Kombucha

Kombucha Recipe

One of the most important things you can do for you and your family’s health is to improve your gut health. Most people are under the impression things like that take care of themselves. They don’t. They probably did take care of themselves fairly well many years back before our food contained large amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, GMO’s and preservatives. At one time most of the people in this country preserved their food. Most people’s diets contained several pickled and fermented foods. Pickles of all kinds, coleslaw, and sauerkraut were table staples.  These foodstuffs helped keep human guts balanced with the proper bacteria. Bacteria and enzymes in our gut help to break down our food.  The food we eat, once broken down, travels off to different parts of our body to nourish us. We need to stay well nourished to stay healthy.

My experience with gut problems began about thirteen years ago as I detoxed from years of smoking and not so smart eating habits. First came the transition to a healthier diet, then came transitioning to organic foods, and then came my intolerance to everything gluten.  After suffering for about 5 years with gluten issues I read an article about gut health. Before I get started let me show you where your gut is and what parts of your body make up your digestive system.

The gut, otherwise known as your digestive track,  has many components– it starts with your mouth and teeth and technically ends where your waste exits. The stomach is one of three parts of your gut that absorbs and digests food, with the small and large intestine being the other two parts that break down, digest, and absorb nutrients. The linings of our small and large intestines are the largest part of our immune system. Now, this was a big find for me. Not only did I not have a clue our immune system is in our gut, but I was simply blown away discovering the largest part of it is the mucosal lining of our intestines. Nutrients enter the blood stream, once broken down, from our small intestines. There are tiny villi all along our intestinal wall. These villi are how nutrients enter our bloodstream.  The intestinal wall is permeable to some extent so that these nutrients can pass through. In a normal, healthy gut the good stuff passes through and the bad stuff does not. But sometimes bad things start passing through, and sometimes the intestines become damaged and the lining develops holes allowing undigested food to pass through.

Learning all of this information made me wonder- was there a way I could heal my gut lining if in fact it was damaged or malfunctioning? So  I began reading about the gut lining and found that there were other people, just like me, experiencing issues with “out of the blue” food allergies and/ or intolerances who were using probiotics as a way to improve their overall gut health. Probiotics as we know help to maintain the good bacteria in our digestive tract. That good bacteria is part of a large ecosystem of bacterial flora that lives mainly in the large intestine.

Gut flora is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects. The gut metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of gut microbiota. (Wikipedia)

So I made an appointment with our family physician and asked for his opinion on whether or not starting on a probiotic would be a good thing or bad. He didn’t see how taking one could hurt and so I began using a probiotic about two years ago. Of course, I should note before I forget– a steady diet of kombucha and other fermented food in your diet would alleviate your need(most likely) to have to depend on a store bought probiotic. A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea.

A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea. I currently take a probiotic daily, but I’ve also incorporated fermented foods and kombucha into my diet as well.

Other than those very rare occasions I am presently symptom-free from issues associated with gluten intolerance. I believe the probiotic healed my gut to some degree by restoring the healthy bacteria I needed to process and digest my food. Some of the ways you can contribute to having unhealthy gut flora — a diet high in sugar (which I had for years) and low in fiber (that too).  Chronic stress(yes!) and chronic use of NSAIDs (yes to that too). Also if you are a person that has a lot of infections and relies heavily on antibiotics (thank goodness I can say nope to this one) you are at risk for having an unhealthy gut.

http://www.loveyourgut.com/what-does-the-gut-do/the-digestive-system/

http://www.enzymestuff.com/conditionleakygut.htm

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post about Kombucha, probiotics and gut health as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Until next time–be well!

The Benefits of Taking a Nap

nap-time

The benefits are listed here.

I am big on naps for many reasons.  Naps feel good.  I wake from a nap fully ready to take on the world. I am a bit saner after a nap, less cranky and way more energetic. But not everyone likes taking a nap. Remember when your mother used to force you to go take a nap? I do. Until I became an avid bookwork nap taking was pure evil. Do you remember laying in bed as a child staring at the ceiling counting sheep restlessly until your mother let you know nap time was over? I remember that too. But now, well actually for about the last 20 years, I am a regular nap taker.  I often try to get my husband to lie down and nap, but it’s just not his thing. Something tells me he is more the fall asleep in the recliner during the 6 o’clock news kind of guy.  For my nap to be successful I first plan how long it will be and set my clock. I make sure everyone in my household knows I am going to lie down. I turn on my white noise machine, rub lavender over my face and on my pillow and down I go. Whether it’s a 30 minutes nap or two hours I feel like a million bucks when I get up from it.

