Thursday, December 30, 2010

Family Time

     I hope you all soaked in the family love this holiday season. Sleeping in, eating a relaxed breakfast, late night games and movies and having my kids home have been a holiday blessing. I have enjoyed almost every moment of it. I love seeing the oldest (17) take the youngest (6 year old Tate) under his wing and teach him how to imagine. I came home one day to this note on the door from the 17-year-old who was home watching Tate. He was gone for two hours with Tate. He armed him with a sword, his crocs and pajamas. They hit the parks to slay dragons. They found a few Jedi Warriors (neighbor kids with light sabers) along the way to also fight. It was a great adventure and I was glad to see they had made it back alive. I had one of those mommy moments when my heart did a little flutter to see how cute kids can be sometimes. Especially teenager kids. I love to see my children play together and enjoy moments. Despite the bad raps teenagers can have, I have some pretty amazing ones. 

     I have been thinking lots about the New Year. I love to make resolutions. I love the chance to better myself or at least attempt it. Last year it was all about doing "Hard Things" and although I would still like to keep pushing this motto further, a new one is coming. I have only a few days left to put it to work. You are just going to have to wait until the New Year to find out.

     Along with that new idea is another new idea I have been thinking about....Hmmm. Yep. Your going to have to wait for that too. I don't want to miss another moment of my kids being home. We have games to play so I will talk a little further right after the New Year strikes.

Enjoy all the little moments. Take time to appreciate it all. Some of my favorite moments from this holiday season:

 ....Seeing the beautiful fall colors in Utah for Thanksgiving
 ......Seeing a super cute husband skate down the hills like he was a teenager.
 ......Tate wearing this elf hate for 8 days straight. He waited so patiently for present time!
.....Shooting in the desert with the family and watching the kids take shooting lessons from their dad. 

Good times had by all. Only a few days left before I ship them back to school. I think I will be ready by then. I am quite sure they will not be.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting Cultured: Kefir

Many of you probably have no idea what Kefir is or why in the world you would want this in your diet. The idea of taking on something new in the kitchen can be overwhelming until you understand why it is so important in our diet. I am fairly new to the "kefir" scene, maybe a year into the process and I will share all I know so you may also catch the "kefir bug" at your house.

What is kefir? The word "Kefir" actually comes from a Turkish word "Keif" which means "good feeling". Already sound good? Kefir is a cultured product meaning it is left to ferment to create the healthy organisms in the drink. It can be created from milk or water or even coconut water. It is an enyzme-rich food that contains an overabundance of friendly bacteria to help balance out our inner vessels. 

Kefir is better than yogurt for our bodies. It contains complete proteins, essential minerals and the much needed B vitamins.  We lack so much of this in our diets and with the overuse of antibiotics destroying our friendly bacteria in our systems, kefir will help restore that balance.

When our system is out of balance, meaning the bad bacteria overtakes the good bacteria, we become sick. Our bowels are irregular in most cases, we have yeast problems, allergies, skin issues, auto immune diseases and much more. The daily intake of kefir will help to heal our bodies.

In our house, we use water kefir and milk kefir daily. Although drinking milk kefir is very beneficial, we don't drink milk around here due to some allergies. The process of culturing milk kefir breaks down the lactose in the milk which is a main source of allergy but it still contains many other proteins as well and I am not ready to challenge that in a daily drink, yet. But, I know it is great in smoothies and many drink it daily without issue. For me , I use my milk kefir in any recipe calling for buttermilk, milk or sour cream. It makes the fluffiest and lightest baked goods around. I used it in my buttermilk syrup recipe, for my coleslaw and just about everything else I could think of. Since the kefir is cultured, it is so much easier to use by the body. This is true especially if you are using goats milk although a little stronger of a flavor. Milk kefir is so easy to do. It takes very little work. If you love using buttermilk than this would be a much better option for you. Finding buttermilk in the store that is free from additives is near impossible. This is just the straight milk but loaded with the good things. Of course, by cooking it you are killing much of the good bacteria but you are still getting the benefits of a cultured food for better digestion.

