Friday, March 30, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: Crunchy Cheese Twists

It's Whole Foods Friday and once again I am featuring a delicious recipe from my sister's blog, Whole Foods on a Budget.  These will make a quick and easy snack for your kiddos!  I'm getting ready to whip up a batch up for my toddler.  Click HERE for the recipe.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Making and Using Chicken Broth

 Making chicken broth is very easy and a great money saver, not to mention all those wonderful nutrients you get from making your own.  I have gotten into a rhythm and make us a whole chicken to eat every other week, then make broth with the carcass, dividing it into six portions so that three times a week we are eating our bone broth.
 I use my Le Creset Dutch oven and place my chicken carcass along with 4-5 feet (my organic chicken farmer is kind enough to give them to me for free) and some vegetable scraps.  I like to save my onion skins, ends from greens, carrot peelings, garlic skins etc... and add them to my broth to increase the nutrient content even more.  I add enough filtered water to fill the pot with about 2 inches of space to the top of the pot.
 When everything is in there and ready to go, I add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and let stir it  in and let everything sit for 2 hours before I start simmering the broth.  I let my broth simmer on low heat, checking it a few times to make sure things are submurged in the water and to add water as needed, for 24 hours.  I have never had a problem leaving it over night (we have a gas stove).
We it's all finished, I divide it into 6 portions and usually have enough to fill 3/4 full 6 two cup canning jars.  I love to use this when I make my rice, soups, quinoa, teff, or stirring into mashed potatoes.

(Featured on GNOWFLGINS, The Nourishing Gourmet)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Review: Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics

One of the books I have been assigned to read for my Clinical Master Herbalist program is Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics by Dr. John McKenna.  I highly recommend this book, no matter what season of life you find yourself, and especially if you are raising children.

Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics

As a former nurse, I have seen first hand the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria and took care of many patients suffering from this issue.  It is sobering to see the increasing numbers and more virulent strains of bacteria making their appearance.

Thankfully, there is still hope if enough of us start to make the appropriate changes in how and when we use antibiotics; and this includes dietary intake as well.  A large contributing piece to this problem is the vast amounts of antibiotics used meat and dairy production.  The other large contributing piece is the frequent distribution of antibiotics by physicians and the large number of requests from patients.

In order to make a change in this area, it is important to educate ourselves.  Dr. McKenna's book will do just that and I am sure that you will not look at antibiotics in the same light once you finish reading.

The first section of this book discusses the history, effects, use, abuse, and bacterial resistance to antibiotics.  He ends this section on a hopeful note: a more prudent use of antibiotics will result in bacterial change and lead to reduced bacterial resistance.

The next section discusses the treatment of childhood illness, with many personal experiences.  I appreciate that Dr. McKenna discusses the use of both herbal and homeopathic medicine.  I enjoy using both these sources of holistic medicine in my home and learned a lot reading through this section.

He ends the book discussing nutritional and bacterial supplements (probiotics) as well as the healthy diet.  He also writes a brief chapter about stress and it's effects on the immune system.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned a tremendous amount.  I particularly liked his approach to treating childhood illnesses.  I also liked the fact that he supports antibiotic use when appropriate, but encourages a natural approach to illness first.

You can purchase this book HERE.  I am an amazon affiliate and appreciate any traffic to their site from my blog, as it helps to support my site.

Featured on The Nourishing Gourmet, GNOWFLGINS, Healthy Home Economist, The Homestead Revival, Real Food Forager)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cultured Mondays - Some Link Love...

So, we have been fighting off some colds around here and I was not able to get a cultured recipe out this week.  But, one of my fellow Nourished Living Network Bloggers, over at Pickle Me Too, has a lovely recipe for Brine Pickled Celery.  Click, HERE, to take a look at her recipe!

In the meantime, we have all been consuming a lot of THIS!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: Coconut Curry Sweet Potato Soup with Greens

It's Whole Foods Friday!  Today I have a recipe that uses greens.  We get a lot of these wonderful vegetables in our co-op and I have found and a yummy way to use them up...

 *4 large mustard or 6 medium kale leaves, finely chopped
*1 very large or two medium sweet potatoes or yams
*1 large onion
*5 cups coconut milk
*2 cups chicken broth 
*2 T curry seasoning
*1 tsp powdered ginger
*optional - add two cups chopped, cooked chicken

 Place all your ingredients into a medium to large dutch oven.

 Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer on medium low for 30 minutes, until the greens and sweet potatoes are very soft.

This pairs well with fresh homemade sourdough bread or a side of buttered brown rice.  If you feel really exotic, then use some black forbidden rice (read more about this rice HERE) which can be found on amazon.

Disclaimer:  I am an affiliate for amazon.  I appreciate any business that you do with them from my site.  This helps to support my blog.  Thank you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Easy Organic Baby Bottom Balm

You can make your own baby bottom balm with just three simple ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, and lavender essential oil.  I recommend using organic products for your little one and you can find each of these here, at Mountain Rose Herbs.  You will want to store this balm in a darkened glass container.  Mountain Rose Herbs sells beautiful cobalt blue and amber glass containers that can be reused.  I recommend two 4 ounce glass jars to hold this recipe.

Lavender Baby Bottom Balm

*3/4 cup olive oil
*1 - 1 1/4 ounces of beeswax (use the higher amount if you like a firmer balm)
*10 drops of lavender essential oil
*two 4 ounce darkened glass containers

Place the olive oil and beeswax into a small glass or enamel pot (glass pots can be purchased very inexpensively off ebay).  Heat on medium heat, stirring frequently until the beeswax has dissolved.  Remove from heat immediately and add your lavender essential oil, then stir briskly to be sure that the essential oil is well distributed into the olive oil and beeswax.  Pour immediately into your two glass jars. Label and use with 3-4 months.

Your baby will love this balm and you will love the pure ingredients you are using on your little one's bum!

Disclaimer:  Some of the links in my posts are affiliate links, which help support this blog.  I only recommend companies that I personally use and I appreciate any purchases you make from my links.  Thank you!

(Featured on GNOWFGLINS, The Nourishing Gourmet, Momnivour's Delimma, Food Renegade, Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Revival, Kelly the Kitchen Kop)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why you should not buy tahini...and how to soak sesame and sunflower seeds...

I love tahini!  But after some recent reading about the high levels of phytic acid (read more here) in sesame seeds, I decided I really need to start to soak my sesame seeds along with all the nuts I already soak and dry.  And, in turn, start to make my own tahini.
Soaked sesame and sunflower seeds
Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that blocks mineral absorption and is found mostly in grains and nuts.  Our ancestors were pros at properly preparing their grains and seeds before consumption and I am happy to say, many of us are now re-learning these secrets.

Seeds soaking
Now, there are a lot of opinions on how to soak, how many times to rinse, and how to store your soaked sesame seeds.  After reading through a number of sites, I have decided to soak my sesame (and sunflower) seeds in water (you need to use glass bowls or if ceramic, you have to be sure that they are lead and cadmium free dishes) with a bit of pink salt for a total of 8 hours, rinsing them once at the 4 hour mark, and then again at 8 hours.  I then laid them out to dry in my dehydrator on parchment paper for around 6-8 hours.  They are stored in my freezer ready to be made into tahini or thrown in smoothies and other recipes.

For drying, I use one of my favorite kitchen tools: my square Excalibur dehydrator (with timer).  This is now one of my most used kitchen items.  I use it for making yogurt, drying nuts, and drying my fruits and vegetables.

(Featured on Traditional Foods)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Coconut Cultured Ginger Shake

It's cultured Mondays again!  We've been busy eating vast quantities of the strawberry applesauce from last good!

Back in January I posted a recipe for cultured ginger.  I have really enjoyed using this in various recipes.  Ginger is such a healthy, immune boosting herb, and all the better in cultured form.  For all of you who have tried that recipe, here is a great way you can use yours!

Coconut Cultured Ginger Shake

*One cup coconut milk
*1 banana
*2 one inch by 1/4 inch pieces of cultured ginger

Place all three ingredients in your mixer and blend on high until well mixed.  Enjoy!  Ours was half gone before I could even snap a picture!

