Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weston at four weeks

Weston is 4 weeks old tonight! Such a cutie and such a delight. :)

We love liver -- and you can, too! Cashew-crusted chicken liver recipe

Here is my special recipe for Cashew-Crusted Chicken Livers with Red Wine Reduction:

(makes 2 4-oz. servings)

Thaw 1/2 lb. of pastured chicken livers; remove all connective and fatty tissue and discard. Slice livers crosswise in 1/2” slices or in nugget-sized pieces. If the pieces seem really wet set them on a paper towel.

In a food processor, grind the following into a fine meal (watch this process carefully so you do not end up with cashew butter!):
  • 1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano leaves
  •  1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of organic raw cashews (unroasted/unsalted), preferably soaked and dehydrated (you can do this yourself by following the recipe for crispy nuts in Nourishing Traditions, or buy already soaked/dehydrated cashews at
Pour the meal into a shallow bowl for dredging.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup pastured pork lard or other healthy fat of your choice until it shimmers (such as ghee or chicken fat--though lard gives the absolute best results). Dredge liver pieces in cashew meal and fry in hot lard over medium-low heat just until the outside of each piece turns from liver-colored to brown; since the pieces are small this only takes a few minutes -- it is very important not to overcook them as the characteristic liver flavor will become much more pronounced.

Remove the liver pieces from the pan and pour in 1 cup of dry red wine. Over high heat, bring the wine to a vigorous boil as you scrape the meat drippings and cashew crust from the pan. Allow the liquid to reduce until it is thickened, then pour over the livers. Add fresh-ground black pepper and unrefined sea salt to taste, and chopped parsley as a garnish if desired.

A cooking client recently described these as being "like candy" because they are so delicious! Oliver declares them "tasty and delectable" and will happily eat them every day for a post-nap snack.

*A few notes: use the same cashew meal blend for chicken nuggets (first roll in beaten egg, dredge in cashew meal, and fry in lard) -- your kids won't know they're eating something healthy! I like to make 2 cups-worth of cashew meal at a time and store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator so I have it ready any time I need it. While I'm at it I also make cashew butter which I use for the most incredible grain-free pancakes ever (recipe forthcoming).

With this recipe, you can make your New Year's resolution to eat more liver a pleasant and easy-to-achieve reality. Enjoy!

More on the benefits of liver:

Quite simply, liver contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. Liver should be sourced from grass-fed or pastured animals. All creatures store nutrients in high amounts in the liver, which makes it an incredibly nutrient-dense food. In summary, liver provides: 
  • An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A--important for fertility & growing babies
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • One of our best sources of folate
  • A highly usable form of iron (highest in pork and chicken liver)
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc, and chromium (liver is our best source of copper)
  • An unidentified anti-fatigue factor (liver really is uniquely energizing!)
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardiovascular function
  • A good source of purines – nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA

Friday, December 30, 2011

How I beat postpartum anemia without iron pills

It's not uncommon to become anemic postpartum -- in fact I wonder how anyone could avoid it since a good deal of blood is lost during birth and in the few days following. I was no exception and even without knowing my iron levels (7.8 as it turned out) I knew I was going to have to do something about my yellowish skin, colorless fingernails, and fatigue!

My midwife recommended a prescription medication called Multigen and at first I fully intended to take it. She felt it would be well absorbed and would not cause digestive difficulties the way that most iron supplements do. However, the side effects listed on WebMD included black tarry stools and constipation which is pretty standard for iron supplements of any kind, along with a host of other unpleasant possibilities. This is likely due to the fact that a certain type of undesirable bacteria in the gut really LOVE iron supplements and proliferate rapidly when fed this preferred food.

I've worked SO hard (through the GAPS diet and taking probiotics) over the past 20 months or so to balance my gut flora that I was really reluctant to mess things up. I looked up the iron content of various foods online and decided that if I could aim for around 70 mg daily it might do the trick. (Multigen provides 120 mg in a daily dose, and the RDA for iron is 18 mg for the average person, though this goes up for pregnant women. Since iron supplements are generally not absorbed well at all, the way food is, I figured I didn't need 120 mg daily.) Of course, it IS difficult to get this quantity of iron through food alone, but I had a special tool in my arsenal, bentonite clay, which I had been taking during this pregnancy.

Here is what I decided to aim for, on a daily basis:
  • 4 oz chicken liver: 14.7 mg (turns out chicken liver is quite a bit higher in iron than beef liver)
  • 4 oz beef: 3.6 mg
  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses: 3.6 mg (I only took this once because the flavor was extremely unappealing for some reason)
  • 3 tsp bentonite clay: a whopping 51 mg!
Also, I planned to cook as much as possible in my iron skillet. I didn't bother worrying about plant sources of iron since those forms are not as absorbable as the iron found in animal foods.

To take bentonite clay (sold under the Redmond brand, as Redmond clay) I simply put about an ounce or two of filtered water in a small teacup (it really helps if the cup has a rounded bottom on the inside so you can mix the clay better), then add 1 tsp Redmond clay and whisk thoroughly with a small wire whisk. (It's important to wash the whisk right away so the clay doesn't become horribly stuck.) Last -- send it down the hatch and follow with a few sips of water or another beverage, or a bite of food. I generally refrain from breathing through my nose while taking the clay water so that I don't taste it as much; it has a rather unpleasant chalky, dirty taste. Despite the taste and the small hassle of preparing the water three times a day, it wasn't all that difficult to increase my daily dose of clay from 1 tsp to 3 tsp, particularly since I was really motivated to feel better!

As a side benefit to taking bentonite clay on a regular basis, not only are you getting an amazing natural mineral supplement, but you will also experience really great digestion. In the past, people in certain cultures would carry a ball of clay with them and take a little every day, to avoid dysentery and other illnesses associated with consuming food or water that may have been contaminated. The clay has a special ability to bind to toxins in the digestive tract and pull them out of the body. (Some people say it can have a constipating effect, though I haven't experienced this. If this happens you can just cut down on the dosage or take it with a little psyllium husk to ensure it keeps moving through the bowel easily.)

My next post will include my favorite recipe for chicken liver, which Oliver also loves. I'm happy to report that within a few days of my special regimen I was no longer pale and yellowish, and was feeling much better!

*Note added 3/2: my check-up blood work showed an excellent hemoglobin count, just as I thought it would! My pregnant friend, Julia, also boosted her hemoglobin and her energy levels in just a few days of taking clay.

**Note added 3/24: at this time I can really only recommend clay for remedying digestive issues (cleansing toxins from the body after food poisoning or something like that) and for anemia. I don't think you should continue taking it when you don't really need it due to the possible presence of very low amounts of aluminum (which can be in the ground).

Also, the clay does have the ability to bind to nutrients, not just toxins, so take it on an empty stomach not around the time you are eating. I now keep my little cup of clay water beside my bed (yes, with the tiny whisk alongside!) and take it in the middle of the night when I wake up to go to the bathroom. I take one tsp., and only every 3-4 days or so. It seems to provide me with digestive benefits (prevents stool from becoming hard). And because the clay has been sitting in the water for several hours it dissolves much better.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My HBAC (home birth after Cesarean) story

This post is three years in the making.

Yep, three years!

