped to you, which means you may not receive your order for 3 weeks once you place it online. But the wait is well worth it. Shipping is a flat rate of around $6 no matter what you order or how much of it. Funk Butter is made from all natural ingredients and comes in a 4 oz. tin sold for $4.50. You apply it sparingly with your fingertips. I have found on really warm days that I need to apply it twice--once in the morning and once in the afternoon. But on mild to cool days, one dose lasts all day. (Do not apply right after shaving.)

Oyin also provides a number of other wonderful products, one of my favorites being their Whipped Shea Butter. This is pure shea butter that's been whipped until it's light and fluffy. A treat for dry skin. (Again, stick with the unscented flavor.)

I hope this post will help those of you who've been looking for a natural, chemical-free deodorant that actually works. With Funk Butter, you've found it!

P.S. If you decide to order some, let me know by posting a comment (or emailing me -- those of you who know me). I'm interested in splitting an order with someone to save on shipping.

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Toxic Chemicals in the Body

It's another one, friends. Check out this article. Find out how this mom discovered her child had 7 times the toxicity level as his parents -- all from the harmful chemicals found in the everyday items we use!

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Sami's Bakery - What a find!

While Jordan Rubin in his book The Maker's Diet recommends that we limit our intake of unsprouted/unsoaked grains, he does suggest that it is alright to have small quantities of grains/flours that are unsoaked/unsprouted.

Sami's Bakery is a wonderful option for these types of items.

They carry gluten-free millet and brown rice breads, flat breads, rolls, muffins, hamberger/hot dog buns, and even cookies (only the honey-sweetened ones).

Sami's pita chips are particularly good, as well as their lavash and burger buns.

Sami's Bakery products are available locally in Hampton Roads through the Organic Food Depot.

Here is a reminder of Rubin's list of approved grains/flours for easy digestion:

Grains and starchy carbohydrates (whole-grain, organic, soaked is best)
Sprouted Ezekiel-type bread
Sprouted Essene bread
Fermented whole-grain sourdough bread
Kamut (in small quantities)
Sprouted cereal
Oats (in small quantities)
Brown rice (in small quantities)
Spelt (in small quantities)
Barley (in small quantities)
Whole-grain kamut or spelt pasta (in small quantities)

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Baby Cold Medicine Possibly Deadly

Remember this article the next time your baby has a cold. It's amazing what over-the-counter drugs are avaiable at the local pharmecy these days, especially ones, it seems, that have not been sufficiently tested prior to distribution.

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Alzheimer's a Form of Diabetes?

Here is an interesting article linking Alzheimer's with diabetes.

A friend of mind said this about the article:

"The research in this study and concurrent ones reveals a lot of factual information to educate us about how foods and chemicals are directly affecting our brains and how they control other organs and functions in our bodies. Eating has to be about being a good steward of yourself and all the daily functions of your body that you can LOSE if you eat chemicals, processed foods (loose interpretation), and satisfy your cravings rather than feed your body fue l(proper food) to run optimally and maintain YOU."

Aptly put.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Honey-Sweetened Whole Grain Banana Muffins

After much experimenting (and many batches of underdone or burnt banana bread/muffins), I have finally discovered how to successfully make banana muffins using no sugar—only honey as the sweetener. I began by using my great-grandmother’s banana bread recipe and substituting, replacing, removing and adding ingredients. Enjoy!

Honey-Sweetened Whole Grain Banana Muffins
By D. Nelson

Set oven to 325 degrees. Prepare muffin pans with paper muffin cups, or grease muffin pan with extra-virgin coconut oil.

Combine and set aside:
- 2 cups whole grain flour (I use spelt)
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- dash of salt
- ½-1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In separate bowl combine:
- 3 very ripe bananas (best if they are overripe and their skins are turning black)
- ½ cup softened butter (2 sticks)
- ¾ cup honey
- ¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt (add to yogurt: a couple drops water and a couple drops vinegar to sour; try make the total about ¼ cup)

Add dry ingredients to wet ones. Stir.

Fill muffin cups ½-¾ of the way.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Perfection!

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Hidden Danger in Air Fresheners

Whether you know it or not, a dangerous group of chemicals is hiding in most of the fragranced products being sold on store shelves in America today. These are called phthalates. One especially dangerous one is known as DBP.

You may have heard of phthalates before. I’ve mentioned them in other posts on this site.

Read this important news article on the specific air fresheners that do and don’t contain these harmful chemicals.

Phthalates are also commonly found in nail polish, cologne, perfume, cosmetics of every kind, body care products (shampoos, lotions, oils), etc. Basically anything on the commercial market that is scented contains phthalates. Even candles. (See my blog called “Finding Safety: Body Care, Hair Care, Skin Care, and Cosmetics” for alternatives to these phthalate-filled products.)

You can find out more about these harmful effects at www.safecosmetics.org (click “Scientific Reports” on the left).

Use www.cosmeticsdatabase.com as another resource for safe alternatives to phthalate-filled products.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Link Between Cancer and Cell Phones?

Check out the research in this article.

Perhaps using an earpiece connection or the hands-free feature might be a healthy option.

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Good Deal on Coconut Oil

I recently discovered that Vitamin Shoppe offers a good deal of Nutiva's Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Their 29 oz jar is only $14.99 compared to more than $16 through Organic Food Depot (OFD) and $18.99 through Quail Cove Farms (QCF). I made the discovery at the Vitamin Shoppe on Greenbrier Parkway in Chesapeake, Va., but I'd guess that other stores in the chain across the country offer similar pricing.

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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Costco Eggs, Cheese, Beef, and Salmon

On a recent visit to Costco, I discovered that they carry Kerrygold's Dubliner cheese (2 lbs for about $5). It is not "raw" cheese, but is still from grass-fed cows (no antibiotics or hormones). Costco also carries very well-priced organic, grass-fed beef hamburger patties (8 per pack)in the freezer section. In addition, they carry organic, omega-3 eggs (packs of 2 dozen) for $5, that's $2.50 per doz--a very good deal; and they also carry frozen, wild Alaskan Salmon for a very good price.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Quail Cove Farms Price Comparison

Here is a spreadsheet listing a sampling of the products carried by Quail Cove Farms in comparison other local competitors.

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My First Quail Cove Pick-up

I picked up my first Quail Cove Farms order this morning. I can't believe how much stuff I got for so little money! The smell of the fresh Amish butter was intoxicating as was the look of the cheese, chicken, eggs, juice, jam, spices, bread and veggies. I was even given a few Quail Cove Farms (QCF) fresh veggies "on the house!"

One of my secrets to figuring out what and how much I will need during the upcoming month was by planning out my family's meals for the next four weeks. I created a chart, decided on dinners and other meals/snacks (based on how much we've gone through per week in the past), and then made a list of all the items I'll need from Quail Cove to make it through the month. The items that I know I can purchase for less elsewhere I put on a seperate list and divided it into two-week columns. In this way, I'm hoping to lessen the amount of shopping trips I make in any given month. Up until now, on average, I have made grocery trips to 3-4 stores every week. This month, with my new monthly-food chart, I hope to only go to 3-4 stores once every two weeks. I may have to pick up produce weekly, but this will still be less shopping than I normally undertake. This will also save on gasoline.

Look for my Quail Cove Farms price comparison Excel chart in my next posting. I will also put together an electronic copy of my monthly menu/grocery list so that anyone interested can take a look.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quail Cove Farms (Co-op)

An acquaintance of mine recently shared some great news with me! - There is another co-op, Quail Cove Farms (QCF), in the Hampton Roads area, this one on the Eastern Shore. QCF makes deliveries once a month to locations up and down the East Coast, from Maryland to North Carolina. Many of their prices are extremely competitive. You can purchase products (produce, grocery, perishable, frozen) in bulk and save. And the quality of the products, particularly the produce, butter and free-range turkey, chicken and eggs, is top-notch!

I am currently working on a spreadsheet showing the price comparison of a variety of Maker's diet-friendly items through QCF and the Organic Food Depot, among other stores. I will post this in a few days.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fasting: Make it a Regular Habit

When I first started eating according to the The Maker’s Diet I followed it to the letter, beginning at phase 1, fasting on the fourth day, and progressing to phases 2 and then 3. But over the past couple of years I have not fasted once as Jordan Rubin recommends. According to Rubin’s research, fasting has aided and even cured those with severe illnesses. I was reminded recently of the importance of giving the digestive system a “day of rest.”

