Thursday, July 24, 2014

Italian Beef and Veggies Over Quinoa (nutrient-dense : gluten-free)

This recipe is my twist on the typical spaghetti dinner.  I saute up plenty of fresh veggies, add some ground beef and marinara, and then serve it over top of some quinoa.  Yum!

Italian Beef and Veggies Over Quinoa
Serves 6-8
  • Quinoa:
  • Italian Beef and Veggies
    • 2 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 1 large white onion, chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 8 medium cremini mushrooms, chopped
    • 1&1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 jar of Italian Herb Pasta Sauce, 26-ounces (or your favorite marinara sauce)
    • celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper
    • shredded raw cheddar cheese, to garnish
  1. Soak the quinoa: In a glass bowl, cover the quinoa with filtered water, stir in a splash of apple cider vinegar, and allow to soak at room temperature for 4-18 hours.  Soaking the quinoa in an acidic medium helps in reducing the anti-nutrients (such as phytic acid) that are present in grains.  I find that quinoa gets rather mushy when allowed to soak for too long, so I often only soak it for a few hours before cooking it.
  2. Start cooking the onion: About 40 minutes before dinner, melt 2-Tb butter in a 4-quart heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and saute. It is fine if the onion gets a bit of browned color; that means it is caramelizing and releasing its natural sweetness. (I love to use my bamboo spatula for this recipe.)
  3. Drain and rinse the quinoa: In the meantime, drain the quinoa in a mesh colander.  Then rinse the quinoa VERY well.  The more the quinoa is rinsed before cooking, the less bitter it will be. I like to rinse the quinoa until the water becomes crystal clear.  
  4. Cook the quinoa: In a medium pot, combine the quinoa with about 3-4 cups of filtered water. The amount of water depends on how long the quinoa was soaked; use less water if you had a long soaking time, or use closer to 4 cups of water if the soaking time was short.) Add a sprinkle of salt.  Bring to a low boil.
  5. Add the carrots and celery to the onion: Once the onion has been cooking for 5-10 minutes and is becoming translucent, add the celery and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and saute for a few minutes. You may need to reduce the heat a bit if the pot it getting too hot.
  6. Skim the foam from the quinoa: Once the quinoa has come to a low boil, use a shallow spoon to skim off the foam. Discard the foam. Then add the butter to the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally.
  7. Add the mushrooms to the veggies: Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and saute for a few minutes until the mushrooms have released their liquid and shrunken down some.
  8. Add the beef to the veggies: Crumble the ground beef into the veggies. Add 1.5 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beef is mostly browned. The beef does not need to be completely cooked during this step.
  9. Add in the garlic: Add the garlic to the veggies and cook for about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  10. Add the pasta sauce: Pour the pasta sauce over the veggies and beef. Stir to combine, then put a lid on the pot and let it simmer.
  11. Check the quinoa: It will be done when all of the moisture has been absorbed and it is nicely soft.  If the quinoa is done before everything else, just put a lid on the pot and turn off the heat.
  12. Simmer the beef and veggies: Let the beef and veggies simmer for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  13. Shred the cheese: In the meantime, use a box grater to shred the cheese.
  14. Plate it up: To assemble the meals, start with a scoop of quinoa, add some beef and veggies, then top with a generous sprinkle of cheese. My kids and husband prefer to have a smaller amount of quinoa with more of the beef and veggies. I prefer to have equal amounts of both. 
  15. Enjoy!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Strawberry Banana Muffins (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense : primal)

As we near the end of strawberry season, I've made these strawberry banana muffins for my daughter, who still does best avoiding grains most of the time. This recipe is grain-free, and uses a combination of coconut flour with ground nuts.  A bit of lemon zest adds a bright flavor to these delicious muffins.

