Friday, 16 December 2011

MerRAW Christmas: Russell James' Mince Pies

I couldn't resist reposting this recipe here because it is simply decadence in a red and white outfit (only greener).

If you don't understand what I mean then grab yourself a glass of something nice, make a batch of these and sit back and meditate the meaning of a raw Christmas.

Russell James' Raw Mince Pies
You can give these pies to your loved ones and they’ll never suspect they’re raw unless you decide to tell them! These pies are causing quite a stir in households and offices across the land :) 

Yields 10 – 12 pies 
For the crust 
2 cups cashews 
1 cup oat flour* 
1/4 cup agave nectar/maple syrup/honey 
2 tablespoon water 
3 tablespoons lemon juice 
Pinch salt 

Grind all ingredients in a food processor until thoroughly mixed. Press the mixture into a tart/muffin tray that has been lined in Clingfilm and dehydrate at 105 degrees F for 2-3 hours. Remove the crusts from the cases and dehydrate out of the case for a further 8+ hours, on the mesh dehydrator sheet. 

*Raw out flour is made by milling raw oats in a coffee grinder or high-speed blender. If you don’t have raw oats available and you don’t mind using oats that have been steamed to preserve shelf life, then non-raw oats will also work. 

For the filling 
1 1/2 cups soft dates, stones and flowers removed 
1/2 cup orange juice 
2 apples, chopped small 
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice 
1 cup raisins, roughly chopped 
Pinch salt 

Grind all ingredients except the apple and raisins until they form a paste. Add in the apple and raisins and process for a further 5 – 10 seconds until fully combined. Fill each of the cases with a little of the mixture then top with the cashew icing and a pinch of the nutmeg. 

For the cashew Icing 
1 1/2 cups cashews 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
Pinch salt 
3 tablespoons coconut oil 
1/4 cup agave 
1/2 cup water 

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until completely smooth. To garnish use a pinch of nutmeg

Have you discovered the 12 Raw Days of Christmas? Get over to The Raw Food Coach now and check it out for a packageful of wonderful raw Christmas goodies!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Everyone Needs Good Neighbours: How 1 Month of Co-Housing Changed Us

Preparing for a communal Christmas
And so it begins, our new adventure. We arrived, 1 month ago, crashing down crazily into a different world, amidst new people, places and procedures. We are not alone any more, we are one.

I never could have imagined us here, not really. I may have dreamt of such a thing but then thought about it in real terms and dismissed it almost instantly. Let's face it, I'm a bit of a loner, a maverick, an inconstant. I love my friends and (some of!) my family, but I am not naturally extroverted. I prefer to shy away inside my shell and look after my own accounts for the most part.

So why on earth would we consider living in an intentional community? Well, if you look at it this way, our lives were crying out for it for all the reasons I've given above. And above all, we have always loved the idea of community - one that is mostly and sadly missing from life as we know it these days. It's just that, like most, we had these preconceptions about what it might be like. I thought I would feel stifled, put-upon, awkward, expected to follow rules and rotas and join in all the time. I thought I'd have to compromise too much and struggle to just be myself when I needed to be, to breathe, to be independent.

A not-so captive audience!
 Perhaps some communities are like that, but here, we are not. The core belief is "freedom with respect", so basically you are free to do as you like, but remember that your actions have the potential to upset others if you don't think them through or discuss with others as appropriate. Hey, that's just like 'real' life should be to me, but it isn't, is it?!

Trelay is a co-housing community, so we all have our own private spaces as well as shared areas such as the farmhouse lounge and kitchen and the laundry. In real terms none of us 'own' our properties and as such we are responsible for them mutually, so if work needs done we are all expected to muck in if we are able, in whatever way we can. 

And so we have changed. Some days we still like to do our own thing and look after ourselves first and foremost, but mostly we are out there, doing our bit, helping the community at large along. Whether it's baking bread for everyone in the farmhouse kitchen or buying in bananas, repairing pig fencing or digging and planting up new beds in the polytunnel, we are there and loving it. As are the kids! 

I have never seen Father Earthly so purposefully happy. In this day and age we can feel disempowered so easily, and as a result lapse into bad habits (spending too much time on the computer or in front of the TV), and generally sink into feeling that the world is a pretty pointless, worthless and unhappy place. Coming here has changed that for us. I'm not saying we don't have our bad days but having like-minded, positive and vibrant people around has made an enormous difference. Life is easier and yet more fulfilling, more joyous, more meaningful.

