Category Archives: Whole Food

Chicken Poop and Cookies: Food for Cows?

At one time someone posted a comment on my Raw Milk facebook page explaining how while he was in college (can’t remember which one) he did some kind of animal husbandry internship where it was his job to try to get cows to eat chicken litter. They had to try all kinds of things because the cows were not naturally inclined to eat it. For those of you wondering what chicken litter is, it is basically straw or wood shavings  and chicken poop that is scooped up off the floor of the chicken coop while cleaning it. Yum.

I had some skepticism when I first read that cows were fed old chicken house bedding that contained chicken manure, because it seemed so crazy to me, but after a little research into “feedstuffs” for cattle, there were all kinds of unsavory things that cows are fed. Here is an incomplete list of the things that I discovered on various university extension and cattle industry websites:

Chicken litter (Chicken manure and straw or wood chips)

Shredded newspapers soaked in molasses

Blood meal (dried blood from slaughter house waste)

Animal byproducts: fish meal, meat and bone meal, poultry by-product meal, etc. (slaughter house waste – wait, isn’t this what caused mad cow disease??)

Hydrolyzed Feather Meal (AKA chicken feathers – also slaughterhouse waste – this REALLY eliminates the humor in those chic-fil-a commercials)

Stale candy: gummy bears, gummy worms, m&ms, etc.

Pasta (old surplus pasta)

Surplus french fries and potato chips

Cannery waste (waste from canning factories where canned vegetables etc are processed)

Stale bakery goods: breads, donuts, pastries, etc.

Soy cakes (left over after making soy sauce)

Brewery waste: spent grains from making beer (this is what caused the problems that led lawmakers to decide that milk needed to be pasteurized after milk from cows that were fed brewery waste sickened and killed hundreds of people.)

Rotten potatoes that never made it to grocery store shelves. (This only after potatoes useable for making frozen french fries are separated out. My father used to work at a factory that made frozen french fries, and the place smelled like a sewer. The potatoes used for fries were rotten, but not completely mush yet. They would soak them in a solution to harden them again, then bleach them, then cut them into fries and flash freeze them. The potatoes that couldn’t even survive this process are sold as animal feed.)

Soy hulls (a byproduct from the soybean milling process)

Corn, cottonseed, soy, peanut, and other ‘meals’ (leftover from making oils)

Cotton gin trash (leftover from harvesting and milling cotton)

Peanut shells

Grain middlings (left over from milling flour)

Citrus pulp (leftover after making orange or grapefruit juice)

Cane byproducts (leftover after making sugar)

Beet pulp (from sugar beets in sugar production)

Sweetos a cheaper substitute for molasses. Sweetos guarantees the masking of unpleasant tastes and odor and improves the palatability of feed according to Monsanto spokesperson (so that cows will eat all of the unnatural feedstuffs that they are being given)

(See this list of cattle ‘feedstuffs’ from the University of Wisconsin)

Which of these cattle would you prefer as your food source?

Cattle Feed

If we are what we eat, (and so are our cows) what have you eaten today?



Book Review – The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast

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I have recently read the book “The Art of baking with Natural Yeast,” by Caleb Warnock and Melissa Richardson. 10 years ago, I was asking myself “Why is milk, once one of the main staples of civilization, now condemned as “bad” by many medical professionals, including natural doctors who should know better? What has changed?” The answer to that question came pretty easily, since milk processing is pretty obvious. Milk, once straight from the cow/goat/etc. is now pasteurized, homogenized, and then even ultra pasteurized in some cases. Anyway, those same questions came to my mind about bread. Once considered the staff of life, now even whole wheat bread (which should be more healthy, because it is a whole food) causes a myriad of health issues, (sometimes even more so than white bread because of the use of rancid flour) and it is not so easy to see the answer. It can’t be easily explained by GMO or hybridization, because people with allergies to wheat or with gluten sensitivities often can’t even tolerate heirloom varieties of grains, even if they soak them and/or grind their own flour. So over the last while, I had been asking myself “What has changed?” This book has an answer to this question that actually makes sense.

