Friday, December 30, 2011

Boosting Immunity {Real Health}

I just wanted to share a few ways we are boosting our family's immunity.  Some of this we do year round simply because it's always a good idea (for overall health), and some we do concentrated in the cold and flu season for boosted immunity.  This is not everything possible you could do, but it's the things our family is focusing on!  I do not believe it is necessary to feel like we have to rely on doctors and laboratory made medicines to get through sickness.  It is good for our bodies to fight through things - it strengthens the immune system every time.  Fevers are good, and giving the body things to fight sickness with is key!  So let's give these things to our bodies even before they get sick, and then increase these things when sickness sets in. 

This is kind of long, but hopefully it will read quickly and give you some ideas of things to implement or use when sick and maybe a few things you might want to look into!  
 


Boosting Immunity:  
1.  Food 
  • Coconut Oil
    • A great short article to explain some of the great properties of this amazing oil.  Here's an excerpt from it: 
      • Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D. and author of The Coconut Oil Miracle shares, "Laboratory tests have shown that the MCFAs (medium chain fatty acids) found in coconut oil are effective in destroying viruses that cause influenza, measles, herpes, mononucleosis hepatitis C, and AIDS; bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers, throat infections, pneumonia, sinusitis, urinary tract infections, meningitis, gonorrhea, and toxic shock syndrome; fungi and yeast that lead to ringworm, candida, and thrush; and parasites that can cause intestinal infections such as giardiasis." Sounds like a powerhouse to me.

        The antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of coconut oil are directly attributed to the medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in the oil, including capric acid and caprylic acid, and the powerful lauric acid. These fatty acids are concentrated in coconut oil; they make up over 60 percent of all that's in the oil.

        Medium chain fatty acids are unique and found in only a few places in nature. Interestingly, another place medium-chain fatty acids are found is in mother's milk. In mother's milk, these medium-chain fatty acids are what protects the infant as his/her immune system is developing. And the more the mom has in her body, the more protection the infant will receive.
    • A short video 
    • We cook with this as often as possible, but I think raw is best - we will mix it with elderberry syrup (see below under 'medicines') and take some every day.  I will put some in warm (not hot) tea (chamomile, ginger-lemon-honey tea, other teas).  If you can stomach it, eat it straight off a spoon.  You can also mix with honey to eat it, and I think adding cinnamon would help with the taste as well. 
  • Broth 
    • I will be focusing on making more and more soups during this season - for GAPS reasons (digestion and skin problems flare up when soups aren't as present in our diet as they should be) and for immunity.  We have eaten soup for every single dinner and almost every lunch this week and we have enjoyed them all!  
    • Here is a fantastic article explaining why it is so good for you!!
    • Everyone knows you should eat soup when you get sick.  (MAKE YOUR OWN!!)  Try eating it on a consistent basis, especially when it's cooler outside, to prevent sickness, strengthen your gut and immune system, and to help you recover more quickly when you do get sick.  
    • If you need some ideas, look at my recipes tab for any of the soups.  Add extra garlic to your bowl right before eating it! :-) 
  • Foods containing Vitamin D and C
  •  Juicing
    • We have noticed a great help to our immune systems in how we fight sickness and how fast we recover while we've been juicing.  My assumption is it is all the extra minerals and enzymes.  We've had sicknesses with juice and without, and we've done SO much better when we've had juice.  Keep in mind this is homemade fresh juice with a variety of vegetables, so you cannot compare that to store bought apple or orange juice.  We only use apples in our juice to make it palatable for everyone in the family (no other fruits yet).  We use many carrots, cucumbers, spinach, celery, cabbage, beetroot, and kale.  
  •  Garlic
    • Great resource about garlic. 
    • I use this liberally in our soups - best added crushed in at the end, right before you eat.  Add the garlic, turn the heat off the soup, cover with a lid, and let sit for about 10 minutes.  It tastes amazing and is so helpful! 
    • Another way to use garlic is to crush a few cloves and put in a small bowl with a little olive oil.  Let that sit for 30 minutes or so and then you can rub the oil onto the bottoms of your feet and put socks on.  
  • Ginger
2.  Supplements
  • FCLO - countless great things about this stuff, but the Vitamin A and D content is what shines.  This is a superfood and there is only one brand that makes it traditionally without processing that harms the nutrients.  And you can get capsules!
  • Probiotics - there are countless probiotics out there, but I have heard great things about BioKult, Custom, and some others.  Make sure it is a high quality (this is something you don't want to skimp on) and that the ingredients are all good - especially anything added.  We have used BioKult (they also make a baby formula for children under 2 since their guts are populated differently than adults).
3.  Lifestyle
  • No compromises of sugar or grains as they are taxing on the gut and therefore the immune system.  Okay, who am I kidding...it was just Christmas.  But we're going back to no compromises.  Fo' Real y'all.  :-)  I am doing this
  • Spending time out in the sun for vitamin D as often as possible, for as long as possible between 11 and 1, with as much skin exposes as possible (and appropriate if we're at a park or something haha!).  
  • Rest - consistent naps and bedtimes, as much as possible, even during this time of year when things are usually busier. 
  • This one is funny to me - less baths for the kiddos.  And when we do baths, only use soap if absolutely necessary (like if little one smeared butter all in his hair!).  Over-cleanliness and lack of bacteria on us can actually lead to weaker immune systems.  Also, only use soap if necessary for us as well!  This is fascinating - not just about bacteria but also about vitamin d!!
  • We try to never use soaps with antibacterial stuff in them because a) i don't want my kids having antibiotics on their skin and therefore in their blood because of the harm they do to them and b) the overuse of antibiotics and stuff leads to stronger and more resistant bugs in our world and I hate that. 
4.  Medicines
  • Elderberry syrup at first signs of sickness, taken with coconut oil for those who can tolerate that :-).  Here's a great short video to show you how simple it is to make it!
  • Thieves essential oil - used as soon as sickness appears and can be used in household cleaning after having lots of people at your house.  I have also used Melrose blend effectively against a bad ear infection and my son healed from that without antibiotics.  And it was a nasty ear infection.  :-)
  • Homeopathic remedies - as soon as sickness starts to show! 
    • I have been astounded at the result of using homeopathic remedies in a few sicknesses over the past few months.  I feel like I hardly know anything about this, but I am trying to learn.  We got this kid's kit and it has helped a lot!  I have seen a major fast healing from a high fever in the night and fast recovery from that virus from using the right remedy.  Can't wait to learn more and hopefully find a homeopath in our area.  

I know that was a lot, but hopefully it was encouraging or helpful to someone!   I know there are countless other ways to boost our immune systems and help through sickness, and I look forward to constantly learning these!  I am interested in learning about herbs that are helpful as well as essential oils and homeopathic remedies. 