Above all I have seen our mindset change on who we choose to interact with and why. Before, I saw little point in making the effort with someone who was clearly very different to me in their values/outlook/interests, but being a member within an intentional community has changed this, mainly because everyone here has a shared goal, or goals. So whilst there are a diverse selection of people from all walks of life and with a wide gamut of interests and beliefs, we have a common interest which is for us all to get on and achieve wonderful things together! That doesn't mean we all have to be bosom pals and equally it does not prevent friction or arguments from breaking out - we are human after all. But having a shared vision helps us to sort things out more easily and amicably, to the benefit of all. 

Isn't this how the wider world should be?

Playing the piano together
What's more, I used to think of communities as potentially quite insular, and this isn't the case here. Perhaps because of our values, we interact and co-exist peacefully and meaningfully with our neighbours - they come to events and special dinners, we use local veg and grocery suppliers, do meat swaps (pork for beef etc) and help run the parish council. Our nearest farmer looks after our sheep for us and maintains some of our land. We get involved with local plays and societies and events, both as individuals and as a group. It's all really rather lovely :)

Intentional communities, and in particular co-housing groups, are on the increase as more and more cotton on to a way of life that is sustainable, affordable, accessible, fulfilling, meaningful and heartwarming. If you'd like to give it a try, why not come and help as a volunteer, or attend an interest weekend or other event?

We have all just spent a lovely weekend making and baking for Christmas. It's been like being part of a big, happy family - all enjoying getting stuck in and helping each other and remembering what Christmas is actually about. I'm so pleased my kids have this environment to grow up in and thrive - I can't think of any better education for them.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Advent Goodies - for adults!

Oh yes, why should we be excluded from the ritual of advent? And why should we settle for anything less tasty than these Amaretto-soaked cranberry marzipan chocolates? Mmm-mmmmmmmmm.... I think I may stay in tonight ;)

Soak the cranberries in your favourite alcohol for at least a couple of hours, then drain and dry on a little kitchen paper.

Cut up your marzipan and roll into balls, then make an indent to squeeze your cranberry into.

Roll 'em up boys!

Dunk in chocolate, sprinkle with fairy dust (or freeze dried raspberry powder in this instance) and we're rockin' and rollin'...

These were the leftover cranberries, dunked in chocolate. Mmmmmmmmm mamma!

Happy Advent everyone!

Advent Goodies - for kids

So last night I was getting all stressed about being a bad mum. I mean, I hadn't even realised it was the 1st of December today! My god, how bad can you get?! And so obviously I hadn't even got out the advent calendar, never mind thought of something to put in it. And there wasn't even chocolate buttons in the house!

Cue, Operation Christmas Goodies Are Go!

This morning, while Father Earthly took the kids to Periwinkles, I made these gorgeous little chocolate-cranberry sweetmeats. Simple, pretty, tasty and not filled with E-numbers. I've also got some cranberries steeping in Amaretto for the adult version...

Later on tonight.... how to make a yummy adult version!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Real Food Diets: Going Dairy Free (Healthily & Ethically)

This last year I have been trying different ways of eating to try and regain some of my balance, energy and overall health since bearing and rearing our 2 tinies. Over the next few months I'm bringing you a whole host of wonderful guest posts on a variety of Real Food Diets, from Raw to Paleo. Join me in this series and find the best real food for your mind, body and soul.

This week's post is about seeking healthy, ethical alternatives to dairy, and trying out a delicioso Italian Citrus Polenta Cake which uses extra virgin olive oil for its fat content. Miss last week's post? We heard from Saskia at Raw Freedom about Raw Food for Busy Lives. Go check it out!

A word of caution: while I know it may be a bone of contention, when I refer to dairy here I mean specifically cow (or other animal) milk, and not eggs.

Mount Vesuvius: in sticky gorgeous citrusy-
polenta yumminess!
So it looks as if my body has undergone some kind of sea change since girl Earthly came into our lives. I'm now pretty sure that the health problems I've been experiencing the last year are down to a severe dairy intolerance, and I am putting that hypothesis to the strictest of testing now, which means NO DAIRY for me, no way josé... 

This is not the hugest of issues for me really, as I have long disliked being somewhat of a hypocrite over my ethics - I'm vegetarian for lots of reasons, but I think the dairy industry is horrific and yet I continue to consume dairy... It doesn't wash really, does it? So now I must stop being lazy as my body is also telling me to give up animal milk. 

