Monday, December 14, 2009

Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce

Sometimes slow is fast.  That's the case with this wonderful invention: the slow-cooker.  It takes a little effort on the front end, and then you get to enjoy the fantastic aromas in your home through out the day and the glory of an effortless evening meal.  Yes, I'm excited.

Here's a phenomenally good slow cooker recipe to try.  I got it from a cookbook entitled "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook."  It's excellent!  

Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

 One 2-pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 or 4 pieces

2 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips

1/3 c. teriyaki sauce (or make your own with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and honey)

2 TBSP. rice vinegar

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ c. creamy peanut butter (chunky works too)

 For serving:

½ c. chopped green onions

¼ c. chopped dry roasted peanuts

2 limes, cut to make wedges

  1. Put the pork, bell peppers, teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, and garlic in the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW until the pork is fork-tender, 8 to 9 hours. 

  1. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and coarsely chop or shred the meat.  Add the peanut butter to the liquid in the cooker; stir well to dissolve the peanut butter and blend with the liquid to make the sauce.  Return the pork to the sauce and toss to coat the meat evenly.

  1. Serve in shallow bowls over rice or rice noodles, and sprinkle each serving with some of the green onions and peanuts.  Pass the lime wedges.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Soft Drop Sugar Cookies

My dad and I like to plan the menu for any of our big family gatherings.  He was the first person in my life to show me the joys of cooking.  So, for this Christmas, he delegated the desserts to me.  And by the way, I can't wait to see my sisters!!!  To experiment for the upcoming festivities, my kids and I made a batch of soft drop sugar cookies tonight... which we made half-way healthy.  I striped the tops of each cookie with melted dark Wilbur chocolate, and everyone was suddenly happy just looking at them... and ecstatic eating them.  
Here ya go!

Mix wet ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients.  Mix them all together with electric mixer.  Drop by the tablespoon onto a baking stone or cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 8 min.

1 c. butter (soft)
2 eggs
1/2 c. plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 c. whole milk 
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. agave nectar
1 squirt of liquid stevia extract
1/2 c. granulated organic sugar or raw (I used granulated fructose)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sprouted organic wheat flour
2 and 1/4 c. unbleached organic white flour (I used the kind that has the germ added back in)


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A fresh taste for your leftover turkey!

Hi.  Here's a perfect use for your leftover turkey.  My neighbor and friend just made it today and gave me some.  God bless her!  I had no idea what I was going to make for supper tonight.  And I've been craving fresh vegetables and salads, so this hit the spot.  The recipe is here:'s-cookbook/recipe/1/Asian-Chicken-Slaw

Asian Chicken Slaw
Healthy main dish salad for the summer or anytime!

1 (16 oz.) bag cole slaw mix
1 lb. cooked chicken, shredded
2 c. broccoli florets
1 c. snap peas
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 c. sliced scallions
1/2 c. chopped cashews
1/4 c. soy sauce or "Bragg's Liquid Aminos"
2 TBSP. white vinegar
2 TBSP. peanut butter
1 TBSP. honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger (or from a jar)
1/2 c. olive oil
1 TBSP. sesame oil

In a large bowl, toss together the coleslaw mix, chicken broccoli, snap peas, red pepper, and scallions. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the salad with the dressing. Top it off with the chopped cashews.

Cooking in season

Hi guys, 
Gotta share a cookbook with you.  I just got my first cookbook that is specifically laid out by seasons so I can buy fresh and local foods and know what to do with them when they are freshest and highest in nutrient density.  Yeah!  How inspiring!  It's called "Simply In Season" and here's the link:
I happened to purchase it at the Hans Herr House in Lancaster... talk about inspiration for doing things the old fashion way.  Actually, I was just glad for electricity when I left that field trip.  It was a cold day with Lucas's kindergarten class.  But they were troopers.  Cold weather is a good reason to snuggle!  Random thoughts.  Snuggle on!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


If you have discovered the massive benefits from kicking the sugar habit, then you're probably grateful to be living with less headaches, less joint aches, greater energy, better sleep, clarity of thought, and fewer illnesses.  But the taste of sweetness is still one of my favorites.  I just taste it in more things than just sugar now.  I taste the natural sweetness of wheat, fruit, rice, and vegetables like I've never tasted it before... now that I'm off the refined-white-sugar addiction.   But I still want a sweetener sometimes, so I try as many natural sweeteners as I can.  Stevia is an amazing green leaf herb which is about 30 times sweeter than sugar.  My kids and I really like "SweetLeaf" liquid stevia (vanilla creme flavor) to sweeten our unsweetened raw whole milk yogurt.  It is highly concentrated in it's sweet flavor, but contains no sugar.  So you only have to use a few drops to sweeten a whole bottle of water, cup of tea, or bowl of yogurt, etc.  Most stevia extract (powder or liquid) has a bitter after-taste, but this particular liquid stevia is really sweet and the bitterness is barely noticeable.  I also use it in homemade icecream.  There are a bunch of other flavors (like lemon drop, peppermint, raspberry, etc.) or there's plain liquid stevia with no flavor added.  This little 2 oz. dropper bottle of vanilla creme liquid stevia cost me $13.53 from Miller's Natural Foods, and it was well worth it.  I think it will last me about a year.  

SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia, Vanilla Crème, 2-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What's up with kale?

Did you ever go to a salad bar and see those leafy curly dark green robust leaves that were garnishing the edges of the refrigerated trays... highlighting the likes of iceburg lettuce?  Ironic really.  That's kale.  So often taking the lesser role of decoration rather than being recognized as the nutrient-dense food it is.  Get to know kale.  It's time.  It's easy to grow.  It resists pests heartily.  And it keeps growing after frost.  I like to cut it out of the garden, strip out the main vein, wash it, chop it, and boil it for 1-2 minutes, then drain, and toss with butter.  My 4 year old loves this vegetable!!  It tastes great!!  Sorta like broccoli but more mild.  And full of things your body will LOVE.  It's a part of the cabbage family.  You can also cut it up and eat it raw in a salad.  Or saute it with garlic and sea salt then add some soup broth.  Very good!  Here's some data from wikipedia:  Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties and is anti-inflammatory.[2]
Kale is very high in beta carotenevitamin Kvitamin Cluteinzeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium  

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What to do with pumpkin in season?

Yesterday, I was walking from "Miller's Natural Foods" to the nearby farmer's stand when a bug flew in my eye.  Bam!  Way in.  Ow.  It's just one of the risks you take when you shop outside.  I bought a big 8 pound long-neck pumpkin for $2.50, slung it over my shoulder, walked back to my car with one eye open, and found a hand sanitizing wipe to clean my hands, dug around in my eye for about 3 minutes (no lie), successfully extracted the bug, and headed home with clear visibility.  Ahhhh... that was a relief.  Anyway, it turns out that an 8 lb. long-neck pumpkin yielded about 5 lbs. of cooked mashed pumpkin, which was about 9 and a 1/2 cups.   *I washed it and cooked it by cutting off the ends, cutting it into 6 big pieces, taking seeds out, and boiling it for about 45 minutes.  After boiling, I took off the skins, and mashed it up.  At this point, you can use it or freeze it.  So, what can you do with it?  Try these delectable muffins.  I like to make a triple batch and freeze them for kids' lunches.