Please share any information you have about how you boost immunity and fight sicknesses!!  I am so indebted to the online blogging community for everything I have learned about food and health.  It is the main way I have been exposed to this stuff!! 

    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Beef and Mushroom Soup {Recipe}

    Can I keep calling every recipe a favorite?  I think there is some kind of limit, right?  Oh well!  We all love this and my 3 year old asks for it and gets the most excited look on his face when I tell him we're having mushroom soup. 

    This soup is very versatile in that you can add a variety of different vegetables to it and it will taste oh so very good.  I love having another successful soup recipe that uses beef broth.  We adore beef broth, but having the same 1 or 2 recipes all the time can get a little tiring.

    I based this soup off of a paleo salisbury steak recipe that we LOVE.  LOVE love LOVE.  But like I said, I needed another beef broth based soup, so I gave this a try.  Not quite like a salisbury steak, but still delicious, satisfying, and very GAPS/Paleo friendly.  This is appropriate for GAPSters as soon as you can use herbs!!!  YAY! 

    I will share the basic recipe and then some modifications and variations you can make. 

    Beef and Mushroom Soup {Recipe} - Paleo/GAPS Stage 1+
    Ingredients: 
    • 2 Tbsp fat of your choice (butter, ghee, tallow, lard, coconut oil)
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
    • 1 quart homemade beef broth 
    •  2-3 Tbsp butter (or other fat)
    • 1-2 lbs mushrooms - I used baby bella, sliced or quartered (use less or more mushrooms depending on how much you and your family like mushrooms)
    • 3/4 tsp - 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tbsp thyme
    • 1 tsp rubbed sage
    • 1/2 tsp marjoram
    • 1 tsp (plus more to taste) celtic or himalayan salt
    • optional: 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic
    Instructions: 
    • In dutch oven or other soup pot, heat fat of your choice.  Brown ground beef.  When almost done, add chopped onion (and any other longer cooking vegetables you want to add such as carrots) and saute for a few minutes. 
    • Add seasonings (garlic, thyme, sage, marjoram, and salt) and mix well. 
    • Add beef broth, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.  
    • While soup simmers, heat butter in a large skillet.  Saute mushrooms until nicely browned.  Once vegetables in the soup are almost tender, add browned mushrooms and simmer until vegetables are done.  Another option is to simply add mushrooms at the same time as the onions OR once you are simmering the soup if you don't care about sauteing the mushrooms in butter.  This can save time if you are in a hurry.  Just throw them in with everything else and simmer until vegetables and mushrooms are done! 
    • Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.  
    • If using optional garlic cloves, once soup is done, add crushed garlic, bring back to a boil, stir, cover, and turn heat off.  Let soup sit about 10 minutes before serving.  
    • Enjoy!  
    Variations/Modifications: 
    • Stage 1 or 2 GAPS intro: just omit herbs and do a simple mushrooms beef soup with any vegetables you can use! 
    • Vegetables to add:  In the picture above, I added a few handfuls of spinach to my bowl and simply ladled the hot soup over the spinach.  It was hot enough to wilt the spinach, and I loved the spinach in the soup!  I honestly would put a ton of spinach in this every time, but our little ones won't eat spinach leaves in soup.  If you like kale in soups, it would be good in this as well.  For our little boys, we added already cooked green peas to their bowls, and they loved that!  Carrots are great in this soup also, just add with onions at the beginning. 
    • Homemade sour cream/yogurt cream/yogurt is great added to this soup at the table!  Just make sure your soup has cooled down enough to not kill all the raw cultured goodness :-). 
    • You can use stew meat instead of ground beef.  I have made this with stew meat and simply simmer the meat in broth and seasonings until cooked and tender.  Then I removed the stew meat and shredded it.  Add it back into the broth and continue with adding vegetables and mushrooms!  It was great, and it's nice to vary the texture of meats in soups when you eat soup a lot :-). 
    Hope you enjoy! 

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    Larabars and Laraballs {Recipe} and Soaking and Dehydrating Nuts {Method}

    Update: I have updated the chocolate larabar recipe with amounts if you use only almonds.  See the recipe below!

    How have I never had one of these before?!  I still haven't had an official one from the store, but I saw that a sweet friend of mine made some, so I had to try them.  I wanted to share them they're so good!

    We LOVE the cherry pie recipe!  LOVE!

    Here's one I put together today that we also love.  It has just the right level of chocolateyness without being too bitter (since it uses unsweetened chocolate). If I were just making these for myself, I would probably do 1.5-2 oz of the chocolate (depending on what kind of mood I was in haha). 

    I have made all of these with just walnuts because we don't have almonds right now.  Read here why I am not buying almonds in stores anymore.  I will be receiving a shipment of truly raw and safe almonds in January and will then start using a combination of almonds and walnuts in these.
    Hint of Chocolate larabars/laraballs {Recipe}
    Ingredients (all walnuts):
    • 2 cups soaked and dehydrated walnuts (below)
    • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
    • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate  
    Ingredients (all almonds):
    • 2 cups almonds (raw, soaked, dehydrated)
    • 2 1/2 cups dates (might need to add more)
    • 2 oz 100% chocolate (you can adjust this amount if you want less or more chocolate taste)
       Process:
      • Put the chocolate in a food processor and process until fairly finely chopped (you don't want big chunks of unsweetened chocolate.  or maybe you do. process until it's the consistency you want.)
      •  Add nuts and dates and process until finely chopped.  Press into a glass dish, refrigerate, and then you can cut into individual bars.  Alternatively, you can scoop up about a tablespoon and press into balls!  That's super fun and easy to grab out of the fridge for a quick snack.  Enjoy!  This is great when you are wanting some chocolate.  mmmmmm......
      • You can easily use a combination of walnuts and almonds instead of all walnuts or all almonds.  

      How to Soak and Dehydrate Nuts/Seeds {Method}

      Try and get truly raw nuts (cashews are not truly raw as they are always heated before sale because they are toxic truly raw).  Almonds you buy in the store are not truly raw.  You must buy directly from a farmer to get truly raw almonds.
      • Cover nuts with filtered water and salt and place in a warm place overnight (at least 7 hours).  I usually put mine in glass bowls and put in the oven with the light on for a nice warm place.  I always add celtic salt in the ratios listed below (from Sally Fallon's "Nourishing Traditions" book).  
      • After soaking, drain nuts and spread on cookie sheets and dry in an oven set no higher than 150* until dry and crispy, turning/stirring if needed.  
      • OR use your dehydrator set no higher than 150* until dry and crispy.  It takes much less time with a dehydrator, and since my oven only goes down to 170*, I don't ever use my oven. 
      • Salt Ratios: 
        • Pumpkin Seeds: 4 cups seeds, 2 Tbsp salt
        • Pecans: 4 cups pecans, 2 tsp salt
        • Walnuts: 4 cups walnuts, 2 tsp salt *Important: walnuts contain large amounts of linolenic acid and therefore go rancid much easier than other nuts.  Store them in the refrigerator!! 
        • Almonds: 4 cups almonds, 1 Tbsp salt
      Enjoy!

