Homemade Vita Gummies

When you have picky kids like I do it becomes necessary to come up with creative and sometimes off the wall ways to get nutrients into their reluctant, gaggy little mouths.

This month I got around to trying something new. Raw veggies are one of the hardest things to get in our kids. Especially when they are sick. Which is of course when they need those nutrients most.

Enter the magic of the gelatin based gummy. I’ve blogged before about how fantastic gelatin is for the body, here. The marvelous thing about this is that you can customize it to whatever your children need. Can’t get liquid vitamins into them? Turn them into Gummies. Not sweet enough? Add Stevia or maple syrup.

Our kids have been getting raw veggie juice with whole food based Vit C. They gobble them up like they are delicacies. Haven’t the heart to break the news to them that some of their arch veggie enemies are housed in the nummy Gummies. Some secrets it’s best for a mama to keep to herself.

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The ratio of liquid to gelatin that I use is roughly 4 cups liquid to 2 and 1/2 tablespoons bovine gelatin. Additional gelatin can be added if you want them extra jiggly.

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We recently purchased a small hand juicer. It’s fun for the kids to use. Goes just fast enough to make enough juice for gummy purposes. Is easy to clean and oh so much easier than hauling out our huge electric juicer that is best suited for big jobs. Best of all it was cheap enough that even if it only lasts a couple of years it will have more than paid for itself in productive kid distractions and expedient nutrients for kids.

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Garlic Paste: Easy Peasy Poultice

Step by Step Garlic Paste Poultice

Step by Step Garlic Paste Poultice

We are big fans of Garlic in our family. We cook with it. Supplement with it. And use it medicinally. Garlic is one of the most incredibly potent antibiotics nature makes and also has components in it that boost the immune system in multiple ways. Once a fresh clove of garlic is crushed elements intermingle and create something called allicin. Allicin exhibits incredibly powerful anti bacterial and anti fungal effects. The nutritional industry has figured out ways to stabilize what is, in nature a fragile and limited time availability compound. Once a garlic clove is crushed the clock starts ticking. You only have a guaranteed 15 minutes from the time allicin is activated till the time it begins to fade. Some experts claim it lasts as long as 40 minutes. Immune boosting products that contain stabilized allicin are really fantastic and are an ideal way to get those benefits with no work and no smelly breath involved.

Supplements can be expensive. Especially for a large family on a tight budget. They also require the ability to swallow pills and are typically dosed for adults, not children.  For children, finding a way to get affordable allicin rich garlic compounds into them involves poultices. A while back I did a video tutorial on how to make a garlic poultice. This is the method we used in our family for several years and it works incredibly well. However, it is also wet and a bit on the messy side. This year a friend introduced me to the concept of Garlic Paste. We experimented with it and discovered that for our kids this is a more efficient and effective way of doing garlic poultices. So, without further ado, here is my DIY instructions on how to make:

Garlic Paste Poultice

The quantities in this tutorial should be enough for 2 to 3 pairs of child sized feet or 1 pair of large adult sized feet.

Start with a full head of fresh, raw, organic garlic. Why organic? The point of this is that it is going to be absorbed into the body and blood stream at a rapid rate. Any residual fungicides, pesticides and chemicals that are left on commercially raised garlic will be absorbed along with all the good properties. If it’s a choice between regular ol’ cheapest thing the local store has fresh garlic and none at all, by all means use what you can get. But, ideally, my recommendation will always be organic for this purpose.

Pre-minced garlic purchased at the store in glass containers, even that from the refrigerator section will not work for this purpose. Pre-peeled cloves will also not work nearly as well. Stick with the real deal still safely ensconced in it’s feathery papery layers.

Head of Raw Garlic

Head of Raw Garlic

Loosen all the outer dried layers off of it enough so that you can divide the individual cloves out. Once the cloves are separated lay on a firm surface (I use our granite counter top or a large wooden cutting board) take something solid like the flat bottom of a glass or bottom of a mortar and do a quick “whap” on each of the cloves. The purpose isn’t to crush them but to pop loose the dried individual outer peel enough so that they are easily removed.

