Though I have had every intention of really getting into the Real Food thing on my blog, the problem is that I just haven't been able to plain old figure out where to start. It's a chicken and the egg kinda thing, and I'm a bit intimidated by the knowledge that if I write too much your eyes will go all googly and I'll have lost you, perhaps forever.
But my good ol' baby bro gave me some fodder for a starting point, so please indulge me while I jump straight into the deep end.
Health Really Does Originate in the Gut
I sent along this really interesting article to my brother today from The Mommypotamus on the real cause of acne. I'd sent it for him to pass along to a friend who I happen to know has had acne issues. The article suggests that the true causes of acne are rooted in the gut, to oversimplify things.
Let me preface my brother's response and my initial interpretation of it by stating that he's my Sid the Science Guy. Sometimes I just can't figure out how my parents could have produced us, we're such polar opposites (except in the looks category - we've both kinda lucked out there:).
I've been singing my song for years, quite loudly at times, and let's just say that he's been known to imitate duck sounds in response. In fact, he's gone so far as to spell out the sound that ducks make in an email to me in response to something I'd touched on. But we've learned to keep a healthy distance when it comes to certain subjects, and I do appreciate his perspective on a number of issues. Plus I love him dearly. He's my only sibling and he did once let me dress him up like a girl.
So his response to this really interesting article (note, I do not suffer from acne) was:
"Eh. Yet again food solves or causes all woes?"
Now, originally I had interpreted his response to suggest that he felt I was way off base, once again, but in fact, he has clarified his reaction. What he meant was that he's tired of thinking about food as a way to fix things, rather than something to just enjoy. And I can't say I blame him as he's got Type 1 diabetes. Living with this sort of a condition would give one an entirely different perspective on food.
So my fantastic premise for jumping into my take on Real Food has kind of been pulled out from under my feet because I was going to go into science versus instinct approaches to nutrition, but so much for that, because he didn't mean what I thought he meant. But never mind. I've already started writing so might as well finish, right?
Now, if you subscribe at all to the theories of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the idea that the cause of your acne originates in your gut won't be news to you. To me, it resonates STRONGLY. I full believe in the idea that all health originates in the gut. And I believe that this refers not only to physical health, but to mental health as well.
And as time goes by, this belief is becoming easier and easier to translate into practice in my household. I've understood and subscribed to the Real Food philosophies since I was first introduced to them at the age of 25 through the NHC Institute here in Montreal, but then life got busy. I got married, I got pregnant, I had a baby, I created a business, I had another baby, I created another business, and then I had another baby. There hasn't been tons of time for breathing, let alone cooking.
Now, though, post-babies, in a relatively well-established business and with three kids in full-time care, I am making the time to breathe again and to focus on the one thing I have been truly and consistently passionate about on some level all these years, namely, food.
This past June, my darling husband decided, as he does periodically, that it was once again time to deny himself the pleasure of certain foods in the name of weight loss. I'm always all for these initiatives of his because it usually means a total and complete cessation of the consumption of sugar, and who isn't in awe of anyone who can stick to such a committment for any amount of time?
But this time he decided to go a step further and cut out the things he considered "carbs", such as grains.
My husband has been a low level sufferer of digestive issues for years. He's not largely overweight and he eats well, normally, and yet he's experienced chronic nasal congestion and snoring along with the kinds of symptoms caused by chronic inflammation of the digestive track. I won't get into the details of the latter because he'd kill me.
So anyways, he cut out grains and he cut out sugar. And fast forward two months and not only had he lost 10 pounds without exercising, but his chronic congestion had disappeared and his bowel function could now be classified as healthy and normal (I only know this because I found a poop chart on the internet and we had a discussion about it. We're not that intimate and I hope we never will be).
Initially I thought that perhaps he was gluten intolerant as we went out to eat and he had the calamari, which was fried in batter, and then had a relapse in the digestive department, but it seems that may have been more viral than anything else. The next time he allowed himself to slip he did not experience any problems.
All this to say, by making a change in his consumption habit and by identifying a component of the modern North American diet that we have been told is a health food (grains and whole grains), he gave his gut the time to heal from a problem that has probably been plaguing him for most of his adult life. And a condition that most would consider unrelated, his chronic congestion, cleared up.