I do have night time sleep problems, but I’ve had those for many many years. My taking a tap doesn’t make them any worse and sometimes my nap makes me tired enough later in the day to fall fast asleep at bedtime. Try it. Just go ahead and try it.  What are you waiting for? Sweet dreams~ 🙂

My journey to becoming a foodie!@

img_3833

Before I was introduced to all the wonderful chefs of Food Network back in 1999 there was Jamie Oliver–the Naked Chef. I admit that the first time I heard the title of his show on BBC I thought “I wonder if they’ll show it here on American TV seeing as how he is naked”.  Much to my surprise the title of his show was just that and not to be taken quite so literally. Previous to my love for American chefs, and American cooking I was also highly influenced, and still am, by these British chefs also- Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay, and Delia Smith. Of course before Jamie there were the fabulous French chefs on PBS every afternoon at 4pm. Now those chefs have been in my life for many years starting with Julia Child (American chef) whom I still watch today (dvd collection). I love the cooking shows and documentaries on PBS – to this day PBS is still my favorite television station. Some of the very first blogs I read, way back in the late 90s, were foodie blogs. My favorite to this day, that I’ve followed for twelve years, is Sarah Cooks .

So to continue my journey’s beginning- my favorite cookbook of Jamie’s is Jamie at Home. My favorite recipe is Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad. I love that Jamie was one of the first chefs to create and promote healthy recipes/living. At the same time I was watching Jamie’s show I was also watching the first of Martha Stewart’s cooking shows.

From Jamie the Naked Chef and Martha Stewart’s food segment’s on the Martha Stewart Living shows in the early nineties to Ina Garten, Tyler Florence, Mario Batali and Paula Deen. I became utterly and completely smitten with Food Network and its cooking shows. Eventually I began collecting cookbooks and instead of just watching the chefs cook or bake something– I began cooking or baking their dishes . From that came wanting to source the best ingredients and the beginnings of a love affair of ordering exotic ingredients or hard to find ingredients online. From that came my passion for building a beautifully stocked pantry and purchasing the best pots and pans and cooking gadgets available on the market. Finally all of it led to my ambition in 2004  to cook and bake with whole foods, whole food ingredients- which is were chef Alice Waters and documentarian Michael Pollan come in. From this ambition and life changing way of living came this blog which started in 2008.

After having sourced most of our food from farmer’s markets for so many years, I eventually became quite interested in homesteading. Which is were following blogs like The Elliott Homestead and so many others has come in to play. From my absolute love of farming, growing my own and living a more sustainable life has come the desire to buy land and grow my own food.

Relocating has been something we’ve talked about for quite some time. It was always going to be something we did by our retirements. Finally the stars have all come into alignment and we’ve decided to return back to the country I was born and raised for some time in and buy a piece of land. I am still a citizen of that country so our relocating there is a lot easier for me (and my family) to do than it might be for others. Our plan is to purchase the land very soon and then start the moving process shortly after. We hope to be settled by this time next year.

I hope you have enjoyed my journey on becoming a foodie. Until next time–do your body a big favor and choose to eat good food!

It’s salad time again!

Spinach salad

It’s that time again when our go-to meals will be salad and soup, soup and sandwich and of course fresh veggies and fruits found at local vegetable stands. We are both ready to hit the Dane County Farmer’s Market again, the outdoor market started a couple of weeks ago. I don’t mind saying that it’s been quite a balancing act trying to tend to my starter plants- carrots, tomatoes, beets and lettuce along with full-time work (busy season beginning to wind down) and the last couple of weeks of school- heavy course work with a project winding down and exams to study for. Let me not forget spring volunteer activities, vet appointments on my day off and spring cleaning. Whew, I’m beat. Friends are planning a graduation party for me and I’m not allowed to bring anything, unless of course its my spinach salad. Which I’m happy to oblige. We eat a lot of spinach, we throw it in scrambled eggs, make several different types of salads with it, use it for spinach and strawberry smoothies and just about every soup and stew I make. The recipe for the spinach salad above, which I will be bringing to my grad party, is here. I feel I’m a bit behind posting to my blogs, so today a rare weekday off I am catching up on posting, instagram and some correspondence with my 3rd cousin regarding family history research we are both working on. I mentioned soup and I’m going to share a delicious recipe for Dutch Vermicelli soup. We eat a lot of it in this household. I first learned of this soup from my mother-in-law and I’ve grown to love it over the years. I skip eating the little meatballs (I use ground beef) but I do make them for my husband. It’s a soup he has been eating all his life.