What I DO have a problem with, is that my main alternative to dairy is soya. Quite apart from any issues surrounding the mass-production and importation of soya, I dislike having soy products as a major part of my diet because they are so processed. I think margarine, in any form, is the devil's work, and soy milk - as convenient and tasty as it is - isn't much better.

So what to do?! I believe, at heart, that our diets should be as pure, unprocessed and close to source as possible - that way we obtain the maximum nutrition in the right forms for our bodies with fewer adverse effects. And so I really dislike vegan recipes which simply substitute "alternatives" to dairy in the form of soy or whatever, just as much as I dislike vegetarian recipes which feel they need to use meat alternatives. I'm not saying these products don't have their place - I love tofu and the occasional Quorn product - but they should not be the norm. 

And so... after searching in vain for a "dairy free" cake recipe yesterday, it was (as usual) Father Earthly that came to the rescue. I knew I married him for good reason(s)... It's all about where to look when it comes to Googling, and I was looking in the wrong place. It wasn't vegans that held the answer for me, but the wonderful Italians! 

This cake uses good quality extra virgin olive oil for its fat content. Now, I have used vegetable oil before - the Americans use it quite a lot in cakes - but I have never heard of using olive oil in cakes before. Not just that, but it calls for the full-flavoured, really good stuff! What a wonderful idea, on so many levels - a fat that is really superbly good for you, is pure and unprocessed and full of flavour. Also, as you may have noticed, at the moment, olive oil is ridiculously cheap so there is just no good reason not to be trying out this yummy recipe!

Italian Citrus Polenta Cake (adapted from this recipe at Babbo Ristorante)
4 large eggs 

1 cup granulated sugar 

Freshly grated zest and juice of 1 orange 

Freshly grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour 

¾ cup instant polenta 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon salt 

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil 

1 cup icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and position a rack in the center of the oven. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with a little oil.

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until they are tripled in volume, fluffy and pale yellow in colour. Combine the flour, polenta, baking powder salt and zest in a separate bowl. 

Alternate adding the dry ingredients to the egg mixture with the olive oil; begin with 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then add half the oil, followed by another 1/3 of dry ingredients, beating only until each addition is incorporated. Beat in the remaining olive oil, followed by the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate the cake 180º halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. The cake is done when it springs back lightly when touched and pulls away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Take the cake out of the oven and place in the tin on a wire rack. Make the syrup by boiling the lemon and orange juice and icing sugar together in a pan until the icing sugar has dissolved. Prick the cake all over with a cake tester and pour over the syrup. Leave the cake to cool in the tin before turning out.

Baby Brained for Life?

No Space for Thought
I've been wanting to write about a zillion different things recently, all positive and good and exciting. But somehow I'm not quite finding the time, or the impetus - in short, the energy isn't quite there. 

Internally it is - inside I'm zinging with ideas and positive goodness (mostly), but it's not making it out into the world somehow. I'm crabby with the kids too. Whilst inside I'm dying to do all kinds of fun things with them, when it comes to it I end up being Majorly Crabby Mum of the year (possibly decade if I'm honest) and that is NOT good. 

I think I know the problem though it doesn't make me feel any better. Despite our change in circumstances very much for the better, and our more comfortable lives, I'm still SO tired I feel I could just sleep all day long. I'm eating pretty healthily, the kids are sleeping well - still early risers but I'm getting a good solid block of sleep in the night - and I'm taking vitamins and supplements and exercising and getting out and about.... and yet my brain feels like a ship lost at sea on a still, foggy day. I can't think properly, I can't focus, I forget things at the drop of a hat and I tire so easily. It is all so VERY frustrating.

I remember feeling like this whilst pregnant but it's a year since my monkey girl was born and I should be feeling better by now, right?

Are women left baby-brained for life or is there an exit somewhere I missed due to the fog and the gazillion and one distractions that life with kids bring? Will it get better or am I to be a zombie forever more?

Is there a cure?! Any wonderful wise women out there to show me the way home.... to myself...?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Guest Post - Real Food Diets: Raw Food for Busy Lives, by Saskia from Raw Freedom

This last year I have been trying different ways of eating to try and regain some of my balance, energy and overall health since bearing and rearing our 2 tinies. Over the next few months I'm bringing you a whole host of wonderful guest posts on a variety of Real Food Diets, from Raw to Paleo. Join me in this series and find the best real food for your mind, body and soul.

