New Twist on Classic Cinnamon Rolls

Lately I have been experimenting with what range of things soaked flour doughs can be used with. I cannot even express my delight in discovering that soaked flour actually makes cinnamon rolls of a far superior texture to anything else I have been able to create with regular un-soaked whole wheat flour. A couple of days ago I experimented with a batch of cinnamon rolls and they turned out to be what myself and all my ever helpful tasters called the best cinnamon rolls ever. Sorry Cinnabon, I think I just might have nudged you over in the tastiest, most tender, moist and all around incredible sweet flavor sensation ever.

I used a modified version of the soaked flour recipe that was published in the 2010 Beeyoutiful Catalog as the base for the dough.

Soaked Cinnamon Roll Dough

4 cups freshly ground hard white winter wheat (I use Prairie Gold)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (homemade or storebought, just make sure the store bought has live cultures/bacteria in it)
3/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
¼ cup warm water
1 Tablespoon dry instant yeast
2 Tablespoons Sorghum  (Blackstrap Molasses, or honey could be used)
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking soda
1 (may need a bit more or less) cup unbleached organic white flour


1 to 2 sticks of butter (softened to room temp, spreadable texture)

1/4 to 1/2 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil (also softened)

Cinnamon and yet more Cinnamon

Rapadura, Cane Sugar or anything that you can justify as being healthier than white sugar (Shhh…Don’t tell anybody but white sugar works just fine if you really don’t care to maintain the facade of healthy with this creation.)

Cinnamon and pretending to be healthy sugar

Cinnamon and pretending to be healthy sugar

Raw Honey

Optional: Chopped Nuts and Trader Joe’s Spicy Chai Powder Mix

Directions for Assembly:

Warm butter-milk and coconut oil and mix in with Whole Wheat flour.  Save the white flour for later.

Flour, Buttermilk and Coconut Oil mixed by hand and put in bowl to soak

Flour, Buttermilk and Coconut Oil mixed by hand and put in bowl to soak

Dough should not be super sticky but since this is for cinnamon rolls and not loaf bread it’s Ok if the texture is slightly more sticky than the perfect texture would be for loaf bread. Form a ball and place in the bowl, cover with cheesecloth and leave in a warm place overnight (12-24 hours).

In the morning, combine water, Sorghum, salt and baking soda in a measuring cup and mix well. Add instant yeast and cup of white flour directly to the dough and pour wet ingredients over top. Mix until it is smooth and the “elastic bands” as some call it are visible as the gluten activates. Form a nice ball and again place your dough back into the bowl and cover with cheesecloth. Allow it to rise until it had doubled in size. Pummel dough down, knead it for just about a minute. Lightly sprinkle your “rolling” area with white flour, use a bit more if the dough is still a bit sticky to make sure it doesn’t superglue itself to the surface.  It is a lot easier to manage if the dough is divided into two parts but the ambitious among us (with amazon muscle arms) and plenty of space can certainly tackle it all at once.

Now comes the workout part. Roll roll and roll some more. When your arms feel like they are going to fall off, remind yourself that this is a good time to take out any pent up frustrations out on something that needs it. Whack it a couple of times and roll some more.  Once it is all rolled out nice and thin (not pie crust thin but just barely thicker. Keep in mind this will puff up considerably in size and the flavor is better the less dough/bread there is and the more toppings so don’t be afraid of thin!)

This is my favorite part. Slap dab and smear the butter and coconut oil all over your huge spread of dough. I personally recommend hands for this because it is a lot more fun but that is just me. Those with texture issues that prefer not to get their hand conditioning treatments via cooking projects involving cocont oil and butter are more than welcome to use utensils. Once a generous (and I do mean generous here people, don’t scrimp, don’t save, don’t count calories or measure the waistline, this is the time to be liberal!) layer of fatty goodness has been successfully applied you can move onto the sprinkle and plop phase.

I tried an additional new twist to this last batch of cinnamon rolls by sprinkling Trader Joe’s Chai Latte powder over the butter/oil blend.

Trader Joe's Spicy Chai Powder

Trader Joe's Spicy Chai Powder

I really liked the extra flavor!! It is totally optional though. Follow the Chai Sprinkling with a hefty dose of cinnamon. If you skip the Chai powder add yet more Cinnamon. One of the biggest flaw’s that I have seen in homemade cinnamon rolls is a fear of getting nice and heavy handed with the cinnamon sprinkling. Don’t fear the cinnamon! This is the one part of this recipe that is totally good for you in every respect.