Pumpkin Muffins

 1 c. unbleached white flour

1 c. wheat flour or sprouted wheat flour

1 TBSP. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground ginger or ground cloves

1 c. pumpkin (canned or cook your own pumpkin*)

1/3 c. milk

2 eggs

1/3 c. coconut oil (or lard or butter)

½ c. agave nectar or maple syrup or honey

¼ tsp. stevia

1 c. chopped walnuts

 Mix up all dry ingredients.   Mix up all wet ingredients.  Combine wet and dry ingredients. 

Put in muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 25 min.

Or to make pumpkin bread, bake in greased bread pan for 1 hour.

Serve with fresh organic butter.  My kids like to put the butter on top and they say it's icing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My favorite lunch right now

One of my favorite stands for lunch-to-go is called "Lettuce Toss Salad" at Lancaster Central Market.  It's along the short wall closest to the Lancaster Dispensing Company.
They pack in so many tiny-cut fresh ingredients into your salad bowl, it's amazing.  The first time I ordered a salad there, I thought for sure the woman wouldn't be able to fit anything in the bowl past the huge bed of spring greens and spinach... but as I called out my ingredients, she just kept stuffing them in... generous portions of fresh tomatos, celery, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, shredded cabbage, carrots, beets, chick peas, edamame, sunflower seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, olives, parmesan cheese, etc... densely packed into a clear plastic bowl with a lid.  I like to get a big bowl, and eat a salad every day for 3 days from it.  What a treat that they do all the washing and chopping for you.  My body feels happy on this food!     

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bird Seed Bars

Hi all.  I've been spending a lot more time than usual taking care of my normally independent 4 year old daughter.  She has a skinned foot injury and hasn't been able to walk for a week now.  The good news is that her injury is healing little by little every day with no set-backs!  She will walk just fine and dandy once the top of her foot has some new skin on it.  But for now, it cracks open if she bends it at all, so she crawls and scoots quite proficiently.  What does this have to do with Bird Seed Bars?  Nothing.  But it's a blog and blogs are like that.  Check out this awesome recipe that my neighbor came up with.  Her and I have been going back and forth experimenting to make the best granola bars on the planet.  We are getting very close!  It's a variation on the first granola bar recipe I posted, but this one has a lot more seeds.  And is it ever tasty!!!   After giving it out to friends for taste tests, with great results, it's time to unveil the granola bar that our friend Michael affectionately calls... 

BIRD SEED BARS (for human consumption)

1 c. natural unsweetened peanut butter

½ c. brown rice syrup

¼ c. raw honey

2 tsp. vanilla

½ c. butter melted


3 c. oats

2/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

¾ c. sunflower seeds

2/3 c. sesame seeds

1/3 c. pumpkin seeds (optional)

½ tsp. sea salt (optional)

½ c. real chocolate chips, set aside (or raisins)

Mix wet ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients except chocolate chips.  Combine wet and dry ingredients. Spread into 13x9 greased buttered pan.  Push chocolate chips (pointy end first) into the top of the bars.  Score into desired sizes.  Small is good.  Refrigerate until set (1 hour or overnight).  Cut into bars.  Pry out of pan and put into sealed container to freeze and grab as you go.   If you want chocolate chips throughout the bar, then mix in ½ c. of mini chocolate chips (rather than the regular sized ones) to keep bars together.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

sweet potato bliss

Wanna make some sweet potatoes tonight?  Here's a great way to do it.  Peel a big raw sweet potato and cut into thick half-inch slices.  Fry in a shallow layer of coconut oil, both sides, until light brown.  Place in a 13x9" baking stone (single or double layer of potato slices).  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Pour apple mixture on top and bake at 375 degrees for 30 min.  Almost like dessert.
Here's the recipe for the apple mixture: 3 tart apples peeled and diced, 1/2 cup broken pecans, 1/4 c. melted butter, 1/4 c. maple syrup, 1 tsp. cinnamon... all mixed up together.  Enjoy!
Here's the nutrition information on a sweet potato:  This food is low in Sodium, and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Manganese.
Live well!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ladies' Day

Hi everybody ~ 
It's amazing how food brings people of all cultures together.  On Wednesday, my friend Miriam and I sat in an Amish barn in Bird-in-Hand, PA along with about 100 others (mostly Amish and plain people) to hear about extracting and preserving seeds with the most nutrients right from your garden vegetables...for planting next spring.  If you're interested in coming to the next meeting, which they call "Ladies' Day," then mark your calendar for January 13, 2010 (10am-3pm).  There is usually a paper posted on the door of Miller's Natural Foods inviting anyone who's interested.  I'm understanding and appreciating Amish culture so much through these meetings centered on health and wellness.  Our common interest in food as a prevention and cure of many diseases keeps us learning from one another.  The setting was in an old barn with cobwebs and hay piled high, small Amish children toddling around and babies nursing as needed, people sitting closely and quietly on benches, with the wide open barn door revealing cows grazing on a sunny clear day.  Everyone brought a food to share along with the recipe to set beside the food.  It's always a healthy feast.  There were quite a few men at this recent "Ladies' Day."  So, they don't discriminate.  Ha!  The topic brought more men (farmers) this time.  One thing I learned about corn and bean seeds is that it's best to leave a few ears of sweet corn and pods of beans on the vine for a few weeks past ripe picking time.  Then pick them, open them up, and let them dry in a dry place for a couple weeks.  When you see a little "black layer" spot form on the seed, then all the nutrients are sealed inside and it's good for planting.  I just noticed this tiny black spot on our dried soybeans (which are now seeds) from our garden.  If we don't pick off all our produce, it is likely that the plants will naturally drop their own seeds onto the ground which may just self-plant for spring.  But most people like to determine more predictability by re-planting by hand.  An interesting side note, is that last year, we had some decorative "Indian corn" on the cob in our house and a kernel of corn fell off onto a wet area on the ledge of our kitchen sink and eventually sprouted right there on the counter top.  It's amazing how much stored energy is inside a seed!  Gotta go pick up my daughter from preschool.... have a fun day!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Local news

