Tag Archives: traditional nutrition

Ooh Chihuahua! (Homemade Enchilada Sauce.)

Enchilada sauce is one of those things I love, Love, LOVE, but don’t make often enough (or enough of it when I do), but I’m determined not to buy any more. It is so good (much better than store-bought in my opinion), and easy to make.  I looked in Nourishing Traditions for Sally’s recipe, but sort of combined it with what I’ve done in the past, which I learned from a Mexican family that has a huge tamale-making party every year. I use bone broth in the sauce, so this is another opportunity to use some of that wonderful broth in your freezer that you keep trying to get into your family during cold season!

My sauce is definitely on the mild side because that’s how we like it, but you can make it hotter by not using all of the water or broth when you blend/mill it. Likewise, you could make it even milder by adding more broth at the end. You could also experiment on which chiles you like best.  I used Chile California Entero for this batch.  I always try to find “less dry” chiles because they’re easier to work with (less crumbly).  Just give the bag a little squeeze and if there’s a little “give” to the chiles instead of totally crispy, choose that one.) I use my VitaMix to blend the sauce and I don’t have to strain it.  Most recipes say to use a food mill–this strains out the large pieces of skin.  Years ago, I tried a regular blender and was not happy with the sauce because there were little hard pieces of skin in it.  Not a good mouth feel.  So if you have a VitaMix, use it.  Or put it through a food mill. Or I suppose you could blend it, then strain well?? Oh, and do as I say and not as I do: use gloves to handle the chiles! Your skin will thank you.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • 3 oz. bag of dried chiles
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2-3 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 quart hot tap water
  • 1 1/2 c. bone broth (I used chicken this time)

Use scissors to snip the tops off of all the chiles, then snip up the length of each chile and remove all the seeds and large rib stuff (not sure what to call that!). Put all the cleaned chiles in a pot with all the rest of the ingredients, except for the broth.  I save the broth for later, because if I need to adjust for spiciness I won’t be dumping that precious liquid down the drain!

Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chiles are tender (completely limp when picked up with a fork!). Let cool slightly so you won’t crack your blender. Okay, and less hellishly spicy steam going into your eyes!

Now for the blending/food milling part. For your first time, you may not want to use all the water before tasting for spice.  This time, I bit the bullet and dumped the whole shebang in the VitaMix, and it worked fine. But you can hold back a cup or two of the liquid then add it later if you want, depending on your taste. Add the bone broth (or most of it, and adjust later as you did with the chile-water) and blend the heck out of it!  (Or pass the whole thing through a food mill.)  Now taste, adjusting your liquids as needed, and add more salt and/or oregano if you want.  Your sauce should be smooth, thicker than water but not gravy-thick. I divide it into zip bags and freeze for later.

When you’re ready to use some, thaw completely.  For enchiladas, I usually thicken it a little with a roux (which is what I do for store-bought sauce too). Melt some good fat (beef tallow, lard, butter…) in a skillet, add same amount of flour and whisk for maybe 30 seconds, then pour your sauce in and whisk til slightly thickened.  Amounts of each? Your ratios will be about 1:1 on the fat:flour, so for each cup of liquid you would use about 1 Tbls. each of fat and flour. Or in Grandma’s words, “1+1+1” instead of the “2+2+1” for a thicker gravy.  If this confuses you, ask me in the comments and I’ll clear it up for you 😉 .

I use this sauce for enchiladas obviously, but also in various casseroles (tamale pie, anyone?), tamales (add the sauce to your meat to fill your tamale), or for dipping tortilla chips. Mmm. This sauce makes me very happy.

Sorry, no photo of the finished product.  I bagged and froze it without thinking of the camera!  It just looks like enchilada sauce anyway.

This was a part of the Real Food Wednesdays carnival.


Killing my wolf. (How to cook beans.)

One of my favorite things to eat for dinner is bean tostadas.  A super frugal meal, and sure to scare away the wolf at the door.  Take a corn tostada shell (store-bought are cheap and of course easy, or you can make your own), spread with refried beans, smear with sour cream (or home-made kefir sour cream), top with whatever you like–tomatoes or fresh salsa, shredded cheese and homemade hot sauce is how we do them.

