Sunday, December 19, 2010

Budding chemist? Scientist?...Dishwasher?

One of Oliver's most favorite activities these days is to pull a kitchen chair up to the sink and get busy playing with measuring cups and spoons, funnels, mixing bowls, strainers, ladles -- and water of course. He can do this indefinitely it seems, as long as he is provided with new tools every so often.

In the last three pictures he is helping Hugo wash limes for ginger ale.

The worst that has happened so far is some water spilled on the floor and some very wet clothes. I think it's cute how he is so focused and industrious at the sink. :)

-Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Breast cancer prevention

I'm not sure why, but breast cancer prevention has been on my mind lately. Perhaps because I am frequently reminded that there are a few key things we can do (but DON'T!) to help reduce the risk.

This excellent segment on Fresh Air yesterday prompted me to finally post about this important topic. I recommend listening in rather than reading the summary. The link is below:

A few things not mentioned in the interview, to my chagrin, are:

1) deodorant! what we put on our underarms, particularly after shaving but really any time, is not to be overlooked. Cancerous breast tissue that has been removed has been found to have high levels of aluminum, the active ingredient in virtually all commercial deodorants. Ladies, it's time to make the switch! See my recipe for healthy, effective deodorant made entirely from food-grade ingredients.

2) bras! see this enlightening article about bra wearing and breast cancer risk. I was recently shopping for a new bra and was appalled, as always, by the prevalence of underwire styles. These bras are particularly harmful because the underwire, whether metal or plastic, severely restricts lymph flow and the removal of toxins from the sensitive underarm and breast areas. The best thing is to choose a looser, less restrictive style of bra and wear it as little as possible.

3) last but not least -- birth control pills! Oh, the harm we are doing to ourselves with oral contraceptives and other medication hormones -- it makes me so sad just to think about it. As you will learn if you listen to the Fresh Air segment, breast tissue continues to grow and develop into a woman's 20s, which is often after the time that a woman first begins taking the Pill. This means that the breasts are particularly sensitive to environmental factors during this time. Furthermore, breast tissue can continue to grow and develop from the estrogenic effects of the Pill (I suspect this is why so many women experience breast growth with the Pill), which makes a woman more susceptible to abnormal breast growth, and cancer. See my posting on the Fertility Awareness Method, read The Garden of Fertility, and consider using the withdrawal method (in a committed relationship) for pregnancy prevention. I think the two methods used together cover all the bases. :)

And one more thing -- sugar, as well as alcohol, can greatly increase the growth of abnormal breast tissue. Remember, tumors and cancerous growths LOVE sugar!!!

The good news is that you can take a few easy precautions now to decrease your risk later on.

Monday, December 13, 2010

12/18 cooking class report: Women's Health for the Childbearing Years

A few pictures from yesterday's class in Park Slope:

The menu included:
-fish broth (wild red snapper)
-cashew-crusted pastured chicken livers with white wine-butter reduction
-lactofermented vegetable medley
-cream-top raw milk yogurt
-raw cacao treats

Participants also enjoyed cashew-sunflower crackers, whole wheat sourdough bread, and grass-fed raw butter. Everything was pronounced delicious!

Check my downloads page for the 38-page packet from this class.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Heavenly cabbage

This has lately become one of my very favorite winter side dishes. Cabbage cooked with pastured bacon fat (or lard) and chicken broth, and served with butter, is incredibly delicious. And since pastured pork fat is super high in vitamin D it's an excellent choice for winter!

I recently saw a traditional Norwegian recipe for cabbage and mutton that called for half a head of cabbage per person! Maybe their heads of cabbage are smaller than what we have here, though honestly if the cabbage is really good you could probably eat quite a bit of it. This recipe is based on the premise that each person will eat about 1/4 head of cabbage, so make sure you get a nice-sized one.

1. Place a large pot over low heat and add several tablespoons pastured bacon fat (or lard).

2. When fat is beginning to sizzle, add the right number of well-washed (or peeled) potatoes for your family, sliced thinly in 1/4" slices. Saute potato slices in fat, adding more as needed. Season with a sprinkling of unrefined sea salt.

3. As potatoes are cooking, remove the outer leaves from a medium head of cabbage. Quarter, core, and cut in large bite-size pieces. When potatoes are beginning to brown, add the cabbage slices and stir.

4. Wash & cut up about 10 medium carrots. Add the carrots to the pot and stir. Add several more tablespoons of bacon fat or lard, as well as another sprinkling of salt.

5. Pour in about 3-4 cups of homemade chicken or pork broth; the broth should come about halfway up the vegetables. Cover tightly with a lid and allow the vegetables to simmer and steam until tender, stirring occasionally.

6. Season to taste and serve topped with raw grass-fed butter alongside pork chops, ham, or roast pork.

Bon appetit!

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back in the composting saddle again!

I am pleased to announce that thanks to our new chest freezer I am once again composting all our vegetable, fruit, and eggshell waste -- which is quite considerable! The freezer gives me the space to store everything until I can drop it off at a church garden (where the pastor has a small compost operation) on 68th St. and 3rd Ave. here in Bay Ridge.

Here is what I dropped off Monday night on my way to my food deliveries:

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The real reason that pasteurization is key to dairy industry profits

I actually had a moment recently to open my email update from the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and came across this article. It puts a really interesting perspective on why legally enforced pasteurization of milk is so critical to keeping the dairy industry profitable.

The upshot is this: butterfat (cream) is where the money is, since it's this part of milk that is made into high-value-added products like cheese, ice cream, and butter. In order to take out the cream without making the milk look watery and worthless (which would be evidenced by the very thin layer of cream on top) homogenization became key (homogenization is the even distribution of fat throughout the milk). But alas, homogenized milk that is unpasteurized will go rancid very quickly. Therefore pasteurization became necessary to extend the shelf life of homogenized milk.


No wonder the USDA doesn't want Americans seeing gallons of 1/3-cream raw milk from grass-based farms, like the ones we get from our secret "illegal" sources!

Please note: I have highlighted a few important lines in bold and have added one comment in parentheses.

FDA and USDA: Cheese is Serious!

By Steve Bemis, Esq. | November 22, 2010

I've been wondering, why does one part of the USDA promote cheese consumption while another says it's an unhealthy source of too much fat? As I ponder, I assume USDA has thought about the conflict at a policy level (maybe too generous, but safer than assuming they don't think), and I imagine the decision: "Hell, promoting more cheese on pizzas means megabucks to big dairy, so go for it. Never mind the health impacts which we also warn about, since anyone eating this kind of cheese-thick food won't change their behavior anyway. Sure, foodies will jump on us for the conflict, but that noise will blow over and the megabucks will still roll in for the industry."

And, what may this focus on cheese have to do with raw milk? Is there any connection between this exuberant USDA cheese marketing and recent FDA crackdowns on artisanal cheese makers?

