Friday, November 28, 2008

Nursing Mommas and Dietary Oils

I was asked by a friend (several weeks ago - blush) about hydrogenated oils, and why I avoid them especially when nursing. Her comments were:
Since I read your follow-up to my comment on your twins :-) I have been researching hydrogenated oils and their effect on breast milk and our bodies. I guess this is a little new to me as I haven’t really thought or heard much about this before, but I am very glad you brought it to my attention. (I am kind of ashamed that I haven’t been awakened to it sooner as I try to be reasonably attuned to our nutritional needs, but I don’t normally do a lot of researching in this area). I intend to make some changes right away. I think it will be tough in some ways, though…I mean, we go through a LOT of peanut butter and I don’t know if it is reasonable to think that we could just start making our own since we don’t even have the equipment to do so…(what do you do? Do you have a grain mill and an attachment to make your own p-nut butter?) What do you use for cooking oils? I read here that canola, corn, and safflower oils should be avoided, so I am curious about how you do it and would appreciate your input to help me get started, when you have time. Do you use coconut oil? I purchase 50# pails of it for my soap making business, but have never once used it for cooking (although it is food grade). Do you use lard in place of shortening? Do you make your own bread, and if so, what do you use for the oil? We actually sell a lot of honey wheat bread since my oldest dd has gotten quite proficient at it, and we took it to sell at our local farm market every Saturday this summer. I’m realizing that perhaps my baby’s birth weight was noticeably lower so that I would come to learn about this nutritional concern for our family. But if you have any links to share or helpful info, esp. on how you do it. I’d love to hear it!

I kept putting off answering this until I had some time to do a little research and post links, etc., but  realize that may not happen for some time still. But it is an interesting subject to Google should you be interested, and anyone can do it (Google stuff, that is). The basic gist is that hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats all have a deleterious effect on breastmilk - production and the actual constitution of the milk.

What I'll do instead is just answer the basic questions and share our experience.  :)

When I first started learning about oils, which ones are health-supporting and which ones are not, I could not afford to just change everything we did overnight. Firstly, I did not know how, secondly, it would cost too much and be wasteful of what we had on hand. So, like every other change we made in our diet and lifestyle, when something ran out, we replaced it with something better... never to go back except in an emergency. When the canola oil ran out, (that the media had told me was so good for us), I bought extra virgin olive oil. When the margarine was gone, I started buying real butter and have not looked back.

It was more expensive to replace the bad stuff with the good stuff, but we squeezed money from somewhere else to make it work. We purposely canceled our health insurance policy and used the money to add to our grocery budget and to learn about our health. We also changed around how we shopped by buying in huge quantities in order to save more money to put into healthier ingredients.

Now, we only use three main things as oils for cooking. I use extra virgin olive oil for anything raw like mayonnaise or salad dressings (because it is unstable when heated). I use coconut oil and butter for cooked foods. Coconut oil is very stable at high temperatures, so it is what I use for anything fried. I also use coconut oil for most things that call for shortening. Pie crusts turn out best for me with butter, though. I buy the coconut oil in 5 gallon buckets, too. With grocery prices going up so much recently, I stepped back to expeller-pressed coconut oil (a lot cheaper) instead of the virgin coconut oil that I had been buying, because it was going to overly stress my grocery budget. I purchase butter 36 pounds at a time from a local food co-op.

We do not use lard (pork fat) at all because it is not part of what YHWH has called food for us. Trust and obey... for there is no other way, right?

We make our own bread (gotta love that Zojirushi!) and use either butter or coconut oil in our bread recipe. The coconut oil seems to make the bread keep a bit longer, too.

Peanut butter is a tough one. We use it a ton, too, but I do not think I have it in me at this time to actually make it. (I have to be honest and admit that it never crossed my mind before.) Too many other irons in the fire, I guess. What we have done in the past is buy 5 pound containers of peanut butter whose only ingredients are peanuts and salt from our food co-op. That is a great plan if you really want to cut back on usage, because it does not taste as good (at least to us). A better plan that actually works out to be very close in cost is to buy Smuckers brand natural peanut butter from the grocery store. If you have a Trader Joes nearby, they also have a good price on healthy peanut butter. If the cost is still an issue, spread really thin.  :)

[EDIT: Be sure to check the comments below, where Amy tells us how she makes peanut butter from scratch with just a food processor!]

