Buy Organic, Especially these “Dirty Dozen” Fruits and Vegetables

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Have you heard of the Dirty Dozen? I’m not talking about the 1967 movie starring Charles Bronson; this Dirty Dozen is a list of agriculture’s dirtiest pieces of produce. The following list of fruits and veggies ranks highest in pesticide residue. These chemicals are organophosphate insecticides, which are toxic to the nervous system. Make sure when you buy the following, you buy organic:

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Peaches

5. Strawberries

6. Imported nectarines

7. Grapes

8. Spinach

9. Lettuce

10. Cucumbers

11. Domestic blueberries

12. Potatoes

And if you want to go a couple more down the list for good measure, eat these organic too:

+ Green beans

+ Kale/collard greens

Learn more from the Environmental Working Group.

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HealthyHappyEater:

As soon as I get enough figs off my tree, I’m making this! I just ordered some netting so I have a fighting chance against the birds who keep poking holes in them.

Originally posted on Martetatin:

According to my boyfriend, this is the most delicious thing he has eaten in the last few months. Isn’t that reason enough to make this salad? If a simple salad can please your boy more than Roast chicken with obscene amounts of garlic, Shakshuka, Momofuku pork buns or Lamb Ragout, don’t make a big effort anymore and just stick with the easy salads for this summer.

Its colours are bright and it looks so fresh and festive. Summer finally started in the Netherlands this week. It’s really sunny and hot and everyone ditched their jackets and long pants and switched to short skirts and trousers. This salad is really light, which is nice when it’s so hot and moreover, it helps you keep looking good in those short skirts.

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Bummed by raw milk shortage in Dallas? Check out real milk alternatives.

Real Milk from Texas Daily Harvest, Urban Acres, Dallas

August 2012 Update: Texas Daily Harvest has closed its creamery, much to my dismay. Lavon Farms still runs out of raw milk periodically, so get on their email list if you want availability updates. My current recommendation for low-temp pasturized milk is Mill-King, available at Patina Green and Urban Acres. See comments below the article for details.

 

I am a huge fan of real milk, preferably raw milk from grass-fed cows. The most convenient DFW source of raw milk, the Lucky Layla Farm Store at Lavon Farms in Plano, Texas, has been so popular that demand is sometimes greater than the supply.

If yours is one of the families disappointed when you’re unable to buy raw milk, I have an alternative for you: real milk from East Texas organic dairy, Texas Daily Harvest. It’s available locally at Urban Acres in Oak Cliff, at Whole Foods in Dallas and Plano, and through group and private delivery. They also have some good outlets around Austin, so Austinites check their website for locations. What makes Texas Daily Harvest milk “real milk?” It’s low-heat pasteurized and not homogenized, so it has the cream on top (shake it to mix before you pour).  Low-pasteurized means it’s heated to the minimum temperature required by law, so it still contains some good natural bacteria that you need for a healthy gut, as well as enzymes to help you digest the milk. If you happen to be out near Sulphur Springs, stop by Texas Daily Harvest and buy some raw milk from farmers, Ramy and Kent Jisha. I’ve toured their farm, and I am so impressed by these smart, conscientious farmers. I’m also thankful for them. Their passion and hard work keep good, real food on my table. Whether I buy their milk from Whole Foods or have it delivered (with free-range eggs and meat) to my house, I make sure I am well-stocked with my favorite real food. My husband and I drink a couple of gallons per week. If you can’t buy real milk, don’t bother drinking milk at all. Really. Ultra-Pasteurized milk from cows in confinement dairies, even if it’s organic, is not real food. For more info, check out my first post about real milk, and this one too. Be well! P.S. For my friends who prefer goat milk, or want to locate a raw cow milk dairy close to you, check out the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Real Milk site.

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Resolving to Eat Better is Easier With Solid Advice About Real Food

New Year's Resolution 2012Did you make a New Year’s resolution to eat better? If so, are you trying the same old things you’ve done in the past, or the latest thing, with varying degrees of success? Have you already fallen off the wagon? If so, don’t beat yourself up, and don’t stick your head in the sand … consider eating real food. It will bring you peace. I have so much peace in my life since I discovered real food, in fact the book Real Food by Nina Planck.

I grew up with female role models who made new year’s resolutions to lose weight on restrictive diets, and when that didn’t pan out, there was often the intention to start a diet “on Monday.” I followed suit for years, distrusting food and distrusting myself with food – white knucking it to avoid “bad” foods, and then ending up gorging myself on it (often in secret). Life is too short for that. Food should be enjoyed, and real food is so enjoyable and nourishing.

Take a deep breath, and rejoice in the fact that real food feeds your body, mind and soul. When you eat real food, you have energy, think clearly, breathe more deeply and cope with life better – and you won’t want to swing through the McDonald’s drive-thru. Another wonderful resource for information about traditional, whole food is the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Here’s  the Weston A. Price Foundation’s list of dietary guidelines:

  1. Eat whole, natural foods.
  2. Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
  3. Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
  4. Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
  5. Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
  6. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
  7. Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
  8. Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
  9. Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
  10. Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
  11. Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
  12. Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
  13. Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
  14. Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
  15. Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
  16. Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
  17. Use only natural supplements.
  18. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
  19. Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
  20. Practice forgiveness.

Just eat real food. And be well.

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Real Food Dessert Recipe: Tiramisu

 Tiramisu Healthy Happy EaterUntil last weekend, it had been about ten years since I’d made tiramisu; I promise it won’t be another ten until the next time. On New Year’s Day,  my husband’s family makes and eats an Italian pasta called cappelletti, and I wanted to bring a special dessert for after the meal. A recent visit to Jimmy’s Food Store in east Dallas, a mecca of Italian specialties, inspired me to make tiramisu. It’s delicious, beautiful, easy and doesn’t require any cooking. Try it!

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs from pastured chickens, separated
  • 1 cup espresso or strong coffee, cooled
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua
  • splash of maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups marscapone cheese
  • 4 tbsp maple sugar
  • 32 ladyfingers (avoid those made with enriched flour … or make your own!)
  • unsweeted cocoa powder
  • bittersweet chocolate shavings

Step One
Combine egg yolks, 2 tbsp espresso, 1 tbsp kahlua and sugar into large mixing bowl. Beat 2 minutes. Add marscapone, beat 3 minutes until smooth.

Step Two
In another bowl, beat 5 egg whites until stiff peaks form (you will not need the remaining 3 whites). Fold beaten whites into marscapone mixture.

Step Three
In a separate bowl, combine coffee, Kahlua and maple syrup. Arrange 1/2 of the ladyfingers in the bottom of a rectangular serving dish, and brush with half of coffee mixture; spread half of the marscapone cream mixture on top; sprinkle cocoa powder and chocolate shavings on top. Repeat one more time with remaining ingredients.
You may use a trifle bowl or springform pan; you’ll just have more than two layers. 

Step Four
Refrigerate for at least four hours, overnight is even better.

Feel free to experiment with different quantities of the ingredients. I consulted several cookbooks and recipes on the backs of the marscapone cheese and ladyfingers, and they varied greatly in the amount of sugar used (I used very little), the number of ladyfingers and the amount of liquor. The recipe above will serve more than 12 people.

Where does tiramisu get its name? In Italian, “tirami su” means pick me up. This dessert is so good that you’ll swoon, and need someone to pick you up off the floor. Cute, huh? Be well.