And because it involves so much of my life and history of the past few years it's bound to be complicated (and long!), which is rather daunting, but I'm going to do my best.

A little background info to begin -- our first child, Oliver, was delivered by Cesarean one week after his due date, August 12, 2008. My water had been broken a full week by this time, though it was only a very slow leak so plenty of amniotic fluid was still available. Because we were planning a home birth, our midwife at the time allowed us to use the watchful waiting approach; she came to our home each day to listen to the baby's heart beat and make sure all was well. If we had been working with an OB and planning a regular hospital birth we would have been told to come in immediately and I would have been put on Pitocin to cause labor to start. Instead we tried every natural intervention possible during that stressful week spent waiting for labor to begin, including lots of acupuncture, enemas, castor oil (taken orally), walking, nipple stimulation, etc. It was not a fun week. When regular cramps finally started on day 7 I thought for sure labor was finally here -- but my midwife checked and told me I was only 2cm dilated. She could feel Oliver's head, which was nice and low, but she said it was tipped sideways. My time had run out. We all drove to St. Vincent's in her car while I tried hard not to cry.

After a few hours on Pitocin, with strong regular contractions (no epidural -- they didn't feel that painful to me) I still hadn't dilated past 3cm. An epidural to help me relax, with the view of encouraging dilation, didn't do the trick either, and as the OB on staff at the time was impatient for a resolution to my situation I was given a c-section about 7-8 hours after admission.

This was NOT the birth experience I had wanted. The hospital experience was one thing (I couldn't get any sleep, Hugo wasn't allowed to stay, I wasn't permitted to have Oliver in the bed with me, I was attached to IVs and monitors and could hardly move around, I passed a clot the size of my hand, I ate awful food, I could barely walk...the list goes on), but recovery at home was really tough. I had a hard time getting off my pain medication (Percocet), not so much because of pain from the incision but because I was probably very dehydrated and anemic which made me ache all over. I was extremely emotional and told Hugo I felt like Oliver was sucking the life out of me. Those were my exact words, said about a newborn baby I adored! I can barely remember the first few months of Oliver's life in this world; I remember being in a haze and feeling depressed.

Oliver was a very hard baby to soothe so the first few months were also difficult from a parenting standpoint; I have since realized that he probably had lots of tummy aches ("colic") because he liked pressure on his belly. Many factors would have contributed to this: c-section birth (which doesn't allow the mom to pass on microflora from the birth canal, which establishes the first colony of healthy bacteria in the gut); all the antibiotics and drugs I was on during the hospital "labor," operation, and recovery; and the Hep B vaccine he received in the hospital before we knew better than to vaccinate.

I knew I didn't want a repeat performance if we had a second child, though VBACs (vaginal birth after Cesarean) are not the norm. When working with an OB, it is very common for an initial c-section to more or less doom a woman to a second. I planned that we would try again for a home birth next time, but felt helpless about how I could bring about a better result down the road.

A clue to how I could improve my chances next time came in a chance conversation with a wellness coach who is a self-made thyroid "expert." She informed me that my inability to dilate during labor may have had something to do with the Synthroid I was on, which is a synthetic thyroid hormone medication given to people with low thyroid function. (I read recently that this is one of the top three medications on the market with record numbers of women taking it. Low thyroid function is a HUGE and rampant problem today, and many more people have thyroid issues that are not detected by medical tests.) I decided that if there was any chance at all that the medication had interfered with my body's ability to go into labor and deliver a baby naturally then I simply had to get off it, though the endocrinologist I was seeing laughed at that idea. In her opinion (and this is the standard medical view) people don't get off thyroid medications; they stay on them for life. I really have no idea if Oliver's head position was the problem, if the medication interfered, or if the hypothyroidism itself was the real issue -- maybe it was a combination of all three factors, or maybe it was something else entirely.

Three months after Oliver's birth the work of the Weston A. Price Foundation came into our lives. I had read the book Solved: the Riddle of Illness to try and understand my thyroid issues, which was the first source to tell me that soy foods are bad for the thyroid and so are birth control pills. I cut out soy (which I had been consuming heavily as a vegetarian) and resolved never to go back on the pill. But that meant finding another method of birth control. My midwife recommended I read The Garden of Fertility, which teaches the Fertility Awareness Method, and it was there -- in that marvelous book -- that I first read about the research of Weston Price, and learned that traditional animal foods are essential for fertility, healthy babies, and overall good health. I spent the following year gradually and completely changing my diet, and by the following summer (only 10 months after I began this regimen) I was unable to tolerate any thyroid medication and stopped taking it. My symptoms did not return. (I was tested twice during this pregnancy and showed no thyroid problems.)

My story of raising Oliver from 3 months of age on traditional foods (first through breastmilk of course!) has been the subject of this blog, and if you've been reading along for any length of time you know about all the things that traditional foods and the GAPS diet have helped us with. [But just to recap: the health issues that were resolved by switching to a WAPF-style traditional foods diet included thyroid healing, improved immune function, better moods, blood sugar balancing (I had been severely hypoglycemic on a regular basis prior), relief of joint pain from past snowboarding injuries, and improved digestion; I also stopped ever having headaches. Later, after going on the GAPS diet, which is based on traditional foods but eliminates starches and sugars (with some exceptions), I effortlessly lost 8 lbs. of undesirable weight, the hair I had lost post-partum grew in with a vengeance, I stopped ever getting sick, my skin cleared entirely, my digestion improved even more, I saw my fertility cycles improve almost immediately, and I stopped having any premenstrual symptoms or cramps. I also found that I never felt even a hint of a "down" or depressed mood any longer.]

Now on to birth #2! (Interesting how I feel SO much happier as I commence writing this second part!)

Our midwife for Weston's birth was Joan Bryson, of Community Midwifery in Park Slope (Joan is pictured below, but this is an image I found online, not a picture of her with baby Weston). She works with Ellen Razgaitis, also a lovely and caring midwife who provided prenatal care along with Joan, but Joan was the one at the birth. Our doula, Jessi Bonilla (contact me for her info!), also provided amazing care, as well as placenta encapsulation services (read about the benefits here). Shara Frederick, birth assistant, doula, and childbirth educator was at the birth as well to assist Joan. I had never met her before, but was immediately comfortable with her and appreciated her help so much. [To learn about her services and fantastic array of childbirth preparation classes please visit Shara's website.]

My water broke early this time, too. Thursday night, December 1, I started a slow leak again, though there was more fluid initially than last time. I went to bed, confident that labor would begin during the night. I had been feeling Weston's head pressing down on my cervix for a few weeks, and some cramping as well. Instead, to my disappointment, I got a solid 9 hours of sleep.

The following morning I spoke with Ellen, Joan's partner. She recommended I see an acupuncturist to get labor going and gave me the name of a practitioner she often refers patients to. I went in for an appointment, but no dramatic changes occurred. I think Ellen and I spoke again that evening, because I remember feeling quite anxious and worried. She had mentioned that I should go in for an ultrasound to check the amniotic fluid level on Monday but I felt certain that simply setting foot inside a hospital would ruin my chances for a natural delivery. I remembered all too well the feeling of absolute disempowerment that overwhelmed me when I entered St. Vincent's on August 11, 2008.  I was anxious for labor to start naturally!

