Saturday, January 16, 2010

Healthy Eating on a Budget

I am often asked the following question...or more frequently told..."eating healthy is expense" the person then goes on to explain why they cannot eat healthy or asks me how we can afford to eat so healthy.

To be honest with you, I am really grateful that when I had my health scare a couple of years ago that I was able to completely take out all food from my kitchen that I considered "part of my problem" and replace it with all the wonderful seeds, grains, sweeteners, milks, cheeses, fruits, veggies etc. that I wanted to - without worry about cost. 

However, when my husband merged his company with his former business and the focus was on building the business we had to pay ourselves the bare minimu to get by.  We had two homes, we drove big expensive gas guzzeling cars and yet suddenly we found ourselves unable to even afford the gas to get me to workout with my dance friends in Orem 3 times a week.  I didn't rehearse with my friends for nearly an entire year and I was able to see - no experience - first hand how you CAN eat whole foods on a budget. 

Here are some things I learned...

Look for ways to get FREE products.  Examples...

Wanted: Raspberry Leaves

I posted an add on the classifieds asking if anyone had organic raspberry bushes that I could come get the leaves from.  This was to make raspberry tea which is a great "female herb" because it excretes mucus from the female organs and helps to tone those organs for pregnancy.  You will find the herb in the formulas for the last 5-6 weeks of pregnancy.  Anyway, in the stores it costs about $25 a bag.  I went with my daughter and we had a really fun time picking the leaves and came away with about $125 worth of of herbs.

Wanted: Fresh Fruit

It is amazing to me how many people have fruit trees in their yards who simply need someone to help pick the apples, the peaches, the cherries, etc.  If you keep your eyes open to opportunity I feel you will be lead to people who will give you fruit in exchange for helping them pick it.

Wanted: Food going to Waste

I went to a farmers market (during our so-called family depression) and looked around at everything.  There was a box of green, yellow and red peppers that were on the verge of going bad.  I asked the guy if he could give me a good deal on the ones that were about to go to waste and he gave them to me for practically free and threw in a box of chilli peppers that were also about to go to waste.  I can't remember where I bought the onions from - it may have been at that same stand, but with the onions and peppers I went home and sliced them in a stir-fry cut and bagged them according to meal size.  That mad a ton of fajita mixes.  We had tortillas all through the winter - probably once a week with all that I had made.  I still use the chilli peppers that I dried and then ground - which filled a quart jar.

Herbs

Grow your own herbs...grow your own salad greens...they grow quickly and replenish themselves quickly...plus they are hard to kill.

Seeds, Nuts and Grains

Because of my health scare years before our financial famine...I had a freezer full of all kinds of seeds, nuts and grains.  I drawed from information from Raw Food Cooks and was amazed at the milks I could make from the seeds, I could make a yummy whipping cream tasting concoction using walnuts, water, using the blender and agave...I made tahini with the sunflower seeds, and a REALLY Yummy meat loaf dish out of mostly nuts and dried tomatoes from a recipe out of Juliano's "The Un-Cook Book". 

Sprouting

One of the recipes, or I should say, couple of recipes I love out of "Nurishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon is her recipe for Kimchi and Gingered Carrots.  Kimchi in the store is REALLY  Expensive.  I'm talking $20 for a quart jar of it, and the recipe calls for Napa Cabbage, Carrots, Onions, Sea Salt, Ginger, Garlic and Red Peppers...which after I make 4 quarts of it I probably end up spending $8 for the ingredients which makes $80 worth of Kimchi plus the yummy Gingered Carrots with use just the shredded carrots, shredded ginger and sea salt.  (In Hawaii they eat their eggs with Kimchi - I use the gingerd carrots in salads, on sandwiches, in rice...I LOVE the taste of it and don't need salad dressing when I use it in my salads).

I do keep sprouts on hand at all times.  I am nearly finished with my 3 lb container of Alfa Plus seed mix.  I had to laugh when we went to Disney World and I saw my son putting his sprouts over the chips he was eating.  He looked up at me and said "what" in his deep little boy voice as sprouts stuck out all around his little mouth. 

Another side note about Disney World.  It was my turn to wait with the three younger kids while my husband took our oldest son on a ride. (This was after the financial famine) While we were waiting my kids were wanting something to snack on and so I pulled out my sea weed sheets.  I can't remember what else they were muching on...probably nuts and graps or something, but there was a japanese couple who walked by us...their heads turned back to us in awe as they watched my kids snacking on their sea weed sheets I'd cut into little chip like squares.  They then looked up to me with a big smile on each of their faces and they each gave me a very proud nod of respect.  My heart about burst.  In one nod and smile I felt their praise...and I felt glad that my kids were eating so healthy.