Follow the cinnamon up with Rapadura (or that white stuff that we aren’t going to officially endorse here).

Chai Sprinkled

Chai Sprinkled

Last but not least Dollup raw honey in random blobs over everything. If you used unsalted butter now is a good time to sprinkle a dash of sea salt over everything.

Raw Honey dollups with cinnamon on top

Raw Honey dollups with cinnamon on top

Now is the time to roll everything up into one big log of dough. Here is something else that is easy to have go wrong. Make sure you keep even “tension” as you roll and don’t allow loose or floppy areas to get rolled up. It’ll mess with the perfectly round rolls that are of course the end goal and will look funny as it rises.

Dough log and waiting greased pyrex pan

Dough log and waiting greased pyrex pan

Once it is all rolled up a long piece of unflavored floss or double up a piece of heavy duty, good quality sewing thread. We only ever have mint flavored floss around here so I end up using sewing thread more often than not. (Word of experience, don’t use the mint thinking it won’t matter. It does matter. A lot.)  The reason for using this method of cutting out the rolls is that it protects that lovely roundness and prevents the jagged and mushed look that you can get if you try to use a knife.

Phase 1 Floss/Thread cutting

Phase 1 Floss/Thread cutting

Phase 2, slicing smoothly through the dough

Phase 2, slicing smoothly through the dough

Phase 3 Gently remove from log

Phase 3 Gently remove from log

Almost perfectly round roll reminaing with that one delectable little honey dribble

Almost perfectly round roll remaining with that one delectable little honey dribble

Plop in a pre-greased baking dish of your preference. I use Pyrex usually because it’s easy to clean, has sides to keep the wondrous baked goo from spreading all over the place, and has the best visibility for my compulsive “checking” Here is a bit of a trick I figured out a while back. I dislike “crunch” with my cinnamon rolls and ended up part of the time with “crunchy” tops by the time the rest of it was done. Now I spread some softened butter over the tops of my rolls before I slide them into the oven and the butter keeps the tops nice and soft while the middles are baking.

Butter topped cinnamon rolls (this is what they look like after rising)

Butter topped cinnamon rolls (this is what they look like after rising)

Allow to rise to roughly double and slide into the oven to bake for roughly 30 minutes at 350.

I don’t have the photo’s of the finished product on my computer yet. Will edit that in later. The texture of these rolls are incredible due to it being soaked flour. Delicate, tender and moist. No hint of the course chewiness so often associated with whole wheat. This does have a bit of white flour in it as well. DELICIOUS and DELECTABLE sums it up beautifully.

Bad, Better, Even Better and Best

A friend asked me last week to write about options in our quest to feed our families the best that we can. Depending upon location, income levels and resources sometimes the ideal or best recommended foods and products are simply not a choice for many of us. So we are left wondering what second best option is, and if second best is even Ok.

In my opinion excellent, lasting nutrition lifestyle changes and good eating happens in a series of baby steps of progress. For some it’s something as basic as switching from using 100% white, bleached flour to 50/50 white and whole wheat. Others end up switching from freshly ground whole wheat yeast bread to multi grain, soaked and or cultured bread. I have determined that for myself, as long as we are moving forward, however small the baby steps happen and regardless from how far I am from the ideal or that mythical thing called perfection…Just so long as it’s forward improvement and positive lifestyle changes then I am successfully doing what I should for my family.

With that being said, there are specific health issues out there, especially in children related to gut healing that requires a hard core approach in order to see significant healing and improvement. My beloved “baby step” methodology does not apply to these situations unfortunately. I am not addressing those problems and presenting options etc. that would be appropriate for them. From my  perspective we are a typical American family without any severe food allergies or issues like Autism that we are trying to address. We just desire for our overall health to be restored to excellent from the fair to Ok condition it’s been most of our lives. But most of all that our daughter have the opportunity to have a good enough nutritional foundation that she can enjoy good health her whole life. So, the opinions I share and the options on good, bad and better are coming from that perspective. This won’t even be marginally all inclusive but I’ll try to hit on the foods I had the most questions about when I first started on this nutrient dense educational journey.