MEDION DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s about it for what’s been going on here. I hope everyone is enjoying the nice weather we’ve had the last couple of days. I bought a bunch of bedding plants-impatiens,  begonias, geraniums, and cosmos just to name a few that I’ve been having to bring in at night still. Soon though I will transfer them to bigger pots and it’ll be warm enough for them to stay outside all night.  This weekend we are going to our first ever Badger rowing event. The Wisconsin Badgers Men and Women teams will be rowing at Devil’s Lake this weekend. So excited! Until next time have a great rest of the week! Source

Invest in yourself-the food you eat

invest in yourself

The real reason behind starting this blog several years ago was to voice my concerns about food safety and to journal about my family’s shift to an organic diet.  The desire to eat more organic food really struck me after reading story after story about all the additives in processed food.

When my husband and I married we had two very different eating styles that came from two entirely different lifestyles. He from a family that ate a lot of sweets and fattening food (and are now paying for it), and I who had been out on my own for many years eating whatever I could afford.  My husband wasn’t about to sit down to a meal of tuna sandwiches or mac and cheese any more than I was going to sit down to bratwurst, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  So, I needed to come up with a compromise. Eventually, I created a menu that included all of the healthiest things from each other’s diets and then as the years went on began to substitute them with the organic versions.

In 2004, after researching organic food, we started purchasing from the Organic Valley (OV) product line. Organic Valley headquarters are located in LaFarge, WI not far from where we live.  We chose OV after reading about their products, their farmers, and their founder.  Some of the first products we tried, and have stayed with for 10 years now, are OV milk, butter, eggs, and cheese.  We stopped buying canned vegetables and fruits at the grocery store and instead purchase fresh or frozen. I also purchase large amounts of green beans, squash, peppers and strawberries to freeze for meals throughout the winter.

In 2005 I noticed, after losing 10#, that I felt better than I had in a long time. I had quit smoking and drinking in 2003, started eating organic food in 2004 and was riding bike and hiking again. The list of foods that we had given up by 2005 was pretty long- some processed foods, sugary cereals, canned goods of any kind, non- organic sauces and gravies and non-organic dairy.

My husband had given up chips, cookies and other sweets for bananas and nuts. For a few years, while the organic food movement was getting started, sourcing food was a major problem. In 2007 we signed up for a CSA outside the area driving a 100 miles round-trip for our veggies. Then the following year we found a local one. But by 2009 the local one decided it was too much work and we were without a CSA again.  Since the spring of 2011, we’ve been buying our fruits and veggies from a local vegetable stand. 

People always ask me, ” how can you afford it?” And I answer “how can we not? it’s a lot safer than eating food that contains chemicals and additives and all those mystery ingredients”.

Sticking to an organic diet can be expensive. My husband and I take a lot of flak for choosing this way of life.  Thankfully we have fairly strong arguments against non-organic diets including the fairly obvious evidence of our health and active lifestyle.  As the years have gone by we’ve dropped other things from our diet- processed cookies, cakes, and non-organic condiments. We don’t eat fast food anymore and just recently I gave up salt.

Ten days after I gave up salt I weighed myself and I had lost 10#. No joke. At the same time, I gave up salt I also gave up red meat. I realized that I used a lot of salt on red meat because I didn’t like the taste of it.

The last seven years have been a struggle, my blog didn’t always report that. It isn’t easy to make changes to one’s diet. Sometimes it is not easy to justify the extra or added expense. I’ve had to do a lot of creative budgeting to afford some of the new food choices we’ve made. It’s easy to afford McDonald’s and easier yet to buy a bunch of processed foods and microwave meals every day. There has never been a time I’ve regretted the changes we’ve made or giving up things we liked because they were bad for us. It’s great to be almost fifty years old and feel like I’m in my 30’s. It’s a dream to see the smile on my husband’s face when he sees the progress he had made and the good health benefits he reaps every day.