Whapped garlic cloves Prior to Peeling

Whapped garlic cloves Prior to Peeling

Once the cloves are peeled they are ready for the next stage!

freshgarliccloves

This next stage you have a variety of options. I personally prefer using a tool we purchased a while back for this purpose. A high quality garlic press. Ours has been going strong for years. If you don’t own a garlic press you can crush the garlic with a fork and finish off the mincing with a knife. It can also be pummeled into small bits in a mortar and pestle.

Mincing the Garlic via a Press

Mincing the Garlic via a Press

This is what a head of garlic looks like after it’s minced. One of the advantages of mincing is that it goes fast and thoroughly mixes all the different parts of each clove together ensuring optimal allicin creation.

Head of Minced Garlic

Head of Minced Garlic

This is where the instructions differ from the water and heat based poultices we did before. Although some properties are drawn out faster and more effectively with the hot water it can be somewhat tricky to make sure the water isn’t too hot. Making it into a paste means that the active properties will be drawn out at a slower rate via the warmth of the skin.

A crucial component of the paste is the base the minced garlic is mixed with. Something too thin will not allow you to maintain that all important “paste like” spreadable consistency. It will also not adequately buffer or protect the skin from the burning elements of the garlic. Part of what makes the paste preferred by us is that it can be worn longer periods of time with reduced chances of irritation and burning over the water poultice method.

The original tutorial I read about this recommended using petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is a no-no in our house mostly because…well, it’s derived from petroleum. So, it was important to me to find an acceptable substitute. Coconut oil is too thin and melts too rapidly in contact with warmth. Same with olive or almond or any of my normal go-to carrier oils. The first couple of batches I used Beeyoutiful’s Body Butter. It worked incredibly well and was the perfect consistency. It’s also rather an expensive base. With a second sickness hitting our house I needed something that would be affordable to use multiple times per day. As I stood in front of our open refrigerator wracking my brain for what I could use it occurred to me. Lard! That lovely tub of white lard. Not the best smelling but relatively cheap, natural and safe.

lard

Ideally you want to use at least 50% ratio of base carrier to minced garlic. For very small children, infants or individuals with extra sensitive skin the ratio can be increased to 2 parts Lard (or carrier base of your choice) to 1 part minced garlic. Once the base and garlic are mixed together it should be a thick, spreadable concoction.

The Mixed Garlic Paste

The Mixed Garlic Paste

Although technically this paste could be used on any part of the body my preferred spot is the feet. The skin is thicker and more protected from burning there while at the same time having a very high concentration of receptors that handles the uptake of the best properties of the garlic extremely well. Make sure the footsies are clean and dry and then slather the paste on. It’s Ok to be generous!

Garlic Paste spread on the foot

Garlic Paste spread on the foot

To top the paste off you can use water proof bandages which are my preference because they are nice and tidy with minimal risk of mess leaking out as the oil warms. Ran out of those before writing up this tutorial though so used my fall-back. Folded paper towels. You want the paper towel to be folded in enough layers to keep the oil from leaking out all over everything as the mixture warms against the feet. I use medical tape to secure it in place.

tapeandpapertowels TapedPoulticePasteThe finished product on my 2 yo Cmans footsies. For the record, he isn’t crying because of the foot paste, he was on his third hour of crying in misery from the on-set of a virus with full body malaise. He felt much improved after the garlic paste treatment and ran around happily for a couple of hours despite still having a low-grade fever!

Some cautionary safety notes:

Please understand that raw garlic potency and “burn factor” can vary a lot from one batch, one harvest, one head and one variety to another. There is no way to know for sure how “hot” a particular batch of paste is going to be. For this reason please DO NOT leave on feet all night as some tutorials recommend. Far too many individuals have been burned this way. Especially do not leave on the feet of children. Check frequently to make sure no initial redness or irritation is starting. My policy is to check every 10 minutes with the paste on our children and more frequently if they start whining or complaining about it. Garlic is powerful. It has literally burned holes into peoples feet. As with all things anything that has properties to be incredibly potent also has the potential to cause harm if not used with common sense, precaution and wisdom.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if it’s “done” or if it’s been left on long enough to do a good job. A rule of thumb that has served us well is to leave it on until you can smell garlic on the breath of the individual receiving the poultice. It’s a sure sign that adequate levels of garlic have been absorbed into the blood stream to do an effective job against whatever you need it to do. As soon as we smell the garlic breath we remove the poultice immediately. And prior to that if any irritation of the feet happens.