I decided to call my friend Rachel Koenig, of Aurora Healing Arts in Park Slope, and see if she had any Saturday openings. Rachel had been referring clients to me for traditional bone broth for about a year, as well as sharing my cooking class flyers with her patients. She has been an incredible blessing in our lives, ever-generous in word and deed, ready with uplifting words, smiles, and expressions of appreciation and comfort. I had intentionally not asked Rachel for treatment before because I had a feeling she would be too generous -- and I was right. She drove into Brooklyn on Saturday (12/3) to give me an acupuncture treatment in the comfort of my bedroom, well before her shift began at her office, and she offered to drive in on Sunday to treat me again if I needed it. When I asked how I could pay her, she said, "how about with a hug?" Best of all, she provided the reassurance I needed that all would go well with this delivery. I had never been treated by Rachel before, but by the end of our session I was convinced that she has a special gift. It turns out that she practices a classical form of acupuncture that she learned "underground," by studying from a master healer, before acupuncturists received licenses and formal schools of TCM and acupuncture were established in the U.S. A large part of what she does during an acupuncture session is feeling the patient's pulses, which tells her a great deal about their qi (chi) and overall health; it is because of what she observes in this way that she prescribes bone broths, which are healing and strengthening.

Rachel provided so much encouragement to me during our session -- she told me my pulses indicated that I was healthy and strong, without anemia or any other condition that would sap my strength. She said that the thyroid is a master gland and the fact that mine had recovered was a huge indicator that I had regained my health and was strong now, in a completely different place than I had been at Oliver's birth. She also told me how the acupuncture I had before Oliver's birth didn't work because my qi wasn't strong enough to pick up the signals it was sending to my body; as she described it, acupuncture provides a signal for what your body is supposed to do, but you have to be able to take the signal and carry on with it yourself. I have no way of knowing or measuring what either the first or the second session of acupuncture contributed to the birth outcome this time -- but I do know that her confidence and encouragement were exactly what I needed to relax and stop worrying. As Rachel told me, if you're worried and fearful your body can't produce oxytocin, which is needed for contractions!

Next was castor oil, which when taken internally is supposed to cause diarrhea after a few hours. This stimulates uterine contractions through the action of prostaglandins (I think -- not quite sure how exactly this works). At 3:15 that afternoon I took 2 oz. of castor oil in 2 oz. of fresh-squeezed orange juice and went back to organizing the bedroom and going through boxes of clothes to give away. By 5:30 I was having regular cramping, and at 7:30 the castor oil finally kicked in and started doing its work on my intestines. I was sitting on the toilet when I heard (or maybe felt) a "pop!" and saw a little bloody discharge. Suddenly the cramping was kicked up several notches; I called Joan and Jessi to give them a report. Just a few minutes later I was in the midst of painful contractions, which mixed with the intestinal cramping to make for a very fun early labor experience! Hugo began blowing up the birth pool and got Oliver packed up and sent off with our wonderful babysitter, but it wasn't long before I needed him with me full-time, so that I could grip his hands during contractions, which were now less than 2 minutes apart. He managed to call Joan and ask her to come over, but by the time she got there, around 8:40, I was fully dilated and still frozen on the toilet. It seemed the only position I could conceive of being in. The contractions were so intense and painful that I couldn't move or breathe -- in between I managed to tell Hugo how horrible the pain was and that I wasn't sure I would have done it this way if I had known! Labor came on so fast -- which can happen with castor oil -- that I didn't have time to build up endorphins which typically provide at least a little help with the pain of natural childbirth.

Joan managed to pry me off the toilet and get me set up on her brand new birth stool, right outside the bathroom door. I am so grateful that she had that birth stool with her, or I would have had to give birth to Weston on the toilet! It was really the only position I could manage. By now I was pushing, though it feels wrong to even say "I" was pushing since it was completely involuntary; I felt like I had no strength in my legs to brace myself with, and no ability to actively control anything that was happening. My body was entirely taken over by these incredible surging waves that made me feel like I was going to throw up, poop, and give birth all at once, while emitting awful involuntary groans. What an experience!! Joan propped up a hand-held mirror for me on the floor so I could see Weston's head emerge, and that was the only thing that offered some help to me in those 30 or so minutes of pushing.

Weston was born at 9:16pm, just an hour and 45 minutes after labor had really begun. The placenta wasn't delivered until an hour later, and the cord was allowed to continue pulsing that whole time, which is why he has such red skin -- all that extra blood! Jessi drained and prepared the placenta so she could take it home for encapsulation, which involves dehydrating it, grinding it, and putting the powder into capsules for me to take (to help balance hormones after birth, encourage milk production, promote healing, and boost mood). I was thrilled to hear Joan report that at most I could use 1 or maybe 2 stitches; the tearing was very minimal and since I wasn't in pain I opted out of the stitches.

I had just made a pot of oxtail broth and removed the meaty bones from the pot before labor kicked in, and after I got settled in bed I enjoyed delicious oxtail meat and a mug of broth while Hugo held Weston -- what a fabulous postpartum meal!

My milk seemed to come in immediately; I could hear Weston gulping it down! That had taken about 5 days to happen after Oliver's birth.

That night we slept with Weston between us, then spent the following day relaxing and enjoying time with our new little one. Oliver came home in time for dinner, a wonderful pastured chicken that Hugo roasted and served with mashed potatoes and salad. I was well enough to get up and make the dressing myself, and the next day I made fermented vegetable medley and chicken liver pate!

Weston has been a fairly easy baby, preferring to spend his days and nights alternating between nursing and sleeping. He is easy to soothe, and growing very well.

In a follow-up email Shara wrote, "It's not often that women just give birth to their babies (with no help, intervention, or intrusion) but that's what you did. Joan, Jessi, and I were just there in case you needed help."

All in all this has been an extraordinary experience. What a beautiful blessing our two boys are!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weston has arrived!

Weston Hugo Corvera was born at home at 9:16 on 12/3 after an incredibly fast labor. Welcome, Weston!!!! :)

- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Does your toddler need a multivitamin?

A friend of mine texted this question to me recently. She said sometimes her 3.5-year-old barely eats anything in a given day and that even though her daughter is getting cod liver oil and some desiccated liver she is worried that maybe she should add a food-based multivitamin or multivitamin beverage of some sort.

I am very anti-multi so I never recommend them or other laboratory-made concoctions (even the supposedly best ones that are "food-based"), since supplements are not well absorbed and may actually upset the delicate balance of minerals and vitamins in the body. For example, supplementing calcium will negatively affect magnesium levels, whereas if we get our nutrition from high-quality foods grown or grazed on fertile soil we will get the nutrients we need in the correct balance.