I was just at Miller's Natural Foods (located at 2888 Miller Lane, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505) and was pleasantly surprised to find one of their excellent flours at a dollar cheaper than usual.  Fankferd Farms "Organic Unbleached White Flour With Wheat Germ Added" is now $6.56 which is more than a dollar less than the normal price.  It's not on sale; it's just the new price.  How cool.  And the "Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour" is only $4.76 ...both are the Frankferd Farms namebrand out of Valencia, PA.  It's nice to know that there's no pesticides in the wheat.  And by the way, if you might be a first time shopper at Miller's Natural Foods (totally worth the trip), here's a website from some guy who took pictures of their place and gave a nice overview including store hours and the fact that there's no electricity (Amish owned) and they only take cash or check.
When I asked the cashier why the price dropped, she said, "I don't know.  Maybe it means things are turning around."  I'm pretty sure she was talking about the economy.  Just down the same lane (Miller Lane), there is a farmer who sells raw milk, raw cream, raw whole milk yogurt, and many other great natural foods from his milk house.  If you're interested in visiting, let me know.  I'll end with a funny story from the milk house... Some time this past July, I was there ready to pay for my 4 dozen free-range chicken eggs, gallon of milk, & quart of cream, when I noticed that the eggs were about 20 cents less than usual per dozen.  When I asked the cashier why, she said with gladness, "Oh, the chickens are doing really good right now, so they have more eggs!"  What a transparent view of that farm's economy that day!  Shop at the farm... it's always more fun.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stir your peanut butter...

I grew up in a family of 5 (with 2 sisters plus my mom and dad) and for a year there were 6 of us with my foster sister.  We were a funny group because we all love to laugh at the randomness of life and each other.  There was never a shortage of comedy in my upbringing.  Now we are all grown up and live in our own homes, but I was visiting two different family members recently (who will remain nameless) and discovered that they both had a jar full of hard, dry, sad-looking, natural peanut butter in their refrigerators.  When I inquired, they both said that they had poured off that oily stuff on top and then put the peanut butter in the frig.  Oh my stars!  That's like squeezing an orange so you can eat what's left of the fruit after throwing away the juice.  They were just meant to be together.  Embrace the combination.  The peanut butter and peanut oil separate naturally while in the jar, so it's up to you to reunite them.  And it's very easy to stir room-temperature peanut butter the first time you open it (then stick it in the frig. and you won't have to stir it again).  I like Arrowhead Mills brand.  No sugar.  No salt.  Just smooshed peanuts.  Perfect.  If you're not already eating natural peanut butter, then give your palette a chance to adjust to the pure flavor... it won't take long.  Add a little raw honey to your peanut butter sandwich for a while if you're interested in weaning off of of the sugar brands.  And if you have a jar of dry orphaned oil-less peanut butter in your frig., just bring it up to room temperature and then stir in some oil (like peanut oil or olive oil).  Works great!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't fear it raw!

Pasteurization is a heating process which became mandatory in the 1920's when cows were raised in unclean conditions.  Due to good farming practices today, many farmers are committed to the health and wellness of the cows and people who drink milk, and therefore they offer the real thing... grass-fed organic whole cow's milk with no routine injections of antibiotics and no added hormones.  Hallelujah!  Shake it up each time you get it out of the frig. (no need for homogenization).  Ahhh, it's a wonderful thing!  And if you raise one eyebrow at the thought of it, then first try homemade icecream made with raw milk and raw cream and you'll feel better.  By the way, cows which are fed grass (little to no corn) have healthier digestion and are much less likely to get sick than cows that are fattened up with lots of pesticide-laden corn (cheap feed) and so the grass-fed cows don't require the antibiotics that corn-fed cows routinely get.  Still, the very thought of raw milk often goes way against the flow of modern society.  When I got free from that fear (after about 5 years of thinking about it), I finally just ventured out and bought it, and that felt really good... like I could think for myself and not rely on the government to tell me how to buy my food.    Some people call it "Real Milk" and some people call it "Raw Milk."  I'm here to say, it's good stuff!  We've been drinking it for over 3 years now with great satisfaction.  Because it tastes different from low-fat pasteurized milk, it takes some people awhile to get used to, but there are other people who quickly realize what they'd been missing all along.  The real thing.  I have so much more to say on the topic, but I'll end with this quote from a book called "Total Health Program" by Dr. Mercola:  "Pasteurization heats the milk to high enough temperatures to destroy microorganisms, good bacteria, live enzymes, vitamins, and the delicate 3-dimensional structure of the milk proteins.  It is a case of throwing out many babies with the bath water.  Milk pasteurization is a product of a bygone era, when controls were not in place for ensuring clean conditions for the cows, but the improved sanitation practices of the modern dairy industry have made pasteurization unnecessary."   Find out more at

Packing a healthy lunchbox

Another great website here... check it out for creative ideas for packing your own healthy lunch box or your kids' lunch boxes.  They even sell lunch boxes that are specially designed for healthy foods (meaning they have lots of compartments for foods that need to touch the ice pack).  I love it!

Also, I am reading an excellent book by Ann Cooper and Lisa Holmes called Lunch Lessons, Changing the Way We Feed Our Kids... I especially recommend it if you're interested in learning why your school serves the food that they do for hot lunches and/or if you want to influence change for healthier hot lunches.  

I am hoping that we have found a great answer to our hot lunch needs (healthy catering) at the small school where my kids attend, but I'll wait to try the lunches myself before I post the reviews.   Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kelly the Kitchen Kop

I came across a great resource for anyone interested in recipes and advice on healthy eating.  Check it out!  This link goes to a great looking egg role recipe.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My first attempt at "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

Hi.  It's 11pm. and I just got done making a pear tart.  I had to make it today because the pears needed to be rescued from where they would have gone tomorrow (the compost pile).  Steve stayed awake just long enough to try it, and rave about it.  Good man.  In his bleary red-eyed, half-awake state, he sat up in bed, ate a bite, and said, "Wow, this is really good and I'm serious.  You know I wouldn't tell you that if it wasn't true.  This is really good!"  He makes me laugh every day.  I followed the recipe in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, but I made up a few things along the way... no offense to Julia.  I love her love of butter, but I gotta cut the refined white sugar.  And it worked.  Yeah!  Now, I have to say that this cookbook was hard for me to follow because it often referred to other pages of the almost 700 page book to follow preparatory directions and then come back to the original page for further instructions for what page to find next.  It felt sort-of like reading a mystery book and I had to piece together the clues to find the right combination... not the kind of pressure I'm looking for... so after spending 20 minutes just reading everything for this one recipe, I decided to make it a "choose your own adventure" book instead.   I had a lot more fun making things up along the way.  For example, I left the sugar out of the red currant glaze altogether, and I deleted the custard (made of sugar and eggs yolks) and instead topped the tart with real (raw) heavy cream whipped with 2 TBSP. cognac and 1 TSBP. agave nectar.  It was still plenty sweet with the natural sugars from the poached pears.  I really admire all the work that Julia Child put into this amazing cookbook.  Sometimes great works of art are not straight-forward nor simple.  I am looking forward to my next adventure inside the pages.  When I recently watched the movie about her life, she said something that stuck with me.  And I used this great quote last Sunday when a raw chicken breast suddenly slipped out of my hands and onto the floor (as she says)..."Never apologize.  Just move on.  No one will ever know." 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Soaking Grains

