Monday, April 30, 2012

All About Grass Fed Beef Talk

Elizabeth Poett of Rancho San Julian will be giving a talk about the benefits of beef; when it's done the real way, the rancher way, the grass-fed way as we know it today. As I say 'it's all about quality'. Where is the beef coming from? What are the cows eating? What conditions are they living under? With vegetarian dieting on the rise and all the conflicting information regarding animal products this is a talk you won't want to miss. Come learn about Rancho San Julian, a ranch that I highly support and recommend to all Santa Barbara locals who want to feed themselves and their families high quality food.

Elizabeth Poett with her husband, Austin Campbell on the ranch in Lompoc, CA.
The event will be hosted by the Weston A. Price Foundation and held at Motion Unlimited. It starts at 6:30 pm this Thursday, May 3rd. For more information see this link.

You can also visit the Rancho San Julian website to learn more about the standards and history of their cattle ranching.

Learn more about Grass-fed beef on this post.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sugar: Harmless or Toxic?

CBS featured an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the latest studies demonstrating the harmful effects of sugar. It's startling. But what I find interesting is that this information isn't exactly new at all. Studies have been done for years now proving sugar to be quite toxic. It just seems to be taking our society some time to catch on. Sugar is in almost every processed food item on the shelves even organic ones. The main problem with sugar is the refining process not the pesticides. Don't be fooled by organic processed foods. Always read the ingredients, don't even waste your time reading all the labels or nutrition facts, just go straight for the ingredients list.
You will never hear me say 'a calorie in is a calorie out' as the reporter says was the old nutritionist motto. The quality of that calorie makes all the difference.There are in fact natural sweeteners that used in moderation have health benefits. Honey, maple syrup, molasses, and pure stevia are some wonderful options.

It's all to often that children are given candy, cupcakes or ice cream with little restraint. The common child begs 'Mommy can I have a fruit roll-up?' and the mother replies 'Okay, but that's it, you've had too much sugar today.' But how much is too much and do we even realize how much sugar our children are getting each day? Do we realize how much we ourselves are taking in? Probably not because very few of us actually read the labels of the packaged foods we eat. And even fewer of us actually eat foods that are not processed or packaged.
Please do NOT substitute sugar for artificial sweeteners. Key word: artificial. We don't want to put anything artificial in our bodies. We want to feed our bodies plenty of nutrient dense real foods as Dr. Sanjay Gupta stated. Foods that have been consumed by people for generations; fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, high quality eggs, fish, meats and raw dairy. These foods are full of all the right vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats that support good health.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bread and Butter

People have been consuming animal products in the form of meat, poultry, wild game, fish, eggs, raw milk, butter and other forms of dairy for centuries.  Weston A. Price, a prominent dentist of his time switched his focus to nutrition and began researching the diets of ancient cultures. He found that nearly all primitive cultures consumed a non-vegetarian diet and ate large quantities of foods with fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamin A and D. Butter, being one of the highest and most readily absorbed sources of Vitamin A, was a common food in the diets of most traditional cultures.

Now let's focus on quality because the butter you may be consuming or have in the past may not be anything like that of ancient cultures. Unfortunately, if you haven't heard yet our food and agricultural systems in America have dramatically altered the way livestock should be raised. Commercially raised cows produce milk that contains anti-biotics, hormones, pesticide residue and most importantly less nutrients. Butter made from this kind of milk is more damaging to your body than it is any good. Traditional butter on the other hand, churned from raw pastured cow's milk contains much higher levels of the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, the potent anti-oxidants Vitamin A, E and the commonly deficient mineral Selenium, while containing CLA a compound now shown to be highly protective against cancer. The process of pasteurization where milk undergoes high heating destroys the enzymes found in raw milk that make it such an immune boosting and nourishing food. The best and most nutritious of butters will be made from raw pastured cow's milk.* To further enhance the health properties of butter you can purchase a 'cultured' butter that has been inoculated with probiotics, the good bacteria found in our guts that supports our immune system and fuels our digestion.
Bread is a whole other topic so to keep this post from becoming a book I will only briefly touch on here. Traditionally most breads were made with a sourdough culture, yes that same word again. Culture. You will hear much of culturing and fermenting on this blog as these practices add health benefits to any food. When good bacteria are culturing in a food they are literally eating away at some sort of 'sugar' in order to keep thriving which produces a food full of probiotics. Exactly what our bodies need and want. Fermented, cultured and probiotic foods were consumed on a daily basis in all traditional cultures but are lacking in most modern diets.