I consider high-quality fermented cod liver oil to be the best multivitamin you can give your kids, along with a nourishing traditional-foods diet, that includes foods like the following:
-raw cultured dairy from grass-fed/pastured animals
-natural animal fats (like raw butter & cream, pastured lard, tallow, and chicken fat)
-grass-fed/pastured meats always eaten with the fat (skin, pan juices, etc.)
-eggs from pastured organically-raised chickens
-organ meats from grass-fed animals (VERY important!)
-wild-caught seafood of all kinds (depending on your child's preferences)
-bone broths made at home the traditional way
-high-quality plant oils (coconut oil and extra-virgin cold-pressed unfiltered olive oil)
-lactofermented vegetables and beverage tonics (like sauerkraut and beet kvass)
-vegetables of all kinds, prepared in ways that maximize digestibility (avocados are especially good)
-limited fruit (emphasizing high-enzyme ones like papaya and very ripe banana when possible)
-and nuts/seeds/beans/whole grains according to the child's needs and digestive capacity

(As parents we are always told that fruits and vegetables are the best sources of nutrients for our kids, but they lack the fat-soluble vitamins A & D needed to ensure proper absorption and assimilation of the minerals in our diet. Think of it this way: a cow needs to consume 50 lbs. of grass to produce 1 cup of raw milk -- so which is more nutrient-dense: raw milk or plant matter? Think of all the gardens full of salads we would have to chew our way through to get the nutrition found in, say, a few ounces of liver!)

But even if you're following these dietary principles, what happens when your child's appetite or eating patterns just aren't giving her everything she needs? Here is a simple way of dealing with this problem:

1) Cut the grains. Most kids will willingly eat grain-based foods before the more filling and nutritious meat or eggs on their plate. Even whole grains provide a real spike in blood sugar (not a good thing), and gluten-containing grains that are poorly digested (a very common occurrence in our current generation of kids with compromised gut flora) can actually have an effect on the brain similar to morphine! For these reasons grains tend to be highly addictive, for kids and adults alike.

The same goes for fruit, potatoes/sweet potatoes, and milk (yes, even plain grass-fed raw milk). Children will happily fill up on fruit, potatoes, milk, and other naturally sweet and starchy things if given the choice. (Obviously foods like chocolate milk, juice, and any other sweet foods and beverages should be OUT as well.) Some kids will even fill up on nuts, seeds, and trail mixes, so just watch your child's eating patterns and be aware that these "healthy" foods can be difficult to digest and high in phytates, which can chelate minerals out of the body. For a child who isn't eating very much, high-quality animal foods are the ones to really emphasize since they provide nutrients that are easily absorbed, along with enzymes when they raw or lightly cooked (like runny egg yolks or rare steak).

It may take a few days of cutting out grains, potatoes, unfermented milk, and fruit before your toddler's appetite for the really nourishing foods returns, but that's okay -- rest assured it will happen!

2) Once you've followed step one, you need to focus more on behavioral adjustments to your toddler-feeding style. Here are a few things to try:
  • KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL -- this way you can keep track of what your child is actually consuming, as well as improvements and daily progress
  • SET REGULAR MEAL TIMES -- if possible, focus on when your child is hungriest and capitalize on those opportunities! If he isn't hungry until 10, have breakfast then. If she really works up an appetite at the playground, have a quick and nourishing dinner ready at home. If your schedule requires that you set meal times at less-than-optimal hours then just be consistent, follow the last step listed here, and your child will gradually adjust.
  • BE THE ADULT -- Remember that YOU are the parent! Therefore you get to decide ultimately what your child will be allowed to eat and in what order. Offer the smoked beef sausage first, then the organic apple slices, not both at the same time. Make rules about eating times, and stick to them. If your child wants to play instead of eating, make it a requirement that she first eat something. To get your little one to take cod liver oil, offer it as a prequisite to dessert, which should ideally be somewhat nourishing as well (like 1/2 apple baked with cinnamon and served with raw cream, or 1/2 banana sliced into raw cream, or a simple butternut squash custard).
  • NO SNACKING -- including beverages! This is an important thing to remember since many kids can eat small snacks throughout the day and never really get hungry enough for a full meal.

3) If all else fails, or even if you just want to add a really nourishing and appealing daily snack or meal replacement, try a Super Smoothie! I use some combination of the following, always making a conscious effort to emphasize the cream and egg yolks:
  • raw milk kefir (1/3 cup)
  • raw milk yogurt (1/3 cup)
  • raw fresh or cultured cream (1/4 cup)
  • 2 or more raw egg yolks (from pastured hens)
  • 1-2 tbsp. prepared coconut cream (optional--I like Let's Do Organic brand, which I prepare by mixing thoroughly with hot water, then store in a glass jar in the fridge so I can easily scoop some out)
  • a little fresh fruit, like half a banana (should have lots of brown freckles so the starch has been converted to sugar) or some super-ripe mango flesh; if your child is used to more sweetness you can start with more fruit and then gradually decrease the amount you use
  • and of course if your child tolerates it you can even add ripe avocado, bee pollen, cod liver oil, or any other super-foods you like! (please no protein powders or other non-foods, though)
4) Special cases -- for a child who is eating a balanced diet like I have described here and simply not thriving the solution is not to add a bunch of supplements, but to work on restoring digestive health so that food is properly digested and nutrients are absorbed. I highly recommend reading the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome to really understand your child's digestion and how best to feed him or her, as well as effective ways to balance and restore digestive health and gut microflora.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fertility workshop announcement

Fertile Bliss, Inc. Presents a

Red Tent Fertility Wellness Workshop

For women who are looking for a sense of community and tools to empower them through their journey towards motherhood.

Have you been trying to get pregnant?

Have you considered alternative methods to enhance your pregnancy possibilities?

Are you interested in learning different ways to support and help you as you go through this process?

If so, come to the Red Tent Fertility Wellness Workshop.

You will learn helpful fertility-enhancing tips, receive a robust gift bag, nutritious snacks, the opportunity to connect with like-minded women and a chance to win free services, jewelry from Schwa Designs and Circle + Bloom CDs.


Erin Hessel of Esema Healing Arts ( an acupuncturist and doula will provide insight into fertility acupuncture techniques and strategy, as well as reproductive wellness tips such as fertility cycle charting.

Tracy Toon-Spencer of Fertile Life, Inc. ( a yoga instructor and mind/body coach, will lead a gentle, restorative, fertility yoga class and offer mind/body techniques to aid in relieving stress.

Pardis Partow of Hummingbird Healings ( an intuitive healer/coach, Reiki Master Teacher and medium, will teach self-care methods to help maintain a healthy, spiritually balanced life, as well as information on Reiki and other healing modalities.

Hannah Springer of Earth Body Balance ( a renowned traditional foods nutritionist, will provide comprehensive pre-pregnancy nutrition education, as well as a packet of fertility recipes and resources.

June 18th, 2011

Om Factory Yoga Studio
265 West 37th Street at 8th Avenue, 17th floor

$75.00 in advance (until June 15th ) via PayPal
$100.00 – after June 15th
~Space is limited so book early~

Questions and/or RSVP:
Payments via

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Question about thyroid health & blood sugar balancing

"I attended one of your workshops a few weeks back and would like to thank you for your effort and bravery for sharing your knowledge on traditional foods. I knew a few things about traditional foods from a friend who introduced me to your workshop, however your power point presentation brought it to much greater detail. You sold me on the story when your thyroid and blood sugar levels are normal within 1 years time frame. I am only 24 years of age and have hypothyroidism along with a borderline blood sugar level of 1.79 (Awkward because i lost 60 lbs within the past 2 years from heavy running, and a brown rice, low sugar diet). Is it okay for me to ask you how did you lower your blood sugar level? I'm really concerned about getting diabetes and slowly changing my diet now. There is a lot of contradiction between blood sugar levels and alcohol/caffeine. How do you feel about high blood sugar levels with alcohol/caffeine? Thank you very much."

