Monday, December 14, 2009

baby is almost here!

...not that any one is out there, but I needed to do this, log onto this poor abandoned blog and just write SOMETHING!
To get myself in the groove, ready for a new year, a new baby and a a fantastic new blog coming your way: committed to bringing friends and family up to date with all the happenings at the Elliot house hold, as well as all the new wonderful things I am learning on my "holistic family living" journey.

SO much has been happening since I dropped my blog ball.
I will do my best to fill in the gaps in the months ahead.

For now, I mean, for this week, I plan on delivering baby number two in the comfort of my own bedroom, with my entire family (yes, we have a couch in our room for optimal sideline viewing) present. Pregnancy has gone incredibly well and I have nothing to complain about, other than I am ready to kiss this little baby on the cheeks rather than feel its heel in my ribcage :)

So, stay tuned. I've got a new computer, a renewed excitement to blog and a little more determination to stay with it :)

Much love,


Monday, July 6, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Super Suds!

I am committed to using non-toxic products. Every once and a while I miss the gagging smell of pure bleach. After learning all about what is in most commercial products, coupled by the fact that I have an adventurous 2 year old always craving a good dive into unexplored territory, I will have to replace a good bleach whiff, for a good vinigar whiff...and both sort of clear you up!

I sort of gave up after making my own crazy soap concoctions with no real success. Under the guidance of some "green home" book I got on line, I was pouring 1/2 cup of straight borax and washing soda into my wash cycle. All my clothes faded and balled up like crazy, and I decided that the $13.99 spent on a gallon of 7th generation was a better deal than having to replace Nike pants every other load.
After seeing this recipe on a blog last week, I realized how concentrated this stuff is (for example, that same 1/2 cup of borax and 1/2 cup of washing soda makes 2 GALLONS of detergent) I now understand my error. Just because it is "all natural" doesn't mean its wimpy!
So, round two and I think have a winner! Grab your pencil, you are going to want to write this recipe down:

1 bar Fels Naptha soap
6 cups water
Grate the Fels Naptha laundry soap into a large pot of water, on medium heat until soap is dissolved
1/2 C washing soda
1 /2 C Borax
Add the washing soda and borax into the pot of soapy water and mix
Add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (I used lavender and lemon)
Grab two one-gallon containers (I'm reusing old laundry soap containers) and fill them half way with warm water.
Add half the mixture to each gallon container, then shake.
Fill the containers all the way with water, shake again, and let sit over night to gel.
If it gels too much, just add more water.

Use 1/4-1/3 cup of liquid detergent per load. (roughly .3Cents per load)

4 Fels Naptha bars, a box of borax and a box of washing soda is about $14 on line . I went to to order the products. They have more recipes on this website as well!
Happy soap making! And holey moley, happy savings!

Putting the name to the face...or the face to your food!

The Omnivores Dilemma
""...nobody was insisting I personally slaughter a chicken, but I was curious to learn how it was done and to see if I could bring myself to do it. The more I'd learned about the food chain, the more obligated I felt to take a good hard look at all of its parts. It seemed to me not to much to ask for a meat eater, which I was then and still am, that at least once in his life he take some direct responsibility for the killing on which his meat-eating depends". (p.231)

I didn't kill anything...directly. But when indicated in my last order to Green Hills Farm to "throw in something that would make my chicken stock gel the way yours does" what I took home in a plastic bag made me gag in my throat. Two bald chicken heads, with eyes half shut, tangled in a little baggie with 4 scaly yellow feet. This was the first hard look I have had in a while of the true ingredients in my food. I was proud of myself in some ways, for playing a part in not allowing such a valuable body part, if you consider a head to be important, to go to waste. The chicken was destined to end up in my freezer anyway, right?

The stock turned out fantastic, a rich golden color, semi solid in the glass jar in the fridge.
Still, I must admit, when I went to the pot to skim off the scum that had formed on the top, and I saw my little chicken friend bobbing around, I tried to push him down under a huge onion. Something about his little swollen face made me uneasy. But apparently he liked the fresh air because his little beak popped right up. Thanks little chicken head.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Super Tonics, super indeed!