During the process of dough becoming 'sour' as it cultures the chemical structure of the gluten in the flour is being changed and becomes much more easily digestible. Gluten is the difficult-to-digest protein found in wheat, rye, barley and spelt that has caused many health ailments in the recent decade. The traditional wisdom of home-making sourdough breads could prove to be of high benefit. The most high quality bread will be made from organic whole grain flours made with a sourdough.

As you see now this was not your ordinary 'bread and butter'. Most would hear the words, 'bread and butter' and think no way would would this be healthy but in fact it most certainly can be. It's the quality of what we are eating that can make all the difference in our health.

My favorite products:
-Organic Pastures Raw Cultured Butter 
-French Meadow Sourdough Rye
-Manna Sourdough Breads
Look for these at your local health food store. For bread you can check out the local artisan bakeries and see if they make a high quality sourdough bread, this bread was made at one of my favorite bakeries, Le Pain Quotidien.

For more information on Weston A. Price view the Weston A. Price Foundation website where you will find this article on 'Why Butter Is Better'.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Split Pea Soup

Nourishing, filling, warming and satisfying. Split peas are a powerhouse of nutrition, cooked in a long simmered bone broth with fresh vegetables, paired with a crisp salad on a cloudy day...absolutely perfect.
Split peas are inexpensive and a great source of fiber, plentiful protein and nutrients. They also make for an easy and simple soup recipe. Including a home-made bone broth in place of a store-bought high sodium broth makes this soup incredibly rich in minerals and alkalizing properties. Once you get in the habit of making your own bone broths you most certainly won't go back to store-bought. Learn more here. I used a chicken broth for this batch of soup but any would work just fine. If you could get a hold of high quality ham bone that would be the most traditional route.

The Recipe:
1 C split peas
1 quart bone broth, preferably home-made
1 large sweet onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 T basil
1 T parsley
2 t marjoram powder
1 bay leaf
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Soak the peas in a glass jar full of filtered water overnight.
2. Strain and rinse the peas. Place in your crock pot or dutch oven.
3.  Dice onion, mince garlic, and chop carrots and celery. Add to the peas.
4. Pour your bone broth over the peas.
5. Add basil, parsley, marjoram and bay leaf.
6. Cook on high for 6-8 hours as peas can be tough and take a while to cook down. If using a dutch oven bring to a boil and simmer on low for 2-3 hours.
7. Add sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to each bowl.
All Wholesome Practices recipes are made with the freshest and most pure ingredients, preferably organic or grown without the use of pesticides. 
The one trick with split peas in cooking them to perfection. It's a difficult task as the peas can sometimes seem to never get soft and mushy while other times I am surprised by how fast they cook up! There are certainly variations in cooking times so give yourself plenty of time when cooking this soup in case you have a batch that will take a little bit longer. Better to have a pureed split pea soup than crunchy :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival

Come out and celebrate Earth Day at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival at Alameda Park downtown. The event is free and there will be tons of local vendors and exhibitors, plenty of the best local and sustainable food, and lots of sunshine! The event is catered towards all ages and is certainly child friendly, there is a Kid's Corner exhibit with arts, crafts, storytelling at more.

Learn more at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival website and be sure to come join the fun! You can find me working the Weston A. Price Farm Booth Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Nourishing Benefits of Bone Broth

The benefits of a home-made, long simmered bone broth are endless. Completely endless, yet it's something very few of us actually take the time to make. Allow me to reveal to you the secret of bone broths: they are incredibly simple and incredibly satisfying.
Bone broths, properly prepared are full of minerals, vitamins, amino acids and other bio-available nutrients. Because of their high content of calcium and magnesium from the animal bones they are very alkalizing for the body, a nice contrast to the usual acidic foods in the standard American diet. They are full of the amino acids which are found in the gelatin of the broth. Gelatin has been traditionally use to help digestive issues such as peptic ulcers, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and even cancer. Gelatin contains arginine and glycine in generous amounts. Arginine is therapeutically used for enhancing immune function and wound healing while glycine is recognized for its calming effects. Bone broths are implicated in aiding anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders because of their high content of this amino acid.These broths are also excellent for joint health as they contain chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate and type II collagen, all supplements that reduce inflammation in arthritis and are quite costly. Might I suggest making a broth instead, especially because all of these compounds are in their most natural and easily assimilate form in a broth. Bone broths are used extensively in the GAP's diet, a healing protocol for gut and psychology syndromes, particularly autistic children and adults.
The list goes go on and on. But I hope by now you are convinced that the addition of bone broths to your diet are irreplaceable. Now let me show you how to properly prepare a wonderful home-made, long slow-cooked bone broth.
The Recipe:
1 whole free-range chicken carcass*
2-3 cups vegetables scraps
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 T apple cider vinegar
spring or filtered water