Rubin recommends a “partial fast” in his book, which includes abstaining from eating or drinking anything except water, small amounts of home-squeezed organic vegetable juice (not fruit), or kombucha (or other lacto-fermented beverage) for one whole day, except for a small, easily digestible meal in the early evening. That small evening meal can include any few of the following in minimal portions: meat, poultry, fish, raw cheese (only raw or cultured dairy products – no sugar), eggs, vegetables, fruit (no fruit juice), sprouted or soaked breads or grains, lacto-fermented beans or lentils, etc.

The point is to relieve the hard-working intestinal tract, and give it a day off. During this day of fasting, Rubin recommends taking 2-3 doses of Garden of Life’s Super Seed Fiber Powder (available at Vitamin Shop and OFD). This special fiber powder is unlike anything else on the market. It is predigested through a sprouting process, making it easy for the body to break down. I do not recommend taking any other fiber powder but Super Seed while fasting. Commercial fiber powders, pills, capsules, etc. are not predigested and put undue strain on the intestines, so it is best to avoid them completely.

This past week I decided to re-implement a weekly day of partial fasting as Rubin suggests. I did this particularly because, despite my healthy eating, I have been feeling bloated, excessively hungry, and digestively uncomfortable at times. I chose Sunday as my fasting day, particularly because as a natural break in my routine, I figured it would be easier to go without food on a day when I am resting anyway.

As a result, the very next day, I found that my appetite had decreased back to what it should be (in essence my stomach had shrunk a bit), I was no longer bloated, I no longer craved certain foods (even natural sweetners), and my digestive system became more regular. Overall, I feel fantastic!

I highly recommend that even if you are a healthy eater that you consider doing a weekly day of at least partial fasting. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to implement this as a part of my regular routine. Try it. You’ll be surprised how much good it will do you!

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Trillium Organics Links to My Blog!

Many of you probably read my recent post that provided a link to Trilium Organics' webpage on which my feedback about their products is posted in the form of a customer quote. I emailed them and asked if they could link my name to my Organic Fanatic blog page. They did! Check it out: www.trilliumorganics.com/facepol.html.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Perdue Chicken

I was recently asked about the safetly and authenticity concerning supposedly "all-natural" Perdue chicken. Since I myself did not know the answer, I looked into the issue.

According to Perdue's website, they do not inject their chickens with hormones or antibiotics, and according the packaging label, they do not use artificial preservatives or additives either.

Their chickens are fed corn, soybeans, grains and vitamins and minerals. These chickens are not free-range, but are bred and grown at large farms contracted with Perdue. We can assume from the fact that the poultry is not injected with antibiotics that their living environments and food are relatively clean and safe. However, this does not mean that they are necessarily raised in open barns or farm yards.

According to Jordan Rubin in The Maker's Diet and Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions, the best poultry options are always either certified organic or (especially) free-range chicken. The diet of free-range chicken produces additional vitamins and nutrients not found in barn-raised chickens fed solely on corn, soy and grains, even if they are organic. Therefore free-range poultry is always the most beneficial, as are free-range eggs.

However, if your budget does not allow you to purchase free-range poultry, Perdue is at least a better option than other commercially-raised chicken.

In addition, Harris Teeter now offers bags of frozen organic chicken breasts (5 pk.) in their freezer section for $12.99, a very reasonable price for organic chicken. Harris Teeter also carries organic free-range whole chickens in their meat/poultry cooler section.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Duck and Quail at Harris Teeter

Just today I saw that Harris Teeter has added two items to their frozen section: duck breast fillets and preseasoned quail. The duck breasts come from a group of Amish Farms. The preseasoned quail has not hormones or antibiotics, but the preseasoning isn't organic. However, it might be a fun change to try them. They both look delicious.

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My Comment Got Posted on Trillium!

Trillium Organics, the organic skin and body care company I have so highly recommended, has revamped their website this month. In fact, my feedback in response to their Oil-Free Face Polish has been posted on their website! Check it out: www.trilliumorganics.com/flacepol.html.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kerrygold Butter

As many of you may have already read in my blog, I have been planning to experiment with making my own butter. However, after more than a month I have had not gotten around to it. This past week I finally decided to scout around for a high-quality, cultured butter from pasture-fed cows.

I discovered a brand that I am now in love with: Kerrygold. Kerrygold is an Irish company that produces high-quality butter and cheese. The milk that Kerrygold uses to produce their products comes from a number of small farmers scattered all over Ireland. The cows are pasture-fed and are never given hormones or antibiotics. The butter contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives and is made from cultured pasturized cream. (I was glad to see that the cream, though pasturized, is at least cultured.) It is a deep, rich golden color, characteristic of pasture-fed cow's milk butter. And it is delicious! I have never beofre seen butter this yellow, or tasted butter this good.

I have yet to try their cheeses, but I will do that next!

For those of you local to Hampton Roads, you can purchase Kerrygold products through the Organic Food Depot. Enjoy!

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Harris Teeter: Frozen Meats

Thanks to my husband's keen eye, I recently discovered that Harris Teeter is now carrying bags of organic chicken breasts (5 pk.) in the freezer section for $12.99. In addition, they have frozen ground bison (natural: no antibiotics, no hormones, vegetarian fed) for $5.99 lb, frozen organic beef hot dogs for $4.99, frozen organic hamburger patties (didn't catch the price), and packages of two frozen Purdue game hens (no antibiotics, hormones or artificial ingredients/preservatives) for $7.99, I believe.

This is just one more option when searching for healthy meats.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Beef, Elk, Duck, Goose, and Game Hen at Central Meats

I discovered this past weekend that in addition to their standard beef and chicken, Central Meats also carries all natural/free range buffalo (ground, steak, burger patties, etc.) and all natural/pasture-fed elk burger patties as well. These are available in their frozen section.

In addition, they also carry frozen duck, goose and game hen. However, these are commercial, I believe.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wise Traditions: Sally Fallon Responds

I recently stumbled across a website produced by the Weston A. Price Foundation featuring a FAQ section with responses by Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, which I have mentioned before and which Jordan Rubin references in his books.

Fallon discusses a host of foods and health issues, including soy, supplements, the benefits of cod liver oil, sweeteners and concerns with raw dairy just to name a few.

If you haven’t read her book yet, reading her answers to some of these questions will give you an idea of her stance on nutrition.

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Making Kombucha at Home

You may have read my previous blog on kombucha, a raw, highly nutritious fermented drink containing naturally occurring vitamins, probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants, etc.

After a month of purchasing kombucha from the store, I am considering ordering a starter kombucha “mushroom” and making the drink myself at home. It only costs 20 cents a cup when made a home! Whereas, if you purchase it at a health food store, it usually costs $3.50-$4.00 per 32 oz. bottle

There are a number of places online where you can order a kombucha starter. Sally Fallon specifically recommends two websites:



I particularly recommend you check out the Laurel Farms website. Laurel Farms is the only place you get a starter kombucha “mushroom” and kit that has been approved by the FDA. Laurel Farms website also gives instructions on how to make kombucha at home.

The kombucha benefits are enormous. Read more.

One thing you may notice when purchasing kombucha, even the kind that contains 5% fruit juice, is the somewhat sour taste. But due to the added fruit juice in some versions sold at the health food store, the taste is quite palatabe, even delicious. My sister has made kombucha at home and commented on the extremely potent sour taste of the homemade version of the brew. However, if you mix it with a small amount of fruit juice, you can take the edge off of it quite easily.

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Soaked-Flour Breads

I have continued reading Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and have been attempting many of her recipes. For those of you who don’t know, Fallon’s bread recipes call for the flour to be soaked in yogurt, kefir or homemade cultured buttermilk (or water and homemade whey for those with milk allergies) for 12-24 hours prior to baking. (Many of these recipes are also referenced in Jordan Rubin's The Maker's Diet.

I made my first loaf of bread (banana bread to be exact) this way the other night. It ended up taking 2.5 hours to cook and I still do not think that it tastes banana-y enough. However, the bread is very moist and the texture is delicious. I have decided to alter the recipe the next time by adding an additional banana, as well as a ½-¾ cup of additional flour just before baking. I think this may help the flavor and the baking time.

In addition, I made her basic muffin recipe (adding blueberries for a blueberry muffin version) last night. After the long cooking time of the banana bread, I was worried that the muffins might take just as long also. So, after soaking the flour for 24 hours in water and whey, I added the rest of the ingredients (doubling the amount of maple syrup called for to ensure the muffins were sweet enough for my taste), then I added an additional cup to cup-and-a-half of spelt flour to thicken the batter a bit. (I like spelt flour best for baking.) Rather than taking 1 hour to bake as the recipe indicated, my muffins only took 30 minutes to bake. I’m sure that was due to the additional flour. The muffins taste fine, although they are a bit hearty and not as moist as the banana bread. In addition they are not blueberry tasting enough. Simply adding 7 blueberries on top of the dough just doesn’t cut it. The next time I make them, I’ll mash ½ cup of blueberries and add it to the batter, and add only ½ cup of additional flour at the end rather than a full cup. Then I’ll continue to add the blueberries on the top of the muffin dough prior to baking.