Strawberry Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper cups.  (I prefer If You Care Unbleached Baking Cups because the muffins do not stick to the sides of the cups.)
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, sucanat, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  (A microplane zester works fantastically to zest the lemon.) If using an immersion blender, pulse a few times to combine. Otherwise, mix to combine with a whisk or mixer.
  4. Add the honey to the butter and stir slightly.  Pour this mixture into the wet ingredients and blend well with immersion blender or mixer.
  5. Measure out the coconut flour.  Since coconut flour clumps, it will need to be sifted if you are not using an immersion blender.
  6. Combine the coconut flour with the ground nuts and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Whisk or mix to combine.
  7. Pour the dry mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients.  Use an immersion blender or mixer to thoroughly combine all ingredients, making sure there are no lumps.  (Since coconut flour does not contain gluten, there is no worry of over-mixing it). The mixture will get quite thick. 
  8. Stir in the mashed banana.  Then stir in the strawberries.
  9. Scoop the muffin batter into the paper cups.  I like to use a 3-Tb scoop for this, but you could just use a large spoon.
  10. Bake muffins in 325 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes, until muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  11. Remove from oven and cool a bit before serving. Serve with a small pat of butter and a glass of raw milk.

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Alternatives to Conventional Braces

This post is the third in a series about alternatives to conventional orthodontics. 
image from

Okay, so my 7-year-old daughter needs orthodontics for her crowded teeth, and we're not using conventional braces because I want her to have more than just straight teeth. I want to actually encourage her dental arches to grow so that her teeth have plenty of space.

Orthodontic Appliances That Encourage Jaw Growth

I have learned of several different orthodontic options that can encourage the dental arches to grow, rather than just straightening the teeth. Because these options cause the bones to grow to accommodate the teeth, there is not a risk of orthodontic relapse like there is with braces. All of these appliances have the additional advantage that they can be used by children as young as 5 years old.

Lightwire Appliances

Image courtesy of AAGO
These include the original lightwire appliance, called Crozat, which was developed in the 1920's, as well as more recently-developed appliances such as Advanced Lightwire Functionals (ALF) and Kernott Universal.  All of these lightwire appliances are made with a flexible, thin-diameter wire that is formed into a removable appliance.  These appliances combine function (chewing, swallowing, etc) along with light forces on the teeth, both of which encourage the dental arches to grow.

The lightwire appliances have the advantage that they are not very obvious when being worn, and may even go completely unnoticed by others. One disadvantage of the lightwire appliances is that the wire can sometimes become damaged during insertion or removal.

A good website for finding practitioners that use lightwire appliances is the American Academy of Gnathologic Orthopedics. ALF practitioners can be found on the ALF Orthodontics Website.

Image courtesy of AAGO

Plastic Myofunctional Appliances

image from
Plastic appliances that encourage dental arch growth include the original OrthoTain (developed in the 1960's) as well as the MyoBrace. Just as with the lightwire appliances, the plastic myofunctional appliances work through correcting the function (chewing, swallowing, etc) along with light forces on the teeth that encourage dental arch growth.  Plastic myofunctional appliances are typically worn at night as well as for several hours during the day.

Plastic myofunctional appliances have the advantage that they are not custom-made for each patient; rather they are preformed in specific sizes. They do not have the potential for damage like the lightwire appliances do.  One disadvantage of plastic myofunctional appliances is that they are bulkier than lightwire appliances, so they are more obvious when being worn.

I have not been able to find a good website that provides a directory of dentists/orthodontists that use plastic myofunctional appliances.  However, my daughter's dentist, who I found through the American Academy of Gnathologic Orthopedics site, does use plastic myofunctional appliances as well as lightwire, so that site might be a good place to start.
image from
image from











What's Next?

In my final post of this series, I will detail our experiences in finding a suitable dentist, our experiences thus far with using an orthodontic appliance, and some pictures of the results we have experienced.

Do you have any experience with non-conventional orthodontic options? 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Superfood Soda Concentrate (nutrient-dense : raw)

Refreshing, tart, and sweet: my family has been enjoying this simple drink concentrate for over a year. It combines two traditional superfoods, raw honey and raw apple cider vinegar, which combine to make an uber-healthy, wonderfully tasty drink.

I have hesitated to share this recipe, because it is so simple and easy to make.  But after having multiple friends ask me for the recipe, I figured my blog followers would like to know it, too.

