Tag Archives: fermented foods

Pre-Pregnancy Preparation- Fall 2010 Catalog

Pre-Pregnancy Preparation

For Mom’s to Be

266976_10100645769584420_903335_o

By Mary Ewing

When I married seven years ago, I was almost 26, and my husband and I knew we didn’t want to wait to have children. Although many women have children after thirty, we both wanted a large family and weren’t sure how long our “child-bearing years” would go on. Even so, we were slightly surprised when just six weeks after the wedding we found ourselves expecting our first child. Excitement filled our house! To add to our own joy, this would be the first grandchild for both his parents and mine.

At this time, I was a practicing registered nurse (I have since retired to be a mom). Although I did not work in obstetrics, I have always been fascinated with the study.  Yet despite the fact that I had scored a perfect 100 ranking among my peers that year in the OB/GYN nationals competencies. I understood little about the importance of preparing to be a mom. I knew I needed to take a prenatal vitamin once the pink line appeared on the pregnancy test. I knew the importance of Folic Acid. I knew I needed to generally take care of myself. But I did nothing to really prepare for pregnancy.

My pre-pregnancy diet consisted largely of fast food, meals from a box, and sodas. I had done nothing to eliminate my chronic gut problems, build nutritional storehouses, or make sure my body was in shape for the miraculous event. Due to work hours during pregnancy, my entire day’s nutrition consisted of an orange for breakfast, half a sub sandwich for lunch , and half for dinner (and when I say sub, I mean a foot-long white bread sandwich with nothing but processed cold cuts, American cheese and jalapeno peppers.) I washed that all down with the largest cherry limeade I could buy, because it had to last my entire shift-a healthier choice, I figured since it did not have caffeine. I often went an entire week without a real meat, fresh vegetable, and whole grains.

My bouts with morning sickness-to the point of throwing up-lasted from early in the pregnancy until three days after my baby was born. Along with my second pregnancy, came nine months of migraine headaches and then my son’s chronic health issues. I finally decided there had to be a better way to do pregnancy! The challenges have leg me to some fascinating ingredients that make for a healthier momma and, therefore, a healthier baby.

The 2-Way Gift of HealthMichelle

Our health is a gift, not just from the Creator, but also from our parents. The health of our parents when they brought us into the world plays a large role in determining what our level of health will be. Likewise, your health plays a major role in your children’s health.

People generally assume that most health issues depend on the genes we pass on-that they determine what makes us  more or less vulnerable to various diseases and health conditions. Typically, we do not make the connection that we directly pass on to our children a reflection of our own health. As a result, our children often suffer from the same digestive, immune, and chronic health issues that we do-not just because of genes but also because of how we care for ourselves. It should not be a surprise that your child is colicky if you have had problems with your digestion. So before you think about having a baby, you should first rebuild and restore your own health. Not only will you be passing on to them a head start in health, but the habits you develop will benefit them throughout life.

Getting Your Gift in Shape

The place to start building your health is with your diet-your nutritional lifestyle. Nutrients are the building blocks of cells, and it is vital to take in nutrients that build healthy cells. Diets full of healthy fats, grass-fed and organic proteins, fermented foods, properly prepared grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables are vital. While there are several very good diet suggestions out there, I recommend Diet for Pregnancy and Nursing Mothers (http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/311-diet-for-pregnant-and-nursing-mothers.html) , published by the Weston A. Price Foundation. It offers great guidance for nourishing your body and preparing the inner stores necessary for pregnancy.

