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If you’ve been following me for any length of time you will know how much I have been into juicing.  In fact looking back we’ve been juicing for a month now.  It is amazing how we feel, how my skin glow and how people are noticing it… here’s the deal we went on a 7 day juice fast.  We ate fruits and veggies along with nuts during that week and we felt really amazing.  Since then I’ve lost a total of 5lb.  It just isn’t enough, when we broke our fast we started back with dairy (which I’m suspicious that I shouldn’t be eating it) and grains and meat, although we only ate meat a few times a week.  Since my boss bought the juicer for our office we decided that we are going to do a 30 day fast, after 30 days I’m going to evaluate things and either continue for another 30 days or be done then.  Hubby is committed to doing this with me as well.

Juice

Juice (Photo credit: hynkle)

Every morning we start out with our smoothie.  Here’s the recipe:

1 banana

1 tsp spirulina powder

1 tsp kelp powder

1 tsp carob powder (until it runs out… we’re getting close)

1 tsp wheatgrass powder

1 tsp dulce powder (again we’re about out of this and don’t plan on getting more)

5 drops stevia

5 drops Iosol Iodine (I purchase the 8oz bottle from swanson vitamins)

We have a magic bullet so I make individual servings in the cups, blend and drink.  I actually gave up coffee with this smoothie.

The rest of the day it’s juice and fresh veggies and fruit.  Today we start, so far so good although the lady behind me at the store with the roasted chicken? SHAME ON YOU! Don’t you know I’m fasting!? 😉  I don’t have cravings today, I’ve been juicing pretty regularly, I probably only missed a few days in the month, so I hope to not go through the same detox that I did for the week fast.  If you want to read about the start of my juice journey you can read it here, and also learn more about the movie Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, which in the US you can watch FREE on hulu.com.

So we’re on an adventure… more to come!

 

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I have subscribed to a great magazine for years now, called Herb Companion.  I remember the first issue I got, I was looking through it and was shocked to see that they printed actual recipes for lotions,bath salts, teas, food, drinks…etc.  In fact I wrote a letter to the editor I was so impressed and it was printed in the next issue. 🙂  I was looking through the May issue this morning and noticed something great, it talks about greens, leafy, beautiful, healthy greens.  Since I’ve been juicing greens have become a big deal to me.

I can honestly say I’ve never been much of a vegetable person, the only greens in my house growing up was iceberg lettuce.   Occasionally I will go at lunch to produce shop, saves me time after work.  I had loaded up the fridge at work with all sorts of beautiful food and my coworker asked me what the chard was.  I had never had experience with chard before I met my husband.  His food growing skills would impress some of the worlds best growers.  I learned all about kale, chard, spinach and all the other leafy greens I never had any contact with before him.  So now it’s your turn to get acquainted with some very nutritious food.

A bundle of kale from an organic food co-op.

A bundle of kale from an organic food co-op. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kale.  I love Kale.  In the dead of winter some of the most beautiful kale stands erect, unaffected by the harsh cold weather.  While other things can’t survive, kale does and brings you nutrients through the winter.  It is lovely in salads, you can stir fry it, or of course juice it.  Kale is high in vitamins A, B6, C, and K.  High in antioxidants lutein, beta-carotene, glucosinolates (which are anticancer and give bitter tastes…think dandelion), kaempferol and more.

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with variously col...

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with variously colored stems on sale at an outdoor farmers' market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God’s little rainbows… Chard.  I never knew greens could be so beautiful! Hubby got some rainbow chard and grew it last year.  I honestly didn’t know enough about it to make much with it.  It went in our salads and to the bunny… It’s sunny disposition is welcome in any of my gardens.  The stocks can vary in colors, from white, to red, yellow and orange.  The stocks remind me of celery, in the way that they are stringy like celery.  For this reason I seem to have to chop it up a bit finer than other produce to juice, because those strings happen to get caught easily.  Chard has vitamins C and E as well as manganese, zinc, and antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, kaempferol, quercetin and zeaxanthin.

Beet Greens, or simply the tops of the beet.  I didn’t know beet greens were edible until several years ago when our friends offered us some.  Recently we have been buying organic beets at the store for our juicing.  Let me say that some beets are GMO, so please buy organic only.  Not only does the beet itself give your juice a wonderful red color but the greens can be used as well.  When I juice, I cut my beet in half and take half the greens and juice them.  The stocks of the greens are similar to chard but a little less stiff.  These guys are rich in flavonoid antioxidants, they contain vitamin A, potassium, calcium and iron.   They also have beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

I’ll save some more green fun for later 🙂  Enjoy your greens!

