natural foods

How to navigate food (and life) transitions

How to navigate food (and life) transitions

“How do you get your family to accept a real food diet when all they want are chicken nuggets?” “My kid is a picky eater. He eats cereal three times a day. What do I do?” “I want to eat ‘healthy’ but I crave a sugary snack every afternoon (and evening, if I’m honest)!”

The struggle is real! You are now convinced of the basics: that eating a healthy diet means eating more real, whole foods, and less of the food-like processed stuff that comes in packages! Bravo! But how do you go from the head to the heart (or should I say to the mouth)? 

A taste of Peru: the tension between old and new

A taste of Peru: the tension between old and new

Supermarkets selling sodas and processed foods are blocks away from the open-air markets with “mamitas” selling the produce from their gardens by the roadside. Monsanto and Bayer have reached the Sacred Valley and are persuading farmers to replace their natural varied corn crops with their one variety of corn (from genetically-modified seeds). Mining is generating incomes for small towns, but simultaneously polluting their drinking and irrigation water. Villagers are fighting back, but their voices aren’t always heard. As you can see, there are multiple threats to the health of the people and the land of Peru. 

What's cooking in Zimbabwe?

I just returned from two wild and wonderful weeks in Zimbabwe. I was able to connect with wildlife, work out with friends, and get a glimpse of life on the amazing continent of Africa. Part of the trip was “business” (this is in quotes because Body & Soul fitness is my passion and leading exercise routines and speaking can hardly be considered work); the other part was pleasure—visiting game parks and animal sanctuaries.

As a health coach and Wise Traditions podcaster, I was naturally very curious about the dietary habits of the people of Zimbabwe. My time was spent primarily in Harare and its immediate environs, so I wasn’t able to look into all of the local diets and customs. However, I can tell you what I noticed while staying with friends and sharing meals together. They showed me, more than told me, about their food habits and what I witnessed warmed my heart.

-       Vegetable gardens

-       Backdoor chickens (yes, they call them “backdoor” not “backyard” chickens)

-       Eggs from said chickens for breakfast (w/ bacon as a side) or hard-boiled eggs for lunch

-       Hearty soups made with chicken stock and vegetables for dinner

-       Plentiful vegetables (from their own gardens) such as zucchini, squash, spinach

-       Home-brewed kombucha and fermented drinks (like kefir) available at farmers markets

-       Said-same farmers markets selling fresh organic (or at least local) foods several days a week all around Harare

It was clear that many Zimbabweans were intimately linked to the land. I asked my friends about it and they explained that in 2008 the country hit a devastating low point. The economy tanked. It was at that time that people of every socio-economic class began turning to their own devices for sustenance. They could not rely on produce being kept in stock at their local shops, since imports were down and farms were being overtaken by the government. They had to rely on themselves. This was the year many middle-class and upper middle-class families began planting vegetable gardens and keeping backdoor chickens.

Today, Zimbabwe is still struggling, going through yet another economic crisis. Their currency had devalued so much, every purchase required millions of Zim dollars. The government has issued bond notes recently to stabilize the situation, but cash of any kind is still in short supply. People must wait in long lines in the hopes of getting bond notes or American currency.

Despite the chaos, or maybe because of it, I saw wise traditions at play at virtually every turn. From the most modest residents selling produce by the side of the road, to the more privileged buying it or simply growing their own, it is clear that real food plays an important role in Zimbabwe. “Homemade” and “farm-fresh” are not buzzwords but more of a way of life here.

This is not to say that there are no big food corporations promoting their own products, threatening the real food movement. Fizzy drinks (sodas) are promoted all over the landscape. Billboards tout margarine and vegetable oils as “heart healthy.” Fast food restaurants are marketed as modern and hip.

And yet, the sight of those backdoor chickens, clucking and pecking in every home I visited, gave me hope that wise traditions may still win the day in Zim. Because real food is what's cooking in Zim today!

***

Hilda Labrada Gore is the producer and host of the Wise Traditions podcast found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, iHeart Radio, tunein, YouTube and at westonaprice.org. She is the DC metro regional director for Body & Soul Fitness and a certified integrative nutrition health coach. She lives in DC with her husband and children, their cat, Mia, and their dog, Summer.

 

 

 

That moment when you invite yourself over to your farmer's for dinner....

So, yeah, I did that. I’ve been the customer of a farmer in Pennsylvania for over 10 years and it suddenly struck me that it was high time we met. Well, that’s only part of the truth. I have indeed been ordering food from his farm—amazing meat, the best eggs with the most orange yolks, cheeses that are textured and tasty, and MUCH more—for a long while, but what motivated me was that I got wind of the fact that a fellow customer had dined at Peter’s house and I was just plain jealous. On our private Facebook group, she talked about how they ate a lovely meal and sang songs afterwards and I was as green as moss. I wanted to do that, too! I was encouraged by our farm liaison to reach out to Peter to arrange for a visit, so I did. I called him and asked if my husband and I could join them for dinner. Then the game of phone tag began. My farmer, Peter, is Amish and the Amish live simple lives, eschewing technology for the most part, so the telephone at their place is off in a separate building. So I called and left a message, making my request. And then he called me back and left me a message. Then I called back and left his adult son, Samuel, a message and then Samuel called me back and left me a message. And so on.

Eventually we connected “live” and it was a study of the different cultures we live in, though we are only a few hours apart. I would make a comment like “We can’t wait to meet you!” and then…pause….pause…pause….pause “It will be fun,” one would reply. I was rushed and citified. They were calm and country. I knew the visit would rock my world.

When the day came, as we pulled up, we saw two little boys hand-cranking ice cream. Peter greeted us and explained that the boys were his grandsons and that they were making it special for us and that it takes 1000 cranks till it’s done. We were humbled and touched immediately.