While most people recognize the need for protein, iron, and vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables, it is only recently becoming known that healthy fats are needed as well. A British publication noted that for a healthy reproductive systems, a woman needs 25 to 30 percent body fat, and the American recommendation for women of child-bearing years is 21 to 33 percent. Healthy fats include coconut oil, whole milk, extra virgin olive oil, grass fed butter, avocados, and grass-fed meats (with healthy portions of the fat included). A great primer in the study of fats is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (found on page 14).NourishingTrad_1

Just as important as what you put in your body, is what you don’t put in. Fats to avoid are shortening, margarine, vegetable oils like corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil and the like. Other no-no’s include artificial sweeteners, white sugar, white flour, MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup, caffeine, and soft drinks (even cherry limeades!). Not only are they empty calories, they are often toxic to the body.file_5_11

Another crucial part of your lifestyle evaluation is your level of physical activity. At any time in life, exercise keeps the body feeling well, the joints moving, aches and pains dispelled, and there is an overall vitality. To “get in shape” for pregnancy, it’s important to incorporate into daily life activities and exercises that increase stamina, flexibility, and cardio function. If you’re wary of exercise because of pain, I recommend you read Pain Free (see page 14). I’ve followed its guidelines for almost a year now and have found incredible relief from aches and pains, while increasing my flexibility and balance.

When you exercise, it’s important that you not burn too much fat. High impact aerobics and long distance running often burn more than recommended amount of body fat for a healthy pregnancy. The key here is to research the regimen you will be participating in and maintain a level that’s right for you.

Our Food Doesn’t Always Cut It

Ideally, you would get all your nutrients from food, but that is just not possible these days with our nutritionally-depleted food supplies, busy lifestyles, and other deficiencies. That’s where the wonderful resources of Beeyoutiful are invaluable if you’re preparing for one of life’s greatest joys-and hardest tasks.supermom_superdad

Both parents should take a multivitamin derived from whole sources, easily absorbed, and one that works within the body to help build and restore. SuperMom and SuperDad are excellent multivitamins which also feature “bonus” nutrients such as spiralina and cholorella. Bear in mind, that dad contributes on the front end to the baby’s health, so he needs to take his vitamins to build his system as well.folicacid1_1

In addition to the multivitamin, Folic Acid is a must. A sufficient level of Folic Acid in both parents decreases the rate of several genetic problems including spina bifida and Down Syndrome. Although SuperMom and SuperDad offers 400 mcg of Folic Acid, most midwives and health practitioners advise 800 mcg per day for those anticipating pregnancy. For more on the benefits of Folic Acid in pre-natal care, check out Beeyoutiful’s Fall 2009 article “Pre-natal Peace of Mind” (available in the online archives at http://www.beeyoutiful.com/pre-natal-peace-of-mind).

To make sure your body can use the foods and supplements you’re giving it, you’ll need to do all you can to keep your digestive system working is best. Even if you are blessed with an iron-clad stomach, you have likely taken antibiotics sometime in your life or have been exposed to toxins that could wreak havoc on digestive flora. I’ve outlined below two key supplements to help build a strong digestive tract.tummy_tune_120_1

1.       Tummy Tuneup, taken daily, rebuilds good intestinal flora which will pass to the baby growing inside of you. It is also protecting against harmful bacteria. And a big plus I wish I had known during my first stomach-churning pregnancy: Daily use of probiotics can help decrease nausea while pregnant.

2.       Digestive Enzymes are crucial because enzymes are the tools your body uses to extract nutrients from food. Most people are deficient and unable to use well what their food offers. Without sufficient enzymes, many people experience fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, food cravings, and various stomach complaints. Eliminating these problems before pregnancy will help you feel better during pregnancy. And it will help maximize the “building blocks” or nutrients available to your child.DigestiveEnzymeWebProPillS

Cod Liver Oil, One of my new personal favorites. I wish I’d taken it prior to all my pregnancies, not just the current one. Cod Liver Oil provides the EPA and DHA required for proper brain development. I suggest using Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil along with Organic 3 Extra Virgin Butter Oil because between the two you get Omega 3’s and good amounts of Vitamins A, D, and K. These three vitamins work together to help build strong bones, maintain the cardiovascular system, keep skin clear and healthy, balance the clotting in your blood, reduce the chance of diabetes, strengthen the immune system, and a myriad of other great things. Taking these vitamins in the form of Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil helps you receive the greatest benefit. Since these are fat soluble vitamins, it is also crucial to take them with a meal containing a moderate amount of healthy fats.