 

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Let’s call today Free Friday!  I just love free 🙂  I have downloaded this Ebook a while ago and was reminded of it today.  It’s called Is Your Flour Wet?  It talks all about the importance of soaking our grains,  why and it gives recipes too! No need to be in the US for this free item! Check it out and reference it often 🙂

http://theprairiehomestead.com/isyourflourwet.pdf

 

Happy Free Friday!

 

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We went to our first chicken slaughter well over a year ago, maybe two.  We have built a friendly relationship with our local feed & seed staff and they invited us out for a chicken slaughter.  We have been to several others they have put on over the past year and a half.  As we learn more about nutrition and food the slaughters become more interesting, for working a day we get our share of chickens, plus we get organ meat and this last time chicken feet.  Now let me tell you, if I thought getting to the organ meat was hard, looking at that grocery bag in the freezer with talons hanging out… it was really easy to just let it sit there.

I have zero experience with chicken feet, ZERO.  Honestly I didn’t even know they were edible.  I did a little research, but only a little… actually I think I looked at one website.  I knew that the feet were nutritious and from a gal at our feed & seed that they make a gel when you cook it, she called it gelatin, instantly I’m thinking cherry flavored, wait… cherry flavored chicken feet?  I guess we’re not talking JELLO here.  So Sunday I pulled out the chicken feet from the freezer and put them in the sink, here is what they looked like frozen.

All the dark bits are dirt and poo, plus you have the added bonus of blood, it was nasty slaughtering them but the feet are funky.  So I dumped them in to a sink full of cold water.  See there is this skin on the chicken feet, that yellow color is the skin.  Apparently you blanch the feet “briefly” and this skin is supposed to come right off, so for that not to happen while we were cleaning them we used cold water.

The dirt and poo came off, so did the blood and there were some extra feathers hanging around.  So if I sounded a bit sarcastic above about the skin on the feet it’s because I was.  See the skin killed the process for us, it was the most annoying thing ever!  The bag we did ended up being three different batches.  We blanched the first batch the longest and the skin came off but so did most of the meat under it.  The article I read said that it could become like glue if blanched too long, but honestly it didn’t feel very long.  Hubby asked “What did it say? How long are we suppose to blanch?”  “Briefly” was my answer, because that is what the article said.  The next batch, Hubby dumped in walked to the sink to get the strainer, then grabbed the pot and dumped the water.  It couldn’t have even been 30 seconds, but again the stupid skin was the worst!  Third batch, a little longer than the second batch and less than the first, and still we were left with skin we couldn’t peel off.  By the last batch we were so annoyed with chicken feet and skin we just left some on and I decided I’d just strain the soup stock.

Finally after we got them all done into a big pot they went with very good filtered water.  I think water is very important and the additives they put in city water, along with all the pharmaceuticals they have found in most city waters, it can be really bad for us.  So when you make soup use good filtered water.  Added the feet and on the stove it went for the evening.

Tonight I am enjoying the soup.  I added some dehydrated chantrelle mushrooms we had harvest in the fall, dehydrated tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, cabbage, and rice and made a hardy soup.  The chicken feet stock is mild, although we’ll probably add more water and let them boil another night.  With salt it tastes like the real deal, and it is a gel at cold temperatures, that means you go the “good stuff” out of the feet.  It has a lot of fat on top, which is healthy fat.  Fat is good for us people! Don’t listen to the people who says it isn’t.  Anyway, after all that finally enjoying the fruits of our labor.  It was very labor intensive, if you know how to skin chicken feet better, PLEASE tell me, we have two more bags in the freezer!  I suspect if you buy them in the store they will already be skinned, this is worth it though.  We used the whole chicken, even parts people would discard and we got tons of meals out of it, plus a boatload of nutrition.  So for the first time ever I’m enjoying chicken feet, who would have thought.

 

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We grow much of our own produce in the spring and summer.  It is such a blessing to go out of your home, pick something that you grew and go inside and make something tasty and delicious with it.  We get so accustomed to it, that when winter rolls around we forget that we actually HAVE to go to the grocery store and get produce.  By produce I mean, greens.  Last week I was feeling “green deficient.”  We harvested apples and pears and made wonderful things with them, pear sauce, raw apple cider etc.  We have canned veggies, but most of them are pickled, and the fruit and pickled veggies were not enough, we felt we needed more.  So I went to Whole Paycheck and grabbed a big container of organic spinach and a couple of heads of broccoli.

