Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Vegetarian Myth

Mark, over at Mark's Daily Apple, has written a fine review of Lierre Keith's wonderful book, "The Vegetarian Myth". Whether you're a vegetarian or not, this book is a must read for anyone concerned with food. That, in my opinion, should be anyone who eats.

Lierre’s book is profound on so many levels. I was a vegetarian, then a vegan, then a Nutritionist. I am now leaving that profession to farm. Her book is everything I’ve ever felt, learned, and experienced, written with such eloquence as to leave me gobsmacked. Lierre is able to write with compassion and understanding, bolstered by her incredible intelligence, and fueled thorough meticulous research.

I read parts of Lierre's book to my farming buddy – a guy who has farmed his entire life, raising bison, cattle, and sheep on pasture. He listened intently and nodded his head in agreement to excerpts I read on pastures, grass, soil, ecosystems, and ruminants. He gave the book his stamp of approval with one of his “she REALLY gets it” exclamations. What more do you need to be convinced?

Excerpts can be read on Google Books here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chemical Perversion

Plain ole' baking soda and some vinegar. That's it, that's all you need to clean everything. Trust me.

Bone Broth for President

The one thing I just couldn't do without in my kitchen arsenal is bone broth. I've written about it before, but as I was making some the other day, I just couldn't help myself from marveling over the jars lined up on my counter.

Bone broth has everything going for it, it's the Prom Queen of the culinary world! It's cheap. It's delicious. It's full of minerals and vitamins. It's healing. It's health promoting. It's the base of amazing soups and sauces. It stands alone as a beautiful soup. Bone broth is make-me-feel-better-mommy-magic.

A thick, gelatinous beef bone broth. The gelatin is incredibly soothing and healing, especially for the gut.

Minerals are so sadly lacking in our diets due to the erosion of soil quality which means that the food we eat just simply isn't as nutritious as it once was. Bone broth brings those much needed minerals back into our diets. I make a bunch at once and freeze it in glass jars with a little headroom so they don't explode in the freezer. I use the broth to make soups and stews and emergency healing elixirs for sore tummies or runny noses.

Further reading:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Everyone Wants This Kimchi Recipe

sigh... so much Kimchi, so little stomach
They really do. This isn't just any old Kimchi recipe, no sir, this is an authentic Korean Kimchi recipe given to me by my dear friend, Ruby. And trust me, Ruby knows Kimchi. Me? I don't know a lot about this fermented deliciousness in a jar, but I do know that it tastes divine and all of the bubbly, spicy, garlicky goodness we gobble down is teeming with probiotics and enzymes. That's about all I need to convince me that it's worth the preparation time (which really isn't that bad, I promise).

Via Saveur:
The distinctive taste of kimchi is familiar to anyone who has tried Korean food: the crunchy and cool cabbage leaves or chunks of daikon; the chile paste that burns the tongue; the pungent aroma, redolent of garlic and ginger and touched with a hint of the sea. In Korea, that spicy, earthy-tasting dish of fermented vegetables is on the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and everything in between. I cannot think of a single food from any other country that is half as important to a nation's culinary traditions as kimchi is to Korea's. I have been to French restaurants where there has been no bread basket; I have been to Chinese restaurants where you have to ask for rice; I have eaten Italian dinners that didn't include pasta. But it would be unheard of to sit down to a meal in a Korean home or restaurant and not be served kimchi.

Ruby's Kimchi via Ruby's Grandma via Ruby's Grandma's Grandma.. and so it goes..

  • 2-3lbs Chinese (Nappa) cabbage, chopped up (roughly 2"x2")
  • 1/2 cup Sea Salt (make sure it's non-iodized)
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup garlic, minced (I grate mine because I'm lazy that way)
  • 1 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey (if you don't mind cane sugar/palm sugar, you can use it)
  • 1 tsp good quality fish sauce (read the ingredients, stick with anchovies/salt if you can get it)
  • 1/4 Cup Korean crushed red pepper (it must be Korean red pepper)
  • unlimited amounts of love (it was written on the original recipe, so I have to include it or Ruby will beat me up).
  • Wash and drain cabbage.
  • Layer cabbage with salt in a large glass/clay container. Place a glass plate on top of cabbage and weigh it down (I use glass jars filled with water). Leave overnight.
  • The next day, rinse cabbage well and drain out excess water.
  • Taste to judge saltiness. You may need to drain more if it's too salty or add more salt if it's not salty enough.
  • Mix all of the remaining ingredients together in the glass/clay pot you used earlier. Use a wooden spoon or gloved hands (the spices are pretty potent).
  • Pack tightly in a clean glass jar, pounding down with a tamper to get the juices flowing.
  • Cover loosely and place a plate underneath jars to catch any juice that overflows.
  • After a day, I tighten up the lid, place the jars in a cupboard or a wooden fermenting bench I have. Leave the jars for 3 days and check. Depending on the temperature and how 'sour' you like your Kimchi, you may leave it longer.. a week, or even a month.
We usually leave the Kimchi out for about 5 days, but in the summer it takes less. Store your Kimchi in the fridge when it's done fermenting.

