The holidays can be a hectic and stressful time for families. From stretched budgets to stretched patience, many people find themselves falling into their very worst food habits come the holiday season – eating a lot of sugary, processed and packaged foods. It’s the very thing that sets you up for the cycle of nasty colds and flus you are trying so hard to avoid.
So what if you could pick just one thing that would slow everything down, keep the kids more grounded and less likely to get their annual holiday season flu and would help everyone feel just a little…well, saner.
Good, grounding food can keep everyone happier and healthier during the holidays.
Here are a few simple slow food ideas that can help you stay in the headspace many of us actually yearn for over the holidays- healthy, happy, focused and filled with gratitude.
Make a meal plan: This will most definitely save you time and money and you will almost surely boost the quality of what your family is eating. If you have never done this before it will be transformative. I promise. Sit down on Saturday or Sunday. Bust out your favourite cookbooks/food blogs/recipe sites. Be sure to allow your children some input in this process.
Take time to bake with your children. This can double as quality time and they will be learning a food skill.
If you have a crockpot, dust it off and use it. Simple dishes likes sauces, stews and soups can be slow roasted all day so when you get home there is minimal prep waiting for you (along with a nutrient-dense meal).
Make sure kids have a good, hearty breakfast each day to keep them in tip top form over the holidays. Try substituting hot cereal like oatmeal for processed, boxed cereals. Or scrambled eggs, toast and fruit.
And finally, make sure your child is well-fed BEFORE going out to holiday parties. Processed, convenience foods are easier to resist when you are well-nourished. You may also consider contributing a healthy dish or snack. In a pinch, even a box of mandarin oranges will do.
You can replace pop with fizzy probiotic drinks like kefir water. Find out more at DomesticDiva.ca
You can find great holiday recipes, articles and videos here, at my brand new site Domestic Diva and at DigInManitoba.ca (where you can try the Wild rice cranberry pecan salad, sunshine cookies, Gluten free applesauce pumpkin muffins and homemade chicken nuggets (to name a few!). You can also find a list of local, sustainable farmers you can connect with for quality, made-in-Manitoba foods on the Dig In site.
*I wrote this article for a provincial not-for-profit called Food Matters Manitoba. It’s part of the Dig In Manitoba initiative I helped launch earlier this year. Dig In connects parents, children, educators and farmers.Each month, these articles are circulated to member schools.
Adrienne Percy is the mother of 2 active, young children who are alternately budding chefs and food critics. Her passion is finding new and simple ways to bring nutrient dense, sustainably grown foods into her family’s life. You can read about her kid-friendly, culinary adventures at DomesticDiva.ca
Something I think is going to help change lives. It’s a brand new project calledDomestic Diva and I’ve been oh-so-blessed to be able to partner with someone who follows the wise woman healer path. Her name is Sherry Rothwell and she’s a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who has been connecting women with wisdom about their bodies, birth and health in a really gifted, unique way.
Me and Ms. Rothwell after a 'Cultured Kitchen' taping...
We were both sharing our work and our own excitement about the power of REAL foods when our paths crossed about a year ago. We’re both mommas and we’re both really passionate about what we’re doing and what it offers the community. YOU are our community and we thought we could offer you MORE as a team than we could separately.
And that’s how Domestic Diva (.ca) came to be.
Now HOLD ON! Just because you see the word DOMESTIC, don’t go thinkin’ I am going all subservient housewife on you.
Domestic Diva is all about reclaiming domestic arts and traditional wisdom.
But there are so many other ways we hope to build community with you too. We looked at what we can share that has been transformative on our own journeys. Health built on a foundation of nourishing and traditional foods. Rhythyms that help managing your home feel GOOD not draining.
On a practical level that looks like:
e-courses (so busy women like you can learn about really important skills -like creating probiotic foods- on your OWN timeline)
a downloadable menu planner (Print it. Fill it in and post in on your fridge. It’s been a great tool in our homes that help keep us ON TRACK and able to make the week and grocery shopping more manageable, less wasteful, more nourishing …)
FREE ‘how to’ videos. Including one on how to make yogurt cream cheese, whey and a korean kraut called kimchi.
