Tag Archives: Sally Fallon

Tools to Soothe and Stabilize!

Some of you may not know that my company, Simply Being Well, celebrated its 10 year anniversary last year. Ten years!

Simply Being Well began with the tagline: Herbs, Oils, Essences, and Whole Foods. I started with a desire to share my knowledge of alternative healing modalities with everyone–especially moms and those who wanted to be moms someday. I offered classes and workshops, and had a private practice. Simply Being Well evolved to focus on teaching cooking classes and training Traditional Food Cooks and Teachers based on Weston A. Price and the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. That’s where Cooking for Well-Being came from.

I taught my first cooking class on a six foot table at a local food co-op in Bethesda, Maryland, in September of 2006, after being asked to “teach Nourishing Traditions”. Who knew that first class would be the catalyst for 10 years of teaching cooking?! I loved it. I still do! And I believe, in my heart of hearts, that “food is the foundationTM” of well-being. That’s why I continue to teach Cooking for Well-Being, and help people to source clean, sustainable food, and guide people through their healing journeys with food–nourishing, traditional food and, specifically, the Gut and Psychology Syndrome–GAPS–Diet, since 2010.

All along, however, I have continued to work with clients, offering various vibrational remedies to support them on their way. That is still very much a part of Simply Being Well and my Wellness Consultations. Flower essences, therapeutic grade essential oils and other alternative modalities can be very powerful assistants on one’s way to heath. (For more information about the Vibrational Cause of Chronic Disease, see my article here). So, while “food is the foundation” of Well-Being, it’s not the only thing. Remedies from the plant kingdom can surely help ease the way, and I test for specific remedies to clear the cause of specific symptoms for clients.

In times of chronic stress, trial, or turbulence, we need all the tools we can get to help us maintain alignment and stability. It is this knowing that has led me to offer a series of videos on “Tools to Soothe and Stabilize”. There are very simple things we can do to help ourselves, our families, our children, our pets to weather storms with more ease. It is my hope that these short clips will help you on your way.

You may find them on my YouTube channel (subscribe!), and on my Simply Being Well: Cooking for Wellbeing Facebook Page.

Here’s the link to the first Tools to Soothe and Stabilize I hope it serves you well!

 

For Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig,

For the Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride

Please note these are affiliate links.

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“You’ll STARVE on GAPS”–NOT!

butter

It seems to me that there is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about what I call the “GAPS healing protocol” and others call the “GAPS diet” in terms of knowledge of the diet and implementation in the kitchen and at the kitchen table. (GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, is a book by the same name, and is copyrighted by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. For more information, see gaps.me.) I am going to write a series of these articles, in a effort to clear up some of the confusion. Here’s the first installment: “GAPS Does Not Equal Starvation.”

Let me note first that my knowledge base comes from working with people to help them implement the diet and from teaching the first series of GAPS Cooking Classes, which I developed last year in response to many requests from my students. (For more information about these cooking classes and to register to learn the cooking techniques you need to implement the GAPS diet, see http://www.cookingforwell-being.com/Conferences.html. I will be teaching in California in June and in Boston in September…if you’d like me to offer a GAPS Cooking Weekend in your area, contact me.)

The first bit of confusion seems to be that people think that when you are on the diet, you will be hungry all the time. I have heard multiple people say “I’m starving!” and “Heck, all I’m eating is broth, right?!” (Although broth is one of the “pillars” of the GAPS diet and is absolutely fundamental to it, you are eating much more than broth, but more on that later.) When I hear people say they are starving, I know that they are not implementing the diet as directed; in fact, they are missing one of the most important prescriptions in the book: the one about the amount of fat one needs to heal, repair and be well. And it is a lot, a lot more than we are used to. Eating saturated fat goes against everything everyone in America has been hearing for the last 30+ years. Ever since the American dietary guidelines went pro-sugar (look what that has gotten us) and anti-fat. Heck, you can’t even find full fat yogurt in the store these days; “low-fat/no-fat” has become the norm. “Low-fat/no-fat” has been proclaimed as “healthy” by the “powers that be”. There is a whole generation of children in this country that have never eaten a traditional, healthy, full-fat diet. They have been brainwashed into thinking that fat is bad. We have been brainwashed into thinking that fat is bad. That’s one of the reasons, I would venture to say, that we have so many children that are obese, have diabetes, and suffer from Attention Deficit Disorders. But that is another story for another time. Stay tuned. I am sure to write it some day soon.