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Breastfeeding Alternative: Homemade Formula

At the Wise Traditions conference last weekend I attended a session led by Sarah Pope, the Healthy Home Economist, about Breastfeeding Myths, Alternatives and Supplementation. This is an area in which I have no experience, not having been a Mom and all … but I have the utmost respect for Sarah and the wisdom shared by the Weston A. Price Foundation, so I happily attended. I hope this info helps you or someone you love.

The main points were:

  1. breastfeed if you can
  2. NEVER feed a commercial baby formula with soy, even if it’s organic
  3. feed your baby one of the two homemade formulas in the video
  4. even if you breastfeed well, you and your husband should practice making this in case something happens and you’re unable to breastfeed, or you need to supplement your breastmilk
  5. this homemade formula is comparable in nutrition to mother’s milk
  6. feed this formula until your baby is one year old, then switch to raw cow’s milk (cow’s milk has more vitamins than goat’s milk)

It was inspiring to see so many young moms at the session, and at the whole conference actually. This video gives step-by-step instruction to teach parents the optimal methods for homemade formula preparation.

Please read here for additional information. Be well.

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Dallas Farm-to-Table Dinner: Last Day to Buy Tickets for FTCLDF FundRAISER at Wise Traditions

WAPF Wise Traditions
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BUY TICKETS BY PHONE AT 703-208-3278 OR online at
 
Spend the evening with over 300 friends old and new at the Festive Texas Dinner, Concert and Dance FundRAISER  on the eve of the WAPF Wise Traditions Annual International Conference. All proceeds benefit the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit – -  Defender of good food, farms and folk since 2007.  
 
CELEBRITY JUDGES!
Sally Fallon Morrell, Dr. Joe Mercola and Dr. Will Winter will weigh in on organ meat appetizers and custom scarecrows. But you will be the judge too in this version of American Offal Idol.
 
FIDDLES and DANCIN’!
Entertainment by the Quebe Sisters Band   
 
GLORIOUS FOOD! THREE-COURSE FARM-CHIC DINNER! 
  • Grass-fed Organ Meat Appetizers
  • Texas Daily Harvest Organic Grass-fed Gouda, Parmesan and Feta Raw Milk Cheese
  • Veldhuizen Cheese - Farmstead Artisan Paragon & Texas Star Raw Cheese Wheels
  • Miller’s Organic Farm Garlic Dill and Fermented Dill Pickles
  • Avocado, Seeded Cucumber Salad with Celery, Tomato and Spring Onion served with Garlic Lemon Celtic Sea Salt Infused Chaffin Family Orchards Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Chargrilled U.S. Wellness Grass-fed Steak, Fresh Herbs, Infused Natural Jus, Roasted Plum Tomato Apple Cider Vinaigrette
  • Lima Bean Celery Root Succotash with Butternut Squash
  • Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits featuring Pure Indian Foods Organic Grass-fed Ghee
  • Texas Cornbread featuring Bob’s Red Mill Organic Cornmeal and Texas Daily Harvest Organic Grass-fed Buttermilk
  • Trickling Springs Creamery Organic Grass-fed Sweet Cream Butter and Miller’s Organic Farm Maple Syrup
  • Grass-fed Butter, Honey and Miller’s Organic Farm Maple Syrup on the side
  • Immunitrition Cultured Vegetables
  • Starwest Botanicals Organic Hibiscus Heaven Iced Tea
  • Chicory “Coffee” and Texas Daily Harvest Organic Grass-fed Half & Half
  • Herbal Hot Teas and Honey
  • Warm Apple Pecan Cobbler with Vanilla Ice cream – an authentic Texas tradition. For those on the GAPS diets the entire meal, with the exception of the ice cream topping on the dessert is GAPS approved!

I wouldn’t miss it – these WAFP people put on a delicious, beautiful spread!

 

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Joel and Daniel Salatin’s Polyface: The Farm of Many Faces

Last month I had the honor of visiting Polyface Farm, in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund benefactor event. Joel Salatin gave the group a three-hour tour, that was fascinating and inspiring; it really touched my heart to be there.

The video below was recorded a couple of years ago by USA Today. It’s a succinct view of the Salatin philosophy of sustainable, symbiotic farming. I hope you enjoy it!

If you want to learn more about Joel’s philosophy and work, and how you can access nutritious, delicious real food, check out Joel Salatin’s book, “Folks This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World,”  just released this week.
Joel Salatin

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It! “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” by Joel Salatin Hits Bookstores Today

Friends, if you read just one blog post from me – ever – will you please let this be the one?

Today’s the day: genius farmer, Joel Salatin’s book, “Folks, This Ain’t Normal,” hits the bookstores! I pre-ordered mine, and received it last week. Watch this one-minute video with Joel, and then read the message below that includes highlights of Joel’s book from Weston A. Price Foundation leader Sally Fallon Morrell

FOLKS THIS AIN”T NORMAL
by Joel Salatin

We live in abnormal times.  Really abnormal times.  Times when most people think Twinkies,  Cocoa-puffs, and Mountain Dew are safe but raw milk, compost grown tomatoes, and Aunt Matilda’s homemade pickles are unsafe.  The average morsel of food travels fifteen hundred miles between point of production and point of consumption.  Indeed, the average T-bone steak sees more of America than the farmer that grew the cow.

Never in the history of civilization has a culture eaten foods it can’t pronounce, foods that can’t be made in a domestic kitchen, or foods that won’t rot.  Living foods mold, rot, and decompose.  How long can an M&M remain on your counter without altering its appearance? 

Until extremely recent days, people had to  think about energy, whether it was providing for draft animals for transportation and power, or accumulating firewood to keep the stove burning in the winter. 

We are the first culture to abdicate domestic culinary arts in favor of microwavable boxes of processed, stabilized, extruded, reconstituted, dye-colored, amalgamated, irradiated, nutrient-compromised, transgenic modified, prostituted pseudo-food.    Modern America now has the highest rate in history of chronic, debilitating diseases, and leads the world in unhealthiness. 

We’re the first culture to invent supermarkets and to universally equate children’s chores with abuse.  We’re the first culture to confine animals in factories, use pharmaceuticals on our food, and break the soil-building carbon cycle on a massive scale. 

These themes, discussed in historical context, conventional modern-day thinking, and future response, position Joel Salatin’s new book FOLKS, THIS AIN’T NORMAL as a must read for Weston A. Price members.  Indeed, he even uses the book to acquaint the world with WAPF as well as the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

“When a major publisher (CenterStreet, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group) decided to put their weight behind this project, I decided that part of my objective would be to let the world know about all these wonderful groups and thinkers who really have all the answers to people’s fears.  I get tired of seeing the media wringing their hands as if solutions don’t exist, when in fact, they do.  I hope this book draws thousands and thousands into the WAPF camp–just mentioning the organization should drive people to the website.”

Never one to allow victimhood excuses, Salatin ends each chapter with a bulleted list of “things you can do.”  This broad book addresses issues as varied as food police, soil development, Disneyfication of the culture, and scientific findings proving pasture-based livestock is far more nutrient dense than factory-farmed counterparts.  It will warm your soul.

If you’ve ever wondered how to articulate how ridiculous many modern assumptions are, this book will give some sound bites.  Filled with stories, satire, and humor, FOLKS, THIS AIN’T NORMAL  was released today in hardback, Kindle, and audio-book.

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm

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Is Coconut Oil REALLY Healthy? See Dr. Mercola’s Answer

Dr. Joseph Mercola has two kinds of oil in his pantry: olive oil and coconut oil. Watch this video to find out why.