Meat

Now about buying organic - pasture feed meat.  I don't consider meat healthy if it is free of growth hormones.  I want to know that the animal was cage free and fed on a diet as God intended.  I like to know that the cow meat we buy were from cows that were pasture fed.  I've attended many classes and read in several books about how the diet of the animals effects the alkaline or acidic state of the animal and in return our food.  You may not have catched it, but watch Food Inc. and in it they comment about how the workers (using gloves) lose their finger nails...due to the acidity of the meat.  Yuck....

Anyway, try searching out farmers who will sell you a "quarter cow" around fall time.  Then you have your meat for your family during the winter at a great price per pound.  I neighboor of mine just told me the other day she was buying a calf from her cousin for around $500 and then paying for it to be pastured.  Now when that calf grows up it is going to provide a LOT of meat.  My neighboor could probably go in with others and reduce her cost to practically nothing.  A quarter cow is a lot of meat and it feeds our family of 6.  She could really split the cost with 3 other families putting her cost at around $150 for a quarter of a cow - where I paid almost $500 for my quarter of a cow.  This friend is a really SMART shopper.

If you are able to...raise chickens.  Eat the eggs, eat the chickens.  I guarantee that when a person eats meat that they've raised there is a new found respect and reverence for the food they are eating.  Please make sure to feed the animals and care for them in a way that would give you in return the health investment you are seeking.

Buying in Bulk

You may need to buy organic veggies and fruit in bulk...perhaps frozen...and even meat...to save money over time.  You can package smaller portions, date the freezer bag contents, and that way you also eat smaller portions at each meal.  When I had to ration the food we ate it was nice to pull one freezer bag of a family size veggie portion as opposed to opening over and over again the bulk bag.

I KNOW that you can eat healthy on a budget.  I friend of mine - who I was on a dance company with, would grow a garden because her husband was a sales man and their income fluctuated a lot.  She was amazing with her ability to cook with what she had.  You can buy grains like Amaranth, Quinoa, Gluten Free Oatmeal, buckwheat, flax seed, chia seed, corn (to grind) and rice and make wonderful recipes from them.

I'm starting to fade a little and so I'll end here.

Please know that if you "seek" you shall "find".  It was amazing how when I really "needed" food it would come out of surprising places. People would drop off squash to us, tomatoes from their gardens without knowing how tight things were for us.  We dropped all the unneccessary activities, my husband downgraded my car...and we continued to eat healthy and I learned so much from the process.

If you have the room in your yard please have a garden put in....plant fruit trees, maybe a walnut tree, some berry bushes and if you have the room why not have chickens of your own...perhaps a goat.

It is really FUN to eat healthy, and I LOVE seeing how healthy and strong my children are mentally and physically.

Love,

Steffanie

Herbs de Province

When I was recovering from the birth of my last baby, a friend of mine (Native French Citizen- lovely french accent) brought me over a chicken and rice dish that was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!  Her secret ingredient.... "Herbs de Province".  She cooked the rice, she cooked the chicken, then she added a can of canned tomatoes (diced) and added Herbs de Province and Sea Salt.  SOOOOO Yummy.  I kept questioning her saying "that's all....nothing else"...and she validated..."No....nothing else".

Since that time, I've used Herbs de Province a ton! I've made Juliano's raw buckwheat bread and used Herbs de Province and Sea Salt to flavor it - I quadrupled the batch, but once it was done I wish that I'd made even more....although I think my dehydrator was at capacity with the amount I made.

Anyway, tonight I made homemade corn tortillas (using our mexican tortilla press).  I use Maseca Corn Tortilla Flour and follow the directions for water and salt (I use Sea Salt).  The kids love helping me make the tortillas and tonight they got a little creative and started using their cookie cutters to turn the tortillas into animals which we cooked and then dipped in the following concoction...

1 tsp. Herbs de Province
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Sea Salt to Taste

The above is a "guesstimate" as I didn't measure, but make it according to your own taste and preference.  Remember that it takes a couple of minutes for the herbs to mix in with the oil so that when you dip your bread (or in our case tortillas) into the mixture you have the full flavor of the herbs and not just the taste of the oil.  I added oil as needed...when it started to get a little salty or had too much herb to oil ratio as we devoured the tortillas.

A note about buying Olive Oil...

You know that it's a high quality oil if it is cold pressed and if it comes in a dark bottle.  I usually buy mine at Real Foods Market, but ran out a couple of weeks ago and went to Smiths and bought the one in the darkest bottle and the one I "felt" was the best - we never really know do we - what is really the purest on the market....that is why I rely heavily on all the research Real Foods Market does on each one of their products.

You can use the above mentioned Herb Mix to flavor rice, to add to soups, to add to cheese spreads, or even on top of a potatoe with sour cream, organic butter, sea salt, and the blessed herb mix.