Superfood Soda Concentrate

  1. If your raw honey has become thick and crystallized, warm it up by placing the jar in a bowl of warm water. This will allow the honey to become thin and pourable. 
  2. Combine equal parts of raw honey and apple cider vinegar. My favorite way to do this involves no measuring and minimal cleanup: Use a half-full jar of raw apple cider vinegar. Place a funnel into the jar, and pour in the honey through the funnel.  It may take a couple refills of the funnel depending on the size of your vinegar jar and funnel. Be patient, as the thick honey can take quite awhile to drip through the funnel; I like to find something else to do in the meantime.
  3. Put a tight-fitting lid on the jar.  Over the next day or two, periodically invert the jar and swish the contents around. It can take awhile for the honey to fully dissolve into the vinegar. 
  4. Once the honey has been fully dissolved in the vinegar, the soda concentrate is ready!
  5. To make a drink, simply pour some of the concentrate into a glass, add your favorite sparkling mineral water, and stir.  The amount of concentrate to use will vary depending on your preference. I like to use roughly 3-4 Tb of concentrate per one cup of fizzy water.
  6. If you don't like fizzy drinks, this same concentrate can be combined with plain, filtered water for a nice electrolyte drink.  When using plain water, I use less of the concentrate, about 1-2 Tb per cup of water.

What is your favorite summertime drink?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Our Top 25 Read-Aloud Picture Books

If I had to choose just one method for homeschooling, it would be reading aloud. With the right books, my kids can learn about anything. Even more importantly, books can teach kids about living with integrity, responsibility, joyfulness, and contentedness. 

Through books, kids can be exposed to so much more than they see in their everyday lives. In this way, books help kids gain perspective on how their lives compare to others. They are able to see people overcoming tough challenges, to watch as others choose to keep their honor intact rather than taking the easy way out.

But there are an awful lot of books that I would NOT read to my kids. I find that, especially with many modern books, the standards are being set far too low. Those books glorify people behaving inappropriately and being inconsiderate. Even in many of the seemingly harmless series' (such as Junie B. Jones), I find there to be an insidious undercurrent of disrespect towards others or the family. (Yes, I know I am a book snob.)

So I wanted to share our list of the books that we treasure. These are books that demonstrate people living with character and decency. These are books that expand my children's horizons. I'll start with picture books and then move on to chapter books in a following post. I've left off some of the well-known classics such as Corduroy and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, since everyone seems to know about those already.

Picture Books That Build Character


Dogger by Shirley Hughes - This is a fantastic book that tells of a little boy named Dave and his favorite stuffed animal, Dogger. When Dogger gets lost, Dave's older sister chooses to make a sacrifice to get Dogger back. My kids relate well to Dave and his sister, and they are moved by this story.

Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter - Beatrix Potter's stories are filled with animals who have all sorts of mischievous adventures, and have to pay the price for their misdeeds. This book is a collection that includes nineteen individual stories, along with beautiful illustrations. My kids request that I read this book very frequently.

Among the Meadow People by Clara Dillingham Pierson - This is a collection of stories from the early 1900's that tells of all the living things in the meadow. My children are fascinated by these stories, and they have also learned a lot about the different creatures and plants through these stories. There are many more in the same series.

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton - When the city gets completely snowed in, all of the truck plows break down. Only one could save everyone: Katy!  My kids adore Katy and her perseverance to dig out the post office, the airport, the fire station, and the rest of the city.

The Little Soul and the Sun by Neale Donald Walsh - This is the story of a Little Soul who wants to experience forgiveness. In order to do so, another Little Soul must be willing to do something that needs to be forgiven.  This story creates lots of thoughtful conversation whenever I read it to the kids. 

Tootle by Gertrude Crampton - Tootle is a train that wants to learn to be a flyer, but first he has to overcome his desire to romp in the field with a horse!  My son, especially, loves this story.

Madeline and the Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans - When a little boy moves in next door to the orphanage where Madeline lives, he gets into all sorts of mischief. The little girls spurn him, but finally realize that he just needs a friend. My kids think the little boy's shenanigans are hilarious, and they love to see the happy ending.


Picture Books That Give a Taste of Culture and History

The Everyday Life of an Egyptian Craftsman by Giovanni Caselli - This book tells the story of a young boy in ancient Egypt. My kids are fascinated with life in Ancient Egypt. The detailed illustrations in this book are wonderful. My daughter is in love with all things related to Ancient Egypt, and she loves to read this book over and over.

