Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gotta have fun!

I fed my kids ice cream sandwiches for supper tonight... Ha!  And I just wanted to let you know that.  Every once in a while I like to play a little game in my head that I'm "the grandma" instead of the mom.  I know, I'm such a rebel.  Anyway, it was my homemade ice cream (ing: raw milk, raw cream, raw egg yolks, sucanat, dark chocolate, shredded coconut, & vanilla extract) in between 2 pancakes (recipe for blender pancakes in a recent post).   Go Grandmas!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Food Inc.

You gotta see this movie.  It's not in theaters anymore.  But click on the title above in big orange letters to link up with the movie's website and watch the trailer.  It's eye-opening and inspiring!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What is Gluten?

With all the gluten-free products in the health food store, I just became curious about gluten lately... what is it... should I avoid it... why do some people avoid it... etc.  So here's what I found.  Gluten is the elastic protein in wheat, rye, and barley.  Gluten (or, to be accurate, the gluten that damages the small intestines of people with celiac disease, and makes life uncomfortable for people with gluten sensitivity) is also part of the genetic structure of spelt, durum, semolina, kamut, couscous, and triticale.  It's like the glue that holds bread together and gives it that great elastic structure.

Some people avoid gluten because they are sensitive to it, allergic to it, or have Celiac Disease.  There is a difference between wheat allergy and Celiac Disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue, such as intestinal tissue, in response to eating gluten. Because of this, people with celiac disease are at risk for malabsorption of food in the GI tract, causing nutritional deficiencies. This can lead to conditions such as iron deficiency anemia and osteoporosis. Since a person with wheat allergy or gluten-intolerance usually does not have severe intestinal damage, he or she is not at risk for these nutritional deficiencies.

If you feel fatigue, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. after eating anything with gluten, you should see your doctor (blood test can be done for celiac disease).

The good news for people with gluten problems is that there is a cornucopia of beautiful foods that can be enjoyed which contain no gluten.  You'll find a lot of inspiration at and other sites.  

Although I am able to eat foods with gluten just fine, I realized years ago that I was getting very little nutrition while gaining lots of weight and feeling fatigued after eating too many foods with white flour... the main ingredient in most processed foods.   So, I cut white flour out of my diet and I eat whole grains instead.  God made food whole and I love to eat it that way!  Eating the whole grain means eating the entire edible part of the grain: the germ, bran, and endosperm.  The best digestive benefits happen when the grain or flour is soaked overnight in a batter or dough.  Some people with so-called gluten sensitivities find that their problems go away when they soak the grains first.  Besides being healthier, eating the whole grain (in bread, for example) is much heartier, requiring more chewing, and so I naturally eat less of them because I get the sensation of being full much sooner than I did with the refined white flour foods.

Rice does not contain gluten, so I included this great recipe for pancakes below (from Sue Gregg)  Oat are another story (see end).

I just made these pancakes for the first time on Saturday... and my kids and I love them!   I usually top 2 pancakes with 1 TBSP. of real maple syrup.  Since maple syrup runs is thin and usually comes in a jug with a wide mouth that pours way too fast, I simply pour some syrup into a tea cup first and then scoop it out with a tablespoon as needed.  This way, I don't waste the liquid gold and my pancakes don't get accidentally drenched.  Just a dab will do ya!  And then I pour the unused maple syrup back into the jug and refrigerate.

Blender Waffles and pancakes (5 minute prep)

Servings for (2 in parentheses) and 4 (not in parentheses)

  1. Blend in a Vitamix, with lid or stopper, on high, till ground:

(1/3)       1 cup raw brown rice

(1/3)       1 cup uncooked rolled oats

  1. Add and blend till well mixed:

(1/2)       1 cup plain yogurt

(1/4)       ½ cup filtered water ...or use cultured buttermilk in place of these 2 liquids.

(1 & 1/2)  3 T. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) or coconut oil

(1/2)        1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

  1. Cover blender and let sit overnight (best) or use right away.
  2. Preheat waffle iron on highest or pancake griddle on med-high.
  3. Just before baking, add and blend for 1 minute:

(1)            2 eggs

  1. Blend in VERY BRIEFLY (a few seconds)…use spatula to stir in dry bits:

(1)            2 tsp. Baking powder

(1/4)   1/2 tsp. Good salt

(1/4)  ½ tsp. Baking soda

(If too thin, add rolled oats, if too thick add milk, yogurt, water or buttermilk.)

  1. Pour batter into griddle/iron sprayed with olive oil
  2. Waffles: Bake for 4 minutes, or till light goes off (don’t peak).

Pancakes: Bake first side till bubbles begin to break. Turn once.

  1.  Serve Hot.
Interesting details from
She can't eat gluten, and she wrote:
"If there is any controversy in the gluten-free world, it’s oats. After much careful study, scientists have shown that oats do not contain gluten. They think. The proteins in oatmeal are structured differently than those in wheat, rye, barley, et al. So why can’t I eat them? The dreaded C word: cross contamination. 

Apparently, if oats are planted in one field, and wheat in the neighboring one, wheat spores can waft over to the oats, glom onto them, and contaminate them with gluten. Worse yet, most oats, or oats products, are produced in plants that also produce wheat products. If the oats roll over machines that have recently touched wheat, I get sick. It’s just that insidious."  