Butter and all the Not Butter Stuff

Contrast between homemade, raw, grassfed butter (The orange) and the white stick from Costco

Contrast between homemade, raw, grassfed butter (The orange) and the white stick from Costco

Bad: Not butter anything that is advertised as a butter substitute is bad. I am not personally aware of ANY exceptions to this rule. There is a plethora of information out there documenting the issues with margarine and other butter substitutes so I won’t go into that now, maybe another blog post at another time. Sufficed to say, avoid this stuff at all cost. Not a good option for anybody and certainly not healthy.

Better: Plain, unsalted, uncolored, pasturized butter from WalMart, Costco or any other bargain place you can find it. I personally advise purchasing unsalted because A) the type of salt they use to salt commercially produced/mainstream butter with is terrible for you and B) the dairy industry uses a lesser grade of cream for the salted butter than they do for the unsalted. The salt helps to cover any “off” flavors that would be too noticeable in the unsalted. Last but not least reason C) You can add your own mineral rich sea salt to the unsalted butter to ramp up the nutrient value a bit and add extra benefit to it.  The budget bonus to all of this? It doesn’t cost anymore to buy unsalted than it does salted yet you get a decided nutritional and quality advantage from it.

Even Better: Naturally rich yellow, Organic or “All Natural: Hormone and antibiotic free” pasturized butter from grassfed cow’s. An extra bonus if you can find it cultured and or seasoned with real sea salt.

Best: Raw, grassfed butter from healthy cows is hands down the best option. It goes into the realms of sacred healing food (as Sally Fallon Morell refers to it) if it is CULTURED raw, grassfed butter from healthy cows.

All things Baked

Whole Wheat Rolls

Whole Wheat Rolls

Bad: Commercially produced, white flour, sweetened anything. You find things like hydrogenated vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, bleached white flour, soy oil and a whole host of other undesirables. All baked sweets have undesirables, yes, unfortunately even most of the organic or all natural ones. Last but not least the long list of isolated vitamins and nutrients that have been thrown in to act as preservatives and also to boost the nutritional facts box so they can more effectively market the end product as healthy. These are often in the very worst forms imaginable for the body to actually be able to get anything beneficial from them and sometimes in a form that actually causes harm to the body.

Even most breads, and sadly, yes, this goes for most organic as well have multiple undesirable ingredients in them. If it is at all reasonably possible making your own baked goods at home is going to be an improvement over most things you can buy from the store.

Better: Anything made at home, even if you use nothing more nutritious than real butter and white, unbleached flour and (gasp) yes, even refined within an inch of it’s life white sugar. While it may not be packed with good nutrients and be anything close to nutrient dense, it’s going to have the lions share of really bad stuff absent that you will find in commercially produced food stuffs.

Exceptions to this would be if you can find an Artesian bakery that specializes in sourdough breads and other classic, old world style breads. These usually have far fewer preservatives and bad ingredients. If you build a relationship and have a standing weekly order they may even be willing to make special order loaves or baked goods to your specifications.

Even Better: Home baked goods using freshly ground, organic or all natural whole wheat (or other grains) with no refined sweeteners, artificial colors or hydrogenated oils.

Best: Sprouted or soaked, all natural/organic multi grain baked goods made from scratch with wholesome organic/all natural nourishing ingredients like farm fresh eggs, raw cream, milk, raw chocolate, sucanat, raw honey, Grade B Maple syrup etc etc etc . This goes for crackers, cookies, cakes, bread, biscuits, rolls and everything else.

The Fats of the Matter



Bad: Hydrogenated veggie oils, canola oil, corn oil, rape seed oil, cottonseed oil, Crisco, soy oil,

Better: Regular pasturized butter, regular-non organic coconut oil, Peanut Oil,

Even Better: Imported Olive Oil, Organic Peanut Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil,

Best: Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Sesame Oil, Sunflower Oil, Grapeseed oil, Safflower Oil, Lard and Tallow from pasture raised all natural animals, Ghee (clarified butter) and last but certainly not least Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

Side Note on Oils: Fats and oils are one of those food subjects that everybody should spend some time self educating and researching. Myths abound about fats and there is a lot of confusing information out there about them. At the end of the day what can decide the difference between a high quality, beneficial to the body oil and one that can wreak havoc is something as simple as the heat level during extraction, or how fresh it is. Most of the oils on the Best list have very short shelf life and are considered fragile oils. Fragile meaning, if they are not extracted in the right way they can be very harmful to the body. I highly recommend anybody confused about fats to read Mary Enig’s  Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol. Her work is highly controversial and flies in the face of what is generally accepted as the gold standard for long term health maintaining diets. I find her to be extremely well researched. The woman knows the subject of fat and the complexities of the science behind fats better than anybody else I have ever come across. It is literally her life work.

