Monthly Archives: March 2010

No Grain Honey Bread

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist March 31, 2010

no grain honey breadMy post on no grain muffins last month proved to be very popular, so I am posting another no grain recipe I use frequently in our home. This particular bread recipe uses coconut flour instead of nut or bean flours.    Baked goods made out of coconut flour tend to have the consistency of Sara Lee pound cake.   When I was a gradeschooler, my breakfast often consisted of a slice of Sara Lee pound cake with some peanut butter smeared on top. Not an ideal healthy breakfast, by any means, but I do have a soft spot for the soft, spongy texture of pound cake even to this day!

If you love pound cake as I do, chances are you will like this wonderful alternative to the typical wheat based pound cakes.   The bread does have a hint of coconut flavor, but it is not overwhelming and does not detract from complete enjoyment of the texture and overall flavor of the bread. This bread does not get completely brown on top like wheat based pound cake, but the texture is quite similar. This bread is also very low carb and unbelievably filling for those of you who are limiting them for health or weight reasons. It’s amazing how just one slice fills you up.

No Grain Honey Bread

6 eggs
5  Tbl butter, melted (sources)
6 Tbl coconut milk or whole milk (sources)
6 Tbl honey (sources)
1/2 tsp sea salt (sources)
1 tsp vanilla (sources) or make your own
1/2 cup sifted coconut flour (sources)
1/2 teaspoon, no aluminum baking powder (sources)
5 drops stevia (sources)

Whisk together eggs, butter, coconut milk, honey, sea salt, vanilla, and stevia.    Mix coconut flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and then sprinkle this dry mixture in with the wet ingredients a bit at a time.    Once everything is mixed, keep whisking until the batter is very smooth with no lumps.   Pour into a glass loaf pan and bake at 400 F/204 C for 20-25 minutes or until loaf starts to slightly brown on top.

Makes 1 medium loaf, 12 muffins, or 24 mini muffins.

I LOVE a slice of this bread with some Arrowhead Mills organic creamy peanut butter on top.  Why Arrowhead Mills?  Because this company sources their peanuts from the Southwest USA where mold in peanuts is very rare. My husband and kids like it with a big slab of butter and a bit of raw honey.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

28 Comments

Nature’s Best Mosquito Control

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist March 30, 2010

A few years ago, I took my children to a summer program at the local library put on by the Florida Bat Conservancy (http://www.floridabats.org/).    For those of you unfamiliar with the habits of our winged mammalian cousins, bats spend their days sleeping in a warm, enclosed space (like a dead tree trunk) and come out at dusk to start feasting on insects all night long.   In the case of the Florida bat, mosquitoes are the insect of choice.     One bat can consume up to 3000 mosquitoes in a single night!

By the end of the very informative, entertaining lecture (complete with live bats), I was convinced that the best way to control mosquitoes on our 2 acre property was to install a bat house.    My husband located an average sized bat house that could serve as the sleeping quarters for up to 30 bats (they really pack themselves in tightly).    We figured out which tree in our front yard got enough direct sunlight during the day to qualify as an “ideal” bat house location, borrowed our neighbors giant ladder, and installed the house about 20 feet high.  

Then, we waited.    And waited.    And waited some more ….
After 3 years of eagerly anticipating a family of bats to take up shop in the bat house, I honestly forgot we even had one!    The Bat Conservancy had warned me that it might take awhile for the bats to find the house, especially since the numbers of native Florida bats are dwindling due to rapid loss of habitat.     At the time, I thought six months might be the longest amount of time we might have to wait.    After 3 years, though, I had basically given up all hope!

Well, never give up hope where nature is concerned!  About a month ago, I casually mentioned to my husband that there didn’t seem to be any mosquitoes at all around our front porch and that I could sit out at dusk and not be eaten alive like in years past.  This unusual lack of mozzies despite the extremely wet winter we’ve had and the enormous amount of standing water in the swamps and ponds around the neighborhood.  Funny that it didn’t even occur to me that the bat house might finally be occupied!

This past Friday night was a beautiful evening at our house, dry, cool and clear.  Perfect spring time weather.   Suddenly, one of my  boys comes racing into the house and shouts “Mom, we’ve got BATS!”   Excitedly, I ran outside to witness a family of bats, swooping and diving in the fading sunlight as they feasted on the airborne insects in our front yard!