Coconut oil is beneficial for:

  1. thyroid health –  due to its metabolic effect, coconut oil increases the activity of the thyroid and help you lose weight
  2. heart health – lowers cholesterol
  3. and it’s great applied to your skin – as a makeup remover, moisturizer

Of these two oils, Dr. Mercola uses olive oil for salads, and coconut oil for cooking. Why does he use coconut oil for cooking? Because it doesn’t oxidize at high temperatures like live oil can, and industrial oils do. Speaking of industrial oils, avoid these polyunsaturated oils: canola, safflower, soy, sunflower, corn.

What … avoid canola? Yes! Many people think canola oil is good for them, but it’s not. Follow the money, and read this article about the Great Con-ola. If you eat packaged food, read labels carefully; if it says canola on the label, don’t buy it. I recently noticed canola oil on the ingredient list of a popular brand of hummus. Using canola oil in hummus instead of olive oil means the manufacturer’s focus is on cheap, not quality.

Now, back to coconut oil. Look for these qualities in a good coconut oil:

  • Certified organic by USDA standards
  • No refining
  • No chemicals added (including hexane)
  • No bleaching
  • No deodorization
  • No hydrogenation
  • Made from traditional coconut palms only, no hybrid or genetically modified (GMO) varieties
  • Made from fresh coconuts, not the dried “copra” used in cheap oils
  • Made without heat processing

You can buy good quality coconut oil from Dr. Mercola’s site or Wilderness Family Naturals. I bought mine from Green Pasture, but I don’t see it on their website today.

Dr. Mercola will be the keynote speaker at Wise Traditions, the Weston A. Price Foundation’s International Conference in Dallas, November 11 – 13, 2011. I’ll be there!

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil, here’s a good article from real food blogger Cheeseslave, and read Bruce Fife’s well-researched book The Coconut Oil Miracle. Be well!

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Out on the Road with Real Food Chef and Holistic Nutrition Educator, Monica Corrado

Chef Monica Corrado articulates exactly how I feel when I’m away from home, looking for a good meal. Check out her story:

out here on the road

Last month I had the pleasure of eating some of Monica’s fermented food. We were at the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund benefactor lunch at Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm, in the glorious Shenandoah Valley.

Monica made fermented cucumbers and other vegetables, including beets and cauliflower; they were absolutely delicious. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Monica, but as a casual observer I noticed that she has a wonderful smile and joyful energy.

I absolutely love this blog by Monica, and I hope you do too. Be well.

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Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms

 

If you grocery shop at a standard American grocery store, you most likely see beautiful pictures of pastoral farm scenes in the decor and on food packages, and  you assume that’s where your food comes from. The truth is that most of it comes from industrial food systems run by large agricultural companies. They:

  • spray lots of pesticides
  • use genetically-modified seeds
  • create chemicals that make food-like substances taste like food
  • keep livestock in deplorable conditions

Big Ag also bankrolls lobbyists who influence your congressional representatives to vote for subsidies that keep soft drinks, candy and fast food cheap, plentiful and ubiquitous … and dairy, meat and produce substandard.

There is an alternative to Big Ag: it’s a food system championed by small farmers, and by parents who believe that feeding their children nutrient-dense food will make them robust and keep them healthy … but this food system is at risk. For example, the U.S. has lost 88% of its dairy farms in the last 40 years, according to  David Gumpert, author of The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights.

I recently attended a screening of the new documentary, Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms, and it’s an important story well told. The message is that your right to access fresh, healthy foods of your choice is under attack. First-time filmmaker, Kristin Canty’s quest to find healthy food for her four children turned into an educational journey to discover why access to these foods was being threatened. What she found were policies that favor agribusiness and factory farms over small family-operated farms selling fresh foods to their communities. Canty presents a compelling story that makes you ask, “What can I do to help?”

Kristin Canty and David Gumpert were at the Boston screening I attended, and they had an engaging discussion with the audience after the film. Read David’s thoughts on Farmageddon. Real food blogger Kimberly Hartke was also at the Boston premiere; read her blog about why this documentary is so important.

If you’re in San Francisco this week, you’re in luck; Farmageddon is showing at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre and the Rafael Theatre in San Rafael. Here’s a thoughtful review of the film by Gar Smith for the Berkeley Daily Planet.

So what can you do? Watch the trailer above and then visit the Farmageddon website to see if it’s being shown in your area. You can also request a screening for your group. Will you please help spread the word about this important film? Be well.

 

“Farmageddon is a powerful film documenting the U.S. government’s constant attacks on innocent farmers and consumers in an attempt to protect massive corporate interests. When the government controls the food you eat and the healthcare you receive, sickness is pervasive – this is exactly what has happened in the U.S.”
Dr. Joseph Mercola

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Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?

Healthy Happy EaterI believe it is, and I think  you will too after you read this article from the New York Times. I read it when it came out in April, tweeted it … and didn’t really take it to heart until now.

For the past 13 months, I have worked out at Camp Gladiator boot camp about three to five times per week, and now am training for a half marathon with long run/walk intervals on Saturdays. That’s pretty good, huh? Yeah but … all day long I sit on my butt in my office chair, then on the sofa all evening. Not good.

I started to have this nagging ache in my right knee a couple of months ago. I believe that it might have to do with the fact that I sit so much, because it only hurts when I first get up from sitting for a while. I ask my body to do intense physical activity for a few hours a week, and then I do absolutely nothing the rest of the time. How will I remedy this?

I’m going to move around more throughout the day, and strive for walking the recommended 10,000 steps. My boss just turned me onto a device called Fitbit, which tracks calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. It’s available on the Fitbit website and at Best Buy, but I bought mine at REI because of their generous return policy. I don’t plan to return it of course, but I like to trade with retailers who have outstanding customer service. REI has free shipping right now too.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, read the New York Times article about the dangers of a chair-based lifestyle … and as Nathan Arizona says, “Move! Move! Move!”

“Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day,” says Mayo Clinic researcher James Levine. “The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it’s time for the soul of the nation to rise.”       

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Real Food Recipe: Whole Fruit Frozen Margarita

Dana, this marg’s for you! I’m glad you liked the margarita, fruit fiber and all. Here’s the recipe, as requested:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 1 medium orange, peeled, halved
  • 1 lime, peeled halved
  • 1 lemon, peeled, halved, seeded
  • 1/4 cup sugar*
  • 6 cups ice cubes
  1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix* container in the order listed and secure the lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 45 seconds, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.
  5. Pour and enjoy!

* Consider Sucanat (dehydrated cane juice; I used this in your margarita), raw honey or maple syrup. You may also think about a small amount of natural stevia (not Truvia) to taste. If you use stevia, use the green powder, which is the ground up herb, not the white powder, which is the extracted compound.

** Using a standard household blender? Make half the recipe at a time. The full recipe – whole fruit, lots of ice – works best with a large-capacity power blender like Vitamix or Blendtec.

Thanks to Vitamix for the recipe.

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Patina Green: Fresh, Local Lunch and Vintage Finds on the Square in McKinney

Patina Green. I’ve been meaning to blog about Patina Green on the square in McKinney, Texas for months. Tara did such a great job; check out her account of a recent visit for lunch and shopping.

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Mexico City-Style Tacos at a Dallas Chevron: Bachman Tacos and Grill

image

For Dallas residents, one benefit of having the Super Bowl in town, was learning from the national media about great things in our own backyard. In one recent Wall Street Journal article, lauded Dallas chef Kent Rathbun (Abacus and Iron Chef America) said his favorite tacos in town were at Bachman Tacos, located inside a Chevron station in a working-class area of town.