1. In a large crock-pot place your scavenged carcass bones, meat removed but include the fat, skin, gizzards and giblets if you have them. Do not include the liver as it can give a bitter taste.
2. Add any vegetables scraps you have. I used leek tops and kale stems in this broth but you could use celery tops, broccoli stems, cauliflower stems, onion tops, zucchini and yellow squash ends, the list goes on and on. Adding darker greens gives the broth more minerals.
3. Peel and add garlic cloves, no need to mince.
4. Add 2T apple cider vinegar or other vinegar. This will help leech the minerals like calcium out of the bones.
5. Fill your crock pot to the very top with water. Preferably spring, filtered, reverse osmosis , distilled or alkaline water.
6. Turn on low and leave for 24-48 hours.
7. Once ready let cool and strain through a sieve. Keep in glass jars in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 6 months.
8. Compost your bones and vegetables.
9. Leave all of the fat if you prefer!!
*Fish carcass, beef bone, marrow bone, lamb bone and other wild game bones are exchangeable.

Tips for making broth:
-Plan ahead and save any vegetable scraps so you have them when it comes time to make your broth.
-Always purchase a whole chicken as you get way more for your buck when you make a home-made broth.
-Buy your bones from a local ranch and be sure they are pastured, grass-fed animals. Beef bones can be brewed for up to 72 hours as they are quite hearty.

Tips for using broth:
-Obviously in any soup recipe.
-Cook grains like brown rice, quinoa or millet in broth instead of water.
-Steam saute vegetables in a little broth. 
-Make sauces like gravy or use as a marinade or baste.
-Drink as a warm, nourishing beverage in place of tea with celtic sea salt.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Whole Nine Yards with Whole Chicken

Let's look at how to stretch those pennies on your purchase of a whole free-range chicken. We'll use Mary's Chickens from Pittman Family Farms one of my favorite farms that has ratings Step 3 and Step 5 for their farming practices according to the Global Animal Partnership. Their free-range chicken costs $2.29/lb locally, so about $9 for a 4lb chicken.**

Use 1: Slow roast your whole chicken, see recipe here. Serve with salad, vegetables, potatoes, brown rice or other grains and your 4lb chicken should satisfy four to five people. Note that a healthy portion of meat per serving is about 4oz, the size of the palm of your hand and the size of a deck of cards thick.
Use 2: Take your carcass and pick off every little piece of meat left on those bones. Save for enchilada or taco filling, chicken soup, or tossing on a salad.
Use 3: Save the drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan. These are called the poultry drippings, or poultry fat and are wonderful to use for cooking in place of processed, vegetable oils. You can also add them to your soups as they make a wonderfully gelatinous broth.
Use 4: In a large dutch oven or crock pot, place your scavenged carcass, the neck and the giblets if you have them, any vegetable scraps, a dash of vinegar and brew your own bone broth for at least 24 hours. Depending on the size of your pot you should be able to make at least 2 quarts of the most nourishing and healing broth. Keep refrigerated for a week or freeze the broth for up to 6 months.

 Your broth can be used for various things including:
-Cooking grains like brown rice, quinoa or millet
-Making soups
-Home-made sauces like gravy
-As a baste or marinade for meats
-A nourishing warm beverage

 A carton of high quality chicken broth cost about $3 and will still not have near the health properties of your home-made, long simmered bone broth. That's $6 right there which means you spent about $3 for the meat portion that could last for two meals. Sounds like we outstretched those pennies to me!

**Having researched this farm I have found that the chickens are truly free-ranged and being raised in a healthy, clean environment. They also have a free-range chicken that is being fed 'certified organic' food. It is an excellent quality chicken but will be more expensive as the price for certified organic feed is higher. This chicken costs $3.79/lb locally and is a great choice as well. Read more on this topic here.**

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pasture Raised Chicken

The benefits of a high quality free-range chicken that has roamed the farm eating freely of the grasses, weeds and other greens sprouting up is surely to outweigh the costs in comparison to commercially raised chicken. Allow me to demonstrate.