Gilgamesh the King by Ludmila Zeman - This book is the first in a trilogy wherein the Epic of Gilgamesh is re-told for children. The illustrations in these books are absolutely gorgeous.  These books are filled with action and love, making them a great introduction to one of the oldest stories in the world.

My Name is Georgia by Jeanette Winter - Filled with pictures in the style of Georgia O'Keefe, this book tells the story of Georgia and her unusual life. From her childhood, through life in the city, and finally ending with many years in the desert, the beauty of Georgia's life shines through in this book. My children love to read about Georgia.

Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War by Kathy Henderson - I was fascinated when I heard of Lugalbanda, which is the oldest known written story in the world - nearly 5,000 years old! My children love the illustrations in this book, and love to learn about Lugalbanda, a boy who brings peace to his people.

Mr. Semolina Semolinus by Anthony L. Manna- This Greek folktale tells of Princess Areti, who makes a man to marry out of sugar, almonds, and semolina wheat. When he is kidnapped by an evil queen, Areti must go on a quest to rescue him.  My kids think this book is so much fun; they always laugh at the end when the queen tries to make her own man and fails because of her own vileness.

Fun and Silly Picture Books

Some Smug Slug by Pamela Duncan Edwards - My kids adore this book, which tells the story of a slug who travels unawares to the top of a toad, and gets promptly eaten.  I have great fun reading this book, filled with an amazing number of "s" words.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey - Mr. and Mrs. Mallard seek to find a safe place to raise their ducklings in this great story.  My kids love seeing the city life in this book, and my son especially loves the friendly policemen who come to the rescue. 

Sophie and the Next-Door Monsters by Chris Case - Sophie starts out being scared of her new monstrous neighbors, but in the end she makes a new friend. My kids love seeing the monster child turn Sophie's cat into a potato and then back again to a cat.

The Hat by Jan Brett - Hedgie the hedghog gets a mitten stuck on his head, and soon enough all the other animals want something to keep them warm for the winter, too.  We adore Jan Brett's illustrations and the way she shows previews of what is to come on the right side of every page. My kids laugh and laugh at the animals wearing woolens.


Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal- Little Pea hates candy. But he has to finish it before he can have his spinach dessert. My kids love this story; they can't imagine anyone hating candy and I think it makes them more excited about eating veggies too.

Picture Books the Very Young Will Love (and my older kids still like them, too)

Babybug - Back when my eldest was an infant, she received a subscription to Babybug magazine for a few years. Here we are 7 years later, and both of my kids still love to read Babybug.  It is filled with lovely stories, poems, and pictures. These magazines are printed on very thick paper, so they don't tear easily. We are still cherishing ours from 2007-2011!


 A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle - Hermit crab has outgrown his shell and must find a new one. As he settles in, many other creatures from the ocean adorn his new shell. My kids love to watch hermit crab make his way in his new home.


Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! by Rosetta Stone - This book has a wonderful cadence and rhyme that makes it quite fun to read. My kids love to see all the things that could happen because... just because... a little bug went Ka-Choo!


Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton - I have such fond memories of both of my kids giggling over and over from my lap while I read them this book when they were toddlers. It is simple and funny. It is good for teaching color recognition too.


Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward - This short, simple book tells about Cookie the mischievous cat, and the trouble he gets into each day of the week. Beginning in toddlerhood and still to this day, both of my kids love reading Cookie's Week.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey - This is the story of Sal and her mother, who get mixed up with bears while picking blueberries to can for the winter.  As toddlers, both of my kids requested to hear this book night after night. Now as a preschooler and a 2nd grader, they still like to hear about Sal periodically.

Brush Mona Lisa's Hair by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo - This book, and the others in the same series, is a great child's introduction to art.  This books shows masterpieces of art, along with something tactile added to each page. Kids can touch Mona Lisa's hair, touch a lacy collar in another picture, and blow on feathers to make the angels fly.  My kids still like to read and play along with this book.

Out and About by Shirley Hughes - This collection of poems and illustrations takes us through all four seasons of the year. It has a way of making me long for each and every season. My kids love to see what the kids do in each season.

What are your favorite picture books to read-aloud?

 Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

Friday, June 6, 2014

BBQ Beef Open-Faced Sandwiches - No Grill Required! (gluten-free and grain-free options)

It is over 100 degrees outside here, and at this time of year I avoid using the oven or slow cooker because I don't want to heat up the kitchen too much.  This recipe for BBQ Beef Open-Faced Sandwiches cooks up in less than 30 minutes, and my family loves it!  We prefer to eat these open-faced, with just one piece of bread each, so we eat this meal with forks and knives.

Most of us eat this BBQ Beef on toasted, buttered sourdough bread; since my daughter still does best avoiding gluten most of the time, I serve hers on top of a homemade gluten-free freezer waffle. (I now leave the vanilla extract out of the waffle recipe so that I can use waffles as an all-purpose bread substitute for my daughter.) For a grain-free alternative, grain-free sandwich bread could be used.

BBQ Beef Open-Faced Sandwiches
Serves 6-8
  1. Melt  2Tb butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion, sprinkle with salt, and saute for 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent. 
  2. In the meantime, combine the BBQ Sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Crumble the ground beef into the skillet with the onion. Brown the meat for several minutes, stirring occasionally. It is not necessary to fully cook the meat at this time.
  4. Add the minced garlic and saute about 30 seconds, just until fragrant.
  5. Pour the BBQ Sauce over the meat in the skillet and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat a bit, just to maintain the simmer. Loosely cover the skillet and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. In the meantime, toast the bread and lightly butter it. Shred the cheddar cheese.
  7. Take the lid off the meat, and allow to cook a couple minutes uncovered to allow some of the moisture to evaporate. Taste the meat for seasoning and add salt/pepper as needed. When it is done cooking, the sauce will have thickened, but will still be very moist. Turn off heat.
  8. Arrange the toasted, buttered bread on plates. Top it with the BBQ Beef and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.  Crispy fried potatoes and a side salad make great accompaniments! Or to keep it simple, you could just serve these sandwiches with some organic Kettle chips
*Since the probiotics in fermented ketchup would be destroyed by cooking, I use storebought Annie's organic ketchup in this recipe.

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.  If you use these links, your price will be the same but I may earn a small commission.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why We're NOT Using Conventional Braces

This post is the second in a series about alternatives to conventional orthodontics. 

My 7-year-old daughter needs orthodontics The conventional approach would be to wait until she
gets older, then use braces to straighten her teeth. Some orthodontists would even recommend extracting some of her teeth to make space for the remaining teeth to be straightened.


Problems with Braces

The main reasons why we are not starting with braces are:
  • Braces do not work in the long term. My husband had braces as an adolescent. At the end of using braces, his teeth were straight. However, now as an adult, his teeth are slowly moving back to their original positions. So the braces made them look better for a time, but in the end they are reverting back to being crooked. This is a well-known phenomena, known as orthodontic relapse.  Nowadays it is a common recommendation that retainers need to be used for the rest of life after braces, to prevent relapse of the teeth into their original positions.
  • Braces do not go to the root of the problem, which is that the jaw is not large enough to accommodate the teeth. Rather, braces just seek to straighten the teeth to make them look better. When there is not enough room for all of the teeth, perfectly sound teeth are often removed prior to the installation of the braces. I want my daughter to be able to keep all of her teeth!
  • With braces, we would need to wait until my daughter was nearly done growing to get started. That means that we would have missed out on many opportunities for jaw growth.  


Thinking Beyond Just Straight Teeth

Yes, straight teeth look better than crooked teeth, but there is a larger goal than just having straight teeth. Years ago, when I read Weston A. Price's monumental book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, one of the cases that made a huge impression on me was the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who had Down's Syndrome (which was referred to as being mongoloid during Price's time).