A note to Celiac's about Crepes....

The same friend that made me the above dish also made me some delicious french crepes for breakfast.  They were naturally Gluten-Free.  Try following a Crepe Recipe, but use corn starch instead of any flower suggested.  The crepes were delicious!  Try spreading St Dalfour fruit jelly on top with a dab of homemade whipping cream (whipping cream and agave whipped up together)....ummmmmmmm. 

A note about St. Dalfour Jams... they are made with NO sugar....they sweeten their fruit spreads with concentrated fruit juice.  Naturally Gluten-Free and very tasty.  I buy them whenever I see them on sale at Good Earth and stock up on 3 or 4 every time they have a sale.

I wish I knew how to say something in french to end this....but I don't so I'll end by saying....

If I could eat french bread I would in an instant.  I love bread so much that I think I ate my lifetime supply of bread before the age of 21 and so my body finally revolted and decided it would be better for me to develop an intollerance to bread - so I'd have no choice but NOT to eat gluten.

I am grateful for the intollerance my body created...it's a great excuse at parties why NOT to eat all the junk.... atleast I keep telling myself that =).

I hope all is well for you and your family.

With much love,

Steffanie

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Years Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

I received an email from my kids Karate teacher titled New Year's Resolutions - They Don't Work. The email talked about how most goals people make are never reached and the wanted changes are never made. The email went on to explain that if you want to make a change you need to first change your thought process (about whatever it is you want to change) and then the change will happen and the goal or resolution will be achieved. I'll quote a little bit from the email...

"Another popular aim is to quit smoking. Johnson himself was a three-pack-a day smoker until he celebrated a smoke-free New Year's sixteen years ago. "For over twenty years I had tried to quit many times using every tool and technique I'd hear about. But as long as I was trying to quit, I couldn't break the grip. Instead, I developed a dream to become a non-smoker. I fell in love with the idea of breathing clean air instead of smoky air, of my body and clothes smelling nice instead of smoky. I thought about how wonderful it would be to taste food again. I decided to start acting and thinking like a non-smoker, and when the thinking took hold I simply quit smoking. In all the years since, I've never wanted another cigarette, never even thought about wanting one."

After reading the entire email (the above paragraph is only a small portion) I thought about my goal to start exercising again. Somehow I had stopped being that girl who exercised every day to putting it as a last priority. I wondered how I could change my thought processes, then something happened over the weekend that truly helped me understand the above principle. It wasn't regarding exercise, but it was regarding the desire to eat "Healthy Foods" - which most people struggle with.

From my prior blogs, you will notice that I watched "Food Inc." with my family a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't thought much about what my children had learned from it until I was in St. George this weekend with my husband and children. Shane had gone with a work buddy on a mountain bike ride and I was left with the four kids - trying to keep them entertained as best as possible. When lunch time approached I thought about the healthy food I had back at the resort in the refrigerator...the kids were hungry...I then saw a Carl's Jr. not too far from us. It was the cries of hungry kids and seeing that fast food so close that I began to rationalize in my head...."would it be OK to just get them something from there" I thought. When I asked the kids if they'd like to eat at Carl's Jr., I was really surprised by the response from my 8 year old son. In a disappointed tone in his voice he made it clear that he did NOT want to eat at that place or any other fast food place. He wanted to eat healthy food. So I looked in the town coupon book I'd recently purchased (to save money on all the recreational activities) and found a page advertising a health foods store. It wasn't too far away and so off we went in search of a healthier meal. As I drove to the store, I sat pondering my son's response "I want to eat Healthy Food". I was a little surprised and bewildered. When had brought about this change? Then I thought about the Food Inc. DVD and realized that the thoughts and perceptions of the "Fast Food Industry" had changed for my little boy. My thoughts turned back to the email Mr. Bernard had sent to us and realized that I had just seen a perfect example of how changing our thoughts will change our actions. How do we change our thoughts? By reading the information people read that think the way we want to think, by seeing ourselves living like they do and understanding "why they eat the way they do" and "the what it is that motivates them".

I have a list of books on this blog site that I highly recommend reading - not the cookbooks, but the list of favorite books. I have tried to limit the books to ONLY the ones that have been most influential on my own life. The one that sticks out the most to me and has done the most good in my life is the book "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" by Dr. Weston Price. When I saw the pictures of the people who ate the diet completely void of processed food and heard about their amazing mental, physical, and spiritual strengths I wanted that for my children. I had a complete change of heart towards God after reading that book. I no longer viewed him as this cruel father (as I had hidden resentment towards him when I saw the sickness and lack of health of the people in Chile who didn't have a knowledge of Dental Hygiene), but a kind and loving one who doesn't require his children to know about how to use a toothbrush - or use toothpaste, as long as they eat the foods as he made them.