Cheese is made from milk; milk's fractioning, in turn, is the foundation of this country's dairy industry. Milk, milkfat and other fractions of milk are processed into cheese, butter, ice cream, yoghurt, kefir and other industrial components which are ubiquitous in processed and ultra-processed foods. "Skimming the cream" from milk is extremely important economically. Since different cows produce milk with different portions of milkfat, standardized portions of the removed cream are dialed back in (or not, in the case of the aptly named skim milk), and 1/2%, 1%, 2% and "whole" milk products are created. The rest of the cream goes into premium milk products.

At this point a bit of history may help: Michigan was the first state to require milk pasteurization in1948. The story of pasteurization is typically told as a rush during the 40's and 50's to adopt a pathogen-destroying, health-preserving technology; it was not, however, that new. Pasteur had discovered the process (initially for wine) more than 80 years earlier, and it had been feasible for milk for more than 60 years. Was there some other compelling reason for this sudden rush to pasteurize, which overwhelmed the Medical Milk Commissioners' certified raw milk? I submit there was more to the story than the campaign waged by the wealthy Nathan Straus and others, to adopt the technology.

There are, as we've seen, powerful economic incentives to industrialize milk and its constituent fractions. Those old enough, will remember the years prior to and after WWII with retail milk competition based on the "cream line"—the more cream your milk had, the better. The cream line permitted customers to see how “rich” your milk was in comparison to the competition. Marketing had intensified - even the narrow-neck shape of old milk bottles forced the cream up and made it look like there was more cream. This kind of competition wasn't good: producers were being forced to supply more of the most economically valuable portion which was being wasted, compared to what the cream could bring in premium products.

Homogenization, which effectively removes the cream line, solved this problem. First the cream is removed, and some is dialed back in to create the familiar milkfat "grades" (1/2%, 1%, etc.). Then, the milk is homogenized, so that even these adjusted grades have no cream line to show the consumer how little remains. (and might I interject in here: remember that the cream (fat) of milk is where the important fat-soluble vitamins reside!) Technically, what happens during homogenization: the milk is forced through tiny orifices at thousands of PSI, which knocks down the size of milk's fat globules; when these globules are broken down so small that they cannot re-coalesce, the cream no longer rises and the cream line disappears. An additional benefit of homogenizing was to extend shelf life by preventing the cream from congealing and clumping after several days on the shelf. Thus, marketing appealed to consumers' distaste for clumpy milk, to their wish for longer shelf life, and of course it emphasized the supposedly healthy aspects of these new “low fat” products.

The catch is that homogenized milk with no further processing will go rancid within a matter of hours.
The much smaller fat globules have many times the surface area of the larger globules. If left untreated, the enzymes in the liquid phase of homogenized milk will immediately start breaking down the now-very-tiny fat globules because the protective elements which were sufficient to cover the large globules, are spread too thin to adequately protect the vastly increased surface area with the many small globules created by homogenizing.

How to fix this and save the economic benefit realized by "skimming the cream" and then homogenizing? The answer is to pasteurize the milk, since pasteurizing kills off the milk's liquid phase enzymes so the milk won't go rancid.

Hence, once the dairy industry took the homogenizing step to follow the dollars, it HAD to pasteurize. And the industry will have to stick with the gospel of pasteurizing, since their current economic structure requires it.

(It is important to note that the opposite is not true: once pasteurized, milk does not then need to be homogenized. Pasteurized milk is obviously no longer raw, but the few dairies which are not afraid to compete on cream line should also be supported whenever possible - it's where I go if I can't get raw milk. There is some argument that homogenization—which subjects the milk to extreme pressure and heat—is itself very damaging to milk; thus non-homogenized milk is more nutritious and less damaged, even if it has been pasteurized).

Although all this is not news to some, nevertheless I think it fleshes out how economics undergirds the gospel of pasteurization. Does raw milk have risk if contaminated? Sure, as does any contaminated food. Is contamination of raw milk a huge red herring keeping our eyes off a far more important reason for pasteurizing milk? I'm beginning to think so.

It is now clear that FDA's current campaign against artisanal cheese makers, together with USDA's considerable interest in supporting cheese (a keystone product in the industrialized dairy pantheon), signal an important new emphasis in the government's anti-raw-milk dogma. During recent years FDA has beat the drums of fear about pathogen contamination in raw milk. Essentially a campaign of fear, FDA's focus on fluid raw milk can only be viewed as a failure: Raw milk consumption continues to surge; FDA's interstate ban is under legal attack; and FDA's dogma is regularly being shown to be inconsistent, illogical and unscientific—an embarrassing and ever-deepening quandary in which the agency finds itself due to its steadfast refusal even to dialogue on the subject.

Block cheddar cheese is a principal USDA baseline for pricing and dairy support in a byzantine system riddled by lack of transparency, scandals and even litigation among market players. FDA tactics now emphasizing cheese can mean only one thing: The ante is upped; we're talking many millions of dollars simply for more cheese on pizza, in a total milk market measured in multiple billions. For an industry built on the altar of fractionalizing and homogenization, requiring pasteurization, the bottom line is simple: cheese is serious, and must be protected at all costs from the ravages of raw products that thumb their noses not just at homogenization, but at the economic lynchpin, pasteurization.

Click here for the link to the article.

It's also interesting to me to note that despite our national obsession with low-fat foods, Americans will still shell out a lot for some good old-fashioned butterfat, whether in the form of premium ice cream or a take-out cheese-laden and cheese-stuffed pizza! Like it or not, we still instinctively crave dairy fats, which in their unprocessed raw state, from healthy pastured animals, are incredibly nourishing and satisfying.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Instant" soup for a winter dinner

1. Wash a few stalks of celery and cut the ends off; peel and rinse a couple of carrots.

2. Heat a pot of homemade chicken bone broth, enough so that each person will get at least two cups.

3. While the broth is coming to a boil, slice the celery very thinly and julienne the carrots (if you don't have a julienner already it's definitely time to get one! I don't know what I was thinking going all this time without one).

4. Add the veggies to the pot of gently boiling broth and simmer until tender, about 8-10 minutes (you may also add pasta at this time if your family insists on a noodle soup).

5. Place several pieces of very thinly sliced raw beef, pork, or chicken in each bowl. (I like the minute steaks from Raindance Organic Farm.)

6. Turn off the heat under the boiling soup and pour it over the meat in each bowl. Serve immediately. The meat will cook in seconds as long as it is sliced very thin and the broth is very hot.

7. Add desired garnishes. If serving beef or pork in meat broth you may want to try scallions, bean sprouts, and/or fresh basil leaves. Scallions are also great in chicken broth with sliced chicken.