"accuse not nature: she hath done her part:do thou but thine."
Digestive juices in the gut, Intestinal flora, and every cell in your body craves this stuff: it is the stuff every science lab is trying to conjure up into pill form and sell it to you with a pretty label. They would hate for you to know that for the price of a few Ball jars from the hardware store, a tub of yogurt and a few vegetables from your organic market, you could have, growing on your kitchen counter an amazing concoction of vitamins and enzymes far more available for your bodies absorption than anything some warehouse in New Jersey could ship to you. Beet Kvass:
1 half gallon ball jar: $1.98
1/4 Cup Whey (which can be "dripped" from a tub of plain yogurt $3.49...use the remaining yogurt as a cultured cream for a delicious butternut squash soup!)
3 medium beets $1.99
1Tbs Sea salt
Mix all ingredients in the jar, secure lid, and leave in a room temperature place with no direct sunlight and no electrical outlets near by (we wouldn't want genetically mutated mr. bacteria guys) for 3-15days...depending on how much of a kick you are going for!

-loaded with nutrients
-cleanses the blood
-promotes regularity
-aids digestion
-alkalizes the blood
-cleanses the liver
-treats kidney stones (better than mountain dew)
-enzymatic rich, insuring quality assimilation by the body

WOW! all for the low price of $7.49 (with a jar that can be re-used time after time), that is 128 one ounce servings, which is 5cents an ounce!...and it really doesn't taste that bad!
If anything, it can be added to home made dressings. Throw in a clove of garlic, some cilantro, you will never taste it:)

Ginger Ale

Where did we get this idea that when we are sick, saltines and corn syrup (labeled as ginger ale) would do anything to bring us refreshment from our icky state of being? Well, because it does! Ginger ale, the real deal, recipe as follows:
3/4 C ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 C fresh lime juice
1/2 C rapadura (unprocessed cane sugar)
2 tea sea salt
1/4 C whey (drippings from yogurt strained through a cheese cloth)
2 quarts filtered water, Three days sitting in the counter until the lid of the jar is nice and tight, indicating that the little bacteria guys have been busy, bustling away created lacto-fermented, refreshing "original soda".
And, as an added bonus, ginger is helpful as an anti-inflammatory, reliever of migraines, treatment for dizziness, fever, high cholesterol, indigestion, low libido in women, motion sickness and morning sickness, sciatica, sore throat, tendinitis, toothache, ulcers, viral infections worms, chronic fatigue, even body odor! (Green Pharmacy, by J. A. Duke, PHD)
-the mother of all weird organisms, the living creature of sci-fi, no one knows how to classify this "symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria". Monica said it is a hold-over from another time...erie music plays.
This mushroom like culture, feasts on black tea and white sugar, floating around in its room temperature glass container. (I know you are dying to see a picture...I haven't made one yet, but I will post it when I do)
Kombucha is the only thing besides the human liver that makes glucuronic acid, a powerful detoxifyer in the body. After it is done feasting and excreting, it makes a baby kombucha mushroom attached to its underside.
So next time your neighbor asks for a cup of sugar, throw in a baby "bouch" as well! I am sure they will thank you! (or puke in their mouth, depending on how you present it :0)

Recipe: boil 3 quarts of water, add 1 cup white sugar and steep 4 bags of organic black tea. Let the mixture cool in a bowl. Once the liquid is room temperature, remove the tea bags and add your baby kombucha culture. It wants to swim around in that beautiful mixture feasting, excreting and growing an off spring covered in a dark place for 7 to 10 days. The result is a delightful fizzy drink, that tastes nothing like sugar and tea, but more like yeast/cider and deliciousness! This spongy kombucha "pancake" can be stored in a glass container in the refrigerator until ready to be used again.

There you have it folks. Some refreshing super tonics. A strong competitor for what ever is in the medicine cabinet, the Gatorade bottle, and the soda can.
Bottoms up!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nutrient dense stock

Once again, I found myself embarrassed having no idea where stock came it just the drippings from meat after it has been cooked? This yellowish tinted water I buy in 1quart boxes from the grocery store was (and still is actually) surrounded in mystery, as the ingredients don't disclose much: "organic chicken flavor, Natural chicken flavor, onion powder, turmeric and organic flavor". No wonder I am confused!

Saturday mornings Nourishing Traditional foods class was going to be all about stock. I was stoked about stock!

Starting off class, Monica announced that it was best to show us the end product first, and talk through the preparations of this basic foundation of soups and stews since the beginning of time. She pulled the boiling stainless steel pot off the stove, poured it over a stock strainer and into a glass bowl. The brown mucky liquid instantly started separating, and I could see the sediments at the bottom, separate from the fat layer on the top.

