Nutrition Tip: Adding Fruit

Hello Everyone! Practicing ways to implement more REAL FOODS into the diet of my family is an on-going challenge...even more so for their teenage years. So, with hopes that I don't have to actually place the fruit in front of them and ask that they eat it I decided today to cut the fruit and take it one step further...create serving size baggies!

This actually makes it easy to grab fruit as a snack for everyone in the family. Fruit is full of vitamins, minerals and fiber making it a very healthy snack option.

If not regularly eating fruit daily, try just adding one serving each day and eventually it will become a habit.

Soaking Grains Will Help Your Digestive System

There are many good reasons and benefits for soaking grains, prior to cooking them. Grain foods require soaking and fermentation processes so that our bodies can easily digest the sugars and starches found within them.  Cultures all over the world have used these processes for thousands of years, but many no longer follow this practice especially here in the U.S. where we want our food fast and we want it now.

Most of us are familiar with soaking beans prior to cooking...and just like beans are actually seeds, grains are also seeds. All seeds contain enzyme inhibitors. These enzyme inhibitors are what prevent seeds from sprouting when in a dry environment. Just like seeds require watering when you plant them before they can sprout, grains should also be "watered" to allow the seed to open up (sprout a bit) before cooking. Grains can also be sprouted which takes the preparation a bit further, but at a minimum, we want to soak the grains in water to remove some of the enzyme inhibitors.

Ideally corn grains should be soaked in lime water which can be created using pickling lime (also know as hydrated lime, usually found in the canning section of grocery stores) which is a food-grade calcium hydroxide solution. This process of preparing corn is know as nixtamalization. As explained in Wikipedia, "Nixtamalized [corn] has several benefits over unprocessed grain: it is more easily ground; its nutritional value is increased; flavor and aroma are improved; and mycotoxins (toxic compounds) are reduced." You can see the difference in the second photo below. You can taste the difference (if you try this yourself). The food recipes that I create after properly soaking the corn have a really good flavor without any bitterness. I personally find that the corn tastes just the opposite - even sweeter. It also bakes higher and fluffier.

The grains should be soaked in lime water for at least 7 hours, then you can rinse it prior to a second soaking with water or other liquid of your choice that will be used to bake or cook the corn, plus about 1 - 2 TBS of an acidic solution such as apple cider vinegar, kombucha, or lemon juice.  Here is a good recipe for cornbread which follows this traditional cooking method.

Properly soaked corn grains (left) vs. non-soaked corn grains

Quinoa Grains
Other popular grains such as rices, quinoa and oats don't require as much work. Simple soak the grains overnight (or about 7-8 hours) in filtered water with 1 - 2 TBS of an acidic solution prior to cooking. If a recipe calls for two cups of water, then soak the grains in two cups of water. Just before cooking, pour off the water into a measuring cup and then replace the amount poured off with fresh filtered water. Then cook according to directions.
Millet Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
And another form of soaking grains is to ferment the grains thus, creating sourdough. I've been fermenting grains for about a year now. On this journey I immediately began fermenting vegetables without hesitation, but I was afraid to try fermenting grains. Silly me for waiting so long because it is also an easy process. Here is a very useful article that contains good information about how to begin creating sourdough either by using a sourdough starter that you purchase or begin your own sourdough starter from scratch and as to why sourdough will benefit you (more nutritious, naturally preserves the baked loaf and it breaks down gluten proteins).

Sourdough Millet Waffles
I hope I have inspired you to take another step toward preparing nutritious food for your health and healing journey. If you over consume whole grains that are not properly prepared, these foods can work against your nutrition goals.

There are a few foods that you can purchase that are already fermented or sprouted. Look for "Sprouted Grain" and "Sourdough" breads that have been prepared using the natural processes described above. I have found these in the fresh bakery section of HEB and in the frozen food sections of most grocery stores. I am also seeing more sprouted grains available in the grocery stores. Packaged grains in their natural state that haven't been pre-boiled or have added oils, preservatives, etc are good choices for your food pantry. Masa corn flour has already been pre-treated with lime and so has many corn tortillas and corn tortilla chips. 

Seasonal Allergies? Try Ditching This Food Group

Hay fever caused the pretty, fall days to be unbearable for me... and that's an understatement. My suffering was apparent to everyone I came in contact with. This lasted from my early years as a child, compounded by bronchitis, and well into my 40s! Too long! That just wasn't a good thing.

Then I began researching for my health. By removing this food group from my diet, I haven't experienced a "cold" symptom for over 7 years! That's amazing to me - especially considering my long history!

So what's the food group that will likely help most dealing with seasonal allergies and respiratory issues such as sore throats, swollen tonsils, colds, coughs, sneezing, puffy eyes, runny noses, etc?

We can take control of our health. There is an undeniably link between what we eat "to fuel our bodies" and how these food choices affect our health.

But isn't dairy healthy?  One would think so, but please read all the information contained in this article and the links below so that you can make a well-informed decision.