I first checked it out about a month ago, and have been back several times, taking coworkers and family members. Do  you think I like it? Yes; it reminds me of days gone by when I’ve eaten tacos and burritos from street vendors in Mexico.

The tacos at $1.29 each are not only a bargain, they’re so delicious. Served on toasted corn tortillas with fresh chopped onions and cilantro, and wedges of lime, they’re some of the best tacos I’ve had. I’ve tried four versions:

  1. trompo (marinated pork, sliced, skewered and charbroiled)
  2. combination chicken and trompo
  3. carnitas (braised pork)
  4. beef fajitas

The first three were outstanding, with trompo topping the list. The beef is not something I’d order again; it just didn’t taste good to me. I rarely eat meat, eggs or dairy that isn’t from a local farmer I’ve met personally, but there’s just something about these tacos that I make an exception. If you try them, I’d love to hear what you think. Buen provecho!

Tips for gas station tacos newbies:

  • pre-pay for your tacos at the cash register in the gas station; just tell them how many tacos you want
  • if you want a drink, get that first and pay for it when you pay for the tacos; they have small Mexican Cokes in glass bottles that are a fun sugar splurge
  • take your receipt to the grill and tell them what kind of tacos you want
  • there’s a platic bucket for tips, if you’re so inclined
  • the tables are not cleaned regularly, so you may want to take your tacos to go
  • don’t bother with rice and beans, they’re terrible
  • the salsa is smokin’ hot

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Randy Travis Drinks Raw Milk


Last Sunday morning, my husband and I spent two happy hours with the Moore family at Lavon Farms in Plano, Texas, home of Lucky Layla drinkable yogurt. This is a picture of one of their beautiful Guernsey cows. We’ve been buying raw milk from the Moores since last summer when I first read Nina Planck‘s book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why?, and learned about the amazing nutrient-dense food that is raw milk.

We were out at the farm taking some pictures for a Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund fundraiser that will take place at Lavon Farms on November 11, during the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions Conference in Dallas. When details for both events become available, I’ll let you know.

Just 20 miles north of downtown Dallas, and a world away, this 200-acre farm is home to champion Guernsey and Jersey cows that live life the way cows were meant to. As we walked the pasture to get a better look a the cows, this Guernsey girl in the photo was so curious she just walked right up to us.

This great life they lead is in sharp contrast to the cows that produce most of the milk consumed in the U.S., even organic milk. Most milk is from confinement dairies where cows stand or lie on concrete, often in their own feces. At Lavon Farms, the average productive lifespan is seven to eight years; contrast that with industrial confinement dairy cows’ lifespan of two to three years.

Are you getting enough good protein in your diet? If you’re counting the protein in industrial pasteurized and homogenized milk, that might not count. Todd Moore reminded me that his milk contains the rare A2 protein that’s particularly beneficial for people with:

  • type 1 diabetes
  • high risk of heart disease
  • autism

Only milk from Jersey and Guernsey cattle have the important A2 protein, and Guernseys are known to produce the highest percentage of A2 of all breeds of dairy cattle. If you or your family members have any of the above conditions, and even if you don’t, you may seriously want to consider drinking A2 raw milk. Find your local source for real milk here.

Ann Marie of Cheeseslave.com, says this about protein in general: “Protein is made up of chains of amino acids, which are the precursors for the neurotransmitters in our brain. The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of endorphins and serotinin. According to Julia Ross, pioneer in the field of nutritional psychology and author of The Mood Cure, lack of protein causes:

    • anxiety
    • depression
    • insomnia
    • ADD
    • alcohol/drug addiction, and a host of other problems

Julia says we need 20-30 grams of protein per meal — three times a day. And that’s just to maintain our current brain chemistry. Animal protein is the most nutrient-dense form of protein — so why not just cut to the chase? Anxious? Depressed? You need more protein! It’s essential to always eat fat with protein.”

I am so passionate about real, raw milk that it inspired me to start this blog. My first blog post was about raw milk, and my masthead features bottles of fresh milk. My husband and I drink about a gallon a week; we’ve been known to drink two … and we find ourselves white-knuckling it toward the end of the week, trying to make it last until our next visit to Lavon Farms. I drink it before and after my Camp Gladiator bootcamp workout. Raw milk is the perfect food: you get protein, carbs and good fat, as well as tons of vitamins for healthy body and amino acids for a healthy gut. When your milk is from healthy, happy cows, milked under sanitary conditions, and it’s not pasteurized or homogenized, you get the full benefits of nature’s perfect food.

So what about Randy Travis? I hear he’s a fan of raw milk from Lavon Farms, too!

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Real Food Recipe: Blue Cheese and Walnut Dressing

healthy happy eaterSally Fallon Morell says that a good first step on the journey to eating nourishing real food is to learn how to make salad dressing. This advice has helped me a great deal; by making salads more tasty and interesting, I eat more of them. Most of the salad dressings at the grocery store contain oils you should stear clear of: soybean and canola.

I’ve stocked my cabinet with ingredients to make easy, delicious dressings at a moment’s notice. On the back of one of those ingredients, white wine vinegar, I found the following recipe from Marlene Sorosky Gray (cookbook author and food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle).

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 TBSP fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Mix oil vinegar, mustard and orange juice. Stir in blue cheese, season to taste (May store in refrigerator for a few weeks.) Stir in walnuts before serving. Makes about 1/2 cup.

This dressing can be served over cooked asparagus, broccoli or green beans. I like it on a salad, with all the leaves lightly coated with dressing:

  • wash Romaine (or your favorite) lettuce
  • dry it in an OXO Salad Spinner
  • chop it with  an OXO Lettuce Knife
  • sprinkle lettuce with real salt
  • in a large bowl, toss lettuce with just enough dressing to lightly coat
  • sprinkle with toasted walnuts, and serve

I hope you enjoy this. I’ll post more salad dressings in the future. Be well!

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Simple Real Food Recipe: Shrimp and Cheese Grits/Polenta with Bacon Tabasco Sauce

I’ve lived in the south all my life, and grits were always a breakfast dish made with white corn grits, mixed with butter and salt; yum. I have an Italian grandmother, and now an Italian husband, and yellow corn grits has always been polenta; also yum.

As contemporary American chefs get back to basic food traditions, I’m finding grits on the menu more often, and it’s not just for breakfast anymore. I was inspired to make this after a visit to Hattie’s (an American bistro with a southern low-country influence) in Dallas. Whether you call it grits or polenta, I have an easy, yummy recipe for you.

Ingredients

Cook the grits according to package directions; I use chicken stock or broth, instead of water, for flavor. The War Eagle grits have microwave instructions, Bob’s Red Mill has stove top instructions. Leave the grits mushy, there’s no need to let it set up in a bowl to cut into cakes.

Toss the shrimp with good olive oil and sea salt and pepper. Spread them in one layer on a sheet pan, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. (This great method for cooking shrimp is from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook – a great resource.)

Cook the bacon until crispy, remove from pan and reserve the fat. Mix bacon fat with Tabasco Chipotle to taste.

To assemble:

  • mix the grits with cheese and butter, place on plate
  • top with shrimp
  • break bits of crispy bacon over dish
  • spoon bacon Tabasco sauce over the top

Serve hot with a big salad, a nice glass of chilled white wine and enjoy! Be well.