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They took us to meet their cattle up on a nearby hill. Most of them were lying down. Samuel explained that when cows are content, they lie down. These certainly seemed to be at peace. We went to see the chickens. They were beautiful, clucking happily, pecking away at bugs and microbes and what not.

After the brief tour, they ushered us into their home. There, we were blown away. Peter’s wife, Sarah, presented us with a spread fit for royalty. Let me back up here and explain that earlier, in one of our phone tag messages, Peter said that Sarah wanted to know what we would like to eat. She could serve chicken, pork, beef, or fish. In reply, I left a message saying something like “We like everything!” Imagine my shock and surprise, then, when they set before us literally EVERYTHING! The meal included: peaches with cottage cheese, pork chops and sauerkraut, beef and potatoes, gravy, chicken and honey mustard sauce, peas and carrots, salad, pickles and cheese! And kombucha to drink. Oh, and rolls and butter. And, of course, the ice cream and apple pudding for dessert.

I couldn’t help but wonder if something was lost in the translation between my saying we liked everything and their thinking we wanted everything. I came to find out later, to my relief, that they often treat guests to multiple course meals like that. Regardless, we were moved by their gracious hospitality. Samuel had to leave the table (before dessert) to feed the animals. When he came back, he and his parents let me interview them (though they are generally private people--which is one reason I am not using their real names). So I pulled out my recording equipment and we got started. It was a halting interview, to be honest, since they were unaccustomed both with microphones and answering questions on the spot. But it still offered small glimpses of how they shifted to organic farming (the first in their community to do so), and the health and business struggles they’d faced over the years.

Afterwards, we did indeed end our evening with a song. I was so grateful for the life-giving service they do all of us with their work on the farm. It was wonderful to raise our voices as one. Food brought us together; sharing a meal and singing together solidified the bond. As we prepared to leave, they said, with concern in their voice, “You’ll be getting home around 9 p.m.!” We understood why they were worried when we found out that their day begins at 4:15 a.m. Our 9 p.m. was equivalent to their midnight!

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All told, we were on the farm for some 4-5 hours but that brief time gave me invaluable insight on the important work of the farmer, the timeless (and often thankless) work of managing the land and animals to provide for the life and health of countless others. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever met your farmer and what your experience was like. And also let me know if you’d like me to post the interview as a podcast sometime. It wasn’t a perfect recording, but it was a perfectly amazing evening.

***

Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and fitness professional. She is the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation and is the Wise Traditions podcast host. Wise Traditions can be found on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music and at westonaprice.org.

Turn children's health around with real food

Did you know that children's taste buds can turn around in two weeks--from craving junk food to craving real food? Just two weeks! Did you know that in two months children can experience some real progress in resolving health issues? Mandy Blume has stumbled upon these health recovery secrets for children and now she is sharing them with the world! She has written a book entitled "Real food recovery" and she has launched a nonprofit by the same name--all because of the health improvements she's seen through simple dietary changes.

In a recent interview, she laid it out plain and simple. Kids need real food. And even if they don't like it at first, if you keep offering it, they will get hungry and succumb to real food's allure. Mandy has used what she calls the "Mandy protocol" with her own children and with countless foster children (in her own home and foster homes) and she can testify to its positive effects. Is she some kind of "child whisperer?" How has she been so successful at transforming kids' diets and their health? And how can we follow her example?

It started when Mandy and her husband had their first child, who was born with health concerns that conventional medicine could not address. They soon took matters into their own hands. They overhauled their lifestyle and diet and began to see improvements (not just for the child, but for their entire family, as well)! Through this experience, Mandy realized the power of real food. She studied at California Polytechnic State University, where she received her degrees, along with cooking and nutrition credentials. But her real education came as she applied all that she learned, not only on her own family, but also on the foster children her family took in. Quickly her vision expanded to reach out to children in foster homes. Her goal? To  see real food recovery occur for the greatest number of children possible!

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It's a big task for a needy generation. One in 88 children in the U.S. has autism. One in 10 children has asthma. Eight to ten percent of children in the U.S. have learning disabilities. Foster children are particularly vulnerable to physical, emotional, and mental health concerns. Can real food address these real issues? Mandy’s answer is a resounding YES! Listen to "Real food changes lives" and be inspired by her vision and her practical tips on dietary changes.

The half-hour interview highlights:

  • how Mandy used real food to flip her families’ and foster kids’ health
  • how Mandy and her husband began taking in foster kids
  • just how many children are currently in the U.S. foster care system
  • how little time it takes to change taste buds to crave real food
  • the power of perseverance
  • Mandy’s tips for helping children approach food differently
  • the health and trust issues of foster children
  • what happens when foster kids “age out” of the system
  • how their first foster child battled cancer
  • the catalyst for her nonprofit, her new book, and more

At the very least, Mandy's story will make you want to get real with your own diet, replacing “faux foods” with the real deal. And at best, she will motivate you to take steps to help the vulnerable children in your own town, who are also hungry for real food and real love.

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Get to know Hilda and her approach to health by visiting her website chispainc.com.

What the heck is ghee? (And why you should try it.)

A friend of mine eats ghee with every meal. I used to feel sorry for her, considering ghee to be nothing more than a poor substitute for butter. I knew next to nothing about it, truth be told, but was somehow under the impression that she had been simply swept up in some new foodie trend. Little did I know that ghee is simply the fat part of butter (i.e., clarified butter) and that it has been made and consumed for thousands of years, particularly in India and Asia! Its health benefits are well-documented in ancient Sanskrit textbooks, and more and more people are rediscovering its benefits today. It is replete with vitamin A which benefits, among other things, our eyesight, and it has other properties that are rejuvenating, increase our longevity, and strength and immunity. Not only is it beneficial but it also is a vehicle, helping other nutrients get assimilated more easily into our body.