This is how I cook my pinto beans.  I follow Sally Fallon’s recipe for basic beans in her “Nourishing Traditions” book, which is basically the way I had made them previously, with a couple small exceptions.  I take a 2 pound bag of pintos, pick through them for rocks, etc., rinse them good and put them in a large bowl, covered with WARM water.  Black beans require a little whey also. Let them soak for 12-24 hours (I usually try for the 24), drain off the water, put the beans in my large crockpot covered with water, and cook on low for about 12 hours or until tender.  DON’T SALT THE WATER until they’re done, or you risk having tough beans that won’t ever get tender! Trust me on this.

When they’re done, I season with sea salt, turn the heat off and let sit until cool enough to fill several zip bags and pop in the freezer (lay them flat until frozen, then they can store upright-takes less space).  I always put some of the bean liquid in the bag with the beans, since I use these mostly for refried beans which require some liquid.

Let me tell you, homemade refried beans are a cinch to prepare and you will never go back to canned!  Thaw your beans. Melt a good amount of bacon grease in a skillet (I’m going to try beef tallow next time), put in the beans and mash with a potato masher or large spoon until they look right (I personally don’t mind some whole beans in there, but you can certainly mash your little heart out here).  That’s all I usually do, other than some S & P.  Maybe I’m a purist, but I don’t think they need anything else. Tostadas made with these beans are make-you-shout-halleluia good.

And if you didn’t understand the reference to the wolf, you need to read     M.F.K. Fisher’s book called “How to Cook a Wolf.”

Passionate Homemaking’s Soaked Whole Grain Bread. (The one.)

Okay, I’ve got another bread recipe.  I think this is THE ONE.  (I always say that, but I think it’s for real this time.)  It’s from Lindsay’s Passionate Homemaking blog.  And, can I say how impressed I’ve been with Lindsay? She is this young mom that just seems to have it all together!  I’ve read her blog for about a year now, and this 40-something has gleaned a wealth of information and recipes from that 20-something!  (at least she looks 20-something–not sure of her age!)  Everything from coconut oil uses to homemade cleaning products and many, many recipes, her blog has it all.

This bread is soaked overnight, preferably for 24 hours since it uses oatmeal, making it NT-friendly and ultra-nourishing! I love using oatmeal in bread, since we eat very little oatmeal for breakfast, and I know it’s so good for us.  I substitute a little molasses for some of the honey because I like molasses and because of its beneficial nutrients.  I don’t add all the seeds that she does because I don’t happen to have them, but I would if I did :). Also, I made it today without any dough enhancer, and it turned out fine!  You can see her recipe here.  I am going to write my version of it here, but if you want all the details of how to do it, please visit her site.  (But please visit her blog anyway; it’s pretty incredible.)  I split Lindsay’s recipe in half, by the way, since that’s all my KitchenAid will hold.

Soaked Whole Grain Bread

Mix well together in bowl:

  • 5 1/2 c. fresh ground whole wheat flour (I use hard red)
  • 1/2 c. kefir
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 c. oats
  • 1/2 c. honey (I don’t fill it full, then add molasses to the top, maybe 1-2 Tbls.)
  • 6 Tbls. butter or coconut oil, melted

Cover and let sit on counter 12-24 hours.  Then get your yeast going by mixing together the following and let sit for 5 minutes til bubbly:

  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1 Tbls + 1/4 3/4 tsp. yeast [later realized I had divided wrong, but it worked anyway!]

Add the mixture to the dough, and add:

  • 2 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Mix all this together and knead as normal.  You will probably need to use some more flour–between 1/2 and 3/4 cup–but don’t add any more than it takes to make the dough clean the bowl.  Let rise till double, punch down, let rise again, punch down and put in pans.  Rise once more, then bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

Yes, I know I didn’t add much detail on the process.  It’s a trick to get you over to Lindsay’s!

Until I can get my sourdough bread to come out right, this is the bread I will be making.

Just keeping it real. (My Traditional Nutrition journey)

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.

I am a cereal freak. (Homemade Grape Nuts Cereal)

Homemade NT-Friendly Grape Nuts

I really am.  A. Cereal. Freak.  I don’t like it for breakfast, but I LOVE it for a afternoon or even a bedtime snack!  Unfortunately, most store-bought cereals, with few exceptions, are made by the process of extrusion.  Sally Fallon, in her article, “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry,” explains what extrusion is:

Cereal makers first create a slurry of the grains and then put them in a machine called anextruder. The grains are forced out of a little hole at high temperature and pressure. Depending on the shape of the hole, the grains are made into little o’s, flakes, animal shapes, or shreds (as in Shredded Wheat or Triscuits), or they are puffed (as in puffed rice). A blade slices off each little flake or shape, which is then carried past a nozzle and sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.