The Authors assert that in 1984, all of the yeast produced by commercial industry went completely synthetic to accommodate industry and consumers who wanted quick rising yeast, and now many of the problems associated with bread and grains are actually a reaction to the synthetic yeast as well as the lack of soaking or pre-digesting more than it is a reaction to the grains themselves. I knew that un-soaked grains were a problem, but the issue of the synthetic yeast was new information for me. Natural yeast is made up of lactobactili and wild yeasts much like the bacteria found in kefir grains. (This makes it a probiotic strain of bacteria, and so it does not cause the same issues for people with candida and systemic yeast overgrowth.) When the yeast in breads changed, the sensitivities to wheat and gluten skyrocketed. Not to say their were not some problems before that point, but before that, these conditions were rare. Anyway, with natural yeast, the dough must have between 6 and 24 hours to properly rise, and during that time, natural yeast not only breaks down the phytic acid in the flour, but it also pre-digests the gluten without losing the elasticity of the dough. Quick rise synthetic yeast, which can rise in an hour or less does neither of these things. In the book the authors state that “several people with celiac disease have tried bread made with natural yeast and told us that they had no reaction to it.”

Another interesting study referred to in the book cites research done on natural yeast that found that people who ate a piece of bread made with natural yeast had a lower glycemic reaction to the carbohydrates in their food, even hours later. As it says in the book, “one woman in Pleasant Grove, Utah recently told us that her husband, who is severely diabetic, was able to eat bread for the first time in years with no glycemic spike when she began making bread for him with a start of natural yeast we gave her.”  This could explain the sharp increase in obesity and diabetes over the last 3 decades.

Also, bread made with natural yeast is actually a living food! How? Because the heat of baking stimulates the yeast to send out spores right before it dies, which can survive even the most uninhabitable environments. Once the temperature gets back to a safe level, the spores hatch and repopulate the yeast colony inside the bread. (something that I did not know before.) The co-author tells about how she discovered this with a great stoke of humor, and little things like this made the book a lot of fun to read 🙂 at the end of this section, she says, “So next time you take your Frankenbread out of the oven, you can hold it in the air and cackle, “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!” Or you can just eat it, but where’s the excitement in that?”

Another great point that the authors made was that bread was the STAFF of life, and not the CRUTCH of life, meaning that it was never the main part of the meal, and if you can’t have a meal without bread or grains, then you are relying on your staff way too much. Caleb has a yeast starter that comes from a 100+ year old start of pioneer yeast, and he will send a start of this yeast for free to anyone who buys his book – all you have to do is send him a request with a self addressed stamped envelope. The yeast is an actual yeast start, and not a sourdough starter, and so it looks, tastes, and smells like yeast bread.

I hope that you all will find this as useful as I did! Not only was it very useful and enlightening, it was a fun read. 😀





Crunchy Mama Talk – Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Crunchy Talk

Mama Natural has done it again! And, she used quite a few of my suggestions for part 2 – watch it now 😀

See the original Mama Natural post here

Vitamins, Minerals, Probiotics, & Enzymes

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Real Food Education

A healthy diet requires a mixture of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotic bacteria for your body to break down and absorb the nutrients in your food. For these essential elements to be most effective, they should be eaten in their whole natural forms: Whole grains, meat with the fat, whole milk dairy products, etc.


Any of a group of substances that are essential in small quantities for the normal functioning of metabolism in the body. They cannot usually be created in the body but they occur naturally in certain foods: insufficient supply of any particular vitamin results in a deficiency disease.


Minerals are chemical elements required by living organisms for normal functioning of metabolism, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen which are naturally present in the body. Minerals enter the food chain when they are absorbed by plants, which are then eaten. Plant and animal foods both contain minerals. Bacteria play an essential role in breaking down these minerals to release the nutrients and make minerals available for use at a cellular level in the body.


Enzymes are molecules in food that speed up the chemical reactions that break down large molecules of food in the digestive system so that they can be absorbed and used by the body. Enzymes are found in both plant and animal food sources. All enzymes are deactivated at a wet-heat temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and a dry-heat temperature of about 150 degrees, so it is important to eat a good amount of raw foods, and to not cook foods at extremely high temperatures.

 Probiotic Bacteria:

Probiotic bacteria are a group of live microorganisms living in the body which improve the intestinal microbial balance, and inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria. The most common of these microbes are lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria; but certain yeasts and bacilli, such as those found in yogurt and kefir are also a part of this group. Heating milk over 110° kills any probiotic bacteria that was in the milk and removes any of the benefits that you may have otherwise received.

