News regarding traditional wisdom and native diets regarding nutrition.
Sitting down to a big meal with family and friends can be a source of great joy and wonderful memories. By adding fermented foods to your table you provide enzymes and probiotics to aid in the digestion of those ubiquitous and comforting Thanksgiving foods. The microorganisms in these foods are wonderful; and the flavors created through fermentation are unparalleled. Layering the meal with these foods, or simply adding one or two, keeps things both easier on the belly and more interesting for those unfamiliar with the practice of home fermentation. There are many ways to incorporate these foods into your Thanksgiving meal. Sweet treats are prevalent this time of year and many of us will spend a bit of time baking during this week of Thanksgiving. There are a few ways to add culture even to the dessert table.
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy - cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and dinner rolls - these are the traditional foods of Thanksgiving. They are hearty and comforting, filling and tasty, carb and sugar-laden. Thanksgiving might be a feast day in which we give thanks, but for those whose health dictates a low-carb diet, Thanksgiving might seem like nothing but a plate of turkey. Here’s a little secret, though: the familiar flavors of your Thanksgiving favorites can be had without piling on the carbs.
More research continues to come in from Europe showing the many health benefits of consuming milk fresh from the animal in its raw state. Such information is vigorously opposed here in the U.S. to protect the large, subsidized processed milk industry. Raw milk is so popular in Europe that many countries allow you to buy it from refrigerated vending machines that are stocked fresh each morning. The latest study appeared in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study followed 983 infants from rural areas in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, and Switzerland, for the first year of life, covering 37,306 person-weeks. Acknowledging that breast milk is the best way to build a child's immune system in the first year of life, the study looked at cow's milk consumption from both processed milk and fresh raw milk.
Whether we want to think about it or not, our bodies are actually largely made of up bacteria. One study found that we are comprised of ten times more bacteria than human cells. So it may even be an understatement to say that paying attention to our microbial makeup is critical. Defining probiotics is actually a bit tricky, as many see them as a supplement or a pill. Probiotics are not confined to something you have to purchase and swallow. In fact, some are finding that supplemental probiotics are not nearly as effective as naturally occurring beneficial microbes. Learn more about rebuilding your microbiome with probiotic and prebiotic foods.
Celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday is just as much about food these days as it is about being thankful, so menu planning is key to a successful feast. Discovering how to plan a completely gluten free Thanksgiving meal (free of strange substitutions and not lacking in flavor) is definitely something for which to be thankful.
One of the beauties of fermentation is how very diverse the foods created through the process can be. Not only does this give us a variety of delicious ways in which we can partake in the enzymes, probiotics, and other benefits of fermented foods, it also gives us a variety of microorganisms, as each of these foods contains their own microbial identity. Indeed, eating fermented foods of all varieties is a good way to guarantee a variety of microbes in your diet. Drinking fermented beverages is a tasty way to add fermentation to your meal. Kombucha tea, a fermented sweet tea, is one such tonic.
My Great-Grandma was a tough ol’ chick. She ate real, traditional food & could cook up fried chicken from scratch. When I say “from scratch” I literally mean “from scratch”. As in, she would kill a chicken, dress it, coat it with flour, and fry that baby up in a big ‘ol frying pan of lard. She was an amazing woman, my great-grandma. That woman wasn’t afraid of anything. She’d sleep out in the dark woods with hungry bears if you dared her to. She was that tough. Our ancestors didn’t worry about heart disease, cancer or diabetes. They didn’t fear Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. These diseases were so incredibly rare before the 1900s, that they didn’t need scientists to solve any mystery. There was no mystery! Our ancestors simply ate food – real food, and were nourished. Sure, there was illness and life was not perfect. But chronic degenerative diseases rates were incredibly low. The leading cause of death before 1900 was one of four things: infancy death, death from childbirth, death from infections, & death from accidents. Today, the leading causes of death are heart disease & cancer. Clearly, there’s something we need to change.
As gluten free diets have gained in popularity, almond and coconut flours have become trusty staples in many gluten free pantries. While coconut flour is the fiber from coconut meat after nearly all the oil has been extracted, almond “flour” is really just almonds ground up into a fine meal, and is also marketed under the name “almond meal”. Considering how mild, pleasant and versatile almond flour is in terms of taste and texture, it has become a very valuable addition to any baking pantry, gluten free or not. Read more to find out how to use these two gluten free flours together, and how to easily make your own almond flour.
Traditional foods are those that have been eaten for generations by those who have eschewed modern industrialized foods. They have stood the test of time, producing generations of vibrant parents and vigorous children who have lived without the modern degenerative diseases so prevalent in our western world. And so, when we seek out a traditional foods diet for both health and the sustainability of our food system, we must ask ourselves where certain foods fit into this picture. How were they prepared before industrialization? Do they have a place in history? Over the past decade, bread has taken a beating in the health food arena, and for good reason. Most bread made today is devoid of many of the characteristics of traditional bread. Sourdough bread is slow bread, traditional bread, and bread with a depth of flavor that cannot be imitated.
Cultured dairy is a traditional food in many cultures. When refrigeration isn’t available fresh milk can only keep for a couple of days before it spontaneously cultures, as in sour or clabbered milk. Adding a starter culture – be it from a previous batch or other source – has long been the method of creating consistent flavors and textures in ones cultured milk. Milk kefir is one of these cultures. Thought to originate in the Caucuses Mountains, this culture is added to fresh milk and allowed to culture for 12-24 hours, sometimes even longer, and results in a tangy, flavorful milk with the consistency of a pourable yogurt. Milk kefir has many health benefits, and can be made at home.