Whole grains have phytates which preserve the grains but, left unsoaked, can be hard on your digestive tract and inhibit the uptake of vital nutrients into your body.  The traditional (age old) way of preparing oats, wheat flour, rice (etc.) is to soak them overnight.  This neutralizes the phytic acid and catalyzes a great nutritional benefit for your body.  It even starts sprouting the grain in some cases.  That's really exciting, because your food is coming alive and therefore giving greater life to you!  For oatmeal in any form (rolled oats or steel cut), just put your desired amount in a container covered by about an inch of pure water, cap it, and leave it at room temp. overnight.  Strain it the next morning.  Then cook it using a little less water than you would have dry.  By the way, steel cut oats are so good.  For rice, do the same thing.  My favorite is Lungren Sweet Brown Rice.  For flour, just make your bread dough, pancake mix, cookie dough, or whatever and put it in the frig. overnight.  Although it sounds like an extra step, it's really nice to have it all prepared the next day.  It's just a new habit for me to think ahead.  Ha! 

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Whole Grain Cookie Monster

I just got back from the movie "Julie and Julia," put my kids to bed, and then laid down to go to sleep... when inspiration hit.  So, I got up and came down to the kitchen.  Went to the garage frig. and pulled out a bag of Golden Hard White Wheat (still in it's original whole kernal form).  At 11:30pm, I'm milling the grain into flour by pouring 2 cups of it into my VitaMix.  Only takes about 2 minutes to get hot fresh ground flour...full of all the good stuff (bran, germ, and endosperm).  Tonight I'll "soak" the grain overnight in the rest of it's ingredients to make a whole grain chocolate chip cookie tomorrow.  It's for my friend Gina's birthday.  Just use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and substitute whole grain flour for white flour, and substitute a natural sweetener (like agave nectar or maple syrup or stevia) for the sugar and brown sugar in the recipe.  Specific quantities of sweetener are up to your taste buds.  Always use a good quality dark chocolate chip that does not contain any artificial ingredients or hydrogenated oils.  I like to spread the whole thing out on a pizza stone and bake it like a huge cookie monster size cookie.  It makes a great birthday "cake!" 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thank you God for fruit!

Tonight, while we were at a new student orientation for our daughter (Anika), they had a dessert bar.  On it was rows of cookies and cakes, which I expected.  But I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone took the time to cut up fresh fruit and put them in little bowls.  How cool is that?!  And it wasn't the syrupy canned kind or the frozen never-really-got-ripe kind.  It was the real thing!  Lots of fresh cut watermelon, sweet green grapes, sliced red strawberries, and juicy cantaloupe.  What a refreshing dessert!  It was so nice to have a real-food option.  Thank you to whomever takes care of the "weird" people like me in situations like that.  It just makes me feel like I can blend in a lot better.  Ha!  And I'll take care of you too, whenever I can.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's good to be home!

Hi guys.  It's good to be home.  We just had a great family vacation to visit my sister in Chicago and then all my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma, and everyone possible in Wisconsin (where I grew up).  We also visited the Wisconsin Dells, rode a duck boat, and stopped by the "Carr Valley Cheese" chalet to see learn how they make cheese.  Of course, it was fascinating to me and Steve who are generally fascinated by food.  But really, if you've never had cheese curds from Wisconsin, it's worth the trip.  Ha!  They are squeeky and salty and oh-so-good.  We are home just in time to see our peach tree heavy with peaches, our apple tree full of apples, and our tomato vines ripe and ready for pickin'.  Steve also found some potatos to dig up.  The kids loved watching that.  Kids seem to be geared to want to eat things off the ground, so it's kinda funny for them when we dig up food.  And here's a plug for composting... it's great to start dumping all your plant-based trash into a patch of dirt outside because it will not only make that dirt full of nutrients, but you also might plant a few surprises that way.  We never planted our potatos... they just came up because there happen to be a few potatos rotting in our compost pile... so one of them must have sprouted instead because we just got about 15 potatos out of the deal today.  How cool!  I made a ground turkey hash with the potatoes tonight.  First boil about 6 medium sized potatos.  Set aside.  Saute one chopped onion in olive oil, then add about 2 tsp. of minced garlic (set aside).  Brown a pound of ground turkey and salt it with celtic sea salt.  Combine it all into a pan while roughly chopping up the potatos with your tool (pancake turner or wooden spoon or whatever) and add 1 c. petite peas and salt and chili powder to taste.  I added some more olive oil (about 3 TBSP.) 'cuz I like it.  Stir over med. heat until peas are hot.  Optional: top with your favorite cheese.  Really simple.  Really good.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Peaches and Cream

Local peaches are on the market right now in Lancaster.  Swipe them up!  I just bought a basket two days ago that were very firm, but... today they were perfectly ripe and juicy and ready to go.  So, I cut up 4 of them into bite-size pieces and put some whipped cream on top for dessert.  My kids loved it just like that.  But then they got giddy when I took a bar of dark chocolate and grated a little over the top of each one's bowl.  It added just the right taste combination and color contrast (kids love sprinkles).  If you have too many ripe peaches at one time for you to eat on that perfectly ripe day, then just wash 'em, cut 'em up, and freeze in a ziplock bag.  They make great smoothies or later ingredients for pancake topping or peach crumble.  Here's some helpful info. from  Fresh Peaches are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Niacin and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin C.
Have a great night!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kid's cookbooks

Here are some good ones:
1.  "Hallelujah Kids" vegetarian cookbook by Julie Wandling.
2.  "Disney's Family Cookbook" by Deanna F. Cook and the experts at FamilyFun Magazine.
3.  "New Junior Cookbook" by Better Homes and Gardens.
4.  "Kids' Fun and Healthy Cookbook" by Nicola Graimes
Some of the recipes need to be tweaked for best nutrition, but they also have a lot of whole-foods goodness in them too.  If you have any more GREAT kids' cookbooks in mind, please let me know!  Thanks.  Have a great night.  Love, Amy

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Make amazing desserts with no sugar!

Hi everyone!  I was just playing piano, cleaning the kitchen from supper, and answering a lot of kid-questions while tapping out some thoughts here.  My husband, Steve, is outside moving some rather huge stones around to make steps ascending our big hill.  That man loves stones.  Seriously, he's like a kid having fun when he's got a big yard project underway.  On to the topic at hand ...In most recipes which call for refined white sugar, be encouraged that it's pretty easy to substitute smaller quantities of stevia, agave nectar, or maple syrup with great results.  For example, this simple pudding (recipe below) has amazingly complimentary flavors on your tongue with it's creamy start and maple syrup finish.  Try it and let me know how you like it!  Tapioca is a starch extracted from the root of the plant species Manihot esculenta. This species, native to the Amazon (e.g Brazil), and it is gluten-free and almost protein-free.

