The Great Eclipse of 2017

Our God is So Cool!!! Grocery shopping day is not normally a day that engenders profound thought, but today was an exception. Some people in our country are pretty angry and would like the rest of us to be! Watching the news has just been awful lately…. And then God steps in.. Just like a parent trying to distract a cranky child by saying “sweetheart look at this shiny thing” God sees the turmoil and says.. “Hey kids, look at this!!!” And millions of people do!! All over people are traveling to reach the Perfect viewing spot, and parking, or laying their sleeping bags next to hundreds of perfect strangers.. And grinning, talking, laughing and watching the sight… In parking lots across cities people with eclipse glasses or welding goggles are sharing them with crowds of strangers… When I came out of one store a guy with welding goggle hollered at me to come Look!! Soon a multi-racial crowd gathered handing the goggles around smiling and marvelling at the spectacle!! Scientists have know for a long time that this eclipse was coming… God knew that the perfect day for it would be today

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It’s all about the feet, bout the feet!!

It sounds like a strange thing to say when this blog is actually about bone broth…. But it’s the truth!  We’ve heard it said that you can judge the nutrition in broth based on the gel.  So seriously I’ve been making broth back before it became Bone Broth and became cool!!  And it always, well, almost always solidifies somewhat when it’s refrigerated.  And it’s a wonderful healing thing.   And then I discovered feet.. More specifically what magic happens when you add feet to your bone broth!!

Dealing with Leaky Gut Syndrome has made me even More conscious of what exactly is in my broth.  You already know I pack it with fresh Turmeric, garlic, ginger, onions (skins intact) and whatever sad veggies are in the fridge.  So it was time to step it up a notch… and add feet!! Admittedly not the most appealing pieces of any animal.  I began with chicken feet and they were pretty creepy and really fun!! ( Chasing my son around pulling the tendon on the bottom so that the claws open and close!! Ha ha!!)  But what would they do to my chicken broth?  The answer, a decent, great tasting lightly gelled broth!

And then… After smoking some pork shoulder I had some great bones ready to go!! So I ran out and bought pigs feet!  A pretty amazing feat for an ex-vegan…  Brought them home and roasted them for an hour at 350 degrees, and threw them in the Instant Pot with all my regular goodies… After two hours I pulled out the broth.. even sitting on the counter cooling I could tell there was something different. It was just thicker!  And my did it smell good!!  Into the fridge it went… And the next morning when I grabbed a jar to add to my breakfast and it didn’t exactly pour!! It’s the consistency of really solid jello!!! And buying feet is now part of my weekly shopping!! Try it!!DSC02972

And really… If you don’t have an Instant pot yet.. It’s time.. I made 8 quarts of incredible broth in 4 hours!!!  Check this one out.. It’s got all the bells and whistles that you’ll ever need!!

http://amzn.to/2suOX8r

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Never alone!

I think that sometimes when we’re going through a difficult situation we feel like we’re alone. As I was cooking up my Daddy’s meals for the week it occurred to me that maybe some of you are in the same position… or will be. So, I figure I’ll give you some of my tips for feeding a terminally ill person. When we’re in the Oncology wing it’s common to hear other patients say that they can eat anything they want because it won’t matter anyways.. Some of the food that their relatives bring is astoundingly horrible.. McDonald’s burgers are a frequent sight as we sit there. Well when my Dad was diagnosed I took a somewhat different view of what he could be eating! If you’ve read my testimony you know that his diagnosis is what ultimately led to changing my health and saving my life!

After reading Eat to Live and the Wahl’s Protocol I was convinced that every single bite that my Dad ate should contain the maximum amount of nutrition possible.

IMG_1258.JPGThis African Stew is a case in point.  It contains Turmeric, Nigella Sativa seeds, black pepper, coconut oil, coconut cream, yams, black beans, Collagen peptide, Great Northern beans, tomatoes, bone broth and spinach.. along with any other powerhouse food that’s hanging around my kitchen.   With his particular disease he was told that one of the first things to go is the taste buds and that’s why patients tend to stop eating… Yeah, that’s Not going to happen on my watch!

Another suggestion… make it easy on yourself, eat healthy and then you can package up the leftovers each night, throw them in the freezer and take them over on visiting day.  I set Saturdays apart for cooking for Dad, and since I know that I’ll be home all day, it’s the perfect opportunity to light up my smoker and cook our meats for the week too… I also tend to my sprouts and ferments, and start at least one new batch of something!!