8. Last but not least, spice up your soup creation with your preferred seasonings. My favorites for a spicy rich broth are Thai fish sauce (which adds a rich umami flavor) and chili sauce. Use small amounts just to give the soup a little extra kick-it will be more like restaurant-made soup, but without the MSG.

Bon appetit!

-Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My new baby!

The newest addition to our family: a GE 7 cu ft chest freezer. I am in HEAVEN!!!

Now I finally have somewhere to keep the 5 lbs. of butter and 6 lbs. of chicken livers and 10 lbs. of beef bones and 6 lbs. of chicken feet and 8 lbs. of ground pork and 25 quarts of bone broth I make weekly and 8 bags of homemade meatballs and... well, you get the idea. :)

-Posted from my iPhone

Friday, October 22, 2010

Two-egg custard

This is one of my favorite breakfast standbys -- so simple that ANYONE can do it, yet impressive enough for company.

First, you will need a few small (4 oz. for a child, 6-7 oz. for an adult) ramekins. These are small ceramic dishes for cooking custards.

All you have to do is blend together (for a child's 4 oz. custard):
1 egg
1.5 T cream, sour cream, or yogurt
pinch of sea salt

Pour into the buttered ramekin. Sprinkle the top with grated raw milk cheese, and bake at 300 degrees in a double boiler (this is a fancy way of saying you should place the ramekin in an oven-proof dish partially filled with water). In my oven it takes about one hour, and after that time is very smooth and creamy. Be sure to check it starting at around 45 minutes. You want to get it out when it has just set -- insert a sharp knife in the center so you can see. It should still be very soft in the middle, though not liquid. You want to avoid it getting overdone because the egg will become spongy (with holes) and will not taste as good. Oliver definitely prefers a creamier custard that will hold its shape when removed from the dish.

For myself, I double this recipe and also put some fresh thyme leaves on top. (Not for Ollie since they pass right through his digestive system.) You may also place some crumbled bacon or sausage in the bottom of the ramekins before filling with custard.

We usually eat this with sausage or bacon, yogurt with apple butter, beet kvass, and fermented veggies. And yes, everything on this list, with the exception of the bacon, is homemade. :) Considering all the time I spend cooking and making all these healthy delicious foods I should really get to brag a little now and then!

It goes without saying that these should be pastured eggs, and ideally the cream should be raw and from a grass-fed cow. Bon appetit!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Traditional Foods Kitchen!

Here is a picture of last Saturday's foods that I prepared for our Bay Ridge/Sunset Park Traditional Nutrition Guild delivery. Items ordered included lacto-fermented ginger ale (in the Pellegrino bottles), lacto-fermented coconut/olive mayonnaise, chicken liver pate, lacto-fermented ketchup, vanilla pudding, macaroons, lacto-fermented vegetable medley, beet kvass (also lacto-fermented), kombucha, nut flour crackers, and yogurt cheese. The bone broth/stock didn't make it into the picture.

Information about my products, along with an order form, is available at I offer home delivery ($12 - $25 minimum order) twice a month on Monday evenings to all neighborhoods from Bay Ridge north to Park Slope. The next delivery will actually fall on a Tuesday, 10/12, though Mondays are the norm. You can also come pick up your order in Bay Ridge.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fertility Awareness Method workshop Sunday 9/26

Fertility Awareness Method workshop: an introduction to the method and panel discussion.
DATE: Sunday, Sept. 26
TIME: 2:00-5:00pm
*PLEASE NOTE NEW LOCATION* Tribeca Parenting, 46 Warren Street, NYC
TICKETS: $30-60 ($40 and $60 include book purchase)

So what is the Fertility Awareness Method?
It is a healthy, economical, and effective approach to birth control,
natural child spacing, and pregnancy planning.

This afternoon workshop provides an introduction to the Fertility Awareness Method by presenter Katinka Locascio, followed by a panel discussion of the method and its practical applications for women, couples, and health care practitioners. A brief overview of nutrition for reproductive health will be provided as well.

The workshop will begin with a presentation that includes a comprehensive overview of human reproductive anatomy to facilitate an understanding of the Fertility Awareness Method. The method will be discussed in detail, and resources will be provided for obtaining further instruction (including a book from which the method may be learned in detail). This hormone-free, non-device method is a natural approach for effectively identifying the fertile times in a woman's cycle so that couples can avoid or achieve pregnancy. Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), which is highly scientific and effective when practiced correctly, is differentiated from the rhythm method because it is based on charting a woman's fertility signals on a daily basis. Once the rules are understood, the method is easy to use and requires only a few minutes a day. We will also discuss natural ways to prevent pregnancy during the fertile days.

The panel discussion will provide workshop participants with a deeper understanding of how the method can be incorporated into daily life. We will touch on important related points, including practicing FAM while breastfeeding, coming off the Pill, engaging a partner, using FAM for gaining insight into reproductive health and the overall state of your body, health conditions that can be improved by avoidance of hormonal contraceptives, and ways to incorporate a discussion of FAM into your health care practice. This workshop is a must for couples seeking a more holistic approach to natural child spacing (or birth control), and for women who wish to gain insight into their reproductive health. Since an increasing number of women experience health issues that are related to the use of hormonal contraceptives this is an important alternative that has many positive health implications for the user.

Workshop participants have an opportunity to purchase The Garden of Fertility, by Katie Singer, at a discount as part of their admission ticket. This book is an essential guide to practicing the method and is an important resource on reproductive health for women.

This workshop is sponsored by the Traditional Nutrition Guild's Parents' Group; all proceeds will benefit the group and will help us in providing important learning opportunities to families and individuals throughout New York City.

A special thanks to Tribeca Parenting for their generous
contribution of space for this workshop.

Space is limited! Please register in advance. Go to:

My Fertility Awareness journey

This is more of an essay than a blog post, but I need to post this somewhere so I can link to it in my newsletter. Read on if you like!

As some of you may know, I have been working hard to organize an intro workshop to the Fertility Awareness Method as a resource for the parents’ group I lead. The workshop is happening this Sunday afternoon, which is very exciting to me! (register here) In spite of the difficulties I have encountered in getting this off the ground (finding a good presenter, obtaining a low-cost venue, discovering the workshop space donated has no chairs on the premises, changing the workshop venue...among other things!) it promises to be a great event and I’m really glad this is happening. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no such workshop in the NYC area in all the time that I have been practicing Fertility Awareness (nearly 2 years), though there is considerable interest in the method. It seems every week I meet someone (usually another mother) who is practicing or at least knows about FA.

I came to learn about Fertility Awareness in fall of 2008, after Oliver’s birth. I had been a longtime birth control pill user before the pregnancy, going on and off (but mostly on) the pill since I was 20. I tried the patch in there at one point, with unpleasant results, but always liked the reliability of the pill and not having to worry about getting pregnant. In grad school I worked for Planned Parenthood of New York City, both as a very privileged intern with a lot of interesting projects, and after graduation as a contracted researcher, performing qualitative research on doctors’ perceptions of the “morning-after” pill (emergency contraception/Plan B pill). My opinions about women’s access to the complete spectrum of contraceptive choices were very strong, but I knew next to nothing about how the pill and other hormonal methods affect a woman’s health and well-being. It didn’t matter to me then; I had too many other things I was thinking about.

