Tag 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?



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

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!

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”

20 Things to do With Soured Raw Milk or Cream

Raw milk or cream sours much differently from commercially prepared milk or cream. In commercially prepared milk, the product has been pasteurized, or heated at high temperatures, to kill any bacteria that may have been in the milk. As a result, not only are the pathogens killed, but also the beneficial bacteria that aid your body in digesting the milk, as well as the enzymes and most of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and magnesium which help you body absorb the calcium in the milk. This is why artificial vitamin D is added to milk – to replace what was destroyed in the pasteurization process. Also, the milk is usually also homogenized, or forced through a screen that breaks the cream into unnaturally small particles so that it will not separate.

Because of this, pasteurized homogenized milk is much different from farm fresh milk straight from the cow. Milk that has undergone this type of processing putrefies as it sours because for one, it is a blank slate so to speak, and any wild bacteria floating around in the air can settle in the milk. In our environment many types of bacteria are commonly found which can become pathogenic, or dangerous, under the right conditions. These bacteria – e-coli, campylobacter, staphylococci, salmonella, and others – are common and generally benign in our environment until they find the right media in which to grow. Pasteurized milk provides an ideal environment, where unpasteurized milk contains many beneficial bacteria which naturally inhibit the growth of these types of pathogenic bacteria.

Try this: Set two jars of milk out on the counter in a warm location for several days – one pasteurized milk and the other raw or unpasteurized milk. The pasteurized milk will begin to stink, while the raw milk will generally have a more mild cheese like smell. The pasteurized milk would be dangerous to drink, while the raw milk would be perfectly safe, even if you did not find the flavor pleasant. Many traditional cultures actually did drink their milk clabbered, and even preferred it that way.

For pasteurized milk of course, there is really only one thing that you can do with it once it has reached this point unless you want to risk becoming seriously ill – throw it out! Soured raw milk on the other hand can be used for many things. Of course you could drink it, but many people now are unaccustomed to the sour flavor of clabbered milk, so I have put together a list of 20 things that you can do with raw milk or cream that has unexpectedly gone south while you weren’t watching.

  1. Use the whey, or the clear liquid that separates from the milk, to soak nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains, which makes the nutrients in these foods more readily digestible. You only need a tablespoon or two to add to the water that you are using to soak your grains. After the grains have soaked for 24 hours, cook them as you normally do before using them.
  2. Mix soured milk into pancake batter, biscuits, or quick breads in place of buttermilk or other liquids called for in the recipe.
  3. Mix soured cream into scrambled eggs or eggs used for french toast before cooking them.
  4. Mix soured cream into mashed potatoes instead of milk
  5. Add a little buttermilk culture and set it out on the counter for another day – then gently heat the milk until it curdles and then strain, add a little fresh cream and salt – viola, cottage cheese!
  6. Add a little buttermilk culture and allow it to sit until fully separated. Then strain soured milk in cheesecloth until you have cream cheese.
  7. Use the soured cream on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.
  8. Warm slightly soured milk on the stove top and add cocoa powder and raw honey or raw cane sugar for a delightful cup of creamy hot chocolate.
  9. Use soured cream to make white sauce or cheese sauce
  10. Use it to make kefir or yogurt
  11. Use a dollop of soured cream to top a baked potato or a bowl of chili
  12. Add seasonings to the cream and turn it into a yummy ranch dip for veggies.
  13. Whip slightly soured cream with a bit of cream cheese and raw honey for a delightful whipped topping for fruit filled crepes
  14. Make mozzarella cheese – it’s easier than it sounds!
  15. Add a little buttermilk culture to slightly soured cream, allow it to sit on the counter for a day, and then pour it into your food processor or blender and make it into cultured butter.
  16. Throw it into the blender with berries an a banana to make a yummy smoothie
  17. Use the soured milk or cream in any recipe that calls for milk – pumpkin pie, clam chowder, etc.
  18. Treat your pets, chickens, pigs.
  19. Pour it on your compost pile.
  20. Put a cup of sour milk in a gallon of water and spray it on your garden for a fabulous fertilizer.

I am sure that there are many other things that you could make or do with sour raw milk or cream – experiment and be creative! – but this should be a good start for those of you who are wondering “What do I do with this now!?”

How to make mozzarella: http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/21.html – It is not necessary to microwave the curd – just drain the curd, heat the whey to about 175 F  and use heavy kitchen gloves to hold the cheese ball under the water for several seconds, then remove it and stretch it; if it breaks repeat the process, but do not leave the cheese in the boiling water or it will dissolve into the water and you will lose your cheese!

7 Good Alternatives to Processed Sugar

Anything natural is better than artificial sweeteners, so nix on the Splenda, sweet ‘n low, and aspartame 🙂 but you already knew that.

Even refined sugar is better than all of those nasty things, but then when you get into the research, you can see that sugar does a lot of damage to our bodies by causing tooth decay, insulin resistance, yeast overgrowth, and weight gain among other things. So we start looking for alternatives so we don’t have to feel bad about treating ourselves (and our kids) to treats every so often. I think that anything – even if it was once natural- if it is over processed,  and even though it may be better than fake sugar, is still something you want to avoid. Things that fall into this category are refined sugar, most brown sugar (which is often just white sugar with molasses added back into it), high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and sadly the onetime favorite of many health conscious individuals, agave nectar. I am also very skeptical of Xylitol for this very same reason. Even refined white sugar is still better than HFCS, because the processing that HFCS goes through causes molecular level changes that have turned out to be REALLY bad. (Think cocaine, and then think crack cocaine – This may be an extreme example, but the basic idea is there)