Soaked flour breads are much healthier for you than regular breads as they allow the flour to sour and ferment, giving it a natural ability to rise without the help of yeast or other additives, and breaking down the hard-to-digest qualities of the grain so that your body can more easily absorb the nutrients.

My next project will be attempting Fallon’s Sourdough Bread Start recipe, which calls for rye flour and takes 7 days to make. From there I’ll be able to use the starter to make real, old-fashioned sourdough bread. Sourdough starters can also be bought online (if you do not wish to take the time to make them yourself): www.gemcultures.com/bread_leavens.htm

Sourdough bread can then be used not only for sandwiches, but also for other recipes like kvass and other healthy fermented beverages.

Read More......

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Maker’s Diet: How to Get Started

The Maker’s Diet is a 40-day plan to help reboot your body and make a lifestyle change in your eating habits. If you have read the book, you’ll know there are three phases to the 40-day plan: Phase 1 (restricted diet/cleanse), Phase 2 (less restricted diet/cleanse), Phase 3: how you will be eating for the rest of your life.

If you are healthy person and/or do not feel the need to lose any weight, Jordan Rubin suggests that you can simply start at Phase 3. If, however, you are suffering from an illness or condition and would like to do a cleanse to detoxify your body and/or lose weight, you should start with Phase 1.

If you have decided to start at Phase 1, then you should look at the list of foods at the back The Maker’s Diet that you are to eat during that phase and do your grocery shopping accordingly.

If, however, you would like to start with Phase 3 and simply slowly transition from the way you are currently eating to a Maker’s Diet lifestyle, here is a list of what I consider to be the initial essentials:

Distilled, Pure Water – If you get it at the grocery store, make sure it says distilled somewhere on the label at least. Some companies just label them “pure,” “drinking water” or “spring water." Some of these may be distilled, but not all of them are. So look with a savvy eye at what you're purchasing Better yet, find a pure water store in your area that distills and purifies its water.

Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - I order Wilderness Family's Extra Virginia Traditional Fermented Philippine Coconut Oil in bulk along with a group of friends. We purchase a case of 6 1-gallon buckets. Each is around $50. It lasts a long time, you can use it in all your cooking/baking, and the Wilderness Family brand tastes less "coconuty" than any other brand I've tried. If you're not interested in ordering from Wilderness Family, Nutiva is a decent brand that is cost effective.

Organic Unrefined Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Spectrum or Napa Valley is what I get – it’s unrefined and cold-pressed)

Organic or Free-range, Raw Cow’s Milk Cheese - Horizon now sells raw cow’s milk cheese. Organic Food Depot also offers raw cow's milk cheese - the brand name is Morningland Dairy. However, I purchase raw milk cheese through Quail Cove farms because it is a comparable price to the other brands, but more importantly it tastes so much better! They carry two good brands: Bunker Hill raw milk cheddar and Minerva signature raw white cheddar. Both are delicious.

Raw or Nonhomogenized Whole Cow’s Milk - from organically fed or preferably free-range, pastured cows – If you are hestitant to make the committment to raw milk (necessitating investment in a cow share if you live in Virginia), then your next best option is something like what Yoder Dairies provides. Yoder Dairies is located just off the corner of Princess Ann and Kempsville in Virginia Beach. If you live elsewhere, do a search for a local dairy in your area … make sure the cattle are not given hormones or antibiotics and there are no preservatives or additives in the milk.

Free-range Eggs - I get mine through Quail Cove Farms. They are the least expensive free-range eggs I've yet to find: 2.79 per dozen, and they're large and delicious. Yoder Dairies also carries free-range eggs from time to time. Organic Food Depot also sells local free-range eggs (Wilda's) for about $3.50 per dozen.

Organic Whole Milk Plain Yogurt (for smoothies – go here http://www.biblicalhealthinstitute.com/Resources/JordanRubinsRecipes/tabid/80/itemid/206/Default.aspx for a recipe) – Purchase plain, organic whole milk yogurt from pasture-fed cows. Seven Star Dairy is my favorite brand. It is available through Organic Food Depot. I purchase fruit (usually stawberries) seperately (enough for 2 cups), puree them in the blender, adding 2 Tbsp of raw honey and 2 Tbsp of pure maple syrup. I then add this to my plain, organic whole milk yogurt. This recipe makes the most delicious yogurt I've ever had--and without sugar!

Raw Honey - Obtaining raw, unfiltered, unheated honey is very important. However, as it is expensive, I have a few suggestions. If you and your family eat honey on toast, in homemade salad dressing or in anything else unheated, use a brand like Really Raw Honey, or something comparable like Honey in the Rough, or Al & Bea's Pure Honey (Elizabeth City, N.C.) Be sure this honey has never been heated and is completely unfiltered. Honey such as this is avaialbe through places like Organic Food Depot, some Vitamin Shoppe stores, and of course through local bee farmers. If your finances do not allow you to use raw unheated honey for cooking/baking, purchase something such as local unfiltered, raw honey (produced by Golden Angels Apiary - available through Organic Food Depot) which has never been heated above 110 degrees. While this is slightly heated honey, it is more cost-effective when baking wherein the honey will be heated anyway. One option for Virginians is Golden Angels Apiary raw, unheated, Tupelo, light and mild in 5 lb jars for around $20.

Sprouted Whole Grain Bread or Whole Grain Spelt, Kamut, or Sourdough Bread – Berlin Bread Factory is a good brand or Food for Life's Ezekiel Bread (although I like it better toasted). If you are like me, you may prefer to make your own bread, which is extremely cost-effective. I purchase organic wheat berries (grain) for anywhere from .52-.71 per pound, depending on brand and if I purchase in bulk. This is extremely inexpensive. I also purchase spelt berries (grain) as well for around $1.09 per pound. I also buy a variety of other grains including Kamut, barley, rye, dry corn, rice, etc. All of these items I get through Quail Cove Farms, which has the best prices on grain in the Hampton Roads area. I sprout the grain, dry it and grind it into flour for baking bread. If you don't wish to sprout your grain, you can also use it for soaked recipes. Sue Gregg's recipe books offer a number of usage options for whole grains using simple, everyday appliances such as a blender and coffee bean mill. If you do not have the time for this, try to stick to Ezekiel bread for the benefits of sprouted grains.

Other Sprouted Grains – hamburgers, burrito/taco shells, hot dog buns, etc. All of sorts of items are available in a sprouted-grain format through companies like Food for Life and Alvarado Street Bakery.

Pure Maple Syrup (organic or natural)—we buy ours at Costco in bulk, not organic but it’s still pure.

Organic Fruits and Veggies – Organic Food Depot carries an enormous selection of competitvely-priced produce. Many of their items are even less expensive than non-organic produce at other grocery stores like Farm Fresh and Harris Teeter, etc. For example, I have purchased organic green peppers for .51 cents each and organic red peppers for $1.51 each at Organic Food Depot. See my blog for the link to what fruits and veggies to buy organic.

Organic or Free-Range Meat - Organic Food Depot sells a wonderful local brand called Gryffon's Aerie. Their beef is the most delicious, free-range beef I've ever eaten. (I also sometimes buy the organic Naturals beef at Harris Teeter because it’s certified.) Another fantastic option is Trader Joe's, which carries a wide selection of free-range meats. (Just make sure the meat you’re getting is antibiotic free, hormone free and preservative/additive free.)

Organic or Free-Range Chicken - I buy chicken through Quail Cove Farms. They sell Amish-raised free-range chicken that is priced so well my friends can't believe it. Harris Teeter also sells organic chicken, but is it far more expensive than Quail Cove Farms.

Celtic Sea Salt - Available at both Heritage Health Food store and Organic Food Depot. Real Kosher Sea Salt via OFD is also a decent option.

Seasonings – Get rid of all seasonings in your cupboard that have sugar in them. Replace them with organic and/or natural seasonings as you can afford. Your seasonings should never say "natural flavorings" on the ingredient label. This could mean they contain MSG. The most cost-effective seasonings that I've found are available through Quail Cove Farms. You can buy them per cup or per pound. Either way, it equals a huge savings!