Truly Meat

Bad: Commercially raised (ie factory farm conditions, or feed lot) Chickens, pork and Beef. Farm raised Fish, particularly those fed corn or soy. Hot dogs, Fish Sticks, Sausage, Ham, Lunch Meats packed with nitrites, processed chicken patties. Pretty much pre-processed anything that is in a ground up form with a layer of something on top and lots of seasonings to hide whatever original flavor it might have once had.

Better: Pasture raised Beef even if it has been on antibiotics and finished out on grain. Chickens that have been grown out in humane conditions and allowed exposure to sunlight. Wild Caught fish. Processed meats that are preserved with citric acid and are “Nitrite Free”

Word of Caution: Some certified organic meat now is made from animals raised under identical horrid and inhumane conditions of their very much not organic counterparts. The only difference is they are fed certified organic soy and corn biproducts for feed instead. The only improvement over getting this meat certified organic is a certain amount of time from the last use of antibiotics until it is processed and the knowledge that it has not had a steady diet of a pesticide sprayed diet. The diet however is still poor quality, and still results in less than healthy animals and far less than optimal nutrition to pass onto the consumer.

Even Better: All natural, Antibiotic Free, Hormone Free, Organic, Free range/grass fed anything. Beef that has been primarily raised on pasture, even if it is finished off on an all natural grain mixture is a drastic improvement over feed lot cow’s any day. Same rule of thumb applies to chickens and pigs.

Home Processed Venison

Home Processed Venison

Best: Wild raised meat of any kind from an obviously healthy animal. Purely grassfed (on all natural pasture) domesticated animals. Poultry of all kinds are considered incredibly beneficial on a nutritional front. Lamb and goats meat is becoming increasingly popular due to how easy it is to grow them out without a whole lot of acreage required.

Aaaaaaand that’s all folks. We can call this round one because there is a whole host of other food categories I didn’t have time or room for. More than willing to answer any clarifying questions about why something or other ended up in the category that it did, or to clarify one of the many fuzzy points here and there. I’ve been working on this post off an on for days now so off it goes!

Bones: The Forgotten Treasure

Science has finally caught up with what our Great Grandmothers knew. Broth is beautiful and maybe even a little bit magical. There is nothing so soothing or beneficial for invalids and growing children than a rich, nutritious broth. It contains a huge array of  bio available minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It also houses the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine that we now spend big bucks for in supplemental form. There are also unique properties that heal and calm the lining of our stomachs and extensive GI track. It is easy to digest making it ideal for fortifying and boosting the nutrient count of the very young and the very old.

When broth is cooled, it congeals or “gels” due to the presence of gelatin. The use of gelatin as a healing nutrient goes back to the ancient Chinese.  Just as vitamins occupy the center of the stage in nutritional investigations today, so two hundred years ago gelatin held a position in the forefront of food research. Gelatin was universally recognized as a most nutritious foodstuff particularly by the French. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping to stretch a small amount of meat into a complete meal.

The French were the leaders in gelatin research, which continued up to the 1950s. Gelatin was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. The American researcher Francis Pottenger pointed out that as gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut.

What do you make it with?

Great broth is made from bones but most especially joints. Gelatin is especially high in the joints of Cows and Deer, and the feet of chicken. Cow’s feet should be thoroughly scrubbed (and in my case dunked in boiling water and scrubbed a second time. It’s totally a mental thing for me) and diced into 1 inch cubes. Same goes for Deer. A butcher can do this for you. Request him to place them in 1 quart bags. Chickens feet can be scrubbed down and chopped in half and stuck straight into the pot (yes, gross looking toes and all)  You can store them in the freezer long term before cooking and pull it out as needed and as you have time.

Although larger bones can be used for broth you will need to crack them or have them cut into shorter segments to fit into the soup pot and also to allow the incredible marrow and other goodies to infuse your broth. Some say to keep the marrow bones separate because there are recipes that you can use to cook the marrow separately and it is considered a miracle working food in it’s own right. I however rarely have the time to separate them out and fool with it so the marrow bones end up in the stock pot along with everything else.

