As I look back on the path we took to change our eating to be more compatible with Traditional Nutrition, I realize that it was a very gradual but steady journey. And there were some twists, turns and even minor failures! It’s kind of funny when you look back and see so many changes, and yet realize that you haven’t suffered or felt any deprivation! I thought that perhaps someone might benefit from reading about our meandering adventure into this lifestyle.
It all started quite innocently. Hubby and I bought some fruit-flavored kefir one day at the health food store to snack on while we took a scenic drive. We both enjoyed it and saw on the label that it contained 10 beneficial bacteria. I later looked up the company’s website for more information, searched the internet about kefir, bought a powdered kefir starter and began making it. Of course, that wasn’t the end; we knew we needed to get real kefir grains, but it took us awhile to round them up.
I began to run across blogs that had kefir-making tutorials, and while poking around on these blogs, I ran across the mention of a book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This book opened up a whole new world for us. We learned about the faulty information out there put forth as “scientific fact,” learned about good fats and fats to avoid, learned about the benefits of raw milk and fermented foods.
I read more blogs and more books, and began to cook more of our food from scratch. I did have some failures along the way, as I said. I tried making kombucha (we just didn’t care for it) and sour dough (it didn’t work, but I’m getting ready to have another go at it). We found a source for raw milk and began to drink it exclusively. Yummy! (And by the way, I lost a pound a week after adding the whole raw milk to my diet).
In 2008, I quit my full-time job and only worked part-time at a much lower wage, so by financial necessity, I began cooking almost everything from scratch). I began to make chicken bone broth on a regular basis.
Three months after quitting the full-time job, Hubby and I took temporary custody of his 13 month old nephew. Little Boy’s diet had not been optimal to say the least, so I knew it was more important than ever to commit to this lifestyle. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the $10/gallon raw milk anymore so I bought pasteurized (and kefired almost all of it, in order to add back some enzymes and good bacteria).
I decided that my two next steps were to begin soaking grains and to begin to make lacto-fermented foods. I started soaking grains a little at a time, first with oatmeal (see my oatmeal muffin recipe here), then with other foods like crackers and breakfast cereals. I didn’t (and still don’t) soak all my grains, but little by little I’m doing more and more. I’m okay with that.
I still was nervous to start the lacto-fermenting, but I had a friend over who wanted to learn too, and we just took the plunge! With two toddlers at our feet, we made sauerkraut and ginger carrots for the first time. That was over a year ago, and my family has rarely been without some kind of fermented food ever since! Other examples of lacto-fermented (LF) foods I have done are ketchup (recipe here), horseradish, salted lemons and a turnip, beet and seaweed combo. I try to serve some form of LF food every day.
Sometime after this, I gave up two more of my holdouts–cream of mushroom soup and store-bought gourmet salad dressings. For the soup, I usually just make a roux-thickened sauce with half milk and half bone broth, and it turns out great. If I need it to taste mushroomy, I add sautéed mushrooms! (Who would have thought?!)
The salad dressing was a harder one for us, but we’ve finally transitioned our taste buds to an oil/vinegar based dressing that I make from scratch. Sometimes I make blue cheese dressing which is really yummy too. (Alyss at Real Food, My Way just posted a great ratio-based recipe for salad dressing–try it and let me know what you think!.)
Several months ago, I found a source for what I call “happy” eggs, from free-ranging, bug-eating chickens. I found them on Craigslist, and made a great friend in the process! I’ve said this before, but I really consider these eggs to be the single most nutritious food in our diet, so we do eat a lot of them! If you haven’t had a happy egg fried in coconut oil, you need to try it!
At Christmas, we bought a NutriMill grain grinder. I’ve used it quite a bit and love it! So far, I’ve just bought small amounts of various grains to experiment with, but in the next couple weeks I’ll be placing an order for several 50 pound bags of grains from Azure Standard. They have a drop-off point near us, so no shipping costs!!!
We are not perfect. Ha. There are still several store-bought food products that we use, like Best Foods mayo, Grey Poupon Dijon mustard and Sriracha hot sauce. I’ve made mayonnaise, but Hubby still likes his Best Foods. And I’m simply addicted to the other two! If anyone has any ideas or recipes for these, I’m open to trying them.
So, that’s my story. Even though at times I feel like I could be doing so much more, I think we’ve come a long way! As I told one of my readers just today,
My attitude towards this is to NOT sweat less-than-perfection, because our diet, overall, is so much better than it used to be! And, to me, nourishment is more about “adding” to our overall health instead of a stern list of do’s and don’ts.
Have you started on this journey? I’d love to hear your story! Maybe we can encourage each other.