Commercially raised chicken are:
-Fed pesticide laden food with the possibility of pieces of chicken, meat, feces or an overabundance of grains
-Pumped with growth hormones
-Raised in crowded conditions
-Forced to live in filthy industrialized cages
-Fed anti-biotics because they carry diseases
-Never see the sun or even any light
-Often can not walk because they're leg muscles can not keep up with the growth of their 'breasts'
-Chilled in water before packaged which creates an increase in weight and therefore price
-Injected with sodium or MSG during processing

While on the contrary free-range chicken raised on humane and sustainable farm will:
-Roam freely absorbing plenty of Vitamin D from the sun-Eat bugs, sprouts, grasses and other foliage coming up naturally from the earth
-Fed a natural vegetarian diet with healthy proportions of legumes, grains and vegetables
-If certified organic then all the feed is guaranteed to be produced without the use of pesticides, fertilizers or GMO's
-Void of anti-biotics, growth hormones and any steroids
-Often be air chilled instead of thrown in baths of water, look for 'air chilled' on the label
-Contains higher quantities of the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids and a healthier ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids
Pasture raised chicken are of the highest quality and won't be found by merely looking for a label on the packaging. Labeling gets incredibly confusing, especially with organic certification. Often times large scale farmers cheat the system by making only the minimal changes necessary to their farm in order to achieve the 'organic' certification. The chickens may still be in the same dark cages but are now being fed 'certified organic' food whether it be from their natural diet or not. Yes, they are not fed anti-biotics or other growth hormones but are we back to true farming yet? Not quite. Don't get me wrong certified organic chicken are much better than any commercially raised variety but certified organic labeling can cost you some extra pennies we may not all have. The 'certified organic' food is going to cost the farmer more so he has to raise the prices in order to keep up with this demand. Pastured chicken should have unlimited access to the outdoors, to roam in the sun, to eat from the natural foliage sprouting up. The quality of the meat is different based on the animals diet and lifestyle. Pasture raised is as it always has been and as it should still be today.

So how do you know when you go to buy your chicken? If you are at your local farmer's market ask questions, do not be shy, farmer's should enjoy telling you about how they raise their animals. Go see the farm when the opportunity arises. Research companies by looking on their website and find out about their farming practices. Whole Foods has partnered with Global Animal Partnership to label the quality of the animals life on the farm based on a 5 Step Program. Support farmers who truly allow their animals to roam on pasture, it's better for their health and much better for your health.

 Favorite pasture raised chickens:
-Mary's Chickens from Pittman Family Farms can be purchased locally at Lazy Acre's Market

I understand that cost is an issue and often holds people back even when they understand the benefits. Stay tuned to learn how to stretch out your purchase on a good quality chicken and see how economical it really is!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

GAP's Diet Presentation

The GAP's Diet: Gut and Psychology Syndrome

How are the gut and the psychology of the mind related? Well to start almost 80% of the body's immune system resides in the gut and is based on the bacteria that live there. There are anywhere between 400-800 different species of bacteria living in the gut at any one time. A healthy immune system is largely based on having a thriving population of good bacteria that can keep the bad bacteria safely in check. However, for centuries our diet and lifestyle in America have contributed to an epidemic of dysbiosis; a condition of unbalanced gut bacteria where good bacteria levels are too low and bad bacteria have overgrown. Hence all this talk about probiotics in the recent years. We are beginning to feel the effects of this condition in our guts. It's become such an issue that it is also effecting the way our brain functions and in young children the way their brains develop. When food particles are not fully digested due to a lack of good bacteria, they begin to ferment in the gut and send chemicals directly into our bloodstream and up to the brain.

Frightening? Yes, it most definitely is but what is most encouraging is that our bodies are quite resilient and provided the right dietary support, nutrients, and lifestyle they have the ability to heal themselves. I have personally experienced this, as you can read about in My Story, and am here to tell you that you can too.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is hosting an event this Sunday, April 15th at 4:00pm at Motion Unlimited. The address is 333 De La Vina Street Suite E, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. More information on the event can be found here.