This week's post comes from Saskia at Raw Freedom. Miss last week's? We heard from Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama on Fermented Foods. Go check it out!

Free up your life with Raw Freedom coaching!
Hello! I'm Saskia, experienced raw food and life guidance coach from Raw Freedom. I'm very pleased to be a guest on Mamma Earthly's fabulous blog and to be writing this post for all the busy folk who are interested in eating raw food but don't want to spend hours in the kitchen.

It's common for people to think that preparing raw food takes a long time and if you went by the majority of raw recipe books you'd be right! Most raw recipe books are created by raw food chefs. The recipes are delicious and exciting but also tend to be quite complex and time consuming to make. I love food and when I first started eating raw food nearly 5 years ago I bought the loveliest, shiniest raw recipe books I could find on the internet.  I was totally bowled over by the flavour and look of these super-fresh meals but totally under-whelmed by the amount of time it took to prepare them. I loved the idea of eating raw food and how it made me feel but I didn't want to spend my life in the kitchen.  

I'd always loved playing around with flavours and creating my own cooked recipes so I decided to turn my hand to creating delicious raw recipes that were super quick and easy to make. I pared down the complex recipes I'd found in those chef-written raw recipe books (with ingredients lists as long as my arm!) and refined them for my busy life without compromising on the sophistication and interest of the flavours. I'm pleased to say that my raw food meals quickly took less time to prepare than my cooked meals used to!

Of course there are tips and tricks to quick raw food so here is my list of must-haves for people with busy lives who want to experience the energy, vitality and great health that eating raw gives you:
1. A good blender - investing in a good blender means you can whiz up raw smoothies, soups, sauces, pates and puddings in no time at all. Blenders range from good hand blenders to commercial blenders such as Blendtecs (my preferred high-power blender) and Vitamixes.2. Quick recipes - although the chef-created raw recipes look and taste really exciting they aren't designed for people with busy lives. Look out for recipes with a maximum of 15 ingredients (preferably with less than 10). I give my clients an army of soups, smoothies, pates and puddings that take less than 10 minutes to make, taste utterly delicious and save them from eating junk or from snacking on too many nuts.3. Preparation - thinking one or two meals ahead will mean that you always have what you need when you're ready to make a meal (i.e. always soak a handful of nuts and/or seeds overnight because you can use them in a breakfast, smoothie or pate the next day and they'll keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, ready and waiting)4. Stock ingredients - make a stock-items shopping list so you always have the ingredients for super quick recipes. There's nothing slower than trying to make raw food from ingredients that need soaking and/or dehydrating! My personal stock quick-recipe ingredients are avocados, spring onions, mineral salt, agave, vanilla essence and a few superfoods. With these I can make something delicious straight away, or add whatever veggies or fruit I have to make a lovely soup, pate, smoothie or pudding. 5. Stock recipes - get well practiced at about 5-10 recipes so that you can quickly put them together, hardly looking at the recipe itself. Favourite stock recipes are my Spicy Tomato Soup, Hazelnut & Banana Superfood Smoothie, Spicy Walnut Pate, Cashew Cheese Sauce, Marinated Mushrooms and Lime Mousse. You can't go wrong with these!
Here's a very normal example of the high raw food diet that I eat during a day in my busy and exciting life ...
Saskia's Raw Lime Mousse
  • Breakfast - A smoothie with fruit/veg and dark leafy greens (less than 10 minutes to make, including washing the fruit/veg and the blender afterwards)
  • Mid-morning snack - a piece of fruit
  • Lunch - salad with raw pate and rice or oatcakes (15-20 minutes including washing the fruit/veg and washing up)
  • Tea-time - a superfood smoothie with nut milk and banana (less than 10 minutes to make, including washing the fruit/veg and the blender afterwards)
  • Supper - raw soup (less than 10 minutes to make, including washing the fruit/veg and the blender afterwards)
At the weekends you can make up a batch of raw chocolates or energy balls that you can snack on during the week. This is great if you've got kids too, because you can all make them together. Before I started raw food coaching I worked away from home. I would make my breakfast and afternoon smoothie as well as my lunch before I went to work. It was a lovely way to wake up as I chopped the veg and admired the colours and textures of the food I was preparing for later. And of course I felt amazing and full of energy! No matter what you're lifestyle it's very possible to eat a high raw diet that's quick, easy and packed full of the nutrition you need to be fantastically healthy, gorgeous and energetic. It's just about having the right pieces in place to be able to make super-quick and deliciously vibrant raw food.