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Simple Real Food Recipe: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Serendipity struck in the kitchen last night: I made a delicious broccoli cheddar soup on the fly, and it was terrific! You’ll see from the picture on the left, that it’s bright green, not orangey-yellow. When you mix green broccoli with naturally white cheese, you get a beautiful bright green soup.

Mainstream cheddar is orange only because industrial food companies dye it that way. I had a lightbulb moment about this last weekend when I visited some cheese artisans at the Texas Daily Harvest farm in east Texas. I must tell you, this was a revelation to me.

My broccoli cheddar soup was serendipitous because I was making another dish, and ended up with mushy broccoli that I couldn’t use. I had meant to blanch my broccoli, and then put it in an ice bath, but I ended up letting it boil too long. This turned out to be a great thing, because it turned into a delicious, easy soup. I hope you like it.

Ingredients

I blended it for five minutes on high in my Vitamix blender*, and it came out velvety smooth and piping hot. Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil (Tutta Toscana) over the top, and enjoy! You may also want to experiment by adding a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, and maybe some toasted pine nuts. Buon appetito!

*If you don’t have a high-performance blender such as Vitamix or Blendtec, you’ll need to heat it on the stove. (Blend the broccoli with the liquid ingredients, pour it in the pot, add the shredded cheese, and heat.) I love the Vitamix; it makes hot soups, smoothies, and so much more; I use it almost every day. It has an air-cooled motor that allows it to run for long periods of time without overheating.

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Think Before You Choose the thinkThin® Protein Bar

If you think a thinkThin Bar is a healthy snack, because it’s:

  • high protein
  • sugar-free
  • gluten-free

… think again.

Check out the ingredients (the most objectionable ingredients are bold): Protein blend (calcium caseinate, soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate), glycerin, coating (maltitol, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, sodium caseinate, dairy oil, soya lecithin, natural flavors, salt), glycerin, maltitol syrup, ground peanuts, soy crisps (soy protein isolate, rice flour, calcium carbonate), water, peanuts, canola oil, peanut flour, natural flavors, tricalcium phosphate, soya lecithin, salt. Vitamins and Minerals: ascorbic acid, d-alpha tocopherol, niacinamide, zinc oxide, vitamin A palmitate, electrolytic iron, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, copper gluconate, riboflavin, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, vitamin B12.

Here’s the lowdown:

  1. Soy is the main protein source. Read my post about the dangers of soy. Most protein bars have soy as the main protein source; this is not good by any measure. Consider eating real food instead.
  2. Glycerin is not food.
  3. Maltitol syrup, like high-fructose corn syrup, is a processed syrup that has the same number on the glycemic index as sugar (about 60), but the body can’t process it as efficiently.
  4. There is no nutritional or culinary reason to use cheap, refined canola oil. Many other fats are superior: coconut oil, ghee, butter, olive oil …
  5. Folic acid is popular for enriching industrial foods; too much folic acid from enriched foods can mask a vitamin B-12 deficiency. You cannot get too much folic acid from food that naturally contains it (such as leafy vegetables, citrus, beans), but avoid food “enriched” with folic acid.

Want to eat a good snack? How about an organic Pink Lady apple and some organic peanut butter? If you need a bar for convenience, LaraBars  are made with whole food; these are the only ones I buy … and I still rarely eat them. Think real food, not faux food; raise your standards. Be well!

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Organic Restaurant Nora in DC is Not All That: Food Needs Fat

When traveling, as at home, I make an effort to eat fresh, local real food. Last week in Washington, DC I visited tony Restaurant Nora near Dupont Circle for what I expected to be a spectacular meal. Having read that in 1999, Restaurant Nora became America’s first certified organic restaurant, and that chef Nora was a pioneer in the sustainable food movement, I had high hopes. The $75 (plus tax and tip, not including wine) tasting menu left me flat; the food wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t all that great. Here’s what I had:

  1. First Course: Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
  2. Second Course: Goat Cheese Tart
  3. Third Course: Grass-fed Beef Filet with Carrots and Mashed Potatoes
  4. Dessert: Banana Bread Pudding with Coconut Ice Cream

The best thing I had was the filet which was absolutely tender and flavorful; there is nothing like a good steak from a cow allowed to forage, breathe fresh air and … well, be a cow. As for the rest of the food, I think Nora may not have gotten the message that traditional fats are actually good for you (e.g., butter and lard). I think that’s the missing piece in her menus.

Other observations: the wait staff that served my table were aloof and slow; the restaurant is decorated with museum-quality antique Mennonite and Amish crib quilts that are spectacular and perfectly lit.

The bottom line is that I wish I had read the following Zagat review about Restaurant Nora before my trip: “Never trust a skinny chef: the food here is as dull as it is overpriced. If you care more about seeing the organic label than you do about food quality, then …”

P.S. The perfect place to stay in that neighborhood is Embassy Circle Guest House.

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Two Roads Diverged in a Wood, and I Chose … Swedish Massage

Two and a half years ago, I was a Weight Watchers member for the umpteenth time. I hate the idea of counting and measuring food, but as I struggled with my weight I would inevitably get humble enough to sign up yet again for another round of meetings. At this particular time, I heard about a new Aveda spa that offered memberships where you could get a monthly massage (or facial) for $59. I was spending $40 a month on Weight Watchers, not getting anything out of it but guilt and shame, so it was a no-brainer to decide to put that money toward a monthly massage instead. How decadent, how lovely … how smart. 

So what does this have to do with being a healthy, happy eater? Two main things:

  1. nuturing the body is a healthy thing to do
  2. counting and measuring food contributes to neuroses

Massage relieves stress, lowers anxiety, minimizes pain and stiffness, lowers blood pressure and boosts immunity. That sounds alot better to me than getting up early on a Saturday morning for a guilt-inducing WW meeting where you try to learn how to game the (digestive) system with faux food.

I have a sweet, beautiful, trim, fit friend who recently told me she was considering joining Weight Watchers to lose a few pounds. Everything in me screamed, “Noooooooooo!” I hated to see a person with no weight problem tap into the collective neuroses that tries to make food the enemy. My advice to her was to read Nina Planck’s book Real Food: What to Eat and Why. There’s so much misinformation about food - from the FDA, diet experts, nutritionists, the media, pharmaceutical companies, industrial food producers - that Nina’s book was like a gulp of fresh air after almost suffocating. Her approach is so intuitive, I immediately knew it was truth. Michael Pollan says her book is, “Persuasive and invigorating … a valuable and eye-opening book.” I couldn’t agree more!

So the next time you consider counting and measuring, or eating something that’s lowfat, nonfat, industrial-processed-supposed-to-taste-like-something-else … go have a massage (Hiatus Spa if in Dallas) and then enjoy some real food. Not sure what that is? Here’s what Nina calls The Omnivore’s Feast (p. 273):

  • Eat generous amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables daily  
  • Eat wild fish and seafood often
  • Eat meat, game, poultry, and eggs from wild, pastured and grass-fed animals often
  • Eat full-fat dairy foods, ideally raw and unhomogenized from grass-fed cows, often
  • Eat only traditional fats, including butter, lard, poultry fat, coconut oil, and olive oil
  • Eat whole grains and legumes
  • Eat cultured and fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso and sourdough bread
  • Eat unrefined sweeteners such as raw honey, evaporated cane juice, and pure maple syrup in moderation
  • Be well!