Tapioca pudding - also called "Maple Tapioca Pudding"
Exceptionally tasty full-bodied sugar-free pudding!
2 eggs
1 c. maple syrup
4 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. tapioca pearls
Beat eggs and add rest of ingredients in heavy saucepan. Cook until thick, stirring almost constantly. Optional: top with real whipped cream.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

Can I tell you about some really GREAT hot cereal we had this morning?  It's just like cream of wheat, but it's made with brown rice instead.  I bought it pre-packaged as "Arrowhead Mills Whole Grain Organic Rice and Shine Hot Cereal." It tastes nutty / ricey and brown rice is really beneficial with Vitamin B, thiamin, niacin, and phosphorus, etc...  very good for you!  It's also gluten-free and wheat-free (many people have sensitivities to gluten and wheat).  Most importantly, brown rice contains the whole bran, germ, and endosperm... whereas white rice only has the endosperm.  (More info. below)

Here's the easy prep... I put 2 cups of the brown rice cereal into a container with 6 cups filtered water, covered it tight, and let it sit on the counter overnight.  Soaking grains gets rid of phytates and partially sprouts the grains in order to release active enzymes which greatly helps your body digest the food and uptake maximum nutrition (phytates preserve the grain before it's eaten but they interfere w/ your body's absorption of the grain's nutrients if not soaked).  Then just pour the whole thing into a pot in the morning and simmer for 2 minutes.  Done!  Top it off with a little maple syrup and milk, and it's really good!

Here's some helpful information from wikipedia:

White rice comparison

Brown rice and white rice have similar amounts of caloriescarbohydrates, and protein, although many types of brown rice contain more fat than white rice. The main differences between the two forms of rice lie in processing and nutritional content.

When only the outermost layer of a grain of rice (the husk) is removed, brown rice is produced. To produce white rice, the next layers underneath the husk (the bran layer and the germ) are removed, leaving mostly the starchy endosperm.

Several vitamins and dietary minerals are lost in this removal and the subsequent polishing process. A part of these missing nutrients, such asVitamin B1Vitamin B3, and iron are sometimes added back into the white rice making it "enriched", as food suppliers in the US are required to do by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)[citation needed].

One mineral not added back into white rice is magnesium; one cup (195 grams) of cooked long grain brown rice contains 84 mg of magnesium while one cup of white rice contains 19 mg.

When the bran layer is removed to make white rice, the oil in the bran is also removed. Rice bran oil may help lower LDL cholesterol.[1]

Among other key sources of nutrition lost are small amounts of fatty acids and fiber.

In addition to having greater nutritional value, brown rice is also said to be less constipating than white rice.

[edit]Cooking and preparation

A nutritionally superior method of preparation using GABA rice or germinated brown rice (GBR), developed during the International Year of Rice, may be used.[2] This involves soaking washed brown rice for 20 hours in warm water (38 °C or 100 °F) prior to cooking it. This process stimulates germination, which activates various enzymes in the rice. By this method, it is possible to obtain a more complete amino acid profile, including GABA.

[edit]Storage and preservation

Brown rice can remain in storage for 6 months[citation needed] under normal conditions, but hermetic storage and freezing can significantly extend its lifetime. Freezing, even periodically, can also help control infestations of Indian meal moths.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

There are people who believe that the food additive and flavor enhancer, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), causes headache, chest pains, drowsiness, weakness, tingling and numbness sensation in the head, etc.  There is a doctor who published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968, describing these symptoms as routinely appearing in himself within 15-20 minutes of eating food from chinese restaurants.  Then there are people who assert that all the fear and paranoia about MSG is unfounded; rather, it is a great flavor enhancer producing a savory meaty flavor to foods with no proven ill-health effects.  Who to believe?  Well, I believe my body.  I just ate some chinese take-out yesterday from a nearby restaurant (Leola) and had a horrible headache within a half-hour.  It lasted for about 5 hours with a constant pressure in the front of my head.  My 7 year old daughter ate the same food and experienced the same thing.  It tasted great, but I can't imagine ever going back to that restaurant again.  When I asked the man at the counter if they use MSG, he said something like, "MSG...I don't know.  We don't put it in, but we buy our sauces pre-made, so we use whatever is in there.  I don't know what's in it."  Hmmm... I say to myself... the likely culprit.  My self-study will go on.  I just want to encourage you to be a student of your own body and listen to it well.  Feed it well.  Care for it.  We have God given instincts that often get over-looked in a fast paced life.  Believe your gut when it tells you not to eat "that thing" again.  And be confident that it's ok to ask about ingredients in restaurants.  I'll end with some healthy thoughts on making your own stir-fry at home.  It's easy and colorful.  The most time-consuming part is washing and chopping.  After that, it's like riding downhill on your bike.  Start by soaking brown rice in water overnight.  This is an easy step that brings the best absorption of nutrients from the rice to your body.  By the way, white rice is kinda like white flour.  It's missing the vital parts of the grain.  If your family is not used to brown rice, you can slowly acclimate by using half brown rice and half white rice until you make the switch.  As the brown rice is simmering, lightly saute your favorite veggies in extra virgin olive oil.  I like broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, snow peas, bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, seaweed, etc... Cover and set aside.  If you wish to add meat, saute it in olive oil as well.  Combine the veggies and meat and experiment with sauces.  I like to mix up some "Bragg's Liquid Aminos" with a little sesame oil, garlic, and peanut butter.  That gives it a really hearty flavor.  Stir it into the meat and veggies.  Top it with some chopped cashews.  Yum!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What's so great about living in Amish land?