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Sandeep Agarwal is from India, where ghee is used liberally. He is an expert on the subject. His great-great-grandfather even started a ghee business in 1889. But living in the U.S., he had bought into the U.S. public health recommendations that saturated fat was to be avoided, so he shunned ghee and other fatty foods. But when his young son began to struggle with a health crisis, Sandeep began searching for an answer to resolve his health. This is when he came upon the Weston A. Price Foundation. And when he began applying the Wise Traditions principles to his family’s diet, he saw his son’s health improve and that’s when he began to realize that he needed to get back to his own roots.

Today he embraces ghee…and fat…and raw milk, along with other organic, natural foods and spices. He is a graduate of David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies’ two-year herbalist training program and one-year graduate program. He has spoken at Ayurvedic conferences in the USA and India. He is passionate about helping everyone to learn about the benefits of eating organic, healing, natural, traditional foods.

Listen to our conversation “On fat, raw milk, & ghee,” and you will learn:

  • the changes he made to his family’s diet that improved his son’s health
  • the process for making ghee
  • the benefits of ghee
  • the chemical composition of butter and of ghee, and how they compare
  • why ghee is a good choice for people with dairy sensitivities and for those on the GAPS diet
  • what the ancient texts say about raw milk and other healing practices
  • about Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing science which is 5000 years old and about its textbooks (written in Sanskrit)
  • the concept of ojaf (immunity) in ayurvedic tradition
  • how and why he and his wife started their PureIndianFoods business
  • how ghee is a top food recommended for immunity-boosting
  • why he believes ghee is growing in popularity as a “fat of choice”

If none of this convinces you to try ghee, you just need to give your tastebuds the treat! I’ve bought this huge tub and started cooking with it like there’s no tomorrow. (But, of course, there will be a tomorrow, thanks to ghee’s longevity-enhancing properties.)

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Get to know Hilda and her approach to health by visiting her website chispainc.com.

Can a former vegetarian still embrace vegetarian ethics?

Right off the bat, I need to tell you: I am not the former vegetarian mentioned in the title of this post. I am a meat eater, full-fledged, all in. My parents are from Mexico and Cuba, raised eating lechon asado (roast pig) and cabrito (goat). And this apple did not fall far from that tree. But I recently interviewed a former vegetarian, and when she began extolling vegetarian ethics and explaining that she still embraced them, I had an a-ha moment. I could embraced them, too! As she spoke of their convictions regarding justice, compassion, and sustainability, I was nodding my head. It was beautiful to realize that we cared deeply about the same issues.

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Here are a few specifics that I think both meat-eaters and vegetarians can rally around:

  • Factory farming is cruel and immoral. Pigs are raised in cages so small they can hardly turn around. They are often raised in windowless sheds, without fresh air, sunlight, or access to the outdoors. Chickens are raised in such crowded conditions that they begin nervously plucking their feathers out. (Rather than changing their deplorable living conditions, factory farmers simply clip their beaks!) Cows are subject to just as many indignities, including being forced to eat and sleep in their own excrement. All of the animals listed above are given hormones and antibiotics to promote growth and to help prevent sickness. Sentient beings should not suffer such inhumane confinement and mistreatment.
  • The deterioration of the planet is alarming. Large patches of our planet are become desert wastelands. Fertility and life are being snuffed out, replaced by exhausted land and animal extinction. Climate change is a huge problem. We must protect our natural resources and cultivate and nurture life on this earth on every level. Something has to change (and it should probably be us)!
  • No one should go hungry. Good food for all can even the playing field. Children learn better when well nourished. Behavior problems, sickness, disease and crime all decrease when there is less food insecurity. We must look for solutions so that all people, all around the globe, can obtain access to clean water and good food.

So, meat eaters, where do you stand? Can you agree with these simple, straightforward values? I certainly can. And so can Lierre Keith, the former vegetarian. Interestingly, she makes the case that one does not have to abstain from meat to address all of the above. As a matter of fact, she is convinced that a vegetarian diet jeopardizes our own health and the health of the planet.

Listen to our conversation Vegetarianism reconsidered and let me know what you conclude. Even if you disagree with Lierre's point of view, I hope you can take pleasure in the fact that, in a world that is increasingly divisive, vegetarians and meat eaters can still find some common ground.

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast, found on iTunes, Stitcher, and at westonaprice.org.

 

Chewing the fat with Chris Masterjohn

In the movie, "Little Miss Sunshine" Steve Carrell's character, Frank, pointedly yells at his niece, "Fat makes you fat." He was trying to shame the young girl into changing her order at a diner. For decades, the U.S. government was sending Americans the same message--warning us to steer clear of fat, and practically shaming us for craving it. They said it was linked to heart disease. So the public heeded the warning, but health issues--obesity, chronic conditions, and, yes, heart disease--continued to rise despite compliance with the recommendations. In recent years, the government and even the conventional medical community has begun to pivot, actually recommending that we eat fats for our well-being. But which are the best fats? And how much should we be eating?

Enter Chris Masterjohn, assistant professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College in New York. Chris has a  PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a brilliant person to discuss such a topic. And so we did, on the Wise Traditions podcast. Yes, we chewed the fat...about fat! Give a listen to episode #28: Fat does a body good.

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Here are some of the things you'll learn.