Organic, Unfiltered Juice - You want to purchase juice as close to raw as possible; not from concentrate. Harris Teeter, Farm Fresh or Organic Food Depot all carry not-from concentrate organic juice. Bionature is a good brand.

These are the major things you should start by changing. When my husband and I switched to eating this way, it was very costly at first because I wasn’t sure where to find the things we needed, and we ended up overspending simply from lack of information as to where to purchase things in our area. We do not have a Whole Foods in Hampton Roads, so I went to a lot of small, overprice health food stores in the area at first. When we found the Organic Food Depot and Quail Cove Farms, I was overjoyed. Then when Harris Teeter and Farm Fresh started carrying some organic foods, particularly Harris Teeter’s very reasonably priced ones, it became even easier to shop organically on a budget.

For those of you wanting to start eating according to The Maker’s Diet, don’t be afraid about the money. If you plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, you can shop and eat following The Maker’s Diet with only a small increase in your budget. For example, before switching to this way of eating, I had a budget of $100 per week for food for my husband and me. Now that we are eating The Maker’s Diet way, I spend about $115-125 per week. Overall, that’s only about a maximum one-quarter increase in my budget—-not bad considering how much better we both feel eating this way.

Here are a list of other things to add to your as continue to transition into Phase 3:

Make sure the nuts you buy are raw and organic – commercial nuts absorb a lot of pesticides. Before consuming, be sure to soak raw nuts and seeds in water/salt mixture (brine), then dry them in either a dehydrator at 115 degrees or on your oven's lowest setting (can take up to 9 hours). This is the only healthy way to consume nuts and seeds. (Flax seeds and sesame seeds when consumed in small amounts are the exception).

Switch from chips and processed snacks to some of the snack options I mention on my blogs about where to shop: organic dried fruit (no sugar added)—Harris Teeter and OFD, organic raw nuts (prepared as described above)—Harris Teeter and OFD, baked millet and flaxseed pita chips by Sami’s (via OFD), organic salsa—Harris Teeter and OFD, Lara Bars (via OFD), etc. A lot of these items are also carried at places like Whole Foods. Or you can make your own tortilla chips using natural corn tortillas (containing only corn, lime and water) from Trader Joe's - spread with organic extra virgin coconut oil and broil in the oven, then add sea salt.

Ketchup – switch to fruit-sweetened ketchup in order to avoid the high amount of sugar and high fructose corn syrup in commercial ketchups. Westbrae Fruit Sweetened Ketchup is what I get via Organic Food Depot, but I know that Whole Foods stores carry it also.

Organic Omega-3 Mayonnaise with Flax Oil – this is a product made by Spectrum. Switch to this in order to follow The Maker’s Diet list of healthy oils and fats. It’s delicious. Carried in many health food stores, Organic Food Depot, Whole Foods, etc.

Super Seed fiber powder by Garden of Life – for when or if you decide to go back and do Phase 1 of The Maker’s Diet. This is also good to have on hand for weekly cleansing during a day of fasting, etc.

Primal Defense Ultra by Garden of Life – time-release living soil and probiotic organisms for healthy digestion, I swear by these.

Cod Liver Oil – a very healthy supplement for natural source of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Be sure to purchase a brand that uses only wild cod so that mercury and other toxins are not present (i.e. Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil by Garden of Life, or Cod Liver Oil by Spectrum)

Organic Flax Seed Oil – do not cook with; instead use in homemade salad dressing, smoothies, and other things to give you healthy omega-3 fatty acids and living enzymes.

Kombucha – fermented Chinese tea drink (sweetened with 5% fruit juice) containing enzymes, amino acids, probiotics, antioxidants, etc. It’s a great substitute for soda if you’re used to carbonated drinks. I often drink this instead of juice as well – less calories. Kombuch is extremely healthy for you. The guava flavor is good and so is the mango.

Read More......

Friday, June 1, 2007

Finding Safety: Body Care, Hair Care, Skin Care, and Cosmetics

Are you fully aware of what types of chemicals are being absorbed into your body? Probably more than you realize! Not to mention what these personal-care toxins are doing to damage the environment. Men though they may use less personal care products over all, are subject to this commercial ingredient lunacy as well as women. Even babies are being born with high counts of toxins in their bodies.

Last fall I decided it was time to start switching over to more all-natural/organic personal care products. Many of you may want to do the same. But, with the host of companies trying to sell you on their brand of organic or natural items, how do you know what’s best?

After doing a year’s worth of research, trying various products, and using the Environmental Working Group’s sub-site Skin Deep (a personal care product rating system based on ingredients and known toxins) to determine what products have the safest ingredients and still work well, I have come up with a number of products that I love.

My biggest piece of advice? Check out the Skin Deep website above. It has a catalogue of not only gazillions of commercial personal care products and cosmetics, but also a number of organic and all-natural ones as well. Visiting this site will give you an idea of how products are rated and what ingredients to avoid. This is a fantastic place to start. Do a quick search to see how your products rate. Here is Skin Deep’s link to “what not to buy” due to very high-risk ingredients. Also, here is a link to their recent news reports.

Here is a list of ingredients I avoid:
Propylene Glycol
Artificial Colors (such as FD&C)
Hydroxyl Acids
Retinoic Acids
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Isopropyl Alcohol (made from petroleum)
Phthalates, Dibutyl Phthalate, DBP (on label: “fragrance”)
Fragrances (this does not include essential oils)
Mineral Oil in all its forms (see below)

Various Names of Mineral Oil:
Carnea 21
Hydrocarbon oils
Triona B
Bayol F
Crystol 325
Bayol 55
Primol 355
Primol D
Tech Pet F

It is important to ALWAYS read the labels—even for all-natural and organic products. Not all companies that advertise their products as all natural and/or organic actually avoid the ingredients listed above. So it is essential that you become aware of what ingredients to avoid. This will make your shopping experience much more efficient. I keep a list of ingredients to avoid in my wallet for when I shop (either online or in-store).

In addition to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website, there are plenty of other helpful websites:

One of these is Dr. Bronner’s. Not only does Dr. Bronner’s sell some of the most pure soap available on the market, but in addition, their website provides some wonderful information on how to read the labels of organic/natural skin and body care products. Make sure to check it out. (And you wouldn’t believe what some companies put in soap these days. Try switching to Dr. Bronner’s. It’s safe, it’s economical. You can get it in bulk. It’s available at most health food stores and through the Organic Food Depot)

If you are one of those people who needs convincing about switching your personal care products, view this article about the toxins and cancer-contributing ingredients found in everyday beauty products. I can’t believe the government can allow the use of some of these things.

Another great website is www.treehugger.com. This website is a wonderful resource when scoping out what products are available and what products are safest. It provides a large list of options on alternative cosmetics and personal care products. Wonderful stuff!

Another fantastic website is www.organicconsumers.org. Here you can read articles on the latest issue regarding organic food ratings, what to look for when buying organic food (how companies can trick you) and personal care products as well. You can even find a list of ingredients to avoid in personal care products and a survey you can submit to be a part of petitioning for healthier restrictions.

Without further ado, here is my personal-care list of Top Safe Favorites:


Meow Cosmetics
Pure mineral foundation powders, blush powders, eye shadow powders, eye liner powders. This company is at the top of my list. Check out their website. Need I say more? I don’t think so.

Ecco Bella
Ecco Bellas products are available through the Organic Food Depot online catalogue or via other sellers online. I endorse their lipsticks, lip glosses, eye liners, eye shadows, blush powders, face powders, concealers, mascaras etc., but I DO NOT purchase their lotions, skin care, liquid foundation and a few other products because they contain parabens (estrogenic chemical preservatives). Make sure to double check on this when viewing their webpage, but the last time I checked these few products were not paraben-free.

Real Purity
Wonderful blushes. My favorite is Pearl Mocha. They offer lots of other cosmetics and skin care that is safe and pure as well, even toothpaste! These products are also available through www.bewellstaywell.com.

Anise Cosmetics (Nail Polish)
What a find this has been! Nail polishes that are formaldehyde-free, phthalate-free and toluene-free. I can personally vouch for how amazingly healthy and long my nails have gotten since I stopped using highly toxic, commercial nail polish. Instead I use Anise nail polish a couple times a month. My nails no longer discolor when using their polish, and my nails no longer peel, break and chip so easily. For those of you living in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, you can get Anise nail polishes from DSW Shoes in Greenbrier, across from the mall. Otherwise, you can order them online.

