Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grass-fed Chickens

The first time I contemplated the meaning of "grass-fed chicken" was last year in a restaurant when I saw it on the menu.  I had to laugh at the thought of chickens trying to clip grass with their beaks and eat it.  I just couldn't picture it.  I thought it was a typo on the menu.  So I had to research this.  If you are already shaking your head at me, it's because you can tell that I am a curious bird who wasn't raised on a farm.  

Off to the farm I go!  I had a little nervous laughter going into my question to a farmer who raises pasture-fed chickens. "So, do they really eat grass?" I asked.  He said, "Yes they do, but they really like the bugs and worms they find in the grass.  That along with being in direct sunlight gives the chicken and eggs the most nutrition which makes for that wonderful deep golden color in the yolks.  It's nothing like the pale yellow yolks you find from most eggs."  

 Aha!  This is true of most whole foods.  They are richest in nutrients when they are most vibrant in color.  Think of a red ripe tomato in-season.  It delivers great nutrition and taste, while an out-of-season pale red tomato is a whole different story... and a sad one at that.

Chicken are omnivores and they like to walk around.  It's amazing how when you let them do what they were made to do, they are the healthiest, and they pass it on.  Like one of my friends told her kids, "Happy chickens make happy people!"   

Their eggs are a great source of Vitamins A and D and they contain a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (DHA) which is important for nerve functioning and brain development.  In the modern American diet of processed foods and factory farming, we usually get way too many omega-6's and not enough omega-3's.  We need a balance of both.

 Here's the research:

People need sufficient amounts of dietary omega 6 and omega 3 fats and they need to be balanced for normal development.  Range fed eggs have an omega-6 to omega -3 ratio of 1.5 to one whereas the "supermarket egg"has a ratio of 20 to one.  Modern agriculture's emphasis on increased production has led to the development of chicken feed that is being reflected in the out-of-balance ratio of fatty acids in the "supermarket egg."

People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease.  Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, but they are also found in animals raised on pasture. The reason is simple. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omega-3s. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The white bread of idleness

Today, I was reading in Proverbs 31 and it describes a "capable woman" as someone who can:
 be trusted, bring good and not harm to others, work with willing hands, supply food and clothing to her household, buy land and plant on it, conduct business, embrace the poor and needy, make garments, be strong, laugh at the days to come, speak wisely with loving instruction, and lastly "she watches how things go in her house, not eating the bread of idleness."  

Did you ever notice how eating too much white bread can make you tired and craving more?  You get nowhere fast.  On a basic level, your body recognizes both white flour and white sugar very similarly.  When you eat these simple carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises rapidly, insulin dumps, blood sugar dives, and you're left wanting food again.  This ends the mystery as to why many people eat too much.  It's why I used to have a compulsive overeating addiction for 7 years.  You can't satisfy a God-given craving for live nutrients by feeding it dead calories.

So, my 8 year old daughter asked me the gnawing question, "WHY?  Why did they take all that nutrition out of the wheat flour?" The answer is simply so that it will have a longer shelf life.  This profits the food industry.  But what does it profit you?  

I'm actually going to answer that question.  If you buy white flour, or a processed food with white flour, you get the simple ease of a cheap good tasting food which is also very popular and familiar to most Americans.  It's likely the flour will not be rancid because the more perishable parts of the wheat (being the bran and germ) have been removed.  And you don't lose time trying to figure out the lost art of preparing whole grains.  

But that's like avoiding great works of literature because it takes too long to read them... or avoiding getting to know people because they are too complicated.  It's like building your house using only drywall because you like the way drywall looks when it's finished.  But there's no structure.

God made whole wheat grains to be rich in nutrients but during the process of turning whole wheat into white flour, the B vitamins as well as vitamin E, calcium, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium and fiber are removed.  Too bad all that work goes into removing good things... just to have it "enriched" with synthetic vitamins that our bodies don't fully recognize.  Talk about an inefficient system.  The industrial revolution was great for car manufacturing but not for food.

Nevertheless, it's so cool how God made whole foods with their own self-contained glycemic regulators found in fiber, protein, and healthy fats.  This keeps your blood sugar stable naturally.  So, eat your apple with the skin.  Eat your endosperm (white part of the wheat) with the bran and germ in tact.  Sprouted whole grain tortillas taste great.  Eat your yam with the skin.  Let the cream stay in your raw milk and yogurt.  Eat veggies raw as much as possible.  Embrace the learning process because chances are that your work will one day create a domino effect and release the next generation into a new norm of substantial thought and clear sight to see that God created food intricately and exactly how He intended it for us.  Custom-made.  