The GAPS diet is one of the most nourishing, nurturing diets around. It is built to satisfy; it is crafted to nourish, and to deeply nourish. No one should be hungry if they are following Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s prescriptions about what to eat…especially the one about fats and the egg yolks. Today we’ll look at healthy saturated animal fats. Rendered fat and gristle off of pastured meats. Oh, and some avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and flax oils.

When one is “starving” or one is experiencing cravings, it is an indicator that the body needs more fat. It also indicates that your blood sugar may be on a roller coaster. How to stabilize? Eat more fat! Go for it! This is the first healing protocol that I know of that prescribes fat. Yes, go ahead. A medical doctor is prescribing that you eat more fat. An MD. And she is not the only one. All over, enlightened MDs are prescribing more healthy fats in the American diet (see Mercola and Tom Cowan. ) Note that these are healthy fats. They are not trans fats. So what are the healthy fats, and how much does one need to eat to be satisfied…to start healing?

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride tells us to eat “natural fats in their natural state” , and that the most important fats for those on the GAPS diet are animal fats. (GAPS, p 275). These healthy fats are duck fat, goose fat, lard-rendered pig fat, tallow-rendered beef or bison fat, pastured butter, and ghee. (If you want to learn how to make lard, see my post Let’s Make Lard.) Also coconut oil and cultured cream for those who can tolerate dairy or have completed the dairy protocol. Please note that the entire healing protocol is based on finding the purest ingredients one can find–organic and raised on pasture sustainably. (As toxins are stored in fat, it is very important to eat pure fats–not only on this diet, but all the time!) She also includes cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado. These are all traditional fats; they are fats the human body utilizes efficiently and needs for good health. (There are also some essential oils that are recommended, such as cod liver oil, nut/seed oils and fish oil. See the book for more details.)

So how much fat on the GAPS diet? As much fat as you need to feel sated. My experience is that when one cleans up the diet, i.e., eats pure, nutrient-dense food cooked in traditional ways and has eliminated sugar, processed foods and grains, and is eating ferments, the body self-regulates. It knows how much good fat it needs. If you are on the “Full GAPS Diet”, cook everything in a healthy fat…ghee, pastured butter, tallow, lard, duck fat, goose fat…Then when you serve, add more fat to each serving, starting with a teaspoon and adding more as you tolerate it or as you desire. An example is making a blended vegetable soup: Saute veggies in butter or ghee or…(see list above) until soft. Add homemade, nutrient-dense, gelatinous stock. Bring to a boil. Skim and discard scum. Simmer for a few minutes. Blend. Season to taste with Celtic salt and herbs. When you serve, add an additional teaspoon-tablespoon of fat. (Creme fraiche/cultured cream is my favorite. Makes any soup or stew blissful!)

The typical American meal is not satisfying because it does not provide enough fat. I am not even talking about the SAD (Standard American Diet) meal, which is highly processed and full of dead, nutrient-deficient foods. I am talking about a pastured, skinless chicken breast (low-fat), steamed broccoli with a pat of butter and a salad with homemade dressing. Not enough fat, folks. And you won’t feel satisfied. (Then it’s off to the chips–low fat and transfats– and whatever else we can find to satisfy the hunger…which won’t satisfy because it’s all low-fat!! and usually carbohydrates to boot!! read: sugar!) How to increase the healthy fat in that meal? Make blue cheese dressing and smother the broccoli once it has cooled, so you retain the enzymes. Eat chicken thighs with the skin on, and serve with a sauce made from butter or cultured cream. Make a salad dressing with raw egg yolks like a Caesar or anchovy dressing. Add a cup of broth with a spoonful of ghee stirred in, and maybe a spoonful of creme fraiche, too. A pinch of Celtic salt. Mouth watering? Yes! This is NOT a starvation diet, folks. Just break out of your brainwashing and grab a stick of pastured butter, or a bucket of cultured cream. Your body, your brain, your nervous system, your endocrine system, and even your cells will thank you. And by the way, you’ll lose weight and gain clear thinking along the way. Dive in with both spoons!! Slather on that pastured butter or ghee. I dare ya! 😉