Right now, Lancaster PA is lush and green... the streams are flowing and the lightening bugs are  flickering every night.  Farm land paints the ariel views like a quilt made of earth.  Still, I think that the cultures of people here are the most interesting part of living in Lancaster.  Last month, I noticed a piece of paper posted at my local health food store (Miller's Natural Foods).  It said "Ladies Day" to discuss preserving foods, on June 24, 10:00-3:00, and it gave the address of a person's home in Cochranville, PA.  I asked the cashier if anyone was welcome, and she said yes.  So, my friend and I ventured out into the unknown.  As we drove down a long farm driveway, we noticed quite a few horses and buggies.  When we got out of my truck, we were greeted by a smiling Amish man, and as we entered his basement, my eyes took in wall to wall women all seated quietly on wooden benches and listening for the group discussion that was starting to take shape.  I would say that there were about 50 women there, and maybe only 8 of us were not Amish.    They refer to us as "English."  I immediately felt intrigued by the whole experience.  We were happily crammed into this basement just listening and learning together in an open discussion format about personal experiences and health benefits of canning, freezing, drying, cold-storing, and fermenting foods.  Some women brought along their canned creations for all to sample.  They passed around homemade pickles, ketchup, pickled sorrel (a juicy green garden herb stem), cherry jam made with cherries and gelatin ...and no sugar.  An amazing lunch was served because everyone brought something to share and each person put their recipe along side their food.  There were a lot of giggles and light-hearted joking as the ladies shared their experiences with techniques and methods that did or didn't work out well.  And the conversations were so intriguing because the room was full of people who are genuinely living off the land and wanting to be as healthy as possible.  It is so basic and admirable.  I felt honored that I was welcomed by this group who were so open to post the open invitation at Miller's Natural Foods store.  I am still a beginner when it comes to preserving foods, but I'm learning.  I have made strawberry jam and frozen corn so far.  If you live around here, I want to encourage any of you to attend this group at a future meeting.  It's a cultural experience.  I went away feeling like there is nothing to worry about in life as long as your basic needs are met.  It's a good feeling.  By the way, the family which hosted this meeting sells it's organic fruits, vegetables, eggs, baked goods, canned goods, and drinks at "Maple Arch Farms"located at 3418 Limestone Rd., Parkesburg, PA 19365... phone number 610-593-7105.  They are open daily 9-5:30, except closed on Sunday.  They pick their fruits and vegetables fresh each morning!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Farm or Pharmacy

There is no way around the fact that healthy eating takes time and effort.  If I ever find a way around that, I'll let ya know.  But it is so worth it.  I figure that I will either be spending more time at the farm or the pharmacy.  When I was in school and college, I used to do the bare minimum to get a good grade.  Unfortunately, I applied that concept to my health too.  I used to eat mostly processed low-fat foods just because I believed that this would be my quick fix to great health.  The cheapest and quickest foods are usually very high in sugar and white-flour and they have a long shelf life.  They are far from the farm.  This was a health disaster for me.  So, I gained weight and an insatiable hunger for more junk.  Other symptoms included: foggy head, random sleeping anytime and anywhere, guilt and depression, chest pains, migraines, eczema, benign tumors, horrible digestive distress, constipation and diarreah, burned-out thyroid (and resulting inability to get pregnant while severely hypo-thyroid).  I gained 30 lbs. while in my senior year of high school and freshman year of college.  This started my 7 year addiction to compulsive over-eating.  I ended up having a love-hate relationship with food.  I loved the buzz of eating but I hated the feeling afterward.  I had no appreciation for real food from the earth and from the farm.  It annoyed me that people (especially women) would degrade themselves to a job in the kitchen when there was so much more to be experienced in life.  It took a strong man (my husband) who was very confident in his man-hood to show me his own love of growing and cooking real whole foods made by God.  It also took a few years to really appreciate what he was showing me.  But when my own physical health made a drastic improvement, one by one, over time, I realized that these ailments were disappearing and God's gifts to me in the form of vegetables, fruits, meats, whole grains, and raw dairy, etc. were not to be taken lightly.  It is hard work to prepare these foods every day.... and it is soooo worth it!  I love to be in the position of providing health for me and my family as best I can.  It's an ongoing journey.  And we are learning together.  There is so much to learn.  And I hope I never stop learning.  Thank you God, that there are farmers around here who respect the earth and who love to provide good foods for me to buy.  Being at the farm is much more fun than the pharmacy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tomato Bisque

I just posted this recipe in (search for my cookbook entitled "Amy's"). Or just check it out, below.  You will love this healthy tomato bisque recipe (it's from my friend Wendy).  Thank you Wendy! If you want to make it a faster prep time, buy onions that are frozen and chopped (in the frozen food section of the grocery store with vegetables) and garlic that is minced and in a jar.  Enjoy!


1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 cups diced fresh or canned tomatoes

½ tsp. dried basil

¼ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. tomato paste

2 cups broth (I use vegetable)

1 tsp. sugar

2 tbsp. flour

2 cups milk

 Saute onions and garlic in butter and oil in a soup pot.  Cook 4 minutes, add tomatoes and spices, stir, then add broth, tomato paste and sugar.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and puree in a blender or food processor and pour back into the saucepan.  Mix milk and flour in the blender and stir into the tomato mixture.  Simmer 10 minutes and serve.  Serves 6.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Whole foods snacks

Hi friends and family,
My friend Jenn just asked me for ideas for snacks that are good for you.  That is an area that I really struggled with when we switched over to a whole foods diet.  So, I made a list of things that helped me.  Here they are!
1.  Apples sprinkled with cinnamon/stevia (combine 1/2 c. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. stevia powder in your cinnamon shaker, and shake a bit onto apple slices).  My kids think it's funny to call them apples in cinnamon sand or dirt.  It's really tasty.
2.  Orange slices with cinnamon/stevia
3.  Chicken cubes w/healthy b-b-q sauce to dip.
4.  Frozen petite peas or frozen corn ...I don't know why my kids like this so much.  Ha!
5.  Fruit salad.  It's a big project for my kids to cut everything up and put into fancy cups, and they are proud.
6.  Whole grain tortilla (broiled on both sides) made into a pizza w/ an organic low-sugar spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese.  I like to add basil and fresh tomatos on top.  Broil.
7.  Dried mangos (unsulphured, unsweetened, organic)
8.  Nuts: almonds, cashews, peanuts, macademia nuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.  Always keep nuts refrigerated... they go rancid.  Bad, bad.
9.  Fresh really good-lookin' raw veggies and a healthy dip.  You can't go wrong with carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatos, broccoli, spinach, snap peas, etc... Just keep peelin'  Just keep washin'  Just keep choppin'... Think of the movie "Nemo" and sing to the tune of "Just keep swimmin'... just keep swimmin'... swimmin'..."

10.  Smoothies!  Try any fruit combination.  Here's a recipe for an awesome smoothie called "The Green Machine."

Green Machine Smoothie

 ½ c. plain yogurt (raw is best)

1 c. fresh spinach (washed, no need to dry, pressed down)

1/2 c. fresh pineapple (or frozen)

1 frozen banana (or fresh)

3 ice cubes

 Mix it all up in a blender, making sure that the yogurt is at the bottom of the blender for best mixing.  Refreshing!'s-cookbook/recipe/5/Green-Machine-Smoothie

11.  Here's my Peanut butter granola bars recipe (this is more like a dessert-ish kind of thing):

Peanut butter granola bars                       

 Mix wet ingredients:

1 c. natural peanut butter, unsweetened (or any nut butter like almond or cashew)

½ c. agave nectar (or honey)

¼ c. coconut oil or butter, melted

¼ c. warm water

 Mix dry ingredients:

½ c. shredded coconut, unsweetened and unsulphured

3 c. rolled oats

½ tsp.  salt

3/4 c. mini dark chocolate chips

 Combine everything and stir it up well with a big spoon.  Spread into small greased (w/butter or coconut oil) pan.  Score pan of bars into pretty small squares, because these bars are rich.  Refrigerate overnight for nutritional soaking benefits to the oats.  No baking.