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Here's another great resource.  I just found it today.  What is GNOWFGLINS?  It stands for "God's Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season."  A lady out in Oregon has taken a big thick book called "Nourishing Traditions" (that I have learned soooooo much from) and teaches the basics in a simple on-line course from her own kitchen.  Here's  a clip from her website (below).

What’s in the eCourse? 

This plan isn’t called “Fundamentals” for nothing. I carefully selected the basic skills in this eCourse, and I believe every healthy cook should know how to do them. They each have a purpose in the nutrient-dense diet that keeps us feeling, looking, and doing our best for God and others.

         Overview: eCourse Overview

         Lesson 1: The GNOWFGLINS Foundation

         Lesson 2: How to Soak Whole Grains, Nuts and Seeds

         Lesson 3: How to Make Soaked Whole-Grain Flour Baked Goods I

         Lesson 4: How to Make Soaked Whole-Grain Flour Baked Goods II

         Lesson 5: How to Soak and Cook Dry Beans

         Lesson 6: How to Sprout Beans

         Lesson 7: How to Cook a Chicken and Make Chicken Stock

         Lesson 8: How to Make Skillet Dishes: A Dinner Formula

         Lesson 9: How to Make Water Kefir

         Lesson 10: How to Make Dairy Kefir

         Lesson 11: How to Make Soft, Spreadable Cheese

         Lesson 12: How to Make Sourdough Bread

         Lesson 13: How to Sprout Whole Grains for Sprouted Grain Flour & How to Bake With Sprouted Grain Flour

         Lesson 14: How to Make Natural Pickled Foods

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New "Amish Farmer's Market at Meadowbrook" in Leola

Today is opening day at a new farmer's market in Leola!  It's on Rt. 23 right across the street from Dunkin Donuts.  I went this morning... and I loved it.  They have food from God there!  You can find anything from junk food to whole food.  Local people own these farms and businesses. The two stands I liked the best were the produce stand and the organic grass-fed meat stand called "Country Meadows Farms."

Amish Farmer's Market at Meadowbrook Hours and Address below 

Thursday & Friday - 7am to 7pm

Saturday - 7am to 3pm


345 West Main Street
Suites 220 & 230 
Leola, PA 17540
(717) 656-6714

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Butter 101... again

Click on the title or paste in this great link (and pictures) which explain butter making much better than I did yesterday.

Thank you to the people who read my gleeful report on butter last night.  A couple of you more experienced butter makers wrote to me and said that my butter would last longer if I rinsed it in cold water and squeezed out the liquid (buttermilk).  Honestly, I thought my butter was fine, until I followed this advice and made much better butter.  More solid and pure.

Rewinding... Now, I had no idea what it meant to rinse and squeeze the butter.  I just pictured butter squirting through my fingers as I ran cold tap water over it and into a bowl.  Not pretty....  but I often have to try things in order to learn them.  And so, it happened just as the dreaded pictures in my mind predicted.  And worse.  This was defeating.  (Feel the tension.)  I believe my water was not cold enough.  It all combined into butter-water.  Terrible.  But wait.  I had this "what if" moment where I grabbed a cloth and a strainer.  I placed the cloth inside the strainer, poured the sad looking butter-water through it, and let it drain as much as possible.  Then I drew up the edges of the cloth so I had it in one fist at the top and squeezed out the water through the bottom of the cloth.  I was amazed when all the water easily squeezed out and (here's the redemption) I opened up the cloth and saw a beautiful round ball of solid butter.  Welcome back butter!  Who says there's nothing exciting happening in Lancaster?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I just made butter!

And I can't believe how easy it was to make butter.  I bought raw cream from my local trusted dairy farmer and whipped it up by pouring it into my kitchen-aid mixer, setting it at medium speed, and waiting for 5 minutes.  That's it.  I would tell you a bunch more directions if there were some, but that's totally it.  I added nothing and took away nothing.  Sweet cream butter emerged. It made a soft whipped butter that tasted very fresh.  

Now, if I had to start with raw milk, then I'd have to separate the cream first.  This is the tricky part, I'm assuming.  My Amish friend told me to put the milk into a wide pitcher or gallon pail in the frig. and keep skimming off the cream with a ladle a couple times a day for about 3 days, and once you get all the cream, keep it cold, and then whip it in a bowl or shake it in a covered jar until it forms butter.  Pour off any excess liquid (skim milk) and wash the butter in cold water and squeeze out all the liquid.  I haven't tried this yet.  