Gabriel Cosmetics & Zuzu Luxe Cosmetics
I have not yet had a chance to try these products, but many of them look wonderful and have gotten good reviews from other consumers. Not all of the products are the safest on the Skin Deep rating list, but take a look and be sure to review the ingredients. You can also do an assessment of your own on the Skin Deep website be inputting the ingredients of a product not listed in order to see how it will rate. Gabriel and Zuzu offer skin care and cosmetics.

Jane Iredale Cosmetics
These products are especially made for women who have sensitive skin or who have undergone plastic surgery of some kind. Most of these products rate quite well. Again, be sure to check Skin Deep for ratings and look at the ingredients. (When visiting the site, click on “Jane Iredale direct” to view products.) My favorite Jane items are the daytime eyeshadow kit, the 24-karat gold shimmer kit and the lip liners. The lipsticks and glosses are nice too and have a 3 out of 10 rating.

Organic Makeup Company
Foundation, powders, lipsticks, lip liners, eye shadows, etc. I have tried their eye shadow liners, their lipsticks and their glosses, all which I love. Their products are available through Amazon.com and www.bewellstaywell.com, as well as other websites. The latter site is also a good place to find other safe brands of cosmetics. But once again, read the labels. There are some products on bewellstaywell.com that don’t rate as well as others and contain talc and other ingredients that are best avoided. Organic Makeup Company’s main site does not actually sell its products, but it does provide a wonderful guide of ingredients to avoid in cosmetics.

i.d. bare minerals
This is a mainstream, commercial mineral makeup company. As such, they do not post their product ingredients on their website (generally a sign that they are hiding something). Through doing some research, however, I found that ONLY their eye shadow powders, blush powders, and select foundation powders are safe, pure minerals. Some of their products are not completely pure such as Mineral Veil, as well as their lipsticks, lip glosses, mascaras, etc. The Mineral Veil, for instance, contains parabens (estrogenic chemical preservatives). So, if you choose to purchase product by i.d. bare minerals, make sure to read the label, or simply stick with the eye shadows and blush powders.

Honeybee Gardens
Nice products: lipsticks (not as few ingredients as Real Purity and some others, but still non-toxic), mascara, lip glosses, eye liners, eye shadow powders, etc. I have not tried any of these products yet. I have only tried their water-based nail polish and deodorant powder—neither of which I was thrilled with. However, I still plan to try their cosmetics, as many of their colors look wonderful. They also carry skin care products, I believe, but not all of them are as pure as other skin care products I’ve seen. Again, read the labels.

Afterglow Cosmetics
Powder foundations, powder blushes, eye shadows, powder eye liners, lipsticks, lip glosses. Afterglow has pure products. I have tried their powders, but not their lip products. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of their foundation powder and blush. However, I have yet to try their lipsticks, which, if you look at the website, look very colorful. However, of all the mineral pure companies, I prefer Meow Cosmetics.

Skin Care, Body Care, Hair Care

Trillium Organics
This is a recent find of mine, and I am in love with this company’s products, all of which are handmade. Organic body polish, organic body oil, organic body butter, organic body soap, organic face polish, organic perfume etc. All products are made with the purest ingredients. Their organic body polish serves as a body scrub in the shower and a moisturizer. The organic body soap contains pure saponified oils that gently cleans without being harsh. Their products are scented with pure essential oils. The most popular scent is pink grapefruit. I cannot say enough about how wonderful these products are. Their body soap can even be used as a shampoo. All of the oils and other ingredients used are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores.

Kiss My Face
Kiss My Face’s “Obsessively Organic” is a great skin care line. But I don’t use any of Kiss My Face’s products that are not in the “Obsessively Organic” line. The ingredients for "Obsessively Organic" rate between 0 and 4 on the Skin Deep site. Most of these products do, however, contain “organic water of ---” ingredients. So, according to Dr. Bronner’s informative website that I mentioned above, these may not be the purest organic products. However, they are relatively safe compared to their more commercial counterparts. I have been using Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic skin care (normal to oil) for almost a year and have noticed a substantial difference in the way my skin feels and looks. The most amazing product they offer is the Break Out Gel. This stuff clears zits like nothing I’ve ever used. It will even prevent and significantly reduce oral cold sores on the lips.

derma e
Derma e carries a variety of skin and body care products. They have a regular line and an organic line. Both are reputable. All products are paraben free. I usually supplement my organic Kiss My Face skin care products with a few anti-aging products from derma e. Their anti-aging products work well and include many of the same ground-breaking components found in commercial skin care lines, but with one key difference--derma e's products don't contain all the additional fillers, chemicals, and synthetic preservatives and fragrances.

Burt’s Bees
This company has achieved a lot of notoriety recently, even to the point that their products are now carried in many Rite Aid pharmacies and Wal-Marts. Most of their skin care products are safe, but always check the label nonetheless and search for the specific product of your interest on the Skin Deep Website to see how it rates. Not all of the Burt’s Bees products are the best choices, but many of the skin and body care products are very nice, especially the lemon butter cuticle cream and hand repair cream. Most of their skin care products are comparable safety-wise compared to Kiss My Face, but not all of them.

Giovanni Hair and Body Care
I love this company’s shampoos, hairspray, root booster, etc. Wonderful organic products. Do look at the ingredients. I know a few of their products contain parabens. You can purchase the hair care products at your local Vitamin Shop. All of their products (hair care and body care) are available via the online catalogue through Organic Food Depot for those of you living in the Virginia Beach/Chesapeake area.

Aubrey Organics
Aubrey offers great organic hair care. It is very pure. They pride themselves on providing truly pure, non-toxic products, while avoiding fillers that even some other organic companies/labels use. They also offer some cosmetics and perfume, none of which I have tried yet. But I have been very happy with their Clarifying Shampoo. Some of their products, as with most companies I suppose, contain a few too many ingredients for my taste, but on the whole they have very pure ingredients and rate between 0 and 4 on the Skin Deep website (with the majority of those ratings being 2 and 3). Some of their products do contain benzoates, so do look at the labels.

Aura Cacia
I can’t vouch for all of all of Aura Cacia’s products, but I do love their Pure Essentials Aromatherapy Spritz and their essential oils. The Pure Essentials Spritz can also be used as a perfume (I have not tried their actual line of perfumes yet). I am someone whose asthma flares up at the slightest commercial scent, and even some “organic/all-natural” ones, but this particular brand has given me no problems. The vanilla scent is my favorite. The spritz simply contains pure essential oils. Watch out for those ingredients, though. Some of their other products contain things I don’t want to use.

Other companies I have looked into but haven’t tried yet include:
EO and Terressentials.

Menstrual Care & Personal Lubricant

It’s important when getting rid of toxic products in your home to remember that commercial tampons and sanitary pads are not healthy, nor safe. The rayon used in commercial tampons and pads is bleached with chorine, creating dioxins (a toxic byproduct). And the cotton used in commercial tampons and pads is filled with insecticides and pesticides—not a healthy combo for sensitive regions. Here’s another link with more info.

Organic Cotton Tampons & Pads
One solution is to switch to organic 100% cotton tampons and pads. Here are some reputable companies: Natracare, Organic Essentials (this is not a direct link to their site, but rather to a separate seller), Seventh Generation. A number of these companies also sell organic cotton balls, organic cotton nursing pads, etc. In addition, the Organic Food Depot sells Natracare and Organic Essentials products via their online catalogue as well as a few in store.

The Diva Cup
Ladies, let me tell you the truth about this, while we’re on the subject. I am a convert of the Diva Cup! I will never go back to using tampons, organic or not. Do you want to experience a period that doesn’t feel like a period? You’ve got to try the Diva Cup. Not only is it economically and environmentally friendly, but also you can reuse it for a long time—one Diva Cup can last up to ten years! It’s made of silicone and is safe and easy to use. Check it out. Warning: after using the Diva Cup you may never try using anything else! Here’s a link to the least expensive seller of the Diva Cup that I’ve found online. The Organic Food Depot also sells it through their online catalogue.

Personal Lubricant
This is another important topic, although no one really discusses it. Ever think about what kind of ingredients are in those commercial lubricants? Well, let me just say it’s stuff we don’t want to be using! Take a look at the label on your KY Jelly or Astroglide sometime—whoa, there are a whole lot of toxic ingredients there!

Instead try Firefly (all natural) or Flutterby (organic), lubricants that feel better, last longer, don’t contain toxins and don’t dry out.


There are a number of aluminum-free deodorants on the market, most made by organic/all-natural companies. I have tried a lot of them, and the only one I’ve found that really works is Crystal. Their product comes in the following forms: rock salt, roll-on or spray on. The one that works for me is the roll-on. I have learned that in order for these products to work, you have to use a lot of them, sometimes even a couple of times a day. But at least you’ll be toxin-free in doing so! You can get them at most local pharmacies, some grocery stores and even Wal-Mart.