Around the time I got pregnant, in fall of 2007, I learned that I had hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck, is underproducing thyroid hormone. I also had antibodies in my blood which were attacking the hormone I did have. Since thyroid hormone is essential for every cell in the body and lack thereof is implicated in problems like miscarriage and preterm delivery I was strongly admonished to take Synthroid (a synthetic thyroid hormone medication) and monitored regularly throughout my pregnancy for thyroid hormone levels.

During the pregnancy experience my world opened up and my interests and ideas began to take a new direction. I learned about the option of birthing at home for the first time in my life, and Hugo and I decided on a home birth. Our midwife came to our apartment for all my prenatal care which was incredibly relaxing and comfortable for me, especially since I worked from home at the time cooking for clients. She is the one who first told me about the option of using the Fertility Awareness Method and recommended The Garden of Fertility, though she herself had never read it. At the time I had a friend who kept raving about her IUD and I wanted to be extra sure about not getting pregnant again right away, so I was pretty much planning on getting an IUD put in after the delivery.

Well, that was before I had my cervix prodded during labor by three sets of health care practitioner hands. After the experience of labor and having a cesarean section (I was unable to dilate and deliver Oliver vaginally despite every intervention known to man) I really could not stomach having a needle put into my cervix and then having someone stick a pointy object up inside there. It all seemed too horrible and was going to prove impossible for me, especially since I couldn’t even hear the word “cervix” without wanting to pass out. I decided to look into this Fertility Awareness Method and see if that would be an alternative.

While reading The Garden of Fertility, by Katie Singer, I first learned about the Weston A. Price Foundation and the importance of nutrient-dense foods for fertility, pregnancy, babies, and women’s overall health (particularly reproductive health). It was the first time I had realized the connection between having a strong ovulatory cycle and being an overall healthy person. It was also the first I had heard that my body actually NEEDED animal fats! For years I had eaten low-fat as much as possible, and for the prior year I had focused entirely on a vegetarian diet which was very soy-heavy (the book enlightened me about soy’s highly goitrogenic, or anti-thyroid, properties). I also experienced extreme hypoglycemic episodes on a daily basis, and couldn’t leave the house for even a brief walk without carrying a snack with me. I was hungry all the time, and eating many meals throughout the day. I had issues with acne, PMS, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, digestion, cravings for lots of bad foods...the list goes on. Something really resonated for me in reading this section of Katie’s book and I began to delve into the work of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Her mention of thyroid conditions also prompted me to read the book Solved: the Riddle of Illness, which I remember vividly because it was there that I learned how deeply destructive birth control pills are for a woman’s body and thyroid in particular. Around the same time I spoke with a sort of amateur thyroid expert in passing who mentioned that the Synthroid I was taking had likely interfered with my ability to dilate and give birth to Oliver. All these factors made me absolutely determined to do something about this condition, to get off the medication, and to heal my body once and for all.

I should mention here that I tried repeatedly to get my endocrinologists (I saw 3 in all) to put me on the natural thyroid hormone replacement therapy known as Armour. If you must take medication for hypothyroidism this is really the only way to go; the Synthroid is terrible stuff. However, since Synthroid is heavily marketed by the drug companies almost no one will consent to prescribe Armour anymore, though it used to be the only therapy (and is actually very cheap to make). I also asked my 2nd endocrinologist, a local practitioner I really liked, if she could help me heal my thyroid so I could get off the medication. Her response was that there was nothing I could do and I would be taking meds the rest of my life. I was sure there was a better way, though!

For nearly a full year following Oliver's birth I gradually transformed my diet. My first big switch was replacing all the dairy in our diets with raw, local, grass-fed, organic dairy. I started eating a LOT of raw grass-fed butter and taking cod liver oil. These changes made a big difference. Other changes that I adopted over time included making nutrient-dense bone broths (including fish broth, especially good for the thyroid); cooking with traditional fats (including lard, chicken fat, and coconut oil); fermenting my own condiments, beverages, and vegetables; properly soaking and preparing whole grains; eating small amounts of organ meats; and getting all the processed junk out of my diet.

While changing my diet, maintaining my FA chart helped me begin to at last keep track of what my body was up to, and how it responded to certain foods. I learned very early on that I would become quite sick after having sugar, usually with a breakdown in my immune system that would lead to contracting a bad cold, sinus infection, or flu. My FA chart showed a clear picture of my daily state of health, whether bad or good. Since waking temperatures are charted daily, it was easy to see when I had a fever for several days. I was not ovulating for many months, since I was exclusively breastfeeding Oliver, so I knew the times of fever were not due to the rise in temperature that comes immediately following ovulation.

For a very long time it seemed my body was in a state of ambiguity, not sure about what it was doing or what it wanted to be doing, as far as fertility and ovulation go. Eventually I was able to observe an increase in estrogen (evidenced by some fertile-quality cervical mucus) but other signs were still ambiguous. As my body prepared to return to normalcy, my waking temperatures remained quite low, usually in the mid 96’s, which is generally a sign of hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. As the months went by, however, something magical began to happen: my temperatures gradually increased to the normal range, and one month at last I had my first normal ovulatory cycle -- and even more thrilling, I KNEW it! For the first time in my life I actually knew what was going on with my body; I could actually pinpoint the fertile days of my cycle. A few more months went by and my ovulatory cycles kept getting stronger until at last I experienced a textbook cycle, with a clear shift in temperature that stayed up above 98 degrees the way it was supposed to.

I am no expert on FA, I forget the rules and have to consult my book, I don’t remember what the luteal phase is off the top of my head, but I know enough now to be aware of what’s happening in my body. I know I can absolutely avoid pregnancy, or get pregnant whenever I want to--and all with only a sacrifice of a few minutes a day. No more wrangling with my HMO over covering my preferred brand of oral contraceptives, no more obsessing over taking a pill at the same time every day, no more wondering if I am really pregnant but just don’t know it. This is empowerment like I never got from birth control pills.

As my waking temperatures increased and my cycles became more stabilized I also began having difficulty tolerating my thyroid medication. I began to feel anxious and jittery when I took it, and even adjusting the dosage way down and skipping days in between taking the pills still led to the same feelings whenever I took the medication. At last I consulted someone who put me through a rigorous health questionnaire and informed me that I had absolutely no symptoms of hypothroidism. Furthermore, she told me, I rated better than anyone she had ever seen on symptoms of blood sugar imbalance, including hypoglycemia. By this time I was able to go many hours between meals, and had no need of snacks throughout the day. I felt healthy and empowered enough to completely go off my medication upon her recommendation, and have never had another symptom of hypothyroidism since.