      Tuesday, December 20, 2011

      Homemade Yogurt {Nourishing AND Frugal}

      Want to go on a fun little trip with me?!  A trip down break-even-point lane.  This is gonna be fun.  Well, only if you like math and/or accounting.  Maybe it will be fun if you like seeing how making traditional and yummy foods can be better for you AND save you money!

      Homemade yogurt is great for your health and your grocery budget, especially if you eat close to how we eat.  Buying properly raised, healthy, amazing meat and eggs and fresh grass fed milk and raw honey and tons and tons of vegetables and things like ghee and coconut oil and nuts and cod liver oil and probiotics...all that can add up...so it's things like this that help so very much.  Knowing our yogurt is not only extremely good for us but also frugal is so encouraging when I feel like I am spending all our income on food.

      It is also so much better for you than store bought yogurt.  Store bought yogurt is only cultured/fermented about 6 hours from what I've read (sorry, don't have sources, just gonna have to believe me!  Actually, I read that in GAPS from Dr NCM.).  Therefore, there's no way all the lactose is gone from the milk.  Also, it is pasteurized.  Need I say more?  You also don't know how those cows were raised - on pasture or grain in confinement.  Ah, beautiful isn't it?  Here's a great summary about what kind of milk is best.  Here is a great website with great information. 

      So, when you make homemade yogurt, you should culture it for 24 hours (I usually do about 26 in my dehydrator because the milk starts off cold from the fridge, so I give it a little extra time to warm up).  This allows the good bacterial culture to eat up all the lactose.  Tons of good bacteria for your gut and little lactose = amazing food, great nutrition, easy to digest.  People who are sensitive to milk can usually handle this kind of yogurt well, especially if you have healed through something like the GAPS diet. 

      Here's my simple yogurt making process...
      Homemade Raw Milk Yogurt {Process/Method}
      •  Get yourself some jars.  I do 4 quarts at a time, and if I don't have 4 quart jars clean, I just use whatever I have (applesauce jars, pint jars).  Any size 1 quart or less is fine. 
      •  Put PLAIN yogurt in the jars (look for a brand with the best ingredients - just milk and cultures if possible) in this ratio: 1 Tbsp per cup of milk.  
        • So, if you are doing a quart jar, you will put about 4 Tbsp or 1/4 cup of yogurt into each jar. 
        • If you use a pint jar, do about 2 Tbsp. 
      •  Give it a little stir - you don't have to go crazy.  :-)
      •  Put it in your dehydrator (um, heavy on the tray...maybe I should get some plywood cut to be a strong tray?)
      •  Close it up, thank God for a machine like this, set it to anywhere from 95-105 degrees (NOT over 110!!) for 24+ hours.  I usually do 95 or 100 degrees for 26 hours. 
      •  Stick it in the fridge to firm up afterwards.  You can eat the cultured cream off the top (YUM).  You can stir the yogurt really really well and get nice creamy yogurt (won't be nearly as thick as the store bought, though).  You can also strain your yogurt in cheesecloth for a few hours to get greek style yogurt that is nice and thick.  Mmmmm....Enjoy!  See, isn't that easy peasy?! 
      • Other options without a dehydrator: cooler method, seedling heating mat, oven with light on (you can google these things to find out more.  also try searching for gaps yogurt methods if you want to find more information on doing it a different way.)
      So now back to the nerd/fun/budget part...

      I had a little fun figuring out how much the yogurt we make costs us.  Then I thought, wouldn't it be fun to see how much yogurt we would need to make and eat to pay for our amazing dehydrator?!  I know, I'm weird.  So, here you go...on to the fun part! 

      Cost of making homemade, 24 hr cultured, raw grass-fed milk yogurt! 
      • Raw Milk: $7/gallon --> $1.75/quart
      • Yogurt at Store: ~$3.50/quart --> provides starter for 16 quarts of homemade yogurt --> $.22/quart
      • Cost to run Dehydrator: $.04/hour --> $1 for 26 hours, make 4 quarts at a time --> $.25/quart
      Total Cost for 1 quart of Raw, Grass-fed Jersey milk 24 hour cultured yogurt --> $2.22

      If I stopped there, that would be amazing in itself.  Just over $2 for that quality of yogurt?!  Are you wondering why you don't make your own at home yet?  It's not hard, I promise! 

      Savings and break even point (I am such a nerd) 
      • $3.49 (store bought...and sometimes it costs $3.99) - $2.22 (my cost of homemade) = $1.25 savings per quart
      • $1.25 * x# of homemade quarts = $220 cost of dehydrator (to solve for "x")
      • x = 176 quarts to break even (pay the cost of the dehydrator)
      • If we eat/drink 2 quarts per day for our family (not hard if you replace milk with yogurt, use it in soups and on foods almost like sour cream), it takes...
      • 88 days to pay for the dehydrator
      • That's less than 3 months!
      • If we eat/drink only 1 quart per day for our family, it takes...
      • 176 days to pay for the dehydrator 
      • That's less than 6 months!
      That was much less time to pay for it than I expected.  And we use our dehydrator for lots of other things - dehydrating nuts - making them still have the great benefits of raw nuts but soaked for easier digestion and better nutrition, dehydrating fruits and vegetables, and I will soon dive into making beef jerky, maybe pemmican, and fruit leathers.  But really, just to use it for yogurt is worth it to me!

      So, go start making your own yogurt!! 

      Hope you had fun with me! I shared this on frugal days sustainable ways!   :-) 

      Monday, December 19, 2011

      Christmas Feast {Recipes}

      I am working on finalizing our food plans for our Christmas celebrations and thought I would share some links and recipes we will be using.  I am so excited for all this yummy food.  And warning, there are totally some non-GAPS foods on here, but there are also lots of GAPS/Paleo friendly foods.  Just skip the bad stuff.  Sorry to include it all here, but I am just being honest about what we are doing!  :-)   
       

      Turkey

      Stuffing/Dressing
      Cranberry Sauce
      • Mommypotamus's Recipe - for the pureed, gelatinous kind
      • Nourished and Nurtured - made this at thanksgiving, and we LOVED it!!! Chunkier, which I adore.
      • I am making both, and I am making them ahead of time - yay for less to do Christmas day!