Thyroid healing and blood sugar balancing are intricately related as the thyroid controls insulin production. To completely heal your body it is important to follow a low-carbohydrate diet where consumption of foods like starches (potatoes, beans), grains (such as rice, even brown), sugars (sugar, honey, etc), fruits, and even fresh milk (which is relatively high in sugar) are strictly limited. This means that you need to emphasize bone broths, meats, seafood, eggs, cultured/fermented dairy (cheeses, yogurt, etc.), fermented veggies, non-starchy vegetables of all kinds, traditional fats, nuts/seeds, and very small amounts of starches, grains, and low-sugar fruit (such as berries and sour apples). Everything you eat should be as unprocessed as possible and from the best sources-- grass-fed meat, raw dairy, etc. Of course this is easier said than done! But it is doable and will have a tremendous effect on properly nourishing your body so that it can come into balance. This is always the first step with any health condition; the body (especially of a young person!) has great potential to heal itself given the proper building blocks.

It is also important to look at beverages (alcohol and caffeine) as well as medications you may be taking. Alcohol and caffeine are absolutely terrible for the thyroid and for blood sugar levels because 1) alcohol turns into sugar in the body, while also providing highly toxic effects from the alcohol, and 2) caffeine stresses the adrenal glands (which are closely related to the thyroid) and will lead to the breakdown of many body systems over time. Caffeine has a very big impact on blood sugar as well since your body can go into panic mode when a caffeine kick is over, and end up with very messed up blood glucose levels.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easy healthy(er) OJ

Thanks to the comment quite a while back from a reader, I recently decided to try fermenting my own fruit juice. I don't like straight fruit juices as they are incredibly sweet and give me a blood sugar spike, but lately I have been wanting some new beverages to switch things up a little.

So I bought a big bag of juicing oranges and used my little electric juicer to squeeze out a couple cups of fresh juice. Then combined this with a few pinches of unrefined sea salt, and a generous amount of raw milk whey (about 1/2-3/4 cup for a little over 2 cups of juice).

Shake it up in a mason jar and let it sit on the counter for a few days until fizzy and soured to your liking. I think this makes a great non-alcoholic mimosa to enjoy with a weekend brunch at home--or any time you like! Treat yourself to a little at a time from a special glass, and enjoy the health benefits of fermented juice without overloading on sugar. This can also be diluted to taste.

A few notes: if using citrus, try to get organic since there are some particularly toxic pesticides used on conventional citrus. And of course be sure to wash the fruit well before cutting or juicing it.

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Delicious breakfast update

Yesterday and today Oliver and I enjoyed yummy sprouted spelt sourdough toast from my dear friend Julia, with butter and poached eggs for me, and butter and chicken liver pate for Ollie.

Also, chicken broth to ensure proper digestion of the bread (as you may know, we have both been off grains since last year), plus pastured bacon, lactofermented vegetable medley and beet kvass. Cod liver oil and butternut squash custard topped with raw cream finished off this yummy breakfast.

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rice cereal: a good first food for baby?

A recent question on an online parents' discussion board was about which brand of rice cereal to introduce to a 5 month old son exclusively on breast milk. I answered with the following response:

Contrary to current practices and ideas in the U.S., rice cereal is generally not a good first food for babies as they cannot digest it properly. For starters, it causes a spike in blood sugar that is very unhealthy for babies (even the brown rice varieties). But even more problematic is the fact that little ones don't produce salivary amylase for digesting starches until their 18-month molars come in -- and sometimes teething is delayed, so it is actually best to wait until 2 years to introduce starchy foods and complex sugars. It may seem like poor digestion of starches is not a huge deal, but it is because improperly digested starches and sugars will hang around in the baby's gut, providing excellent food for pathogenic microorganisms. This can greatly upset the delicate balance of digestive microflora in the baby's system, which can cause many problems either immediately or down the road. The proper balance of digestive microflora is crucial for 1) good digestion, 2) proper absorption (and synthesis) of nutrients, 3) healthy immune function (including combating pathogens that come into the body via the mouth), and 4) elimination of toxins. Starting babies on rice cereal is a good way of getting them on a pattern of expecting blood-sugar spikes, and will often lead to cravings for refined carbohydrate-heavy foods (pasta, bagels, cereal, bread, crackers, etc.).

If baby is satisfied and growing well on breastmilk there is no need to introduce any other food until about 6 months, when it's a very good idea to add some iron-rich easily-digested foods to baby's diet (breastmilk is low in iron and baby might need some more around 6 months -- however, some babies' iron stores will be fine until 9 months or even longer on a diet of nourishing breastmilk from a healthy mother). An excellent example, which traditional cultures from around the world have taught us, is a small amount of pastured/organic liver from chicken or beef. This can be simmered gently in broth and mashed with a little unrefined sea salt (high-quality unrefined sea salt aids the formation of glial cells in the baby's brain! look for Eden, Remond, Celtic, and Himalayan brands at the health food store or co-op). Liver is a traditional food eaten by cultures around the world for a very long time indeed, and has the benefit of being easily-digested by little ones since they are equipped to handle nutrients that more or less mimic the nutrient profile of breastmilk: animal-based fats, cholesterol, protein, and the milk sugar galactose (found in breastmilk and in properly-cultured yogurt). It is richer than any other commonly-consumed food in many nutrients important for baby's growth and development (vitamin A, vitamin C, easily-assimilated iron, all of the B vitamins including folic acid, CoQ10, trace minerals, etc.). It is important to get high-quality liver; the co-op carries pastured chicken liver, and Whole Foods has organic. Let me know if you need more help sourcing. I should also mention that it worked well for us to introduce small bites of pre-chewed food at around 9 months (which is when our son was finally interested), which has the benefit of already being slightly digested. Many animals/birds, etc. (and of course humans from other cultures) use this method and it works quite well -- easy, quick, much less work, and better for the baby. Again, you would simply focus on foods that are highly digestible for the child: animal protein, well-cooked non-starchy non-fibrous veggies (such as winter squash, zucchini w/no seeds or skin, etc.), bone broths, etc.

Another highly nourishing first food is gently-cooked egg yolk (soft, but not runny) from a pastured/organically-raised chicken, also seasoned with a small amount of unrefined sea salt. The special long-chain fatty acids in the yolk will be highly nourishing for babies and aid in brain and neurological development. The whites should not be introduced until after the age of 1. As with all new foods, go very slow and introduce only a taste at first, then a little more each day. Many babies need time to adjust.

There are other excellent first foods I could recommend, but will leave it at this for now. Good luck with your feeding adventure!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Could Oliver be any cuter?

Just a few recent pictures... :)

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A recent response to a few questions

Q: Hi Hannah, it's so incredibly helpful to hear of a REAL LIVE PERSON who is doing this, and feels great! I get so inspired when I read the books...but then, living it is hard when you are so going "against the grain." And it's really reassuring to read that you gradually made changes over a year. I start thinking about cutting out sugar and flour and I get very nervous... I'm very passionately anti-dieting and I don't do well with rules. and so I worry I will just rebel. But if they are just guiding principles, I don't get so nervous. Was it hard for you to make the changes? Do you have to commit to 100% compliance at some point? I also worry a lot about feeling very restricted in terms of being able to eat out or at friends' houses.