I am absolutely blessed that I love cooking, but I make sure that Saturdays never become drudgery for me.  I have a healthy breakfast, throw on my stained, faded apron, turn on my favorite Oldies radio station and start my day!!  I’m usually ready for a break about 11:30, coincidentally that’s when Rick Bayless’ cooking show comes on PBS.. So I sit with my feet up and a steaming cup of Jasmine green tea for an entire 1/2 an hour.  Then I jump back in!

If you are taking care of an ailing loved one, or see it upcoming in your future, the most important thing you can do, is Take Care of You!!  Eat healthy, get exercise everyday, and find ways to de-stress!! (Thankfully, cooking is my way to de-stress!)

God Bless you guys for the way you are serving your loved ones! Let me know if I can help you!12291809_1641696392762101_4052172847186705836_o.jpg

The Great Reveal-er

Well, it’s my birthday so I decided to do something either brave, or foolhardy, depending on your point of view…  I got dressed in the Biggest Loser outfit, Oi Vey I hate that name.. But you know the one I mean, a pair of skintight leggings and a sports bra.. And I actually walked in to look in my full length mirror!!

Now, you know I’ve been on the AIP for six weeks now. It’s clearly Not a diet to lose weight but to change your health. I did lose 11 pounds in the first couple weeks.. And since then, nothing!! So why I thought my venture into the hallway was a good idea, I’m not sure.   Well, as a woman of a “certain age”  that has three adult children, had two different cancers and more than a dozen surgeries over the years, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I winced as I peeked.  And then was surprised…  Yes, my skin is saggier and wrinkly-er than I would like it to be.. And yes my health history is evident by all the scars… But.. I noticed that my ever-present bloated belly was gone… The puffiness under my skin had disappeared.. The swelling in my knees had diminished.. And this woman of a certain age didn’t look half bad!!

Finding foods that trigger inflammation in your body is one of the most important tools that you have in your quest for a better, healthier future!!  Yes the AIP is an elimination diet as you all know.  Some of the trigger foods you will discover can Never be added again because of their affects on your body. And I say Good Riddance!! I don’t want to ever again eat food that will hurt my body, even if I don’t instantly feel it!!  I honestly was unaware of the damage that re-introducing foods had been doing to me. Looking at myself in the mirror was proof that this old body looks much better without the inflammation that has plagued me!

I know, because I hear it from some of you.. You don’t have the willpower. It’s too difficult. You don’t like cooking. You don’t feel any inflammation so you don’t need to change your way of eating. Or… You simply don’t feel bad enough yet.  Throw those leggings and sports bra on… and take a good long, honest look in the mirror. Got any swollen joints? Bloated belly? Edema? Bags under your eyes? Perhaps a couple pounds more than you would like to have hanging around. Or the more intangible clues.. Fatigue, Pain, Insomnia, Depression, Memory Loss, Brain Fog??

When you’re ready for a change, let me know.. and join me!! You do have the power to change your life!

Once again, check out The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballentyne

 

(You really didn’t expect to see a selfie of me in my little outfit did you? Ha ha!!)   images-2.jpeg

 

My AIP Adventure!!

Well, as many of you know, I went on a combo of the Auto-Immune Protocol/Wahl’s Protocol three years ago and turned my life upside down.  I followed my version very strictly for two years.  Yes, I know they’re elimination diets, meaning that you begin to add things back in eventually, but I felt So good I was loathe to add anything that might compromise that!!  Well as time went on I gave in!  Last year I added eggs back into my diet – no significant immune system reaction, and then nightshades – very sparingly and carefully, and finally, nuts and seeds – huge to minimal reaction depending on what kind of nuts.  Almonds and walnuts killed me, but it seemed like I could tolerate Macadamia nuts (Yummo!!) and Pumpkin Seeds (score!!).   And yes, you know me… I used every spice and herb known to man with abandon!

As the year went on I began to notice that my knees just weren’t playing fair.. They’d swell up and ache when I walked or stood too much, or really pushed myself at the gym.   I developed some sort of hand/wrist pain that I attributed to chopping veggies too vigorously or too often.  Keep in mind, these things crept up so slowly that somehow I’d forgotten the feeling of being pain free in the previous years!  Finally I developed something that included symptoms of GERD (I stopped drinking Kombucha at that point) and difficulty swallowing my food, and stomach ulcer symptoms.  Seriously? I thought I was doing Everything right… Well, maybe except for the glasses of wine while I cooked dinner.   A couple weeks ago I was diagnosed with yet another “Rare” Auto-Immune disease that is allergic in nature!!

As I drove away from the Gastroenterologist’s office stunned, I started grinning…  Another challenge for me!  Armed with the knowledge that this disease is allergy based was a huge clue.  The logical step was to go back on a good elimination diet.  So two weeks ago that’s exactly what I did!