If you would like more information about healthy fats and how that body needs them, see Dr. Mercola’s recent article, The Hidden Reason You Get Flabby, Sally Fallon’s interview on Fats and Why they are Essential, Chris Masterjohn’s brilliant blog, The Daily Lipid, Eat Fat, Lose Fat by lipid chemist Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, or The Cholesterol Myth by Uffe Ravnskov. For more information about the GAPS diet, including helpful FAQs posted by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, see her website, gaps.me.

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Why I Love Tom Cowan and the Fourfold Healing Conference

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend this year’s Fourfold Path to Healing conference in Baltimore this past weekend. It was my second year; last year I flew to San Francisco to attend and exhibit. This year, I was asked to teach a day of pre-conference cooking classes and make pate’ for 200 or so people for the opening reception Friday night. I also exhibited and helped to be sure the food functions went smoothly, that is, WAPF style.

Here and there I was able to catch bits of Dr. Tom Cowan’s lectures, 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and those bits made the conference worth it for me. Here’s why, and why I love this conference.

The Fourfold conference is based on the book of the same title, which Dr Cowan is the primary author. The other two authors are Sally Fallon (now Morell) and Jaimen McMillan. The book talks about just what the title says: what Dr Cowan believes are the four paths to healing-nutrition, therapeutics, movement and meditation, and the conference is built on the same. Participants have the opportunity to go deep in three of the paths with one of the authors…you guessed it: Sally talks about nutrition, Jaimen does Spatial Dynamics, and Tom therapeutics. To me, meditation, aka spirituality infuses the whole thing. That’s the point here, folks. The one that just thrills me to my core… Here is a medical doctor, looking at and talking about health, healing, wellness and dis-ease in the body through the lens of spirit. The lens he uses is called “anthroposophy“, which was brought forward by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1900s.

How cool is it that a MD is looking at the human body and what goes wrong with it and what goes right with it through the lens of spirit? Very cool. The only thing that is cooler is that 200 or so people came to hear him. And I was one of them.

Dr Cowan looks at patterns as he endeavors to discern what is going on with each patient. He encourages us to use “macroscopes”, not microscopes. He has no use for minutiae. Dr Cowan knows that the clues and the answers will be found in the big picture. This is why he asks his patients to tell him their story. In the story lies the clues to why particular symptoms are showing up in the body. When was the last time your MD asked you to tell your story?!

The lens or metaphor that Dr Cowan used was the Threefold plant. He likened the human to a plant, divided onto 3 sections-head or flowers, middle or stem and bottom or roots. (Here’s where I encourage you to read the book and get more information for yourself; remember, I was running in and out and coordinating food and caught bits and pieces. May this interpretation pique your interest and lead you to seek more. I do not claim that I “got it all” folks. This is my best rendering. :)) By looking at the characteristics of the symptoms and where they showed up, one could determine which plant remedies (often homeopathics) would help guide the person through the symptoms to relief. One thing that struck a truth chord for me was Dr Cowan’s statement that if acute symptoms are allowed to run their course, they will not turn into chronic symptoms. When was the last time you let a fever or pneumonia (the body’s cure for asthma) run its course?

Dr Cowan also talked about the Fourfold human. Unfortunately for me, I missed the beginning of the session but what I did hear was fascinating, and made so much sense. I am eager to learn more. I look forward to finding my Fourfold book and reading it cover to cover. If you are looking for a new (though based on an old-anthroposophy) way of looking at the human body, the human being, and well-being, I encourage you get a copy and do the same!