Meridan Grace, a Certified GAP's Practitioner will be giving a lecture and then opening up a forum for discussion. She is trained by Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of The GAP's Diet and founder of the Cambridge Nutrition Clinic where she specializes in treating children and adults with learning disabilities. You can read more about the GAP's Diet and Dr. Campbell-McBride on the GAP's Website.

If you have a child suffering from Autism, Autisitic-like symptoms or other learning disorders this lecture is a great place to start learning about the GAP's diet. Another resource will be Dr. Campbell McBride's book which you can purchase here. This book will give you greater understanding on gut and psychology issues and walk you through the healing process.

For further inquiry about the GAP's diet and how it can assist you in experiencing better health view my contact information under Contact Us to set-up an appointment for personal Nutrition Educating on this topic.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Slow Roast Chicken, New Potatoes and Vegetables

After much anticipation the launch has passed and now the posts begin. All week long I have pondered my first post. Where do I begin? A nutrition tip? A recipe?

And here we have come to this wonderful Easter dinner of Slow Roast Chicken, New Potatoes and Vegetables. How could I not post this? Chicken so tender it falls off the bones. Yukon gold potatoes so creamy, moist and golden they don't even need butter. The sweet flavor of roasted alliums; onions and heirloom garlic. Sweet carrots and cooked celery add flavor to every bite. While the cherry on top of this aromatic dinner will always remain the savory juices that have developed at the bottom of the pan and are liberally drizzled all over your plate. This gelatinous broth is full of heart healthy oils and fat soluble vitamins. Enjoy without hesitation.

Where to begin with this seemingly extravagant yet ever so simple dinner? First: The chicken. You'll want to find a high quality chicken. Whether you choose a local ranch or your grocery store be sure you're getting free-range and preferably organic. A free-range chicken that is not 'certified organic' may actually be a better choice than a 'certified organic' chicken. Chicken that are free-range are more natural in that they are roaming the farm and chicken coops freely absorbing plenty of Vitamin D from the sun and actively using their muscles. A 'certified organic' chicken could be cooped up all day long but fed a 'certified organic' food. This is where the certification of 'organics' can get complicated as larger companies cheat the system. It's best to research a company and choose one that you trust. You will pay more and every penny will be worth it. Stay tuned for ways to stretch your purchase on a high quality chicken and feel like you are getting your moneys worth.

Next: the potatoes and veggies. Best bet is your local farmer's market where you'll find the latest in season and freshest foods. These New Pink Fingerling, Purple, and Yukon Gold Potatoes from a local farmer in Santa Barbara are my absolute favorite potatoes and I wait every year until the season begins again. Last: the cookware. Always cast iron, enameled and ready for slow roasting. If you don't own a Dutch oven, you should. It will probably be one of those things in the years to come that you will look back on and wish you had just bought when you first thought about it. You will use it not often but ALL THE TIME as you begin to learn the benefits of slow roasting meats and brewing bone broths. 

The Recipe:
1 whole chicken, giblets removed
1-2 large onions
1 head of garlic
2-3 carrots
2-3 stalks of celery
3 large yukon gold
6-8 purple potatoes
6-8 pink fingerling
rosemary twig
sea salt 
Freshly cracked black pepper

1. Rinse the chicken and place in your dutch oven. Pour about a half a cup of water in the pan to get the juices started.
2. Dice celery and carrots. Peel garlic and leave whole. We diced our onion as you can see but afterwards realized that larger chunks would have been preferable.
3. Layer around the chicken. Add potatoes.
4. Rub plenty of freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper, some fresh rosemary twigs and cover with lid.
5. Place in the oven on 275° for 3-4 hours or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 185°. 

I'm wanting to eat all over again. It's never to late for seconds is it?

Happy Easter.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

It's Finally Here!

Many of you have been waiting ever so patiently while I work on putting this blog together. While it's being launched much later than I originally intended, it's finally here and open to the you as a wonderful resource for wholesome living. As a Bauman College student, I am beginning my practice as a Nutrition Educator and working in the community to bring about an awareness of the impact of food choices, sustainability, and holistic nutrition. Thank you for your support and please, please, please enjoy as you review the Wholesome Eating, Shopping and Kitchen sections of the blog. Be sure to read About Me and My Story and to view the Services tab to learn more about how I can help you on your journey toward a healthier life. Stay tuned for upcoming posts, food news, recipes, nutrition tips and more!