(Featured on Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Revival, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Real Food Forager, Cooking Traditional Foods, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, GNOWFGLINS, The Nourishing Gourmet, Real Food Freaks, Real Food Whole Health, Food Renegade)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Whole Foods Friday - Sourdough Irish Soda Bread

I am SO excited to give this recipe a try, especially with St. Patrick's Day just around the corner!  This recipe is from my sister's blog Whole Foods on a Budget.  You can read the entire recipe here. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Seaweed Shaker

I love all of the health benefits to adding seaweed to your diet.  I will often throw a couple of tablespoons into dishes like chili, pasta, and soups.  Sometimes I forget, so I found a great and easy way to shake a little onto our meals is making my own seaweed shaker.  I just used an old glass salt shaker and put a little of each seaweed I had on hand inside.

This blend has kelp powder, sea lettuce flakes, dulse, and nori flakes.

Here is my well shaken blend, labeled and ready to use!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grapefruit Essential Oil

This oil has become a frequent flyer at my home!  I love this's fresh and sweet and makes me think of bright sunny summer days.

Photo Credit:

Grapefruit essential oil is good for so many things!  Some of it's benefits include:

*improves sluggish digestion
*improves a sluggish lymph system
*helps with depression
*helps to ease PMS
*helps with detoxing the body

Photo Credit:

There are many more benefits, but those are some of my favorites.  This is a great oil to add to your home medicine box because it's inexpensive and has so many healing benefits.  I love to use it in baths (see here for one of my favorite bath recipes) and recently I had a cold and my glands in my neck were starting to get swollen and sore.  I took one teaspoon of olive oil and added 2-3 drops of grapefruit essential oil, stirring well with my finger.  I then rubbed a little of that oil on my glands and neck and up behind my ears.  Within an hour the pain and swelling was gone!

*As with all essential oils, please check with you health care provider before you use them if you are pregnant and nursing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cultured Strawberry Applesauce

 It's Cultured Mondays again!  How are all your culturing goals going?  I am so happy that I made the goal in January to eat at least one cultured food a day - our family is addicted now!  I'm having so much fun coming up with new combinations for us to try.
My latest is this strawberry applesauce - it is one of my favorite cultured products to date!  I know it's a bit early for most of the country, but out here in SoCal, we are in the middle of our strawberry season.  I am so grateful to be part of an organic food coop and was able to get 84 pints of strawberries at just a dollar a pint.  We have been in strawberry heaven.  I dried most of them (future post!!), but am making a gallon and a half of this cultured strawberry sauce because we are eating it like crazy.
 So, this recipe is SUPER easy!  Because of the pesticides used on conventional apples and strawberries, I HIGHLY recommend making this with organic fruit.

*5 large apples or 6-7 smaller apples
*2 pints of strawberries
*3-6 T whey
*1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Wash your fruit thoroughly.  Cut the apples into large pieces.  Using a vitamix or blender, blend the fruit in 2-3 sessions, dividing the salt and whey into each session.  Add to three 3 cup canning jars or one 6 cup canning jar and one 3 cup canning jar.  You need to leave at least 3 inches of space in the top of the jar.  I learned this the hard way!  Leave out for 24-30 hours if it is warm.  For cooler weather, you may need to do 36-48 hours.  Once you see lots of bubbles, it has a fizzy taste, and has lost some of it's original sweetness, it should be fermented and can be placed in the fridge.
You need plenty of space in the top of your jar as I am guessing the sugars in the fruit ferment quickly.  I put all of my recipe into just one 6 cup canning jar and I walked by my pantry around hour 30 and I could HEAR it just fizzing away.  So I opened my jar and the sauce just came pouring out!  It tasted amazing, though.  It had a slight fizz to it and is mildly sweet.  We used it on pancakes this morning instead of syrup.  Delicious!

(Featured on Healthy Home Economist, My Sweet and Savory, Nourishing Treasures, Homestead Revival, Real Food Forager, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, The Gluten Free Homemaker, Tessa, The Domestic Diva, Mind, Body and Sole, GNOWFGLINS, The Nourishing Gourmet, Real Food Whole Health, Real Food Freaks, Food Renegade, Butter Believer, Pain Free Pregnancy)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Whole Foods Friday - Sourdough Breakfast Cake

This recipe is quickly becoming a household favorite!  It's easy to make and comes out SO light and fluffy. You would never know that it was sourdough.  Click here to hop over to my sister's blog, Whole Foods on a Budget , to get the recipe!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Forbidden Rice - High in Antioxidants

I think forbidden rice is the most beautiful rice I have seen and it is my favorite to serve our family.  According to Lotus Foods, who sells organic forbidden rice, this rice is extremely high in antioxidants called anthocyanins.  This rice is also high in iron and is considered to be a blood tonifier.  It has the highest number of minerals, vitamins, and fiber of any rice.  You can read more HERE about the forbidden rice.