      Green Vegetables
      • Green Beans with Bacon Bits and Chopped Onions sauteed in the bacon grease.  Maybe extra mushrooms sauteed in there as well for my favorite 3 year old who is currently obsessed with mushrooms.  
      • Spinach Casserole.  I grew up with this at every thanksgiving and Christmas and it is a defining dish to me for the holidays.  I was so excited that I could easily adapt this to a GAPS/Paleo way of eating.  It is delicious and I always make a double batch to have leftovers :-). 
        • Spinach Casserole {Recipe- GAPS and Paleo friendly}
          • Ingredients: 
            • 2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 
            • 1/4 c chopped green onions 
            • 1 cup sour cream (best is to use homemade, and some day I will try it with strained homemade yogurt and see how it is as an alternative. Confession: we are using store bought sour cream this time.)
            • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt (I am using mountain rose herbs' seasoned salt mixture)
            • 1 c each cheddar and jack cheese (raw!)
            • 1/2 c parmesan cheese
            • 10-12 mushrooms, sliced
          • Instructions: 
            • Line greased casserole dish with mushrooms (Kind of like you are making a crust with all the sliced mushrooms).  
            • Mix remaining ingredients and spread in the dish (use your hands to spread it out and even it out). 
            • Cover and bake at 325 for 20 minutes, and then bake uncovered and additional 10 minutes.  
            • Try not to eat all of it at once.  You'll want leftovers.  It is a good idea to assemble the mixture ahead of time (it would easily keep a day or two or longer before cooking day). 

      Biscuits (Um...made with wheat flour :-o )
      • Passionate Homemaking (the spelt biscuits - I will use all fresh ground wheat berries.  And obviously, this is not GAPS or Paleo friendly, but it is a compromise we are making and in the past we have handled things like this well.  And we love these biscuits!)

      Potatoes
      • I am making regular old mashed potatoes for my family that will be with us.  And we will eat them, too.  Again, not GAPS or Paleo friendly.  Organic potatoes, lots of pastured butter, good salt, and pepper.  
      • I will be baking some sweet potatoes with candied pecans on top.  I am not entirely sure what I will do, but I am planning at this point on putting peeled and chopped sweet potatoes in a casserole dish, toss with butter or ghee, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and ground cloves, and top with candied pecans.  Paleo friendly, not GAPS friendly.  For GAPS, I would do a squash bake with butternut squash and the same spices, also topped with pecans!  
      Desserts
      BEST COOKIES EVER...
      Disclaimer: I strongly believe in the way we strive to eat.  I have done endless (feeling) research and I have strong convictions for our family's health and future, and I am keeping this blog to share with others our journey and resources/recipes/ideas/thoughts to help people move towards better true health.  However, these cookies are a staple of Christmas celebrations since before I was born (I think) in our family.  This is the only time of year i make these.  And I am totally going to make them and enjoy them.  I want to try and figure out an adapted recipe, but I don't have the time for it this year.  Maybe next year sometime.  But I just have to say I am sorry to share this if you really can't or shouldn't be eating stuff like this.  But I am sharing because our family adores these cookies and I'm making them and I'm just trying to be honest here....

      Okay, after my little guilt-induced rant....here's the recipe...

      Russian Cookies {Recipe} 
       
      (from my grandmother on my dad's side Eileen Watson who received it from her mother in law)

      Ingredients: 
      •  1 C butter
      •  ½ C sugar 
      •  ½ t. salt
      •  1 t. almond extract 
      •  2 C. flour
      •  1 – 2 C chopped nuts 
      •  Powdered sugar
      Process:
      • Cream butter.  Add sugar, salt, and extract.  Mix well.   
      • Add flour and nuts.  Mix well.   
      • Shape into crescents on ungreased cookie sheet.   
      • Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove and dust with powdered sugar. 
      Notes: I'll make myself feel better by using pastured butter, organic, fair trade sugar, and soaked and dehydrated pecans.   HAHA.  Also, go to TOWN with the powdered sugar over the cookies.  Let it sit.  The cookies absorb the powdered sugar.  Yeesh.  Oh, and if you've never made cookies like this before, the dough will be fairly crumbly for a cookie dough.  Just go with it, mash it into a crescent shape and trust me.

      Sorry to end this post with such a refined flour, sugar laden recipe.  :-/ 

      Merry Christmas!! 

      Wednesday, November 30, 2011

      My Chicken Broth Process {Method}

      Well, it's been weeks since I said I was going to post about this, but here is my method for making chicken broth - both meat broth and bone broth.  This is something that helps with many meals, as it provides a lot of broth saved up to use for many soups, stews, and other things.  It also provides much meat to use in soups or even on its own in chicken salad or with a sauce on top.  It is also not very time consuming - it can seem like it at first because it is such a long process.  But the hands-on time is actually fairly little compared to how much nourishing food you get from it!  This process is one way we make eating GAPS and very nourishing very do-able for us.

      I can't tell you how much to do at a time or how often to do this, because that will depend on how often you use broth and meat in your eating lifestyle.  We probably do this every 2 weeks, on average.  If you are in early stages of GAPS, you will do this fairly often.  However, doing as large of a batch as possible at once is so helpful!  Also, we have considered getting another giant (or giant-er!) stock pot and just doing 2 pots at the same time!  So, here's my method...

      Chicken Broth - Meat Broth and Bone Broth Process

      Part 1 - Meat and Meat Broth! 
      1.  Place (usually still frozen because I forget to take them out the day before...) whole chickens, hindquarters, and any other pieces I may have in large stock pot.  I often add heads/necks and feet.  Never thought I'd be one of those people, but here I am...I also add any vegetable scraps/pieces I want to use - carrot, onion, and celery ends and pieces leftover from other meals and juicing.  Often, I do not even have vegetables in there - and the broths still turn out wonderful.

      2.  Cover with filtered water.  I bring it to a boil (usually slowly, over low-medium heat (3-4 on my 8 scale burner)) and then reduce heat and simmer.  Simmer 3-4 hours, gently - try not to let it get to the heavy fast boiling stage!  I find it is best to cook the meat gently.

      3.  After the chicken has simmered a few hours and it is all falling apart (use tongs to grab a piece and see if it falls apart from the rest of the chicken), remove all chicken from the pot onto a large platter or plate or into a large dish or bowl.  Once it is cool enough to handle, take all the meat off the bones ( I find it much easier to use my hands rather than try and separate it with tongs and a fork/knife when it's too hot to handle).  I keep 2 dishes with me - one to hold all my meat, and one to hold everything else - skin, bones, cartilage, all that fun stuff.  (Meat at top, everything else at bottom)

      **GAPS Note: In this stage, you could also keep all soft parts (skin, cartilage) separate as well to blend up for your 'pate' to add to soups or sauces! 
      Make sure you save all that bone/skin stuff for the next part - making your bone broth!!  Use the meat for soups and any other meals!  I often use it for a couple of pots of soup that week and freeze the remainder in 1 or 2 cup portions for more meals the next week.  If you are in early stages of GAPS, you will probably just use all of it in 1 week, depending on how many people are in your home and how many are doing GAPS.  