What does GAPS stand for? And what made you decide to take things a step further? (certainly all the benefits sound amazing!)

A: I wouldn't recommend cutting out all flour and sugar (or sweeteners) cold turkey, unless the person had some really serious health issues that needed to be addressed immediately (for example, doctor wants to put them on medication for diabetes, or ongoing yeast/candida issues in a pregnant woman, which can cause major problems for the baby -- yeast in the gut and on the body is fed by anything starchy and sweet, just FYI).

I first switched to raw milk, pastured eggs, and grass-fed meats. I also added in the cod liver oil, and stopped using canola oil. A while later I added in pastured pork lard as a major cooking fat, and stopped using olive oil for cooking (I use it for dressings/toppings). I also committed 90% to whole wheat flour, and gradually learned to bake with it in ways that render it more nutritious, and same thing with other whole grains. I also switched completely to natural sweeteners (like unrefined sugar, raw honey, and locally-produce grade B maple syrup), which is really not much of a sacrifice! :)

Over time I realized I had to stop eating sugar and even large amounts of natural sweeteners. The first big wake-up call was when I came down with a really nasty cold after eating sugar over Thanksgiving when I hadn't been eating it for a while; the second time was after I got a bad flu after eating a cupcake someone brought over to the house. I really didn't want to stop eating white pasta (I LOVE homemade mac 'n cheese!) or sugar or flour...but I really had to because I was getting sick. Lots of people can eat this stuff "with impunity" (so they think) and not get sick immediately or have other issues. I realized, though, that my skin would get pretty bad (acne) when I ate sweets or white flour, French fries from restaurants, etc. Gradually I just didn't want to deal with the health issues or acne anymore and got really serious about my diet. Also I was really motivated to get off the thyroid medication, so there was that as well. I didn't go on the GAPS diet, though, until much later, and that is the more extreme diet which involves cutting out starches, grains, and everything sweet for a period of time. Fruit is allowed on GAPS (following a certain protocol), and most people eat it. I did up until this winter when it seemed my skin got extra sensitive to anything sweet in my diet; I suspect with better weather and outdoor exercise it will be a different scenario (last summer I was eating a locally-grown peach a day with cream and having no issues; I also had raw honey in my regular diet). For women who have hormonal issues, though (irregular periods, PCOS, acne, PMS, fibroids, benign breast cysts, etc.) it is important to know that sweet and starchy foods (and alcohol) even in small amounts can have a serious negative impact. (When I first went on GAPS I had the first pain-free period of my life with no cramps or moodiness--it was amazing!! There can be big improvements really fast with dietary changes.)

I am not the type to "rebel" just for the sake of rebelling, but I've had many many occasions of eating foods that I knew wouldn't work out so great for me....and then suffering the consequences. There are many foods and drinks that are simply really terrible for us -- that 99% of us are eating on a daily basis! -- and this is just a fact of our biology and culture. And so I have -- with a certain degree of sadness -- decided that I would rather be healthy, energetic, and not on medications of any kind than eat whatever I want. Even though to other people it looks like I eat a crazy diet, and am super-sensitive to what I eat (which I am). One of the things I have learned that's pretty interesting to me is that the more quickly you react to food that doesn't work for your body, the healthier you are. One example: my son had some processed chip/cracker things at a social event (which he LOVED) and had a complete meltdown 15 minutes later, sobbing and sobbing and acting completely unlike himself. A friend told me this was a sign of healthiness actually, since he reacted so quickly.

There is of course a downside to being sensitive -- it means you can't eat the bakery cake at your friend's birthday party (though you could make your own alternative cake for a family member's party)....or snack on a pastry at the coffee shop....or grab a bagel for breakfast when you're running late. Maybe you can't even tolerate alcohol anymore (because after all, alcohol becomes sugar instantly in the body, not to mention its other toxic effects). There are times when it totally stinks to eat differently than other people, I won't lie to you. But I have become convinced that most people are having reactions to food that they are simply not tracing to their diet -- for example, waking up one day and having no energy, or feeling really depressed all of a sudden. Or allergies that get worse every year. Or a yearly date with the flu. Or unexplained digestive issues. Or problems sleeping. Or nasty headaches on a weekly basis. Or -- heaven forbid -- cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other "chronic" disease. I also believe firmly, from what I have read and observed, that even if we do not manifest outwardly visible signs of our body's distress from what we're feeding it, there is a serious amount of aging and cell breakdown going on at a cellular level....which can eventually lead to the dreaded diseases we would rather not talk about (cancer, Alzheimer's, neurological disorders...the list goes on).

The most important reason for me to stick with my current healthy diet is Oliver. I need to be 100% on the ball every day to be a good mother and balance working from home and parenting responsibilities; I can't afford the time (or money!) lost while lying sick in bed. (In the past, I used to be a regular at that!) Also, I don't want Oliver to go through the illnesses and discomfort I went through, ranging from the back-to-back infections I had as a child, to the regular bouts of diarrhea, to the extreme moodiness, to the feeling I can remember of just having NO energy, to the 5 awful years of teenage orthodontics, and the painful wisdom tooth extraction and fillings for my "genetic" cavities. I am so committed to him being healthy, and I know that (according to the research of Weston A. Price) people can really truly escape these problems and develop in a completely healthy way. This involves having really good nutrition and all the important nutrients that are essential to development, optimal learning, immune function, and more. Because children don't eat a lot of food, and because their instinctive tastes for nourishing food are easily turned aside by sweet and starchy things (which give them a blood sugar "high") it is really important to start them out right from the beginning. Down the road they will eat foods in restaurants and on play dates and at birthday parties that aren't on their "normal" diet, and they will be able to cope with it because their bodies will be strong and healthy. You are in the perfect position to do this since your baby hasn't been born yet!

Re: your question--GAPS stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome. There is information at and in the book by the same name (I highly recommend it!). There is a new edition available; it's expensive and you have to order it online, but it's a book to go back to over and over because it is so revealing about digestion and health and all the issues so many people and kids are dealing with today). The website also has some sections on pregnancy and feeding babies that I think are very good, even for people who don't have problems on the GAPS spectrum (such as autism, depression, yeast overgrowth, etc.). I didn't have any of the GAPS issues myself, but I went on the diet because my son had undigested food in his stool and was becoming addicted to wheat and dairy...and both of us have seen amazing benefits. He is such a healthy little boy -- he has had two minor colds in his life -- and he learns like a sponge (he sings the alphabet song at age 2.5, and not because anyone drilled it into him!) and has incredible energy and pink cheeks, and irrepressible zest for life. It's so rewarding and thrilling to see him so healthy and strong and cute, when so many children are listless and prone to infections, or just not that energetic or happy. Food makes such a huge difference for kids.

I have gone on at length -- sorry you have to read a novel here! I wanted to convey that yes, it is a trade-off (though lots of people who eat this way can have occasional treats and don't seem to have the strong reactions I do -- everyone is different), but if you realize this and can make a decision based on what you want for your life and health then you are way ahead of most people.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Really easy steak

No grill? No problem.

No marinade? No problem.

No steak sauce? No problem!