Photo Credit:

I love to cook this up for almost any recipe that I would use regular rice.  You can find a whole list HERE of different recipes for forbidden rice.  I have found the best price to be on amazon, buying the 11 pound bag, and using their subscribe and save program.  I know that Amazon Prime members will get free shipping.  Just click on my amazon link to the right to check it out.  Once you try this rice, it will be hard to go back to "ordinary" rice!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Not Just a Vaccine Issue

This post is inspired by a recent facebook discussion about vaccines.  I respect that whether or not to vaccinate is a personal and difficult choice.  I believe that each parent needs to take the time to be educated and then make their decision.  I know that some parents argue for vaccines because we don't deal with diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella, but what is left out of that argument is all the children who now suffer from autism, asthma, allergies, and ADHD.  Is one really worse than the other?  I personally don't think so.  In some ways, I think the chronic issues are worse then some of the diseases. 

Photo Credit:

It saddens me to see the statistics of the increasing numbers of children who are autistic, have asthma, and are coming down with allergies.  Many people link this to vaccines.  I think there is a link, but I do not think it is the only link.  I think the toxic load that children carry from their SAD diet (Standard American Diet), environment, and over the counter and prescription meds (like antibiotics) along with the vaccines is the cause the increasing numbers of chronically ill children.

Echinacea - Photo Credit:
Take some time to look through the Nourished Living Network site.  There are so many helpful ideas about eating Traditional foods and using holistic means to keep your children health and strong!  I will also continue posting things you can do to strengthen your child's immune system.

Photo Credit:
If you are a parent with a child with one of the chronic health issues I mentioned, there is hope!  I would be happy to speak with you and discuss holistic treatment options you can explore to reverse or treat those issues.
 Even if your child does not have any issues yet, but you want to learn more about how to protect them, feel free to contact me and we can set up a consultation.  I wish there was a one size fits all approach to treating things, but every person and situation is unique, which is why it is best to do a consultation, so you and your child's individual situation and unique needs can be discussed and met.

If you mention this post, I will do a free consultation call with you, lasting 30 minutes.  This can be done via SKYPE or by telephone and is a $20 value.  You can contact me at to  set up your free consult.

You can also get many helpful ideas from the Nourished Living Network.

Photo Credit:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cultured Garlicky Vegetables - Gallon Sized!

It's cultured Mondays again and this week you get to meet my little helper!  Isn't he precious!  I love being in the kitchen with my little guy and I love the fact that he is being introduced to such healthy eating habits at such a young age (2!).  Since cooking with nourishing, traditional foods can mean more time in the kitchen, I like to have my son help as much as he can so we can spend time together.

 Here he is helping mommy peel garlic.

 The recipe this week is for a gallon sized cultured vegetable medley.  I used what I had on hand from my co-op to make up this batch of vegetables.  According to my husband, this was the best sauerkraut he has had to date...

*2 heads of cabbage
*2 very small heads of cauliflower
*2 dozen radishes
*4 heads of garlic
*2 tablespoons fennel seed
*2 tablespoons sea lettuce flakes (form of seaweed)
*4 tablespoons pink salt
*1/4 cup sauerkraut juice from my last batch of sauerkraut

I buy my gallon sized glass jars from Azure Standard, a large co-op on the West Coast.  They are cheap and I use them to store all kinds of things (cultured foods, dried foods, beans, grains and more!)

I carefully washed all the vegetables and cut them into bite sized pieces.  Even though my radishes were small, I cut them in half as the radishes I have cultured in the past are a bit hard to eat whole.  Some of the larger garlic cloves I also cut in half.

Next, I shredded all the cabbage and added the cabbage, seasoning, and vegetables to my jar in layers, beating down each layer with my kraut pounder (I LOVE that thing!  Makes making sauerkraut so much easier!)