Suffering from green food deficiency (I made that up) we decided to go with a nice spinach salad for dinner.  We have quit buying salad dressing in our home.  Which has been hard because I was a strictly a ranch type of girl, luckily when you start to eat different you get use to it.  So without further ado, here is the easiest (probably cheapest too) salad with non purchased salad dressing, which is all preference and your taste, so play around with it.

Large bowl of spinach greens (individual servings)

Lightly sprinkle olive oil on top, to taste

Lightly sprinkle Balsamic vinegar (we use a sweetened with honey and thyme vinegar, but have also used balsamic MANY times), to taste

Lightly sprinkle with Bragg’s Amino Acids (this might be the “secret weapon” it adds a salty taste and you get amino acids), to taste

Sprinkle with brewers yeast/nutritional yeast

Slice smoked gouda cheese in very small pieces and sprinkle a little over the top.
The flavor will explode in your mouth!  The Gouda adds a wonderful smoked flavor, I think it makes the salad.  Feel free to try other smoked cheeses, we get our smoked Gouda at Grocery Outlet and for CHEAP, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a great tasting salad.
Enjoy!

 

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Fermented foods is my new passion.  I am learning a lot about it, how healthy it is for us, especially grains.  Most people who have issues with eating regular wheat flour can actually tolerate sourdough because the grains have been soaked and soured, it breaks down enzymes in the flour that are generally the cause of the intolerance.  I don’t seem to have issues with wheat, although I don’t know that for sure, I’ve never been tested.  However it is quite the “fad” to be gluten-free.   I made sourdough pizza for a friend who was gluten sensitive and he didn’t report any issues back after.  Anyway, I bought a sourdough Ebook from gnowfglins.com and got started right away getting my starter going.  The Ebook is awesome!  I highly recommend it, it has tons of recipes, tricks, and help for your sourdough needs.

After I got my starter ready I tried all types of things, rolls, pancakes, crackers, pizza.  But my favorite and the easiest is something they call Bucket Bread.  Basically it’s a combination of flour, water, and sourdough starter and you make a large batch of it and put it in, you guessed it, a bucket. 😉  I use a gallon bucket that use to hold our coconut oil.  My first few buckets were pretty good.  I got good rise on my dough and although there were a few doughy breads, for the most part I did well.  Then it stopped, I think maybe with the colder weather change.  But I’ve made two buckets (which is quite a bit of flour and several breads) and the stupid dough wouldn’t rise!  I’ve laughed at myself a lot calling them hockey pucks.  They have been perfect chew toys for the dogs, I’m sure they got quite a jaw work out too.  Hubby was always pretty generous and ate the bread anyway.  One turned out like a pancake and I left it out to rise and had nice bubbles on top, I couldn’t figure it out!  It was so frustrating.

Last night was the break through moment, thanks to Hubby.  I had the last bit of dough in my bucket, I’ve had ZERO success with this bucket, but I had to make the dough.  It was getting quite sour!  So I added a bit more flour, and then hubby suggested something, he actually said use some baking soda.  The light bulb went off!  When I make sourdough pancakes, I add baking soda to give it fluff.  What a wonderful idea!  So I eyeball and dump some in.  Instantly my dough started to get puffy!  I did a little dance. 🙂  Hubby came in later and said “did you put in baking powder?”  and I said “no baking soda.”  He had said soda but had meant powder, but just that little mix up gave me the ah-ha moment I needed.  We were actually out of power, so I’m glad I didn’t need that.  So I covered them (I made two loafs) for the first 15 minutes per the instructions, and hoped for the best.  After 15 minutes I took off the covers and they were looking plump and brown.  I had a fear of a doughy middle, like most of them have turned out recently so I left it in a bit longer, another 15 minutes.  When I pulled them out they looked fluffy, but with that same sourdough crisp crust.  One looked a little too done… so I dumped them on to the cutting board and sliced into the big one.  It was fluffy!!! YAHOO!!  It made my whole week actually, is that sad?  Taste test with Hubby and our friend turned out great, we put some raw butter on there with some homemade peach jam, er syrup, it didn’t quite set up right.  Everyone loved it and went back for more!  I found my solution to my hockey puck bread, and it was so wonderful.  I see lots of bread in our future.