RedRaspberryLeavesWebProPillS

Red Raspberry Leaves. This herb is invaluable to women of all ages, but specifically for pre-pregnancy, Red Raspberry Leaves are known to increase fertility in both men and women, prevent miscarriage and hemorrhage, and decrease morning sickness. Many midwives agree that Red Raspberry Leaves are safe to take throughout your pregnancy, but some advise against use during the first trimester, so (as always!) check with your preferred health care provider before continuing any supplement during your pregnancy.

A Matter of Timing

The plans I’ve shared here should be started six months to a year prior to pregnancy if at all possible. Certainly, if you are experiencing specific health concerns such as thyroid issues, extreme fatigue, chronic sinus problems, et al, it would be best to get control of them immediately-whether or not pregnancy seems to be in your future. Either by diet modification or through adding supplements or working with a naturopath: the more you work to restore your health now, the less work it will require to restore it in the future-and you’ll reduce the chances of passing on these problems to your children.

Whether your first or your tenth, pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in life! Every baby brings a wealth of expectations, joys, and new experiences. So as you contemplate bringing a life into this world, I hope you can learn a little from my bad choices and the subsequent better ones. For me, the most rewarding part of all has been my youngest child, who is by far healthier than my older two. We are so looking forward to our fourth addition in December and seeing firsthand how our hard work has paid off!

Mary Ewing is a part-time employee for Beeyoutiful as well as wife, mom and aspiring homesteader. She stays at home with her three children and enjoys exploring life with her brood as they cook, clean, garden, and play. Her passions are traditional cooking, essential oils, gardening, learning about raising livestock, and traditional art forms such as sewing, crocheting, knitting and smocking!

Recipe: Stir-Fry Green Beans and Carrots

Stir-Fry Green Beans and Carrots
Makes 6 servings

  • 1 lb. green beans
  • 1 lb. carrots batoneed

1 med. onion, sliced
1 lb. sliced white or brown mushrooms
1 c. walnut, roughly chopped
1/4 c. fermented soy sauce
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. coconut milk
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp. ginger, finely minced
1/4 lb. bacon, crumbled
1 tsp. red Thai curry paste
1/2 tsp. cayenne
Salt
Pepper

Parboil carrots. Parboil green beans. Fry bacon, crumble and set aside. Add 4 Tbsp. coconut oil to bacon fat. Add and saute onions for 3 – 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic to pan. Toss in walnuts, cook until crispy. Add soy sauce and coconut milk. Bring to boil and stir until thickened. Toss in bacon. Set sauce aside and keep hot. Add rest of coconut oil to pan. Add mushroom and cook for 5 minutes or until almost done. Saute green beans and carrots just until a slight crunch remains. Add onions and heat through. Pour sauce over vegetables and serve with rice.

Notes:

Green beans are acidic so when parboiling, boil the carrots first so that the flavor of the beans won’t taint the flavor of the carrots.


Most green vegetables have a high acidic concentrate; when boiling or steaming, leave uncovered so the acid is removed with the steam. If covered, the acid falls back onto the vegetable making it bitter and giving it a brownish color!

Optional Alternative Ingredients

Vegetables: broccoli, peppers(sweet bell, hot), baby corn, squash, snap peas, lima beans, black beans, shallots, green onions, unsweetened coconut chips or flakes, bamboo shoots, mandarin oranges, pineapple, raisins, Craisins, cherries

Meats: pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, clams, oysters

Nuts, Seeds, Grains: pecans, walnuts, almonds (whole or sliced), macadamia, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, rice noodles

Unglazing the pan: rice vinegar, wine (red, white, or sherry) stock (same as the meat or vegetable)

Fats and Oils: olive, lard, clarified butter, red palm

Thickening Agents: arrowroot, cornstarch, flour, cream, egg yolk

Spices and Flavorings: hoisin sauce, duck sauce, fish sauce, crushed red pepper, smoked sea salt, roasted garlic