I was able to get enough juices from the cabbage using the kraut pounder that I did not need to add any filtered water.  If your pounding does not yield enough juice to cover your vegetables, then add enough water to cover the top of the vegetables.  The water needs to be filtered water.  Now it's ready to sit for 3 days (or more - I would say up to 5 or 6 days as long as you are not developing mold and depending on the temperature of your home.  The ideal fermenting temperature is 70 degrees.  Since it's winter and our home has been below that temperature, I am letting my vegetable sit out for 5-6 days.).  Make sure that when you cover your jar, you have the lid on loosely to allow for air to escape.  Keep in a dark place; I use a kitchen cabinet.

The above picture is how the jar looks after 24 hours of fermenting.  It's hard to see, but you can see just a little liquid forming at the bottom of the jar, a sign that fermenting is taking place, along with bubbles you will see forming in the jar.

This is day two of fermenting.  See how much the color has changed and the amount of liquid forming on the bottom.  I like to check for mold and I also press the vegetables back down into the liquid at least once a day.

Day three of fermenting and it smells divine!  I let this batch sit out for about 5 1/2 days.  It's nice and soft and the garlic has lost it's sharp bite and is nice and mellow.  My husband LOVES this batch.  I enjoyed the sweet contrast of the fennel seeds.

(Featured on Healthy Home Economist, Nourishing Treasures, My Sweet and Savory, Delighfully Dowling, Ruth's Real Foods, Homestead Revival, Real Food Forager, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Cooking Traditional Foods, A Glimpse Inside, Gluten Free Pantry, A Little Nosh, Momnivoure's Delimma, GNOWFLGINS, The Nourishing Gourmet, Food Renegade, Butter Believer)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Whole Foods Friday - A Spin-off on French Onion Soup

It's Whole Foods Friday once again!  Since we are still in the chilly weather of February (even here in SoCal!), I thought I would post another soup recipe from my sister's fabulous blog, Whole Foods on a Budget.

This week you can try her Spin-off on French Onion Soup!  You can find the recipe HERE.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Study Shows Antibiotics Do Not Work For Most Sinus Infections

This article recently came out and discussed how ineffective antibiotics are in treating most sinus infections and encourages a wait and watch approach and management of symptoms.

I believe this is critical information to make known to the general public.  We live in a quick fix society; people want to pop a pill and be back to work the next day.  But, that is just not how our bodies are made.  They need rest, care, and often the right medley of natural remedies in order to heal properly.

Echinacea  (Photo credit:

Sadly, most "management of symptoms" includes over the counter drugs that often don't do much to help the body heal and can sometimes end up causing harm instead.  I watched (and experienced) this happen time after time during the years I was a nurse.  This is one of the reasons I am back in school to become an herbalist and aromatherapist; I LOVE how gentle and healing natural remedies can be.  Herbs and essential oils, when used correctly, are powerful healing tools; far more complex that our standard pharmaceuticals.  Because of this complexity, they are often better at treating illnesses and bringing about healing in the body.

There is a time and place for modern medicine.  But, I think most common illnesses and sicknesses can be managed much better by holistic medicine (herbs, essential oils, homeopathy, accu-puncture, etc).

Elderberry (Photo credit:

If you are a reader who is interested in learning about antibiotic alternatives and other ways to gently heal the body, there are a few things I would recommend:

1) Start to create your own holistic network.
Find a local herbalist, aromatherapist, homeopath, accu-puncturist, and naturopath.  It can take a while to build up a holistic network, but it's worth the wait.  I have personally found that I need different types of holistic care at different times.  Sometimes homeopathy works great but other times I feel myself really needed a good accu-puncture treatment or  a particular herbal remedy.

2) Start to educate yourself.
There are two books that I recommend you read (just click the title and I have linked it to the books so you can read more about them): Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Buhner and Natural Alternatives to Herbal Antibiotics by John McKenna.  Both these books are easy to read and very informative.

3) Consider taking an on-line course.
There are many courses that you can take.  For beginners looking for some basic health and herbal knowledge, try Vintage Remedies The Family Herbalist.  This course can be done on your schedule and will be a great starting point to learn how to treat you and your family from a more natural approach.
If you are interested in aromatherapy, then I highly recommend Aromatherapy 101 through the East West School of Herbal and Aromatic Studies.  This course will give you a basic knowledge platform to learn how to treat your family with essential oils.  I think you will be amazed at the healing properties of these oils.

Garlic (Photo credit: