The Why: Food Edition

I’ve been thinking a lot about why we do the things we do. Why do we eat a certain way? Why do we homeschool? Why do we spend our time the way we do?

Some of this stems from comments made by others implying that they don’t approve of the way I spend my time and energy. Other times friends and family give us confused looks about our eating choices. I’m definitely not what you’d call a people pleaser. Like most people, however, I want people to think I’m making wise choices. I mean, if they have a valid reason I should do something differently, it would be silly to ignore their advice, right?

So, being an over thinker (my friends in high school used to say I was overanalyticalizationing, just to make me twitch), it’s helpful for me to have gone through all of the reasons I believe I’ve made the best Biblical and healthy choice. This way, when someone makes a comment or gives a look I don’t feel tossed to and fro. It’s easier to evaluate whether their differing opinion is helpful or not if I know exactly why I made mine.

Issue number one: Food.

We eat mostly organic (or foods produces in a similar manner). The goal is basically not to eat it unless it grows. Out of the ground, walking, swimming: grows. Not something that did grow but has been put in a box or a bag or a can. Not something modified to grow kind of like a super hero food. Because a super hero is really mutant (except batman of course!) And mutant food doesn’t really sound appetizing to me!

Of course this isn’t always how it works out. For instance, I don’t have the resources, time or energy to make all my own tomato sauce. Another one for us is tortilla chips, and tortillas for that matter. I have made our own tortillas, but I have a hard time getting a corn shell right and with two glutards in the house that’s an absolute must. We eat quesadillas, nachos, chips and salsa, tacos (you get the idea) almost daily. They’re all so easy that they make perfect go-to quick lunches! Obviously there are good things that don’t fall into the “grow”category such as minerals, but it’s been a helpful way to explain it to people.

I try to bake all of our own gluten free bread, but my husband likes to buy a good sprouted loaf for himself. We also prefer raw dairy products to pasteurized, homogenized “milk” that half of my family can barely drink (hence the dairy cow).

So the why: I didn’t jump on the organic fad when it started. It actually began with my celiac diagnosis. When I started paying very close attention to what I ate, I began to notice exactly what made me feel well and not-so-well. It obviously began with glutenful items as well as dairy while I was still healing. Then, because it takes a good chunk of time to figure out how to eat out when you have Celiac disease, I noticed when I returned to restaurants that I didn’t feel so well. Add a move that put us a 20 minute drive to the nearest restaurant and 30 to the nearest fast-food joint and let’s just say my menu planning skills got a work-out.

By this time, it wasn’t just me. The rest of my family had aching tummies, weird gas and let’s not mention the cranky kiddos. That’s when I became fixed on the issue: Our bodies were not made to process all of this “stuff” in our food. Stuff that’s not food. Stuff we can barely pronounce. Stuff that the FDA has deemed “safe”. Our digestive system has the amazing ability to break down organic (living) material and other things that God has given to keep us healthy and moving. But I believe that it doesn’t have the ability to break down pesticides, preservatives and other things that takes a laboratory to get into our food without negative repercussions on the body. Also by the time many great foods get to the shelf, much of the nutrient content has been either destroyed or made unavailable for our bodies to absorb.

Cranberry Granola

Homemade Cereal

I started with this one because it’s easy for me. We eat “naturally” (as if that word has much meaning anymore) because we’ve experienced both sides of that fence. The grass is totally greener over here. :) I also think that the long term benefits will be great as well. I recognize that maybe everyone doesn’t agree with me or think it’s worth the effort. I don’t expect to convince any one of anything. (Although sometimes it does get difficult to listen to other people’s list of maladies while they slather margarine on their bread. I just pray for grace while they talk and ask God to help by brain-mouth filter to work properly.)

Anyways, I’ll leave you with one last video my husband found on hydrogenized oil. Whenever we wonder about something, I try to say, “look it up”. This one comes to mind every time I look at an ingredient and wonder what it is. I think about this video and just figure that it might have been engineered to taste good but I’m sure it won’t slide down my arteries nice and smooth. I’ll pass!

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you had a wonderful day with friends and family, in blood or even better, in Spirit.

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My husband and I hosted Thanksgiving for some of our dear ones. With our children we discussed the Puritan pilgrims and their quest to live a Biblical lifestyle in all things. As they gave thanks for God’s provision, so we discussed what we are grateful for. It turns out my son is mostly just thankful that God made animals.