So what sweeteners are ok, or even good for you in small amounts? My take on this is that if God didn’t want us to have sweets, there would not be dates, bananas, honey, maple syrup, or many of the other good sweet things we have that are naturally sweet with no monkeying around. Of course, we need to use sweeteners in moderation, and you can overdo any good thing. So when it comes to sweeteners, the more natural and the less processed the better.  Here are 7 good alternatives to processed sugar:

  1. Raw Honey: My first choice is all natural raw honey, straight from the hive, maybe run through a strainer, but that’s it. (make sure that the bees have not been fed sugar water – that changes the whole composition of the honey and that is a whole ‘nother story!)
  2. Maple Syrup or Maple Sugar: My next choice would be natural maple syrup, or maple sugar, which is dehydrated maple syrup. These are much less likely to cause your blood sugar to fluctuate – that is the major problem with sugar and that is what leads to insulin resistance.
  3. Raw Cane Sugars: Other good sweeteners are made from raw cane sugar, which is basically dehydrated cane juice, like mascavo, rapadura, turbinado, and sucanat. These can be coarse, medium, or even ground finely into a confectioners sugar, but still has the natural brown color to it, with a lot of vitamins and minerals that are typically removed during processing.Make sure that you get organically grown, otherwise any benefits of vitamins and minerals in the sugar will be outweighed by negative factors, such as pesticide residue.
  4. Blackstrap Molasses: Molasses is another better alternative to sugar – it is the stuff removed from the sugar during processing. You would want to get good quality, again, the less processed the better.
  5. Date Sugar: There is also date sugar, which I have never tried, but I have heard that it is very good and easy to use as a substitute for sugar in baking. But it is really expensive – nearly $50 for an 11oz package! Ouch!
  6. Coconut Palm Sugar: Like cane sugars, organic coconut palm sugar is also very easily used in baking, and is comparable in price. It is more expensive compared to honey, but can be substituted 1:1 like cane sugar. It is not nearly as expensive as date sugar though. You can get an 8oz package for between $6 and $10, depending on the brand. Coconut palm sugar is a darker brown sugar and tastes more like brown sugar than cane sugar. There are questions for some people as to the sustainability in the production of coconut palm sugar, for example they say that carelessly harvested palm sugar can damage the coconut trees from which it is harvested – if all the flowers are removed, no coconuts will be produced, and then no new trees can grow, resulting in fewer and fewer coconut trees, and therefore fewer coconut products like coconut oil, etc. Traditional harvesting methods of palm sugar ARE sustainable, and actually improve the yield of coconuts, and is more friendly to the environment than cane sugar production because it requires no artificial irrigation. There are other types of palm sugars other than coconut palm sugar, but I do not know enough about those to comment on them – see comments for more info on other types of palm sugars 🙂
  7. Stevia Leaf Powder: Then there is stevia. This is also 100% natural and doesn’t cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, and a little goes a loooooong way. It is up to 30 or more times sweeter than sugar, and can be used in recipes instead of sugar in very small amounts with the same sweetness. However, I don’t like the flavor of it, as it can leave a bitter aftertaste, and darn it, one of the only good reason to eat sweets is for a treat, so don’t use it if you don’t like the taste – it defeats the purpose!

Making Yogurt with Villi and Greek Cultures

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Making Villi and Greek Yogurt

When I got my yogurt cultures in the mail from Cultures for Health, I was really excited, but had to put the project on hold due to my trip to the Raw Milk Symposium that weekend. I wanted to have plenty of time to do it right. So when I got back from Wisconsin, I pulled out the packets and with some very enthusiastic help from 7-year-old Zee, I went to work. We started with the Villi culture. Zee opened the packet for me and measured out the recommended 1/2 tsp of culture, which I mixed into 1/2 cup of raw milk. I left this in a canning jar on my stove top for 24 hours checking it occasionally – OK, so I hovered a little, I’m a little controlling – sorry! – after 24 hours, it was still not setting up, so I checked the instructions and saw that on the back of the page of instructions there was a special section for raw milk! So, I set the first try aside and started over, this time I slowly heated the milk to 160° and then cooling the milk to room temperature before adding the culture, and then began the waiting process all over again. Being a somewhat scientifically minded person, I left the first batch on the stove top along with the second one, and waited (alright – I already said I am not much good at waiting, but I really don’t think I hurt it any.) The next morning, the first batch had gelled up to a kind of slimy runny consistency, while the second batch was still not set up. I left it there and decided I would check it again when I got home from work.

When I got home, the first batch had gelled into a very soft yogurt that held form when first scooped up, but then collapsed into a really runny yogurt, more like kefir. The second one was much more firm and was beginning to separate from the whey. Glad that there was an extra half teaspoon, I used the pure starter and mixed it in to a quart of raw milk that I had mixed in about 1 cup of cream, and set it on the counter again. This batch set up very nicely after 24 hours and had a really nice thick mild flavored yogurt. Yum! I used the 3rd 1/2 tsp to make another pure starter (done right by heating the milk first) and put it in the refrigerator to be used in the next batch – I will make another pint of yogurt by heating the milk and then I can use 2 Tbsp in each quart of raw milk without having to heat it again until I want to make another batch of pure starter. This is done to preserve the integrity of the villi culture, because bacteria from the raw milk can change the culture and yield unpredictable results.

The Greek yogurt was a bit different – it requires very low heat. I started out right this time, warming the milk to 180° this time (as per instructions) and then cooled it to 110° before adding the culture.  With only 1/2 cup of milk, much of the liquid evaporated out. I used my food dehydrator and I am wondering if it may have been a little to warm. I put the starter into a Ziploc baggie and put it in the refrigerator. I think I will bring in the cooler and use the hot water method instead.

To be continued! . . .