If you haven’t considered a bat house for your home, I highly recommend it.    Even if you don’t have a tree to attach one to, you can attach one to a pole instead.    You may have to wait awhile (hopefully, not 3 years!), but like many of the best things in life, it is so worth the wait!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

10 Comments

“Organic” Becoming a Meaningless Food Label

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist March 29, 2010

When my husband and I began eating organic produce and meats back in the early 1990′s, the word “organic” was almost a sacred word in the food industry.   It represented whole foods with no additives or fillers.    Organic meats typically came from small family farms where animals were treated in a fashion that allowed them to express the individuality of their species.   Cows were on pasture and chickens ran free outdoors.  Organic certification did not cost a fortune for a farm to obtain and was typically performed in accordance with California and/or Oregon state law which was much stricter than the costly USDA Organic certification of today.

No longer.   Bit by bit, the organic label has eroded over the years into a term that is becoming increasingly irrelevant to those who seek truly unadulterated foods for their families.    I try to stifle a laugh when people tell me that they are switching to organic foods to improve their health.    Sorry to burst your bubble, but eating “organic” today does not mean much of anything.    Organic milk, one of the biggest growth niches for the USDA Organic label, may come from cows not given antibiotics or steroids, but it is actually more highly processed than regular store milk (ultrapasteurized versus pasteurized) and the cows are probably just as confined as the cows producing standard store milk.   Perhaps the “organically fed cows” are fed stale organic donuts from a nearby bread factory instead of a commercial grain mix.      Not much of an improvement for the huge difference in price!    Better to find a small local farm with milk from grassfed cows free on pasture.    Grass is the appropriate staple food for cows .. not organic donuts!  

Without a doubt, the definition of eating “organic” for most Americans is switching from highly processed foods at the supermarket to highly processed foods at the same store with the USDA Organic label.      The fact that WalMart now sells organic foods clearly heralds the imminent death of the Organic label for folks like me.    The USDA Organic certification has now become nothing more than yet another way to dupe customers into spending more money for something that has next to no additional value.  

Interestingly, the small farms that are currently producing the REAL organic food usually don’t even bother to seek USDA Organic certification as it has become cost prohibitive in most cases.   Consumers who want true organic food must now seek local farms, local food co-ops or buying clubs for their staples.    Truly organic foods aren’t even available in stores in many cases.    Clearly, the PURE FOOD movement, the movement beyond Organic, has begun in earnest.

I had a very enlightening conversation with one of my favorite people the other day, Chef Tony from Cafe Eden of Abby’s Health and Nutrition in Tampa, FL.     Chef Tony is a REAL chef (are you listening Michael Voltaggio?).     A REAL chef  is someone who not only knows how to cook (and has the education to back it up), but also cooks to maximize nutrition and absorbability of nutrients.   A REAL chef also knows that you NEVER FRY GNOCCHI IN CANOLA OIL (Food and Wine, April 2010).   How could Michael Voltaggio actually have won Top Chef?    What a farce.     Chef Tony .. now, that is a REAL chef!

Anyway, Chef Tony was telling me that in the span of a single year, the USDA increased the number of allowable fillers and additives in USDA Organic foods from 8 to nearly 300!!   The push for expansion of fillers and additives in USDA Organic food is coming from none other than Big Food.    Big Food companies like Kraft, Cargill, Heinz, Kellogg and others are gobbling up small organic food companies by the dozens while at the same time, diluting the very meaning of the “organic” label itself.     Check out the links to the 2 charts below to get some idea of how devastating this trend is to the Organic Foods industry.  

Organic company acquisitions by Big Food in 2002
Organic company acquisitions by Big Food in 2009

Big Food clearly has its sights on dominating the Organic Food industry and if you want to stay healthy, you need to steer clear of foods that are produced by any of the companies on these charts if at all possible.

The PURE Food Standard is where REAL health and wellness lies.    PURE foods are health giving and nutrient dense.    Traditional Cultures consumed these foods as described by Dr. Weston A. Price in his landmark book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”.    Further, PURE foods are prepared with traditional cooking methods to maximize nutrient density in a way that the human digestive tract can easily absorb.    Don’t settle for anything less and don’t fall for the marketing hype behind the USDA Organic label.  Your health depends on it.