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today in Gap, PA

Today, I went to my 3rd Ladie's Day meeting.  It sounds like a tea party, but it's not.  It's a talking party.  Everybody's passionate about healthy eating.  It's usually held every other month by a group of women interested in sharing ideas for healthy eating.  Today's topic of discussion (speaker) had to do with recognizing non-food items on food labels and non-listed processing agents... chemicals like synthetic enzymes, anti-foaming agents in milk and meat-based stocks, cleaning chemicals, ethylene gas on produce, atmospheric modifications (carbon dioxide) inside bags of lettuce, etc.  It started at 10:00a.m. at the Friends Meeting House in Gap, PA.  I've never been there before.  The building is quaint, built in the 1700's, and is surrounded by grave stones on all sides.  Felt like going back in time.  The "Friends" are otherwise known as the Quakers.  When they gather together on Sundays, they sit in silence and wait for their own experience with Christ within.  It was really nice of them to let us use their building.  Long wooden benches and wooden floors.  I wore my long johns just in case (but it turned out to be heated).  Most of the people in attendance were Amish, but there were a few Mennonite, English, Quaker, and me with 2 friends.  We would be English, I suppose (although my 2 friends were really from Germany).  Ha!  It's an exceptional group, with wise speakers, humble hearts, and awesome lunch.  Everybody brings something good to share.  If you're interested in coming to the next meeting, inquire at Miller's Natural Foods (ask cashier) about the details.  Anyone is welcome.  I think the next meeting will be in March.

Basically, what hit me is:
1. There are all kinds of non-food items and synthetic chemicals added to commercial foods.  Preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, enhancers, synthetic vitamins, chemically modified fats, etc.  It creates a set-up where our bodies are challenged to recognize the substance.  This causes stress on our bodies and who wants that?  I am so thankful for our local and organic farmers here.  God bless you all!  We can even get fresh local kale, swiss chard, spinach, and other salad greens from farms with hot houses in the winter right now.  I just bought some really nice fresh cut oak leaf lettuce from "Expressly Local," a little organic market on King St. across from McDonald's.  They also sell raw milk.     
2.  There are many processing agents which are not required to be on food lables.  But frozen foods are one of the few packaged foods where what's on the label is also what's in the package.  I like frozen strawberries for smoothies, and frozen peas and corn for dinner veggies.  Steamed kale freezes very well.
3.  Eating an apple with out the skin is not eating a whole food.  The two were meant to be eaten together.  The fiber and vitamins and minerals in the apples skin and just under the skin actually has a modulating effect on the glycemix index so that the glycemic load and blood sugar rise is much less than with eating just the flesh of the apple alone.  This applies to all whole foods: oranges, potatos, milk (drink it whole), wheat, etc.
4.  To make sprouted wheat flour, just soak your whole wheat berries overnight until they sprout, dehydrate them, and grind them into flour.  I can't wait to try this!
5.  When you buy local organic whole food from people you can see and know, you are strongly casting your vote for more of the real thing and less of the mysterious commercial factory farming processed stuff.  It may be cheaper to buy synthetically modified and processed foods, but if you had to seriously look at" the price per nutrient value", the cost of consuming local and organic food is very effective and it is a direct gift to each cell in your body.

By the way, you should see the movie "Food, Inc."  It's sooooo informative.  I have it on Blue-Ray, and if you want to watch it sometime, let me know... and we'll have a movie night.

Long live local and organic farmers!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

There are so many different kinds of flour...

Flour can totally go rancid (and more easily than I thought).  I always freeze it because once a whole grain is ground up or milled in any way, it is exposed and starts to break down.  Look at this as a good thing because it's indicative of a live food with more usable nutrients.  

I've used "King Arthur Flour" which is found in most grocery stores and the kind is called "Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour."  It is a lighter milder 100% whole wheat, and I actually heard about it on sirus xm Martha Stewart radio one day last November.  Ha!  I believe that the "King Arthur" namebrand is a more trustworthy source of fresh whole grain flour than most, but it's also important how the store owners keep it (needs cool temperatures to be fresh, always look at the date).  Look at the King Arthur website for some great recipes too!

I was told by a natural foods doctor (he's also a medical doctor) that most whole grain flours are rancid just sitting on the shelves in the stores because of being stored at warm temperatures.  Many grain mills crank out a tremendous amount of heat themselves and damage the quality and nutrition of the flour.  The problem is that they can taste fine even when they are rancid.  So it's hard to tell.  

Grinding your own flour... which I have found is much easier than I could have imagined... is the way to guarantee freshness.  I have a Vitamix and that thing can do it lickity-split.  I just buy a bag of the dry whole wheat "berries" (as they're called) from the health food store.  I like the kind of wheat called "organic golden hard white wheat."  And I pour about 3 cups at a time into my Vitamix and run it on high for about 1 minute.  Done.  It's the freshest possible whole wheat flour with all the nutrients in tact.  I can taste the difference and it's really good.  I freeze whatever I don't use.  And whenever I use it, I always make sure that the flour has a chance to "soak" overnight in the batter or dough before baking.  This makes a big difference too.

There is also a company called "Frankferd Farms Foods" who makes wonderful whole grain flours and I called them to find out if they refrigerate them right after grinding... and they said that they usually ship them out right away, but if the bags of flour are going to stay on the premise for more than a day or two, then they always refrigerate.  If I use white flour, I like Frankferd Farms "Unbleached White Flour with the germ added back in."  The health food store I go to (Miller's Natural Foods) always refrigerates all their whole grains and whole flours.

Today, I went to a new little organic grocery store on King St. in Lancaster (across from McDonald's) called "Expressly Local."  It's great!  And they carry "Daisy Organic Flour", a locally milled organic flour.  One of the store owners told me that the difference between pastry flour and bread flour is that pastry flour is very very fine while bread flour is a little more course so that it can keep it's texture and shape in bread.  She said that "All Purpose" flour is somewhere in between in the two texture.  I learned something new today!

Tomorrow, I'm going to Gap to attend the next "Ladie's Day" health food meeting at 10am.  Can't wait!