The Tooth of the Matter – Spring 2010 Catalog

The Tooth of the Matter

Re-thinking All You’ve Ever Heard about Dental Health

[First of a 2-part series]

Nancy Webster

Part 2- Rooting Out Dental Problems- Summer 2010

nancy_small

When my husband and I first encountered the notion of letting God plan our family size 23 years ago, my biggest hesitation, oddly enough, was worry about not being able to afford braces and dental care for a family with “too many kids.” Eight children later, I realize the tooth concerns were real but the solutions are far different than I would have expected early-on in our family life.

The Whole Tooth

If you’ve seen Alex Haley’s classic TV mini-series Roots, you may recall from one of the early episodes that, it was not only the slave’s physique that was examined, but also their teeth. It was commonly known that the teeth provided a snapshot of the person’s overall state of health.

My holistic dentist (more about her in part 2 of this series) recently told me about a researcher who examined the teeth of people who had died from cancer. Without being told beforehand, he identified what type cancer they had succumbed to just from information he found in their teeth!

One of my heroes is yet another dentist, Dr. Weston A. Price, who, in the 1930’s, studied the teeth of people groups all over the world. In his landmark book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, he documented that eating nutrient-dense, properly prepared foods and avoiding processed, denatured foods results in healthy mouths with plenty of room for all 32, cavity-free teeth. Not only that, he noted that such eating patterns were the secret to healthy pregnancies and birthing of strong babies. Nutrient-dense eating kept subjects remarkably free from intellectual and emotional disabilities as well. Dr. Price further demonstrated that this excellent dental and bodily health will degenerate into crowded, diseased teeth and gums, as well as other health problems in just one generation if parents consuming processed white flour, sugar, trans fats, and other de-based foods before conception and, for the mom, during pregnancy and lactation.

I wish I’d known about Weston Price before we started our family. Instead, I was addicted to chocolate chip cookies made with cheap, toxic margarine, white sugar, and white flour. As we kept having babies, I knew my cookie habit was bad for me, but candida kept me addicted. To make matters worse, in my quest for good health, I dabbled in vegetarianism, throwing off my hormones with soy products and omitting the essential animal proteins and fats my babies needed. Consequently, many of our children are prospects for traditional orthodontics because of high, narrow palates and crowded teeth just like those “second generation” subjects Dr. Price studied. But thanks to Dr. Price, I believe there is yet another better way.

Straightening Teeth Gracefully, Not Forcefully

That we haven’t had dental insurance to make braces affordable may be one of our great blessings in disguise. According to the Fall 2009 Weston A. Price Foundation magazine Wise Traditions (available from www.westonaprice.org), correcting malocclusions-crooked teeth and bad bite-benefits more than just looks. It also can reduce problems with insomnia and sleep apnea, difficulty in swallowing, tension headaches, chronic neck and back pain, TMJ, and even cognitive, behavioral, or other neuro-psychiatric symptoms-including those on the autism spectrum, OCD, and Down and Tourette syndromes. But the traditional orthodontic process-extracting four bicuspids and forcing with brackets and headgear the other teeth and facial bones to move into place-is not the best route to achieve pleasing facial proportions and well-aligned teeth.

Functional orthodontics are a better option to alleviate the crowding and jawbone underdevelopment caused by faulty pre-natal, infant, and childhood nutrition. Wise Traditions notes, “This method rarely calls for extractions; instead, the dentist applies oral appliances or splints, to assist Mother Nature and encourage the growth of underdeveloped dental arches. Over time, these functional appliances gently move and expand the upper and lower dental arches, allowing the teeth and bones to grow according to-or at least more closely approximating-the original genetic blueprint of development.”