Here is natures most abundant source of minerals in their most easily absorbent form as a "true electrolyte solution". None of the minerals work independently in and of themselves, and rely tremendously on one another to do their jobs well: as follows

calcium-this guy gets a lot of press for playing a vital role for strong bones and teeth. It is also needed for the heart and nervous system and for muscle growth. But did you know that you need vitamin D (fat soluble) in order to even absorb calcium? Throw out that skim milk people, and don't scrape that good fat layer off the top of the broth just yet.
sodium: essential to life! Needed to regulate water balance, fluid distribution on either side of the cell walls, supports the functions of the adrenal glands as well as maintains the acid-alkaline balance of the body.
chloride: This guy, in conjunction with sodium and potassium keeps acid-alkaline balance in the blood as well as the passage of fluids across cell membranes. Proper protein and carbohydrate digestion depend on this mineral.
Magnesium is needed for enzyme activity, calcium and potassium uptake, nerve transmission, bone formation and metabolism of carbohydrates and protein!
sulphur:keeps infections away, blocks harmful effects of radiation and pollution and slows down aging! These guys are the building blocks of cell membranes and supher is a major component of the gel-like connective tissue in cartilage and skin.

A good broth should turn into gel as an indicator that it came from a healthy animal. One that ate its natural diet, exercised with its animal friends, and enjoyed lazy days in the beautiful sunshine. A good broth should be the staple of every bowl of hearty soup served on the American table.
A good broth is a lot easier to make, and a lot less mysterious than I imagined, available to you in a few easy steps, which I will gladly pass along!

Beef Broth:
1. 7 pounds of bones "Meaty bones", which add flavor and color, roasted in the oven before adding to pot, and "boney bones" such as marrow and knuckle bones, these yield much gelatin, a very important ingredient in a well made stock.(this is a picture of the bones after they have been cooking for 75 hours)
2. 4 quarts of water (filtered of course)
3. the Trinity of all great soups=diced carrots, onion and celery
4. vinegar, just 1/2 cup will do. Let the vinegar sit in the liquid for an hour, as the acid is needed to pull the minerals from the bones.Now is the time to not cook, but "roll" the stock, uncovered on that stove for 24-72 hours baby! Oh yea.

Strain out all the pulverized chunks, pour into a bowl, and allow to cool.

This delicious mixture goes in the freezer and gets pulled out when you are in a bind and need to make a fast dinner. Throw in some veggies, garlic and there you have it, the real McCoy, the stuff nourishing soup is made of. Time to kick that can to the curb!
No "organic", "Natural" or "other flavors" here folks...just maybe a higher gas bill:)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Cooking Classes

Today was session 1 of 7 in this great new class I found hosted by Monica Corrado titled
"Cooking for Well-Being, Nourishing Traditional Foods".

Monica is a holistic nutrition counselor and whole food chef, and ran her own catering company that specialized in local, organic sustainable farming for the past 10 years. I was looking forward to meeting the woman who played a huge role in the CSA (community supported agriculture) movement, and has so much to teach me about real food, in particular, the craziness that fills the pages of my "Nourishing Traditions" cookbook, regarding, lacto-fermenting, culturing, sprouting... Nothing in this cook book is 'open a can of this' and 'use a packet of that', and quite frankly, it overwhelms me.

I pulled up to a small house, greeted and introduced to 6 other women, and was offered a cup of raw-organic, unpasteurized apple cider. Monica, in a white chefs coat, introduced herself to me with a cheerful smile, her salt and pepper hair didn't match her bright and youthful complexion. "its all the coconut oil I put on my face" she later told us. Today's class was going to be all about fat, and on the counter top were bowls full of different colored butter, a tray with olive oil, sesame oil and some sourdough bread, and a huge container of cream.
Oh dear, and I showed up hungry.

I already know that saturated fat such as butter (organic, cultured or raw) and coconut oil are the best types of fat for our bodies, and should be eaten with no reservation. As a trainer, when I tell my clients this, they look at me as if I just asked them to run a mile outside naked.

Here are a few facts about saturated fat we went over today:
*Saturated fat is required for the absorption of calcium and minerals. Throw away the skim people (and the USDA food guide pyramid for that matter), the daily allowance in order to actually use all those minerals, including vitamins A, D, E and K is actually 40%. Yes, 40% of our total daily calories should be coming from saturated fat

*Saturated fat actually builds immunity by fighting microbes in the gut: Extra Virgin, cold pressed coconut oil is anti microbial (great for the skin too!)

*fat in the arteries is only 26% saturated fat! (74% is unsaturated, while half of that is poly-unsaturated

*60% of the brain is composed of fat, therefore when you don't eat it, your brain chemistry feels like it just ran a mile outside naked! (paraphrased)

*50%, that is half, of our cells membranes are made up of saturated fat, and need fat to function

*Saturated fats protect the liver from toxins including alcohol (may be why wine and cheese are so perfect for eachother!)