And this, my friends, has been the most incredibly validating experience for me. I have all the proof I need to fully and wholeheartedly jump right back into the world of Real Food and envelop myself in it in the home. I learned about bone broths and am working on incorporating them into our daily food intake. We changed our purchasing habits pretty drastically and now buy only fresh produce and unprepared meats. We consume three cartons of eggs from our local egg lady a week and butter by the pound, and I've done my homework and found the closest thing to raw milk that's available to us in the this crazy province if we don't happen to be neighbours to a cow. My freezer is full of a quarter of a beef, all nicely packaged and organized.
I soak my family's oatmeal nightly. I strain my homemade yogourt to make a creamy cottage cheese and use the whey in green smoothies to increase our probiotic consumption. I actually used up a large amount of the pears from our tree in healthy, low grain baking and I didn't let them rot. I used all the apples we picked at the organic orchard in crumbles and my kids ate them two or three times a day.
My plan for my new kitchen (due in April - stay tuned as I chronicle the renovation journey in all its splendour) includes a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer with a grain grinding attachment so that if I do need to use grains I can rest assured that my flour is as fresh as can be.
Next year I plan to learn how to can those pears, should we be lucky enough to have such a perfect and abundant harvest again. I will learn how to lacto-ferment vegetables and maybe we'll even enjoy eating them. Maybe I will learn how to make jelly from the grapes that grow on our vine. And who knows, one of these years maybe I'll actually be able to slow down enough to enjoy gardening.
It's all a journey and it's one I'm happy to have re-embarked on. And if you'd like to come along for the ride, I'd really appreciate the company!
This post was shared at Fat Tuesday
I'm so thrilled to have found an organic apple orchard within driving distance of Montreal. Did you know that apples are on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list? It's the first item on the list, in fact, so it's a fruit that we should be making every effort to eat organic if possible!
I came home with two huge grocery bags full of apples, and my usual fear that I wasn't actually going to do anything with them and end up having to compost them, but guess what? They are GONE!
So happens the kids love eating apples, but I also made four apple/pear crumbles in one week. I still have tons of pears, but that's only because it takes them so dang long to ripen. Pear crumbles, here we come!
Do you want a super easy and tasty desert recipe that you can really enjoy, and which will also help you to quickly use up those huge bags of apples sitting in your basement? Well, here it is!
• 5 cups of thinly sliced apples, or a combo of apples and pears, or any fruit, for that matter, fresh or frozen.
• 1/4 cup of flour, either regular whole wheat or you could use oat flour.
• 1/2 cup rolled oats (I did see a recipe for a soaked oats version of crumble somewhere, but I haven't tried it out yet)
• 1/3 of a cup of sugar (you could easily use Sucanat or coconut sugar in this equation. The fruit is so sweet on it's own that it's really just for the crust)
• 1/4 cup melted butter.
• 1 tsp cinnamon (OPTIONAL).
• 1/4 cup chopped nuts or coconut flakes (OPTIONAL).
Preheat over to 325°.
Spread the fruit in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish.
In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the dry ingredients together. Pour the melted butter into the mix, and mix it all up until the butter is thoroughly incorporated into the dry ingredients and the mixture has formed crumbs.
Spread the dry mix on top of the fruit.
Pop into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown the fruit is soft.
So I took the kids and my parents and headed up to Beaver Lake in order to try out my new camera. I took 327 shots, and managed to delete at least 200 of them. These are what I consider the best of the lot, and I would LOVE a critique of both my composition and technical stuff.
I'm going for a depth of field look as much as possible, however I'm not sure that I am quite achieving it. I tend to use the AV (Aperature Priority mode) and I like to leave it at 2.8. I think that works best when I'm right up in people's faces, correct? The camera determines the shutter speed and I sometimes fiddle with ISO to brighten things up, but I'm a bit paranoid about doing that this early in the game. So I have done some after photo editing to brighten things up a bit. It feels like cheating, though. Is it cheating? Or is that the name of the game in DSLR land?
This post was shared at Real Food Wednesday on Kelly The Kitchen Kop.
It took me 32 years to figure this out, but I did it. I can roast the perfect chicken (or two), and it's the easiest technique EVER!
I don't like fancy chicken. I like a good, barbeque-type roasted chicken. My family likes dark meat, because it's so yummy and juicy, and this method that seals the skin and keeps the juices contained so that even the white meat is almost edible. At the very least, it can be used on salads or in soup afterwards. And then, of course, you have a tasty carcass to use for stock. Do not throw out that carcass! I'll get around to stock in the next few days.
Washed and ready for flavouring!
Spiced and waiting for their turn in the oven.
My spice mix.
My little chickens, roasting happily in the oven.
Done and ready to EAT!