Saveur magazine has an awesome Kimchi article in their November issue that highlights other types of Kimchi commonly eaten in Korea. Alternativley, I will be the happy guinea pig and try some of them out. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Snack

What I ate:
Why it's good:
  • Animals raised outside on pasture provide us with essential vitamins A and D - critically missing elements from industrial animal products.
  • CLA from those same grass-eating animals.
  • Low carbohydrate = less glucose ravaging through the body = less inflammation = increased immunity = healthier people
  • Happy gut bacteria from the fermented veggies.
  • Appropriate amounts of protein and fat results in a steady blood sugar throughout the day for satiety that lasts for hours and hours.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good to the Last Mouthful! Grain-Free Granola

I do declare that this granola is really, really yummy. I don't make it that often because the nuts and seeds are pretty expensive, it's a little high on the carb count for my liking, and my children and husband just devour it in days anyway. Still, it's so darn good, that it's nice to have every now and then as a healthy treat. We like to eat our granola with homemade yoghurt, but a good glug of raw milk is pretty wonderful too.

Please just use this recipe as a guide. You can't really go wrong here. Try adding different types of dried fruit, some dried ginger if you like it, or different nuts and seeds.

  • Approximately 4 cups of organic crispy nuts (soaked and dehydrated)
  • 2 cups of various seeds (I like Chia, Flax, Sunflower, Pumpkin and/or Sesame)
  • 3 cups of unsulphured, dried coconut
  • 1 cup of finely chopped unsulphured, organic dates
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons of organic cinnamon (it's worth sourcing "true cinnamon" if you can)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of raw, organic honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
Having a jar of crispy nuts at the ready makes life a whole lot simpler.
  • Soak seeds (not coconut) in water overnight. In the morning, lay them on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a thin layer. Dry them in a low temperature oven (as low as your oven will go) for a few hours, stirring them around every now and then. I usually do a bunch at a time like this and freeze some for another use. Set aside when completely dry.
The seed mixture after everything has been dried and the coconut has been added in.
  • Toast coconut in 200 degree oven, stirring often. It doesn't take coconut long to turn golden brown so watch carefully to prevent it from burning.
There's a fine line between 'golden brown' and 'hideously burnt'. Trust me on that one.
  • Place nuts and seeds in 200 degree oven until just warm.
  • Mix seeds, nuts, and coconut together in a large bowl and drizzle with honey or maple syrup while everything is still warm.
  • I use my hands to really get in there and rub the sweetener in so it's well dispersed. This also helps infuse the food with your love.
  • Throw in your dry fruit, spices, and salt.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings. Allow mixture to sit in bowl, stirring every now and then as it cools down. It will feel 'damp', but this will change as it dries.
  • After a couple of hours, put in an airtight glass jar.
  • This granola will keep for a really long time if you don't have granola-maniacs in your house. If you have extra, please send some my way.
I like mine extra-milky.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stuffed and Starved

Click on the above image to hear Raj's audio presentation.
, go grab yourself a tea or something else that will force you to sit and immerse yourself in this wonderful audio presentation given by the genius that is Raj Patel. Raj wrote the brilliant book, "Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World's Food System". In his book, Patel examines our broken food system, one that leaves half of our world's population starving and the other bursting with excess.

While I'm discussing audio, I'd like to pass on one of the treasures that lives in my iPod. Deconstructing Dinner is an amazing radio program that discusses food issues, sustainability, and the real world challenges, successes, and developments on a local and global scale. The show is packed full of insights and a knowledge brought forth by it's amazing cast of contributors and the simple fact that the good folks at Deconstructing Dinner (in the words of my favourite farming couple) really get it. I mean, they Really Get It. You can download the shows or listen right now, here.