 I like to pry each one out of the pan when they are good and cold, and place into an airtight Tupperware kind of container so that I can store them in the freezer (or frig.) and just grab ‘em and go as needed rather than cutting each one along the way.   

You can also find this recipe and more in my online cookbook at:'s-cookbook/recipe/6/Peanut-butter-granola-bars

I hope you love 'em!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Great bread!

I just updated my recipe for "Challah" (this is a Jewish braided egg bread)... and I made it into a soaked whole-grain bread.  You want to try this one!  I'm tellin' ya.  Don't fear the bread.  If I can do it, you can do it.  Go to's-cookbook/recipe/3/Challah 
And if you don't have time to make homemade bread, but you want the benefits of good ingredients, there are quite a few options (like Ezekiel 4:9 bread found in the freezer section of most health food stores and some regular grocery stores).  But for fresh, just out of the oven, organic sourdough soaked whole grain loaves of bread, you might have to do a little searching.  If you live in Lancaster County, your search is over when you pull into the parking lot at "A Loaf of Bread."  Here's some inside information about this week's menu from their weekly email I receive.  It is located across from the train station in Lancaster and also at Eastern Market on King St. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Check out their website at:
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "A Loaf of Bread Bakery"
Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 5:37:20 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Bread, Market, Lunch . . .

Hello all,
It's been a beautiful week, and we were so glad to have you share it with us.  A lot of you stopped at the store to try the new breads, and we also enjoyed seeing some of you at opening day of Eastern Market on Saturday.  Market was a fun, busy day.  There were plenty of new vendors to make the Eastern Market experience more exciting than ever.  Also music and a big crowd.  If you couldn't make it on Saturday, we'd love to see you there Wednesday 4-7pm. 
This week we will start our extended Friday hours.  We will stay open until 5:30 pm Fridays, starting this week, so come on in to get your bread and goodies for the weekend.  Look for another e-mail later this week with special offers for the new Friday hours.
I'm attaching a new bread schedule so you'll know when to find the new breads as well as the old favorites.
For lunch this week, we will have:
Tuesday - Asparagus Mushroom Soup, Tuna Salad
Wednesday - Split Pea Soup, Egg & Olive Sandwiches
Thursday - Zucchini Soup, Roasted Vegetable Bread Salad
Friday - Lentil Soup, Hummus & fresh vegetable lunch
Have a great week!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good fats / bad fats

Hi all - Some people have asked me how I stopped the compulsive over-eating habit I used to be in.  I believe that 3 things had a huge impact on me: 1. Prayer  2. A mentor (Steve)  3. The increase of healthy fats & protein with a variety of whole foods.  It's hard to believe that eating fat could help you lose fat.  But when your body is really lacking a certain nutrient (in my case, healthy fats), you can really feel the relief when that nutrient is found.  It was literally like the over-eating compulsion just fell off of me (and so did the weight).  Our bodies need healthy fats to survive and thrive.  The problem is that most of the fats I was eating were cheap processed highly heated damaged oils found in processed foods.  Eating an organic grass-fed steak, or a free-range pasteur-fed chicken, or whole raw-milk yogurt is a totally different experience for your digestive tract than consuming fast food and the highly sugared non-"health food" (like yogurt) found in most grocery stores.  I have found the best fats for me are olive oil, coconut oil, and butter.  The rest of this post is a great article by Dr. Mercola:
Did you know that your brain is about 60 percent fat? The fats you eat strongly influence your level of brain function. Some nutritional anthropologists believe the human brain would not have developed as it did without access to high levels of DHA (a type of fat) found in fish and wild game. Just two generations of high omega-6 and low omega-3 fats can lead to profound changes in brain size and function.

Lesson 1: It is the type of fat that matters, not the amount.

Learning about fats can be confusing. When you go to the grocery store, you're confronted with advertisements telling you that a product is low in fat, or a product is made with partially hydrogenated oil. To make sense of all the labels, I've compiled the following list of definitions for you:

  • Saturated fats: Saturated fats are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream and fatty meats. They are also found in some tropical plants and vegetable oils such as  coconut, palm and palm kernel. 

    Saturated fats are not as dangerous as you think. In fact, coconut oil is quite healthy and is the oil to use for cooking since it is far less likely to be damaged through heating. 

    Nutritional Typing

    A misguided fallacy that persists to this day is the belief that saturated fat will increase your risk of heart attacks. Folks, this is simply another myth that has been harming your health for the last 30 or 40 years. The truth is, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet, and they provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone like substances. 

    When you eat saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes. 

    Studies on low saturated fat diets also support nutritional typing, which predicts that one-third of people will do very well on low saturated fat diets (which supports the studies showing that they work), whereas another one-third of people need high saturated fat diets to stay healthy.

    If you'd like to learn more about the role dietary fats play in your health, be sure to check out these excellent research studies.
  • Trans fats: These fats form when vegetable oil hardens, a process called hydrogenation, and can raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and  lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you need in order to maintain good heart health. In fact, trans fats --as opposed to saturated fats -- have been linked repeatedly to heart disease. These fatty acids can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems..
  • Monounsaturated fats: The best oil here is olive oil. Canola oil is also in this category, but I advise avoiding it and using olive oil instead.

Lesson 2: Learn about the importance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats.

Omega-3 fats improve your cell's response to insulin, neurotransmitters and other messengers. They also help the repair process when your cells are damaged. On the other hand, omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory and contribute to insulin and membrane resistance, altering your mood, and impairing learning and cell repair. To avoid high levels of omega-6, it is important to avoid all vegetable seed oils.

Please understand that it's not only necessary to consciously consume omega-3 fats, which I'll review further in lesson 3 below, but it is just as important to lower your omega-6 fat intake. If you don't lower your omega-6 fats to acceptable levels, your omega 6:3 ratio will not be low enough, and you will not receive many of the wonderful benefits of omega-3 fats such as reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's, arthritis and many other degenerative illnesses.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Recipe House

Hey - if you want to start your own on-line recipe book to share with others, go to
Thanks to my sister Kelly for telling me about it.  It's handy.  You'll find some healthy recipes I posted there. But I just got started, so there's only a few so far.  Tonight, I posted a new salad dressing I tried which is fabulouso!  It's very simple and good-for-you.  It's called Lemon Honey Dressing from the "Nourishing Traditions" cookbook by: Sally Fallon.  I highly recommend this book for it's wealth of knowledge and good recipes.  Have a great night!  It's beautiful in Lancaster after the rain today.  We are going outside to ride bikes in the driveway.  Yeee-ha!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tis the season for fresh greens!