So, I hope that helps. I'd be happy to help with more questions, too, if you need!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twins, Anyone?

Just wanted to share a couple of fun pictures of twins holding twins. Too bad the age difference is too large to arrange (or encourage) a marriage.

Winter 2008 058

Caleb Waller (with the hat) is holding our Sweetie and Josh - his twin, is holding her twin, Honey.

Winter 2008 057

The proud future in-laws parents, Mr. Visionary & Me, and Tommy & Sherri Waller and both our sets of twins

On a side, but related note, if you have ever wondered what could increase your "odds" (otherwise known as the observed past working of Yahweh) of conceiving twins, I think I'm on to something.  For a minor health issue, I had been taking an herb called Chaste Tree Berry  (Vitex agnus-castus) the few weeks before I found out I was expecting. I had asked my midwife for a recommendation, without checking into it myself (very odd for me).

In a new herb book (Prescription For Herbal Healing by Phyllis A. Balch) that I got during this pregnancy, I recently looked up this herb just out of curiosity, and found this:
"Women of reproductive age must use vitex with caution, since it has been known to stimulate the release of multiple eggs from the ovary, potentially resulting in multiple births."

So now we know. Yahweh still uses means.

Monday, November 24, 2008

*Kosher* Holiday Cooking With Gelatin

Thanksgiving is upon us, and we love to get together with our extended family and feast, feast, feast. It is a great time for us to get together without the tension that can be a part of celebrations with relatives that are not believers. Somehow, the thankfulness that wells up in hearts on this day breaks down walls and allows conversations that would not normally occur. We discuss our hopes and dreams, reminisce over our growing up years and talk about what the future may hold for us and our children. We list our blessings,  acknowledging that for which we are thankful.  Most importantly, we openly discuss to whom we are thankful.

We love to have our favorite recipes, passed down from the Grandmas and passed across from special friends, but since we have had a change of heart regarding Yah's Word in the last few years, some of the recipes are just not acceptable anymore. In our efforts to avoid pork (among other things that Yah does not call food), we felt led to eliminate some of our old favorites that contained pork by-products like gelatin and marshmallows. Our family agreed to exalt no euphoric recall, longing for what we left behind in Egypt, but to be thankful for what we still have. We did this for several years until one day I had an epiphany. (Hey, it can happen.)

mandarin orange salad picture

Since the children (and the Mommy) have missed a certain congealed Jell-O salad that Grandma used to make, I was determined to discover a way to make it without having to use Jell-O (99% of gelatin produced in the U.S. is made from pork skin). I got 100% beef gelatin (available at health food stores or online - try NOW brand), and brainstormed how to get it to taste fruity. My first ideas were using fruit juice, but they just didn't have the same flavor we were used to. Then the Kool-Aid idea hit me! I would use Kool-Aid as the liquid! Eureka!

So, without further adieu, I bring you the before and after versions of Grandma's Mandarin Orange Salad...

The Before version required: 1- 6 oz. package orange Jell-O, but the new version has Kool-Aid and bulk (plain) beef gelatin substituted.

Mandarin Orange Congealed Salad

One  0.15 oz. package orange-flavored Kool-Aid (unsweetened)

1 cup sugar

1 quart cool water

2 Tablespoons bulk beef gelatin

1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

2 - 10 oz. cans mandarin oranges

6 oz. Cool Whip or real whipped cream

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

Mix package of Kool-Aid powder with 1 cup sugar and 1 quart of cold water. (Note: This is only half the amount of water called for in making Kool-Aid as a beverage.)

Take 1 cup of the Kool-Aid mixture and dissolve the gelatin into it. Let sit for five minutes.

Boil the other 3 cups of the Kool-Aid mixture, then stir it into the cold gelatin/Kool-Aid mixture until all the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Add the cream cheese to the hot gelatin mixture, stirring until the cream cheese is melted.

Chill until slightly thickened.