Note: I'm completely for Dental Hygiene...it was just amazing to me to read about cultures of people in various parts of the world (in the early 1900's) who had space for their wisdom teeth and who died with a full set of (perfect) teeth in their mouth, cavity free- despite never brushing them.

When I was living in Kaysville I had a little girl that babysat my kids for us. She was a cute little ballerina - very petite for her age. One day I was making my gluten-free food and she watched in curiosity. I commented to her that "we like to eat really healthy". She didn't look impressed and said that she knew a lady who didn't feed her kids any sugar. I was caught a little off guard with the girls comment, but now I know what she knew. I no longer view the way I use to eat as healthy. I was eating gluten free foods, and pastas, and tons of meat, my salads at lunch, and thought I was eating healthy. I had a dentist one time who told me the teeth of my daughter was caused by the diet I had while I was pregnant with her. I was insulted and thought about how "healthy I ate" at the time he said that, but now that I know what I know, and after the books I've read, I completely agree with the Dr.

After reading the books I've read it was really easy for me to get rid of my table salt and replace it with sea salt, to throw out all the refined flours, and replace them with new and wonderful grains, seeds and nuts, to throw out all of my sugar (white and brown) and replace that with agave, molasses, stevia and if I buy brown sugar I buy it in the form called rapadura. I have tons of grains in my cupboards now I had never even heard of before, new sweeteners, and new vegetables and fruits that I hadn't thought of buying until I started venturing out to incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diets. I leaned heavily on the raw food experts to help me with that transition - and have loved the meals I have added to our families’ diet.

Just this morning I looked into my pantry and smiled when I saw my chia seeds, my buckwheat grouts, the amaranth, quinoa, the stevia, the agave, the raw honey, all of the nuts, the seeds, my sprouts etc. I thought of taking a picture. It feels good. I made the change because of the knowledge I gained from reading books recommended by those who had felt the change in their lives - and who had recommended the books I read. It was easy to desire for myself and especially my children the happiness and health I read about that others had experienced by changing their diet - especially the moral strength and courage of those people I read about in the early 1900's that Dr. Weston Price studied.

On a more somber note I have to mention that my father suffered most of his life from clinically diagnosed bi-polar depression. My Mother has told me that she would have never divorced my father if she would have understood his depression. My father finally divorced himself from his body by ending his life in 2001. After finding out I had Celiac Disease, several years later my Grandmother (paternal side) was diagnosed with Celiac Disease - she had the typical symptoms and so the Dr. caught if really fast and I also discovered that I have a Great Aunt (on my maternal side) who also was diagnosed with Celiac. When I prepare food for my kids I pray that I will be the link that stops the history of depression in my family. I watched my Dad suffer through some really strong bouts with Depression and he even admitted himself into a hospital several times to truly understand it. I strongly believe it was the food Dad ate that caused his depression. He was funny to watch as he scrapped the leftover food scraps off of all of his kids plate, onto his own plate, stirred it around, and ate it down. I remember how slowly he drove places...how hard it was for him to work at one job for very long. The longest job he had was one where he worked swing shift. That is the shift I also worked that I was most successful at when I was undiagnosed and struggling with fatigue.

Celiac is something people are more likely to get if they have a family history of it. It comes on - usually after a traumatic life experience. For me I received a shot of something that was supposed to be banned to missionaries because it caused "auto-immune illnesses". My mission president was extremely upset that the elders hadn't called him to get permission before the doctor gave me the shot that numbed my entire body and made me sleep for two days straight. The swelling from the bug bite in my arm (that had reached the size of a cucumber) was gone from my left forearm, but the numbness remained...and was possibly what triggered Celiac Disease for me. For my Grandmother, I believe it was the tragic death of her only living son that caused it for her....for another it could be a pregnancy...the stories vary greatly as well as the symptoms vary greatly from person to person. The incidence is higher in countries where processed food is readily available and used in greater quantities.

One day, hopefully someone - like my Dad - will somehow find my blog, read the books I've recommended and will have their life changed forever.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those who struggle with mental, physical, or spiritual health problems and are searching for answers... please read the books listed - starting first with "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" by Dr. Weston Price - who is one of those great men who've lived on this earth who I will run to and hug when I'm on the other side of the veil. I will also run to my Dad and weep. I pray that because of his story and mine - that individual will choose to live...and will feel alive again.

If you "want" to eat healthier, but can't seem to do it, and repeat setting goals over and over again, try doing what Mr. Bernard suggested. First, start thinking like those that DO eat healthy. To think as they do, begin reading the books they have read.

With much love,

Steffi E.