From the Deconstructing Dinner website:

The media plays a key role in keeping Canadians informed, however, Deconstructing Dinner believes that the most important stories about our food supply are not receiving adequate attention. As a result, we are rapidly losing sight of the most fundamental part of our lives - feeding ourselves.

There are countless groups, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, businesses, individuals and various levels and branches of government that are pushing towards creating more sustainable food systems. Yet to date, the media has played a minor role in tying these people together and broadcasting this important information to the people that matter most - you!

Deconstructing Dinner reports on current issues throughout the world of food, with a primary focus on local, regional and provincial issues. The show is not restricted to only current affairs, but probes into the processes and actions to which we have all become so accustomed throughout our daily routine, and "deconstructs" them to achieve a more discriminating awareness.

Delicious, Grain-Free Crackers

I love these crackers, they make my life a whole lot easier. I know, it's a cracker. What in the world has happened to my life that a cracker can make it easier?! Motherhood.

You can put anything on these babies: nut butter, cheese, meat, homemade cream cheese style spreads, or even just a pat of raw butter or ghee. They're cheap and simple to make and great to have around as snacks for the kids (or the big people). They're loaded with all sorts of nutritional goodness and easy to load up with any sorts of spices or veggies you like which easily adds tasty variety. You don't need a dehydrator, your oven on its lowest setting will work, but a dehydrator keeps the temperature lower, which, in turn, keeps those wonderful enzymes intact.

A wee pat of raw butter and a sprinkle of sea salt is divine on these powerful little crackers.

The basic recipe is modeled, loosely, on what I do, but by all means, experiment with flavours you like. The recipe is pretty much foolproof. As long as you have the flax seeds in there to 'gel' it all together, you really can't go wrong.

Ingredients (organic and local is always best, if possible):
  • 3 cups raw, whole flaxseed
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
  • 1 cup raw parsley or cilantro, chopped fine
  • 1 cup random shredded vegetables (I will sometimes use grated carrot, sliced green onion, grated beets, grated ginger and garlic etc... whatever you like)
  • 2 Tablespoons kelp powder
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Eden Wasabi powder to taste (optional)
  • Put the seeds in a large bowl with 1 tsp of sea salt, and cover with water, Soak for 6 to 8 hours. You will notice that the flax will continuously soak up the water. Just stir in more to keep the seeds submerged (about 1/2 an inch of water above the level of the seeds). By the end of the soaking time, your seeds will be plump and have a gelled consistency.
  • Add all of the other ingredients to the seeds and stir well. Clean hands do the best work here.
  • Spread the mixture out on parchment lined cookie sheets if using your oven. You want to spread the future-crackers out thinly. They should resemble the thickness that you want your crackers to be. If you're using a dehydrator, the same directions apply, only, of course, you are using the appropriate trays.
  • Put your oven on the lowest possible temperature (110 degrees is ideal, but if your oven doesn't go below 150 degrees or so, that's o.k.).
  • Dry for 3 or 4 hours, remove the trays and score into the size of crackers you would like. Return tray to oven or dehydrator to continue drying. It may take up to 8 - 10 hours to dry the crackers. Near the end, you can speed things up by breaking them along the scored lines and flipping them over to completely dry out the bottoms.
  • The crackers will be completely dry and crispy when done. There should be no moisture of 'chewiness'. Allow to cool before sealing in glass containers. These will keep for at least a month or two, although even when I make double batches around here, they're gone in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

War in the Country

CBC's, The Current, did a fantastic expose on the decline of the family farm and Agriculture Canada's support for the growth of factory farming. Whether you have an interest in farming or not is irrelevant. If you eat, you need to hear this. Our ability to feed ourselves is developing into one of the most impending crisis of our century. You can listen to the entire broadcast online or you can download it here.

From CBC:

War in the Country - Part One

There's a war in the country, according to Thomas Pawlick. He's an author and journalist who says the family farm is under siege from corporate agriculture, government policy and indifferent urbanites. At stake is the quality of our food and the foundation of life in rural Canada. We went to visit Thomas Pawlick at his farm in Eastern Ontario to talk about his new book, The War In The Country and dropped in on a couple of farms that represent a new face and new hope for family farming.

War in the Country - Part Two

We continued our conversation with Thomas Pawlick, author of the War in the Country ... a book about the decline of family farms and rural Canada. We spoke with him on his farm in Marlbank, Ontario.