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Feel free to post links to your table setting pictures or other thanksgiving inspirations , I’d live to hear about your holiday!

Potato Chowder (Dairy-Free Option!)

This is the kind of soup that warms you in and out on a dreary day. I don’t share much when I make a single batch.

For a small batch you will need:
3 medium sized potatoes
1 carrot (diced)
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Milk (I used Almond Milk and it’s delicious!)
1-2 tsp Oregano
1-2 tsp Basil
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp fresh Garlic
1 pinch Turmeric
Salt
Pepper
+/- 3 TBSP cornstarch

To Cook: Quarter potatoes and boil in a large saucepan. Boil until water has reduced to only a bit standing (1/2 inch or so) in the bottom. Mash potatoes until they’re “chunky” and add stock and seasoning. My seasoning measurements (as usual) are approximate, season to your liking! Use a whisk to combine potatoes and seasonings. Your potatoes ad stock will slowly become creamy mixture. While stirring, add milk. Add diced carrots and thicken with corn starch. Simmer for a while for better flavor!

Mummum Elli’s Nursing (or breakfast) Cookies (Gluten, dairy, egg and soy free)

For whatever reason, I struggle to keep my milk supply up. In my search for nursing or lactation cookies, I found myself frustrated with my options. I have Celiac disease (so grains are out the window) and my baby is sensitive to dairy and soy (bye-bye chocolate chips). The only one I found was VERY coconutty, not m fave. So, here’s my own recipe! These are much like one of my local bakeries “breakfast cookies” except they are heaped full of galactagogues. They turned out delicious. In fact, I ate quite a bit more than the recommended 1-2 per day. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c gluten free flour of your choice
  • 1 1/2 c gluten free oats
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 T brewer’s yeast
  • 1 tsp crushed anise or fennel seed
  • 1/2 cup flax seed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 T cocoa powder
  • 1 c raw sugar
  • 1/4 c coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 T natural peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs (or egg replacer if needed)
  • 1 1/4 c warm water

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Combine all dry ingredients and stir well
  • Add coconut oil, vanilla, peanut butter and eggs
  • Mix on med-low speed for 1-2 minutes
  • Continuing on low speed, slowly add water. Batter should be wet: not crumbly but not really gooey either
  • Line a baking sheet with tinfoil
  • Scoop one heaping tablespoon per cookie and squish down with a fork
  • Bake for 12 minutes, remove and let cool
  • Enjoy! This are a great treat or a quick breakfast, whether or not you have a milk supply to increase!

Homemade Soaked Granola Cereal

I love cereal! Unfortunately, even cereal “made from whole grains” that you can buy in the store have very little nutritional value. The grains have been SO processed; there’s barely anything left of them by the time they get to the cereal! I’ve been trying to replicate Cascade Organics granola cereals for some time and I finally got a product that I like. This is a highly customizable recipe, as you will see!

Cranberry Granola

Cranberry Granola

I tend to just “wing it”, but this should be a pretty accurate estimate of the ingredients for a small batch:

  • 5 Cups granola
  • 1-2 Cups Dried fruit/berries
  • 1 Cup of your choice of nut, crushed.
  • Kefir (or other cultured milk product) to cover (I am currently nursing a baby who just can’t tolerate dairy, so I used almond milk)

To make:Place oatmeal in a small roasting pan, cake pan or casserole and spread out evenly.
Pour enough kefir in to cover and let sit for 6-8 hours. I let mine sit overnight.
After soaking, preheat oven to 325 and stir in berries and nuts and then spread out evenly over the pan again. Bake until golden brown: anywhere from 30-60 minutes depending on how many goodies you added.
Take out and let cool for 15-20 minutes and then store and enjoy!

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Our Honest Thanksgiving Menu: Real Food & Otherwise

Update: I highlighted our actual menu in orange where there were choices given. It was a delicious day!

There has been a lot of talk about holiday dining on the blogosphere these days. When it comes to entertaining and guests and being one ourselves, where do we compromise? So I decided to honestly share how we will be handling our Thanksgiving menu. Honestly, I would love to be able to prepare a huge 100% real food meal with sprouted buns, wild turkey, home grown beets – the whole nine yards, not only for my immediate family but as a service to the extended friends and family who will be joining us.