The milk of today isn't the same as milk which our grandparents and great-grandparents used to drink, prior to the early 1900's.  Wondering why the milk of today can cause problems? Here are a few things to consider.
  • rBST Growth Hormones added to milk and these hormones are affecting our bodies too. Some believe that they are causing early puberty in our children and there are even links which point to hormones as cancer causing agents, especially in females. 
  • CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) in place of healthy, pasture-raised and grass-fed cows lead to a lack of Omega-3 essential fatty acids in the milk supply and an increase in ingredients which lead to inflammation in the cows and us when we consume their milk. Milk produced from CAFOs also contribute to antibiotic resistance due to antibiotics fed to the cows.
  • Pasteurized and Ultra-Pasteurized milk no longer contain enzymes to help with the digestion of milk. This is the main reason people show signs of lactose intolerance because the enzyme that would naturally be present in the milk to digest the lactose has been destroyed through pasteurization. Hence, the development of lactose-free milk (milk with the lactase enzyme added) - to combat these problems.
One option might be to switch to drinking raw milk. Hey, before you turn up your nose to the thought, remember it's what our grandparents drank. If you love milk so much and you want the best food for your body, you should definitely switch to raw milk. Even though we have now switched to non-dairy alternatives, I can tell you this.
"My children only experienced runny noses and colds when they drank commercially produced milk (even organic) in place of the raw milk."
However, due to the current state of your body and the previous unhealthy choices that may have been made, milk may not be an ideal food for you at this point in time.

Remember, to clean up your body will require removing certain foods (milk is probably one) and adding other nutritious foods in order to support your body's natural healing system. Contact me if you are interested in learning how to improve your food choices and better support your health.

Carrageenan Free Ice Cream

So now that you have read a couple of articles on 'Deciphering Food Labels' Step 1 , Step 2 and Step 3, let's take a look at specific food item that you can apply all that you've discovered - Ice Cream! Yes, there is something more that you should probably consider when purchasing ice cream. Otherwise, it's best to make it at home using single, real food ingredients.

Ice cream is everyone's favorite, right? If not now,  I'm sure there once was a time that you loved ice cream anyway. So it's my daughter's favorite dessert. I think it's because her opportunities to eat it have been so limited because I discovered there was something in ice cream that was making her sick.

My daugther's reaction would begin with congestion that often led to asthma. At just barely three years old she was on inhalers, nebulizers and antibiotics much too frequently - and it always occurred just after a birthday or some type of celebration where sweets were plentiful.  It was her reaction to ice cream that I first noticed. I have photos taken just days after parties we attended the day before where she would be on the nebulizer and that's exactly how I put it all together. From that point on I avoided ice cream, frosting, cool whip and anything dairy that was in a can or carton.

So my thoughts went from first thinking that she was allergic to just one brand of ice cream to being allergic to all dairy, until I discovered the one common ingredient for many snack/dessert products that triggered her symptoms is a preservative called CARRAGEENAN that acts as a stabilizer for many packaged food products. 

For years I made ice cream (using single, real food ingredients) for her to eat at home and she even took her own ice cream and sometimes her own cake to friend's parties. It was a bit difficult for her emotionally, but she knew that she didn't want to be sick and that mommy could always make her "special" ice cream.

In the beginning we first noticed that Breyer's 'Natural Vanilla' flavor didn't contain that was our 'go to' ice cream. But recently my daughter, now 14, has been on a quest to find ice cream (on the grocery store shelves) with all the exciting flavors that she loves. In the photo below are all the ice cream brands and flavors she found at a Kroger store on just one visit. I'm happy to see that she has options now when she wants a special treat.

But note, just like some flavors of Breyer's ice cream contain carrageenan, so might other flavors of these brands. 

There are medical articles that show respiratory issues being linked to carrageenan. Finally, this information is being made known mainstream and it's being removed from many items that once contained it. Here again, we can dictate better foods by spending our money on foods that meet our nutrition goals and leaving the others on the shelf.

Eggs - So Many Options

Wondering what eggs to buy? Here are a few points for you to consider.

Just like in the previous 'Deciphering Food Labels Step 3 - How were the animals raised?' article that I wrote about recently, we should consider how the chickens were raised. So, likewise, the eggs from chickens that are given the best environment will produce healthier eggs.

Here are KEYWORDS which you might already be familiar with or are wondering about.

Cage-Free and Free-Roaming. These labels can be applied to chickens which are not confined by the use of cages. Unfortunately, they can be tightly crammed into their space. These chickens may or may not get any access to the outdoors. 

Pasture-Raised. When you see these words, the chickens had access to green grass and ideally grassy pasture.

Organic Chickens/Eggs.  The USDA National Organic Program regulations require that organic poultry have year-round access to the outdoors. Birds must have access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, clean water for drinking, and direct sunlight (7 CFR 205.239(a)(1)). Poultry are allowed to be temporarily confined in some circumstances, such as inclement weather or conditions under which the birds’ health, safety, or well-being could be jeopardized (7 CFR 205.239(b)). However, continuous total confinement indoors is prohibited by USDA’s regulations (7 CFR 205.239(a)(1)).

Any questions, send them here.