Wednesday, December 5, 2012

where I am at...

I am painfully aware of how silent I have been  here lately... I am painfully aware of how it looks like I am becoming one of those blog writers who didn't stick with it... And I really really don't want that to be the truth about me.
The truth is, I have been busy, I have been disoriented, I have been preoccupied lately. There is no need for me to get into details that don't pertain to this blog, but as I was thinking about what my next post would be, I thought I might want to process out loud some of the food stuff that's been on my mind. Believe me, I have 100 post ideas floating in my brain, some of them long overdue... Most of them requiring either some extensive research (which requires extensive time), or me actually cooking the recipe, so I can take pictures of the process, and/or actually taking the picture (versus forgetting to). Because of the whirlwind in my life currently, it is rare for all three things to align perfectly, and they certainly haven't in the recent past. The other truth is, I have been spending A LOT of time in the kitchen, trying new things, and have been left with not time to document it all.

 I thought I would post gluten free recipes for Thanksgiving, my pomegranate coconut pie, or some poetic prose about my love of Thanksgiving... But Thanksgiving came and went.

 We smoked a turkey on the webber with mesquite charcoal. Yum!

With Christmas approaching, I definitely want to post some festive recipes, and I have one in my drafts...

But for now, let me update you on what I have been learning over the last few months. After the real food symposium in May, I discovered the whole world of raw milk, grass fed/pasture raised meat and raw milk. Quite different from the vegan path I was on. I remain convinced that there is no such thing as one diet for all, and that everybody is different and has different needs. For example, my husband, my neighbor and I, went through a round of elimination diet in October. We all had different reactions to it, and my neighbor, who has several health issues, struggled a lot through it. He stuck with it for about 3 weeks, long enough to get past the detox effect, but didn't really get the benefits of feeling better and more energized. As soon as he reintroduced meat, he felt a million times better. Because of his health issues, he already knew that he does better without grains, and that a lot of cruciferous and green leaf vegetables can be harmful for him.

I, on  the other hand, felt energized and much better after about a week. Quitting coffee felt wonderful, and though I am not on the diet anymore and have reintroduced it, it feels really nice to not need coffee every day. I didn't do so well mood wise though, and wondered if it had anything to do with the amount of grain consumption on that diet. Since you initially can't eat meat, dairy or eggs, you end up eating a lot of grains and beans to get your protein. I had heard that people with chemical and hormonal imbalances can be pretty sensitive to grains and need to eat more protein from animal sources, such as meat and cheese, in order to get enough of certain hormones, which stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain.
I have been reading the book "The Mood Cure" and decided that it was worth a try. So I embarked on an "almost Paleo "venture, increasing my protein intake and eliminating grains and sugar for a few weeks. The first thing I noticed is that I felt less hungry in between meals, and much less bloated. Mood wise, it seemed to help a little bit as well. I am definitely not Paleo (I don't eat meat three times a day and I love my yogurt!) but I am trying to limit grains, because I just feel better.

The other major thing that I have implemented in my diet is cultured foods. In a nutshell, cultured foods are fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables... They are good for you because they contain healthy bacteria (probiotics) and can help heal the gut lining, which gets damaged by all the toxins we are exposed to, medication and antibiotics. When your gut lining is damaged, it can become permeable and leaky, which prevents the proper absorption of nutrients from the food you eat, and allows the release of toxins from your intestine into your blood, causing inflammation and auto-immune diseases. Restoring your gut is extremely important, and can be done through different foods. One of them is healthy oils, aka cold pressed, organic oils, such as flax seed, coconut, olive, sunflower (always always first cold pressed), as well as fermented foods and bone broth.

 I have been buying raw whole milk and making my own yogurt, with a culture called viili, which doesn't require to cook the milk, thereby preserving all its healthy bacteria and enzymes. It's super easy to make (I just mix two tbsp of mother culture with one cup of raw milk, cover with a cloth and let it sit for 12 hours, and voila!). This is pretty much the only fermented food I can get my kids to eat, so I make it mostly for them.

Prior to trying the yogurt, I have been making sauerkraut, which is also extremely easy to make. I plan on posting the recipe very soon, I just keep forgetting to take pictures when I make it.
I experimented with fermented vegetables, which was a pleasant surprise, and tonight, just made pickled beets, using some of the whey from that homemade raw yogurt. So, so easy to make, once you have the ingredients you need.

A few weeks ago, since I had that whey in my fridge, I realized I could make beet kvass, a fermented drink that doesn't taste very good but is supposed to be very healthy for your digestion. I made a bunch and put a little in my smoothie in the morning.

The newest thing I am trying is kombucha. A dear friend gave me two scobies, which are big mushrooms that you put in the tea that you have just brewed, and that will ferment the drink, adding tons of probiotics to this delightful beverage. I plan on adding some pomegranate juice to it after the 10 day fermentation process, to make it taste like soda for my kids.

On a sour note, things I've learned that have freaked me out a little are as follows:

- Carrageenan, which is in all the coconut milk (in cartons), almond milk and other alternative to dairy and soy, have recently been found to be a major inflammatory ingredients that has been linked to cancer. It is in a lot of yogurt, cream cheese and non dairy milks. It is in the organic horizon chocolate milk you might be buying your kids. Look out for it and try to avoid it. I certainly am, and we have switched to organic regular or raw milk, which we just put in our coffee and turn into yogurt.

- "Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, spinach, radishes, turnips, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, rutabaga, watercress, even pears and peaches all contain substances called goitrogens, which suppress thyroid function. 

Cooking crucifers reduces the goitrogenic substances by about 2/3. Fermentation does not reduce goitrogens, so fermented crucifers such as sauerkraut should be eaten in moderation." (quoted from this article)
Well, that wasn't good news for me, considering that I have been having a green smoothie pretty much daily for the last 2 and a half year. So kale, the superfood most talked about these days, may be good for you, but like everything, in moderation, and cooked. Great! That sucks! Because those green smoothies have changed my life and I am now addicted to them. I feel better, I digest better... But... I am now worried that it might have wrecked other functions of my body and caused hormonal imbalance. I plan on following up with a physical very soon. But since I have been preaching about green smoothies, I thought I needed to inform you all about this. The thing is, I followed the green smoothie advice from well-renowned certified nutritionists who have helped people heal from all sorts of ailment. Hence the confusion and disorientation I was mentioning earlier. Who knows? Maybe in 50 years we will discover that none of this was good for you. 
That's why I am more and more convinced that moderation and balance are key. As well as listening to your body, and not just the latest trend in diet and nutrition.

I know this article is a bit dismantled, and I am not going into anything in depth. If you would like me to address one of these things in a posts, let me know. Do you want to learn how to make yogurt and where to buy the culture? Kombucha? sauerkraut? Do you want to find out more about probiotics and their importance? Please post your comments and let me know what interests you. That will motivate me :)

And last but not least, I have been making lots of Master Tonic, a natural remedy to use as prevention or cure during the cold and flu season. I am now selling it out of my own kitchen for the price of $6, $10 or $20, depending on which size you choose. I am not shipping, but if you are local and are interested, contact me!

1 comment:

  1. The yoghurt you are making from the raw milk is wonderful. Great post Alexine. Thank you for being honest with your process.