Now you can check out my journey!  I’m on a strict AIP, and am finding new and creative ways to eat Well!!  The thrilling part this time? My husband has joined me!!

For more information, check out the book   The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne

 

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Why I do what I do!!

I’ve been asked so many times why I am so excited about sharing the things that I’ve learned over the past few years, why I’m so passionate about healthy food, why do I care? It’s a form of paying it forward! I am so thankful that my life has been changed and if I can help even one person to change theirs, I’ll be a happy old girl!

So, this is my story, as requested….

I wasn’t a real sickly kid, but I did discover a lactose intolerance when I was about ten and stopped drinking milk.. When I was 15 I stopped eating animal proteins.. In the 70’s it was Cool to be a Vegetarian. And I was a bad one! Well, we had no internet in those Dark Ages… And I had no nutritional information to learn from. So I ate pasta, bread, rice, beans and some veggies. I proceeded to get unhealthy progressively. When I was 22 I took a cruise on the Love Boat and ended up in the hospital with Typhoid fever. I survived it, but Auto-Immune diseases began hitting me hard. I spent the next 30 years on the couch wrapped in blankets with heating pads on my muscles and joints… Multiple doctors were happy to dose me with dozens of horrible prescription drugs. I was Vegan/Vegetarian by that time, and really thought I was following the healthiest diet ever – I mean I’d cut out meat, that’s what you’re supposed to do!! Getting through the day was getting tougher and tougher. Thyroid Cancer, Hysterectomy, a dozen surgeries…
Then I got Breast Cancer and I suddenly got tired of being sick and tired!! I happened to check out the Wahl’s Protocol and my life changed!! I read it in one day… Cleared out my pantry and fridge.. Went shopping the next day.. Imagine if you will.. For 35 years I’d eaten no meat. I walked into the butcher shop and started asking questions. He looked at me and said “you’re a vegetarian aren’t you?” And I started learning.  I read everything I could get my hands on… Paleo books, Auto Immune Disease cures, Everything!   Within 14 days of starting the Protocol a horrible neurological problem went away. I ditched 12 meds and fired 4 doctors. I joined a Silver Sneakers exercise class.  Bought a Rebounder… I started making my own Kimchi, Kefir, Kombucha and Kraut. Yes I am a recovered Vegetarian and now am a very enthusiastic Veggieholic!! I no longer sit around in pain. I’m way too busy for that. The impact that food has on our bodies cannot be underestimated! Now I spend my time dreaming up new ferments and healthy recipes, teaching classes and counseling people on changing their lives!!  My kids quip that I’m aging backwards!!   Life is Good!

Kimchi, Kraut, Kombucha and Kefir!

Seriously, who would have guessed five years ago that fermenting would become So important to me?  After struggling with my health, and my gut health for decades I had given up on anything ever helping!!

I love cooking.. It is my passion. The cares of a stressful, ugly world just melt away once I get into the kitchen and throw my apron on!  But I must admit the bustle of chopping and pounding and processing vegetables for fermenting is about to take first place.

So, the why.. Science has proven that the probiotics contained in fermented food not only makes you feel good, but can improve your digestion, your overall health and heal your gut… And you can’t be healthy with a sick gut!  It’s a form of food preservation (a way to keep your summer veggies longer!!) and quite frankly, fermented food tastes wonderful!

Gone are the days of that nasty canned, yellow sauerkraut that we had to eat when we were kids!!  Fermented sauerkraut doesn’t look that much different from fresh cabbage, and maintains the wonderful crunch! Personally I’m obsessed with the Asian ferments most of all… Every two weeks I make a gallon of my #CrazyAsianKraut.. An easy version of Korean Kimchi that utilizes plain old cabbage to maintain maximum Crunch!! It’s spicy, tangy, salty and altogether wonderful! I have some for breakfast each morning atop my spicy bone broth and fried eggs!

Then we have the wonderful probiotic drinks Kombucha and Kefir… Kombucha has been made famous by hipsters that are just cool, and whatever they drink is cool!! It’s made with sweetened tea and a big blob of cellulose called a scoby.. The flavor is reminiscent of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with sweet tea.  And my newest love?  Water kefir… Utilizing sugar, water and kefir grains.. I make it with coconut water and then flavor it later with ginger and lemon!! Oh yum!!

Fermenting is not only great for your body, it’s so much fun to do!!

 

Here’s my CrazyAsianKraut Recipe… Try it!!