All you need to make this easy and delicious steak recipe is a good grass-fed steak (or two), some lard, salt, pepper, and my secret ingredient: garlic powder.

I like NY strip steaks from Raindance Organic Farm, but unfortunately Siobhan sells out fast. You could use delmonico, tenderloin, T-bone, or Porterhouse. Grass-fed sirloin can be a bit tough, but it depends on the age of the animal, etc.

First, heat a few tablespoons of pastured pork lard in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the steaks from their packaging, setting aside any blood from the wrappings, and dry the steaks very well with a few paper towels.

When the lard is hot and shimmering, lay the steaks in the skillet. Sprinkle with plenty of unrefined sea salt, fresh pepper, and garlic powder. Cook just a few minutes (unless the steak is very thick), then flip and repeat with the seasonings. The steaks will have a bit of a crust if they are nice and dry when you put them in the pan.

If you like your meat rare, be sure to cook the steaks only for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove them from the pan, turn off the heat, and add the blood to the pan. Stir the pan juices and coagulated blood and pour into a small pitcher to serve over the meat.

Serve with roasted acorn squash (cut in half across the middle, scoop out the seeds, and bake at 375 til a knife pierces the squash easily, about 45 min; bake face down in a glass pan with about 1/2" water in the bottom). Fill the squash with plenty of butter and serve with the steaks, and a lactofermented veggie condiment, like Ginger carrots.

I like to follow a meal like this with a small bowl of chicken broth.


- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A favorite weekend breakfast

Grey sole fillets cooked on low heat in lots of butter and lemon juice--

...topped with freshly made guacamole: one ripe avocado, juice from one lime, a few tablespoons of diced tomato, and chopped cilantro and sea salt to taste--

Mash thoroughly and serve with the fish. Don't forget to include the butter/lemon cooking juices from the pan! This is a very filling and satisfying breakfast. I also like to have this meal before I go on my food deliveries.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Home remedies for a sore throat

I woke up with a bit of a sore throat this morning, so decided to use some home remedies to try and clear up the issue.

1. I peeled and minced a clove of garlic, and swallowed the pieces with water, like pills. A great antibacterial remedy, courtesy of my friend Stephanie. I often do this when I feel like something is just beginning to come on.

2. Cotton ball with a few drops of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil. Place in a small container and hold one nostril closed as you breathe deeply with the other, then switch. Eucalyptus is good for clearing up any congestion, and, as Raine Saunders writes on her blog, "tea tree oil is a natural antifungal, antiseptic, and disinfectant and its fumes are powerful enough to ward off an infection in your respiratory tract if started quickly enough." Although I didn't have any congestion I decided to do this just in case.

3. Cayenne pepper in a mug of warm chicken broth. I used 1/4 teaspoon for one cup of liquid. Got this sore-throat remedy recommendation also from Raine Saunders's blog post which I HIGHLY recommend: She suggested warm water, but I thought the broth would be a big improvement on that, and it was! Like a very spicy beverage. For children you would need to cut down the cayenne pepper quite a bit. Be sure to stir regularly as it tends to settle toward the bottom. This definitely relieved the discomfort and was soothing. The discomfort hasn't returned so far and there is just a twinge left when I swallow.

And a bonus tip: open a few (2-3) probiotic capsules and pour the powder into the back of your mouth so the good "bugs" can work on any infectious bacteria or viruses that may be present.

Cooking class anouncement

Come join me for a special class on Digestion & Absorption, to be held on March 6 in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Drumroll please: **I will be teaching my famous nut flour crackers at this class!**

REGISTER HERE or email me ( about paying by check

In this class we will focus on traditional foods and preparation methods to improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. Participants will learn how to remedy common digestive complaints (gas, bloating, reflux, diarrhea, constipation), and will explore traditional preparation methods that render many hard-to-digest foods nourishing and digestible. Topics include:

1. understanding your unique digestive strengths and weaknesses so you can tailor your diet accordingly
2. the top ways to increase digestibility of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds
3. improving digestion of healthy fats and animal protein
4. gluten intolerance and alternatives to grains
5. improving dairy digestion, culturing, and raw vs. pasteurized dairy
6. GAPS issues (allergies, candida, behavioral and mood disorders, "leaky gut" syndrome, food addictions)
7. herbs, spices, home remedies, and supplements to improve digestion
8. digestive dos and don’ts
9. infant/toddler digestion and proper feeding

Demo list & menu

* Warm Tummy tea ~ a root, herb, and spice beverage that warms and comforts while preparing the digestive system
* raw grass-fed ghee ~ the ideal butter substitute for cooking, and an essential healthy fat for the dairy-intolerant
* court bouillon ~ a uniquely spiced beef broth, perfect for poaching raw meat and vegetables, served at our tasting with raw beef tenderloin and fresh scallions
* cashew-sunflower crackers ~ the perfect substitute for grain- and starch-based crackers
* raw grass-fed crème fraîche ~ enjoy the improved digestibility of raw cultured cream products
* beet kvass ~ the quintessential tonic for digestion, cleansing, and detoxification
* sprouted quinoa pilaf ~ a delicious gluten-free pilaf which can be enjoyed by many who are sensitive to grains, made using traditional sprouting and cooking methods
* traditional refried beans ~ an irresistibly tasty side dish made that incorporates traditional soaking methods, bone broth, and pastured pork lard for maximized digestibility and nourishment

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kids can sleep anywhere

Ollie got up early to play with Hugo before work the other day..but I guess he took too long in the shower!

This afternoon Oliver decided to continue his nap in the kitchen...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oliver's 2-year portraits

I can't believe how cute these came out!! :) (from last September)

My two wintertime cuties

Not sure why they look so serious... Hugo took this picture himself.

Crustless breakfast quiche

I have finally (by chance) hit upon a recipe for a breakfast quiche that Oliver likes to eat! It's not terribly quick, but it's easy to make and doesn't have a crust. This makes enough for Oliver and me to share for 3 breakfasts.

Before you get started --> heat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9" pie pan.

1. First, chop a medium/large onion coarsely and saute until nice and soft and turning brown in plenty of ghee or butter (I like ghee because it won't burn or turn brown the way butter will in a hot skillet). Ghee is easy to make by melting butter at a very low temperature for several hours, and then pouring off and saving the clear golden liquid to leave the milk solids at the bottom -- of course we use raw butter in our house, but you can use any kind.

2. Mix 5 eggs with 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. cream. Blend well. Add one pinch of salt for each egg, plus 1-2 extra pinches (so 6-7 pinches in all). Be sure to use an unrefined natural sea salt, like Celtic, Eden, and Redmond brands, available in health food stores and some grocery stores. (I use pastured organically-raised eggs with raw grass-fed cream. Read my blog post comparing pastured with free-range eggs.)

3. Grate a sizeable chunk of cheese, enough to make about 2 cups grated (a chunk approximately 3"x3"x1"). I like to use raw milk grass-fed cheese with medium sharpness; it's fine to use a cheese that isn't the most delicious for snacking -- it will be great in the quiche.

4. Mix the caramelized onions and most of the cheese into the egg & cream mixture, reserving a bit to spread on top.

5. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake until slightly puffed and golden brown, approximately 45 minutes (begin checking at 35 minutes as some ovens can vary dramatically). Cook the quiche in the center of the oven.