      4.  Then, simply put your remaining meat broth into jars for your soups!  (Sorry I don't have a picture of this.)  Simply strain it if needed and put in jars or bowls or glass containers, or put it directly into a pot to make some soup!  (I use pretty much the same process as straining for my bone broth below in #8, but it's not as much work because you have removed all meat/bones/skin from the pot.)

      Isn't it beautiful?!  It is so nice to get so much broth (that's more than 1.5 gallons there) from 1 pot of effort :-).  So...there's your meat broth!!

      Part 2 - Bone Broth!(You could start this process right away after finishing the meat broth.  I usually start it the next day or freeze all the carcasses and do the bone broth the next week when I am in need of it.)

      5.  Put all your carcasses that you have from your meat broth process, along with any carcass you have saved from roasted chickens and the like, into your stock pot again, cover with cold filtered water, add a splash (with my giant pot, I usually add about 1/4 cup - with a crock pot or smaller pot, and therefore less carcass, I use about 2 Tbsp) of raw apple cider vinegar.  Let this sit for 1 hour to draw the minerals out of the bones.

      6.  Add any vegetables/scraps you would like (again, I often do this without any veggies...when I do, I just use frozen scraps of carrots, onion, and celery) and then bring it to a boil.   


      7.  Let this simmer (low simmer!  No huge boiling!) for 12-24 hours.  I know this seems like a long time.  I cook it for 2 days.

      I have done both of the following:
      -at the end of the first day, let it cool for a couple of hours and then stick the giant pot in my fridge and put my fridge on power cool, remove it the next morning and simmer it all day OR
      -leave it simmering until I am about to go to bed, remove from stove onto a trivet or thick towel, wrap in a giant towel, and leave it there overnight - set it back on the stove to simmer first thing when I get up in the morning.  Never have had a problem either way.  :-)  It really stays very very warm wrapped up overnight on the counter.

      **Tip!: While it is cooking, go ahead and make a couple of soups!!  Just remove broth you need and add water to fill the pot back up!  It stretches your broth further, and allows you to easily make a couple of meals! 


      8.  Fun part - processing the broth.  Here I share the BEST way I have found to do this part!  This is what works for me! 

      Get your pot, the most giant bowl you have, a large strainer, a measuring cup (I use either my 2 cup or 4 cup), and your jars or containers you are going to store your broth in.  I do freeze broth in ziploc bags, but I always wait until it is chilled in the fridge - I would never put hot or even warm broth into plastic because of leaching chemicals. 

      This part takes some muscle :-).  Take your giant pot and pour your broth into the large bowl through the strainer.  Be careful of all the carcass just falling out and splashing and spilling everywhere!  You have to pour fast enough to not dribble broth everywhere but not so fast that you splash broth and stuff everywhere :-).  Ask me how I know...
      Take your strainer out of your big bowl. 
      Scoop
      and pour. (like you really needed pictures of every little step...but oh well, it's fun to try and take pictures and pour broth at the same time!)
       Look how nicely the measuring cup just sits in the bowl with the handle hooked over the edge!  So convenient, those handles!  :-)
      Do this until all your broth is all jarred up!!  Note: when it gets to where there are lots of bones/etc in the pot and only a little broth, you might want to scoop all that out before trying to drain the rest of the broth out or all that stuff may just fall out of the pot and make a big ol' mess.  :-o 
      9.  Here's an optional step: (GAPS Step!) take the large leg and thigh bones and break them open or cut them lengthwise with a knife.  Scoop/scrape out the marrow - either eat it plain, on something, or put it into your broth!  Marrow is incredibly nutritious and healing!  Because your bones have cooked so long, cutting them will be easy peasy!
       Close up...look at that...
      10.  Well, this isn't really a step, but I like having nice round numbers and 10 sounds good, doesn't it?!  There's all your bone broth, all ready to store and use!  Beautiful, isn't it?!  Note: I don't salt my broth until I use it.  And I always use Celtic or Himalayan Salt to taste.  Amazing.  Mmmm....I want some soup...


      And there you have it!  My method and process for making huge batches of both meat and bone broth.  It is wonderful and beneficial to have both types of broth in your diet, whether you are on a healing diet like GAPS or just want to eat in a nourishing way.

      Also, it's wonderful to have broth on hand for anyone who gets sick in any way - cold, flu, stomach bugs...all helped immensely by broth!

      AND it's a FANTASTIC early or first food for babies.  They love it! 

      This is a great way to take a step forward in eating more nourishing, healing, and health promoting foods.  Make lots of broth and use it!  Making beef broth is very similar, and I will share that someday as well!

      This post is part of Real Food Wendesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable!

      Friday, November 25, 2011

      Kombucha Update

      Update: Here's my most recent kombucha update.

      Remember how I grew my own kombucha SCOBY?!  And then I attempted my first batch of the yummy tart fizzy amazing stuff?  Well, here's what happened...

      I let my kombucha sit for 8 days and then a little.  I was going to only do 5 before bottling it, but I decided to let it sit for longer for a few reasons...
      • I am going to do plain kombucha this time, so no secondary fermenting in the bottles.  I don't really know if I'm doing the right thing, but hey, I'm just gonna go for it.  
      • Our house has been a little cooler (or less warm is probably more accurate for where we are) so I wanted to let it sit a little longer. 
      • It started to develop some funky looking stuff on top, which I was hoping was a new SCOBY.  I decided to let it sit a couple more days so that I would know for sure.  I have been looking around at pictures online here and here, and I'm pretty confident it's a new SCOBY forming and not mold of any kind. 
      So here we go with my update...with pictures to help any of you interested in bringing this beneficial drink into your life.  Here's my SCOBY that grew like I talked about here.  Isn't it AMAZING that this thing grew with a little tea, 1 tbsp of sugar, and a bottle of GT's plain raw kombucha? 
       It's just asking to be given some sugar to eat up!

      So after 8ish days of sitting, here's what I had!
       Isn't that gross/amazing?!  The original SCOBY sank, which is totally fine.  After a few (3-5? I can't remember) days, stuff started forming on top.  I should have taken pictures, but I didn't.  Sorry.  At first things looked kind of moldy, but from what I've read, mold is blue/green/black/dark.  Mine was white/cream colored.  Then it kept spreading.  If you can see in the picture above, there are bubbles/foamy stuff around the edge.  That's just the fermentation creating bubbles that aren't escaping because there's an awesome SCOBY growing on top.