Maybe next year I’ll set a holiday food budget and save in advance (as well as pay a babysitter) so I can do it all, but this year here’s what it will look like. You’ll see that the biggest area in which I’m caving is homemade soaked baked goods. Being over 7 months pregnant and doing all of that on top of normal commitments is one unrealistic expectation I am with-it enough to dodge.

  • Organic Spinach Salad topped with walnuts, organic pears, dried cranberries
    • (Store-bought) Raspberry Vinaigrette or (Homemade) Italian Dressing
  • Rolls (will ask Mother-in-law to pitch in here so ingredients might be organic, definitely not soaked, but she will bring gluten free as my father-in-law in on a GAPS type diet)
  • Main Course Options ( I need to decide on one or two)
    • Turkey – local, free range organic ♥ –
    • Two Chickens – Local, free range – yummy, healthy, but not turkey!
    • Venison/Elk Roast – I read today that the Wampanoag Indians brought five freshly hunted deer to the first thanksgiving. I think it would be plenty festive if we used some of the wild game in our freezer!
  • Trimming – Homemade stuffing from gluten free bread – if I have time to make the bread I will, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m not above buying a (hard as a rock I might add) frozen Ezekiel Loaf or other bread (food for life) to make it.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Homemade from homegrown potatoes
  • Gravy – Homemade, thickened with xanthan gum or one of my many GF flours
  • Creamy Corn – canned corn (i know BPA…once in a while I just have to) simmered with organic cream and unprocessed sweetener of choice)
  • Dessert – My husbands grandmother will probably want to bring something, usually an interesting jello number or a boxed pie. (Pumpkin pie…from a box)
    • Also, I will make a homemade pie (either pumpkin or butternut-maple with real maple syrup) my cheat: Gluten Free Mama’s Pie & Pastry Mix
    • My Mother-in-law was kind enough to make both gluten free blueberry pie and apple crisp – not organic, but edible for me which doesn’t happen very often. Woohoo!

Ok, so there’s the bulk of it. As you can see, my normal standards have been lowered. I find fellowship and hospitality more important than being inflexible in our diet. We have chosen to eat natural foods prepared healthily for good reasons. But taking care of the body God gave us is not near as important as showing others love (Isaiah 58, 1 John, the whole life of Christ).

When it comes to large events, do you lower your standards (wherever you’re at in your real food journey)? If so in what ways? If not, how do you manage it all?!

Diet Dilemma: When the Processed Foods Are Free

As many of you know, my husband and I recently moved to a “new” community. (In actuality my husband to a job at one of the churches I attended as a child; you can read more about that here.)

image by Feasting At Home

Being the kind of folks they are, the church threw a pantry party for us to get us started. They had mentioned my gluten allergy in the church bulletin announcement, so most of what we received was gluten free!

The dilemma: Very little of the food could be classified as “real food”…

My question: What to do?! What to do?!

We are all at different places when it comes to the food we choose to eat. For those of us on a real food journey, we have become concerned with the quality of our food and what we’re actually putting in our bodies. Considering this, many non-perishable goods can be a nightmare!

Image by lotsawords

So what’s a girl to do? The way I see it, I have 3 choices:

1: Stick up my nose. (Refuse to eat it and find it a new home: food bank, garbage can etc.)

2: Open Wide. (Just eat it)

3: Open my Heart. (Serve everything I can to my family and share as much as possible.)

I personally feel that (trying to stay Biblically minded) being ungrateful enough to reject the food would dishonor the One who provided it more than putting some processed foods into my body. I separated out the gluten-free stuff and narrowed the pile down to mostly canned goods and a few boxed side dishes. The fact is most of the people who step inside my home couldn’t care less what kind of food they get as long as it tastes good.

Do I want to set a higher standard (even for unknowing guests?) YES! Is that an excuse for wastefulness or ungratefulness? Absolutely not.

In the end, I am so blessed to be a par of this community. Their generosity touches my heart! I am thankful for all of the effort they put into welcoming us, even remembering my special dietary needs.

 Where are you at in your real-food journey? Is it even a consideration for you? Or are you at a place where you are tempted to let your high standards trump your duty to love people?