War in the Country - Pellerin

Well, Laurent Pellerin has been listening to our discussion of the family farm and rural Canada. He's a hog farmer near Trois Rivieres, Quebec. He's also the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and in that capacity, he represents the interests of factory farms and small family farmers alike. He joined us from Ottawa.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thursday Morning Snack

Although I don't eat sweet stuff very often, every now and then I get a hankering for some sort of deliciousness. Today was one of those days. I spent the morning in the woods taking pictures of the beautiful fall colours. It was nice to come home and warm up with a hot cup of tea and a relatively healthy treat.

Beautiful Ontario on a cool fall morning.
I've made this muffin recipe a few times now and it's pretty much disaster-proof. You can use the base of the recipe, omit the carrots, add whatever else you may like (lemon and poppyseed is yummy) and voila! It's a grain-free, refined sugar-free, lower carb treat that still manages to be delicious, moist, and nutritionally dense.

What I ate:
  • Grain-free carrot muffin
  • Organic, real Earl Grey tea with raw, organic cream and a teensy bit of raw, organic honey
Why it's good:
  • The muffins are made without grains, just a very small amount of coconut flour.
  • The muffins also have all sorts of healthy fats from the organic, extra virgin coconut oil, the ghee, the soaked and dehydrated, organic walnuts (the soaking removes anti-nutrients that interfere with digestion of the raw nut), and the pastured eggs.
  • The 'cream cheese' topping is made with homemade yoghurt which is high in beneficial, probiotic bacteria.
  • The organic Earl Grey tea is high in antioxidants and studies have shown that it's actually good for the our lub-dub hearts, but more importantly, it tastes divine. The raw cream is just my way of saying "I love you". Make sure to check your Earl Grey tea for real Bergamot oil. Cheaper teas offer 'flavouring' instead of the real deal.
  • A cup of tea and a little muffin after a fall walk in the woods fills my soul with gratitude for the abundance in my life.
Carrot Ginger Muffin Goodness
(adapted from Elana's Pantry)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry or 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup ghee (or softened butter)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup soaked and dehydrated walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dates
  1. Sift the coconut flour into a large bowl. Stir in all of the other dry ingredients.
  2. Blend the eggs, oil, ghee, maple syrup, and vanilla in a blender until well mixed.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stir until mixed.
  4. Stir in carrots, nuts, and dried fruit.
  5. I prefer to use unbleached, parchment paper type muffin papers, but if you are placing your muffins directly in the muffin tin, grease first with ghee or coconut oil.
  6. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your tin. Makes 2 dozen muffins.
  7. You can easily split this recipe in half if you would like to make less. These muffins freeze very well in case, like me, you relish the ability to just grab a few out of the freezer whenever company may show up (or you just decide you deserve one).
For the 'cream cheese' style topping, simply drain plain yoghurt for a few hours in cheese cloth. Directions can be found here. To the drained yoghurt, blend in some butter, a spot of honey, and some lemon rind. Spread the topping on the muffins once they're good and cool. That's all there is to it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Grain-Free Human

I have been asked (so very, very many times) why I don't eat grains. In fact, when people find out I don't, I am usually met with confusion or sometimes even hostility. We sure have bought into the idea that grain is important for our health, haven't we? You know, the "staff of life" and all that jazz. I find it difficult to put my anti-grain sentiments into little sound-bites of information when there's a multitude of reasons our family doesn't include them in our diets. These reasons include environmental (the destruction of entire ecosystems for mono-cropped fields) to health (grains are loaded with anti-nutrients that cause all sorts of mischief with our ability to absorb minerals and vitamins).

Mark, over at Mark's Daily Apple just wrote up a great little ditty, nicely summarizing our stance on living grain-free.

Further reading:
  • If you're interested in learning more about the factual science about what our bodies require for health and how we got so far off the mark with our public health policies, I highly (highly!) recommend Gary Taubes book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories". Gary Taubes is genius (I might just have a wee little crush on his brain...shhhh...).
  • Lierre Keith's book, "The Vegetarian Myth", is a brilliant look into the environmental, ethical, and health implications of eating a vegetarian/vegan diet. More than that; however, Lierre's book allows the reader an intimate look at a wounded world, hungry for her grasslands and woodlands, swamps and forests. Earth has been stripped of her complex ecosystems in order to grow mono-crops of GMO grain and legumes. "The Vegetarian Myth" is a profound, life-changing read and, I say, it should be mandatory reading for all those intent on saving the world by filling their plates with grains. This book is amazing. Amazing!