The water kefir is my favorite to drink. My friend Kara has me hooked. It becomes fizzy like a soda pop and when you add juice, it tastes like a sparkling juice. I always have some brewing on the counter and drink it daily as do my children. I have been experimenting with flavors; grape, lemon, cranberry lemon, apple, etc. Some have been better than others. 

How do you make kefir? It begins with kefir grains. You put them in the bottom of a glass container like a mason jar. I use the quart size for the milk kefir and the half gallon size for the water kefir. For the milk, you just add the milk (I prefer the raw milk) and give a little stir with a plastic or wood utensil. You then lightly cover and put it in a dark cupboard or closet. Usually within 24 hours or less you will have some thick and creamy kefir. The longer it sits, the thicker and more sour it gets so it is your choice. It is good to stir it a few times while culturing. You then strain the grains in a plastic colander and store the kefir in the fridge. You rinse the grains and begin again.

The water kefir feeds off of sugar. The sugar is broken down in the process so no need to worry about that. You want to use a sugar that is not processed. I use Sucanat  but you can use whatever you like. Coconut sugar won't work but you can use honey or any of the raw sugars. You cover the grains in water, add some sugar and let it sit for 24-48 hours. After that time period, you strain off the grains and then add juice to the kefir. I then let it sit for another 24 hour period to get good and fizzy. I then put it in the fridge to chill. The longer it sits out, the more alcohol you are making so just beware. Any food fermented has some alcohol, even a piece of ripe fruit. There is such a minimum amount in Kefir unless you let the fruit juice step to go beyond the 24 hours. 

If you are interested in becoming "cultured" around your house, I have lots and lots of water kefir grains and some of the milk kefir grains. I won't ship them but if you live around here, you can shoot me an email to come get some. They are $8 per tablespoon to get you started. They grow like crazy so you can share them as well. I will also give you complete instructions at that time. 

Seek knowledge. Don't be content where you are. The more I learn I realize the more I don't know. Isn't that exciting? 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I am on many different email lists for "health" sites. Some pretty good, some not so much. One email that I received last week made me a bit confused. It was from an "Eat Healthy" website with a cookie recipe. The title of the article was on "Healthifying" food. This recipe was called "Double Chocolate Cookies - Healthified". Sounded great. I took a look at the recipe and honestly wanted to call the website folks. It contained white flour, white sugar, etc. The only thing I could possibly see as better than any other ingredient was butter instead of shortening. What a waste of my time to even look at that email.

It is just another point and case that commercial America's idea of "healthy" is much different than what traditional "healthy" is. Once again, we can't trust a label. We need to be educated. We need to read labels, take extra steps. Now, if I were to healthify a cookie, it would have whole grains, non-refined sweeteners, cultured creams and pure chocolate. I am sure some mom out there made these cookies feeling like she was doing a great service to her kids. 

So, my healthy moms out there, I am offering you a service. I would love to help "healthify" your recipes if you have a favorite that is need of doctoring. Just send me an email with the recipe and I will see what I can do. I will give you options so you can go as healthy as you want.

I am going to start with my favorite salad recipe. I love the sweet vinaigrette salads. What is not to love -  you cover your greens with sugar. However, who wants to ruin good nutrition with sugar! I took my dressing recipe and made it sugar free. Don't even think for a minute that is like the "sugar free" claims you will see at the store. Commercially that just means you are putting in a synthetic sweetener in it's place. Not here. It means we are using natural sweeteners your body will appreciate. 

This is pretty much what the dressing contains other than a little salt a pepper. 

1/2 C. expeller pressed grape seed oil
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/4 cup real fruit jam of choice (used fig this time)
1/2 t. Celtic salt
1/4 t. pepper

Blend and chill. 

I love the St. Dalfour jams that come in all sorts of different flavors. Some of them are not organic but another good organic choice is Crofter's jam. They use White Grape Juice for the sweeteners. They make a perfect sweet taste for the dressing.