Where to get the Bones

Find a store that carries hormone and antibiotic free, grass-fed, free range meat and does at least some of their own processing. You can purchase bones, knuckle joints etc. from places like Whole Foods. If you live rural like we do you can contact local meat processing places that process venison and homegrown beef. Most people have no interest in the bones and if you let them know that you have a good use for them they will save them off to the side for you or give you a call when they have some available. Some ethnic markets have chickens feet available for sale. Again, this is an item you might be able to track down from a local chicken processing place.

*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many commercially raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.

Beef and Venison Stock

about 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)
3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
4 or more quarts cold filtered water

1/2 cup vinegar

1/4 cup 21 Spice Organic Seasoning Kirkland brand (Can replace with onion, fresh garlic and whatever dried or fresh herbs you have on hand)

1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed

Venison Bones sprinkled with seasoning and awaiting the crockpot

Venison Bones sprinkled with seasoning and awaiting the crockpot

Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a boil if you are using a pot on the stove. A large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add crushed peppercorns and 21 spice mix blend.  I also frequently use a crock pot to make stock with. It is difficult to bring anything to a “boil” with a crock pot so I typically just have it on high for two or three hours and then back it down to medium or low and keep it there the rest of the time. When using a crock pot I let it go a full 48+ hours to make sure I’m getting enough out of it with the lower heat.

Streeeeetch it out Tip: I do what I call “double boiling” and use my bones a second time. This helps what bones I have access to go further so that we can actually have broth at least once a day instead of a couple of times per week. Second ’round broth is not nearly as rich or filled with gelatin as round one. I use this “lesser” stock to cook my rice or other grains in and also use it in the place of water in other recipes. While there is definitely a difference in quality between the first round and the second round there are definitely enough nutrients left in the bones that it makes it worth while. Maybe one of these days I’ll have so many bones I won’t know what to do with it all but in the meantime this is what we do to maximize what we do have access to.

Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl or pitcher (I prefer a wide mouthed pitcher because it’s easier to pour into jars)  Transfer to smaller containers ( I use recycled Classico canning jar’s that spaghetti sauce comes in). Pour the hot stock into jar’s or other containers and let cool completely before putting into the freezer for long term storage.  Make sure to leave sufficient head space for expansion when frozen.

Row of Venison Broth filled Jar's lined up while they cool

Row of Venison Broth filled Jar's lined up while they cool

When I attended the Weston A Price Conference this year in Chicago someone asked Sally Fallon Morell (President of the WAPF) about canning the broth. She said it is not advisable because the extremely high heat and extended period of time it has to be processed. Apparently the really high heat damages some of the beneficial properties.

Chicken Stock

1 Whole Chicken “Carcass” from a free range bird (the bones with meat removed and used for something else, any extra skin you might have, the neck and gizzards/internal organs)

2 to 4 chicken feet scrubbed well (totally optional!)

Filtered water sufficient to cover chicken (2 to 3 quarts)

21 Spice Seasoning mix (or whatever mixture of fresh or dried herbs and seasonings you have on hand that sound yummy)


1/4 cup vinegar

Sea Salt to taste (I usually use 1 tsp. or so)

The instructions are the same as for the beef and venison. Only primary difference is chicken stock can’t go quite as long as the others because the bones are softer and smaller and literally begin to disentigrate after 24 hours or so.

There is much more to be said on this subject but this shall suffice for one post. Leaves lots to talk about in the future! As always comments and questions welcome. =D I’m off to eat a sprouted wheat homemade noodle Lasagna made my dear friend Zizzie. Ciao!

Berry Creamy Dreamy Oatmeal (AKA Baby Food)

My brother BigDon (as the Doodlebug calls him) just had a wisdom tooth removed. Being the stereotypical bachelor with only chewable foods in his cooking repertoire he came over to our house to hang out for a couple of days until chewing was approved again. It has been a long time since I’ve had to come up with no-chew to low-chew foods and I was at a bit of a loss. The standby’s of my previous life after something like this would have been Sprite, jello, ice cream and protein smoothies. After doing a bit of research into dry socket prevention (the dreaded complication of tooth removal) I realized that a low refined sugar diet would help to prevent that complication.

For his first post surgery breakfast I got a little creative and took some liberties with Nourishing Traditions classic soaked oatmeal recipe.

Here is the recipe. Please keep in mind that I am not very exact with my measurements which is bad for those of you that are most comfortable with super precise amounts but good because it allows some creative, user friendly and individual leeway to be had while still producing decent results.