Saskia has made her life's work as a raw food coach, after discovering a turning point in her own life. At the age of 32 she tried a 2-week raw food trial. In those two weeks she went from suffering IBS, eczema, sore joints, bad skin, terrible memory and stress related emotional issues to being completely well again. Sold on the idea of raw food as a way of 'healing the body', she now wants to tell everyone else about it!

You can find Saskia on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Goddess of Love

In the Mood for Love...
I think I'm in love. Perhaps it's the alchemical mix of herbal ayurvedic goodness that is working its magic spell upon my brain and sinking deep into my very being. I am utterly bewitched...

If Pukka Herbs were a person, I think I'd want to marry them, or at the very least, become an annoying groupie/fanatic/hanger on. Now you know I am not a material girl and so I really must mean this... this is love, lust, and everything in between. Why? Let me tell you:

  1. They make the yummiest, scrummiest, all-round deep-magic-working herbal teas I have ever encountered. My top favourites are Love (because who doesn't want to feel all warm and tingly inside?), Harmonise (for superwomen everywhere), Chamomile & Vanilla (and I've always hated Chamomile so that's saying something), Morning Time (just like a herbal coffee) and Vanilla Chai (simply yum)... oh who am I kidding, there are loads I love and I have them lined up on our windowsill so I can stare at them and choose which one I'd like at every tea break. Gone are the days of "Another Earl Grey please..."
  2. Thanks to Lucy's Dreaming Aloudness about having 100 husbands, I have recently discovered Pukka's Shatavari as well. This is quite simply a wonder herb which helps to regulate the feminine cycle - which is EXACTLY what my body has needed since having 2 babies in short succession. Since taking it I have had no problems with my periods, far less hormonal moodiness (just ask Father Earthly) and have, in all, felt more balanced generally. I call that pure magic!
  3. Shatavari: Making Super Women of us all
  4. Thirdly, and by no means least or last, Pukka have now embarked on an ayurvedic skincare range. I am always rather cautious about any cosmetics, however natural they are or seem to be because my skin is SUPER fussy. It even complains about pure chamomile and calendula creams. Basically, in the last decade or so, I have found one moisturiser that works for me - one - and I've tried a few. Moreover, I hate using the one my skin seems to like because it's full of chemical nasties. I'd love for once that my skin took to something pure and natural and organic... Well hey ho and whaddyaknow? Pukka have provided it!! How thrilled was I to (a) receive my free Pukka Day and Night cream samples in the post the other day, and (b) to discover that my skin actually LOVES them. Already my complexion is clearer, more soothed and nourished than it has felt in at least a year. And I feel it getting better every day. Pure and utter magic - there is no other explanation.
Pukka Ayurvedic Skincare
And so, now the romance flourishes and burns so vividly I am in danger of neglecting my husband. Perhaps that is Pukka's secret. I am not she who has (or even desires) 100 husbands, I am she who yearns only for more, more, more from the lovely Pukka Goddess. 

I can't wait to find out what comes next in the range. Personally, I am hoping for a gorgeous body cream to rival their facial moisturisers.... oh yes, bring it on!

You can order your free Pukka skincare samples right here. Go show your appreciation and bow low to the Goddess of Love...

Just so you know, I've not been paid or sponsored for this review in any way, shape or form. I just love Pukka and that's all there is to it!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Keeping Your BLWer Happy and Healthy (And Yourself Sane)

Nobody said BLW wouldn't be messy, but it is fun!
One of the choices we made about bringing up our babies was to go down the route of baby led weaning. After doing our research, it just seemed like the most natural progression. We were really lucky in that the transition was smooth and fairly effortless, with no hitches or "emergency" style moments.

Both our kids loved the change to solid foods and they got to try a wide variety of foodstuffs - we were always amazed just how much they could manage to chew on with those hard little gums! Having said all of this, we did learn a few things along the way which might help others intending to do BLW with their own babies.