Politically Correct Nutrition V.S. Traditional Wisdom

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Real Food Education

Crunchy Talk

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Crunchy Talk

It’s funny how when you start getting involved in alternative health, there seems to be a whole new dialect that we learn, even if we are not around a lot of other “crunchy” folks! I laughed when I saw this video, because I think I have said almost all of these things, and more . . . And when we get around each other, I wonder sometimes if regular people even know what we are talking about.


If I could have added to this, there would have been a few more things that they could have said:

1. “Can you hold on a second? I need to pee my baby.” (infant potty training/elimination communication)

2. Raw Milk (in the two words part)

3. Cold sheet treatment

4. “Sure you can have a green avocado kefir smoothie”

5. “We chose not to participate in the barf fest this year” (referring to the chronic overdose of sugary treats which tend to induce flu every holiday)

6. “Are you picking up milk this week?”

7. Cod Liver Oil

8. “have you watched _________________ yet?” (fill in your food/childbirth/breastfeeding related documentary)

9. “I was so devastated, he self weaned when he was only 12 months old!”

10. Essential Oils (added to two words)

11. “Honey, can you stop and pick up some vodka from the liquor store? I’m out of __________.” (Fill in your tincture)

12. Weston A. Price

13. Vaccination waivers (two words)

14. soaked grains (two words)

15. “We don’t have an infant carrier”

16. “Just sneak into the barn at night, pick up a couple of gallons and leave your money in the box.”

17. “We don’t eat cold breakfast cereal”

18. “We would like to skip the fluoride treatments.” (To the dental assistant)

19. lacto-fermentation

20. Grass fed (two words)

21. “Have some more pastured bacon!”

22. Farm Raids (two words)

23. “Check the label for GMO’s/HFCS/MSG/Red Dye #40/etc.”

24. Monsanto

25. “Keep the government out of my food!”

26. quoting CDC stats on raw milk/spinach/herbal supplements

27. Pastured eggs (two words)

28. “Please don’t trim the fat, and can you throw in all of the organ meats and soup bones, please?” (to the butcher)

29. Are you going to ride with the raw milk freedom riders?

30. Namaste!

A visual of the mother chewing up something and putting it in baby’s mouth would have been too funny as well. I could go on and on, so feel free to leave your additions in the comments!

In Search of a Cure for the Common Cold and other Maladies

Let’s face it, most people’s health insurance isn’t what it used to be. But that has been a blessing in disguise for my family. When my husband dropped his health insurance because it was going to cost over $600 a month for insurance with a $5,000 deductible, that turned out to be one of the biggest blessings of my life, and for my family.

How could that possibly be a blessing? Well, as it turned out, having cushy health insurance was impeding my growth, and causing my family to suffer needlessly. If someone got a cold, we did what everyone does – we bought cough syrup, decongestants, and nasal strips, and if it got really bad and turned into strep or an ear infection, we went to the doctor and got antibiotics.

Don’t those things help you get better faster? Well, I used to think so, but no health insurance for a couple of years introduced me to God’s medicine cabinet, and what’s in there trumps all of the regular stuff! 90% of any family illnesses are 100% curable or preventable, and in less than half the time (probably even a fraction of the time) it takes to go through a course of antibiotics. Having no health insurance led me to the elusive cure for the common cold.

So why ain’t I freakin’ rich by now? I would have thought so, but no – that is another thing I learned. It’s not the kind of thing that anyone can make a lot of money from really. And that is exactly why the health industry has lied to us about it for so long. And that is why what I am about to tell you is something that no one in the health industry really wants you to know. In fact, if you attempt to tell your doctor about this, they will tell you it’s nuts, that it couldn’t possibly work, that it’s snake oil, that it’s just the placebo effect, or that this kind of experimentation on your kids is irresponsible parenting.