All you need is a chicken or two (organic, pastured, if you can find them), some barbeque spices, a roasting pan, an oven and you're good to go! If you have potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, all the better, as you can roast the veggies in the juices at the same time using the bottom of your roasting pan.
1 or 2 or even 3 medium sized roasters.
1 BBQ spices, either purchased in a pack, or made using equal amounts of sea salt, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, coriander, thyme and cumin. I prefer to buy it premixed as I have an organic spice brand I like.
If you plan on roasting veggies in the chicken juices, you'll need about three medium potatoes, 2 large carrots, and a mix of whatever other veggies you can squish into the bottom of your pan.
• Preheat over to 395°, on the roast setting if you have one. A short high heat exposure crisps and seals the skin.
• If you will also be roasting root veggies, clean and cut them up into large chunks and arrange evenly in the bottom of your drip roasting pan.
• Wash and pat dry a decent sized roaster (chicken).
• Position roasters on your drip roasting pan top tray.
• Dust liberally with your barbeque spices.
• Pop the whole setup into your oven, on the bottom rack.
• Set your timer for 20 minutes.
• When the timer goes off, drop the temperature in the over to 325°.
• Set the timer for another hour and 20 minutes.
• Once the timer goes off for the last time, puncture the now crispy skin in a few places and see if the juices run clear. If they do, you are good to remove and enjoy! If the juices are a bit bloody, pop the chicken back in for another 20 minutes.
Well, it's always good to have a backup plan, right? Or something to aspire to? I'm hoping that I can just enjoy this photography thing as a hobby and not feel like I have to DO something with it. Because every time I jump on to a creative bandwagon like this it usually ends up as a part of my business plan.
My plate is pretty full these days with that stuff, so hopefully that will be enough to convince me that I need to take pictures for fun only.
Anyways, I don't know what the heck I'm even doing, yet. Kind of getting ahead of myself.
I picked up a Canon Rebel T2i. I got the T2i rather than the T3i because as I understand it I would have paid $200 more for a flip out viewer. Surely I must be missing something.
I opted to go with just the body rather than the kit because I have learned that kit lenses, ie - the lenses that come with the kit, aren't worth the money. Instead I got a Tamaron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II, which was essentially the least expensive lense that would do what I needed it to do. And what I need it to do is to take pictures of my kids. If it can do that, it's totally worth the money!
Why do companies keep advertising awards they won over half a decade ago? Does that mean the technology has not advanced in all this time?
So tomorrow I'm planning on heading up to Stanstead for Townshippers Day as it's supposed to be a beautiful day and should provide me with a good opportunity to test out my new baby! Stay tuned for photos.
In the meantime, here are a few more I took last week with Joyce's camera.
I had to post this one because Fred is not happy with me for posting that pic of his mouth last week...
Food is my happy place. After a long(ish) day of work, the easiest way to get my thoughts off the challenges of the day is to solve problems that do not relate to business. And my favourite problem to solve is that of making sure that my children are as nourished as they possibly can be.
I'm talking physically nourished here, just to clarify. The other kinds of nourishment can be found on the blogs of other moms.
Azure has never given me cause to worry on the food front. She's always had diverse tastes and thankfully she's always loved smoothies. You can hide anything in smoothies (except for fermented cod liver oil. There ain't nothing that can disguise the taste of that nastiness, but more on that in a future post). And she has always understood the relationship between what she eats and how it affects her body, at least from the perspective of whatever age she has been.
Ione is not the best of eaters, though her size would indicate otherwise, but I'm still nursing her and making sure I am well-nourished, so I'm not yet concerned. She's got time to swing in one direction or the other.
My little Phoenix, on the other hand, is a whole challenge and a half.
I know I'm supposed to be greatful that she likes as many foods as she does. I know I'm supposed to quip, "well, I was a picky eater and I turned out okay." But did I, really? And what if I want my kids to be more than just "okay", because just okay is not good enough? From that angle, she really is not a very good eater.
Phoenix is the kid you kind of worry about. She's healthy as a horse, is never sick, has met or exceded all her milestones, and so on and so forth. But she's a small kid and she hasn't got much on her, and certainly nothing to spare should she ever come down with something (knock wood). And the fact that I can't get the right kind of foods into her is a real cause for concern.
Foods Phoenix will eat:
• Oatmeal (it's the only breakfast option other than French toast or homemade pancakes)
• Tortellini and pesto, packaged. She LOVES tortellini and pesto.