 

FYI, Dr Cowan is available for phone consultations if you are not in the San Francisco area. He also offers his own Community Supported Healthcare program. Check it out!!

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Healing Soups series…let’s step back to Stock.

Can’t believe I started a Healing Soups series without first writing about Stock…aka, meat stock…bone broth. Maybe it’s because I am immersed in stock right now, (not literally, don’t worry!) I am making stock like crazy for a little boy who has had the flu, and for the rest of us who want to stay well…I am teaching a Making Stock GAPS ™ Style tomorrow morning in Westminster, CO, and I am readying for my stock class which I will be teaching at the Fourfold Path to Healing Conference in Baltimore one week from today. So…….I thought I’d share with you an article I wrote for Edible Chesapeake Magazine, which was published in November 2009. It appeared under the Cooking Fresh heading. Unfortunately for those in the Chesapeake Bay watershed area, Edible Chesapeake folded a few months later.  Here’s the article. I hope you enjoy it!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Healing Soup. hmmmm…..wonder what it will be?! 😉

Nutrient-Dense Stock…the Foundation of all Great Soup

By Monica Corrado

Mmm…mmm, there is nothing like a bowl of homemade soup when the weather starts to chill, and there is nothing better than soup made with homemade stock. Stock made well is a nutrient-dense elixir that gives a great bang for your nutritional buck: It is high in calcium and other minerals your body needs that are easily absorbed, it can reduce the amount of protein you eat, and the gelatin has been known to help heal many digestive and other disorders, including anemia, diabetes, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer1. Gelatinous stock is liquid nutrition for lactating mothers, menopausal women and children, whose bones are growing. It is also a perfect first food for infants.

As in all things, the quality of in the raw ingredients determines the quality of the final product. Bones from a grass-fed producer is the key to a rich, gelatinous stock. Bones from cows raised on feed-lots and chickens raised in cages just do not gel. You will need two types of bones for your stock: what I like to call “boney” bones, like marrow and knuckle bones; and “meaty bones,” such as chuck ribs or neck bones. Boney bones yield gelatin and minerals, while meaty bones will ensure rich color and flavor.

Next, the vegetables. Again, source counts. In these days of depleted soil, even organic vegetables can be low in minerals. Look for vegetables from farmers who add vital nutrients back into the soil, such as biodynamic farmers. If you can’t get biodynamic, grow your own, or go to a farmers market for fresh, local produce. Check with the farmer to find out what he or she is doing to help heal the earth.

1  For more information about the use of gelatin to heal the digestive tract and other disorders, see Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Depression and Schizophrenia, by Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD; “Why Broth is Beautiful,” in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, Spring 2003, by Kaayla T. Daniel, MS CCN; Gelatin in Nutrition and Medicine, by N.R. Gotthoffer; Hydrophilic Colloid Diet, by F.M. Pottenger, MD; Restoring Your Digestive Health: How the Guts and Glory Program Can Transform Your Life, by Jordan Rubin, NMD and Joseph Brasco; and the Weston A. Price Foundation at www.westonaprice.org.


 

the pot ready to roll

A pot of beef stock, ready to "roll"!

Beef Stock

about 4 pounds boney bones, marrow or knuckle bones

about 3 pounds meaty bones, chuck ribs or neck bones

4 quarts pure water

3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped

3 carrots, coarsely chopped

3 onions, coarsely chopped

¼ cup raw vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar

Roast meaty bones in the oven at 350 degrees until browned, about an hour or so. Meanwhile, place boney bones in a large, heavy stock pot with the vinegar and water and let soak for 1 hour. The vinegar will act on the bones and help to draw out the calcium and the gelatin for a rich stock. When the meaty bones are browned, add to the pot, along with any accumulated juices and the vegetables.