99% of all the things you go to the doctor or use pharmaceuticals for can be easily taken care of at home in a fraction of the time and with no side effects. With just a few simple ingredients. Your run of the mill colds, flu, stomach flu, earaches, strep throat, pink eye, and food poisoning (a lot more common than most people realize) take up most of our doctor visits. We limp around on sprains and suffer with minor burns, cuts and bruises a lot longer than we need to. In the last 10 years, the only things we have been to the doctor for were stitches (2 times, same kid) and x-rays to make sure no bones were broken after a couple of playground escapades – one involving a teeter-totter, and another after a bike accident – and for my oldest son who had a non-cancerous bone growth last year. I was very grateful for doctors on that one, but even stitches are up for debate now, if doing it myself will save time and grief. I have done one set of scalp stitches, because the scalp isn’t very sensitive and it’s hidden under hair, so scarring isn’t as big of an issue.

Here is a list of the things that I have found to be very effective for treating some of the most common ailments:

Colds and flu: Prevention is the cure. Most human beings cannot synthesize vitamin C. In studies of disease over 50 years ago, it was found that in cases where people had died of infectious disease, there were no traces of vitamin C left in the tissues of the deceased. People with higher the levels of vitamin c in their body tissues were more resistant to disease. Megadosing vitamin C really can prevent or eliminate an oncoming cold or flu. But it isn’t that simple. The thing is the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is only about 100mg for an adult. The problem is that this is the bare minimum. Most people need much more than that, at least 10 times more, and we are not getting it from our food. Even if we are eating really healthy we generally won’t get enough because the soils are depleted of nutrients and the vitamins are simply not there. Even if you grow the food yourself, unless you have properly amended your garden soil, there will not be enough of the right nutrients in the soil for you to get enough vitamin C without supplementing. The second problem is that simply taking vitamin C on its own does not give you the additional nutrients needed to absorb the vitamin C, and your body eliminates it. Problem 3 – most vitamin supplements are in tablet form and contain fillers and additives that prevent them from being absorbed in any significant amount. The best supplements will be capsules with natural forms of pure vitamin C that contain bioflavinoids. Even with the perfect vitamin C supplement, you will not absorb enough vitamin C by just taking vitamin C only to help prevent a cold. This is the main reason people think that megadosing doesn’t work. The key is that the body is unable to absorb vitamin C without enough fatty acids. Fat is a wonderful thing – it carries nutrients, both vitamins and minerals into the cells where it can actually be used. Vitamin C should be taken along with fat soluble vitamins. I have found that if I take 4,000mg of vitamin C with 4,000iu of vitamin E, or a couple of teaspoons of high quality cod liver oil it speeds up the healing process much faster. I have not had a full blown cold in 5 years, and I used to get a good case of the cold/flu at least twice a year that lasted 2 to 3 weeks, culminating in my losing my voice for at least 1 of those weeks. Not any more!

Stomach flu: The trick with stomach flu is to catch it early. Stomach flu is bacterial and often the result of eating something bad. I read somewhere once that 90% of all stomach flu is food related. When I thought about that, I decided to try some things that kill parasites and other pathogenic type bacteria. If you catch it early before it moves into the intestines, it is easier to get rid of. Taking a dropper each of black walnut extract and olive leaf extract in a glass of orange juice has always knocked out a flu bug within minutes. Just what you needed – kids bouncing off the walls again! If it has moved farther along, you may need to take a few more doses for it to work, and you will want to add some slippery elm bark powder in capsules to slow down any diarrhea, and some oregano oil (also in capsules) to help kill any stubborn bacteria that got stuck down in there. Also add some probiotics like kefir to rebuild the gut flora.

Earaches: Earaches are easily knocked out with a little garlic oil or tea tree oil mixed in to some olive oil or other carrier oil. Simply put a clove of garlic through a garlic press, mix with olive oil, and strain. Add a few drops of  tea tree oil, and put it directly into the ear. It helps to put a cotton ball in the ear to keep the oil from draining out. It sometimes takes about 20 minutes to an hour for permanent relief, but usually relief is almost immediate.

Strep throat: When I first started treating strep with herbals, I actually swabbed the back of my throat with tea tree oil using a cotton swab.  it was dreadfully unpleasant, but it had immediate results. My kids even did it to themselves because they couldn’t stand the sore throat any more. Since then, i have found gargling with colloidal silver gives similar results, and if you have a stubborn strep, add a few drops of tea tree oil and a couple of dashed of sea salt. For younger children, sweet birch oil works better, because it has a better flavor than tea tree oil, but it kills bacteria almost as well.