Berry Creamy Dreamy Oatmeal

2 cups rolled organic or all natural oats (instant is not recommended)

1 cup whole, organic yogurt (can use plain, flavored or homemade. For those with allergies whey water or fresh lemon water can be used instead. Be aware that it will change the flavor quite a bit though.)

2 cups filtered water

3 tablespoons grass fed (preferably raw!) butter

1/4 cup (more or less can be added to taste) Grade B Maple Syrup (can use raw honey or debittered stevia in it’s place)

1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries

2 teaspoons Vanilla

The night before on my way to bed I measured out the oats.

Organic Rolled Oats

Organic Rolled Oats

The yogurt was then pulled from the fridge…Aaaaaaand discovered to be frozen solid. Note to self: This is why you made that rule a while back not to wait until bedtime to start overnight soaked projects. When something goes wrong it makes you feel cranky and you start projecting sleep deprivation upon yourself. Back to the project…I determinedly chiseled the yogurt out, not wanting to fool with a hot water thawing process. Don’t even suggest the microwave. Remember? I consider those cheating. Although I’ll admit to eyeing it with temptation on more than one occasion.

frozen yogurt

frozen yogurt

The frozen yogurt was then forcefully mooshed into the oats. Ideally at this point you would be gently mixing the creamy and un-frozen yogurt in.

Oats and frozen yogurt being mooshed

Oats and frozen yogurt being mooshed

After the mooshing was complete I threw a lid on the pot and staggered up to bed. Ideally without the mushing step in there it should only take 2 to 3 minutes max to start a whole grain breakfast soaking the night before. And here is an advantage: It cooks WAY faster the next morning. It’s the ultimate way to get a nutrient maximized, next to instant breakfast!

Pouring Water into Soaked Oatmeal

Pouring Water into Soaked Oatmeal

The next morning dump the filtered water on top of the soaked oatmeal. You can see how much softer and creamy the texture of the oatmeal is after soaking through the night.

Water with soaked oats

Water with soaked oats

If you will be using un-salted butter now is a good time to sprinkle some in.

Sea Salt in the oatmeal

Sea Salt in the oatmeal

Then cook the oatmeal on medium high heat (while stirring semi constantly) or on medium low heat (takes longer but requires less stirring and less of a chance of scorching the bottom) Once it’s adequately cooked it’s time to throw in the yummy stuff! It is usually completely cooked for me in 5 to 7 minutes.

Maple Syrup, High Vitamin Butter Oil and Grassfed Butter

Maple Syrup, High Vitamin Butter Oil and Grassfed Butter

I try to add/sneak in the high vitamin butter oil whenever I can. My family doesn’t like the taste of it by itself spread on things so sneaking it into stuff like this is the best way for me to get it in them. We purchase our high vitamin butter oil here: It can also be purchased directly from the Green Pastures Website.

All the goodness piled in together

All the goodness piled in together

I usually throw in some Bee Pollen and Powdered Colostrum for an extra “boost” of nutrition. Next comes the Creamy Dreamy part. After the butter has sufficiently melted I grab my marvelous hand blender. Seriously, this is one kitchen item I would never want to be without. I paid in the ball park of $35.00 for it brand new and have already gotten about double that in use from it. Can’t beat how easy it is to clean compared to a food processor!

Blending and mixing

Blending and mixing

The finished product

Delicious Creamy Dreamy Oatmeal

Delicious Creamy Dreamy Oatmeal

As you can see by the finished texture it would be a perfect food for babies. This could be made up ahead of time and frozen in serving sized containers for easy and hassle free baby food.

Enjoy! =D

Pardon my Extrusion on Guiltless Crispy Crunches

Crisp…Crunchy…Like frozen foam…Air filled grain products have taken over our breakfast foods, snack foods and have begun to encroach here and there into other aspects of our diets. Breakfast cereals and things like cheese puff’s and Cheetos are produced by a process called extrusion. Cereal makers create a slurry of the grains and then put them in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a little hole at a very high temperature and pressure. The grains are made into little o’s like cheerios, flakes as in cornflakes, animal shapes, or shreds by the shape of the holes. Or they are puffed (as in puffed rice). A blade slices off each flake or shape, which is then carried past a nozzle and sprayed with a mixture of oil and sugar in a protective coating.