Let me know if you try this! Happy and safe poulticing and to all a goodnight!

Garlic Kale Salad

I’m not a huge fan of raw greens. For many reasons. One of which is the issue of the anti-nutrients that cooking or culturing neutralizes in greens. So, even if I loved them, raw greens are still not a great idea from a nutritional standpoint on a frequent basis. A couple of years ago though I had a delicious raw kale salad served as a side at a slow food restaurant. It was so yummy 2 years later I still think about it every time I prepare Kale. So, tonight, I threw together a knock-off version of it using the delicious, mild and delicate curly leaf kale provided by our wonderful Winter CSA. Got some recipe ideas from a couple of on-line sources and cobbled together my own. It’s yummy. I ate 3 servings of it in one sitting.

Garlic Kale Salad

  • 2 bunches curly leaf kale (although any kind of Kale will do)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (raw is useful because the extra enzymes in it make the kale more nutritionally accessible in it’s raw state)
  • 3 large cloves raw garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cultured g/f soy sauce (Can substitute Coconut Amino Acids in it’s place if soy needs to be avoided at all costs)
  • 1 minced anchovy fillet or 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (this is totally optional but please don’t leave it out even if you typically think of anchovies as disgusting. It simply adds a bit of mild salty tang with no residual fish taste once it’s blended into the whole recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Strip leaves from the stems (discard stems). Wash and dry the leaves. Tear the leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, anchovy (if using), pepper and salt. With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens to work in the flavoring. Stop when the volume of greens is reduced by about half. The greens should look a little darker and somewhat shiny. Taste and adjust seasoning with more Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce and/or pepper, if desired.
  3. Leave for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Can be made a day ahead and stored in refrigerator. Tastes bolder and more flavorful the second day!

Garlic Kale Salad

Summer Garden Veggie Baby-food

Carrot N Squash Squished Delight

  • 1 cup of medium to small diced garden fresh carrots
  • 2 small squash or 1 medium to large yellow (or other heirloom variety) Can substitute or add Zucchini
  • 1 Cup Bone Broth (Might need a few tablespoons extra)
  • Real Mineral Rich Sea Salt
  • Optional: Yolk of 1 Free Range Egg
  • Optional: Small pinch of freeze dried ground grass-fed liver
  • Optional: Pinch of powdered beef gelatin

Chop carrots and squash up while broth is brought to a slow simmer. Add them to the broth and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until veggies are very tender and soft. Using an immersion blender OR a food processor puree veggies and bone broth until smooth and creamy. Add extra bone broth if consistency is too thick. Add egg yolk, powdered liver and beef gelatin if desired. Add salt to taste erring on the side of lightly salting since infants tastebuds are more sensitive then adults.

Recipe can be doubled and tripled if desired. Allow to cool and then freeze in ice cub trays. Can be thawed for meals on the go later!

Special Cautions: It is very important to safely source eggs if you are going to use them with an infant. It is highly controversial giving egg yolks to an infant because traditionally they known to provoke allergic reactions. This is partly why it is so important to use ONLY free range eggs that have not been fed grains. Often times the reaction to egg yolks is not to the egg yolks themselves but to the grains (GMO soy or corn) that have been fed to the hens.

Happy Tin Tin baby!

Happy Tin Tin baby!

Tuscan Squash Casserole

DaMan is not crazy about squash. Not even a little bit. He doesn’t even pretend to tolerate it very well and all but visibly cringes when he sees it appear on the supper table. My challenge to myself this summer has been to create a squash dish that would rock his world and make him appreciate this very underappreciated veggie. A couple of nights ago I managed to pull it off!  He not only devoured it happily but gave it rave reviews and requested it again soon.

You all know how I am with measuring and keeping track of recipes as I make them so here is my best guess at what I did. Writing it down as much for my sake as anybody elses in the hopes I can successfully re-create this dish again tomorrow.