This extrusion process can have harmful effects on our bodies.  It destroys nutrients and fatty acids, and even the vitamins that they add to the cereal later are made toxic.  Lysine, which is an essential amino acid, is denatured by the process.

So what’s a girl to do?  I definitely notice a difference when I get back into the habit of store-bought cereal.  Some of them make me feel bloated and nauseous, and no matter which ones I eat, if I eat them on a regular basis will make me gain weight.  I never noticed these effects until I switched my diet to traditional.

I do make granola regularly, but sometimes I want something different, so I was very happy when I found this recipe for Grape Nuts in several Amish/Mennonite cookbooks.  I’ve adapted it for Traditional Nutrition by adding a soaking step, and using whole wheat instead of just graham flour and wheat germ (the whole grain will have both of these goodies already!).  I cut the sugar in half and substituted dehydrated cane juice.  This isn’t something I would give Little Boy (or myself) everyday, due to the sugar content, but I feel it is an acceptable substitute, used sparingly or occasionally.  And, freak that I am, this cereal makes me very happy.

Homemade Grape Nuts (adapted for NT)

I’ve read somewhere that commercial Grape Nuts may not be extruded.  However, I like the homemade version much much better!  And, the nutrient usage is much higher due to the soaking.

  • 3 1/2  c. freshly ground whole wheat pastry (soft) flour
  • 2 c. kefir, divided
  • 1/2 c. sucanat
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Night Before:

Mix the flour with 1 1/2 c. kefir til flour is moistened.  The dough will still be pretty dry.  Cover and let sit overnight.

Next morning:

Preheat oven to 350.  Add remaining 1/2 c. kefir, sucanat, soda and salt to soaked dough.  Mix until all is incorporated.  Spread on baking sheets and bake until starting to brown around the edges.

After baking, before whizzing

Let cool slightly, then break up into big chunks and whiz about a cupful at a time in the food processor.  If you know what commercial Grape Nuts look like, these will look very similar, but not as uniform.  It doesn’t matter if you have some slightly bigger chunks because they don’t get as crunchy so they won’t threaten to break your teeth.

After whizzing, before crisping

The original recipe says to return to pans and bake at 250 degrees until crisp, about 30 minutes.  This usually takes longer for me.  Sometimes I just leave it in the oven overnight with the light on to finish crisping.

Store in airtight containers.  Not sure how long it would stay fresh–it’s gone long before it goes stale. ;)

Four Good Fats. (How to make breakfast)

Take a cast iron skillet and put it on the stove.  While it’s heating up, slice a package of mushrooms. Slap a couple tablespoons of butter in the pan, and when it’s melted, throw in the mushrooms.  Spread them out, then don’t touch them for awhile.  When they begin to brown a bit, stir them a little here and there while you’re chopping some fresh parsely.

Wash a couple potatoes, and chop them into a little smaller than 1/2″ cubes. When the mushrooms are good and ready, salt and pepper them and throw on the parsely.  Slide the heavenly mushrooms onto a plate and set aside.  Add some beef tallow and a little olive oil to the pan.  When the tallow’s melted, add the potatoes and a pat of basil butter from the freezer.  Salt and pepper. Let them cook, don’t stir too often so they will brown nicely.

While the potatoes are cooking, slice a few strawberries into a bowl and add some basalmic vinegar and a tiny bit of sea salt.  Then crack your eggs into another bowl, whisk them up with a little water and sea salt and pepper.  Stir the potatoes as needed.  Give everyone a taste of the heavenly mushrooms (points for Mom-of-the-Year), then clean up a little and get plates ready.

When the potatoes are done, put them on the plates and add some coconut oil to the pan.  When that’s melted, pour in the eggs.  Let it sit there til they’re starting to congeal, then use a spatula to lift the sides, allowing the liquid part to go down under the lifted part.  Do this til it’s mostly done (if you’re using good eggs from happy chickens that you know–otherwise, take care that the eggs are cooked thoroughly 😉 .) Use a slotted spoon (or your hand) to transfer the heavenly mushrooms to one half of the omelet.  Cover with some cheese and any leftover parsely.  Take the spatula to the other side and carefully turn the omelet over onto the mushroom side.  Cut the omelet into wedges and transfer to the plates.  Garnish plates with the strawberries.  Pour the kefir.  Salud!