Bring the pot to a boil; skim the scum, and lower to a simmer. Do not cover the pot. The stock should be fairly still on the surface with movement underneath. (I call this “rolling”.) Roll the stock for a minimum of 24 and a maximum of 72 hours, and then strain. The longer you roll the stock, the more concentrated it will become. (Be sure to keep the bones covered with water throughout, unless you want a demi glace.) Pour into a low pan to bring to room temperature quickly (within 4 hours), and then cool in the refrigerator. Remove fat from the top of the stock and save to cook with later. As a saturated fat, beef tallow is one of the healthiest fats to cook foods at high temperatures. Under the fat you will find thick, rich gelatin. If the stock has not gelled, you may wish to add a good-quality gelatin to the stock when you use it in recipes. (Bernard Jensen produces a high-quality gelatin; see http://www.radiantlifecatalog.com.)

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Sauces, Glorious (Enzyme-Rich) Sauces!

Oh, how I love them.

Sauces.

Enzyme-rich sauces. What are they, you ask? And aren’t sauces “bad for me”? Aren’t they “fattening”? Aren’t they rich? Yes, well, I would submit that we all need a little nutrient-richness added to our diets. And yes, I would say, sauces from the store may be bad for you, and sauces in most restaurants may be bad for you, as they will be “dead” (more on that later), full of bad fats (canola oil, soy oil) and who knows what else (thickeners, stabilizers, “natural flavorings” and maybe even MSG-monosodium glutamate, an allergen and excitotoxin.)

Enzyme-rich sauces are made from scratch, in the kitchen, by you and me. They are not found in the store; sauces from stores are “enzyme-dead”. (Remember the DEAD ZONE in the center of the store…?) So it’s into the kitchen we go. Again. And no, it’s not enough that you are eating grass-fed meat and poultry and veggies with pastured butter, although you are on the right track, for sure. But there’s more. I have recently learned, there is more.

Much of our eating has become too basic. Sauces have been outlawed, because they are “fattening”, because they take time to make, and because we just plain don’t know how to make them anymore. (When was the last time you served a good old-fashioned buerre blanc sauce?!–perhaps it was your grandmother who did…) Just a grass-fed piece of meat or poultry, or fish, and some veggies with butter is not enough to satisfy.

I guess we all learn in our own time. Years ago, Sally Fallon Morell suggested I should teach “sauces”. And I have to admit, I just didn’t get it. I didn’t “get” why, and they just did not seem to be that important in the grand scheme of things. (Sorry Sally!) For more than 5 years I have been teaching how to make stock, how to soak beans and grains, how to make salad dressings and beloved ferments, but “sauces”?? Well,  I have to say, I am now one of the converted. I have been converted to a “sauce lover”. Enzyme-rich sauces, of course. Let me tell you the story. It happened quite by accident one dinnertime. May it happen to you.

I had made another yummy dinner with grass-fed meat and vegetables served with good salt and pastured butter, and some ferments. It was delicious. There was plenty of food. Good food. Well prepared, Nourishing Traditions style. But I was not satisfied. I was still hungry. So the next night, I served a variation on the same theme…grass-fed meat and veggies served with good salt and pastured butter, and some ferments. Only this time, I went into the kitchen and made anchovy dressing. Rich anchovy dressing. A whole can of anchovies and their oil, lots of good olive oil, and a couple of raw egg yolks from pastured eggs. Good salt. Garlic. I poured it over my veggies and my steak. And that’s when it all came together. Synergy of taste; synergy of nutrients. I have to admit, I couldn’t get enough of this delicious, nutrient-rich sauce. Just divine. And then, after I licked the spoon and nearly the plate, I sat back in my chair and sighed. I was fully satisfied. It was done. I was a “believer”.

Enzyme-rich sauces. By definition, they are chock-full of live enzymes. I *love* live enzymes. I will talk about them with just about anyone who will listen! (And as Americans, we don’t get enough of them, even if you cook and eat “real food”; especially if you eat prepared food or processed food.) Enzyme-rich sauces *taste good*, *nutrient-rich*, *help with digestion*, and *make nutrients more easily assimilated by the body*. (As if all of that wouldn’t be enough to send us running for the raw pastured eggs and unrefined olive oil… )What makes them so lovable to me is that they do all of the above (very valiant and healthful and wonderful) AND because they *complete the meal*. You feel sated and satisfied. Your body is getting what it needs. And it signals to you thus. You feel satisfied.