• Apples, tons of apples
• For a while there all she wanted to eat was bananas. Now she will eat the occasional banana.
• Juice (which, if we give her, is limited to an ounce a day, watered down, and more infrequently).
• Broccoli, especially if frozen.
• Roasted cauliflower (mmmm...so easy and so good)
• Sweet potatoes as oven fried chips.
• My Add Anything Meatballs, which can be stuffed full of veggies.
• My chicken soup.
• I'll add more as I think of them!
So here's the problem: Phoenix has a cavity. If you click on this picture and look between her two front teeth, you'll see it. You'll also notice that her gum are ripped off the teeth on her upper right, due to a face-against-the-headboard-while-jumping accident from last Christmas day. Fun little buggers, those teeth.
What's the big deal, right? We go to the dentist, she gets it drilled and filled, and off we go.
EXCEPT I've done a lot of reading recently on what a bad idea that is. And not only that, but apparently, under the right circumstances, teeth can heal themselves. They are, after all, living tissues. The reason they decay is not, in fact, due to all the reasons your dentist has been feeding you all these years (but do not stop brushing your teeth!), but rather because they are a mineral rich research and when the body is out of balance it pulls minerals out of teeth and bones to maintain equilibrium.
It's largely about what you eat.
And this kid doesn't eat enough variety.
See my dilemma? I could FIX it, if only she'd let me! This is a problem to which there is a wonderful and apparently very accessible solution.
This is one of those times where ignorance is bliss and I simply know too much.
I will try to be grateful that this cavity is in a baby tooth.
So as you've seen, I LOVE taking photos with my iPhone, and especially with the Hipstamatic app. I love the crazy outcomes, and I've found the combo of "lens" and "film" that get results that really thrill me. But now it's time that I find me a hobby that gets me OFF the iPhone, aka Extension of my arm. If my hands are full of a camera, I can't be Pinteresting or texting Millie, right? I kind of have to be looking at my kids, even if through a lens?
Unfortunately, I have zero photography experience. I am familiar with the terms F-stop, aperature, lens, zoom, uh...that's about it. And I don't really know what any of it means.
Thing is, I want to do a photo shoot this weekend of a whole group of babies of new mom friends. They are ALL in AppleCheeks (and most were in them BEFORE I met them, I'm happy to report!) and we're going apple picking and it's going to be SO CUTE because they're mostly around the same size, and they'll all be picking and eating apples. Can you picture it? I'm very excited.
Now, I adore working with professional photographers. I'm sure you've seen the work I've posted by the amazing Shoshana Ruttner, and we've worked with a couple of other local photographers, both personally and professionally. But the problem with working with a professional is that I'm not taking the photos. And seeing as I'm the one doing all the graphic design for the company, I find myself not ending up with the angles I can work with. So I figure that if I can decipher this whole DSLR mystery then I can at least have a bunch of decent quality shots that I can use in publicity items to fill in the gaps in my design work.
My friend Joyce lent me her Canon Rebel Xsi. The general conscensus seems to be that the Rebel is a good place to start. Thing is, she couldn't find her manual so I had to download it onto my iPhone to read. Gah. I clearly NEED an iPad.
Have you seen Staci Hopkin's blog, by the way? Not only is it a consistently phenomenal read, but it's chock full of amazing photography. That's what I aspire too (and the constantly changing banners, but learning how to program is not on the agenda anytime soon). I picked her brain and she had this great advice (which I hope she doesn't mind that I am quoting):
"And my one piece of advice: an SLR will never take the pictures you want to take if you leave in on Auto. Then it is a very expensive point and shoot. Your camera is only as good as what you tell it to do. Every picture I take I adjust the ISO, shutter speed and aperture. If a cloud moves, or I move and the light changes, I change one of those things. People take good pictures. Not cameras. Your manual for your camera will need to be your best friend for a few months. Back in the day it lived on my night stand and every night I read it and worked on understand my camera. For at least two or three months."
Hmmm...Sunday's shoot is in two days...
In the meantime, this is what I did my first time on the camera.
She is saying cheese. This is mid-eeeeeeeeeeeee. And mid-sandwich.
This was a test. But I am posting it anyways because it's funny. My husband doesn't read my blog, don't worry. Let this be a warning to him that he SHOULD.
Wow. A genuine smile from Phoenix captured in photo. This is a very momentous occasion. See why I NEED a dSLR camera?
Um, yes, I did mean to photograph her feet.
Nothing particularly special about this photo except the subject.
Tomorrow's challenge - depth of focus at Beaver Lake. Wish me luck!