Crazy Asian Kraut

2 heads of cabbage – coarsely chopped

1 lb grated carrots

1 red onion – chopped

1 handful of Wakame – rehydrated and chopped

6 cloves garlic – chopped

2 inches ginger – shredded

2 large Daikon – chopped

1 cup tiny baby shrimp

2 T Red Boat Fish Sauce

2 T lime juice

1/2 cup Gochujang

2 T Salt

Sprinkle salt over cabbage and massage ( or beat, if you’re in a mood….) Wait till the liquid in the bottom of the tub is about 1/4 inch.. Mix in all other ingredients… Let it sit for another hour or two… Mash into 2 1/2 gallon jars… Pour the brine into the jars equally… Weight down and slap a lid on them.. Cover with a dishtowel, place in a dishtub and put in a cool shady place for a month !!     Then into the fridge!!!

By Sprouts Krauts and Spice

 

 

 

Ooh Ginger!!! Spicy Sunday!

 

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I must say, of all the spices that we’re going to talk about, and learn about,  Ginger is the one that I use in the largest quantity.. I purchase a couple pounds a week!! I use it in all my Kombucha second ferments, my Kimchi and Krauts, I make Ginger tea and add it to all my Asian recipes… You might say that I’m Hooked!!!

Most people are familiar with Ginger in one way or another… Think gingerale, gingersnaps and gingerbread!!!  But did you know that ginger is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory spices around??  The rhizome of the ginger plant is the useful part.  The plant is closely related to the superstar spice of the moment – Turmeric, and cardamom too!!  The active ingredient is an oil called Gingerol and is useful as a super powerful anti-inflammatory as well as for the anti-oxidants it contains…

Over the ages ginger has been used as a nausea fighter for motion sickness, morning sickness, flu as well as post chemotherapy nausea.  We find the easiest way to use it for nausea is to nibble small pieces of candied ginger, and magically the queasiness goes away!!!

The Gingerols also can play a role in fighting  Arthritis, Migraines, Cancer Asthma, heartburn and stomachaches, bad Cholesterol and Cardiovascular disease!!  Ginger is considered a warming spice and does actually improve the blood circulation and speeds up your metabolism.

Although there are many, many recipes for ginger in the culinary as well as medicinal world, in my house we turn to ginger mainly during cold and flu time of year!!  I love to have a big jar of ginger tea in the fridge to attack at the first sign of colds or flu.  It will open airways, fight off bacteria and viruses, warm you up…. and it just plain tastes good!!

 

Michelle’s Ginger Tea

4 inches Ginger root – minced or chopped

1/2 gallon water

1 handful raisins

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 Orange

Honey to taste

Throw ginger and raisins into water.  Bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 hour. Strain and add juices. Add honey to taste. Drink Hot!!

 

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The First Spicy Sunday!!

We’ll start our first Spicy Sunday with one of my favorite spices… Sumac!!

No, this isn’t the nasty vegetation that causes terrible rashes and itching…. It’s actually the berry from a variety of trees and shrubs that is not only a delicious spice to add interest to your food, but it’s a healing spice!!   Typically it is found across the Middle East and is featured widely in their cooking.  There is a variety that grows wild in North America as well.

The berries are typically dried then ground into a deep red powder.  To me, the predominant flavor is one of citrus!! It’s not really sour, just more like the zippy flavor of dried lemon zest.   It compliments so many Persian and Mediterranean flavors, but I must admit my favorite use is topping Hummus and sprinkled all over Ash Resteh (Persian New Years soup!!).   It makes all veggies, meats, fish and eggs taste Better!!!

But there’s another reason to search out this aromatic spice… It’s a healer!!!!  It almost sounds too good to be true!!  Over the centuries different cultures have used it as a laxative, expectorant, cough syrup, diuretic, to treat gas, treat hemorrhoids and many other treatments!!  It is packed full of vitamin C and the berries can be made into a tea that can ease colds and respiratory distress!!   Simply crush some of the berries and infuse in a pitcher of cold water for a few hours (brewing it hot will destroy the Vitamin C ).

It is easy to find the dried Sumac berries, or ground Sumac in Middle Eastern markets.

Here’s my recipe for Perfect Hummus… Be sure to sprinkle 1-2 tsp of ground sumac on top before serving!!!

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Perfect Hummus

3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 2 cans drained)

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup tahini

1/2 tsp sea salt

4 cloves of garlic

Drizzle of olive oil

Throw beans, lemon juice, garlic and tahini in food processor of high speed blender and let ‘er rip!!! Keep processing til creamy smooth, add salt.. If it’s too thick add some more lemon juice… Place in a shallow bowl and drizzle with olive oil…

Sprinkle with ground Sumac!!

(I’ve found that using my Vitamix to blend this in two batches yields the absolutely creamiest Hummus you’ve ever tasted!!!