I challenge you to try this experiment. Eat the same meal two nights in a row, but on the second evening, add in an enzyme-rich sauce. You won’t be sorry. And I know you’ll be a believer, too!

Some of the markers of an enzyme-rich sauce: raw, pastured egg yolks, unrefined olive oil, pastured butter…Sometimes they masquerade as salad dressings or marinades…

Enzyme-rich sauces, the *secret* to satiety! If you don’t know much about enzyme-rich sauces, come to my class this Sunday morning, September 11 in Great Falls, VA. More information here. And if you don’t live in the area, or if you can’t make it, open up NT to the chapter on Sauces. Just dive in and try one! You won’t regret it. And your tastebuds, body and family will thank you for it! be well!

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“Real Food 101″, aka,”Real Food for Dummies” or Top 5 Things You Can Do for Your Health

I have been meeting many people along the way on our trip across the country from Maryland to Wyoming and Colorado and back again. We have passed through Maryland, PA, WV, OH,  IN, IL, IO, NE, WY, CO, SD, MN, WI, and now we are on our way to IN and MI. In addition to everyone I met and had the privilege of teaching at my Cooking for Well-Being conference in Colorado, I am having wonderful conversations with folks about real food and good health. All sorts of people are being introduced to Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A. Price Foundation, realmilk.com, the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Nourishing Our Children Campaign. Makes me so happy to be spreading the good word about all this good food!

My husband Franklin Taggart calls me an “inspirer”: someone who calls people to realize what they are capable of…and shows them that they “have the goods to do what they need to do”. I must say I love to inspire people to good health, good food, and help to provide them with the tools, techniques and resources to “take their power back”: their power to eat well and be well…to decide where they purchase their food and from whom (from the Food Industrial Complex with all of its implications for the health of the people and the Earth or from farmers, farmers markets, CSAs, etc etc) …(Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm has been reminding us that we “vote with our pocketbooks” when we choose our food. Who are you/we voting for today?!)

So along the way I have had questions from friends, family and acquaintances which are really  the same question: “what can I do that would be easy *and* high impact?” So I have come up with the top 5 things anyone can do that are simply a “switcheroo”, involve no training or classes, or menu changes. Just swap what you are using now with the following, and the nutrient density of your food will go up. In my private practice with clients of all ages and in my own life, I have seen hunger decrease,  thought become less foggy, children become more focused, weight drop off, and cholesterol levels beautify. (For information on the cholesterol myth, see Uffe Ravnskov, The Cholesterol Myth as well as Dr. Mercola’s Huffington Post article on the same.)

And so, the top five:

1. Use real salt. Throw out that Morton’s salt and purchase some salt that is high in trace minerals. Celtic Sea Salt from the Grain and Salt Society is highest in trace minerals, so I use that. Just check out the label…all “sea salt” is not the same. If they can tell you about the trace mineral content on the label, you’ve got a good one.

2. Use pastured eggs. Swap out supermarket eggs, free range eggs, organic eggs, or eggs fed “vegetarian feed” for eggs from hens *on pasture*. Buy them from a farmer or the farmer’s market, or from your CSA. Chickens are omnivores; the most nutritious eggs will be those from hens that eat a good amount of bugs! (Just check the color of the yolks…eggs from chickens that eat bugs are bright, deep orange…if your yolks are light yellow or the whites runny, they *are not* nutrient dense eggs!)

3. Use pastured butter, aka, butter from cows that eat grass. Don’t rest on your laurels and think the term “organic butter” is enough. “Organic” says nothing about whether the cows ate grass. Look for “pasture butter” from Organic Valley, or Trickling Springs Farm in the DC metro area. Look for butter at the farmers market , or get some *real cream* and make your own. (Butter has the perfect fatty acid profile. Stop slurping that fish oil and pile on the good old fashioned grass-fed butter!)