Pink eye: a few drops of colloidal silver in the eye a few times a day, or use one dropperful of Dr. Christopher’s herbal eyebright mixed into about an ounce of colloidal silver. That mixture is faster acting and you can get rid of pinkeye without antibiotics in about a day. If one kid gets pinkeye, treat them all because it spreads FAST!

Food poisoning: Treat just like the stomach flu.

Sprains and Briuses: an infusion of arnica flowers in olive oil does wonders for sprains. Arnica is a strong anti-inflammatory and does wonders in reducing swelling. Pack a glass jar with arnica flowers and then cover the flowers with a carrier oil. Allow it to sit in a warm sunny place for a few days, the longer the better. You can use this oil to rub into bruises and sprains.

Minor burns: A mixture of the arnica oil with aloe vera gel and St. Johns wort essential oil, also known as hypericum and a few drops of wintergreen will cool and sooth the pain. This is a great combination for sunburns and other minor burns.

Minor cuts: Bleeding can be stopped by putting cayenne pepper on a cut. Once the bleeding has stopped, a good herbal ointment with a good mixture of soothing, and anti-inflamitory herbs like arnica, a pain relieving herb like cloves or st.johns wort, and a cell proliferator like comfrey and slippery elm adds healing properties. It should also have a good antibacterial like oregano to prevent infection. Every family should have a good multipurpose herbal salve in their first aid kit.

With these simple remedies on hand, our family has gone a good long time without the need for professional medical services.

This was posted on Mind Body and Sole, Wildcrafting Wednesday!

Rocky Mountain “Moo Shine” and Raw Milk Temperance

Revered by some as “natures perfect food,” and yet demonized by others as “deadly poison,” milk, one of the most innocuous liquids known to man, is now the subject of possibly the biggest food fight of its kind. Mild mannered farmers coming to words with government agents, food safety attorneys, and irate consumers while “big dairy” farmers manipulate legislators and lobby for legislation that weighs heavily in their favor. So, what’s all the hullaballoo?

Like moonshine in the US Prohibition Era, raw milk is being targeted as unhealthy and dangerous, but unlike moonshine, raw milk that is produced following strict code of cleanliness and correct nutrition for the animals producing it, is safe. Even for babies. In the absence of mother’s milk, raw milk can be combined with other ingredients to make a baby formula that helps babies thrive, and meets the nutritional needs of babies much better than powdered or canned baby formula can. Also, unlike alcohol prohibition, today’s heavy regulation and bans on raw milk seem to be spurred more by big agriculture and the dairy industry to suppress unwanted competition, rather than a genuine desire to protect public health by a nanny state run amok.

Before the prohibition, clean water was scarce, and milk had become dangerous due to the cattle being fed the grain byproduct, or “swill,” left over from alcohol production. By the 1820?s the average American, including children, was drinking an average of 7 gallons of pure alcohol annually or the equivalent of about 2.5 ounces of pure alcohol daily, which translates out to 70 gallons of beer, or 39 gallons of wine, or 15.5 gallons of distilled liquor, per year.

To try to control the use of alcohol, reformers began an educational campaign teaching temperance or the “reduction or elimination of the use of alcoholic beverages.” Reformers experienced a significant amount of success with their educational campaigns, and In the 1830?s the average alcohol intake was down to only 3 gallons of pure alcohol per year, but because of alcohol’s addictive properties, reformers set their sights on ending alcohol consumption completely.

During this time, according to Jeffrey A. Miron at Boston University, “temperance movements waxed and waned in the U.S. from early in the nineteenth century, and these movements produced numerous state prohibitions. Many of these prohibitions were subsequently repealed, however, and those that persisted were widely regarded as ineffective. Amid the atmosphere created by World War I, support for national prohibition reached critical mass, and the country ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in January, 1919. Under this amendment and the Volstead Act, which provided for the enforcement of Prohibition, the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol were prohibited by federal law.”

Aside from the differing reasons for temperance, the parallels are strong. The current “raw milk temperance” being pushed by the big dairy industry has the same goal – to use federal law to end “the manufacture, transportation, and sale of” raw milk intended for direct sale to the consumer – albeit for differing reasons. Raw milk temperance also enjoyed a huge success as the result of its ‘educational’ smear campaign against raw milk in the early to middle 1900’s, and almost completely wiped out small raw dairies who were selling directly to consumers. But that was not good enough. Now in the wake of consumers’ ever increasing interest in local farm fresh foods, the dairy industry has doubled its efforts to eradicate raw dairy altogether using federal regulation and whatever means possible.