I see my journey with FA as absolutely integral to my health recovery. If I hadn’t picked up that library copy of The Garden of Fertility I would likely have never learned about the Weston A. Price Foundation, about raw milk, about pastured butter, about local farms raising animals and produce in the old-fashioned and truly natural way, about eggs with yolks so bright they almost hurt your eyes. I would still be in a world of doctors’ waiting rooms and regular trips to the pharmacy, feeling too tired on some days to deal with life, wondering why I wasn’t healthy despite my low-fat diet. I would still feel that every day was potentially a fertile day, that sex was fraught with the danger of a too-early second pregnancy, that my body was a frustrating mystery I would never understand. The changes in my life and health are incredible; looking back I can’t believe I lived any other way.

Does any of this ring a bell for you? Please add your comments, and check out The Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer when you have a chance. If you're interested in our workshop this Sunday by all means come! For one-on-one coaching by phone with Ilene Richman, director of the Fertility Awareness Center (NYC), please email or visit

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Raindance Organic Farm this Saturday!

This Saturday Siobhan Griffin will deliver to us in Bay Ridge from 9:00-10:30am, and in Park Slope from 11:00-12noon. Please visit for full details, including the product/price list, and then email Siobhan directly with your order (

Siobhan is a passionate and dedicated farmer who has high standards for humane animal husbandry, eco-friendly farming, and fair employment practices. She has recently installed solar panels on the barn roof which heat the vat for cheese-making. She is an incredibly knowledgeable and multi-talented person and produces top-quality products for all her customers to enjoy.

Currently the product list includes a wide variety of pastured certified organic beef steaks, gourmet quality suckled/pastured veal (certified organic), many kinds of beef sausages, beautiful rainbow eggs from her small pastured flock (limited quantities), aged raw milk "Sun" cheese (an artisanal cheese in the Italian Alpine tradition), and fresh pastured chicken and rabbit. She also has pork products from neighboring Briar Hill farm (not certified organic, though the animals have outdoor paddock access).

We look forward to welcoming you to our Bay Ridge or Park Slope delivery clubs! Keep in mind that everyone will receive a discount based on the total club volume (5% off for $500 combined, 10% off for $1000, etc.).

Thank you for supporting local farmers and local food!

Remembering long-hair Ollie...

Can you believe EVERYONE thought he was a girl? Between that and the comments that he must be hot with all that hair we were guilted into getting it cut. And it does look very cute now. But looking back at these older pictures I do miss the hair a bit... He just looked so full of PERSONALITY! Know what I mean?

The incredible edible egg?

People in the government and the media love to talk about the dangers of raw milk, supposedly a food brimming with microscopic baddies just waiting to wreak havoc on your insides. Consuming raw dairy is described by the FDA as "inherently dangerous" and "like playing Russian roulette with your health." It's a slight relief to me that now a new breed of villain is on the scene: the EVIL EGG! Though of course I feel badly for the 1300+ people currently feeling the effects of salmonella poisoning.

I have been strongly chastised in the past for making it known that I feed Oliver raw egg yolks from pastured chickens (a highly nutritious and extremely digestible food). The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has trumpeted loud and clear on its website for who knows how long that it is dangerous to consume undercooked eggs -- a fact that has been brought to my attention more than once. No distinction is ever been mentioned between eggs from factory farms and eggs from small grass-based organic farms. However, in the matter of nutrition and food safety this makes ALL the difference. You really cannot have a discussion of food safety without talking about where your food is coming from.

If you go to a diner and order an omelet, this is where the eggs are coming from:

Appetizing, right? And yes, these eggs may very well be quite unsafe if consumed sunny-side up, soft-boiled, or raw -- or even well-cooked. It might even be dangerous just to touch one! But really, once you realize the conditions under which these eggs came into existence, you aren't likely to have an appetite for them no matter how they are cooked.

Compare this to the eggs from a happy, healthy chicken that lives mostly out of doors, eating lots of delicious earthworms and bugs, clover and grasses of all kinds, cracked organic corn, and maybe even occasional summer fruits, small reptiles, and scraps from the family's table.

This chicken gets plenty of sunshine and fresh air, and stores amazing amounts of omega-3 fats and the all-important fat-soluble vitamins A and D in its fat, skin, organs, and eggs (which contain 8 times more vitamin D than an egg from its battery-raised counterpart). (I don't have the stats on the vitamin A, omega-3s, choline, selenium, iron, zinc, and vitamin K2, but you can rest assured these are much higher, too.)

Much like the unhealthy environment of the sweatshops of the 19th and early 20th century (which severely undermined the health of every worker), animals raised in densely-packed confinement without light, air, and grass are going to be inherently unhealthy. They will produce meat, milk, and eggs that are at the very least lacking in nutrition if they are not downright dangerous. It is time to take a collective hard look at where our food is coming from and how it is being produced. And it's time to get as far away as we can from the industrial food system that is making our livestock, land, air, citizens, and small farming communities so very very unwell. Real food is something to be eagerly appreciated, to be treasured, enjoyed, and savored -- not something to fear.

I for one am grateful to the bottom of my heart that I can feed Oliver these nourishing and delicious breakfast custards every single day and know that they will be nothing but good for him.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gerber Dairy Beverage

Have you seen the website banner ads for Gerber's "dairy beverage?" Words like this always raise a red flag for me, never mind the fact that the three points highlighted in the banner ad include:
-Made with fat free milk!
-Omega-3 fats
-Vitamins and minerals

What does this mean?
1. The fat in milk is where the bulk of the nutrients are! Vitamins A and D (found in the FAT of milk, among other places) are crucial for growing babies and toddlers. Despite the fact that Gerber itself admits that one quarter (23%) of toddlers 12-24 months aren't getting the required daily intake of fats, Gerber still uses fat-free milk! Are parents really that afraid of the normal fats present in whole milk? Apparently so. Instead Gerber adds plenty of vegetable oils (UNHEALTHY!) to boost the fat content. Yuck! This is just like how they make their baby formula, too.
2. Omega-3 fats -- these are supplemented in some artificial way or other. Of course grass-fed full-fat raw milk would indeed provide some healthy omega-3 fats, but this isn't what this beverage contains. And as there are only 140mg of omega-3s per 8.25 oz. serving, this is barely anything even worth mentioning! A single yolk from a regular old egg would give 225mg. (Gee, which is the more cost-effective choice I wonder?) Oh yes, or you could also just breast feed your child as breast milk from an omnivorous mother is a good source of omega-3s (what an incredible idea!)
3. Vitamins and minerals -- Gerber's concoction is basically nutrient-less substances fortified with lots of synthetic supplements. Oh, and do I need to mention that the fourth ingredient (after fat-free milk, water, and maltodextrin, all yucky or unimpressive things) is SUGAR! So you can forget about this product actually providing nourishment to your growing toddler. (They did make a "plain" flavor without sugar as the fourth ingredient, but it has been discontinued. Probably was too gross to be appealing to kids; the sugar is needed to mask all the vegetable oils and additives.)