      A couple notes about new SCOBYs growing...
      1. It might look dry and fuzzy kind of like mold.  Mine had areas that looked dry and dusty, but this is just because there were air bubbles trapped underneath, so the SCOBY wasn't in contact with the liquid.  Therefore, it looked dry.  It looks very different when you remove it.  
      2. If you develop stuff on the top of your batch and you are thinking it might be mold, leave it alone and let it sit for a few more days.  This will easily allow it to grow so you can see if it is a SCOBY.  If you know for sure it is mold, throw it out - this is supposed to be pretty rare, so don't be scared!  If it is white/cream colored, LEAVE IT!  Let it have it's breathing space to do its job. :-)
      So here we are, back on day 8ish.  I knew I needed to take care of it.  I was seriously scared.  I am such a wimp.  It's like the first time I tried our own homemade sauerkraut.  So easy, so simple, but I was scared.  DON'T BE SCARED!!!   This stuff is so fun and so good for us.

      So after your batch of kombucha has done it's thang for it's time (I have read that 7-9 or 6-8 days is ideal, if your temperature is in the mid to upper 70's), it's time to test it.  Our kitchen varies on temperature - but I am pretty sure it is always above 70, even on cold nights.  If not, the fact that I use my stove, dehydrator, and oven like ALL the TIME, should help make up for it!

      So, take a straw, move your SCOBY aside a little, get some in the straw by sticking the straw in the tea and then sealing the straw with your finger on the top.
      Put that tea in your mouth or in a glass.  I did about 3-4 straw dips into a glass to taste it.  I smelled it first (and had hubby smell it) because I was chicken.  But then I tasted it and holy moly, it tasted like kombucha!!  I might or might not have started this crazy giddy laugh because of how excited and proud I was.  There is great freedom in learning to do this stuff!  MWAHAHA!  okay, anyway....

      So I cleaned my hands really well and went to take out the SCOBY.  I have no clue what the best way is to do this.  So someone let me know if there is a great way to do it without sticking my fingers all over it.  Oh well.  I wanted to provide some pictures of it so you can know what it looks like.  
       The above picture is the top (doesn't look anything like mold and is surprisingly strong and doesn't just tear apart.  Weird.).  The below picture is the underneath.  The brown stuff is yeast (SCOBY = symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).  Don't be scared.  It is totally fine to be there.  There will be brown stuff all in your kombucha and a lot under a more mature SCOBY.  You will take care of this soon. 
       Now it's time to filter and bottle the good stuff.  Oh wow, you wouldn't believe how easy peasy this is.  Sterilize some cheesecloth (I used unbleached) with a steaming iron.  Line a strainer with the cheesecloth.  (I suggest using a medium-large strainer, not a tiny one like I used here (if you can tell).  My large one was dirty from broth straining.  This one worked, but larger would work better.

      Pour through the cheesecloth lined strainer into something glass.  You could put it directly into quart mason jars.  I poured mine into a large 2 quart glass mixing bowl (with pouring spout!).  If I didn't have this, I would pour into my 4 cup glass measuring cup. 
       The cheesecloth captures all the brown yeasty stuff.  I would show you a picture, but it kinda looks really gross. 

      Beautiful filtered fresh kombucha tea!  I saved my millions of GT bottles to put mine in. 
       Fill your bottles and repeat as needed!  BUT WAIT!!!  SAVE 1-2 CUPS FOR EACH SCOBY.  You need this to store your SCOBY in and for your next batch!

      Look at the fizzy bubbles in the bottle!  I kept telling my husband 'it's like the real stuff I buy!'. 
       Look how beautiful.  Sorry, GT's, I love your kombucha, but I can't afford to buy as much as I would love to drink.  Thanks for the months of goodness and all the glass bottles I kept.  I'll buy one of you every now and then, I promise.  Well, we'll see. 
       A bottle of unopened GT's kombucha (left) next to mine (right).  I think I made my tea darker. 
       Isn't it all so happy in my fridge?!  My fridge is happy when it's full of this stuff.  Ah, I am crazy, aren't I?
       So here is what I was left with...

      The original SCOBY (big and thick) with some of the tea I saved from the batch. 
       My new SCOBY with some saved tea from the batch, just waiting for me to give it a new batch to eat and grow!  This SCOBY is young and thin, but I can't wait to see what happens over the next week! 
      I just covered these with clean white 100% cotton towels overnight.  The next morning, I made a new 1 gallon batch of sweet tea, let it cool, and added the new SCOBY and liquid to that batch.  Now that batch is sitting and doing its magic!  I still have the original, which I need to go make a new batch of tea for...

      I hope that helps or encourages someone to try this!  If you have been wanting to, please go for it!  So easy and SO fun!  And so yummy.  And as my new SCOBYs continue to grow, I will gladly give them away.  Don't all of you ask at once.  ;-)

      I can't wait to try flavoring some with secondary fermentation.  I am thinking a cranberry apple juice blend?  Ginger?  Lemon?

      This website is helping me a lot right now if you are interested in learning more!

      This post is part of Fight Back Friday at one of my favorite sites - Food Renegade.

      Wednesday, November 23, 2011

      GAPS {Stage 2 Information} Notes, Recipes, and Ideas

      I know it's been a while since I posted Stage 1 information and the first post on Stage 2, but I wanted to go ahead and finish the Stage 2 information by posting notes, recipes, and ideas.  This will not be as long as Stage 1's post like this, as with each stage you build on the previous stage and it gets easier in regards to meal planning and ideas.  

      Here's my first post on Stage 2.  


      Here are my posts for Stage 1. (Part 1) (Part 2)

      Now on to my Stage 2 thoughts...