4. (If you eat bread at all) Eat sprouted bread or a true sourdough bread. There are several brands on the market that make sprouted bread, sprouted bagels, sprouted English muffins. Find a baker that makes real sourdough, or make it yourself! (Be sure you slather on the pastured butter, as it will help to neutralize the rest of the phytic acid that has not been neutralized by sprouting. For more on phytic acid, see  Living with Phytic Acid)

5.Eat grass-fed meat and poultry. The nutrient profile is very different for meat and poultry that is raised on pasture. Far more nutritious for you, better for the animal and for the planet. (All meat is not the same–comparing meat from animals raised in the Food Industrial Complex with meat from animals raised on pasture is like comparing apples and oranges–)

Okay, that’s the beginning. We’ll call it  “real food for dummies” or, “real food 101”. I am not going to go into fresh, raw milk at this time, as so many people in our country do not have access to it. (To find out about the state of raw milk in your state, check out the map on the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s website or check out www.realmilk.com) I am not going to go into fermentation or soaking your beans and grains, or making your own stock. That’s for level 2. Take it easy. Go slowly. One step at a time.

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Not for the Faint of Heart…my adventures with organ meats

beeve heartSo today I ventured into uncharted territory with a dear friend of mine, Susan Lucas. The territory? Organ meats. Well, to be specific, hearts. A beeve heart and chicken hearts. Tomorrow, lamb kidneys.  (I’ve been in liver land before.) How did I get here? Long story. Well, maybe not so long. The short answer is that I am teaching a class on hearts and kidneys next week, and I needed to try out some recipes. The longer answer is a bit more complex…

I have been eating a clean and nutrient-dense diet for years now. I “went organic” around 1998, which is 13 years ago…just about the same time I met Sally Fallon and discovered Nourishing Traditions and Weston A. Price. Most of my food is grown or raised locally and sustainably. I eat good fats daily–butter from pastured cows, lard, bacon fat, beef tallow. I eat ferments at almost every meal, and more and more of them lately. My food is clean food, good food. For years. But I have to say, something has been missing for me lately. Maybe because I am under stress; maybe because I have a five year old. I need more nutrients; I am hungry for something more.

The first organ meat to catch my attention was liver, the king of the organs. (You heard about that last month.) Well, I am still craving liver, so I’ll have to get some more chicken livers (Sorry to say, somehow there has been a “run” on chicken livers from good farms lately…hmmmmmmm, could it have anything to do with the liver class I taught last month? Lots of converts from that one!). And I have to pick up some more tomato juice so I can have my glass of Pottenger’s Liver Cocktail every day. (See Nourishing Traditions for that recipe.) Yes, it is delicious! But now liver seems somewhat ordinary, after my experience today.

heart strings

Heart strings. For real.

Folks, working with and preparing a beeve heart, that is a heart from a cow, is NOT for the faint hearted. No pun intended. It was quite an experience–breath-taking, really. Gives one pause. Makes you ponder life and death for a moment. Puts you right there, at the “heart” of the matter…looking your food right in the face; remembering again that when one eats meat, one is eating something that used to live and breathe and, well, have a beating heart. And now that heart was sitting on my cutting board. Wow. Four and a quarter pounds. Wow. Almost as big as my head. Veins and arteries…some blood…chambers…and heartstrings. (Yes, there are heartstrings. Like the saying, you know, “it pulled my heartstrings.” Well, they really exist!) I have to admit, folks, that it really did take my breath away. I had to sit down and figure out/feel into whether or not I could do this…that is, cut up a heart and use it in recipes. (There was no question for me of “going vegetarian” at this point–I had tried it years before and it did not work for my body–or shall I say, my body did not work not eating meat!)

I understand now why most folks use “organ meat” as “mystery meat” in their menus. When heart is ground up, it looks just like ground beef. We’re used to ground beef. We are not used to seeing a heart the size of a head on a cutting board.