The whole baby/toddler/child food industry really disgusts me. At least this Smart Sips dairy beverage is made with milk that does not contain rBGH. That is the only positive thing I can say about this preposterous product.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Can you heal your gut on a vegetarian diet?

I just wrote a very lengthy email to someone inquiring about whether one can heal gut issues with a vegetarian diet (she had her pre-adolescent daughter in mind). The Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet in particular is based almost entirely on bone broth, meats, animal fats, eggs, cod liver oil, and probiotic dairy and fermented vegetables. It is not a vegetarian-friendly diet -- but it truly works. I think it is worth considering, even for vegetarians.

Here is my reply:

"Based on my experience addressing my son's digestive issues, speaking with friends and clients and others dealing with similar issues, and on my understanding of digestive health and nutritional needs I would have to say that I do believe the Gut And Psychology Syndrome approach is the best approach, and I strongly encourage it. I think it would be very helpful to read the book; it will explain very completely why this dietary approach is crucial for recovery.

The issue here is twofold, in terms of addressing your daughter's issues. First, there are four components to the diet that are incredibly important.
1) healthy fats (coconut oil, butter, and animal fats if you choose to go that route; I do believe that high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil is absolutely essential, and obviously that is not a vegetarian food).
2) probiotic-rich foods (fermented vegetables - particularly the juices from these; 24-hour raw milk yogurt; homemade kefir from raw milk; whey from dripping your homemade yogurt, added to foods; and other lacto-fermented foods and healing tonics, such as beet kvass) -- these foods are absolutely essential, and they would be vegetarian-friendly
3) egg yolks (from pastured hens) -- extremely easy to digest and very healing and soothing to the gut lining, while being an excellent source of nourishment and the important fat-soluble vitamins A & D needed for gut health
4) bone broth (also from pastured chicken, meat, or wild-caught fish) -- this is not a vegetarian food, though it is made from bones and scraps that are headed for the landfill, so I consider it to be potentially appealing to people who have a sense for environmentally-friendly compromises to the vegetarian diet. This broth is CRUCIAL. I cannot underestimate its importance. It may just be the MOST IMPORTANT part of the diet. The healing powers of bone broth cannot be underestimated! It requires almost no digestive effort on the part of the human body, contains nourishing fats and protein in ample amounts, is an excellent source of easily-absorbed minerals in electrolyte form, and provides gelatin which is incredibly important for digestion and the gut lining. If you can see your way clear to including this in your daughter's diet I think it would go far to providing the help she needs. (I provide bone broth for sale, as do some other people who make it in the correct way - I can provide information on this if you are interested.)

So as you can see, the four healing components are somewhat compatible with a vegetarian diet.

The second aspect, however, is more difficult to get around. That is the problem of protein. Many people can obtain protein (and essentials nutrients, like iron) from plant foods; however, people who do this for many years often end up with digestive disorders. This is due to the fact that the human digestive system is not evolved to eat exclusively plant protein. Of course your daughter would be eating dairy forms of protein, but this is actually a problem with a GAPS person -- many people do not digest dairy properly and so need to eliminate it for some time. After reintroducing it, it would not be smart to be getting the bulk of one's protein needs from dairy and eggs. This simply would not be possible for a growing girl. In terms of eating things like nuts, beans, and whole grains (all potential sources of protein) this may very well be what is causing the GAPS issues to begin with. These foods are very hard to digest, and many people with gut dysbiosis actually cannot digest them! (My son is one example of this, and I am working diligently on getting his gut on track -- he shows excellent progress as long as I steer clear of the plant foods. It has been very illuminating to study, in essence, the digestive system of a toddler; I have learned the hard way that proper digestion of plant foods really truly does depend on a healthy, strong digestive system. It's a difficult lesson for our family -- my husband was vegetarian for 16 years, and I was vegetarian during pregnancy, relying heavily on soy for my protein. There have been so very many positive benefits of incorporating animal protein again into our diets that the results cannot be argued with. I no longer have hypothyroidism, our son is growing and developing well, my blood sugar issues are gone, hormonal problems have cleared...the list goes on and on.)

I know this is a hard issue, but what it comes down to is this: either we eat in the way that our bodies are demanding, or we will suffer health issues. For some people, even a vegan diet will work, at least for a certain length of time. For others, plant foods are almost intolerable. It is my guess that your daughter is somewhere in the middle, as are most people. It is also possible that she is reacting to a particular food in her diet (such as gluten, casein, soy) that is causing the digestive distress. If you would like to schedule a consultation to try trouble-shooting in this way then please let me know. I could make recommendations for assisting her digestion in general before you go to the trouble of GAPS. It must be stated here that the consumption of soy products for protein is extremely destructive to the digestive system, and also very harmful for the growth and development of children and teens; so soy is not an option for obtaining protein.

The last thing I would like to mention -- and again, I am just being very open and honest with you, and I do hope you will just take what is helpful to you from this email and leave the rest -- the last thing is that I now have a MUCH better understanding of farming than I ever did previously. And perhaps the most important thing I have learned is that we absolutely require animals (livestock) for healthy, organic farming that is good for the earth and the environment. Without livestock we must use petro-chemical fertilizers, neurotoxic pesticides, herbicides, and more such deplorable substances that are harmful to every party involved. Fertilizer (manure) from healthy animals ensures that our soil remains fertile and able to continue to bear crops and provide healthy flourishing grass. Having a mix of plants and animals on each farm (biodiversity) helps pests and weeds to be controlled naturally, without the use of chemicals, and ensures the safety of our food system (as opposed to relying on monoculture farms, such as soy, which require heavy applications of chemicals and are vulnerable to being wiped out completely if any blight or pest does come along). The use of grasslands and pasture for grazing animals keeps our precious topsoil in place (erosion of topsoil is a dire issue for the U.S.), while protecting our environment, since grass is highly effective in absorbing carbon dioxide.

If we accept that these methods of farming, which employ animals, are important and actually necessary, then it stands to reason that we must make proper use of the animals that we rely on for milk and eggs. It would not make sense to allow animals to become old and decrepit, nor would it be humane. Furthermore, since our digestive systems and our bodies are so very reliant on the nourishment to be found in animal foods, it is only practical, economical, and good use of our resources to consume animal foods. We can obtain so much more intensely healing, easily-digested nourishment from one small meal of liver, for example, that we could obtain from a week's worth of grains, beans, or produce -- I see this truth as inescapable and something we must consider if we are concerned both about conservation of resources and the desperate need to attain true health for people and our environment."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Governor's Island birthday trip

Oliver turned 2 on Thursday!! To celebrate, we took a rare family excursion to Governor's Island today, a process that involved travel by 1) foot, 2) shuttle bus, 3) subway, 4) bus, and 5) ferry. We would have employed the services of a family cart-cycle thing (what are they called??) on the island except that they were in short supply. The weather was not exactly ideal, but we preferred it to one of these all-too-recent scorching hot days, and a good time was had by all.