      Notes: 
      • Stick to anything Stage 1, but add fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano.  I know there are more to try adding, but those are my favorites.  We also added cinnamon in when making squash bars.   
      • You want to include a probiotic food with every meal - homemade 24 hr yogurt, sauerkraut juice.  You build on the amounts you ended stage 1 with and gradually increase (increase in small amounts and do the increases every few days as tolerated).   
      • You can move more into meals made up of meats and vegetables with broth on the side.  Broth is still incredibly essential at this point and should be had with every single meal.  We stuck mainly to soups still because we prefer that over drinking broth separately.  
      • You can make stewed recipes like the ones on my recipe tab under stage 2.  You can also do something like this with ground beef or beef stew meat (look more under ideas below).  
      • Overall, this is very simple and similar to stage 1, but adding in raw egg yolks ( in soups) then soft boiled eggs, fresh herbs (I also used dried in soups), and ghee.  Add ghee into soups. 
      Recipes: 
      • All Recipes under Stage 1 and Stage 2 in my Recipes tab.  
      • Recipes and Ideas in my Stage 1 post, but add an herb you like, egg yolk, soft boiled egg, and ghee as appropriate.  
      • Squash bars .  These aren't super sweet or tasty, but they are pleasant, and it is wonderful to have a baked texture.  Our boys LOVED them for snacks, which definitely helped me keep them satisfied!
      • Beef Casserole: This makes meals so wonderful for a change from soup.  Gently brown ground beef in fat like tallow or lard and enough broth to keep moist.  Once cooked, salt to taste.  You can then layer in a baking dish with vegetables of your choice.  Zucchini, peas and onions, tomatoes, celery root, carrots... anything that sounds good with beef to you.  Then simply top with well steamed or boiled cauliflower that has been pureed (I use my stick blender or you can use a blender or food processor), and you can even mix in more animal fat or ghee, once you know you handle it well.  Bake in the oven around 325 or 350 until the vegetables are cooked, usually about 20-30 minutes.  You can customize this to use anything you like!   My husband and our boys enjoyed this meal so very much after days of just soups.  You can also add raw egg yolk into it on your plate and mix it all together to make it sort of creamy! 
      • I am not listing all possible recipes like I did with Stage 1, because this stage is so similar to Stage 1, and so all my other ideas are on the Stage 1 posts :-). 
      Ideas:
      • Build on all meat and vegetable ideas from Stage 1
      • Other Ideas (to hopefully make life more exciting): 
        • Sauces: (these don't have amounts because you can just make it to taste.  Use less or more broth depending on how thick you want it to be.)
          • Tomato Basil Sauce: Simmer some chicken or beef broth with tomato paste or puree and lots of fresh basil leaves.  Salt to taste, then puree to make a yummy tomato basil sauce.  Add ghee if tolerated for such a yummy treat.  
          • Lemon Basil Sauce: Simmer some chicken broth with fresh basil leaves.  You could also add crushed garlic!  Salt to taste, add lemon juice to taste.  Puree and pour over chicken or fish. 
          • Rosemary Garlic Sauce: Simmer broth of choice with a stalk of fresh rosemary.  Remove stalk of rosemary, add crushed garlic, cover and turn heat off.  After about 5-10 minutes (to let the garlic sit), salt to taste, puree if desired to get the garlic blended in (not necessary) and pour over beef or chicken. 
          • Thyme Sauce: Simmer broth of choice with sprigs of fresh thyme (or strips leaves from stems).  Can add garlic to this as well.  Remove sprigs (or if you just used the leaves, leave them in) and puree if desired.  I think this would be great also with some lemon juice in it.  Again, only necessary if you want to get the leaves of thyme and pieces of garlic blended really well.  Pour over meat.
          • Onion Gravy: Simmer broth of choice with sliced or chopped onions (can also gently saute onions in tallow or lard or chicken fat first and then simmer with broth) until onions are very soft.  Can add garlic.  Puree well, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over meat. Can add onions to any of the above sauces to make them thicker like a gravy, but only if you like onion flavor with those sauces.  :-) 
          • Mushroom Gravy: Simmer broth with mushrooms, salt to taste, and serve over meat and veggies that go well with mushrooms.  Could also make the onion gravy and then simmer mushrooms in that and serve.  mmmmm.  
        • Vegetables
          • Mashed Cauliflower!:  Boil or steam cauliflower well.  Puree well.  You can add broth and animal fat of your choice to taste.  Salt to taste.  Salt is important with this!  Once ghee is well tolerated, add that for super yumminess!  
          • Wish I had more...basically just well steamed or boiled veggies, but you can do that with one of the above sauces as you like.  Just make sure you have broth with your meals!  Vegetables with fat and salt are great snacks as well.  
          • Vegetable soups still :-).  But I do love those!  Especially topped with homemade yogurt if able.  (all my vegetable soup ideas here with the Stage 1, part 2 post)
        • Eggs: Soft boiled eggs, and we added hard boiled eggs once we knew we tolerated all egg in soup well.  This helped us a lot with hunger and snacks, but make sure you are doing well with eggs before adding hard boiled in.  Hard boiled eggs are not a recommended part of Stage 2 per GAPS protocol, BUT added them in after doing well with eggs in soups.  Stage 3 introduces scrambled eggs, so we felt it would work for us to add in hard boiled eggs kind of 'in between' Stage 2 and 3.  Here's my personal favorite way to hard boil eggs
      I hope that helps somewhat and gives ideas.  It's always helpful to hear other people's ideas to build your own ideas off of! 

      Again, keep in mind we moved through intro easily and fairly quickly.  So you will have to make modifications if you aren't tolerating certain foods well.  But I still hope this helps in some way.  If nothing else, I know it will help our family, as I know at some point in the future we will go back and do intro again for further healing and detoxification. 

      Monday, November 21, 2011

      Interesting Links: From Melanoma to Vaccines to Toxins to Toys

      I just wanted to share some links I found interesting, helpful, informative, and worth my time reading.  Enjoy! 
      Love this part:
      "A common myth is that occasional exposure of your face and hands to sunlight is "sufficient" for vitamin D nutrition. For most of us, this is an absolutely inadequate exposure to move vitamin D levels to the healthy range. Further, if you use sunscreen, you will block your body's ability to produce vitamin D!

      And, contrary to popular belief, the best time to be in the sun for vitamin D production is actually as near to solar noon as possible which is 1 PM in the summer for most (due to Daylight Saving Time).. The more damaging UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year -- unlike UVB, which are low in morning and evening and high at midday.

      When using the sun to maximize your vitamin D production and minimize your risk of malignant melanoma, the middle of the day (roughly between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.) is the best and safest time. During this time you need the shortest exposure time to produce vitamin D because UVB rays are most intense at this time. Plus, when the sun goes down toward the horizon, the UVB is filtered out much more than the dangerous UVA."
      • Fantastic Posts from Food Renegade about Pork - I am just beginning to learn about this.   
      1. Is Pork bad for you?
      2. Guide to Pork - what to buy, how to eat it.  
      • Love this post about toys.  We are continually working towards simplifying our toy collection and making sure the toys we have are truly good to have for play and imagination.  
      • Vaccine movie from both sides.  I want to see this.  I am not anti-vaccine, and I believe most parents who do not follow the recommended vaccine schedules are also not anti-vaccine.  I am pro-SAFE vaccines and only for truly necessary diseases, not 'give my child a vaccine for anything and everything that could possibly give them a fever.  Have you looked at how many vaccines are 'recommended' to pour into an INFANT's body in the first year of life?!  Their bodies can NOT handle this.  And it is not necessary.  We need to take responsibility for our children and learn how to properly take care of sicknesses - foods, herbs, natural remedies, etc. to support our children's bodies when they get sick so their immune systems fight and gain strength.  Okay, I'm gonna stop now...
      Hope you enjoy reading!

      Sunday, November 20, 2011

      When a Week Doesn't get Planned...

      I just wanted to share some easy meal ideas for a week when things don't go as planned...or when planning doesn't get done for the week.  This past week I had no meals planned...so every day was an 'okay, what am I going to make today?' day.  I don't think that's so much fun.  But we stuck to simple meals and the week went pretty well with our eating!  We did eat out for a dinner, but that was more just because our home needed a lot of attention by the end of the week and I knew getting our home in order for the weekend was important.