"This boy at the age of sixteen was infantile in many of his characteristics and developments... he had a mentality of about four years... He played on the floor with blocks and with rattles like a child. ... I determined to widen his arch by moving the maxillary bones apart about one-half inch. The position of his teeth before the moving of the bones is shown in Fig. 126.
"...With the movement of the maxillary bones laterally, as shown progressively in Fig. 126, there was a very great change in his physical development and mentality. He grew three inches in about four months. His moustache started to grow immediately; and in twelve weeks' time the genitals developed from those of a child to those of a man, and with it a sense of modesty. His mental change was even more marked.... In a few weeks' time he passed through stages that usually take several years. At first, he got behind the door to frighten us; later, he put bent pins on chairs to see us jump when we sat down, and finally he became the cause of a policeman's coming to the office from where he was conducting traffic on the corner below to find who it was squirting water on him when his back was turned. He developed a great fondness for calling people over the telephone, wanted to borrow my automobile to take his mother for a drive, and with his arm caressingly about the shoulders of one of the secretaries, invited her to go with him to a dance. All this change developed in about twelve weeks.   

FIG. 125. These views show physical changes in the mongoloid type due to movement of maxillary bones to stimulate the pituitary gland in base of brain. Left, front and side view before, center, front and side view in thirty days. Right, front and side view six months after. Aged sixteen, infantile before, adolescent after operation. (Image from Project Gutenberg)

 "A most remarkable event happened in connection with this procedure. He lived in another city, and so, while with me, stayed in a boarding house at a little distance from my office in order that he might have frequent, and almost constant attention. On his return to his home town, his efficiency had increased to such an extent that his mother could send him with the money to the grocery store with the order for the day's groceries, and he could bring back the right change and could tell when it was correct. He could also come alone to me ninety miles by railroad and make two changes of trains and the various transfers on the street cars of the city with accuracy and safety."

FIG. 126. These x-ray pictures show the position of the teeth before operation to move maxillary bones; and progessively, by the dates shown, the widening of the upper arch.... The space was retained with a fixed bridge carrying two additional teeth. (Image from Project Gutenberg)

This case illustrates that the size of the jaw can have a very large effect on the brain.  Because I had read Weston Price's book previously, when I noticed that my daughter's baby teeth were crowded, I knew that I wanted to find a way to help her jaw grow larger.

While my daughter does not show any signs of delayed development, I certainly want to give her every opportunity to grow into her fullest potential. So rather than using braces to just straighten her teeth, I would much rather that my daughter's upper and lower jaw actually grow larger to accommodate her teeth. 

In the next post of this series, I will discuss alternatives to braces that work by encouraging the jaw to grow to make room for the teeth.

Did your teeth experience orthodontic relapse after braces? Have you read Weston Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fresh Fruit Crumble (gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

Crispy and sweet on top, warm and juicy underneath: fresh fruit crumble is a great way to make the most of seasonal fruits. I prefer to make fruit crumbles instead of pies most of the time, as crumbles are so much easier to put together. With just a few little tweaks, the same recipe can be used for a variety of different fruits.

Fresh Fruit Crumble
Serves 6-8
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream (recipe follows) or Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
  1. One trick to making a crispy crumble topping is to make sure that the butter stays cold.  Keep the butter in the fridge until just before you are going to use it.
  2. Combine all fruit filling ingredients except for the fruit, and stir until well-mixed.
  3. Add the fruit into the mixture and stir to combine. 
  4. Grease an 8X8 square glass baking dish with a bit of butter.  Pour in the fruit filling.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Chop the cold butter into approximately 1/2-inch cubes.  Place the chopped butter in the fridge to stay cold while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Combine the remaining crumble topping ingredients in a medium-large bowl and stir to combine.
  8. Add the chopped butter to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until there is a uniform, crumbly consistency. Note: a food processor does not work very well for this recipe, so use a pastry cutter or two knives instead.
  9. Spread the crumble topping evenly over the fruit in the baking dish.
  10. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling nicely and the topping has reached a medium brown color.
  11. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  12. Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream are fantastic served alongside warm fruit crumble.
Sweetened Whipped Cream
  • 2 cups raw cream
  • pinch of fine ground celtic sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp organic or homemade vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tb raw mild-flavored honey, to taste*
  1. Beat the cream and salt together until the mixture starts to get thick and fluffy.  I like to use my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, but you could also use a hand mixer.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, and drizzle in the honey while the mixer is running.  Alternatively, you could drizzle in the honey a little at a time and mix between each honey addition. 
  3. If you're using a stand mixer, use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure you don't have any clumps of honey at the bottom.  I like to beat it until it gets a bit stiff since it will tend to soften up a bit in the fridge over the next few days.
  4. Store the whipped cream in the fridge in an airtight bowl.
*If your raw honey is very crystallized, place it over a bowl of warm water to make it a bit runny.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My 7-Year-Old Needs Orthodontics! EEK!