Recipes that will nurture and heal. (and that taste great ;)
So come on over. Take a look. Browse. Enjoy the free gifts. There’s much more to come…
“Can you imagine a world in which the expression of feminine creativity, nurturing and visioning was an honoured, cherished and upheld contribution to society? A world where the invisible work of women was valued because we acknowledged its impact on the future of humanity at large? A world where the choice to nurture a family, a creative project or a cause is considered equally valuable and more than enough. A world where a woman just being her self is enough…” ~Domestic Diva~
Almost one year ago, I left my job in the corporate world in search of a more sustainable, fulfilling life.
I didn’t know for sure what that would look like when I walked out of that downtown office tower and braved rush hour traffic for the last time. What I did know, was that it didn’t seem natural to spend the day sitting in front of a computer, under flourescent lights, in an icy, air conditioned building while the beautiful – and very brief – Manitoba summer passed by (just outside the window).
I had some ideas. I wanted to dig my hands into the soil – to immerse myself in the delicate dance of the seasons, life, food and health. To live in balance and in harmony with natural cycles. I was through with living each day – each season- as a neutered, homogenous blur. Fresh strawberries, children’s spring-time growth spurt and the dormant, winter rest period had no place in the corporate world, where I found very little is either sacred or honoured.
In more concrete terms, I realized that I wanted to equip myself and my children with some essential skills that seem to be on the brink of extinction. Things like the ability to grow and preserve our own food, identify and gather healing herbs and to understand the subtle signs of the natural world that let us know what weather might be around the corner.
A couple of the new raised beds we are working on.
We’re blessed to have incredible people in this community (Winnipeg, MB) who have dedicated themselves to preserving many of these skills and this sacred knowledge. I have been connecting with, and learning from them. As part of our commitment to honouring their generosity and wisdom, we are converting – step-by-step – to an urban homestead. We’ll share what we learn as we go along.
Patrick Elazar digs in this spring.
We’ve started this year by building two more raised garden beds and connecting with people who have been successful in coaxing food from urban yards. They are the beautiful and funny souls at Urban Eatin’ Gardeners’ Workers Coop and Patrick Elazar – someone I worked with for years without realizing he was secretly a very wise, very eco-friendly urban homesteader. Thankfully, his secret was revealed when he made a presentation at a food security conference.
You’ll learn more about Patrick and the other wise folk I have connected with as our plans unfold. So stay tuned!
Donna Powers* is a Calgary-based homeopath specializing in children’s issues and families who choose to be vaccine free. She will sharing her expertise in Winnipeg THIS MONDAY MARCH 14. You can register NOW for the afternoon or evening session.
In the workshop Donna will cover how to:
make your own homeopathic tinctures
assemble a homeopathic first aid kit
tap into the powerful healing properties of a simple garden-variety plant called Calendula
make your own toxin-free lotion and/or diaper cream with Calendula
Calendula- a powerful healing plant you can find in most gardens.
You will go home with:
comprehensive handouts on homeopathic first aid and travel essentials
your own homeopathic tincture (a 3 CH Calendula granule remedy)
Calendula diaper cream/salve
Can’t wait to see you there!
*Donna Powers is in private practice in Calgary, Alberta and teaches at the Western College of Homeopathic Medicine.
Many people have heard of kefir – a fermented milk drink that has been around for a very long time, but not as many know about kefir water. Kefir water is a refreshing, effervescent drink made with special grains that digest sugar and ferment your water and fruit combination turning it into a healthy elixir chock full of probiotics.
Kefir water with lemon.
Forget an alternative to pop – this is a drink that actually builds health.
Kefir water is teaming with the healthy bacteria you need for proper gut function. This is important because proper gut function is the foundation of good health. You are actually less WHAT you eat, and more what you ABSORB. By rebuilding your gut flora, kefir can help you actually absorb and assimilate the important vitamins and minerals in all of those healthy meals you are eating.
Kefir water can be used to treat an incredibly wide range of health issues including:
constipation, leaky gut syndrome, IBS and more
liver, kidney issues
high blood pressure
Kefir water is really easy to make. I got my grains from a friend and have been using them ever since. All you have to do to make your own kefir water is follow these 5 easy steps:
Measure 1tbsp of kefir grains into a mason jar
Add 3 tbsp Panella (this is a type of unprocessed sugar you can get at Organza Foods) or another raw, *unprocessed sugar
Insert 1/4 citrus fruit such as a lemon or orange. (Although the standard is a citrus, you can use ANY kind of fruit.)