1. Try not to give your baby bread. We didn't learn about this until just before no. 2 popped out, but we had long suspected that boy Earthly was having problems digesting wheat and/or gluten. It is also addictive! Much like adults, we found our babies would far rather have bread/toast than any of the healthier options on their plate. 
2. If your babies are impatient, make life easier for yourself and get into the habit of preparing snacks or meals for them while they're asleep. I know it's easier said than done, but the number of times we've ended up shoving something in front of them that was less than perfect just to get a bit of peace for 5 mins whilst we tried to get something decent together, are too numerous to mention! If you also have some easy, healthy snacks in such as dried fruit that they can chew/suck on whilst they wait (rather than gulp down!), that will save your sanity somewhat. 
3. I know other BLWers who have also given purees alongside solids simply to keep up the nutrient levels, and I must say this is something I worried about a bit with BLW, because after the initial excitement of trying lots of new things, both our babies went through a really fussy stage where they refused lots of veg and would only eat very select fruit. We didn't go down the route of purees, but instead made pasta sauces, smoothies, yoghurts, home-made spreads, pestos and bean patés etc - all of which they LOVED. 
4. When they get to the toddler stage, start making their meals more fun! We agonised for ages with our 18 month old because he'd become so fussy and would pretty much only eat brown or beige food! Then one day we went out for lunch where he had a mezze platter (baby sized!) to himself. He adored it, because he had lots of little pots and trays of things to play with, bits that he could dip and dunk and mix altogether. It really is important at this stage that they are allowed to have fun when eating as this promotes a positive association with food. If they don't eat much of what's there, that really doesn't matter - as long as they're not still screaming for food afterwards of course! 
5. If your babies are anything like ours, there will come a time when their confidence with eating solids lets them get ahead of themselves, and they will start swallowing larger lumps rather than bothering to chew them properly. The worst culprits (we found) are things like grapes and sultanas - they slide down pretty easily in chunks, and the flesh is also harder to 'chew' with little gums. However, we also found boy Earthly was notorious for eating oats in the same way - and undigested oats are not nice in a nappy! It is just a stage that should pass, though you are likely to get a few sore tummies for a while. You could omit the most culpable foods, or simply chop or mince them up first.
Our kids absolutely thrived on BLW and of course it had enormous benefits for us as well - it meant we could all eat together without one of us having to stand and feed the baby whilst our own food went cold - unless of course they were getting something ultra messy (we had some boundaries!!).

Guest Post - Real Food Diets: Fermented Foods, by Hybrid Rasta Mama

This last year I have been trying different ways of eating to try and regain some of my balance, energy and overall health since bearing and rearing our 2 tinies. Over the next few months I'm bringing you a whole host of wonderful guest posts on a variety of Real Food Diets, from Raw to Paleo. Join me in this series and find the best real food for your mind, body and soul.

This week's post comes from Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama. Miss last week's? We shared some great ideas for a raw kid's tea party! Go check it out!

Sour Fermented Pickles
When Mamma Earthly put a call out for posts related to various “nutritional lifestyles” I set to work figuring out what I wanted to share with her readers. My family is gluten free, we follow a traditional foods/real food diet, and currently, my toddler and I are on the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet. In addition, I pay attention to some of the tenets of the blood type diet as I personally have seen a correlation between my blood type and my body’s ability and inability to handle certain foods. On top of that, I am a former vegetarian and a born again lover of fats.

I have written about all of these topics extensively on my blog and instead of rehashing it all, I will leave a list of links at the end of this post if you are interested in learning more. What I would like to focus on here is fermented foods. Fermenting foods the way our ancestors did is a lost art but one that is making a comeback.

Traditionally fermented foods like grass-fed cheese, kefir, miso, olives, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, and yogurt are some of the oldest and healthiest foods on the planet. The term “fermented” may sound unpalatable but this ancient preparation and preservation method, which involves breaking down carbohydrates and proteins using microorganisms such as bacteria, molds, and yeast, produces delicious food. More importantly, these foods contain probiotics that can be beneficial to your overall health. 

Why did our family decide to incorporate traditionally fermented foods into our diet? Here is a short list outlining the benefits and the reasons why we keep a well-stocked refrigerator of various fermented foods and beverages. 

Fermented foods improve digestion. Fermenting our foods before we eat them is like partially digesting them before we consume them. According to Joanne Slavin, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota, “…sometimes people who cannot tolerate milk can eat yogurt. That’s because the lactose (which is usually the part people can’t tolerate) in milk is broken down as the milk is fermented and turns into yogurt.”

Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut. Do you suffer from lactose intolerance? Gluten intolerance? Constipation? Irritable bowel syndrome? Yeast infections? Allergies? Asthma? All of these conditions have been linked to a lack of good bacteria in the gut.