Drain the oranges.

Fold  Cool Whip or whipped cream, cottage cheese and drained oranges into the gelatin mixture.

Pour into 9X13" pan. Chill until set.

Serves 8-10.

  • Folks always ask , "Doesn't this taste like beef since you use beef gelatin?" No. No more than other gelatin tastes like pork. It tastes like nothing when it is plain.
  • We skip the Cool Whip because I think it is yucky, and I want to save our real cream for whipped cream on the pumpkin pie! This recipe turns out equally well with or without the Cool Whip.
  • Yes, it does have artificial colors, white sugar and pasteurized dairy, but for special occasions we break most of the rules. I certainly would not recommend making a habit of this recipe. But it is yummy, and it reminds us of Grandma!
  • If you want to convert other gelatin recipes, the ratio to use is 1/4 oz. of gelatin will congeal 2 cups of liquid. I weighed this out, and found the 1/4 oz. to equal about two teaspoons. So, for normal gelatin recipes, 1 teaspoon of gelatin will congeal one cup of liquid. 
  • It is also pretty poured into a bundt pan or gelatin mold to make a special presentation.

One more thing: I don't care about eating "kosher". Whether some rabbi declared something to be acceptable or not, matters little to me. I do care very much, however, that I am obeying my Father and staying within the confines of that which Yahweh has called food.

That is why I avoid the pork gelatin. Kosher-Schmosher.
Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sweet Home Jerusalem

This will not appeal to everyone, but then again, neither do I, so it works to post it here. As a Southern girl, and one who prays for the peace of Jerusalem, this really hit the spot. Who knew a Skynyrd tune could be redeemed in such a cool way? I like it. HT: Lillian

Lyrics (to the tune of Sweet Home Alabama):

Eagles wings keep on flyin'
Carry me home to see The King
Singing songs about my City,
Jerusalem you're in my dreams
And I'm gonna sing, yes. (RIFF)

Well I heard the UN talk about her
But a Jewish boy won't drink this brew
Uncle Sam please remember, that
"Jerusalem won't be split in two!"

Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem
L-rd I'm coming home to you.

We're all waiting for Mashiach (OOH OOH OOH)
You can bet he's coming soon
We'll all be dancing in Jerusalem
And we'll all be singing the same tune
Now that's the truth

Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem
L-rd I'm coming home to you.


The wise men of the Holy City
They've been known to pick a song or two
They help my soul when I'm hurting
They give me joy when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you?

Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem
L-rd I'm coming home to you.

Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem
L-rd I'm coming home to you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Paper or Plastic? Definitely Plastic…

Because it is just so versatile:




Plastic grocery bag... $0.00

4 yards of lavender yarn bought at a yard sale... $0.01

Your five-year-old saying, "Mommy I made this kite all by myself!"... priceless.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eating Fresh On A Two-Week Grocery Plan

When folks hear that I do our grocery shopping every six to eight weeks, they are often flabbergasted.  Without exception, their first gasping question is always, "How do you have fresh produce?", as if it were the Holy Grail of feeding a family. Granted, fresh produce is very healthy for us. Even conventionally grown, non-organic, pesticide-laden produce has produced good results in scientific studies. It is what was used in all the studies showing that eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables can help reduce risks of cancer and other disease. (Remember Five-A-Day?)

While I concede that the ideal situation would be to live in the garden of Eden, or as a distant second, to have our own backyard gardens with seasonal produce ripe for the harvesting four seasons of the year, ideals are rarely reality. Having our own garden supply all our produce needs for the year is our goal, but we are not there yet, and something must be done in the mean time.

Although I am about to share my plan for how to eat fresh produce without living at the grocery store, I would like to state for the record that having fresh produce all year 'round is not an inalienable right. It is simply a blessing that we have in this country - a blessing for which I am grateful.

On to the plan. Every six to eight weeks, depending on how much is going on in life, or how much company we have had, we do our stock-up grocery shopping trip. This is where I refill the pantry and freezer with any frozen fruits and vegetables and shelf-stable items like canned goods. Once a month our health food co-op delivers our meats, grains, beans and baking supplies. That just leaves the fresh produce to pick up every two weeks, which for us, looks like Mr. Visionary making a stop on his way home from work.