Spicy Tuscan Squash Casserole

2x Round Yellow Squash. I used an heirloom variety provided by our CSA called yellow scallop squash. Thin Slice.

Yellow scallop squash

Yellow scallop squash

1 Free Range Egg

Free Range Egg

Free Range Egg

2/3 cup crumbled Feta Cheese

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Crumbled Feta Cheese

2 Tablespoons Tuscan Herbal Dried Seasoning Mix

Tuscan Seasoning Mix

Tuscan Seasoning Mix

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Mix. I used an Organic blend of spices from Costco but something like Mrs. Dash would work well too.

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Blend

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Blend

1/3 cup pureed, Roasted Peppers. You could do these from scratch if you wanted by broiling in the oven, peeling the skins off and removing the seeds and running it through a food processor. I used some that were canned in a glass jar. We like spicy around here and the ones I used were pretty hot. Adjust the amount/type of peppers based on personal heat preference.

1/3 cup Sour Cream

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Spray the bottom of a glass pyrex 8×8 square pan with Olive Oil. Or take a stick of butter and rub it around to grease the bottom. Lay the first layer of thin sliced squash over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle that layer with Veggie Seasoning Mix. Add another layer of squash and sprinkle seasonings until all the squash has been layered into the pan. It’s important to sprinkle the seasoning on top of *every single layer* for the best flavor. In a bowl mix together the Egg, Sour Cream, Feta Cheese, a couple Tablespoons of the Tuscan Seasoning and Peppers. Add Salt and Pepper to taste and mix well. Pour and Spread mixture over the top of the seasoned layers of squash. Allow to drip down sides and seep through the layers. Bake at 375 until done.

I baked ours in the toaster oven since I didn’t want to heat up the whole house with the big oven. It took a bit longer than I think it would have in the big oven, about 40 minutes. Bake only until squash is just tender and you can easily poke a fork through the middle. Try to avoid over-baking or it can be soggy and or mushy making it that much harder for those who dislike squash to eat it. Top of casserole should be browned and bubbly around the Feta Cheese lumps.

Enjoy!

It was WARM!

For just a single day. But boy were we glad for it! Although it is only February and it’s likely we’ll experience a few more frosts between now and the official advent of Spring the arrival of our Heirloom seed packets + the first warm day in quite some time was just exciting enough to get us out in the garden doing some prep work.

Sample Seedling Packets

Sample Seedling Packets

The Garden plans around our house this year are truly the result of a community effort. My friend Liz helped map out every garden area in the yard and together we designed a tomato growing structure that we hope will double as a Winter Greenhouse of sorts.

The start of our Tomatoe Project +Greenhouse

The start of our Tomatoe Project +Greenhouse

My brother tweaked and massaged the ancient tiller into growling through the soil twice now. So incredibly satisfying to see the change in soil color since we first moved here! Used to be an anemic, malnourished gray clay and now actually has sections where rich blackness are showing through. The soil was so poor before it was rare to find an earth-worm and now it seems that the Veggie garden area is an earth-worm Kingdom!

Garden Soil Feb. 2011

Garden Soil Feb. 2011

The Doodlebug was thrilled to be out gardening and is proving to be a big help already. The one thing our main garden area produces better than earthworms is rocks. So Doodles primary job was to run back and forth picking up rocks. She also helped to form a bit of a row or two with her child sized shovel. Her favorite time though was the seed planting!

The Three Girls Working on Seedlings

The Three Girls Working on Seedlings

Doodlebug made her own label for *her* Seeds. Yes, that is an N for her first name!It looks like a Z but it’s really an N held sideways.

Doodlebugs N for her Seedlings

Doodlebugs N for her Seedlings

Liz came up with the brilliant idea of adding probiotics to our seedlings soil. We used Ultimate Defense because it has good soiled based organisms in it. Although we are using organic dirt to start our seedlings in we thought it would be a good idea to give it an extra boost of the “good” stuff.

Ultimate Defense

Ultimate Defense

Doodles Sprinkling Ultimate Defense on Seedling Soil

Doodles Sprinkling Ultimate Defense on Seedling Soil

The Sweet Peas are Planted and are officially the first veggies to go in the ground for this season. The first round of Seedlings are started and “the watch” to see which ones pop their little green heads through first has begun.