Oh yeah, spring is upon us.  If you are growing lettuce or any kind of leafy greens in your garden, you are happy to beat the rabbits to it.  I'm just happy my husband planted all this goodness. Right now is an awesome time in Lancaster, PA to be eating the tender greens straight from the garden.  Steve even picked some wild chickory greens from our yard (1st time we tried that and it was good), he cut some young kale and swiss chard from his garden, and I cut some mesclun greens, washed it all (twice and spun it out in the salad spinner - a kitchen gadget that gets daily use) and built our salads by adding a fresh chopped tomato and tossing it with a mustard dressing I made up (below)... then topping it all with shredded raw-milk cheese and toasted pinenuts.  That was a complete meal.  Very satisfying.  Wanna try the dressing?  It's really simple and fresh.  Just whisk these ingredients together:
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP. smooth or grainy mustard (I used an old-fashioned grain mustard)
2 TBSP. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. agave nectar (or you could use honey)
If you want some great omega-3's, add a TBSP. of flax seed oil to it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's so bad about sugar?

Hello.  Greetings from my house to yours.  I just read the book "Sugar Blues" by William Dufty and it was eye-opening.  As a person who was once highly addicted to sugar, I realize now that sugar was a big part of what perpetuated my 7 year struggle with compulsive over-eating.  It is found in so many foods (check out the spaghetti sauce labels... not to mention soups and yogurt, etc...).  There are so many Americans who are willingly hooked up to an I.V. overload of liquid sugar through a straw and a Big-Gulp of soda or iced tea.  My friend Jenn told me that she is weaning off the sugar drinks by making her own blend of 100% juiced with carbonated water (seltzer water).  Good idea.  Another idea is to sweeten your hot herbal tea with a tiny bit of stevia (a very sweet herb which has no effect on blood sugar). Enjoy this book report of "Sugar Blues."  And sorry for this orange background.  It's out of control.  I can't figure out how to change it. Ha!   ~ Amy  

Is sugar bad for you?

The white crystalline substance we know of as sugar is an unnatural substance produced by industrial processes (mostly from sugar cane or sugar beets) by refining it down to pure sucrose, after stripping away all the vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes and other beneficial nutrients.

What is left is a concentrated unnatural substance which the human body is not able to handle, at least not in anywhere near the quantities that is now ingested in today's accepted lifestyle. Sugar is addictive. The average American now consumes approximately 115 lbs. of sugar per year. This is per man, woman and child.

The biggest reason sugar does more damage than any other poison, drug or narcotic is twofold:

  • (a) It is considered a "food" and ingested in such massive quantities, and
  • (b) The damaging effects begin early, from the day a baby is born and is fed sugar in its formula. Even mothers milk is contaminated with it if the mother eats sugar, and
  • (c) Practically 95% of people are addicted to it to some degree or other.

Sugar is eaten to excess

It has been said that the criteria as to whether a substance (any substance) is harmful or medically beneficial is the quantity in which it is used in the human body. To point to a dramatic illustration: we all know that the venom of a rattlesnake, a cobra, water moccasin, coral, and other venomous snakes is deadly to the human system. There are some snakes whose bite is so deadly it can cause death within a matter of seconds. Nevertheless, even snake venom, deadly as it is, has been used for therapeutic, medical purposes when used in minute quantities.

History of sugar

Whereas sugar had been around in minute quantities for several thousand years, it was practically unknown and formed an insignificant part of the average diet in the Classical civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome. The Greeks (who had a word for nearly everything!) did not even have a word for it. Even in medieval Europe it was practically unknown and then only a rare delicacy in the royal courts.

During the last major Crusade that ended in 1204 some of the Christian Crusaders were introduced to sugar freely used by the Saracens. The Moors when invading and colonizing the southern part of Spain grew sugar cane on Spanish soil and refined sugar. When Spain drove out the Moors, it inherited some of the cane plantations. It was during this time that Christendom took its first big bite of the forbidden fruit and liked it.

Sugar is an unnatural chemical

Why is sugar so devastating to our health? One reason is it is pure chemical and (like heroin) through refining has been stripped of all the natural food nutrition that it originally had in the plant itself.

Heroin and sugar are arrived at by very similar processes of refinement. In producing heroin, the opium is first extracted from the poppy: The opium is then refined into morphine. The chemists then went to work on morphine and further refined it into heroin, proclaiming they had "discovered" a wonderful new pain-killer that was non-addictive. So they said.

Similarly, sugar is first pressed as a juice from the cane (or beet) and refined into molasses. Then it is refined into brown sugar, and finally into strange white crystals C12H22O, that are an alien chemical to the human system.

Sugar is addictive

A second reason that sugar is so harmful is that like heroin it is addictive, and being delectable and seductive to the taste, it is also habit forming. Starting with sugar in the baby's formula, people not only develop a strong taste for sugar but an insatiable craving for it so that they never seem to get enough of this poison.

Slow but insidious

A third reason is that the damage sugar does is slow and insidious. It takes years before it ruins your pancreas, your adrenal glands, throws your whole endocrine system out of kilter and produces a huge list of damage.

Foods are loaded with sugar

A fourth reason is the outrageous amounts of sugar civilized nations consume. Americans in particular are told how they are the best fed and best nourished people on the face of the earth. If we are talking about processed junk food - this is true.

If you examine the "foods" in any supermarket more closely and start reading labels, you will find just about everything contains sugar. Most of the foods are loaded with it - from cereals, to soups, to ketchup, to hotdogs. Even flue-cured tobacco can contain as much as 20% sugar by weight. Some cereals are as much as 50% sugar.

List of Damages

We have stated that sugar is deleterious to your health: that it is more damaging than all other narcotics combined; that it is a long term chemical poison. Just what damage does sugar do to the human body? The list is endless.

When we talk about sugar, we are including bad nutrition as a whole, since anyone who indulges in sugar has bad dietary habits per se.

  1. Sugar is by far the leading cause of dental deterioration - cavities in teeth, bleeding gums, failure of bone structure, and loss of teeth.
  2. Sugar is the main cause of diabetes, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
  3. It is either a significant or contributory cause of heart disease, arteriosclerosis, mental illness, depression, senility, hypertension, cancer.
  4. It has an extremely harmful effect in unbalancing the endocrine system and injuring its component glands such as the adrenal glands, pancreas and liver, causing the blood sugar level to fluctuate widely. It has a number of other extremely damaging effects on the human body.

Some of the other effects of sugar on the body are: 

  • Increases overgrowth of candida yeast organism
  • Increases chronic fatigue
  • Can trigger binge eating in those with bulima
  • Increases PMS symptoms
  • Increases hyperactivity in about 50% of children
  • Increases tooth decay
  • Increases anxiety and irritability
  • Can increase or intensify symptoms of anxiety and panic in susceptible women
  • Can make it difficult to lose weight because of constantly high insulin levels, which causes the body to store excess carbs as fat.

There are a number of books available on the subject, but perhaps one of the most interesting ones is "Sugar Blues" by William Dufty. It is available in most Health Food stores.