Please comment with any personal stories you may have regarding the dilution of the organic label.  Perhaps there was an organic brand that you used for years that has suddenly (and without warning) changed it’s ingredients for the worse (usually after being bought by a Big Food company).     This happened to me with French Meadow’s “Summer Bread”.   This bread used to be wonderful .. baked in a traditional sourdough manner.   Now that French Meadow is owned by Cargill, gluten has been added to the ingredients list (adding gluten only benefits company profits.   It makes the bread more dependable for holding together during shipping but MUCH LESS digestible for the consumer)!    Make sure you check the labels of your favorite organic brands frequently as this is not an isolated case.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

8 Comments

Video Thursday: How To Make Kombucha – Part 2

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist March 26, 2010

As promised, here is the second part of Video Thursday’s “How to Make Kombucha” series. Please comment with any questions or concerns about anything I talk about in the video. I would be happy to answer your questions based on my experience making kombucha over the years. Next week for Video Thursday, I will cover advanced topics in making kombucha and show you how to make huge batches easily for your home and the method I have devised for this purpose.

Where to Buy Kombucha Cultures

Please do not buy your culture from Laurel Farms as they are having serious delivery issues.  Please go to my Resources page to find sources that will ship you a culture promptly.

Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

82 Comments

Kombucha: What it is and How to Make it

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist March 25, 2010

This week’s video how-to shows you how to make probiotic filled, bubbly, tasty kombucha yourself in your own home! Kombucha is a traditionally fermented, probiotic filled beverage originally from China made with black or green tea and sugar.Brewing kombucha

Kombucha has been consumed for hundreds of years and, through extensive testing in Russia, proven to be an effective overall body detoxifier through the binding of the organic acids in the kombucha to all manner of toxins present in the body. Once tightly bound to the organic acids, the toxins are then rushed to the kidneys for excretion.

Russian communities that drink a lot of kombucha do not suffer from the cancer epidemics that plague folks who live near that country’s toxin spewing factories — even when the local flora and fauna are dying!    Moreover, the Soviet Union before the fall of the Iron Curtain used kombucha as one of its secret weapons in the training of its Olympic athletes — the athletes would drink up to 1 quart of kombucha per day while training to prevent lactic acid from accumulating in the muscles (lactic acid =  sore muscles).   So, athletes drinking this brew would be able to train harder and longer than athletes who did not drink kombucha.

The best thing about kombucha is that is is bubbly, delicious, and extremely hydrating.  It very adequately replaces all the sports drinks and sodas that everyone seems addicted to today.   My family has been drinking kombucha for almost 9 years now and it’s longstanding reputation for preventing gray hair is astonishing.

Kombucha Video How-To

I tried to make this beginner video on how to make kombucha as short as possible, but there is simply so much information to cover that the end result turned out to be about 20 minutes long. I am posting the first 10 minutes below and the last half is posted in the next lesson.

For those of you experienced with kombucha making already, these videos (part 1 and part 2) cover how to make large batches and other advanced topics.

My hope is that this video will show you how so very easy it is to make healthy, probiotic filled, tasty beverages in your home that you will be able to kick the soda habit and replace these health robbing drinks with traditional, bubbly alternatives. My kids love kombucha and have been drinking it for the 9 years I’ve made it.

I also drank it while pregnant and breastfeeding, so realize that this drink is a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. One word of warning .. go slow when you first start drinking it. Start with just a couple of ounces a day and build up to 8-12 oz per day over the span of about a week. This drink is very cleansing and helpful to the body, but overdoing it at the beginning can give you a bit of a headache, so go easy!

I realize that those of you watching this video will probably have many more questions than I thought to cover while shooting this video. Please comment in the section below this blog and I will be more than happy to answer them.

Years ago, I used to teach Traditional Cooking classes in my home and at local healthfood stores around town. Those classes were always limited in the number of people who could attend based on the size of the room. It is so exciting to actually be able to post this type of information on my blog and as many people who want to see it can view it and benefit from it!

Where to Buy Kombucha Cultures Plus Starter

Please do not buy your culture from Laurel Farms as they are having serious delivery problems.  Please go to my Resources page to find sources that will ship you a culture promptly.

More Information

Want to know more about kombucha?  These articles provide more detail for your research.

Fluoride in Kombucha: Should You Be Concerned?
Can Candida Sufferers Drink Kombucha?
Does Kombucha Prevent Grey Hair?
Batch vs Continuous Brew Kombucha
Have You Tried Kombucha?
Safe Traveling with Kombucha
Kombucha: Drink It and Wear It?

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

121 Comments

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