      Praise the Lord, we were able to stay consistent with juicing, which has helped us tremendously in a short time.  

      So here's what we ate this week (and I made larger meals so we had plenty of leftovers for lunches).
      • Taco Soup (made in crock pot)
      • Beef Bourguinon 
      • Chicken Cilantro Soup  (made a large pot and had leftovers for lunch for 2 days!)
      • Breakfast for Dinner - eggs scrambled with browned sausage, sauteed onions, roasted sweet potato fries (not GAPS legal, but it's something we eat every now and then)
      • Meatloaf, roasted cauliflower (I was out of mushrooms, so I simply made the meatloaf without mushrooms and our boys loved it!)
      • Canned Salmon with sauerkraut and raw butter, smoothies with coconut milk and homemade yogurt and frozen fruit, pumpkin clafoutis
      Other easy to throw together ideas: (I was keeping these in the back of my mind as options)


      Roasted Chicken - I often do this in my crockpot, even from an entirely frozen whole chicken (there's nothing inside the body cavity in our chickens).  I will let it warm up a bit in the crockpot and then pour melted butter or olive oil and seasonings, salt, and pepper on top and let it cook all day.


      Ground Beef - thaw it in warm/cool water in a big bowl or sink and brown it with veggies (onions and peas are great) and add an herb (like basil or oregano, or both) and salt and pepper.  We have made this a simple meal before, and of course adding a simple side vegetable or fruit or yogurt or simple soup makes it very satisfying.  Of course you can easily make a simple spaghetti sauce (tomato puree, salt, and Italian herbs) and bake in the oven over pre-cooked spaghetti squash or over sliced or 'noodled' zucchini.  Or make taco meat to serve with veggies, yogurt or homemade sour cream, raw cheese, and avocado. 

      I love knowing what other people do for good dinners when you aren't well planned...any thoughts?!  I'd love to share ideas!

      Tuesday, November 15, 2011

      Finally! Juicing and Kombucha {Food Loves}

      Well, my next post WAS going to be my broth process, but due to an incident, I have none of my pictures for it...so as I make my next batches, I will take new pictures and do a post.  :-)  So I thought I'd share about something I have finally gotten into that I have desired very much for so long to do...


      Juicing
      I never thought I would become a juicer.  But alas, I am mildly obsessed with it!  I think about it way too often, which to me means that maybe my body is really liking it and is benefiting from it.  When I think about juicing and making coffee, I pretty much prefer the thought of juicing.  That is HUGE for me :-).  I am hoping my cravings for coffee will be reduced or taken away by the minerals and enzymes and all that good stuff that I am getting. 

      I kind of always thought people were a little weird for juicing because I thought we should be just eating everything we need.  However, if you look at things from a GAPS/SCD perspective (understanding that our guts and bodies are damaged by our inheritance and poor diets and therefore even if we ate enough veggies, our bodies have impaired digestion and therefore cannot absorb everything that's so good for us in fruits and veggies) it makes sense to add this into life.  We are also all probably deficient in minerals and enzymes, so it takes a lot to give our bodies what they need.  Juicing allows our bodies to get all the benefits of raw veggies without the difficulty of digesting them and therefore not getting everything good in them. 

      We really want to take the plunge and get a juicer and add it into our days for minerals/enzymes and for aid in digestion.  Constipation, which is very common when on a GAPS diet in the early months (or even longer), can be helped by adding juice in, especially first thing in the morning.  It stimulates bile production, which helps digest fats.  If fats aren't digested well, they can cause issues.  You can read lots of great information all over the internet about juicing. 

      One tip if you are concerned about blood sugar effects of juices is to whisk 1-2 raw egg yolks and a spoonful of homemade sour cream (we do use store bought if we are really needing it, although that isn't best because it isn't raw and it isn't fermented as long probably as we would do it) into your juice, making a sort of 'milkshake'. 

      So, grab a helper if you and they are so inclined and try it!  (ok, I guess you might need to get a juicer first...)
      Little mister loves helping make juice!

       1 large organic red apple, a couple handfuls of kale, 4 stalks of celery, 2 carrots...
       Oh my, I loved this and it feels so good to drink it and I feel so good after I drink these juices!!!  And seriously, let's just be honest, they have immediately greatly improved my digestion :-). 

      KOMBUCHA!!!
      If I can get into making this successfully, our grocery budget will be super happy.  And therefore, my husband can stop stressing.  ;-).  But seriously, it is incredibly economical to make it yourself - it can seem scary, though!  Someday I will do a cost comparison for what I use to make it.  First I have to actually finish my first batch.  But I am so excited I finally have gotten around to doing this!

      I love this stuff.  LOVE.  And I love how it helps my body.  And you can make it with your own preferences in mind by adding small amounts of fruit juices at the end of the process.  Here's some great information about how wonderful this stuff is for you.  


      I grew a SCOBY this way.  It worked amazingly well.  If you do it, which I think everyone should :-), do NOT throw it out if it looks like its developing mold on top.  Seriously, it will turn into a beautiful SCOBY. 
       So after you grow your SCOBY, follow this process, which is what I did
            1) I did 1 gallon to begin with since I only have 1 SCOBY.  Boil 1 gallon of water, add a lot of tea bags (I used 16! NOTE to SELF: get family size teabags next time!!)  Lipton is great to use and don't worry about it being organic.  Read more here.   Let it steep for 5 minutes, remove bags, add 1 cup sugar.  Let it sit out and cool to room temperature. 
            2) Pour sweetened, cooled tea into a giant gallon glass jar. 
            3) Add 1/2 cup of the kombucha from your starter/SCOBY jar into the gallon and then gently place the SCOBY on top of your tea.  Isn't it weird looking?  It's kinda creepy to handle the first time, but oh well, it's totally a neat science experiement! 
           4) My camera died here, so I don't have a picture of my gallon jar sitting and waiting, but once the SCOBY is in the jar with your tea and 1/2 cup of liquid your SCOBY was in, cover it with a towel, secure well (I used a stretchy hair band), and place the jar in a corner of your kitchen without a lot of light, especially sunlight.  I have mine in a corner near my stove to feed off the warmth created by it ALL the time.  Keep it away from other cultures or electromagnetic fields (don't use a seedling warmth mat, move away from appliance that are plugged in right by it). 

      It's supposed to sit for about 5 days and then move on to the next part, which is adding a small amount of fruit juice, capping tightly  (in smaller jars or bottles), and fermenting 2 more days on the counter.  Then you simply move it into the fridge and enjoy. 

      ah, I can't wait to update on how it goes...and hopefully it's a great update so that I stop spending our life savings on this amazing drink at the store...

      :-) 

      So there you go, 2 of my food loves (up there with butter, raw cream, and bacon) added into our lives!!  YAY!! 

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