  • how fat helps your body run
  • moving from fear of fat toward freedom
  • how to eat to fuel your body's needs
  • how to figure out what diet (and percentage of fat) will work best for your particular body
  • what sources of fats have been eaten over the course of human history
  • how our diet has shifted away from animal fats to oils like soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, and cottonseed
  • how this shift may be the cause of many of modern diseases
  • the difference between saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats
  • the definition of essential fatty acids
  • the role of cholesterol (and what numbers could be a red flag)
  • a recommendation for a certain type of health care practitioner

Chris concluded our conversation with a surprising suggestion for what to do to achieve optimal health. (To learn more from Chris, check out "The Daily Lipid"  or follow him on social media @chrismasterjohn.)

As we wrapped up our talk, I walked away with some new insights and with a conviction that was stronger than ever:  fat does many things for us, but it most certainly does NOT make us fat, no matter what the movies (or other media) may tell us!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

A Maasai promise: a u-turn toward traditional foods

"I know and I promise that there will be a very huge U-turn for my community. We will be turning to where we came from."  Dickson Gisa, a leader in his Maasai village, spoke these words to me in a conversation in his home just a few days ago. Dickson is the one who took the initiative to contact the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) a year or two ago. He had come across the WAPF wise traditions principles and they resonated with him to such a degree that he asked WAPF to send someone to his community because "we are all getting sick."  So WAPF honored his request and sent me and Mary Gerke, a nurse and WAPF leader from the midwest, to his remote village in Matapato, Kenya, not far from the Tanzania border. This May, I returned to Dickson's community to follow up. What a joy it was to reconnect! I had the privilege of speaking once again about the importance traditional diets, while immersed in the gracious, welcoming Maasai culture. Along the way, I even got to enjoy some of the very traditional foods they have always embraced! But, best of all, I was able to see the changes the community had already implemented, as a result of last year's visit.

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Nowhere was this more evident than in Dickson's own home. His wife, Joseline, gave up her job as a preschool teacher last year to develop a garden on their land. She grows traditional greens, kale, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, bananas, cassava, and more! Her harvest is so abundant that she has enough for her own family and then some. Members of her community come buy food to sell at market. Dickson told me that Joseline made this choice very deliberately so that their family could avoid purchasing food from the shops/grocery stores.

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At every turn, their were positive signs. The youth group, comprised of 18-30 year olds, affirmed that they wanted to continue the traditional foods "campaign." And after my presentation to the community members, the pastor stood up and suggested that all women present begin cooking traditional foods again "starting now." (Dickson told me later that when they learn of something that is good, they try to apply it to their lives right away.) On Sunday morning, the pastor spoke of incorporating wise tradition principles into their church programs, and a church elder testified, "Just like we need to change our attitude toward God, we need to change our attitude toward feeding and health."

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Apparently, Dickson is not the only one who is convinced that the wise traditions that have been handed down for generations are a God-given gift that offer life and health and promise for the future.

I can't wait for you to hear my conversation with Dickson, which I recorded with my podcast gear. I hope to publish it sometime this summer on the Wise Traditions podcast. You can listen to all episodes by simply going to the westonaprice.org website and clicking on the podcast link on the right-hand side bar. Or, better, yet,  subscribe to the Wise Traditions podcast via iTunes, Stitcher (if you have an android phone) or the RSS feed (also on the westonaprice.org site's podcast page). You will certainly be encouraged, as I have been, and you will learn a thing or two about health and wise traditions around the world!

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Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF). She is also the host of the WAPF-sponsored Wise Traditions podcast. She is traveling in Zimbabwe and Kenya as part of the WAPF international project initiative.

 

 

The Biggest Loser...but in real life!

On the t.v. show "The Biggest Loser," people lose drastic amounts of weight in dramatic fashion, only to gain it back when they are off the air and the cameras are gone. Dramatic is the right word for it. It is a t.v. show, made to entertain. Those who produce it are interested in ratings, certainly not in the health of the participants. They "help" them lose weight, all right, but in all the wrong ways for all of the wrong reasons. But contestants sign up to be on the show, nonetheless, grasping at the slim hope that they might become slim, in actuality. It's easy to understand their desperation. Richard Morris could certainly relate. For him, walking to work was akin to hiking Mount Everest. He would huff and puff and sweat up a storm and it was only a few blocks away from his place in New York City! He was in terrible shape. No surprise. The man weighed over 400 lbs. Dieting? Hed been there, done that....in his own words, "a million and one" times. The only thing they were good for was packing on the pounds (after some initial unsustainable weight loss).

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Richard was pre-diabetic and struggling with asthma and high blood pressure. Every day he woke up asking himself, "Is today the day I die?"

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This is Richard today. Yes, as you can ascertain, he has undergone a complete transformation! He is in excellent shape, as are his wife and two daughters. He works a job and runs a family farm. And in his spare time, he runs spartan races!

Be inspired by his story in this half-hour episode entitled A life unburdened.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Richard gained so much weight in the first place
  • The role his family's poverty played in their food choices when he was growing up
  • What diets he tried and why they failed him
  • Richard's a-ha moment that led him to leave dieting behind
  • What first steps he took to rid his home of processed foods
  • What foods they bought (and where they bought them) as they switched to eating real food
  • What happened when he flirted (briefly) with the idea of eating the old way
  • How the Weston A. Price Foundation resources played a part in his transformation
  • The role of cooking in his life
  • How his daughter's early puberty was reversed through real food
  •  How he got into obstacle course racing

Links & Resources

About Richard Morris

Richard Morris worked in IT, but now lives a life that is drastically different. Richard lives in Virginia, running his farm, running spartan races and running in the human race, in brave and new ways!

If you enjoy the podcast episode, please share it on FB or Twitter. And leave Wise Traditions a review on iTunes which gives important stories like Richard's a broader platform!