We shop this way because it keeps us out of the stores more (so no impulse buying), it saves trips to town (so saving time, gas and stress) and it forces frugality (we make do with what we have on hand). It is not brilliant, it is just a fruit of planning ahead.

During the first week, we focus on the fresh produce that goes bad the fastest. This is the time to eat lettuce and bananas. During the second week, we focus on the fresh things that keep a bit longer like apples and carrots.  We rotate the produce we eat seasonally, to take advantage of what is in abundant supply and cheaper during each season. That means we rarely eat fresh tomatoes and watermelon in January (they taste yucky then anyway), but instead focus on the citrus fruits, leafy greens and root vegetables that are in season. We only have pomegranates in October and November, but enjoy them fully and often while they are in season and actually affordable. Two great books that discuss eating this way are Simply In Season and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle .

Week One Produce:

Lettuces, berries, avocados, pomegranate, bananas, peaches, tomatoes, pineapple, spinach, pears, kiwi, etc.

Week Two Produce:

Carrots, celery, potatoes, cabbage, green peppers, apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, refrigerated bananas (put them in the fridge during week one- they will turn black on the outside, but still be white and fresh on the inside), leafy greens like collards and kale, and romaine lettuce usually keeps well in the second week, too.

Week two can also be supplemented with frozen fruits, since they are not blanched, and are still raw. We use frozen fruit in smoothies and mixed in our yogurt. The children also like frozen banana slices with peanut butter on top as an afternoon snack.

Both weeks we supplement with lots of lacto-fermented vegetables, which are not 'fresh', but they are raw. Each week can also be supplemented with fresh sprouts grown on your kitchen counter. Alfalfa sprouts, while popular, are not good for you, so we like to make mung bean sprouts (the kind used in oriental food a lot). My kids love these lightly sauteed in butter with a sprinkle of soy sauce. They are crunchy, yummy...and fresh.

So, that is how we do it. My goal as a Mommy Chef is to serve something fresh or raw three times a day, and this is the best way I have come up with to pull it off so far. If you have other tips, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Health Books

I came across these books online several months ago, but unfortunately didn't print them, then the link where I found them went bad. They are available as free downloads, and this time, I really will print them. I'm sharing the link in case you could use them, too. We never can tell when they may be necessary.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wee Ones Comment on Obama

I talk a lot. When you walk a Deuteronomy 6 lifestyle, it is part of the raising children package. Life is school, and as such it is a constant barrage of questions, answers and explanations. Sometimes, though, it is interesting to get the childrens' take on what they have 'heard' during these discussions.

This morning we were discussing Obama's election again, as we have discussed little else since election day. Every topic we land upon seems to bring up the dangers of this administration. Studying Ishmael, our bible lessons bring up his name; Math lessons morph into a discussion of taxation, which morphs into a discussion of Obama; checking email, with Mercola's mention of families who homeschool to avoid mandatory immunizations brings up Obama's name, even phonics lessons involve 'The One' this one:
"No, no, Buddy, it is a long O."

"Oh, you mean like O-bama?"

(Mom rolling eyes and sighing) "Yes, Bub, like Obama."

The only other topic that has been so popular lately is the subject of immunity. We have been in a season of actively building our immune systems, discussing how dangerous it is to have them weakened and generally thinking healthy thoughts. My intention with some of these talks has been to motivate my Littles to take their cod liver oil and elderberry syrup, but it appears that the danger mentioned in one discussion and the danger mentioned in the other have melded in their young minds into a whole new form of evil.

This morning at breakfast, toward the end of another Obama talk, and during the dispensing of the aforementioned cod liver oil and elderberry syrup, our seven-year-old 'Napoleon' added in all the sincerity of a wee one,

"Yeah, and Obama  has a poor immune system, too!"

Not to be out-done, four-year-old Doodle added a comment, (the censure of which possibly only my 'Messianic' friends will totally understand and appreciate),

"And I bet he eats Kosher pork!"

Interestingly enough, their Mother did not correct either of them.

Monday, November 10, 2008