However the best natural deodorant that I have found yet is available through an online-based company called Oyin Handmade. Their deodorant, called Funk Butter, is handmade just for you each time you order, so it can take up to to three weeks for you to receive your products, but the wait is well worth it. Funk Butter is available in two scents as well as unscented. I strongly recommend the unscented. Their scented versions both contain fragrance oils rather than essential oils. The unscented version works just as well.

I hope this information has been helpful. Remember, become an expert label reader and know your ingredients! That is the only way to really keep yourself safe as you shop for these kinds of products. All of the information I’ve noted here is not necessarily the “hard and fast” rule for personal care products because companies can always change their products or the ingredients in their products. So again, become a savvy label reader and you’ll do a lot to keep yourself healthy.

Also, feel free to experiment by making your own skin care products and cosmetics. There are recipes on the web (Skin Deep’s campaign for safe cosmetics section has some as well as Really Raw Honey, etc.)

Read More......

Monday, May 21, 2007


Here are a bunch of recipes that I use.

You’ll notice that most of them fall into Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Maker’s Diet. For Phase 1, my husband and I mostly ate cooked/baked/grilled chicken/fish/beef with seasonings along with some sort of cooked vegetable at dinner, and I sautéed the veggies and meat in extra virgin coconut oil. We also ate a lot of yogurt and made smoothies using yogurt and organic frozen berries. I also ate tuna for lunch (The Maker’s Diet has a good tuna salad recipe at the back) and snacked on fruits and veggies. We also ate eggs and omelets for breakfast. We only did Phase 1 for a week and then moved on to Phase 3 because neither of us was in bad health or needed to lose weight, so we just did a 1-week cleanse instead of a 2-week cleanse. But you may wish to do the 40-day diet precisely, and, if so, then the recipes below will not help during Phase 1, but may come in handy later. For recipes specifically for Phase 1, and as well as the Phases 2 and 3, see Jordan Rubin’s The Maker’s Diet (in the back of the book) or go to the Biblical Health Institute website to view a variety of recipes by Jordan Rubin, Sally Fallon and others.

Also, just so you know, not all of these recipes call for soaking the flour or using yogurt rather than yeast as Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions often recommends. I am currently in the midst of experiments with more of Fallon's recipes and have not posted them here. But I highly recommend you purchase her book and start experimenting as well.

(Use all organic ingredients as much as possible with the following recipes.)

*Note on honey substitutions: Honey has a greater sweetening power than maple syrup, sucanat, rapadura, or traditional sugar. Twelve ounces (weight) of honey equals one standard measuring cup. In baked goods, reduce the amount of liquid by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used; add ½ teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey used; reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent oven browning. For easy removal rub a bit of extra virgin coconut oil in the measuring cup before adding honey.


Healthy Salad Dressing
1 part organic oil (sesame, peanut or flax seed are good; avoid the oils listed on The Maker’s Diet AVOID LIST)
1 part organic vinegar (or organic rice vinegar or organic apple cider vinegar)
1 part raw honey (unfiltered and UNHEATED) – Organic Food Depot

Mix. Delicious on salad.

Hot Cranberry Punch
4 C. unsweetened pineapple juice (if you can’t find organic, just use regular—at least it
doesn’t have sugar in it)
4 C. Cranberry Juice (Harris Teeter carries it organic)
1/3 C. Raw honey
1 C. water
1 tsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Tie cloves and cinnamon stick in cheesecloth. Combine all ingredients in crock-pot. Cover and cook on low setting for 4-10 hours. Serve hot, in punch cups.

Protein Balls (snack item)

½ C. Goatein (by Garden of Life, available at OFD)
½ C. Raw Honey
½ C. Peanut butter (organic is best)
½ C. Whole rolled oats (no quick oats)
½ C. Sunflower seeds
½ C. Sesame seeds


Add: Chopped dates (optional), walnuts (or other nuts), and unsweetened shredded coconut.

Roll into balls and refrigerate. You can also roll in crushed granola (unsweetened) before refrigerating.


Banana Bread
(my Great-Grandma’s recipe with my modifications)

½-¾ C. of raw honey
½ C. extra virgin coconut oil
½ C. sour milk (you can use regular milk just add a few drops of vinegar to sour it)
1 tsp. soda
2 C. flour or more, depending on consistency, (I use Spelt) and dash of salt
1 C. walnuts (optional)
2 eggs
3 bananas, ripe (mashed) [don’t use more than 3]

Bake at 300 degrees for 1-2 hours, depending on flour used. Spelt takes less time than Kamut because it’s denser.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
3 eggs
1 c. extra virgin coconut oil (or if all you have is olive oil on hand, you can [though it’s
not the healthiest choice] use ¾ c. olive oil and ½ stick of butter)
3 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 c. honey
3 c. grated zucchini (about 3 medium-sized zucchini or 2 zucchini and 1 carrot (chop in food processor
2 1/3 c. flour (spelt) – at end, add more if needed (don’t want too runny)
½ c. alkaline-free organic cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. alkaline-free baking powder
½ c. nuts (optional)
1 c. grain sweetened chocolate chips (by Sunspire)

muffins – 25-30 minutes @ 350 degrees – makes about 2 dozen
bread – 45 minutes @ 350 degrees (more crumbly)

Start with oil, eggs, vanilla and honey
Add zucchini, carrots
Mix all dry ingredients together first, then mix in to wet ingredients

Add nuts and chocolate chips at end.

Mini-Muffins Recipe
From Michele’s Kitchen
(All Ingredients are Organic)
½ cup Amaranth Flour (Arrowhead Mills)
1 cup Graham Flour (Bobs’ Red Mill)
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract (Simply Organic)
1 egg
½ cup kefir or yogurt (Lifeway) – this helps it to rise, amaranth flour is delicious and
healthy but doesn’t have gluten in it
¼ cup sunflower oil (Hain)
¼ cup of honey (Southworth)
1 Banana, mashed
½ cup each Just Tomatoes dehydrated fruit, use two berry types

In a medium bowl, sift together the amaranth flour, graham flour and the baking powder. In a large bowl, beat together the vanilla, egg, kefir or yogurt, oil and honey. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually pour the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Beat for a few seconds, just until the mixtures are blended. Fold in the banana and the fruits. Spoon the batter into oiled mini-muffin tins. Bake @ 350*F for 15-20 minutes or until done.
*****You may use one or several of the following variations on these muffins.
Substitute Pumpkin or applesauce for bananas.
Substitute Safflower Oil for Sunflower Oil.
Substitute Pastry, Rice, Spelt or Oat flour for Graham Flour.
Add cinnamon and/or nuts instead of dehydrated fruit.
Add spice of your choosing such as, cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves.

Pizza Crust
1 C. warm water (I just use a mug and fill it about 2/3 of the way full)
1 tsp. raw honey
1 Tbsp. yeast (Rapunzel is a good brand through OFD, or just regular quick-rising yeast)

Dissolve yeast and honey in warm water, stir. Set aside until frothy.

Pour yeast mixture into large bowl and add:

Flour (I use Spelt, make amazing pizza crust)
1 tsp. salt

Mix. Add more flour if needed to make dough consistency.

Grease your pizza pan or stone with extra virgin coconut oil.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place kneaded dough on pan and spread. Add toppings and cook for 25-30 minutes (depending on your oven). At about 12 minutes, put aluminum foil over pizza to keep cheese from browning.

Blend olive oil and fresh garlic (or organic garlic powder) and spread with brush on the crust.

Rachel’s Cornbread
(mix by hand)

1 C. cornflour/meal (finely ground)
1 C. brown rice flour (or other flour such as spelt, kamut, millet, etc.)
4 tsp. baking powder
1 C. milk
1/3 C. extra virgin coconut oil
1 Tbsp. raw honey
1 egg – don’t over beat (do egg last)

Grease 9 x 9 pan
Bake 425 degrees, 22 minutes


Beef Stroganoff
2 pounds of stew meat
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 8 oz pkg. mushrooms, sliced
Heat on low all day. Just before serving, add half a cup of sour cream.
Serve over rice or noodles.

Chicken and Corn Chili (this one’s really good!)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (16 oz.) jar salsa
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 (11 oz) can Mexican style corn (I just use regular corn and put my own spices in it)
¼ lb dry pinto beans, soaked and cooked (or a 15 oz can pinto beans)

Place chicken and salsa in slow cooker the night before you want to eat this chili. Season with garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook 6-8 hours on low setting.