I prepared quite a spread for our picnic lunch. A bit much perhaps? (we did leave one of these watermelon containers at home)

We enjoyed local pastured chicken breast "nuggets" in cashew flour crust (fried in lard of course, served with honey and honey-mustard dipping sauces), local watermelon, "sun" cheese and summer sausage from Raindance Organic Farm (untouched until we got home), local cucumbers with lime juice and Mexican chili powder, homemade lacto-fermented pickles, homemade lacto-fermented ginger ale, homemade raw milk kefir in Oliver's bottle (for naptime), and local pastured beef sticks (jerky-like). It actually proved to be too much food, oddly enough (perhaps the strain of carrying this heavy load depleted Hugo's appetite...).

The chicken was especially delicious. I started with a whole bird which I cut up, then pounded the breasts thin, sliced them into nugget-like shapes, rolled them in beaten egg, then dredged in fresh cashew flour (cashews from Wilderness Family Naturals ground in the food processor, mixed with salt & pepper, dried thyme, and some garlic powder), then fried in pastured-pork lard. Wonderful served with raw honey! Also very good with my impromptu honey-mustard sauce (more or less equal amounts of raw honey and Dijon mixed together -- surprisingly like the "real" honey-mustard from a package.)

Here are a couple of cute pictures from our picnic time. At first Oliver got right into the spirit of it and did a lot of lying around, taking up most of the picnic blanket. After eating it turned into a gymnastic session with Hugo.

Oh yes, and my homemade pickles? Nothing but a Mason jar stuffed with whole kirbies (small pickle-sized cucumbers), with a bunch of coriander seeds and mustard seeds shaken in, 1 tbsp. unrefined sea salt (I use Celtic sea salt or Eden brand), a handful of fresh dill (couldn't find the kind going to seed, so just used what they had at the store), plus a small amount of whey from dripping yogurt (1/4 cup I think). I let them ferment for 3 days at room temperature. They are not bad at all -- quite pickly and tasty! Next time I will use some garlic and ferment them a little less time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

So maybe you aren't ready to cook for yourself yet...

If that's the case, you may be interested to know that I am now officially offering an array of homemade traditional foods, and even a few personal care products. Details are at

Foods include: traditional bone broth, lacto-fermented ginger ale, beet kvass, 24-hour yogurt, nut-flour crackers, chicken liver pâté, kombucha, herb-garlic cream cheese, honey-nut cream cheese, lacto-fermented vegetable medley, mayonnaise, lacto-fermented ketchup, cocoa-nut-honey penguin treats, BBQ sauce, tooth powder, and coconut oil deodorant.

You can order using PayPal on the site, or email me for information at

I love cooking, and I love cooking for appreciative eaters, so why not give it a try? :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wise Ways Cooking School official opening!

Tomorrow we officially launch Wise Ways Cooking School with our first lecture, Foods for Fertility, Pregnancy, and Nursing. The following weekend we will present on Timeless Principles for Infant and Child Nutrition, and Baby's First Foods.

In August we offer a follow-up day of cooking classes at a very nice commercial kitchen space in midtown Manhattan. The topics will be Foods for Fertility and Pregnancy, and Nutrient-Dense Foods for Babies and Toddlers. We also have a few privately-sponsored classes here and there throughout the summer. Please visit our class schedule page for full descriptions and information on locations.

It is worth mentioning that we have lots of special offers for ways to earn discounts -- including FREE admission to our two Saturday lectures for all childbirth/pregnancy practitioners, and pediatricians. The full list of eligible practitioners -- along with all our other great offers! -- is on our special offers page. We are particularly encouraging early registration (3 weeks ahead for our full-day class offerings) so that we can meet our quota for enrollment. The kitchen rental is pricey!! If you're interested and planning to take a class, help us out by registering early so we don't have to cancel and disappoint all those late-registration people.

This is a joint venture with Angela Davis, a food activist and holistic nutrition consultant who has a background weirdly similar to mine. She attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, used to eat vegetarian (much much longer and more seriously than I did), then she discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation and experienced a profound improvement in health after adopting a traditional diet. You can read our full bios by clicking here.

To learn more about Weston A. Price, traditional foods, and our food philosophy, please click here.

We also have a brand-new blog!! Check us out at And yes, we are on Facebook and Twitter.

Can you tell I've been busy?!!?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Coconut oil deodorant

I recently read a line in a book about how cancerous breast tissue often contains large quantities of aluminum. Yikes! After reading that I was extra glad I had switched to this natural deodorant several months ago. Of course, aluminum has been linked not only to cancer, but to Alzheimer's as well, so it's definitely something to avoid. Aside from aluminum, most commercial deodorants also contain parabens (which serve as stabilizers). Parabens mimic estrogen and can negatively affect the body over time.

It's easy to forget that everything we put on our skin ends up being absorbed right into our bodies. In fact, I have heard that topical application is often a better way of absorbing medications and other treatments than by taking them orally! This means you should be extra careful about what you are putting on your skin, especially if you're going to be wearing it a long time (like deodorant, lipstick, and body lotion). I recommend unrefined shea butter for a moisturizer, and since coconut oil is edible this deodorant recipe is very wholesome and fine to put on your underarms, even after shaving.

So how can this be effective? It's all about the magical antibacterial properties of coconut oil -- which after working their magic on Hugo's normal guy smelliness really have me impressed! The downside is that in this summer heat the deodorant melts in the medicine cabinet and requires a little finger-stir before applying. This doesn't bother me -- it still works great and is quickly absorbed by the skin. At our house we were a little skeptical that this would actually work (we've tried EVERYTHING "natural" on the market, to no avail!), but even Hugo is now an enthusiastic convert.

Here is also a little testimonial from my sister:
"By the way, the deoderant is phenomenal! It doesn't hurt at all, and it's extremely effective without having any foreign smell! Thanks!" (I should mention here that I used the semi-refined oil which is odorless; the extra-virgin stuff smells great, though, and is very mild if you want to use that.)

You will need just 3 ingredients:

--6-8 tablespoons coconut oil (semi-refined expeller-pressed which has no smell; or extra-virgin which has a coconut scent/flavor) Order from
--1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or organic talc-free corn starch -- you would NOT want genetically-modified corn starch on your underarms!)
--1/4 cup baking soda

This makes a double batch; to fill my little glass jar (which originally came filled with shea butter) I use half this amount.