For the salad, I used baby spinach, baby romaine, apple slices, craisins, feta, baby thin sliced cucumbers and some candied almonds.

For the candied nuts, you can make these "healthified" as well. 

You can use 1 T. butter and 1 T. honey sauteed with nuts until made into toffee. Or another choice is you can whip egg whites and add a little honey. Toss over nuts for a light coat and dehydrate. Soak nuts overnight first and dehydrate for even better nutrition. 

Eat Healthy. Pure and simple.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Words from a 109 year old man

If you haven't heard of Bernardo LaPallo then it would be worth your time to listen to this healthy 109 year old. He lives here in AZ and can teach us all a thing or two about living a healthy life. He looks like he is barely 70 and has not been sick a day in his life. 

This particular interview is from Mercola's sight so there  is a script from Mercola as well, take that for what it's worth. But, the interview is great. You can also check him out on You Tube for more interviews. He has written a few books, one when he was 108! 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lemon Cilantro Hummus

Snacks are always hard for me around my house. I am not a snacker at all but my kids are always hungry. 3 meals a day will never do. They come home from school acting as if they hadn't seen food in months. Since I don't have lots of boxes of processed snacks, snacks take effort. I think a snack should be a good apple or banana but they can only eat so many. I find that if I don't have something set out, they will reach for any quick, box type food they can find. I am trying to have good healthy choices set out. I try to have a smoothie to start with. Today I made some lemon cilantro hummus and some stove popped popcorn in coconut oil. I had lots of extra kids over and they devoured the popcorn. Only mine ate the hummus. It looked like foreign food to the others. I am sure they would have liked it if they only tried. I ate more than my share of the hummus. I used to always get the Lemon Cilantro Hummus at Fresh and Easy but the store next to me went out of business. I worked on this recipe and it tastes just like the little container I would purchase from the store. 

Hummus is  such a good snack to eat. It has protein and is low in fat. It is especially healthy with whole wheat pita's and some vegetables. It is about the easiest thing to whip together and you can make all sorts of varieties. To me, its one of those things you can eat too much of and get sick of so I take a break now and then. I am just off my break and could lick the whole bowl. I didn't, though. Manners.

Try it out. 

Lemon Cilantro Hummus

2 Cups cooked garbanzo beans or 1 can, drained
1/8 Cup tahini paste
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp cumin
3 T. Olive Oil
1 T. chopped jalapeno pepper. Use seeds if you want in hotter or use jarred jalapenos.
1/4 bunch chopped Cilantro, stems removed
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. Sucanat or other sweetener
1 tsp. Celtic or other sea salt

Combine all in blender and blend until smooth. Add more salt or lemon juice as desired. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shopping around

Thanks to good friends who send info my way, I have been finding some pretty good deals lately. I am impressed that many stores are now carrying organic and pesticide free products. I think the world is wising up just a little. I will take what I can get.

Here are some deals that I have been finding:

Walmart now has Grass fed , organic cheese. It is in the packaged cheese section in a bar. It is great cheese! Remember, we want our animal products grass fed, not corn fed, just like nature intended.

Coscto and Walmart carry tomatoes and baby cucumbers that are pesticide free from Wilcox, AZ! They are delicious and as cheap as the pesticide-loaded tomatoes and cukes.

Costco carries lots of organic products now like baby spinach, frozen organic peaches, fresh raspberries and much more.

Sprout's carries Rudi's organic bread for less than other commercial bread and it is even on sale right now.

Walmart has packaged organic figs, great for sweetening recipes!

Groupon is offering a $5 credit to anyone buying their first Groupon until December 7th, click below for the offer. They are in most states- great Christmas gifts.

Do you have some deals to share? Let me know.

Also, I am ordering supplements in the morning if you need anything. If you want to learn about zinc, check out Terri's post yesterday, below. I was just about to post on zinc when I saw she already did it for me. It is one of my regular supplements everyday. It is especially important for hormone production!

It is $20 per liquid bottle.