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    My First Farm-to-Fork Dinner

    Boston Marrow Squash Mousse with cranberry compote, candied squash, coffee braised hazelnuts and shortbread cookie crumble, by Chef Matt Maue of Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro in Foxborough, Massachusetts

    I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Life’s short; eat dessert first,” so I start this post with a picture of the scrumtious dessert from a recent RAFT Heirloom Harvest Dinner sponsored by Slow Food Boston. If you’ve never heard of RAFT, it’s my pleasure to share it with you. Here’s the official description:

    Managed by Slow Food USA, RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions) is an alliance of food, farming, environmental and culinary advocates who have joined together to identify, restore and celebrate America’s biologically and culturally diverse food traditions through conservation, education, promotion and regional networking.

    What that means, is that some of our traditional heirloom foods are in danger of going extinct, and the RAFT initiative’s objective is to save these foods. This amazing three-hour, four course dinner (not counting appetizers) was a tremendous experience for me. As a recent escapee from the prison of junk and fast food, I was delighted with every morsel from Tastings’ Chef Matt Maue’s kitchen. I had eaten at Tastings for the first time the night before, and was so taken with the fresh, local, uniquely-prepared food that I had to eat there again … and pronto. Here’s what I had the first night:

    Native Rhode Island Popcorn with duck fat and lemon thyme;

    Spinach Salad with a free-range fried egg and house-cured bacon;

    Black Truffle Macaroni and Cheese;

    Bombster Scallops on a bed of creamed corn, garnished with arugula 

    The next night was the Farm-to-Fork RAFT Harvest Dinner for nine guests, mostly from around Boston and Providence. The evening started with passed hors d’oeuvres, which included a large piece of slate covered with salami, cheeses, olives, pickles and caperberries. There were also some pork meatballs in a tomato/pepper sauce and the popcorn with duck fat and lemon thyme. I was so taken with that popcorn that I made it at home a few days later – yum! I’m so glad that Nina Planck taught me to appreciate good traditional fats as a healthy part of my diet. Here are the courses, with links to the farms and links to the descriptions of the veggies whose existence is in the hands of a small few (order some seeds to grow in your garden!).

    Course One
    Whitebarn Farm Speckled Trout Lettuce Salad
    with green beans, roasted garlic ranch dressing and Benton’s Country Ham
    Note: a fellow diner said that Whitebarn has the best garlic. And I loved Benton’s Country Ham; I will definitely be ordering some.

    Course Two
    Brambly Farms Pork Croquette
    with Jimmy Nardello Pepper Romesco Sauce
    Note: Chef Matt said that Brambly Farms raises “amazing pigs.”

    Course Three
    Braised Blackbird Farm Short Ribs
    with maple yogurt, gilfeather turnips, glazed wethersfield red onions and arugula
    Note: Ann Marie (left, with Chef Matt) from Blackbird Farm attended the dinner. I enjoyed hearing about her Angus cattle: the way they’re bred, raised, harvested, aged and brought to market. The calves nurse until they’re about eight months old; news to me. These braised short ribs were some of the best food I’ve ever eaten!

    Course Four
    Boston Marrow Squash Mousse
    with cranberrry compote, candied squash, shortbread cookie crumble and coffee braised whole hazelnuts

    This dinner was very special, and I’m so thankful that my trip to the Boston area coincided with this Slow Food Boston event. The conversation over dinner was lively and uplifting, and mostly about real food. I was inspired by it, and reminded of a time that I visited a church in which a baby was baptised during the service. The priest held up the child and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Church has a future.” With young chefs like Matt Maue, and family farms like Blackbird, real food has a future. And that is worth rejoicing!

    If you’re interested in joining the Slow Food movement, they have a memberhip drive special right now for $25/year. Slow Food started in Italy in the late ’80s to “counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” Be well.

    

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    Healthy, Happy Eaters: Wear Vibram FiveFingers (if you don’t already!)

    My brother, the healthiest, happiest eater I know, first told me about Vibram FiveFingers. He actually ran barefoot before buying this “barefoot” footwear. My brother’s a real athlete (even competed several Ironman Triathlons), and I never considered myself to be one, but I’ve really gotten into working out outside with Camp Gladiator

    Right out of the box, these shoes made a huge difference in my form and speed while sprinting. Here are two comments from CG this week, inspired by my new shoes which I’ve just had for a week. One trainer to another, “Did Kelly run track in high school?” No, sir. A contender friend to me after an extra fast sprint lap, “You just rocked that lap!” I answered, “Yeah, it’s the shoes.”

    I’d thought about getting some Vibrams for a while, and I’m so glad I finally did. One of the trainers at boot camp is very knowledgeable about VFF, so she gave me great tips. While sprinting, exaggerate the motion: like high knees in front and butt kicks in back, landing on the balls of my feet. I did this, and I felt like Michael Johnson! For jogging, she said to take small steps and land on the balls of my feet. For more instruction, see the FAQs on the VFF site.

    Mark Sisson, primal living guru and author of The Primal Blueprint, recommends going barefoot or wearing these shoes. Why? Because the human foot is a marvel of natural engineering. As the Vibram website says,

    “The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised … Stimulating the muscles in your feet and lower legs will … make you stronger and healthier … improves your balance, agility …”

    Here are six reasons why Vibram recommends wearing FiveFingers:

    1. Strengthens Muscles in the Feet and Lower Legs – wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.

    2. Improves Range of Motion in Ankles, Feet and Toes – no longer ‘cast’ in a shoe, the foot and toes move more naturally.

    3. Stimulates Neural Function Important to Balance and Agility – when wearing Vibram FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain, improving balance and agility.

    4. Improves Proprioception and Body Awareness – those same neurological receptors heighten body awareness, sending messages about body mechanics, form, and movement.

    5. Eliminates Heel Lift to Align the Spine and Improve Posture – By lowering the heel, our bodyweight becomes evenly distributed across the footbed, promoting proper posture and spine alignment.

    6. Allows the Foot and Body to Move Naturally, Which Just FEELS GOOD.

    I bought my Vibram FiveFingers Bikilas at Whole Earth Provision Company in Dallas. The shoe fitter recommended the Bikila version for running on pavement, which is where most of my running is done. I LOVE them! For years I’ve worn a super supportive version of Saucony running shoes, for which I was fitted at the running store. In my Bikilas, I feel liberated; running feels more natural. If you wear VFF, will you tell us how you got into them … and what you think about them? Be well.

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    I Wanted McDonald’s Today

    …but I didn’t get any. It was an interesting experience. Having been a lifelong fast food eater, and being “sober” for almost four months, I was surprised that it sounded good today. I was surprised, because ever since I discovered real food, I have happily not wanted fast food. So what happened today?

    I’ve been so busy that I didn’t get enough nutrition in this morning … just one glass of raw milk on the way to work. Now I believe that raw milk is a complete food, but not necessarily a complete meal. By lunch time, I was really hungry. I usually bring my lunch, most often leftovers from last night’s dinner, but not today. McDonald’s popped into my head and stayed a few minutes. I thought about the fries, and an extra value meal sounded good.

    I thought those days of eating massive amounts of McDonald’s food and Coke in secret, in my car, were behind me. Instead of freaking out or white knuckling it, I calmly and objectively assessed the situation:

    Q: Why does that sound good?
    A: It just does.

    Q: Ever since getting off fast food, you’ve felt so much better.
    A: Yes, I have. It’s kind of weird that I want it now.