A few methods for widening the dental arch include Advanced Lightwire Functional (see http://www.drfarid.com/alternative.html for a description), Crozat (http://www.crozatdoc.com/faq.html), and SOMA (http://www.curetoothdecay.com/Cure_Tooth_Decay_img/SOMA.pdf). Although superior, this functional process is not nearly as common as regular orthodontics, so you may need to travel and pay extra for it. If you hope babies are in your future, though, I’d suggest spending your travel time and money seeking out raw milk, grass-fed meats, lacto-fermented vegetables and the like now, so you may not have to find orthodontic care later. If you eat as described in Sally Fallon’s information-packed, Weston A. Price-friendly book Nourishing Traditions before conception of your babies and afterward, you’ll quite possibly have little or no dental caries (cavities) or gum diseases bothering you and yours.

Even if your family is suffering from active decay, there is something you can do about it from home. In Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Price describes case after case of using nutrition to reverse serious decay in children-often within three to five months. While the cavities (holes in the teeth) never go away, teeth generate what’s called “secondary dentin,” a hard substance which grows over the cavities so they can heal, keeping teeth alive, healthy, and strong.

Truth Decay

Ramiel Nagel, in his book Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition, describes how teeth work and offers a nutrition protocol much like Dr. Price’s to reverse dental caries and gum disease (see www.CureToothDecay.com). He points out the flawed explanation for tooth decay presented by the American Dental Association and taught by most of today’s dentists. They wrongly attribute tooth decay to bacteria that eat foods left on the teeth, thus producing acid which erodes the physical structure of the teeth. Supposedly, when this bacteria eludes regular home cleaning, then fillings, root canals, extractions, and false teeth follow.

Some legitimate questions arise, however, upon examining this traditional model. If the ADA’s explanation is true, why did the Swiss living in the Alps, isolated from modern foods and clueless about toothbrushes and floss, have no cavities (or crowded teeth)? Dr. Price found people groups eating native diets from the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland to the aborigines of Australia-all with healthy, never-brushed teeth. While brushing may have removed the mossy scum Dr. Price observed on their teeth, there was no tooth decay, a result attributable only to nutrition.

The truth of how nutrition affects dental health lies in the dental structure itself. Tooth dentin consists of miles of tiny tubules. Under healthy, well-nourished conditions, there is a constant flow of microscopic fluids running from the intestinal area through the tooth pulp, out the dentin, into the enamel, and out through the mouth. This flushes the tooth, keeping the internal structures clean and free of contaminants from the mouth. If body chemistry gets out of balance, however, this flow is reversed, pulling bacteria, acids, and other toxic matter from the mouth into the tooth. The pulp becomes inflamed, and if the proper flow pattern is not restored, disease spreads to the enamel. So cavities actually happen from the inside out, not from harmful substances collecting outside and “drilling into” the teeth.

Diet, environmental toxins, and stress upset the balance of the glandular system, so glands do not secrete hormones in amounts that properly regulate bodily processes. Nagel cites research by the late Melvin Page, a dentist who during 30 years of research ran more than 40,000 blood tests on patients to identify the biochemical cause of tooth decay and gum disease. He found that a disturbance in the ratio of calcium to phosphorus, in particular, is responsible.

In Your Body Is Your Best Doctor, Page explains that when the amounts of calcium or phosphorus in the blood “are not in the exact proportion of 2.5 parts calcium to one part phosphorus, minerals are withdrawn from the dentin and bone, resulting in tooth decay. It takes a continued low level of phosphorus, over a period of several months, to deplete the dentin of its mineral structure.” Interestingly, this corresponds to Dr. Price’s observation that people with 100-percent immunity to tooth decay ate foods high in phosphorus.

Extract Your Rotten Diet

The starting point in improving nutrition for dental health is avoiding the bad stuff. Biggies to spurn are sugars of all types (not because of what they leave on the outside of your teeth but because of what they do to body chemistry), even the “healthy” alternatives like xylitol and agave syrup. Other problem items to limit include flour and grain products (unless made from freshly ground, fermented grains), hydrogenated oils, low quality vegetable oils like canola, pasteurized dairy products, excess salt, junk foods, coffee, soft drinks, soy milk and protein powders, foods with nitrates and nitrites, addictive substances, and non-organic foods.