Fill jar to within 1 inch of the lid with filtered water
Screw the lid loosely onto jar and allow to ferment for about 48 hours
*Do not use honey in your kefir water since they have antibacterial properties (and your kefir grains are bacteria!).
The reason you need unprocessed sugar is because the kefir grains need minerals to survive (just like us!). If you need to use a processed sugar, make sure to use a piece of eggshell or something to add minerals to the mix. Organic blackstrap molasses is also a suitable substitute.
Also, try to get in the habit of getting your kefir started in the morning or afternoon. There’s nothing that will break your commitment to kefir faster than having to make it at midnight every second day!
You will know your kefir water is ready to drink when it is effervescent and tart. If it is still sweet after 48 hours, something may have went wrong in your ferment.
FYI: Healthy kefir grains are clear and have a cauliflower shape. They are alive and reproduce all the time!
How to store kefir water
Separate you kefir water into a new container by pouring it off. Allow to sit on cupboard for another 8 hours then refrigerate. If you like your kefir water less fizzy, you can refrigerate immediately.
Three things to do with excess kefir grains
Experiment with new ferments. Try beet kvass (cubed beets instead of fruit). Mango. Whatever!
Give them to a friend! That way if yours die for some reason you have a back up. And you’re helping improve your friend’s health.
Store grains in the fridge in some kefir water and a few tbsp of sugar. When you take them out, you might think they’re dead but just give them time to ‘wake up’ again. Be patient.
You can find instructions for drying and freezing your grains for long term storage by doing a quick Google search.
Here are a few popular probiotic and fermentation books if you are interested in learning more:
Wild fermentation: Sandor Ellix Katz Nourishing Traditions: Sally Fallon The Body Ecology Diet: Donna Gates
NOTE: My kids LOVE kefir water and ask for it every day. It’s fun, and thankfully, their version of pop. Another alternative to water kefir is juice kefir which you make by putting your grains in a jar full of 1/2 water and 1/2 apple juice. You only have to let this mixture ferment for 24 hours and it is ready to drink. Making kefir juice is a lot tougher on your grains, so it’s best to keep your kefir juice grains separate. If you do feed your kids juice, it’s a really great way to get them drinking something that has less sugar and is, essentially dead (denatured), to something that is teaming with life!
This past weekend we held a workshop hosted by Dora Friesen of Integrity Foods.
I have spent some time with her in the past, but there is so much to learn from people who are pioneers in their field. When it comes to ancient grains, Dora and her husband Cornie definitely fit the bill. They have been baking organic, ancient grain breads for more than a decade – before spelt and kamut hit the mainstream health food vocabulary.
One thing that always impresses me about the Friesens is their willingness to generously share their expertise. For them, that’s just the way they live, in new media terms, it’s called, ‘radical openness.’
Radical openness flies in the face of the old school business model of patents, secret recipes, and exclusivity. It is the theory that you create more excitement, more loyalty and more demand for your product or ideas when you share freely and passionately. It’s worked for the mammothly successful TED conference, where the motto is, “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.”
Tickets for TED conferences are $7,500 (plus a written application). A few years ago they decided to give their content away – every talk would be posted online for ANYONE who wanted to see it. They dismissed dire predications that ticket sales would plummet. The very same year they started giving away their content, demand increased 30 per cent.
But what’s that got to do with a small artisan bakery in rural Manitoba?
Well, even though there’s a good chance Cornie and Dora have never heard of radical openness, they’ve built their business on the same foundation.
In fact, on Monday, the recipe Dora shared for spelt bread was the one they use in the bakery every day. She’s not worried people are going to quit buying their bread if they know how to make it themselves. She never once said, ‘keep this to yourself’.
I love this because it takes incredible spiritual maturity to subscribe to this school of thought. It shows complete faith in the idea of universal abundance (‘there will always be enough for me’) rather than lack (‘there is not enough for me’).
As a result, the 12 people who were at the workshop on Monday are almost sure to go out and spread the word about the quality of their products and the genuine integrity of the people behind them.
Happy whole foods mama, Jodi Lee, tries her bagel-shaping technique.
On the practical side…
If you want the rundown on how to make spelt bread you can link here.
Every loaf of Integrity Foods bread is baked in their wood-fired stoves.