Like alcohol consumption, raw milk does have its risks – just as any other food does. However, food borne illness from raw milk is relatively small compared to that of other raw foods, even when compared to pasteurized milk. Supporters of raw milk prohibition claim that the reason those instances are small is due to the fact that less than 10% of the US population consumes raw milk, and that in fact, instances of food borne illness are actually higher per capita. Even if this were true, their comparison does not take into account the diet of the cow producing the milk, or the difference between raw milk that has been properly handled and raw milk that has not. It also does not take into account that there have been no deaths from food borne illness associated with raw milk in many years, but there have been deaths from food borne illnesses linked with other foods, including pasteurized milk and cheese.

The standards of cleanliness and the way that cows producing raw milk for direct sale are fed have improved dramatically since the days of the swill milk dairies. Even if they had not, you would think that the temperance movement would take a lesson from history – prohibition was unsuccessful then, and it won’t work now.

Heaing With Food

I went to a workshop with the title “Healing With Food” a while ago, and I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed. Not that it wasn’t good, it was interesting – I never knew you could do so much with a potato. But it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I signed up for workshops at the conference I was attending. Dang, why so picky? You might ask. Well, it turns out I was thinking along the lines of healing with food by eating it. So here’s the deal – maybe I’m arrogant or something, and I think that some people probably think I am a bit of a snob when it comes to food. When I tell people I haven’t had a cold in almost 5 years and that I used to get bad colds at least twice a year, I don’t think they believe me.

That was the year that my cold went from a cold to bronchitis to pneumonia. 6 weeks of sleeping while sitting up in bed so you don’t feel like you’re drowning  can do funny things to a person. I knew at that time that food has powerful qualities – besides just filling your belly, it can heal your ills or it can kill you. It just depends on what kind of food you choose to eat, because pneumonia and colds are not the only illnesses that the right foods can heal. Or cause Illness.

Now rewind to 11 years before the year I got pneumonia. I had much worse problems – I just didn’t know it yet. When I was 28 I had my second child. I had also just graduated from BYU with my BA in English Teaching and had lined up a long term substitute teaching position, which would give me the experience teaching to help me land a permanent teaching job the next school year. Things were busy, finances were tough and packaged food was REALLY cheap, especially if you used coupons. I thought things were great. I loved teaching, but I was having issues with depression and fatigue and I had started to gain a lot of weight. After my first child, I banished fat from the house and by the next year I had hit over 320 lbs. Before I had the baby, I wasn’t thin, but I was about 175 after my first child, about 25 pounds more than my pre-pregnancy weight (which was really upsetting to me at the time) which means I had almost doubled in weight since then, which was really horrifying to me because when I was only 22 -( just 6 short years earlier) I was thin and athletic – I could run a 2 mile distance in a little less than 13 1/2 minutes, I only had 17% body fat – (You know it was a big deal if I knew that) so this was a BIG deal.

Even before that, after I had my first child I had tried to continue with my fitness routines, ramping it up to swimming 40 laps 3x a week, running 2 miles daily, weight training 2x a week and doing aerobics 3x a week, but in spite of that, I was slowly and steadily gaining, until I was so physically exhausted that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was also having miscarriages – one when my husband and I had been married about 3 months, another when my oldest was about a year old, and another a month or so before I found that I was pregnant with my second.

Halfway into my second year teaching I was in the doctors office – I never felt rested, I was extremely overweight, had stopped menstruating, and guessed that maybe I had a thyroid problem, so I requested the tests. When the results came back, I was told that I was fine. I asked if maybe the results were borderline, and I was told there is no borderline with thyroid your either fine or you aren’t, and I was FINE. Go home and get off your lazy but and lose some weight and all of your problems will go away. Not in those exact words, but I was so upset by the condescending way that he spoke to me that I never went back, and I never looked for another doctor.