Although blood sugar spikes from fruit are not as severe as from white sugar, Nagel warns against over-consumption of fruit because even it will alter blood sugar levels, changing the calcium and phosphorus ratio and increasing the chance for decay. If blood sugar is changed for prolonged and consistent periods, this will eventually become the body’s new “normal,” leading to glandular imbalance and tooth decay.

If you don’t make the shift to a nutrient-dense diet, you’ll become chums with your dentist, especially as you slip past 40 years old when some 46% of all teeth of people in this age group have been affected by decay. Even if you’re younger-especially pregnant or nursing-it’s important to eat according to this protocol, both so your baby will have good tooth structure and facial development, and so your own bones and teeth will not lose minerals from the hormonal stress of growing a baby.

If you’re just now switching your family from eating the standard American diet (SAD) of processed foods, these new tooth do’s and don’ts may overwhelm you to the point of giving up. But let me point out that retreating to the standard procedure of making an appointment with the dentist for yet another filling may be easier in the short-run, but in the long run, you’re in for lots of avoidable costly and painful procedures and potentially lost teeth. I admit our family does not perfectly adhere to Nagel’s tooth healing protocol, but we do have direction and hope that cavity-free teeth can be ours.

[In the Spring 2010 Beeyoutiful catalog, Part 2 will offer help in choosing a dentist for those times tooth decay gets ahead of you, including information about the dangers of root canals and the need for proper mercury amalgam removal procedures and detoxification.]

Nancy Webster is a freelance writer and homeschool mother of eight. After enduring multiple tooth extractions, two sets of braces, and a dozen fillings through the years, she is a highly motivated researcher on alternative dental practices. Nancy is also the founder and facilitator of the Southern Middle Tennessee chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

SIDEBAR:

Fix-It Formulas

(1) Eat Right. From the work of doctors Price and Page, Ramiel Nagel (see accompanying article) compiled a dietary protocol which has a 95% effectiveness rate for helping people prevent, minimize, and even re-mineralize decayed tooth structure. Include as many of these in your diet as possible:

-1/8 to 1/2 t. fermented cod liver oil 2-3x/day with meals (OR 4 T organic liver)

-1/8 to 1/4 t. high vitamin butter oil 2-3x/day with meals (OR 1 to 2 T grass-fed butter per meal)

– 1 to 4 c. raw, grass-fed milk per day with 1 oz. of cream for every 6 oz. of whole milk

– 1 to 2 c. bone broth made from slow cooking bones and organic fish

– 1 to 3 T bone marrow from grass-fed animals

– Fermented vegetables (e.g., sauerkraut) and dairy products (yogurt or kefir) 2x/day

– Seaweed, especially kelp, 1-2x/day

A recommended menu includes raw or lightly cooked fish or grass-fed meats, fish liver or grass-fed liver and other organ meats, raw or lightly cooked oysters or other mollusks, along with lots of fresh, vitamin and mineral-rich vegetables. Coconut, olive, and palm oils along with butter, lard, or tallow should be used. (While Nagel also offers a vegetarian protocol, it does not have the same success rate.)

A good way to move towards the entire tooth healing diet is to make a written plan to learn and master one food preparation method (like lacto-fermentation of vegetables or slow-cooked bone broths) at a time, turning it into a regular part of your routine. Be sure to set dates by which you plan to make each change. You may need to be a little sneaky to get foods like liver into recent SAD eaters. Try grating frozen grass-fed liver (freeze for 14 days before eating to kill possible parasites) and place the raw gratings into capsules using an inexpensive pill maker, available online or likely from your local health food store. Casseroles, smoothies, and soup are wonderful ways to disguise “yucky” foods as well. For older children and unenthusiastic spouses, a few educational discussions may help them join your tooth-healing, health-building team.