The reckless gardener

My friend is a crazy amateur gardener. I call her crazy because she just plants things and hopes they grow. We're talking no prep, no plan, no fuss, no muss. Sound weird? Let me explain. A couple of springs ago, Jessica and her boyfriend worked hard to have the perfect garden. They designed an elaborate grid to plant their seeds. (He's in the military so he's all about plans. I imagine, once sprouted, he fully expected all of the veggies to stand at attention when he walks by. But I digress.) Let's just say that Jessica and her boyfriend were as ready as they could possibly be for this undertaking. They were super pleased with their plans. The day came and they executed everything to perfection...only to have all their efforts go to waste because of a spring rain the next day. It washed everything away (on to a neighboring plot in their community garden). You can imagine how frustrated they were at this turn of events. So the following spring, Jessica decided to take things into her own less-organized and less-militaristic hands. Jessica's boyfriend was away (he's in the military, as I said) so, unsupervised, Jessica showed her true stripes. In a fit of reckless and random abandon, she scattered her seeds without any grid or forethought.

At first I thought this was very strange until a friend told me recently that a lazy gardener is the best gardener! Jessica's philosophy is in keeping with a whole no-till movement! Who knew? And believe it or not, it is working. Many summers and falls, I have reaped the benefit of J.'s random gardening method: enjoying copious amounts of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and more.

Whatever you think of her gardening style, Jessica is to be admired for her grit. She would never call herself a gardener. She's the first to admit she didn't know the first thing about gardening, actually, but she didn't let fear of the unfamiliar or failure in the past hold her back. She dove in, muddy feet first.

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My daughter dove into gardening at UVA. She, too, didn't know much about it, but by her fourth year, she ended up being a leader for the community garden they had on grounds.

Another friend of mine, Celeste Longacre (gotta love her name), has been gardening/preserving/canning/freezing veggies for over 35 years. Listen for her approach on gardening in my podcast episode entitled (appropriately) "In the garden."

These three are all my heroes! Personally I'm still growing as a gardener. (See what I did there?) Do you garden? Are you a planner (like Jessica's boyfriend) or are you more the reckless sort (like Jessica herself)?  Tell me in the comments below!

Raw milk is rawesome! (See if you agree, as I make my case!)

By now, you've heard of the growing interest in raw milk. Or maybe you haven’t. You may be perfectly happy with milk from the store. And when you hear a comment or report on the radio, you dismiss it out of hand. Turn the page. Turn off the radio. Who are the nut jobs who are into that stuff? Haven’t they heard of the outbreaks of sickness and deaths in the U.S. that led to the pasteurization of milk? Don't raw milk proponents know that raw milk is dangerous and full of bacteria? IMG_5835

On behalf of all the nut jobs out there, let me answer these questions. The answers are: yes and no. Yes, we know when and why pasteurization began, and no, we’re not worried. We know that raw milk is full of bacteria, but we believe that a lot of that bacteria is good for us, in the same way that bacteria in yogurt and other “super foods” is good for us. We don't believe raw milk is any more dangerous than other real foods.

Let me address this last concern first. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that nearly half of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. from 1998 to 2008 were linked to fruits, nuts, leafy greens, and other vegetables. People are not steering clear of these foods today. My point? Any food can be mishandled and become a carrier of pathogens (bad bacteria). Rather than being afraid of food, we need to look to find ways to make sure we get it from the safest, cleanest source.

In fact, this is why pasteurization was applied to milk in the first place. There was an interest in making our milk “safe” or "safer." People were becoming sick because they were drinking milk from cows kept in poor sanitary conditions. But rather than changing the conditions of the cows, the idea was to pasteurize (or heat up) the milk to eliminate the pathogens. Unbeknownst to us, pasteurization changed the milk drastically--from a living product to a dead one. Pasteurization killed the bad bacteria, indeed. But it also got rid of the good stuff at the same time. It resulted in a product with a good long shelf life, but that wasn't good for our lives. Despite ads to the contrary, this milk doesn't do a body good.

In contrast, raw milk, from healthy cows in good conditions, is an amazing healthy food, teaming with good bacteria (and pathogen-fighting bacteria that “kills” any bad guys that crop up). Even the Mayo clinic in the 1930s had a program for using milk to kill a variety of ills, called "the milk cure." Yes, doctors once considered raw milk good and healing, when produced in sanitary conditions.

I equate milk pasteurization with meat irradiation. In 2000, the USDA passed a regulation allowing for meat to be irradiated to avoid spoilage and to keep it "safer" for consumers. Why wasn't it safe from the get-go? Unsanitary slaughterhouse practices were causing feces (and bad bacteria) to splash onto the meat. Rather than correcting the problem at its root (the slaughterhouse), they opted to blast our beef and poultry with radiation.

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Personally, I trust whole, real foods, more than I trust what others tell me is best. And I also listen to others' experience. More and more people struggle with digesting "safe" pasteurized dairy products. While those drinking raw milk and eating raw cheeses are finding healing.

Listen to this week's podcast episode with Charlotte Smith for one example. (Click here or go to Stitcher or westonaprice.org.) As a young mom, she was looking for a cure for her children's eczema. She came upon raw milk and became so convinced of its beneficial impact that she started a micro dairy (three cows only). I have to say, hers is a very mooooving story! (I couldn't resist the pun!)

You may find yourself completely unswayed by the above. Rawesome. I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open. Apply your own skills of observation to the situation (and to your own body, should you decide to try it out). I am eager to hear what you conclude!

 

 

 

 

Don't be gluten-intolerant intolerant: 3 simple concepts to clarify this condition

You've heard that there are MANY people who are gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant. You may be among them or you may know a few of them personally. If you don't struggle with it personally, you might find yourself occasionally feeling gluten-intolerantintolerant! What is going on? Why is this a growing health concern?

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First, a quick definition of "gluten." Gluten is the word for the naturally occurring proteins in wheat (and some other cereal grains.) Many are have issues digesting these proteins. Here are a few concepts to help clarify what's going on.