Water Kefir, Gingered Carrots, "Mr Googly": Gluten Free
Sourdough Starter, and Preserved Lemons.
Raw, fermented foods are rich in enzymes. Your body needs enzymes to properly digest, absorb, and make full use of your food. As you age, your body’s supply of enzymes decreases. This has caused many scientists to hypothesize that if you could guard against enzyme depletion, you could live a longer, healthier life.

Fermenting food actually increases the vitamin content. Fermented dairy products consistently reveal an increased level of folic acid which is critical to producing healthy babies as well as pyroxidine, B vitamins, riboflavin and biotin depending on the strains of bacteria present. 

Eating fermented food helps us to absorb the nutrients we’re consuming. You can ingest huge amounts of nutrients, but unless you actually absorb them, they’re useless to you. When you improve digestion, you improve absorption.

Fermenting food helps to preserve it for longer periods of time. Milk will go bad in the fridge but kefir and yogurt last a lot longer. Sauerkraut, pickles and salsa will keep for months. And if you’ve got a huge batch of produce in your garden that you don’t know how to use up — ferment it!

Fermenting food is inexpensive. There’s nothing fancy required for this hobby. And many of the foods required to make these recipes are very cheap. You can use inexpensive cabbage to make sauerkraut, or get yourself a kombucha scoby and with just pennies’ worth of water, sugar and tea, you’ve got a health elixir slash soda pop.

Fermenting food increases the flavor. There’s a reason humans enjoy drinking wine and eating stinky cheese. There’s a reason we like sauerkraut on our hot dogs and salsa on our tortilla chips. It tastes good!

I will admit, sometimes the smell and look of fermented foods does make them a little daunting to consume. However, for me, it is simply a mind over matter thing and I always end up liking them quite a bit. For others, consuming ferments may not be so easy. Here are a few ways in which I have to found to make ferments appealing to others (specifically my husband as my toddler consumes ferments with gusto):

  1. When I serve ground meat or sausage, I discreetly pour a small amount of juice from lacto-fermented pickles, or sauerkraut onto the meat. Sometimes I also mix tiny, chopped dill pickles or other fermented veggies into our meat.
  2. If you enjoy pickles, make your own! The store version of pickles are not fermented. Yes, fermented pickles do have a “different” taste as vinegar is not used. However, once you perfect your recipe you will probably find that you enjoy fermented pickles quite a bit more. These are easy to make and very tasty. Everyone in our household loves my pickles. 
  3. I make my own lacto-fermented ketchup. Yes, ketchup (and mustard, mayo, relish) and pretty much everything that goes on a hamburger or hot dog has its roots in a traditionally lacto-fermented condiment. These are easy to make at home. I will also sometimes mix store bought organic condiments with fermented ones. This “improves” the taste for my husband’s picky palate.
  4. I use yogurt, milk kefir and buttermilk to make smoothies. 
  5. Gingered carrots are delicious and very palate pleasing. Again, if you can chop it very finely and mix it with cooked ground meat it can be much easier to present. This is also great topped on soup.
  6. I make all kinds of dips from yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, salsa, and guacamole (all homemade and all cultured). You can mix just about anything into these cultures to make wonderful dips that everyone will enjoy. I have even tackled a cultured hummus that was amazing!
  7. Water kefir and kombucha are both delicious, mineral-rich, fermented beverage that can be sweetened with a small amount of fruit juice. We drink tons of both around here. Beat kvass is another reall great probiotic drink. It is really tasty too.
  8. Unpasteurized soy sauce is a great condiment to sprinkle on something as simple as veggies and brown rice. This soy sauce is usually only available by special order, but try your local Asian market for Nama Shoyu. 
  9. Traditional miso is a fermented food product that, when added to cooled broth, provides an excellent avenue for getting fermented foods into your diet. I make several soups with traditional miso and they never last long. 
  10. I have recently begun making homemade crackers and have found that I can dehydrate various fermented veggies and add them into my cracker dough. It is a great way to incorporate ferments and no one is the wiser. 

If you have young children, start them on fermented foods and beverages as early as you can. Their palates are less discerning and they will tend to enjoy the fermented foods quite a bit. 

If you are not already making and consuming fermented foods, I suggest that you consider doing so. Cultures for Health is a great resource offering everything you need to get started. In addition, I took an online cultured foods class where I literally learned how to make everything possible. It is offered by Nourished Kitchen

Best wishes to you should you decide to explore fermented foods. 