The trick in hot weather will be to refrigerate the oil until it is solid, then let it sit at room temperature just until it softens enough to mix with the other ingredients. Mix in a bowl with a spoon, and add more oil or arrowroot as needed to make a good consistency. Do not go overboard on the arrowroot trying to make a really thick paste -- it will end up having a powdery quality that might leave a residue on your armpits.

One last thing: you will still sweat while wearing this deodorant (which is natural and healthy, and important for detoxifying), but it will be reduced. If you plan to be outside doing the proverbial strenuous activity then please apply a few times, and re-apply as needed. For regular activities, working, etc. just one application in the morning is sufficient. Be sure to rub it in!

For storage you can use any small glass containers you may have lying around. Let me know how you like it!

P.S. Almost forgot to thank my friend and Bay Ridge neighbor, Esther, with passing along this recipe. Thank you, Esther!

Kids on statins

Since I am not always good at staying on top of the latest developments, I really appreciate that a member of our Nourishing Our Children-NYC group sent me this. If I were less cynical about pharmaceutical companies - and if the writing style were a bit different - I would think this was straight out of the Onion. But sadly, this development is a perfect indicator of what our world is coming to, in terms of the avarice of drug companies, and the health and future of our children.

To set the stage a little here, it's important to remember that cholesterol serves a healing and protective function in the body. So while abnormally-high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides can be an indicator of a state of imbalance or an underlying illness in the body, the solution is not to turn to medications but to address what is causing the problem -- nearly always a dietary issue, like consumption of refined starches and sugars (including chips, soda, white bread, juice, etc.). Clearly there are many children whose health is in a state of crisis because they are very overweight and eating a terrible diet. However, dangerous statins are not the solution! And for the general population, so-called "healthy" levels of cholesterol, as determined by drug companies and the powerful medical establishment, have now been set so low as to make nearly every healthy person a "patient" in need of statins. I believe the current level is 180, which most of the older population is over (and for good reason: blood cholesterol levels increase naturally as people age as a protective factor. In fact, "high" cholesterol is actually associated with longevity. The caveat I would add is that the person must be eating an appropriate diet and taking good care of themselves, and then if their cholesterol is high it will be because their body needs it for some reason only the body knows.).

To read more about the dangers of statins (cholesterol-lowering medications), click here.

The most alarming line in this article is in bold.

Pfizer gets EU approval for kids' cholesterol drug

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The European Union has approved a new chewable form of cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor for children 10 and up with high levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of blood fat, Pfizer said Tuesday.

The approval includes children whose high blood fats are due to an inherited disease that causes extremely high cholesterol levels, familial hypercholesterolemia.

New York-based Pfizer Inc. won U.S. approval for Lipitor use in children 10 to 17 with that condition in 2002.

Lipitor is the world's top-selling drug, with 2009 sales of about $13 billion, but its U.S. patent expires at the end of November 2011. Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, will quickly lose most Lipitor revenue once generic competition hits, so the company has been trying to boost sales where possible before then.

Pfizer said last fall that it plans to apply for a six-month extension of its patent in European countries, after doing studies of Lipitor in youngsters.

As in the United States, the European Union allows drug makers to seek an additional six months of patent protection for medications if they test them in children, who generally are excluded from the drug studies performed to win approval for a new medication.

To read the full article, click here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Raw milk yogurt update

Some things have changed since my last - very lengthy - post on making yogurt at home. I now need no equipment at all other than my trusty Mason jars and my incredible tea cozy. Not even a thermometer. And you can forget about all the fancy yogurt makers, or the freeze-dried yogurt culture. Even better, yogurt fermented this way, for a full 24 hours, is actually the most digestible and health-supportive. To the best of my knowledge, NO commercial companies make 24-hour yogurt -- which makes sense because after all why spend 24 hours when you can make a perfectly acceptable yogurt in 12 (or less)? However, by fermenting for 24 hours you ensure the lactose is converted completely to galactose, and the casein is predigested (I am not sure to what extent) as well. While Oliver and I both have reactions to plain fresh raw milk, we are able to enjoy yogurt like this with only happy results.

In the past I wasn't sure about whether I should make the yogurt using actual unheated raw milk, so I used to heat the milk first. However, I have since found that this doesn't result in thicker, more uniform yogurt at all, and wastes time and precious nutrients in the raw milk.

Here's how I do it now:

1) pour fresh raw milk into 2 quart jars (you could use goat's or cow's - but it must not be sour! be sure to shake it up first before pouring)
2) place the jars into a large pot of water and set it over a low flame. Allow the milk to come just to body temperature! This means that when you dip a knuckle into the milk you will feel nothing - it will be exactly at your own body's temperature, right around 100 degrees.
3) take the jars out of the pot, set them on the counter, thoroughly mix in 1/4 cup of pre-made commercial yogurt (see note below) into each jar (I recommend using a wire whisk), and cover with cloths, a blanket, or a large tea cozy. It just has to be something that will keep the milk warm while it is fermenting.

4) Now leave it alone for 24 hours. When you're done, place the lid on the jar and pop it in the fridge. In my opinion, the perfect thing to eat as a yogurt topping is a fresh fruit "butter," made by frying sliced fruit in coconut oil (with cinnamon, optional) and blending to a creamy smoothness.

The great thing about this current heat wave is that it is PERFECT yogurt-making weather. Assuming your kitchen stays around 90-100 degrees, as mine currently does, the yogurt will thicken beautifully and be rich, creamy, and delicious by the same time the next day.

Okay, now for the issue of sourness and flavor. After trying many different "starter" yogurts I have come to the conclusion that the yogurt you make will be slightly more tart than the starter. So this means you must avoid the very tart varieties, like Stonyfield. The yogurt I made using Stonyfield was far too sour, so instead I made it into a creamy herb-garlic spread (recipe coming soon!).

It is of course important to use a high-quality yogurt, preferably organic. It's worth mentioning that I do not recommend using your homemade yogurt as starter as the live cultures will be weakened and it may not culture properly. My favorites, which all make a yogurt that is delicious even eaten plain, are:
Seven Stars Biodynamic Yogurt
Brown Cow (no, not organic, but this makes the BEST yogurt)
Redwood Hill Farm goat's yogurt

You could also experiment with Fage, or other favorites. It must be PLAIN, FULL-FAT, and organic if possible. If I couldn't find my favorite starter yogurts at the store, I would opt for the next best option that does not have a lot of additives (guar gum, etc.). And of course, remember you can make just one quart at a time if you like, or more than 2 quarts.

Try it once and you will be amazed at how easy this is! In my opinion making raw milk yogurt is so simple and rewarding that there is no excuse for anyone to be buying it - except, of course, to use as the starter. :)

See the thick layer of cream at the top? Yum!