  1. It's for real. This is not some made-up phenomenon. Some who are gluten-intolerant have a full-blown disease called celiac, an auto-immune disorder. For those with celiac, ingesting even a crumb of gluten inflicts damage on their intestines, poking holes in the lining or causing inflammation and leading to a host of problems. People with celiac disease are not picky, difficult, or attention-seekers. They know that gluten can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, inhibited nutrient absorption, migraines, anemia, fatigue, diarrhea, and more. Even more serious conditions can develop if celiac patients do not take care to avoid gluten completely. For celiac patients, avoiding gluten isn't "trendy," it's a serious matter related to protecting their health.
  2. It's okay to be self-diagnosed. I shake my head when people say "Most of those who claim to be gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant are self-diagnosed." I want to say (and loudly): "SOOOOO?" If you detect a pattern in your diet, that is to say, you eat something and it causes your stomach to hurt every. single. time, wouldn't it be smart to conclude that you should stay away from that particular food? So if you are self-diagnosed, as they say Down Under, "Good on you!" It might behoove all of us, actually, to watch our bodies for reactions--discomfort, a change in stools, headaches, etc.---after eating gluten. We may be among the two and one-half million Americans who are undiagnosed (self or otherwise!)
  3. It could be more than gluten-intolerance. If you are one of those who experiences discomfort or a reaction of some type to gluten, you need to be aware of another factor that could be at play here. I just interviewed an MIT research scientist, Stephanie Seneff, who said that glyphosate (the active ingredient in an herbicide used on wheat) wreaks havoc on our bodies. Glyphosate (the "other g" word) may be disturbing your gut, not just gluten! You can avoid glyphosate by buying organic bread (which, of course, I believe all of us should do, gluten-intolerant or no.) But beware, because glyphosate is used on an "increasingly massive scale" on many crops in the U.S. including sugar cane, corn, soy, etc. (Listen to the podcast for more on glyphosate and its effect on our bodies. Click on this link or look for Wise Traditions on Stitcher or the westonaprice.org website.)

Are you gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive? Post your comments below so that we can learn from you. We want to eliminate gluten-intolerance intolerance, once and for all!

 

Super simple mac and cheese: a recipe for the ultimate comfort food

When my kids were little, it was all about the dark blue box of macaroni and cheese. Yup, they would beg me for it and I would indulge them (every now and then.) Oh, how they loved the powdery orange stuff and the miniature noodles! Now that they've grown up (and so have I,) we still love our mac and cheese, but on our own terms: homemade with real ingredients. Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. If you choose to make it this winter, pass by the box and try this super simple version. Your inner child will be more than pleased with the result! It's tastier and MUCH more satisfying than any store-bought brand! You'll see....

grated cheese

noodles in dish

cheese pour

milk poured

(Side note: sometimes I add an egg or two to hold everything together a little bit better. Just beat them a bit and fold them into the milk/cheese/noodle mix before popping the dish into the oven.)

ready for oven

finished product

Beautiful, no? Trust me, the end result is as delectable as it looks. And it's just as easy as it seems. Win/win.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes! May the little blue box with the orange powder remain a distant and not-so-fond memory!

 

The inside scoop on wellness

Starting the Wise Traditions podcast has been an adventure. I knew I wanted to help spread the message of the benefits of whole, real, nutrient-dense foods. That, after all, is the mission of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the group sponsoring the podcast. Their goal is to educate the public about healthy traditions and the science behind the foods that have helped cultures survive and thrive through millennia. DSC_0006

What I didn’t bargain for was that I would be getting an education in the process, myself. I loved sitting down with the authors, doctors, scientists, farmers, etc., who came on the show. Each individual was well spoken, entertaining, and brilliant. I was getting something out of every single conversation.

And then it dawned on me—I wasn't just educating John Q. Public, out there “somewhere,” in the distance—I was, in fact, educating myself! Below are some of the truths I’ve gleaned, after months of sitting at the feet of top health and wellness experts. I consider these truths to be the “inside scoop” on wellness.

  1. Outset. I’m just at the outset; they are waaaay down the pike! Yup, I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. Oh, I studied to be a health coach, and I am a chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation, all right. But these people have spent decades in their field (sometimes, yes, literally in a field!) so they have a really good idea of what’s best for our bodies, in theory and in practice.
  2. Opposing views. Even the experts say we shouldn’t trust the experts. Almost every guest on the show has urged me (and the listener) to keep seeking, keep reading, keep educating myself. (It was a farmer who gave me the longest list of recommended books!) I have taken their challenge seriously. In fact, I am purposely seeking out opposing views to those shared by my guests, to discover the truth, as best I can, for myself.
  3. Overwhelmed. Our bodies are overwhelmed. Incidences of cancer, chronic diseases, mental illness, and the like, are on the rise. (I didn’t need them to tell me this. I could see that for myself, just by reading the headlines.) What I did learn from them is that our world is increasingly toxic and that there are ways to help our bodies cope.
  4. Organic is best. Processed, artificial, man-made, imitation, preservative-laden foodstuffs (that pass for food in our supermarkets) are part of the toxic soup that our bodies cannot process. These foodstuffs are cheaper, but remember this: bargain foods are no bargain for our bodies. They mess with our physical and mental capabilities.

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  5. Opt out. Opting out of the commercial, big-box, packaged food industry is a great place to start. Each guest has emphasized the importance of turning toward a more, natural, real food diet. Avoid the chains (supermarket, fast food, restaurants) that literally encumber us. While you are still free to move, take steps off the regular food grid. Look for real food whenever possible. Connect with farmers. Learn to grow or, at least, cook your own food. It's critical for your health and the health of your loved ones.