Soooooooo, I took a deep breath and thought a bit. We know that using the organs is almost the ultimate act in sustainability, that is, in using all of the cow. We also know that the heart and other organ meat is rich in nutrients, more so than any other part of any animal.

I had heard before that organs were–and still are–considered sacred by traditional cultures because of their nutrient density. They were saved for pregnant and nursing women, and for growing children. It struck me sometime over the past week, after I had picked up my heart from the farm delivery, that organ meat IS SACRED. It wasn’t just about the nutrient density of the organs. It was both the significance of the organ (like one can’t live without a heart) and the fact that there is ONLY ONE per cow.  Wow. Heady. Trip.

beeve and chicken heart

BIG beeve heart. little chicken heart.

Soooooo, we took another breath and I decided to start with the chicken hearts. MUCH easier. MUCH smaller. (Like about an inch long, and an ounce or so, compared to 8 inches long and 4.25 pounds.) Since we were not going to grind these up, I decided to cut out the aortas and some of the sacks that were on some of them. Then I decided to try chicken hearts two ways-floured and fried and marinated and broiled. Deeeeeeeeeelish! My favorites were floured and fried. I cut the hearts in two length-wise and then dredged them in coconut flour with some salt and pepper. I fried them in bacon fat/lard combo, about 3 minutes on each side. One third “plain”-coconut flour only, one third with curry powder added, and the last third with chili powder added. I have to admit, the plain were my favorites. Just delicious. We marinated some of the hearts whole with a tamari/toasted sesame oil/lemon/garlic marinade for about an hour. (These hearts are little, so an hour was enough.)

susan skewering chix hearts

Skewering marinated chicken hearts

Then onto a metal skewer (we call them spadinis in my house) and under the broiler for 3 minutes each side. (Didn’t feel like firing up the grill for 4 little skewers…but perhaps at my Memorial Day bbq!) These were yummy, too, but my faves were the plain ones. I would also suggest that you cut them in half before you eat them–eating hearts whole is a bit rubbery, given that they are muscle tissue! (Next time I will cut them in half, saute in butter and make a gravy with chicken stock reduction, add fresh chopped parsley and s&p and that’s it! Oh, and maybe chop them up, saute with butter and garlic, and toss into a Bolognese  sauce with oregano and basil. I can taste it now!)

So, on to the beeve heart. I am trying two recipes currently. A heart jerky and heart kabobs. AGAIN, the EASY way to get organ meat onto your menu and into your family is by serving “mystery meat”, that is, having organ meat ground up like ground beef, and adding it to meatloaf, hamburgers, chili, shephard’s pie, tacos, etc. The recipes we are trying is THE HARD way. Getting right in there with a knife, and cutting up the organ yourself. Takes some guts, (no pun again;)) but once you decide you’re in for a pound, it gets easier. Take a deep breath. Steel yourself. And go for it. Once you do, you will see that beeve heart looks much like any other meat you currently serve your family, most especially like a good quality steak. Maybe tenderloin.

Half of the heart is currently marinating for jerky–I am trying two recipes, one based on red wine vinegar–spicy! and the other a tamari base. Into the oven on lowest tomorrow all day to dry it out. I’ll let you know how that one turns out. The other half will be marinated on Sunday morning for Monday’s bbq. A 24 hour soak and then onto skewers and on the grill. I’ll let you know how those turn out, too.

Until then, here are a few good links I found while investigating cooking techniques for organ meat, specifically hearts and kidneys. (Stay tuned for the kidney report…I’ll be soaking them tomorrow and making kidneys with mushroom cream sauce.) It’s Not so Offal, Cooking with Mystery Meat, How to Eat for Less, The Secrets of Organ Meat Cookery

And if you are in the area, (Rockville, Maryland), join us for the Heart and Kidneys class on Saturday, June 4. You’ll get to see, experience, and taste these delicacies for yourself!

Oh, and btw, my five year old son LOVED the chicken hearts. Couldn’t get enough. Yep, kids really do know what is best for them. 🙂Me and the beeve heart

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