This post is the first in a series about alternatives to conventional orthodontics.

Things didn't develop perfectly during my first pregnancy.  Through the wonders of a nutrient-dense diet, my daughter Alina was able to survive in the womb with a half-sized placenta, yet we are still working on a few of the problems that resulted from her being nutrient-starved in the womb.

My daughter has a very fine bone structure. Ever since she was an infant, we have struggled with her having a poor appetite and poor weight gain. Early on, I became concerned that her baby teeth were crowded.  There was just enough space for all of her baby teeth, but there was no extra space at all.

Alina at 4 years old
Alina at 2 years old

Alina at 6 years old
I kept hoping that, through eating a nutrient-dense diet, my daughter's palate and jaw would grow larger to accommodate her adult teeth. Through classical homeopathy, we have been able to correct the imbalances in my daughter's appetite and weight gain, but one thing that hasn't changed is the size of her palate and jaw.  You can see in these recent pictures that her jaw structure is very different from her little brother's (and his head is larger than hers despite the fact that he is 3 years younger).

Alina age 7, Ian age 4: You can see that my daughter's baby teeth fit very tightly in her mouth, while her brother has space between all of his teeth.
My daughter started losing her baby teeth last year. Her new adult teeth will not fit into the spaces left by her baby teeth. Alina has lost three baby teeth so far, and only two adult teeth have emerged.  The third baby tooth she lost was not lost due to pressure from a tooth that was ready to emerge in that location. Rather, it was lost due to pressure from an emerging neighboring tooth that will not fit in the space left by the baby tooth.

Yup, she needs orthodontics! And she now has her first orthodontic appliance.

In upcoming posts, I am excited to share with you what I've learned about orthodontic options, why we're not using conventional braces, and how we are actually encouraging my daughter's jaw to grow to accommodate her adult teeth.

Did you have braces as a child? Do your kids need orthodontics? 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Double Chocolate Cookies (grain-free : gluten-free : primal : nutrient-dense)

Chocolate cookies with chocolate chips: crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle, and delicious all the way through! Because my daughter still has some issues when she consumes gluten and grains, I like to make sure she always has plenty of  grain-free options. My daughter especially adores chocolate, so these cookies are a perfect fit for her.  The rest of the family loves these cookies too!

Double Chocolate Cookies
Makes 40 cookies

  1. Set your oven racks so that none are in the bottom third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking soda, coconut flour, and cacao powder. Whisk or sift well to combine and break up any lumps.
  3. In another bowl (or stand-mixer), beat the softened butter and sucanat together for a couple minutes, until well mixed.
  4. In the meantime, combine the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract in a small bowl. (I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works great for this because the pour spout makes it easy to add these ingredients to the mixer while it is running.) Do NOT mix up the eggs at this point.
  5. Once the butter and sucanat have become well-mixed, mix in the eggs one-at-a-time.  With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in each egg while the mixer is still running.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well. It is okay if the mixture looks a bit curdled during this step.
  6. Add the sour cream, and mix well to combine.
  7. While the mixer is running, add the dry ingredients a little at a time.  Since coconut flour does not contain gluten, there is no worry of over-mixing it!
  8. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
  9. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with silpats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon. There is no need to flatten the cookies as they will spread plenty while cooking.
  10. Bake the cookies at 325 F for about 15-20 minutes (or a few minutes longer if you are cooking them on stoneware). They are done when the edges get a bit dark and crispy.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
  12. Once cool, store these cookies in an airtight container.  They can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if you won't be eating them all in the next few days.  They are nice and chewy straight from the fridge, and even soft enough to eat straight out of the freezer!  Storing them in the freezer will also remove the pressure of having to eat them all in a week or so, as they will last for months in the freezer.
*I use dairy-free, soy-free chocolate chips.
**I love using my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer for making cookies as it makes it very easy to add the ingredients while the mixer is running.