Oh, the things I’ve learned! Have you been learning, too? Comment below so we can educate each other! I look forward to more great conversations, both on and off the air.

Foodie presents to give (or receive)

Do you have foodies in your life? Foodies are those who...1) you think are praying over the food, but who are in actuality bowing over it to get just the right angle for the picture they are taking 2) eat so clean the word "McDonalds" causes them to break out in hives 3) are more likely to know who the big-name farmers are than the name of Kanye and Kim's latest baby (It's Saint. I had to google it to find out, though.)

Yup, it takes one to know one. So as a self-identified foodie, here are few things that I think would be just peach-y under any foodies' Christmas tree next week!

Homemade jellies or jams - Always a winner! My husband made rhubarb jam a few weeks ago. It's not hard (he tells me)! If you don't want to go to the trouble, buy some fresh jellies and jams at a farmers market. As long as the label doesn't say "Welch's" and it's not from a huge supermarket chain,  it shouldn't offend your foodie's sensibilities. On the contrary, they should see the gift for what it is: a truly sweet gesture!

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Beeswax candles - Candles are so festive and perfect for this time of year! A lot of candles out there have artificial scents that are stressful for the body. Why not give your foodie a candle made from beeswax? Beeswax is 100% natural! Such candles can most certainly be bought at just about any farmers market or craft show. Brownie points if you can make the candle yourself!

Himalayan salt - You can get small containers of this beautiful pink salt to spice up your food. (I received some as a hostess gift once, and I thought it was just perfect.) Or you can get the bigger salt stones that are said to ionize the air and reduce the effects of pervasive EMFs and RFs (electro-magnetic frequencies and radio frequencies) from wifi, phones, etc. I've been thinking about getting some stones for years, but have yet to do so. (I hope Santa is reading this list!)

Homemade granola - Foodies need something to go with their yogurt and raw milk. Homemade granola makes a great snack on its own, too. Use organic ingredients and your foodie will be over the moon with delight. Make it the regular way or go old-school and soak the oats overnight before baking. It makes the granola easier to digest. (See my own recipe from some posts back). Put your granola in a mason jar and tie it up with a cute ribbon or homemade card...and voila: foodie heaven.

Homemade body scrub - A Christmas ago, my daughters and I whipped up wonderful batches of homemade body scrubs. The ingredients were simple--sugar, essential oils, cinnamon and vanilla. We put them in little mason jars and they were just lovely. It wasn't hard to do and it was really fun to give out such a sweet-smelling, natural, homemade present. And bonus: we even had enough left over to use ourselves. Whenever I showered, I felt like I was one giant cinnamon bun! (No wonder people followed me around when I got on the metro!)

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A membership to a farm-friendly organization or CSA (community-supported agriculture group) - There are lots of groups out there that provide healthy, local food and/or support organic farming. Subscribe your friend to a group that he/she knows about or one they may never have heard of before! The Weston A. Price Foundation is one. And there are certainly others. Find a group that your foodie loves and give to it in their name. If they get food from it, that's a bonus! If they don't, they'll love that you are spreading the "foodie love!"

That's it for now. Comment below if you decide to make one of the above or if find a good deal on one. I've got to get going on some of these ideas myself. I hope your foodie finds your gift just fabulous!

5-minute, 3-ingredient, no-hassle apple "pie"

If you've got a hankering for apple pie and you'd like to avoid the hassle of a multi-step process that involves flour and sugar and a big mess in your kitchen, I've got a great fall recipe for you! The word "recipe" is actually overstating things a bit. This is the simplest, sweetest, tastiest thrown-together side or dessert ever! I just made this sweet apple treat for my family. My mom took one bite and said "Boy!" That means she liked it. A lot.

Here's all it takes. Start with three ingredients: apples, cinnamon, butter.

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Step one: Cut apples into wedges. IMG_5085

Step two: Sauté apples in butter. (Use butter liberally.) IMG_5086

Step 3: Sprinkle with cinnamon (again, liberally). IMG_5089

Step 4: Cook until apples are soft.IMG_5091

Step 5: Enjoy this warm, yummy fall apple pie-like treat! (Bonus: It's gluten-free!) IMG_5095

Help! I have a sweet tooth! A three-step plan for staving off that sugar craving

Okay, so you have a sweet tooth. No, actually, for you, it's more like you have sweet teeth. You are the girl in "Oklahoma" who can't say no, only your downfall is not a traveling salesman, but anything that appeals to that sugary taste bud. You simply can't resist one little taste of that ice cream/cake/brownie/muffin. (And, no, I am NOT referring to a four-in-one treat. Some of you were like, "What!? There is an ice cream/cake/brownie/muffin?! Must. find. it. NOW!") sweet tooth

First off, let me say that it's quite natural to like sweet stuff. All of us were born, hard-wired, if you will, with a predisposition for something sweet to eat. If a food was sweet, it meant 1) it wouldn't kill us, and 2) it would give us energy for day-to-day tasks. Unfortunately, we no longer have to hunt around for sweet stuff. To the contrary, now we are hunted (if not haunted) by it. And we can't seem to get away. So, how do we begin to curb that craving? Is there any way to nip it in the bud?

1. Log it (just for a day or two). The prospect of this may scare you, but it just might also scare you "straight." Challenge yourself to write down every morsel that goes in your mouth. In the margins, write down any time you feel a craving. Awareness is a great first step toward wellness. Looking at your patterns in black and white will help open your eyes to where you're at and what needs to change. I took a financial course that recommended a similar step: look at your bank statement...and don't blink. Take a good, hard look. It was an unhappy prospect at first, quite frankly, but knowing the unvarnished truth helped me get on course to a balanced budget. Same thing goes with diet!