    Q: Where did this thought come from?
    A: I passed a brand-spanking new McDonald’s yesterday. It doesn’t look like those nasty roadside joints. It’s made of stone, and it’s in an upscale area. Maybe I should eat there while the oil’s still fresh and the restaurant is clean.

    Q:  What about the quality of the food. Do you want to rethink that?
    A: Let’s see, there’s:

    • the rancid vegetable oil they cook the fries in
    • the Russet Burbank potatoes that come from a perilous monoculture
    • a cheese-like substance
    • soybean oil in the sauce
    • high fructose corn syrup in the ketchup
    • buns made of refined white flour
    • beef from cattle fed a diet of genetically-modified corn … on a crowded feed lot …whose stench you can smell for miles … who are killed and processed in factories where workers are treated like animals
    • and all that sugar in the Coke …

    My whole thought process was quick, much faster than typing about it, and I moved on. I ended up at Chipotle where I got a carnitas quesadilla with guacamole and water. Read Chipotle’s “Food with Integrity” story, and you’ll see the difference. Will I ever darken the doorway at McDonald’s again? Maybe to buy a bottle of Dasani water, ironically made by the CocaCola company.

    By the way, I’m not opposed to burgers and fries; in fact, it’s one of my favorite meals. But why have low-quality fast food, when you can have a truly great burger and fries? By truly great, I mean delicious, satisfying and nutritious. The best I’ve had so far are the ones I made from the America’s Test Kitchen show, Best Burgers and Fries. I made everything exactly according to the recipe, and I just swooned … so did my husband. Will you let me know what you think if you make it? Be well.

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    Not Eating Enough Healthy Fat Can Make You Crave Refined Carbs

    … and we all know where that leads. For more information like this, sign up for Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food for Rookies class, which starts Thursday. Kelly’s delivery is straightforward and her content is right on. This is the perfect class for people who want to eat better and feel better, but are confused by all the misinformation around nutrition these days.

    Check out her curriculum to see what you’ll learn. You need this class if:

    • you’ve tried to “eat healthy,” but got discouraged
    • you’re starting to question the low-fat dieting wisdom
    • you want to give up your fast food addiction
    • you’re hooked on sugar and/or sugar substitutes
    • you’re concerned about the increasing outbreaks of e coli and salmonella
    • you want to eat nutritious food, but you’re pressed for time
    • you think eating well costs a lot
    • you’re worried about the rising obesity rates of children

    Sign up for the class, and tell your friends. Kelly the Kitchen Kop has done a lot of research, is a very knowledgeable resource, and her conversion story is inspiring. If you take the class, will you share an aha moment or two?

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    Take the Primal Blueprint Challenge

    Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple is starting his Primal Blueprint Challenge today. I’m taking the challenge, and I invite you to do the same. You don’t have to buy anything; you don’t even have to sign up. Check out Mark’s invitation:

    Here’s a summary of the Challenge:

  • Challenge #1: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals
  • Challenge #2: Avoid Poisonous Things
  • Challenge #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace
  • Challenge #4: Lift Heavy Things
  • Challenge #5: Sprint Once in a While
  • Challenge #6: Get Adequate Sleep
  • Challenge #7: Play
  • Challenge #8: Get Adequate Sunlight
  • Challenge #9: Avoid Stupid Mistakes
  • Challenge #10: Use Your Brain
  • Visit Mark’s website to learn more. There is a wealth of information there. My brother, who has been the healthiest person I know for the past 20 years, turned me on to Mark’s Daily Apple. I’ve done pretty well following the primal principles, most of which coincide with Nina Planck’s Real Food, this summer. I’ve consistently lost one to two pounds each week. I feel amazing: my energy is high, my mood is positive, my mind is clear, my hair is thicker, my confidence is way up. Go for it – you can do it!

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    Obesity May Be Becoming the New Norm

    A recent Harris/HealthDay poll found that 30 percent of overweight people think they are normal size. Is this wishful thinking or are we just putting our heads in the sand?

    Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are the biggest threat to the health of our population. I think the vast majority of people are aware of this, but they’re either not willing to do anything about it, or they’ve tried various solutions through the years with no lasting success.

    For me, depending on my frame of mind, I was either ignoring my obesity problem or optimistically trying another diet. I went on my first diet at age 10, the Air Force Diet, a popular low-carb diet in the seventies; I ate a lot of hotdogs. Then I fasted a few times until I almost passed out. In the early ’80s it was Judy Mazell’s Beverly Hills Diet; mangoes and papayas still remind me of that diet. Next was the Cambridge Liquid Diet in my late high school years. My friend’s Dad made her get on it to maintain her at 118 pounds; he actually made her weigh in front of him. Then there was Slim Fast. By then, I was in college and weighed 182 pounds; I had dieted off and on for half of my short life.

    After college in the early ’90s I got into the cycle of going to diet centers for help. I bought a lifetime membership to Jenny Craig and dutifully ate their food-like substances. I lost weight very quickly, eating only 1000 calories per day. I was “perfect,” and I basked in the glory when I was able to proclaim to the counselors that I was “good.” At 132 pounds, I was two pounds away from my goal weight. Week after week, I would go to the Center, buy more boxed food, and I just could not lose those last two pounds. I was frustrated and sad, and the counselors kept telling me to try harder. If only someone (me?) had told me that I should celebrate how far I’d come, and not worry about another couple of pounds. Instead, I quickly gained all the weight back and then some.

    For the next fifteen years, I would be in and out of Jenny Craig, on and off diets, until the past few years when I gave up on even trying to diet. My self-esteem was low, my energy was low, and the comfort of eating McDonald’s all by myself in my car was just too alluring. I was drawn to it, obsessed with it, soothed by it, addicted to it … and poisoned by it. It has been more than three months since my last visit to McDonald’s, and I have lost 26 pounds. I feel calm and strong and completely free of the pull of the Golden Arches. How did I do it? I did the AdvoCare 24-day challenge, with the support of Camp Gladiator, and then I began eating Real Food as described by Nina Planck. The challenge got me off sugar and fast food, and got me accustomed to eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Nina’s book is guiding me for how to eat for the rest of my life. I was afraid that eating well meant limiting your choices; on the contrary, a whole new world of great food has opened up to me.

    If you are obese or overweight, you can break free from that prison. Do you have to do a strict challenge before you start eating according to the Real Food principles? No; it just happened to be my journey. You must understand though how sugar, refined grains and chemical-laden industrial food-like substances are affecting your brain. They are keeping you imprisoned. Get Nina Planck’s book, and start eating real food. One good thing that I did learn from Jenny Craig (way back when) was to shop the walls of the grocery store; you’ll find all the food you need there. Along the walls, you’ll find the produce, fish, meat and dairy.

    Whether you’re gorging food with abandon or white-knuckling it to stay away from “bad” foods, you have a problem. Once you get the sugar and chemicals out of your system, and eat real food, you will realize the blessings of a clear mind and a healthy body. I feel better today than I’ve felt in more than 17 years; I wish the same for you. Obesity does not have to be the “new norm” for you. Eat well, move for fun and be well.

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    Salmon Croquettes: not your Mama’s salmon patties

    One of the great benefits of eating well is making new, delicious meals. I never got anything like this from the McDonald’s drive-thru!