(2) Brush Right. Touted as cavity-fighting, the toothpastes we all grew up with contain not only fluoride-which is poisonous-but also glycerin, which requires something like 27 rinses to remove it from the teeth. Otherwise, it can create a barrier that keeps teeth from getting harder and stronger. Even if you are careful not to swallow toothpaste, some will diffuse through your gums directly into your bloodstream. Healthier, fluoride-free alternatives complete with essential oils are nice, but they can be expensive.

For a less costly alternative, brush with a mix of 2 T baking soda (be sure it consists only of pure sodium bicarbonate), 1 t. finely ground sea salt, and 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil. Or you can moisten 2 T baking soda with a bit of hydrogen peroxide. This will also help whiten teeth without toxic chemicals to do the job. Brushing your teeth occasionally with activated charcoal is another natural whitener (beware that after charcoal brushing, you’ll need to re-brush to remove the unsightly black grit from your teeth).

Baby Steps to Better Eating- Summer 2008 Catalog

By Nancy Webster

We were good Southerners. During my growing-up years my family ate lots of vegetables-boiled or fried near to death-and fruits and nancy_smallberries mostly in the form of pie or cobbler. But as a teenager, I was fascinated by Mrs. Brewer’s very different approach to food.

Long-time family friends, Mrs. Brewer and her husband lived on a small Tennessee farm just outside of Nashville, and every year, Mrs. Brewer grew a magnificent organic garden. She also read Prevention magazine, and-appropriately-took daily brewer’s yeast supplements. Inspired by her fine foods and the many nutritional tips she shared with me, I finally began my own quest for purer eating by asking my parents to take me to a health food store. Shelves of mysterious bottles and austere boxes overwhelmed us, and we emerged with nothing but a package of soy crackers.

Those crackers were the start of a 30-year food journey from college dining hall food and vending machine junk to meatless, soy substitutes, to proper-protein-combining, to fresh-ground, whole wheat bread, to all raw vegetarian fare. Each represented an extreme of sorts, leaving me hungry (so to speak) for a more whole way of eating. If you’re just now at the early stages of a quest for a healthier diet, please allow me to save you years of rabbit trails.

A History of Good Eating

Although it’s easy to let the busy-ness of life push you back to frozen pizza and fish sticks, it’s vital for your health and your family’s to keep taking baby steps towards the healthier way. Every little success makes it easier the next time.

I first recommend bookmarking and reading the articles on the Weston A. Price Foundation website (www.westonaprice.org). Dr. Price, a dentist, toured the world in the 1930’s, visiting people groups which had not yet been introduced to processed foods. They still prepared meals by the techniques of their ancestors. Dr. Price found these people with excellent teeth, and he also noted that they were resistant to illnesses such as tuberculosis, prevalent in that time period. He also took note of other people groups who-in just one generation of eating processed, sugary foods-had developed decayed, crooked teeth and newly succumbed to many diseases. His travels laid the groundwork for the outstanding nutritional research carried on by the foundation that bears his name.

The next thing you need to do is buy Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon. This in-depth volume contains factual information about the value-added benefits of proper food preparation as well as many, many meals’ worth of delectable recipes. Even though the book has more than 600 pages, it’s like the Bible in that you can read a bit here and there and get a lot out of it.NourishingTrad_1

Sally Fallon explains the value of fermenting vegetables instead of pickling them-it’s even better than just eating them raw! Fermenting boosts the enzyme content of vegetables and fills your digestive tract with beneficial bacteria to help your intestines get the most nutrition out of your food. Nourishing Traditions also details how to culture dairy products, a process that predigests lactose (milk sugar, to which many people are allergic) and casein (milk protein, often an allergen). The remarkable healing properties of simple bone broth are highlighted. And, politically incorrect as it may seem, you’ll discover why animal fats are good for you and can even help you lose weight!

The Fantastic Four

To jump-start your venture in traditional cooking, I’ve outlined below a few tips for four of the many important food preparation processes taught in Nourishing Traditions.