In his book Fighting the Food Giants, Paul Stitt shares that the extrusion process used for these cereals destroys most of the nutrients in the grains. It destroys the fatty acids; it even destroys the chemical vitamins that are added at the end. The amino acids are rendered very toxic by this process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially denatured by extrusion. This is how ALL boxes cereals are made, even the organic “healthy” ones sold in health food stores.

With so many people eating breakfast cereals, you might expect to find some studies on the effect of extruded cereals on animals or humans. Yet, there are no published studies. There have however been two UNpublished studies.  The first was described by Paul Stitt who wrote about an experiment conducted by a cereal company in which four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat (an extruded cereal), water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given only water. A fourth set was given nothing but water and chemical nutrients. The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on this diet. The rats that got nothing but water and vitamins lived about two months. The animals on water alone lived about a month. But the company’s own laboratory study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks—they died before the rats that got no food at all. It wasn’t a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock.

Results like these suggested that there might be something actually toxic with the puffed wheat itself. Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the pressure of the puffing process may produce chemical changes, which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.

Another unpublished experiment was carried out in the 1960s. Researchers at University of Michigan were given 18 laboratory rats. They were divided into three groups: one group received corn flakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box that the corn flakes came in and water; the control group received rat chow and water. The rats in the control group remained in good health throughout the experiment. The rats eating the box became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. But the rats receiving the corn flakes and water died before the rats that were eating the box. (The last corn flake rat died the day the first box rat died.) But before death, the corn flake rats developed schizophrenic behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. The startling conclusion of this study is that there was more nourishment, or at the very least less harmful components in the box than there was in the corn flakes.

This experiment was actually designed as a joke, but the results were far from funny. The results were never published and similar studies have not been conducted to my knowledge. If anybody knows of studies other than these on extruded cereals please let me know! =) I would find it fascinating information.

I have been avoiding extruded products for quite some time. Not purely because of extrusion for it’s own sake but more as an over-reaching goal of avoiding highly processed foods altogether.  Tonight however (and this is the part where I convince myself that confession is good for the soul) I fell deep into the crunchy trap of extrusion. There have been two boxes of organic cereal sitting in our kitchen cabinet for months. I used to buy organic cereal to feed company as a time saving device. However, for whatever reasons our most recent company hasn’t finished up the cereals leaving them to call my name. There are times when the woman of the house has to do the difficult thing. The health nut within me struggled against the tightwad conservationist. I couldn’t in good conscience feed it to my husband and small child. But the trash! OH, not the trash. It’s food. Expensive food. So I finally reached the decision to metaphorically throw myself in front of the bus for my family and relished every bite in that bowl of crunchy, sugary extrusion. The Doodlebug discovered a bag of Cheetos that had been hidden behind the boxes of cereal. (sigh) Yes, this too should be disposed of before it has a chance to tempt my family beyond what they could withstand. So my ever helpful excuse manufacturing mind convinced me. So me, the health, nutrient focused nut case has eaten nothing for supper except a bowl of extrusion chased by five puffs of a food like substance that has nothing to do with cheese.

I don’t know if this confession has done my soul any good but my stomach feels like it has a rock sitting in it. To save myself from future encounters like this a new buying rule in our house is now in effect. I shall purchase no extruded foods from this day forward to bring into the house. I had to make a drastic rule like this with bread over a year ago and it worked! If I don’t make bread we just don’t have bread. Buying is the easy button that is all too effectively enables my bad eating habits. I suspect some homemade cereal recipes in future blog posts are going to be forthcoming as a result of this new rule.

Sour Dough Bread

Sour Dough Bread from Purchased Starter

I made my first successful batch of sour dough bread quite a while ago and wrote about the experience. Thought I would share it here!

  • It was pretty good if I do say so myself. When I first attempted it after activating the sour dough cultures I bought from The instructions said that it might take a few weeks and even months for the full “sour” flavor to develop. My first couple of batches were pretty much failures.
  • Here is the recipe I used and it made two large loaf pan sized loaves

    Basic SourDough Bread
    1 Quart Sourdough Starter
    6+ cups freshly ground spelt, kamut or hard winter wheat (I used hard white wheat)
    1 tbsp coarse sea salt
    1 cup cold filtered water

    Traditional sourdough bread, prepared with a starter rather than with yeast, has a delicious flavor. Spelt gives the most satisfactory loaf.