Mushroom cheese omelet, home fries, strawberries

What Nourishment Means to Me.

Nutrition.  Nourishment.  What’s the difference?  Is there a difference?  If you look in the dictionary, it may even say that they are synonyms.  However, in my mind they are two different words, related to each other but different. Nutrition, to me, is simply about food.  Nutritious food would be food that contains nutrients and does not contain harmful substances (aspartame, MSG, GMOs, etc.). Nourishing food is also that, but a whole lot more.  This post is about my personal philosophy on nourishment.

When I think about nourishment, I get a picture in my head of a non-nourished family.  Parents and kids go-go-going in all directions, rare (if any) actual sit-down family dinners, food is from a box (or a joint), lots of runny noses and hyper-activity.  If this is you, please don’t be offended.  Try to hear me with your heart.  The picture of a nourished family is just the opposite. Parents and kids are single-minded and live simply, gathering together for family meals where they give thanks first and have real conversation, eating meals prepared in a steaming kitchen from real ingredients, and reaping the benefits of good, whole food (less sickness, better behavior).  If this is you, I applaud you.  I have only just begun.

As I thought about nourishing my family, I thought about the following six elements, most of which I use on a daily basis.

1. Food should be nutritious–We subscribe to the Traditional Nutrition philosophy which, as described on the Real Food Media Blog Network is basically this:

We believe food should be:

  • Organic
  • Humanely raised (animals on pasture, not in factories)
  • Grown locally when possible
  • Whole and unrefined (real maple syrup instead of high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Processed as little as possible (raw milk instead of pasteurized and homogenized)
  • Nutrient-dense (enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics)
  • Free of additives and preservatives
  • Free of synthetic and chemical ingredients
  • Not genetically modified
  • Traditionally produced and prepared

This was copied from the Real Food Media Blog Network

For reasons of space and time, I simply cannot address each of those points within this post.  More to come in the future!  I do the best that I can, with the time and money resources available, to work within this basic framework of traditional nutrition.

2. Food should be comforting–I remember the saying, “Eat this, it’ll make you feel better!”  We all know that chicken soup is comforting when you’re sick, or mashed potatoes (or anything warm and carb-rich) helps women during their monthlies.  I try to incorporate as many comfort foods in our menu as possible, and I like to think that they will become Little Boy’s “go-to” comfort foods in his adulthood!

3. Food should involve the senses–Pretty obviously, it should taste good.  It should also look and smell good.  I often have Little Boy smell my spices as I put them in foods, and he frequently asks to do it now!  I believe that smelling the steamy broth in the kitchen or the bread baking in the oven nourishes my family in some way.  Even for me personally, I think the tactile experience of kneading dough or cutting up veggies for a soup gives me the feeling of doing loving labor for my family (however cheesy that sounds) and nourishes me.

4. Foods (and eating) should involve tradition–This would be different for each family, but at the least, just sitting down together at the table helps to nourish the family.  Our family holds hands and gives God thanks before each meal.  Some traditions involve holidays and other celebrations, with the baking activities and such.  Whatever traditions your family embraces, they are all important, and serve to bind the family together and provide rich memories for the young ones.

5. Foods should be life (& health)-giving–This is part of my personal nourishment definition; others may have a slightly different approach.  I try to make sure that the bulk of our vitamins and remedies come from the foods we eat. I use coconut oil, cod liver oil, sauerkraut, elderberry syrup, garlic, raw honey and lots and lots and lots of bone broth, to name just a few 🙂 Please do your own research on specific remedies, but we use these foods for building up the immune system, weight loss support, sore throats, coughs, colds, flu, etc. I keep in mind that there is no “magic cure-all,” but there are many foods that are extremely beneficial for the immune system and various minor illnesses.

6. Nourishing a family requires commitment–It takes time to prepare menus, shop for the best deals and do all the prep work and other kitchen work required for this lifestyle.  Most of the time requirement is on my part, and a little over a year ago, we made a decision for me to quit my stressful full-time job and only work part-time.  This allows me time to do what I need to do at home.  I don’t want to down-play Hubby’s part in this either.  I simply could not do what I do without his support and praise (and help in the kitchen sometimes too).  I love him all the more for it.

This is how I nourish my family.  Think of me as Nourishing Mama.