I tried to eat better by following the USDA advice and following the food pyramid even more closely, cutting out all fat, being sparing with the meat, and ramping up on carbs. I developed sugar cravings and had dry brittle nails and itchy skin. My hair was shedding so badly that it was in the vacuum, plugging the shower, and it was in the laundry and all over the carpet through the whole house (because the vacuum wouldn’t pick it all up – I had to sweep the carpets and would pick up a giant ball of hair every time I did.)By the time my son was 3 I was having hot flashes and night sweats like a menopausal woman. I was only 31. I had given up on the idea of having any more children, and I felt so sick and tired that I would wish that I could die rather than drag myself through the rest of my life feeling the way I did then. I never acted on that feeling because I had two small children who needed me. I quit teaching in 2001, and concentrated what energy I had on basic survival, which with kids in the summertime means a trip to the library at least once every other week.

And that is where it all started to change. I found a book in the library discard pile that got me thinking. It was “Calories Don’t Count,” by Herman Taller. I had been considering getting a food scale and diving into the world of calorie counting, which I had always refused to do, because I have always believed that eating should be an enjoyable, natural part of life -like breathing. Counting calories in my opinion was the equivalent of counting breaths. It was unnatural. So I paid the librarian 25¢ and took the book home and read it. For the most part, it wasn’t even about dieting, but discussed in basic terms the physiology of fat and why our bodies need it. It seems silly to me now, but at the time, it was an eye opening read – I remember thinking it was nuts, and then question forcefully came into my mind “what if everything that you have previously thought and been taught about nutrition is completely WRONG?”

Taller had briefly mentioned some low-fat experiments with rats that he had done, and some research by Dr. Weston A. Price, having to do with dietary fat that really fascinated me. It really hit home because I was having all of the symptoms that the rats in his study had, and after researching Dr. Weston Price online, I realized that I was doing this to myself with my FOOD. It seems so obvious now, and I have always made an effort to be healthy, but how processed pasta 6 nights a week fits into that picture, I still can’t figure out. Luckily being a farm girl, I had the know how to cook real food, so I started doing it. Adding fat back in was weird – I remember choking down the grease in my hamburger which I had been rinsing off with hot water through a colander. I started feeling better. Over the next year, I went from 385 pounds to about 215. I changed out all processed flour for whole wheat flour and started making my own pancake mix. We switched from regular table salt to sea salt. We got rid of the sugar. We bought a freezer and dumped canned foods. With every change I began to feel a little more normal, but I was still infertile. I started looking for a source of raw milk – I was not trying to get pregnant at this point; after 5 years I had pretty much given up on having any more children.

I spent time calling every dairy in Utah, I even called the Utah State Department of Agriculture – all of who told me that it was illegal and dangerous.  I drove around in the countryside looking for milk cows and even got up the nerve to knock on a couple of doors to inquire about Bessy out in the field. I finally was directed (hush hush) by a goatherd to a ‘gray market’ operation, where I would go in and pick up milk at night and put my money in a box. I noticed for the first time in years that my strength was coming back, and my muscle tone was firming up. I got kefir grains and started drinking a quart of kefir every day. I had been having terrible trouble with candida and would get open weeping sores in the folds of my skin that were really painful, but after just one quart of kefir, they were noticeably improved. After a few weeks they were gone. When I started adding flax seed oil to my kefir, within two weeks, I found out that I WAS PREGNANT!  The pregnancy went without a hitch and I didn’t gain an above normal amount of weight. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within a few weeks after the baby was born.

Things still were not (and are not) perfect – for example, the thing with the colds and later came pneumonia that spurred me farther along the path to more complete healing. But now I have 4 children, and feel that my family is complete. They are healthy and smart and beautiful. So what more could I ask for? Healing with food is real – not just in a potato poultice, but in real whole food that you EAT every day. After all, as Hippocrates once said: “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”

Kids in The Kitchen: 10 Tips for Teaching Kids to Cook

My mother never shooed us out of the kitchen. Instead she put us to work! Since I am from a very big family (12 children), in a word, it was chaos, but it was beautiful chaos. I prepared my first full meal when I was only 8 years old. My mother grew up in a family where everything was cooked from cans, so it was very important to her that we know how to cook from scratch. As a teenager she taught herself to cook real food and then took over the family meals. One of the first things that I ever learned how to make was bread, and the first job we had as kids was to knead the dough. I can imagine now that my mother may not have wanted to do all of the kneading herself – she baked bread every Saturday – but at the time it was great fun!