With my return to blogland (which, by the way, is a WONDERFUL, informative, and visually pleasing place) I am faced with a challenge that I feel I need to communicate to you all. I'm sure this challenge is not unique to me, but I'm a stronger believer in transparency and candid communication, so I feel I need to put it out there.
I parent from my gut. I make food and nutrition choices based on what feels right and natural. I don't buy into the status quo when it comes to the medical industry, and this is because the status quo doesn't feel right.
You get what I'm saying? I don't base my choices on scientific literature and studies. As much as my brother would suggest otherwise, I really don't feel that science is the be-all and end-all. Scientists are, after all, only human, and as much as our technology has evolved, it's still severely limited. And it does not take into account the energetic aspect of life, which currently cannot be quantified. I'm not discrediting medical discoveries and their enormous value to society, and believe me, if my kids NEED treatment for an illness, they will get it, but I have issues with the fear and propaganda-spreading that causes parents to question their inate wisdom. And that's putting it mildly.
So that being said, moving forward I may make statements and present ideas, and I may not be able to back up these statements and ideas with scientific literature. This is how I roll. This may or may not sit well with you, but this is my blog and my forum for self-expression (within limits! This is a public profile, after all, and I have the well-being of my family to consider above all else). I'm happy to share in open and useful discourse, but if you don't agree with what I have to say, well, that's your right and I won't fault you for it. In return, however, I will expect the same consideration of my opinion.
So to sum it all up:
• I believe there is a time and place for medical interference, but I also strongly believe in allowing parents to learn to parent from their gut. I take MAJOR issue with the way that scare tactics are used as tools to force parents to comply with policy that may or may not actually be in the best interests of their children.
• The scientific and medical communities are invaluable in the sense that they do hugely contribute to the greater good, but scientists and doctors, there is more to life than what you can see through your microscopes and tests.
• Real Food means whole, unprocessed, non-genetically modified, nutritious, life-nourishing, local, full of natural occuring proportions of fat, non-chemical. I do not consider myself hard core about my beliefs. They simply make sense. The Canada Food Guide does not and never has, and is not based on any realistic, proven outcomes.
I do allow my kids the occasional treat. But I will freak out on you if you push certain products on them because I strongly feel that these products are, in fact, anti-life and will suck nutrients from my kids' delicate and beautifully balanced systems. They don't need these "treats" and I thank you for not putting me in an awkward position where I become the bad guy. Please make responsible choices on behalf of my children, for their sakes.
Now to set my ideas in order...
This was (snif, sob!) our third summer in the gorgeous space I am so thrilled to be able to call my home. The previous owners were an older Italian couple who had raised their family here and what we got with the house was a huge, very fertile garden plot that I have sadly left to nature, and some amazingly productive fruit trees.
The grapes have been truly wonderful. I learned last year that these tiny green globes of perfection, with their tender skin, are not ready for picking until around the second week in August. This year we got an abundant yield, at least three huge stainless mixing bowls worth. We gave a lot away.
The tall, spindly plum tree with its weird cancers produced a handful of plums the first year, but a woodland creature got to them first. Last year nothing happened and I'd considered trying to organize myself to get it cut down, but I am happy I didn't as this year it's covered in plums. I picked a bunch today, though apparently you are meant to shake them off. But the lawn is covered in rotting fruit that's challenging to navigate, so I only picked the plums that willingly parted from the branch with gentle coaxing.
I haven't tasted these mini yellow plums yet, so stay tuned. They're not like anything I have ever seen in a grocery store.
As for the pear tree, I'd also pretty much written it off as for the last two summers the pears rotted from the inside before we could get them off the tree.
There's surprisingly little helpful information on the net about pear trees and their needs. What I did learn is that if left to ripen on the tree they will rot. They need to be picked green, and the ones that are ready to be picked are those that pop off easily when the pear is angled against the branch.
Also, I read somewhere that pears need to be shocked in the fridge for a few days. Something happens when they are cooled that allows them to ripen evenly. Worth a shot, right?
So I put a few batches in the fridge last week, and as of today only one or two are ripe, but I am thrilled to report that they did not rot in the middle!
So now the question is, living by the motto "waste not, want not", what the heck do I do with tons and tons of pears? Canning is the obvious choice, but I am not there yet. I plan to tackle canning next summer, in my shiny new kitchen.
I will make crumbles and freeze them, and after we pick apples next week I'll make loads of apple pear sauce, but I need suggestions as to what to do with all my pears!