(1) Fermented vegetables. You can ferment most vegetables, but start simple, with plain sauerkraut. A spoonful of sauerkraut with your meal helps your body digest food, especially meat and beans, and eating fermented vegetables regularly will lessen sugar cravings. Try this sauerkraut for starters.

Combine:
1 tablespoon sea salt (cheap, regular salt does not contain trace minerals and is chemically processed, so using sea salt is important).
4 tablespoons whey (whey is the liquid you find at the top of an unstirred carton of plain yogurt. You can collect it by draining the yogurt through cheesecloth or a cotton dishtowel. Keep the whey for your recipes, and use the yogurt in place of cream cheese.)

Next:
Chop finely a head of cabbage, organic if possible (a food processor is a big help.)
Mix ingredients in a large bowl and pound them for about 10 minutes to get the juices out of the cabbage. (This is a fun task for small children. My six-year old son loves banging the soup ladle we use for the job.)
Toss in a tablespoon of caraway seeds if you like.
Dump the mixture into a clean 1-quart mason jar, packing it tightly and leaving a 1-inch space at the top.
Tighten the lid, and set it on the counter for three days to ferment. After that, it’s ready to eat, and you can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to two months.

(2) Kefir and cultured dairy products. Kefir is yogurt’s stronger cousin, replete with probiotic good bacteria necessary for optimal health. It’s a cinch to make-much easier than yogurt! The hardest part is finding milk kefir grains to get you started. They’re sold online (google “kefir grains”), or you may even find them free from a local Weston Price Foundation chapter (find one near you at http://www.westonaprice.org). Kefir grains look like little pieces of cauliflower but are living, lactose-loving bacteria.

To make kefir:
Dump the grains into a 1-quart jar, three-fourths full of milk.
Rubber band a paper towel or cotton handkerchief over the top, so it can get air but stay clean.
Place the jar in a kitchen cabinet for 24 to 48 hours.
Once it’s all done, use a stainless steel strainer (not aluminum!) to separate the grains from the liquid. (Dump them into another jar of milk to start your next batch.)
Store the finished product in the refrigerator.
Kefir is sour, like buttermilk, but you can sweeten it with fruit, honey, or stevia. Try it in a smoothie for a fast breakfast or snack!

(3) Bone Broth. Homemade bone broth is the real stuff you’ll want to use in place of those MSG-laden cans of soup broth and bouillon cubes sold at the grocery store. Ask your butcher or a local meat processor to save bones for you. Nourishing Traditions includes several recipes for making broth from different types of bones, and if you follow the recommended steps, you’ll have incredible broth. A great way to get started, though, is simply to cover a bunch of bones with water and simmer them for several hours. Then strain off any gunk that rises to the top. You can freeze the broth in small containers, and use it in place of water in soup or to cook rice and other grains. And with a pinch of sea salt, warm broth makes a soothing, mineral-rich drink alone or with a meal.

(4) Animal fats. You won’t hear this from popular diet articles and books, but it’s true that animal fats (and other cold-pressed, omega-rich plant oils like flax seed, olive, coconut, and palm) can help you lose weight-if you need to. It’s important to replace fake fats like margarine, hydrogenated shortening and vegetable/canola oils with these real fats. Our brains are mostly fat and require it to function optimally. And bodies need healthy fats in order to manufacture hormones which keep us balanced. Belly fat, which tends to accumulate on middle-aged women even when they watch what they eat, is often a sign of hormone imbalance. The book Eat Fat Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon explains this in detail and might help you overcome the brainwashing we’ve all been subjected to regarding low-fat diets.

Once you’re off and running in this new, old way of preparing foods, you’ll build your momentum and keep on learning. It gets to be a lot of fun. I only wish Mrs. Brewer was still around-now I’d have a few tips for her!

Nancy Webster is a freelance writer, homeschool mother of eight, and an avid researcher on health and nutrition. She lives with her family on their “partially working” farm in Tennessee.

Beeyoutiful Products Mentioned Here:

Β