    The starter should be at room temperature and have gone through the bubbling, frothy stage, like the picture below.

    Place starter, salt and 1 cup water in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until the salt crystals have dissolved. Slowly mix in the flour. Towards the end you will find it easier to mix with your hands. You may add more water if the dough becomes too thick. It should be rather soft and easy to work. Knead by pulling and folding over, right in the bowl, for 10 to 15 minutes; or knead in batches in your food processor.

    Without pressing down the dough, cut or shape loves into the desired shapes or place into 2 large well buttered loaf pans or 4 smaller loaf pans. Cut a few slits in the top of the dough, cover and let rise from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the temperature. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Allow to cool before slicing.

    The bread will keep for a week without refrigeration.

    Here is how mine looked this evening.

    I originally ordered both the San Francisco and Yukon strains/flavors of sourdough but was unable to taste the difference and it was a pain keeping both cultures alive separately so I combined them. I am greatly encouraged by how easy this recipe was and how good the results were!

Spicy Chai: The Antidote for Cold Days

A while ago my Sister in Law and I were trying to figure out some yummy, healthy winter drinks.  We both love Chai but were loath to use the pre-mixes.  She provided a really fantastic from scratch recipe and we ended up making some modifications to it and printing it in one of our catalogs. Since then I’ve tweaked it even more and it’s now a much spicier version than what it was before.  It is hands down the most flavorful, warm, spicy-warm-you to your toes drink I’ve ever had.

Spicy Chai Tea

– 4 to 6 Cups Filtered Water
– 4 Tablespoons loose leaf black tea (the stronger the better!) Can also use regular Lipton tea bags, I get the best results if I use 6.
– 3-4 Tablespoons Evaporated Cane Juice or Rapadura. One can cheat and use white sugar. I have also used a combination liquid, debittered Stevia, honey and Sorgum with some success. They add their own slants of flavor though so make sure you like the sweetener before you use it.
– 1 large Toe Fresh Ginger peeled then grated or chopped (grated is stronger/spicier, chopped is slightly milder)
– 4 cinnamon sticks (I frequently add more)
– 4 cloves
– 10 Whole Allspice (Can be cracked with a mortar and pestle to release more flavor)
– 1 tsp. Cardamom (lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle to release the flavor)
– 1 tsp. ground Nutmeg
– Pinch Tumeric (not too much of this, can throw the whole balance flavor off for the entire drink)

– Pinch of black pepper

– Small (very small) dash of Cayenne. Can be left out or replaced with a tiny bit of mild red chile pepper for that hint of warm-roasted spice flavor.

– 2 tsp. Vanilla
– Cream or Milk to taste. Can also use Coconut Milk for a delicious tropical variation!

Add water, Rapadura or other sweetener and spices to a 2 to 3 quart pan and bring to a slow boil. After about 45 minutes (the longer, the stronger the spice taste) minutes, add loose tea or bags and continue to simmer as long as appropriate, 5 minutes or more.

Remove from heat and strain through a tight mesh strainer into a 4 cup measuring cup. Stir in vanilla. Some of the liquid may have boiled away. Add back enough hot water to make 4 cups of tea. Serve with 1/4 cup warm cream or milk in each cup.

Trouble Shooting Tips: If it tastes “watery” consider adding a bit of extra powdered cinnamon and ginger. Taste after each addition. If all the flavors don’t seem to be blending very well consider adding extra sweetener. Sweetness is what binds the whole thing together, without enough of that you end up with a bunch of solo flavors competing with each other and tasting more than a bit out of tune. If there is no tea flavor whatsoever consider a strong tea or steeping longer. The bolder the tea flavor the more ideal it is for this recipe.  If the overall thing is just too “bold” with the spice flavors after adding extra sweetener and adding cream consider adding another splash of Vanilla. It can be that calm, soothing note that can make the whole thing become a beautiful medley on the tongue. Keep in mind that because you are using whole herbs and fresh ingredients flavor variations from one batch to another will happen. Don’t be afraid to tweak it around from one batch to another to get it just the way you like it.

Extra can be made up in it’s “concentrated” version and stored in the fridge to be re-heated and served later. This makes a nice and convenient treat to make ahead of time. I also consider this to be an immune boosting beverage if the sugar free versions of it are made because most of the spices used are incredibly beneficial to the body in fighting colds, flu and other winter ailments.

Let me know what you think if you make it!