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About a year ago I got milk kefir grains from a nice person on craigslist.   I thought it would be a wonderful way to get probiotics into our bodies.  It worked, for a bit.  I just couldn’t get use to the very pungent tasting drink.  Even with fruit and sweetener I just couldn’t get over the tart taste.  But the stuff in the grocery store is SO good!!  I thought for sure I would enjoy it, turns out the amount of sugar that is added to the stuff you get at the grocery store would spike your blood sugar so high you’d be doing the Freddy on the front porch.  (or maybe that was when I had my first cup of coffee…)  Either way I couldn’t do it, hubby on the other hand enjoyed it, or so I thought.  Turns out he just liked the probiotics and the protein from the milk.  We were using raw cows milk but have since switched to raw goats milk, but I gave up the idea of milk kefir a long time ago.  By the way I pronounce it KEY-FUR.  So I found a yahoo group about Kefir and joined.  A few days later a wonderful woman who lives not far from where I work dropped off some water kefir grains.  Basically it’s the same probitoic goodness in the milk kefir but no milk, Yay!  It is supposed to taste like a soda of some sort.  This lady gave me directions, 1/2 cup of grains to 1/3 cup sugar, fruit and 4 cups water (well you start out with 5 cups water, but you simmer the water and fruit and it reduces).  She was using ginger and I’m sure it makes a wonderful ginger ale type drink, which I make in a lacto-fermented soda, I’ll post that later.  So I wanted to try fruit, we have an abundance of frozen blueberries that hubby harvested so I used blended blueberries, water, and the fruit then I made my first mistake, I added the grains.  There are two different ways to do kefir water, one says to put the grains in a small sack (burlap/cheese cloth type) then you can easily remove the grains, the other says just put it all together and then you can just wash the grains off when you’re straining it.  After 48 hours I strained and found that I couldn’t separate the fruit bits out of the grains!  Of course you have to rinse with cold water and after my fingers were numb I figured it was a lost cause.  I grabbed out as many big grains out that I could and fed the rest to the chickens.

With my first lesson over, we drank the “juice.”  It was sweet and yet had a fermented/wine type smell.  It didn’t taste fermented it tasted sweet.  The next batch I added frozen blueberries, in a large pot with 10 cups of water (I’m doubling the recipe) and simmered.  After that I strained off the blueberries, added my sugar and let the mixture cool.  After it was cool enough to the touch (what is cool enough? well it felt cool to the touch, not warm…) I poured it into two half-gallon jars and added the grains.  Let it sit 48 hours and again, success!  Sweet goodness.

My third attempt, again another lesson in this one.  But we do learn from the mistakes don’t we?  It’s hard to make the same mistakes twice.  This time I decide I want to try Elderberry.  Hubby and I LOVE Elderberry.  God made these perfect blue/purple berries that not only make one of the best wines I’ve ever tried, and some amazing muffins, but it also is an immune system booster.  Many cough and cold remedies have Elderberry in them.  So we generally harvest a lot of berries, last year our buckets were OVER FLOWING with these beautiful little berries.  The only “bad” thing is the seed, it is quite big for the little berry, and it’s got this crunch that you can’t really explain, you just have to try.  Too many seeds can be bad, only because there is just too much crunch.  Oh and I forgot to mention it makes an amazing jam too!  Ok… back to the subject at hand.  So when I’ve made Elderberry soda before (with the lacto-fermented version) it was VERY explosive, which leads me to believe that the sugars are eaten up pretty quickly, and ferments quickly.  I followed the same rules for the kefir water and left it for 48 hrs, but the end of that time there was obvious fizz on the top of the jar.  We strained it and this batch smelt VERY fermented, in fact I was a bit apprehensive to try it.  Hubby went first, bless his heart.  He likes it!  So I give it a go, when you don’t take a big inhale before you drink it’s really great, when you do you get that fermented smell first then you can’t help but taste it.  It seems to have settled down in the fridge, although that could just be my brain playing tricks on me.  But what I would do different, is probably add less grains, more sugar and maybe even ferment it less time, or a combination of these things.

Kefir water is a hit in our house.  Hubby is even considering retiring his milk grains for a bit.  They can keep in the freezer so can the water kefir grains actually.  This way if and when he’s ready for milk kefir again he can have them, and when our water grains multiply like crazy then we can save some, and give some away.  I think too many people don’t do “nice” things anymore, everyone seems to expect something and no one can truly get something for nothing.  I do think it’s important to share, I mean isn’t that one of the first things in life we learned?  So I plan on extending my water grains to some folks on craigslist, and maybe here if anyone is listening. 😉

Happy Kefiring (totally just made that up, I think)!

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