I like to have this quiche with bacon and homemade sausage (from pastured pork), homemade yogurt with berries or homemade apple butter, homemade chicken bone broth, homemade beet kvass, and either fresh veggies or my homemade lactofermented veggie medley. Oliver alternates bites of quiche and bacon, has a spoonful of fermented veggie juice, 1/2 tsp. fermented cod liver oil, sips of beet kvass, and yogurt with apple butter for dessert. After breakfast he has the lukewarm broth in his sippy cup. This breakfast/brunch is so nourishing and filling that there's no need for lunch!

Store the leftover quiche in the fridge and reheat wedges in a 300-350 degree toaster oven for about 10 minutes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Common Health & Nutrition Myths

Here is a recent free download I added to my site. Check out the other ones I have available, some for free and some (the packets from my cooking classes) for a fee.

Common Health & Nutrition Myths

Learn why the old-fashioned way of doing things is actually the healthiest.

1. Cholesterol and animal fats are bad for your health
As Weston A. Price discovered, diets rich in traditional animal fats were correlated with longevity, vitality, strength, and freedom from chronic disease. It was not until the rise of refined vegetable oils that heart attacks and heart disease even began to be observed among the general population. Foods rich in vitamins A and D (the foods that are most vilified in our Western culture) ensure that our bodies can utilize the valuable minerals we are consuming, and use them to keep our bones, teeth, and organs healthy and well. If you want to protect your heart, strictly avoid processed vegetable oils and refined sugars, and eat a traditional nutrient-dense diet. Look for the book The Cholesterol Myths or visit to learn more.
Cholesterol plays an important protective role in the body, and will rise naturally as a person ages -- this is actually a healthy thing! Most cases of “abnormally high” cholesterol are an indication that the body is in a state of ill health or imbalance; cholesterol may rise in response to stress, illness, and/or a low level infection. It is crucial to address this underlying problem rather than simply trying to lower the cholesterol level.

2. Eating fat will make you fat
The rise in popularity of low-fat foods has occurred at the same time as a national upward trend in obesity rates. Fat is a crucial component of food that triggers the feeling of satiety, or fullness, that we are supposed to feel when we have had enough to eat; it also makes our meals more sustaining. Desserts in particular should contain plenty of fat as it slows the release of glucose into the blood, and helps prevent sugar spikes and crashes. Fat is actually our body’s preferred energy source! We are able to convert fat into ATP (energy) much more efficiently than carbohydrates. And as Weston A. Price discovered, high levels of dietary fat in the context of a traditional diet free of refined sugars is actually correlated with physical fitness and a slimmer waistline.

3. Drink low-fat milk for your bones
Dairy should be consumed only in its full-fat form because we need the fat to properly digest and assimilate the protein; without the fat, our body will quickly become depleted in vitamin A, which is essential for a whole host of body functions (heart health, hormone production, and digestion among them). The butterfat (cream) in milk is the carrier for fat-soluble vitamins A and D, which are essential for health and even mental and emotional well-being. These vitamins are also crucial for the formation and strengthening of our bones, so it is the opposite of beneficial to consume low-fat or skim dairy products for bone health. Full-fat dairy, butter, and cream are even good for your metabolism and healthy weight loss. Still not convinced? It may interest you to know that farmers feed pigs skim milk to fatten them up!
We should also mention here that pasteurized dairy lacks the enzyme phosphatase, which is needed for absorbing calcium. Therefore, the best option for dairy is full-fat, grass-fed, and raw. For individuals who cannot consume dairy or who lack access to raw dairy, traditional bone broths are an essential part of a healthy diet; they are a rich source of easily-absorbed minerals (including calcium and magnesium) and contain many components that superbly nourish our bones and joints.

4. Salt is bad for you
It is true that common table salt is linked to hypertension and many other health problems. However, old-fashioned salt which is from the sea and is truly unrefined is absolutely essential to our health. Unrefined sea salt contains many important trace minerals from the sea, including iodine (for thyroid health), and aids in digestion by stimulating the production of stomach acid. Salt that is good for you is generally not white; look for light grey or even pinkish salt. Good brands include Celtic, Eden, and Redmond; you can find them at your local health food store or by ordering online.

5. Soy foods are good for menopause
In American society, soy foods have been elevated to celebrity status, largely through the persistent work of the soy industry. Soy (which is nearly always a genetically modified crop) is now added to a very high percentage of all processed foods we consume in this country, ranging from baby formula to fast food. Many people point to Asian diets as evidence that soy is beneficial; however, traditional forms of soy consumed in Asian countries were far different than the soy foods we eat today. Industrial soy is highly damaging to the digestive system, destroys the thyroid, and wreaks havoc on our hormones and endocrine system. Furthermore, unfermented soy contains anti-nutrients that can cause serious nutrient deficiencies and digestive issues. Studies on the use of soy for menopausal and post-menopausal women have found it to be ineffectual at regulating hormones or reducing the symptoms of menopause. To read more about the dangers of soy, visit

6. A high fiber diet is the key to digestive health
These days, fiber is added to everything from yogurt to children’s juice, and we are encouraged by physicians, advertisers, and bureaucrats alike to consume more whole grains and foods high in fiber. However, a diet high in insoluble fiber is actually linked with many digestive disorders, including Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is because whole grains and legumes contain phytic acid which can chelate important minerals from the body; in addition, many people have a compromised digestive system that cannot properly break down fiber. The best bet for digestive health is to consume foods rich in natural probiotics, like lactofermented vegetables, and to include plenty of vitamin A (such as that found in fermented cod liver oil) in your diet.

7. Non-caloric sweeteners are healthier than sugar
When it comes to “sugar-free” foods and sugar alternatives, the best thing to do is to just say no. There is no non-caloric sweetener on the market that is not associated with major health risks (with the exception of unprocessed natural green leaf stevia). If you want that sweet flavor, try using raw honey, grade B maple syrup, or Rapunzel brand unrefined sugar (Rapadura). Even regular white sugar is better than sugar-free sweeteners, though if you must eat sugar it would be best to choose organic as sugar is a highly sprayed crop.

8. Feeling (and looking) “old” is inevitable
With a diet rich in traditional nutrient-dense foods, it is entirely possible to live a healthy and energetic life well into old age, without the use of drugs or supplements. Many of the people encountered by Weston A. Price were surprisingly youthful and fit, even at advanced ages. Traditional foods will even help keep you looking younger! Studies carried out by plastic surgeons found that women who ate mostly animal fats (such as lard) had fewer wrinkles and healthier skin tone than women consuming mostly vegetable oils.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Quick snack suggestion

So this is completely unseasonal and I stole the idea from a GAPS blog I came across a while ago, but it's a really tasty snack and satisfies the winter-time need for melted cheese!

It's worth mentioning that cheese (preferably raw and from pastured cows/goats/sheep) should generally be eaten in an uncooked state so as to preserve the nutritional benefits. However, every human person needs some melty cheese now and then, and if you're going to have it (and are avoiding starchy foods or wheat/bread) this is a pretty good way to do it.

Simply top sliced tomato with slices of raw milk cheese (I use Colby or Monterey Jack), sprinkle on a little grated Parmesan and some dried oregano, and broil for a few minutes, until cheese is warm and melty. I use our toaster oven which works great!