A highlight of our past week was visiting with dear friends of ours. I had the honor and privilege of being her Doula at the birth of her 4th child, a baby girl born the day after Christmas! This weekend we got to see them for the first time since she was born. All I can say is that she was blessed with a little Angel Baby both in looks and temperment! I’m not entirely sure she knows how to fuss in a proper way and I found it almost comical when she “tried” to fuss.

LotteBeth attempting to fuss

LotteBeth attempting to fuss

We all held and cuddled and held and cuddled her some more. It was baby-heaven!

Liz holding LotteBeth

Liz holding LotteBeth

She also has the most beautiful Gray eyes I’ve ever seen on a baby.

LotteBeths Beautiful Eyes

LotteBeths Beautiful Eyes

Now that we’ve all had our baby-fix for the day I’ll say good-bye. A busy day beckons and I’ve been ignoring it long enough. Anybody else started any garden things yet?

 

Bountiful Blessings CSA: Thankfulness

Yesterday we drove to pick up our CSA basket. Our Winter CSA is from Bountiful Blessings Farm and they have been doing what they do for 7 years now. I have been so impressed. Both by their set-up and farm layout, which is absolutely gorgeous! But also by who they are as people and the gentle care and respect they show each other, their customer’s and the land they manage.

Bountiful Blessings CSA

Bountiful Blessings CSA

There is such a sense of peace and beauty. I love visiting there just to pick up our veggies even though it is a 45 minute drive one way for us.

Little Donkey on the CSA Farm. So adorable!

Little Donkey on the CSA Farm. So adorable!

What has impressed me more than anything else though is the produce. I remember seeing one of their fields freshly tilled and wished I could run my fingers through the rich dark soil. They have obviously worked very hard at providing their soil with excellent nutrients and it shows in the uncharacteristic richness of color. But even that did not prepare me for how gorgeous, luscious, and amazingly good tasting vegetables they grow.

I took pictures of most of what came in our box this week. It seemed appropriate that I should write about bountiful good food that I am so very, VERY grateful for the day before Thanksgiving Day.

This huge head of cabbage was converted into 3 quarts of cultured SaurKraut last night.

Huge head of crisp, mild cabbage

Huge head of crisp, mild cabbage

The Bok Choy was new to me. It tastes mild and slightly like Celery. I am using it in the place of Celery in my Thanksgiving meal preparations

Huge bunch of Bok Choy. Never seen it this big before!

Huge bunch of Bok Choy. Never seen it this big before!

Dark Greens. Not bitter at all. Incredible flavor! And, like everything else, huge

Dark Greens

Dark Greens

The large clump of Sage and Winter Squash came from the CSA. The pumpkins I hoarded from a friend’s fall wedding decorations.

CSA Squash and Fresh Sage

CSA Squash and Fresh Sage

One of the 3 heads of lettuce that came in the box. Sweet and tender

One of the 3 heads of lettuce that came in the box. Sweet and tender

CSA Grown Potatoes with a sprig of Sage

CSA Grown Potatoes with a sprig of Sage

Yams. Sooo sweet and delicate tasting.

Yams. Sooo sweet and delicate tasting.

Green Onions

Green Onions

Today I am thankful for the people who work so hard to provide nutrient rich, chemical free, incredible tasting vegetables to help feed and nourishing their communities.

I am thankful for the family that provides our raw milk. They live simple lives and get up early every single day to milk a cow and care for her needs and then share from that bounty so others can be nourished with safe, raw milk.

Thank you Farmer’s and Traditional Food Artisan’s everywhere who are working so very, very hard and dealing with inordinate hardships and difficulties to provide people like me with truly good food. Thank you for taking risks and dealing with too little time, too few resources, too little money, and at times a Government that makes it difficult to impossible for you to do what you do better than any large corporation ever could. Small scale Farmers are hero’s.

So to for you my Food and Farm Hero’s everywhere, a heart-felt Thank You. May God Bless your farms and families as you continue to the good work you have started.