As promised, here are links to my posts related to my food journey:
Confessions of a Former Vegetarian
Eating Traditional Foods and the Blood Type Diet
GAPS Intro Diet – Yep, I Am On It
GAPS Intro – 2 Week Update
My Eyes Are Wide Open; A Series:
  Part 1 - My Journey Towards Better Health
  Part 2 – Let’s Talk About Fats
  Part 3 – Don’t Call Me Betty Crocker
Real Food Resources
Real Food for Real Kids

Hybrid Rasta Mama: A Natural Parenting, Healthy Living BlogJennifer is a former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter (“Tiny”) brought earthside in early 2009. She is passionate about breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding), bed-sharing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, cloth diapering, green living, babywearing, peaceful parenting, a Waldorf approach to education and parenting, playful parenting, getting children outside, as well as cooking and eating Real/Traditional Foods. You can find her over on her blog, Hybrid Rasta Mama, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Google+ and StumbleUpon.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

My New Woman: Meet Lady Maude

Isn't she lovely? I can't wait to get to know her properly :)

I got her through a lovely friend's mum - have been looking out for one for aaages but never seem to find one within my budget. 

She's got a few screws loose but nothing we can't work on!!

Now, if I can just get my sewing machine serviced... anyone know of someone?

Friday, 28 October 2011

Simply Pukka Giveaway from Dreaming Aloud

Have you spotted lovely Lucy's super duper giveaway yet, over at her Dreaming Aloud pages?

It's simply Pukka mate!

One lucky reader will win a YEAR'S SUPPLY of the gorrrrgeous Pukka Teas plus a jar of "the truly magical" Shatavari ('she who has a hundred husbands'). What women wouldn't want that?!

Go check it out now and show your love...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Real Food Diets: Raw for Kids

This last year I have been trying different ways of eating to try and regain some of my balance, energy and overall health since bearing and rearing our 2 tinies. Over the next few months I'm bringing you a whole host of wonderful guest posts on a variety of Real Food Diets, from Raw to Paleo. Join me in this series and find the best real food for your mind, body and soul.

This week's post covers raw tea party treats for kids, young and old! Miss last week's? We heard from Mampoekie about the Paleo diet. Go check it out!

Raw Tea Party!
Eating raw is not just for adults: in fact it is probably one of the best possible diets a child could have. If you're feeling stuck for inspiration or are struggling with the concept of getting your child to eat raw, what better way to get you all in the mood than having a raw tea party?! Here are a few ideas to get you started :)

Raw Carrot Cake
From The Raw Chef

3 cup carrot, finely grated
2 cups pecans, ground in a food processor
1/4 cup raisins, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
Date paste**
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

** Make the date paste by grinding 1 cup soft dates and 1/2 cup orange juice in a food processor until smooth.

- Thoroughly mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Shape into individual cakes or press into one large cake, ready to be cut at the end.
- Place on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 115 degrees F for 8 – 12 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can simply place the cake into the fridge to set.

Carroty Cakey Goodness!
For the frosting
1 1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons agave
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

- Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
- Place in fridge to achieve a thicker consistency and spread on cake when you’re ready to serve.
- Garnish cake with nutmeg.

Raw Tea Sandwiches
From Rawmazing

2 beets
1 cucumber (half sliced, half diced)
1 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 cup cucumber, diced (use the other half of the cucumber from above)
1 tablespoon tarragon
Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

- Slice the beets and half of the cucumber into thin rounds.
- Place pine nuts, nutritional yeast, water, and lemon juice in food processor. Process until very well blended.
- Stir in the scallions, diced cucumber and the tarragon.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- You can either make little stacks with the beets and cucumbers, or just place a mound on top of a beet slice or cucumber slice.

Soft Serve Banana Ice Cream!
Raw Banana Ice Cream
From Choosing Raw
2-3 frozen bananas
2tbsp agave syrup
1tbsp cacao powder

- Process bananas in the food processor until light, fluffy and smooth. Either serve immediately (consistency will be softer) or freeze fully before serving in an ice cream maker / tupperware in the freezer.
- Make topping by combining agave and cacao and pouring over :)

This recipe can of course be adapted endlessly to incorporate different flavours, textures, chunks and bites... whatever you desire!

Happy tea partying!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...