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2. Look in your log for foods with added sugar (or all sugar). You probably know by now that sugar has many aliases in food products: corn syrup, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, etc. (Click on this link for more specifics.) Highlight those foods, and, again, look for patterns. Are you binging at night? Overdosing on muffins mid-afternoon? When are you ingesting the most sugar? And why?

3. Make a plan to replace one or two of the "regulars" that show up on your list. Don't tackle too much at once. See if you can spot one or two foods that don't necessarily hold huge appeal, but that you turn to because of the time of day or out of habit. Look to take out the low-hanging fruit, so to speak. (Speaking of fruit, it is a great substitute for a sickly, sticky-sweet sugar-laden dessert. Our family recently made one-ingredient ice cream with frozen ripe bananas. We just added a splash of vanilla extract. So technically it was two-ingredient ice cream, I guess. At any rate, it was a hit!)

Here are some more  "swap" suggestions to get you started: Swap soda for any of the following: coconut water (naturally sweet and rich in potassium), sparkly kombucha (for that fizz and probiotic benefit,too), seltzer with lime (fizz and zing). (Caution: diet soda is NOT a good substitute for regular soda! It's as bad as the "real thing." Diet soda is a chemical concoction only suitable for cleaning a carburetor. It negatively impacts your metabolism, throws a wrench in weight loss, and causes cell damage. See this article on more of its dangers from Prevention magazine.)

Diet or no, soda's gotta go!

Look for foods with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup instead of refined sugar. They at least have some nutritional benefit. Refined sugar has zero!

Swap sweet cereal for homemade granola or oatmeal. And, actually, I'd recommend homemade cookies, muffins, and the like, over store-bought, over-processed products anytime. They are bound to contain less sugar, and at least you can control how much goes in (and what kind).

Any other ideas? Anyone with a sweet tooth (or teeth) please chime in! Let's help each other out with tips on what to swap out!

 

 

 

Local and fun "farm fresh food" seminar! Who's in?!

Are you interested in driving by fast food places, rather than hitting the "drive thru?" Do you want to learn about  foods that give you the most bang for your buck? If you live in the DC metro area, come to this local event that will highlight the joys of farm fresh foods and healthy eating! The speaker is a woman affiliated both with the Amish farm where I get many of my favorite foods, and the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), which has taught me about traditional eating principles. I am beyond thrilled about this event! Hope you can join me, my friends, family, and local DC WAPF peeps at this gathering! See deets below! DC Event Flyer July 2015Make sure to register using the email link above and comment below to let me know if I will see you there!

Boost your mood with food!

Every morning, I spring out of bed, ready to embrace the day. My feet don't hit the floor so much as lightly touch down as I traipse to the kitchen to make a delicious breakfast. When I get there, in a fit of inspiration, I decide to make my family omelettes with freshly baked sourdough on the side. I've got a perpetual smile on my face, kind of like Jim Carrey's character in the Truman Show.

This is the stuff of fiction, indeed. Most days I do not traipse down to the kitchen, it's more of a sleepy shuffle. Nor do I whip up omelettes (though that does sound yummy).  Like everyone, I have my emotional ups and downs. That said, I do feel like, more often than not, I am in a good mood. What accounts for my sunny outlook? It's not that I have the disposition of the children on "Barney."  Nor is life always smooth sailing. And though I'm certain that faith and positive relationships help, that is not the whole picture.

I believe good food makes a difference in my mood, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Studies (including this one from the Mayo clinic) have consistently shown a connection between what we eat and how we feel, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well! The example that made the biggest impression on me, in my studies with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, were of schools with serious behavioral issues who saw a turn around when the cafeteria began offering fresher, healthier food. Nothing. else. at the school changed. Just the food.

Maybe you don't have behavioral issues of your own. Fantastic! But perhaps you could still benefit from a more positive disposition. If so, here are some foods sure to boost your mood!

Eggs  - Those omelettes weren't a bad idea, after all! Eggs were vilified for a while there, but thank goodness people are rediscovering this perfect little food, in a travel-friendly case (the shell). They contain vitamin D, a sure-fire mood boeggoster.

Wild-caught fish - Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions, calls fish "the health food par excellence." Fish is an excellent source of vitamins A and D. And they are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, that naturally lift our spirits. Studies show that those who eat fish on the regular are less likely to struggle with depression or heart disease. Don't like "fishy-smelling" or "fishy-tasting" fish? Try tilapia or salmon with lemon.

Saturated fats - Go ahead and indulge in butter, coconut oil or even lard! Our bodies actually need saturated fats for proper cell function, to help our bones absorb calcium and to avoid heart disease. Give them a try and see if you don't start to see the world in a more positive slant. Lard is another wonderful source of vitamin D, by the way. (And if the idea of lard makes you shudder, hear the back story from this piece on NPR about how and why it got a bad rap.)

Liver and organ meats - In Mexico, they sell brain tacos. Olé! No kidding! Why do we have to travel abroad to try "variety meats?" These meats are replete with vitamins that our bodies need. Liver, in particular, among other things offers mood-boosting vitamins B12, A, D, E, and K. Chris Kresser calls liver "nature's most potent superfood." For those of us who are unaccustomed to such exotic foods, I suggest trying liverwurst as a "gateway" organ meat; it has a more mild taste than some others. Use it to start exploring these nutrient-dense and beneficial foods.

Yogurt - Last, but not least, this tasty, versatile food is the LBD (little black dress) of mood-boosting foods. It's always appropriate, for any occasion!  It's also a surprising source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been fingered as the source of some fatigue and depression. Lift your spirit by the spoonful!

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Let me know if you currently eat any of the above, or if you're willing to give any new foods a try. I'm absolutely positive that you will become more absolutely positive by doing so!