**DATE CHANGED TO MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2011
I’m very excited to announce that Integrity Foods owner and ancient grains guru Dora Friesen is coming to Winnipeg for a one-day workshop organized by Soul Fude and 3Fish Media.
If you’ve ever wanted to go beyond the breadmaker, and learn to make delicious, whole grain bread by hand, this is your chance to learn with the best! Dora and her husband Cornie started Integrity Foods 11 years ago. Today their artisan bakery is widely recognized for its commitment to wholesome baked goods using ancient grains like spelt.
In this workshop, Dora will share her insight and expertise and will provide you with the hands on skills you can use in your own kitchen.
You will learn:
The incredible health properties of ancient grains like spelt
How to work with whole grains in any recipe!
A simple, no-fail method of bread making
How to make, bake with and store sourdough
Take home 2-3 loaves of spelt bread, a sourdough starter, and the traditional bread making secrets that have made Integrity Foods a baking success!
ONE DAY ONLY!
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2011
10 am -2 pm
641 ST MATTHEWS AVENUE (St Matthews-Maryland in the teaching kitchen) NORTH DOORS/PARKING AVAIL IN LOT ACROSS STREET
Cost: $45 (includes lunch catered by Integrity Foods)
Space is limited! Register HERE. You can use the soulfude contact form if you need more information.
My family has been enjoying the benefits of my day with Dora this fall. Spelt bread, buns and cinnamon buns – no matter what I try, it comes out perfectly every time! But you’ll get the added bonus of Dora’s experience with sourdough too!
Ever wonder why, with all the low-fat and fat-free products out there that we just keep getting fatter?
Well, consider for just a moment that fat is not a dietary villain. That’s right. Fat has been wrongly convicted (maybe you suspected it all along).
In the cookie-cutter model of beauty and health, fat was an easy target. It was easy to convince people that eating fat made you fat.
It’s a myth that’s only finally getting some attention. Maybe because it’s clear this strategy isn’t working. Maybe because it’s one that’s also damaging our health.
The prevalence of packaged foods claiming to be low fat and fat-free has skyrocketed in the past decade.
What many people don’t know is that fat – and cholesterol -plays an incredibly important role in our diets. It’s important to our brains and nervous systems and for adequate hormone production and balance. Fat is what makes us feel satisfied when we eat. You will likely recognize you are full far more quickly when you eat a small amount of something that is REAL and full fat, than when you eat the skinny, fat-free substitute.
What’s important is that we eat the right kinds of fat in the right amounts. Those may be nuts, seeds, fatty fish and full-fat dairy products. While this is important for everyone, it’s crucial for children. Their growing bodies and brains need healthy, nutrient-dense food sources. Low fat is not optimal because it it has been processed or altered in some way. Almost everyone needs more Omega 3 fatty acids in their diets. Omega 3s are found in flax seeds and flax oil, walnuts and wild salmon.
The ‘right’ amount of fat for you can vary depending on your age, height and weight. For the most part apply these simple rules:
Always choose something real (grown or raised ethically) vs something made in a factory or lab
Choose high quality, unrefined fats (virgin, cold pressed oils for example)
Get your fat from a variety of sources
Here’s an ‘Eat this, not that’ list you might want to consider. I am not saying, if you are vegan or vegetarian, you should be eating animal fats. This list is basically to cover a range of different eating styles. The main thing to remember is eating a whole food is always preferable to eating something refined.
Butter vs margarine
Whole egg vs egg white or egg replacement
Whole milk vs skim
Homemade salad dressing vs low fat dressing
Full fat (unhomogenized, when possible) yogurt vs low fat or 2 per cent versions
*Olive, sunflower, flax, pumpkin, safflower, coconut, hemp seed oil vs soybean or corn oil
*Some oils are more suitable for medium and high heat cooking because they are more stable. These include coconut oil, sesame oil and avocado oil.
For a more in-depth explanation on the important role of fats and health, you can take a look at this video by leading health authority Andrew Weil. He has an important message about soybean oil and the importance of ending soy and corn subsidies. Fats that Heal, Fats that Killby Dr Udo Erasmus is also a good read for anyone interested in fat facts.
And know today is a really great day. That’s because you can finally go to your fridge and throw out all of the weird-tasting low-fat food (with all the weird fillers you can’t pronounce or have never seen growing in a field) that doctors and dietiticians told you would make you healthy and beautiful. (Did you ever really like it anyway?).
“Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food.” – Hippocrates
I was recently at my favourite downtown grocery store when I noticed a really cool little chart that talked about the health benefits of certain fruits and veggies. It was such a visual and great way of remembering the powerful healing properties of these foods that I wanted to share it with you as well. Thanks to Jason at Mondragon for passing this on…
A sliced carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye… And YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
A tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopene and are indeed pure heart and blood food.
Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.
A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neocortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
Kidney beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.
Celery, bok choy, rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23 per cent sodium and these foods are 23 per cent sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
Avocados, eggplant and pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female – they look just like these organs. Today ‘s research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).
Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.
Sweet potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.
Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries
Oranges , grapefruits, and other citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.
Onions look like the body’s cells. Today ‘s research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.
Staying warm during a Manitoba winter can be a challenge.
Well, there are no two ways about it…we are in the bowels of another insanely cold, long winter on the Canadian Prairies. As someone who has experienced the energy, vitality, clear skin and mental acuity a raw and living food diet brings, this season presents a dilemma. That’s because, I have to admit, when it is -35 C outside, my body seems to expect warm food.
Extremes cause stress. If you are always worried about what you are (or are not) putting in your mouth, you will negate the health benefits you are trying to gain. Like so many other things in life, diet is all about balance. Rather than denying yourself a food based on some diet dogma, it’s best to listen to what your body is telling you – particularly when you are confident that you have nurtured your ability to do so.
It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter, eating a heavy, starchy, mostly-cooked and grain-based diet (the Standard American Diet or SAD for short), makes me feel awful. In the winter, without less opportunity to go outside, get lots of fresh air, exercise and sunshine, it has the added effect of making me depressed and prone to serious weight gain.
So, here’s where the balance comes in (particularly after the heavy holiday meals you were likely tempted with over the past couple of weeks). At this time of year, when I feel like I want something warm, I will make some quinoa or brown rice and put it on a bed of raw (uncooked) greens and/or vegetables. That way I can get that feeling of warmth and not completely stray from the benefits of eating raw and living foods.
Kale is packed with vitamins and minerals known to detoxify and prevent disease. There are many different varieties available.
Soups, of course, are making a frequent appearance in our kitchen these days. I do the same thing with soups – wash some kale and spinach (or whatever else I happen to have around) and layer it at the bottom of the bowl before ladling in a made-from-scratch delight like this Kale and Navy Bean Soup that I fell in love with the other day. I found this pretty simple to make and have even been eating it for breakfast.
Navy beans - so-named because of their status as a staple for the US Navy.
Here’s the recipe:
Kale and Navy Bean Soup
1 cup of navy beans (soaked overnight)
6 cups of water (I made vegetable stock in the morning and used that instead of vegetable broth powder (listed below))
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion or leek
1 large celery stalk with some leaves
1 large carrot, grated
1 small bunch kale (or collards)- thick stems removed and chopped
2 tsp thyme (I didn’t have any thyme on hand)
1 Tbs vegetable broth powder (I just made stock)
1 Tbs tamari (I used Bragg’s liquid aminos/soy sauce)
1-2 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste
1. Drain and rinse navy beans. Place in a medium sized pot with 6 cups water. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer until tender, about 1.5 hours.
2. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and gently fry onion or leek, celery and carrot, until vegetables soften. Add kale and fry a few minutes. *I just put the kale in last minute.
3. Add cooked beans to vegetable mixture along with cooking water, thyme, veg. broth, tamari, salt and pepper.
4. Simmer 15 minutes or so until kale is soft, taste and adjust seasoning.
*I set aside some of the kale as well as spinach and poured the soup over top of these greens to maintain some of the benefit and integrity of the live enzymes in these greens.
My mom – who owns a restaurant and can be pretty discerning – was in town visiting and loved it as well. In fact, she immediately wanted to to order the cookbook it came from – Enlightened Eating – by Caroline Marie Dupont. This book is more than a ‘cook’ book – it’s a guide to healthful and balanced living. It takes into consideration traditions and wisdom that stretch back over history and presents them in a way that is practical today. It is my ongoing top recommendation to anyone who will listen.
You’ll find delightful recipes- raw and cooked in this timeless and informative book by Canada’s own Caroline Marie Dupont.
Try it, see what you think and let me know. What’s your favourite winter soup recipe?