About 3-4 hours before you want to eat, remove chicken from slow cooker, and shred it using two forks. Return meat to the pot, and continue cooking.

Stir the corn and pinto beans into the slow cooker. Simmer until ready to serve.

Crock Pot Mushroom Chicken
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package of chicken gravy mix (or any gravy mix, sometimes I use a shitake mushroom gravy mix from OFD)
1 cup organic white wine (or 1 cup chicken broth)
1 can of cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
8 oz. cream cheese

Put chicken in crock-pot. Sprinkle gravy mix on top. Pour soup over that, then pour wine or broth over that. Cook on low all day. 30 minutes before serving, put cream cheese in. When ready to serve, remove chicken and whisk the sauce together. Serve over pasta or rice.

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili
¾-1 lb. (when dry) great northern, pinto, or cannellini beans, soaked and cooked (or 3 15 oz cans)
2 1/2 c. chopped, cooked chicken
1 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. chopped red, green, and/or yellow pepper
2 jalapeno chili peppers, stemmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
3 1/2 c. chicken broth
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Healthy chips (optional)

In a crock pot combine the drained beans, chicken, onion, sweet pepper, jalapeno peppers, garlic, cumin, salt, and oregano. Stir in chicken broth. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each serving with some cheese and healthy, no-oil chips (see my posting on food available at the Organic Food Depot), if desired, or serve with hearty bread. Makes 8 servings.

Dev’s Chili Con Carne
2 lbs. ground hamburger
1 large onion, diced
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes (drained), or diced tomatoes
½ lb. dry beans (red, pinto or black), soaked & cooked (or 2 -15 oz cans red kidney beans)
1-2 chopped cloves of garlic (or 2 Tbsp. of garlic powder)
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp oregano
A dash or two of red pepper powder (don’t get too crazy with it)
Brown hamburger with diced onion and garlic. Drain. Mix browned hamburger with all other ingredients (except beans) in crock pot, chopping up whole tomatoes with firm spatula while mixing in spices. Then add beans (precooked). Mix. Cook on low all day. Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese. You can serve with healthy chips or whole grain sourdough or sprouted bread.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup (thick enough to be a chili)
Original recipe yield: 8 Servings

1 onion, chopped
¼ lb (when dry) chili beans, soaked and cooked (or 16 ounce can chili beans)
¼ lb (when dry) black beans, soaked and cooked (or 15 ounce can black beans)
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer (OFD carries organic beer)
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 (8 ounce) package shredded cheddar cheese (or preferably raw cheddar cheese)
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream (or piima cream, see my dairy fermentation posting)
1 cup crushed healthy chips (optional) – (available at Organic Food Depot, see posting)

Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed healthy chips, if desired.


Honey-Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting (delicious on Chocolate Zucchini Muffins)
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1/3 cup raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend until smooth. Ice cake while warm.

Honey-Sweetened Fudge Sauce/Frosting
Blend raw honey with cocoa powder or carob powder until desired texture and flavor are achieved.

Monster Cookies
Preheat to 350 degrees
½ cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup Sucanat or Rapadura
¾ cup raw honey
(or you can use 1 & 1/3 cups raw honey and no sucanat or rapadura)

Cream together.
Add 3 eggs and mix. (When cutting recipe in half, use 2 instead.)
2 tsp baking soda. Mix.
1 tsp. vanilla. Mix.
2 C. peanut butter. Mix.
1 C. flour (spelt or spelt/kamut blend). Mix.
4.5 C. rolled oats. Mix.
1 C. grain sweetened chocolate chips (by Sunspire)

Shape into 1.5 inch balls. Press somewhat flat on cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Makes 5 dozen.
(I usually cut this recipe in half.)

Whipped Cream Topping
(Sally Fallon also suggest an alternative using Stevia)
1 cup chilled coconut cream (or heavy whipping cream)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup, or honey

In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters gently beat the Coconut Cream (or heavy whipping cream) to not quite soft peak stage (The cream must be cold, taken from the fridge). Add the maple syrup or sweetener of your choice. Carefully beat to desired stiffness.


Healthy Pie Filling
(see Pie Crust and other filling recipes and tips below)

3 Options:

1) Sucanat/Rapadura and spelt flour
2) Maple syrup and cornstarch
3) Apple juice and cornstarch (this is my favorite—or a blend of #2 and #3)

When using cornstarch as thickener:
Heat syrup and/or juice to BOILING. Mix 2-3 Tablespoons cornstarch in ¼-1/2 cup cold water and mix into boiling liquid (in a medium sized stove pot, don’t use a small one or it will boil over). Pour over fruit filling. Sprinkle with spices of your choice.

Pie Crust (using extra virgin coconut oil – so good and so much more healthy!)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Spelt)
1 t salt
1 T. raw honey
3/4 C chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (this is technically not the best choice according to The Maker’s Diet, but I’ve never tried it using ,only extra virgin for the whole recipe)
coconut oil)
3/8 C (6 T) chilled extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 C ice water
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

I use a food processor to combine the dry ingredients with the butter and coconut oil. Put the flour (spelt), honey and salt in the food processor and add the chilled extra virgin coconut oil (broken into pieces). Pulse until the coconut oil is worked into the flour and no large pieces remain. Add the chilled butter and pulse until the largest pieces of butter are no larger than small peas. At this point I dump this mixture into a bowl since I prefer to incorporate the water by hand using a fork. Add the apple cider vinegar to 1/4 C ice water and then add this mixture to the flour mixture, a couple of tablespoons at a time, tossing the mixture with a fork. As you continue to add the liquid the mixture will begin to come together in a ball. At this point you can squeeze the mixture together by hand. You don't want to knead the dough; work it just enough to bring it all together in a cohesive mass. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and smash it down somewhat to make a thick disk. Chill the dough for at least an hour before using.
This crust is absolutely delicious either for double crust pies or for single crust pies where the crust is not pre-baked. I have found from experience that this crust is simply too rich to bake empty and then fill. When I have attempted to bake the pie crust by itself it tends to melt down and slide to the bottom of the pie pan.

Fabulous Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Here is a healthy version of a classic pumpkin pie recipe.

Nut Crust: Makes one 9 inch pie crust.

2 1/2 cups finely ground nuts (pecans are the best, almonds, walnuts or a combination of mixed nuts works very nicely too)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 T to 1/3 cup sucanat, raw honey or natural sweetener of choice - depends on how sweet you want your crust (see my note at the top of this page on raw honey substitution)*
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or butter) melted

Stir together ground nuts, cinnamon and sugar. Mix in melted extra virgin coconut oil. Set aside 1/2 cup of the nut mixture for topping the pie.

Press mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Chill for about 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (either canned or home-made)
1/2 cup maple syrup or or honey
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
(2 Tablespoons flour if you use maple syrup, honey)

Heat the pumpkin puree in a heavy pan, stirring frequently. Add the coconut milk to the pumpkin, continuing to stir. Keep it hot, but don't let it boil. In a heatproof bowl, beat the eggs and maple syrup or honey together. Beat in the dry spices. When the pie crust is ready, beat the egg mixture, while slowly adding the hot pumpkin mixture into it as a thin stream. The resulting mixture will be hot, but you do not want to have "cooked" eggs. Carefully pour the hot pumpkin filling into the hot pie crust. Return to the center of the oven and bake at 400 degrees. If the pie is very full, finish filling it when the pie is part way in the oven with a cup or ladle so that you do not slosh the filling all over. The pie is done when the outside edge of the filling is firm and slightly puffed, but the center is still jiggly. Place on a rack to gently cool, so the custard can finish cooking and set. When cool, add a whipped cream topping.


Stir-&-Roll Pie Crust
1 1/3 C flour
1 tsp Salt
1/3 C Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
3 tbsp cold Milk

Pumpkin Pie Filling
3/4 C sucanat or rapadura
1/2 tsp Salt
1 3/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice *
2 large eggs
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 12 oz can evaporated milk

Mix sugar, salt, Pumpkin Pie Spice in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl and stir in Pumpkin and sucanat spice mixture.
Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into 9" pie shell. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near,center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours and serve or refrigerate. Makes 8 servings.

• Can use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp ground cloves
instead of Pumpkin Pie Spice.

Glutenless Crust
2 Cups glutenless flour (buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa)
¼ to ½ Cup extra virgin coconut oil
¼ teaspoon salt
?? water

Mix flour and salt, cut in extra virgin coconut oil, add water gradually until the dough holds together. As with the sprouted crust, I recommend just pressing the dough into the pan, and using waxed paper if you make a top crust. You could also roll out a bunch of mini-crusts and patch them together.