When I was in college, I found out that not everyone’s mothers thought that learning to cook was important – I taught a few roommates how to do some simple things – like read recipes, boil water to make pasta, make dinner rolls, and to bake cookies (a skill that no enterprising – and starving – college girl should be without!) But I appreciate the skills I learned as a child even more as a mom. After meeting people who didn’t even know how to boil water or follow simple instructions on a box of rice-a-roni (which I honestly had never even HEARD of until I was in college), I decided that ALL of my kids would learn to cook because there is nothing sadder than an adult college student struggling on a small budget, who can’t even take care of themselves in this most basic way.

So here it is! My list of ten tips to help you teach your kids how to cook:

  1. Never shoo your children out of the kitchen. Instead, put them to work! Even small children can do something, even if you just give them a small piece of dough to play with. At 3, measure ingredients and let them put the measured ingredients into the mixing bowl. At 4 and 5, you can hand them a vegetable peeler. At 6, let them read the ingredients out of the recipe book and show them how to measure. You can set them up with a knife to chop vegetables (supervised of course) and at 7, let them measure out ingredients for you, or even try a simple recipe all by themselves. At 8, let them prepare a simple meal for the whole family without any help.  Not only have they learned an important skill, but they have realized that they can be an important member of the family, and they have earned confidence!
  2. Provide your children with easy access to healthy recipes that are easy to follow, and that are in a format that is easy to use and can take a beating. You may be interested in my Healthy Kid’s Recipe Cards, which you can find online here
  3. Hold a weekly family night or regular family activities so that you can provide additional opportunities for your children to make snacks or treats to showcase their newly learned skills.
  4. Praise them when it is warranted. Do not overdo it by ignoring faults and flops though – good food is expensive and good instruction that includes correction when needed helps avoid unnecessary waste. I recommend a sandwich style praise and correction model. If the recipe turned out badly, praise them for what they did right (wow, you did this all by yourself?) and then provide gentle instructions (next time, call me in if you need help with measuring the salt.) Then another good thing (It looks like you baked these for just the right amount of time!)Your child will want to know what went wrong so that they can make it better the next time around.
  5. Expect your boys to learn as well as your girls! Boys need these skills just as much as anyone now! You can’t make the mistake of assuming that your son’s wife will know how to cook or you may end up with grand kids who are part of the McD’s generation. Besides, it might be just the thing that will help him catch the girl of his dreams! My husband cooked for me on our first date. Children who learn to cook are less expensive to support through college, and will be healthier as well.
  6. As your children get older, do not hesitate to give them more responsibilities. Alternate the responsibilities for making breakfasts, allow them to pack their own lunches for school, and assign them one night a week to make dinner for the family.
  7. Always verbally thank the one responsible for the meal publicly around the dinner table. Point out the best parts of the meal and say exactly what you like about it. This is not the forum for corrections unless the child acknowledges something himself – like if a cake fell or if there was too much pepper in the gravy.  If they point it out themselves  in this setting, you can down play it for the moment (“yes, but the potatoes are perfect!”) and help them fix it later.
  8. When your child is old enough, help them plan a month of menus and execute a shopping trip. This lets your child learn the logistics of planning a meal from start to finish, including what constitutes a balanced meal, what you have already on hand and which items they will need to buy, and how much those things actually cost.  A child should be able to plan one day’s meals at the age of 7 or 8, a week’s worth of menus at 9 or 10, and a month of menus at 11 or 12.
  9. Don’t hold back on letting your child make a complicated recipe. I made bread on my own for the first time when I was not even 8 years old. You as the parent can trust your instincts about what your child is capable of at what age. Allow your child to challenge herself even if you are not sure if she can do it on her own. I was pleasantly surprised the first time my daughter made apple pie.
  10. Avoid relying on boxed items or pre-made foods for teaching kids how to cook. Children can read and understand recipes and it is a good opportunity for kids to learn about measurements, how ingredients work in a recipe, and many other things that kids can’t learn by making ramen noodles or microwavable boxed macaroni and cheese. Children are capable of much more than we give them credit for, and besides, teaching from scratch allows your child to form good nutritional habits early on, which will allow them to have a healthier lifestyle and a better quality of life.