Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nourishing Traditions

For someone who was a born rule-follower (a trait that drives my husband crazy), I also have a bit of a rebel in my soul.  I like to think that it comes from a line of strong women on my mother's side of the family.  Well, the rebel side of me was stirred up after I got my hands on what I now consider to be the most important cookbook ever published - "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon.  If you haven't heard of Sally Fallon, I strongly urge you to look her up.  Her views on diet and nutrition, which are backed by sound science, turn our USDA food pyramid on its head.

"Nourishing Traditions" is so much more than a cookbook.  It is packed with information on what we should eat and why.  The introduction to the cookbook is a whopping 71 pages of detailed information on fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and more.  She walks you through choosing and preparing foods to optimize your health, and she explains why so many of the foods "they" tell us to eat are actually bad for us.

Do you want to know why heart disease, diabetes, cancer, allergies, obesity, and general poor health is on the rise?  Sure, all the toxins in our environment are contributing to the problem, but we are not nourishing our bodies properly so that we can fight off disease and eliminate the toxins from our bodies.  Faulty science and profit-driven big agriculture has steered us in the wrong direction.  Remember when we were told to eschew butter and use margarine, and then a couple decades later "they" (Sally calls them the "diet dictocrats") told us that the trans fats in margarine are killing us?  Well, like the recommendation to use margarine, there is a lot of faulty nutritional information out there.  Low-fat?...  The low-fat guidelines aren't scientifically sound nor are they healthy.  Cholesterol?...  It's not the devil it's made out to be - in fact, cholesterol is an important building block in our bodies that is needed to *repair* damage other substances create (which is why cholesterol is found in our arteries - it is repairing damage created by substances like homocysteine).  Whole grains?...  Unless grains are soaked or fermented, they are full of "anti-nutrients" that damage our health.

So if everything we have been taught is wrong, and fad diets are becoming more & more confusing, what SHOULD we eat?  It's simple - return to the nourishing traditions of our ancestors, before there were factories that created "food" or pseudo-scientists and nutritionists who invented different fad diets.  We need to eat whole natural foods that are prepared using old time-tested techniques.  Those sourdough pancakes made by the 49ers?... They are full of good nutrition, unlike the pancakes made from a boxed mix.  Think red meat is bad for you?...  If it comes from a steer raised in a feedlot on corn and soy and goodness-knows-what-else then it is definitely bad for you!  If it comes from a cow raised on lush green pasture then it's full of good fats and nutrients - a true health food!

"Nourishing Traditions" will fundamentally change how you think about food.  I urge you to find a copy today and become a rebel like me!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To blog or not to blog - that is the question...

I have several blogs I follow regularly - mostly cooking/food blogs, as well as a few parenting, farm, and humor blogs.  I will never be as entertaining or as awesome as all those blogs.  However, I am passionate about food & health and have decided to jump into the world of blogging.

This morning as I sat in the kitchen drinking my cold cup of raw milk I decided that this day was the day to start my blog.  I just finished making a new batch of yogurt with my farm fresh milk and was thinking about my transition to a different way of eating.  "Raw milk?  That stuff will kill you!"  "Organic food?  That's just so they can charge you more for it!"  You know, I used to buy into those beliefs and so much more.  However, I got tired of my crappy health and am now a believer in food as medicine.

So if you read my blog (~tap, tap~ Hey, is this thing even on? Anybody out there?), I hope that you learn something new or try a recipe or eat a little bit healthier afterwards.

Today I will leave you with my method for making yogurt.  I need to warn you in advance, though - once you start eating homemade yogurt made from farm fresh milk, you will never again be able to tolerate the processed junk they sell in the grocery stores.

How to make yogurt:
Materials you need:
large heavy-bottomed pot (stainless steel or non-chipped enamel coated), thermometer (long stemmed w/ pot clip is useful), yogurt culture (I get mine from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. - see below), and yogurt maker (I use a Yogotherm)

About milk:
Farm fresh, grass fed milk is hands down the best milk you can use. Otherwise, look for low-heat pasteurized, organic milk that ideally is non-homogenized (homogenization breaks up/alters components in the milk). Whatever you do, avoid ultra-pasteurized milk - the high heat pasteurization ruins it. In fact you cannot make cheese with UHP milk because the proteins have been altered (damaged)!

To make yogurt:
  • Put a couple ice cubes in the bottom of your pot and swirl to coat the bottom - this helps prevent burning the milk on the bottom of the pot.
  • Pour 2 qts (1/2 gallon) of milk into the pot. Heat over medium (sometimes I edge towards med-high) heat to exactly 185*F. Do not boil your milk!! I stir occasionally, but don't scrape the bottom or you risk disrupting the scald protection the ice cubes created.
  • Once you hit 185*F, remove from heat and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. This allows the proteins to knit together and make your yogurt creamy. Note: There are raw milk purists who only heat their milk to 85*-110*F, which saves more of the natural enzymes in the milk; however I really like the creamy consistency I get from heating the milk to 185*F.
  • A skin will form on the top of your milk. You may skim if off or simply stir it back into the milk after 10 minutes.
  • Transfer your pot to a sinkful of cold water to quickly cool it to 110*F. Pour the milk into your yogotherm or yogurt-maker (some people just use large mason jars and put them in an oven warmed by a pilot light!). Sprinkle your yogurt culture over the milk and stir in. Cover and let sit undisturbed in a warm place for approximately 12 hours. Your yogurt may be ready after just 6 hours, but the longer it sits, the thicker it will get.
  • When done, refrigerate & enjoy! If you love "greek style" yogurt, drain some of the whey off your yogurt by putting it in a large strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth or butter muslin. Save the whey - you can use it in breads, fermented foods, etc. - it is full of protein and beneficial probiotics (great stuff!).
Need yogurt & cheesemaking supplies?  Go to my favorite place for all things cheese:
New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.