Details and Tips for Pie Crusts
Pies are either two-crust, like apple and cherry, or one-crust, like pumpkin, pecan, and cream. All the above measurements are for a two-crust pie. The top crust is always smaller, so for a one-crust pie, reduce everything by about a third, not by half.

Measurement is only important in the liquid oil crust, because to maintain flakiness you shouldn't add more stuff after stirring. In every crust, what matters is the liquid-solid balance, for a dough that will be pliable enough to roll out but not so wet that it sticks to everything and comes apart. In flaky crusts, you take care of this during the water-adding stage. With sourdough, I start it kind of wet and then add more flour until it's stiff enough. So I generally don't measure at all.

In a two crust pie, separate the dough into two balls, one of them noticeably bigger than the other. After a few pies you'll develop a feel for the relative sizes. Then roll out the big one for the bottom crust.

For a roller, I just grab the nearest wine bottle. In ease of use, it's so close to a rolling pin that it's not worth my trouble to get the rolling pin out of the drawer. (And it's easier to clean!) You will probably need more flour than you think. I spread some on the counter, roll the crust a bit, flip it, roll it more, then add more flour, because the original flour gets absorbed in the dough. You need to keep both sides floured. Start rolling with light pressure and work up to heavier pressure as it gets flatter. What you're aiming for is a circle close enough in size to what you need that you don't have to trim the edges. This is a skill that comes with many crusts. You'll probably get nowhere near a circle and have to trim and patch.

There's nothing wrong with a patched-together pie crust. It tastes the same and you can't even see the patching unless it's on the top crust, and even then it's only going to bother people you don't want to associate with anyway. Even after making hundreds of crusts, I often end up patching because whole grain flour is so uncooperative. Some people take the trimmings and bake them separately (or tragically throw them out), but I use everything in the crust.

So you roll out the bottom crust, wipe a thin coat of oil in the pie pan, put the crust in, roll out the top crust, then put the filling in and quickly put on the top crust and get it in a hot oven. The wetter the filling is, the more important it is to put it in the oven very soon after you put the filling in, or the wetness will soak into the bottom crust and damage it. Some people like to do a little sculpture at the edge of the pie where the top and bottom crusts join. I just press them roughly together. The important thing here is that the filling doesn't run out of the bottom crust and down the inside of the pan. If it does, you'll just get a caramelized spot.

Baking time varies between pies. The temperature is generally 350-400 F, at which a filled crust will be done in around 30 minutes, but the filling often takes longer.

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Local vs. Organic

Time magazine online recently posted an interesting article on the dilemma of eating local vs. eating organic.

I agree that if you are buying organic oranges that have been flown from California to your local Virginia health food store or supermarket, you may, in fact, be supporting a process that is harmful to the environment. Polluting the air with extra gasoline in an effort to ship organic food to buyers can be taken to the extreme. So choose wisely when you buy. The best option for consumers is to look for food that is both local and organic. It may sound hard to do, but it can be done. Local co-ops like the Organic Food Depot carry fresh, local produce daily, as well as local honey, and other products. Yoder Dairies, as I’ve mentioned before, is a great way to support local dairy in the Hampton Roads area. Yoder also carries local, free-range eggs. The Organic Food Depot carries Gryffon’s Aerie beef and other meats, which are local and grass-fed, and Central Meats provides local meat and fowl as well. Supporting your local (and organic as much as possible) farmers is a good way to ensure that such products remain readily available in your area.

If you find that certain items that you need cannot be found locally, then I advocate purchasing what is most healthy for you. We are stewards of the earth, yes, but we are also temples of the Holy Spirit. So let's make sure our bodies are healthy first and foremost, while continuing to do our best to protect the environment as much a possible at the same time.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Maker’s Diet Sweeteners

Find out what the healthiest sweeteners are, where to get them, how to use them and where to look for recipes …

Jordan Rubin’s book The Maker’s Diet lists acceptable sweeteners as:

-Honey (unheated and raw) - (no more than 3 Tbsp. per day)
-Maple Syrup

Although sucanat (dehydrated cane juice) and rapadura (raw, organic sugar) are not included on this “ok” list, they do appear in some of the recipes in Rubin’s book.

Sucanat & Rapadura
In doing some research on sucanat and rapadura, it appears that they do not promote tooth decay as much as refined sugars, and they do not spike insulin quite as much a refined sugars, although they could do so if used daily. They also do not promote yeast growth as highly as refined sugar. These raw cane sugar forms have 85% the sugar content found in commercial refined sugar due to their retaining of natural molasses and nutrients.

The point is this, using rapaduar or sucanat once in a while will not harm your Maker’s Diet lifestyle, but consumption of either of these products is not recommended either while doing a cleanse or in consistent daily quantities.

Sucanat and rapadura can be purchased at most health food stores as well as Organic Food Depot.

Stevia is a South American herb that has been used as a sweetener by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay for hundreds of years. The leaves of this small, green Stevia rebaudiana plant have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar. Very popular in Japan where it has been widely used as a sweetener for over 35 years, Stevia is sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement.

Stevia comes in powder, tablet, and liquid forms. Of these, the liquid drops are the tastiest. I have found that Stevia powder does not taste very good in coffee, oatmeal or tea, but the liquid drops are quite delicious. And both forms are often called for in Stevia recipes. Stevia can be purchased online, at a variety of health food stores, and even via the Organic Food Depot.

Stevia has been found to be a healthy substitute for diabetics because it does not spike insulin levels.

There are Stevia recipe books available, as well as a number of websites providing free Stevia recipes.

Remember, as always, too much of a good thing isn’t good. The key with Stevia and other sugar substitutes is not to go on eating tons of it as people currently do with refined sugar—we must cut way back and instead use these healthy sweeteners sparingly. The FDA has not yet approved Stevia to be used commercially in grocery-store foods and food products because of a study conducted in which rats were fed enormous amounts of Stevia over a many-month period. This led to reproductive problems, cancer, and problems with energy and metabolism. This study, however, is nothing to be concerned about if you’re using Stevia in moderation as people have done for thousands of years.

Raw, unheated honey is the only form of honey you should be eating. If your honey has been processed, heated, filtered or treated, you are missing out on all of the beneficial living enzymes naturally present in raw honey. Raw, unheated honey has been used to treat ailments for thousands of years. It is delicious when used in cooking and has a greater sweetening power than sugar. Twelve ounces (weight) of honey equals one standard measuring cup.

You can purchase raw, unheated honey at health food stores and now at a few regular grocery stores (but look at the labels carefully). Local health food stores in Hampton Roads, including the Organic Food Depot, sell a variety of raw honeys including Really Raw Honey, Golden Angels Apiary (a local Virginia producer), Garden of Life and others.

Cooking and baking with honey can take a little bit of practice and a little math, but it is well worth it. Click here for Real Raw Honey recipes. Click here and scroll down for additional links to recipe lists.

As a general rule when substituting honey for sugar in baked goods, reduce the amount of liquid by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used; add ½ teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey used; reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over browning. For easy removal, rub extra-virgin coconut oil or olive oil on the inside of the measuring cup before adding honey.

Once again, you don’t want to overdo it with honey. It is much sweeter than sugar, and it does affect insulin levels. Jordan Rubin recommends no more than 3 Tbsp. per day.

Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup is not as potently sweet as honey and can be used for more than just topping your waffles and pancakes.

Commercial brands of syrup, such as Mrs. Butterworth’s and Log Cabin, are terribly unhealthy as they contain high-fructose corn syrup. Pure maple syrup, on the other hand, is healthy in moderation and contains zinc and other minerals.

Pure maple syrup is rated by grades: A, B, and C. Grade A pure maple syrup is light amber, grade B is a medium amber, and grade C is very dark and not usually available for purchase as it is used in commercial baking. Grade A maple syrup is the most tasty for things like pancakes. Grade B is often used more in baking.

You can purchase pure maple syrup at most grocery stores, but you can only purchase organic pure maple syrup through health food stores. As I mentioned in another post, I often purchase pure maple syrup (non-organic) in bulk at Costco.

Click here to see a history of maple syrup and its nutritional content.

Here are a few links to maple syrup recipes:




Some of the recipes on these links may call for sugar. Try to avoid those or attempt to substitute the sugar for rapadura, sucanat or honey.

You can find more recipes using honey, maple syrup, rapadura or sucanat in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions

If you have questions concerning any of these sweeteners, please post a comment. I hope this has been helpful.

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