Butter got bad advertisement over the years of the no-fat and low-fat diet fads.  Ugh.  I remember when I believed that butter was bad for me.  That's also when I was inhaling large plates of pasta and icecream in the college cafeteria... and never seemed satisfied.  Always hungry again.  A little butter goes a long way in satisfying my appetite and giving a feeling a peace and completion at the end of a meal or snack.  It also has a lot of health benefits.  I've learned a lot of helpful information from the Weston A. Price Foundation, and this is a small section from an article on their website called "Why Butter is Better": 

"Actually butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America's best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.  Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.  Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant--containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ."

Food, Inc.

This movie is a "must see."  I'm going to set up a movie night (free) and if you're interested in coming, let me know.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thank you everybody!

Hi old friends and new friends,
Thanks for all your smiles and excitement about the article in the Lancaster newspaper on Saturday morning (LancMoms section).  My kids and I had fun reading it too!  Many of you told me that you were inspired to keep on trying new things in pursuit of good health and I'm right there with you.  

Over the past week, I've been researching nutrition data for the whole food (technically a grass) called sugar cane.  There's some good mineral content in there.  Since I don't have access to fresh cane juice, except via mail order, I also wanted to know nutrition data on sugar cane's evaporated states: rapadura, sucanat, evaporated cane juice, molasses, turbinado, demerara, brown sugar, white sugar, etc.  and how much (if any) of these retained the  God-given nutrients of calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc... found in the fresh cut cane.  I'm fascinated.  And I'll write about my findings soon.  You can purchase any of these at natural food stores.

I made one of my most favorite winter treats for supper tonight: ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES.  I mentioned this before, but just had to pay honor to these flavorful nutrient-dense morsels once again.  My baking stone was blossoming with color when I stacked it up with raw cubed beets, carrots, brussel sprouts, and sweet potatos that were dipped in olive oil.  I salted it with celtic sea salt and baked at 400 for about 30-40min.  Simple.  Delicious.  God-food is amazing.  P.S. I know that brussel sprouts grow above ground... but the rest are roots.  :)

Keep drinking pure water.  

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"White Whole Wheat" Pizza Dough Recipe

Is it white or is it wheat?  It's whole wheat and the wheat grain is light in color, so the variety is called Golden Hard White Wheat.  I love this recipe from  

White Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

4 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
a few tablespoons chopped herbs (optional)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. By hand stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed. Add the herbs. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl (to me it looks like a tornado). Add a touch of water or flour to reach the desired effect. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.

Transfer the dough to a floured countertop. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and mold each into a ball. Rub each ball with olive oil and slip into plastic sandwich bags. Refrigerator overnight.

When you are ready to make pizza (anytime in the next few days), remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before making the pizza. Keep them covered so they don't dry out.

At the same time place a baking stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (you can go hotter, but I like the results I get at 450). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.

Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and get ready to shape your pizza dough. Uncover or unwrap the dough balls and dust them with flour. Working one at a time, gently press a dough round into a disk wide enough that you can bring it up onto your knuckles to thin out - you should be able to pull each round out to 12-inches or so. If the dough is being fussy and keeps springing back, let it rest for another 15-20 minutes. Place the pulled-out dough on the prepared sheet pan, and jerk the pan to make sure the dough will move around on the cornmeal ball-bearings (you don't want it to stick to the pan).

Add your toppings (less is more!) and slide the topped pizza onto the baking stone. Bake until the crust is crisp and nicely colored. Remove from the oven. I always finish with more freshly grate parmesan and a small drizzle of good quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sugar Cane

Hi guys!  A week ago, Steve brought home a 5-foot stalk of green sugar cane (grown in the USA). He bought is from Weis Market in Lancaster.  I had fun whacking at it with a big chef's knife, then we sliced back the outer hard layer and chopped a few pieces to chew on.  Tasty fresh sweet clear juice fills your mouth.  Then spit out the fibrous stuff that's left.  My kids loved it.  White sugar is devoid of all nutrients.  It is more of a substance than a food because it contains zero nutrients and is addictive.  Sugar cane juice and rapadura (evaporated sugar cane juice) have some calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and Vit. A to give our bodies energy rather than a buzz and a crash.  Brazil is one of the largest growers of sugar cane and producers of rapadura.  Rapadura can replace white sugar in recipes on a 1:1 ratio and you'll find it in most health food stores.  Use only natural sweeteners like rapadura, maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, and stevia.  And use them sparingly.  I'll post more on this topic.

