Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tips for Getting Started


Here are some simple changes I've made in our diets.

1. Switch to Celtic or Sea Salt. While it is considerably more expensive then table salt, it is not a huge budget increase overall and worth it's weight in nutrition. The table salt has been processed, has added chemicals to replace the nutrients lost in the processing and then bleached to make it white again. It's horrible stuff. No wonder it's earned a bad reputation! I buy the larger crystals and grind them when I use them. We have a bamboo pepper grinder and a matching, but smaller salt grinder. Not sure if it makes a difference if you buy the pre-ground or not. I do know it tends to stick together if I grind it and keep it in the salt shaker (hence the original processing in table salt-to make it not clump together). But now, we salt liberally, knowing that not only are we avoiding something that is unhealthy, but we are getting all kinds of nutrients from it-and it makes everything taste better of course. I get sea salt from the grocery store. It's a huge red container for about $3. It lasts awhile. I also was able to get Celtic salt from my co-op. Not sure if most health food stores, or even grocery stores sell it or not. From what I understand, it's a better choice then sea salt. Only because it has more minerals from where it originated. But, no matter what you get-stop eating table salt!!!!

2
. Make your own chicken broth. The stuff from the store is horrible. It has a ton of preservatives and MSG. It's really not worth buying at all. And honestly, making your own is not that difficult-and the most superest of super foods to boot! If you eat chicken with bones, just save them in a baggie in your freezer, and when you have a decent amount, you can make broth. I have found it to be much better if I add some chicken feet-but don't stress about that. Most butcher departments have them if you ask. Same for beef or pork. Just save the bones in the freezer and when you have enough, you can make stock.
I try to buy pastured chickens, and I found a farmer that I can get it directly from in as large of quantities as I want-and it's only $12 a chicken. I'm so excited! I'm currently spending close to $20 for one (granted, they're huge!). I roast one for a meal-put lots of butter on it to make the crispy chicken skin. And then I save the bones, marrow and any other part of the chicken we don't eat (besides the meat, which I put in the refrigerator for leftovers) and put them in a big stock pot. I add a gallon of water and a half a cup of vinegar. That is supposed to break down the bones more so you can get more of the nutrients. After about an hour, I turn the burner on to medium-high and bring it to a boil. I let it boil for about 10 minutes and scrape the scum off the top. I add 2 carrots and 2 celery and an onion, washed and stems cut off. Then I put it on really low with the cover on and I simmer it all day. I'm a little nervous, so I turn it off at night and then turn it back on in the morning. I like to do it for 2 days. The longer it simmers, the more nutrients it pulls from the bones. The NT book says to add parsley the last 10 minutes. I've never done it-but I should. I've also done it in my crock-pot and it worked fine.
We don't like soups, but I am going to learn to cook the most delicious soups so we can all learn to love them. :) And since we don't have a microwave anymore, most meals get reheated on the stove. I add chicken broth instead of water. I've also been sneaky and cooked hot dogs and macaroni & cheese (yes, we still eat those at times) in it. They noticed something, but ate the stuff anyway. I basically add it to anything that I can. I cook rice and pasta with half water/ half chicken broth. Replace it with water whenever you can get away with it.
Oh, I also store about 3 cups per freezer bags, just enough to thaw out and put in my Ball quart jars. I always have jar in the refrigerator to use, and a bunch in the freezer for when I run out. But, roasting a chicken a week has been more then enough. Hopefully with winter coming, we'll be going through a lot more of it! :)

3.
Make your own bread. While it's still not nearly as healthy as it needs to be-at least I can work with it. And it's a LOT better then the store bought bread! Bread makers make it a lot easier-esp if you make it every other day like we do. They are worth the investment and kitchen space. But, it can be done with a mixer (or *gasps* by hand) also. I've been using my Kitchen Aid since my bread maker hit the dust.

4.
Switch to raw milk. This is a bit of a pain to find sometimes, but once it's in your refrigerator, it's a great choice. It's a complete meal in itself technically.

5.
Eat lots of eggs. Again, quality is important. Even if you start by eating the store bought eggs, you can eventually find a good source of pastured eggs. Winters are a bit harder, the chickens can't peck around the grass. But, again, I'd rather get from an organic farmer then from the grocery store if I can.

6. Smoothies. Oh man, they are such a life saver! I use them waaay too often, but at least I know they're healthy. Throw 2 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of cream, 2 raw egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 2 cups of frozen strawberries in the blender and hit start. You can use other berries, bananas and cocoa powder, peaches or just plain vanilla. You can use coconut milk or yogurt instead of the milk and/or cream. And I sometimes put the whole raw egg in there. We do not have egg allergies and we get really fresh eggs straight from the farm.

7. Cut out as much sugar as possible. Switch to raw honey, unsulphered maple syrup, Rapadura and at least organic evaporated cane sugar. We still eat way too much sugar, but it's down considerably from 6 months ago. And the honey is actually considered a super food-it's unheated and untreated, even some pollen in there! :) Honey, while it should be used in moderation, is actually very good for you. Same for maple syrup. It has some very valuable minerals in very easy to digest form.

8. Make your own yogurt. It's so easy and so nutritious. Pour 4 cups of milk (preferably raw, but pasteurized works also) into a pan. Heat it gently to 180 degrees (just before it boils). Let it cool down to about 110 degrees (so you can leave your finger in it for 10 seconds). Pour it into a quart glass jar. Add either a starter or half a cup of store bought yogurt (make sure it says there are live cultures in it), mix gently and cover. Put in either a yogurt maker or a gas oven for 6-10 hours. And that's it. We eat it most every day for breakfast. I take some frozen strawberries (I bought in bulk), put them in a glass dish for half an hour. Then I smash them with a fork and add 2 cups of yogurt and 1 tablespoon of honey. I also dip each spoon in the honey for good measure. It's fun to lick a little off every time you eat a bite. :) Even people who can't digest milk can sometimes digest yogurt-as it's mostly broken down for your stomach already. I use Yogourmet from Whole Foods for a starter, but there are others out there. Omnibus.com suggests you use Natren starter. It's just expensive and not as convenient for me. Making yogurt is not a science-it's more of an art. It takes some practice, but is well worth it!

9. Have fun! It won't stick if you don't enjoy it.

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