*When your body eats too much saturated fat, the body converts it to mono-unsaturated fat (amazing) which lowers LDL and does not affect HDL

*Provides energy to the heart in times of stress (and as it turns out, heart disease is just as frequent in people with low cholesterol as in those with high cholesterol, and only 10% of your body's total cholesterol comes from diet anyway!

Oh, and I liked this one, for all my "egg white only" eating clients:
*In order to assimilate the protein in the egg white, you need the vitamin A in the yolk.

Okay, so eat butter right? Yes, but there is a scale from the worst to the best: As follows
Store bought, conventional butter: Think cheaply produced from factory farms, sucked cows that are wading in fecal matter, eating corn and enduring massive tummy aches, juiced up on anti-biotics and under a lot of stress, storing all sorts of toxins in the places we all store our toxins: fat...which is milked out of them, Ultra High Temperature pasteurized (which in this case, is why pasteurization was invented), churned into a block and trucked across the nation to your grocery store. Ick.
Organic butter: least the cows are fed organic grains (even though they really crave the green stuff) and not given anti-biotics. The milk is still pasteurized, destroying enzymes, which, like all pasteurized food, is bad news for your exhausted pancreas that has to work extra hard to digest the stuff.
Organic cultured butter: Much better. Now the organic living cow gets to make milk, that is pasteurized, and then re-introduced to healthy bacteria so your gut doesn't need to pay the pancreas overtime! Enzymatic active, hooray!
Organic Pastured RAW butter! Oh baby, scoop it up! Happy cow, eating grass roaming on a blissful pasture, making healthy milk, churning rich cream into something clean and unadulterated, full of enzymes (because enzymes are killed off at temperatures as low as 118degrees!) and nutrition.

And for our cooking lesson, we actually made butter.
I was shocked how simple it is. And embarrassed that I never knew what buttermilk really was.
It is in fact, for those of you who will admit with me that they are clueless here, milk from butter, literally, hence the label "butter-milk". The less moisture left in the butter, the longer it stays fresh, as the buttermilk in the butter is what turns sour first.
Pouring Monica's tub of cream into a food processor, we watched the cream turn into white whipping cream, then into something yellow and thick. We then poured the chunk out into a stainless steel bowl, squeezed the liquid out with a wooden spoon, and vuala, fresh, home made butter!
And to think I left my bonnet at home!
Here is Monica, holding our bowl of butta.

My take-away lessons for today:
*Throw out the Organic valley half and half, enzymaticly dead, homogenized (meaning fat particles are spun around and made so small that fat doesn't separate, which can create digestive issues) and stick to farmer John creamer. The real stuff.
*Pray that the Holy Spirit talks to Howard Schultz and convinces him that Starbucks needs to start supporting CSA's and incorporate real milk into the menu...or, face the fact, that when I go to S-Bucks, I may just need to drink my
*Stay away from the "Made with sunflower/cottonseed/safflower/canola oil" bad fats, cheaply produced, chemically extracted, highly heated, totally rancid and bleached to cover it combo when I buy processed foods.
*Use one of my billion Bed bath and beyond 20% off coupons to get a food processor (Christian, you reading this? :) and impress my family one day by running out of butter in the middle of some great meal preparation, and exclaiming "no problem! I have some cream, I will make it!" How cool will I be?!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our, three months ago.

Auntie Heidi and Naomi. Translation, free child care for Christian and I while we sailed on a Americas cup sail boat for 4 hours in St Marteen, wind in our hair, ocean splashing sea water on our sunkissed faces...
Just a day at the pool!

Home sweet home for our blissful 7 days 6 nights.


Walk on the beach, St Marteen.

Fancy Dinner, and Chrisian wearing a tie (because his wife made him!).

Naomi wearing Mommy's glasses, looking about as ridiculous as mommy does in them :)

Aaah! Didn't that, for a second, make you forget about the blistery cold January weather! Better late than never, our photos from our family vacation 2008. When I look at the pictures, I feel like I am back on that ship, crispy from too much sun, bloated from too much sugar, deliriously happy for the sheer joy of being with family with absolutely nothing to do but chill...I welcome you to our cruise...last November.

Naomi, here on the plane, so well behaved. She entertained everyone around us with her table top dance on the pull out trays.
I am sure the man sitting in the seat in front thought it was so cute :)