    Salmon Croquettes
    (based on a modified New Basics recipe from Ann Marie at Cheeseslave)

    15 ounces wild Alaskan salmon (I used canned Bear and Wolf from Costco)
    3/4 cups toasted bread crumbs (toast 4 slices frozen sprouted bread, pulse in food processor)
    1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (I used the recipe for mayonnaise in Nourishing Traditions – make it ahead of time to allow it to thicken)
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1/4 cup minced yellow bell pepper (or celery)
    1/4 cup minced red bell pepper 
    1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley 
    2 eggs
    2 tsp grated lemon zest
    1 tsp Dijon mustard
    1 tsp organic Worcestershire sauce 
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1/2 cup macadamia nut oil to start, more as needed
    mayo to serve

    1. Mince all the veggies together in a food processor.
    2. In a mixing bowl, combine the salmon with 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, along with all the other ingredients (except for the macadamia oil and the mayo to serve).
    3. Shape into patties. Roll the patties in the rest of the breadcrumbs.
    4. Heat 1/2 cup of macadamia oil in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet on medium heat. Cook the patties 3-4 minutes on each side, until brown and crispy.
    5. Serve with mayonnaise

    Serves 4. Serve with a big salad and a glass of wine.

    Notes: If you use prepared bread crumbs, read the label to make sure it is just bread crumbs (e.g., no vegetable oil or other chemicals). Don’t be afraid to make real mayonnaise; throw out that stuff with soybean oil. A panini grill is a great way to heat the leftovers. Enjoy!

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    Think soy products are healthy? Think again.

    I’ve eaten some soy products on purpose (edamame and a brief flirtation with soy milk), but I’m sure the vast majority of my past soy consumption was hidden (in chocolate … to just about everything processed). After reading about some of the dangers of soy in Nina Planck’s Real Food, I cleaned out my cupboards of all products with vegetable oil, including my former favorite salad dressing that contained soybean oil.

    Acording to Kaayla T. Daniel, Ph.D., hundreds of epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to: 

    • Malnutrition
    • Digestive distress
    • Thyroid dysfunction
    • Cognitive decline
    • Reproductive disorders
    • Infertility
    • Birth defects
    • Immune system breakdown
    • Heart disease
    • Cancer

    “Second generation soy foods are manufactured using high heat and pressure, chemical solvents, acids and alkalis, extruders and other harsh tools that are very likely to contain or produce toxic or carcinogenic residues.”
    — Kaayla T Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story

    Soy protein is a big staple of the vegan and vegetarian diet, in tofu and powder form just to name a couple of popular items. Interestingly, even some vegans are recognizing the dangers are soy, and bill themselves as soy-free.

    Listen to the piece below for an audio interview with Sally Fallon about why soy is toxic.

    What about Asians who eat soy, and seem to be healthier than we are? The soy they eat is fermented soy, as in soy sauce, which is not the toxic chemically-altered kind that’s in our American industrial food; they also eat smaller quantities of soy overall. Small quantities of the fermented products of soy sauce, miso and tempeh are fine for healthy people, especially if they have been slowly fermented over time, to maximize the reduction of toxins in soy.

    For further information, check out this Soy Alert from the Weston A. Price Foundation. Be well!

    27 March 2012 Update: Check out Food Renegade for more research on dangers of soy http://www.foodrenegade.com/dangers-of-soy/

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    Do the recent food recalls scare you? Not me.

    Well maybe they do scare me, but not for reasons you might think. When I heard about the egg recall, I didn’t run to the fridge to see if my eggs were on the recall list; I buy my eggs from a local family farm. When I heard about the Walmart meat recall, I knew it did not affect me; I do not buy meat at Walmart, especially not nitrates/nitrites-laden deli meat.

    So what’s scary about the recall to me? The probability that the government will react in a way that fails to address the real problem: industrial farming methods and manufacturing processes.

    Michael Pollan is optimistic that this will be one of those “teachable moments” on the problems of the industrial food system and the need for reform. I really hope he’s right. Here’s what Pollan had to say on Anderson Cooper 360 last night, as interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta:

    There have not been the same sort of outbreaks with organic operations. However, organic egg operations are so tiny compared to conventional egg producers, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I eat eggs, and I buy them whenever I can at the farmers’ market. I know how those eggs are raised. They’re raised on grass. The animals live outdoors, in small flocks. They’re raised much the same as in the days before we had to worry about salmonella.


    So what’s the big deal about industrial food? Most of it is not real food. Hear what Nina Planck has to say about industrial food.

    And check out this article from the Agriculture Society that says, … if we changed our farming practices and methods back to the ways used by traditional farmers through the ages, we would heal the land, the creatures, and our bodies of many of the modern illnesses, problems, and scourges that plague our modern feedlots and factory farm environments.

    It’s not a coincidence that you’re hearing more and more about salmonella outbreaks. They will continue to make headlines until this country gets its priorities straight about our food supply and the motivations behind the major players. Get educated about real food, eat real food and you’ll open up a whole new world to yourself. You can do it!

    Update (8/25/10): The farms responsible for selling the eggs infected with salmonella continue to produce and sell their product while the FDA investigates. Millions of eggs per day are being cracked open and pasteurized (exposed to high temperatures for a period of time) to kill the salmonella. They are then being sold as liquid egg or added to other products. Pay attention! Industrial food suppliers are

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    Julia Ross says, “Junk moods come from junk foods.”

    You’ve probably heard that nutrition plays an important role in how we feel, but have you taken it to heart? If you feel crummy, I’d guess that your diet probably includes:

    1. Junk food (fast food, sugar, white flour, vegetable oil, processed food), or
    2. Foods you think are healthy, but are not (low fat meats like skinless chicken breast, or worse … no meat, soy products, grains)

    Watch this five-minute video from the CheeseSlave’s online cooking class on how plenty of protein and good fats can help you be well:

    Give your brain the nutrients it needs, and you will feel well and be well. The nutrients your brain needs are the same that your whole body needs for optimal functioning. I was addicted to white flour and sugar for years. I have recently ditched junk food, and I feel better than I have in more than a decade! And I’m not being “good” or exercising an iron will, I am eating real, beautiful, delicious food that just happens to be exactly what my brain and body need. I really feel like a new person, and I hope the information I share will help you too.

    To learn about real food, read Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck.

    For more information about how food affects your mood, check out The Mood Cure (by Julia Ross).

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    Raw milk!

    Until five weeks ago raw milk had never passed my lips, nor had it ever crossed my mind. Thanks to Nina Planck’s book Real Food: What to Eat and Why, it’s now a regular part of my daily diet, and I can’t imagine life without it. Raw milk is creamy, sweet, fresh, fat and an honest-to-goodness real whole food.

    Besides the great taste, there are many nutritional benefits to drinking raw milk, including vitamins and more available calcium that are damaged if pasteurized. Milk is a whole food, complete with protein, fat and carbohydrates. What about people who say they are lactose intolerant? They can drink raw milk because it contains the lactase enzyme that’s necessary to digest the lactose (lactase is killed when pasteurized). Here’s Real Food author Nina Planck on dairy and eggs. Here’s Sally Fallon on real raw milk.

    In some states it’s actually illegal to buy and sell raw milk. Really. You can buy cigarettes and all kinds of toxic substances masquerading as food, but not wholesome raw milk. That’s not the case in Texas; you just have to buy it from the farm. The weekly 40-mile round-trip trek to the Lucky Layla Farm Store at  Lavon Farms in Plano, where they sell milk from pastured champion Guernsey and Jersey cows, is a small price to pay.

    Want to learn more about raw milk, including where you can get it? Visit A Campaign for Real Milk, a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

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