The Ministry of Brazil listed nutrition data for 100 grams rapadura, which is ½ c.

Potassium        10-13mg

Calcium           40-100mg

Magnesium     70-90mg

Phosphorus     20-90mg

Sodium            19-30mg

Iron                 10-13mg

Manganese      .2-.5mg

Zinc                 .2-.4mg

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Hi!  I don't usually do two posts in one day, but today is different.  Why?  In honor of chocolate covered strawberries... that's why.  I saw the Valentine sign outside Byer's Butterflake Bakery today which advertised this ingenious combination of foods, and so I got curious as to what I could do with my Costco bag full of frozen strawberries and dark Wilbur chocolate bar.  I put 20 rock hard strawberries on a baker's cooling rack with a paper towel underneath, let them drip and thaw, patted them with a paper towel lightly, and then dipped them in melted dark chocolate (made by double boiler).  Promptly put into frig. and enjoy after 10 minutes of cooling & hardening time.  You end up with great looking and tasting morsels but keep a napkin handy because the center is very soft and juicy.
P.S.  I didn't add anything to the chocolate... I just melted it slowly stirring constantly.  Easy!

Expressly Local

Below is an email I just got from one of my new favorite food stores called "Expressly Local."  The store owners are not only very nice... they dedicated to local and organic food.  It's located on King St. across from Mc'Donalds.  Park on the street.  It's worth the trip!  Local tender organic spinach in the winter, raw milk, Ethiopian food, beautiful root vegetables, frozen meats, nuts, breads, etc.  Wow!  Nutrient-dense food.  Bring your own bag (reduce waste).  
~ Amy
Greetings!  Please join us for our Grand Opening Celebration Wednesday, February 3 through Sunday, February 7th!  
We would like to suggest that you consider first attending the showing of the film Food, Inc, what do you really know about where your food comes from?  Tuesday, February 2nd at 7pm in the Stahr Auditorium of Stager Hall at Franklin & Marshall College-- part of their series of thought-provoking movies and discussions looking at the ways we grow, process, and buy our food. 
We will have samples of food throughout the celebration, giveaway food baskets, opportunities to meet our producers, and's the itinerary:

Wednesday, February 3rd, open 7:45am-7pm

3:30 pm--  Ribbon Cutting with Rick Gray and our lenders, Community First Fund, and their invited guests, our
food producers, our  friends (that means you) and, of course,  Abundant Earth and Gursha who share our beautiful space, and the owner and developer of our building, architect Eugene Aleci.
4:00-7:00pm-- Soup and Vegetarian Dinner for sale, and samples, from our in-house chef Etayehu (a-tie-you) ofGursha Organic Ethiopian Edibles.
7:00-8:30pm-- we are hosting the monthly social for Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network.

Thursday, February 4th, open 7:45am-7pm:

Food samples throughout the day.

Friday, February 5th, open 7:45am-9pm (Downtown's First Friday!)

Food samples throughout the day.

5:00-9:00pm--  First Friday!!
**Soup and Dinner for sale, and samples, Gursha Organic Ethiopian Edibles.
**Music by Bill Finlay and Doug Smith, both do acoustic guitar with vocals.
**Wildcraft Floral Design, meet the owners, purchase a bouquet, order for Valentine's-- Wildcraft always includes a sprig of wild to give a unique twist to their creations.
**Demo of clear toy lollipop making with Andy Duncan of CTC Lollipop Company.

Saturday, February 6th, open 7:45am-6pm:

Food samples throughout the day.

8:00 am-- sample silver dollar pancakes with Christina Maser.
9am-2pm-- Brunch and Soup for sale, and samples, Gursha Organic Ethiopian Edibles.
11am-1:00pm-- Samples from Happy Hal's Jalapenos.
Throughout: Meet the folks behind Homegrown Edible Landscaping Company and learn about urban sustainability-- eating and producing food locally, rain water catchment, composting systems.  Rain barrels and mini cold frames for sale.  

Sunday, February 7, open 9:00am-2pm:

Food samples throughout the day.

1:00pm-- Drawing for food baskets.

Please stop in and visit for any or all of the celebration!
Peace and Good Eating!

Cheryl and Kharran

Expressly Local Food 
213 W. King St. Lancaster, PA  17603
Hours:  M-F 7:45-7, St 7:45-6, Su 9-2, 
First Fridays till 9pm