Feed your gut!

Do you like sauerkraut?

Traditional sauerkraut made the traditional way with just cabbage and salt and no heat processing?

This method of preserving , known as lacto-fermentation provides enormous benefits! The process involves breaking down the cellulose of the vegetables (the salt helps to do that) so that beneficial bacteria can proliferate in the end product. The end product is teeming with beneficial probiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes and the vitamins present in the vegetables become more bio- available through the fermentation process.

With the development of refrigeration and pasteurization, our culture has lost this traditional method of preserving, and yet it is so easy!

Thankfully, it is making a comeback, as people are now understanding the importance of feeding our good bacteria for increased immunity.

Adding fermented foods to the diet is a great way to allow these protective critters to proliferate. The functions of our gut bacteria are so vast:

They produce enzymes that help us break down our food, they neutralize toxins in our system, the chelate (or carry out ) heavy metals, they are anti viral, anti biotic and anti fungal- really powerful, no??

Things that disrupt our gut bacteria include : processed foods, sugars, genetically engineered foods, stress, illness, antibiotic use.

Having fermented foods as part of your daily regimen is one way to ensure the health of these bacteria!

If you are not used to eating fermented foods, you will want to start slowly! And, honestly, they are meant to be eaten as condiments, not as side dishes!

Try some today and see how you like them!



5 pounds head cabbage, red or green or a combination of both
2-3 Tablespoons salt
Optional additions: Caraway seeds, juniper berries, any spice that you like
You may also add other vegetables like carrot, daikon, radish, beet, or apple (although this would not be a traditional kraut).
Either chop vegetables by hand or put through grater option of the food processor.
The more finely the vegetables are chopped, the more surface area present for the bacteria to infiltrate.
The vegetables will also ferment more quickly when chopped more thinly.
Place vegetables in a large bowl.
Sprinkle salt over and begin to massage salt into the vegetables.
You can either use your hand or a pounder to do this.
As you pound, you are breaking up the cell wall and allowing the liquid to be released.
This liquid will serve as your brine.
Pack vegetables into a clean jar and push them down so that there are no air bubbles.
Let vegetables sit on the counter (out of direct sunlight) for anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks- taste it as time goes on and see how you like it!!

When it suits your taste, transfer to the refrigerator.
Consume within 8-10 months.

What About Agave?

Yesterday I touched on using natural sweeteners in lieu of white sugar, high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

You may have noticed that I didn’t put agave on the list of natural sweeteners, and here is why.

Agave is made from the agave tequiliana plant (the same plant that produces tequila). It is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than regular table sugar and is about 60 calories per tablespoon. It also ranks lower on the glycemic index- a representation of how a food affects blood sugar. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, it ranks lower on the glycemic index because it is high in fructose, which does not immediately raise blood sugar levels; the body has a more difficult time processing fructose than it does glucose.

Additionally, agave is so highly processed so it is stripped of any nutritional value and it ends up having a higher fructose content than high fructose corn syrup! That makes it the sweetener with the highest concentration of fructose on the market!

And, my pet peeve? It is used in almost EVERY “healthy” dessert, particularly vegan dessert items whose producers are against using honey.

Don’t be fooled by agave. Don’t use agave, unless you are visiting Mexico and can get the sweetener directly out of the plant. This way, it is thick and viscous and retains it’s nutrients. Otherwise, what we have here in our markets is highly processed and harmful to our health.

Stick with the other sweeteners I listed here yesterday.

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Craving Something Sweet?

Yesterday, I touched on the dangers of high fructose corn syrup. I don’t know how it is even allowed in our food system. Oh, right- corporations make money from it.

Same with sugar, regular old beet or cane sugar- it’s in everything. And, those corporations know that sugary substances can hijack the brain’s biochemistry to keep us wanting more and more- so we keep buying more and more.

Consuming sugar signals the release of dopamine in our system. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. As we eat more and more sugary foods to get that pleasure feeling, dopamine begins to down regulate, meaning that we need more of the substance to get the same effect. Sounds like an addiction, doesn’t it?

Well, sugar is considered to be as addictive as cocaine and heroine.

But, it’s really devoid of any nutrition and sets our bodies up for issues like fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

We can begin to curb the amount of sugar we eat by simply reading labels.

In processed foods, sugar is often at the top of the ingredient list (meaning that it is one of the more plentiful ingredients in that food). You can also check the amount of sugar in one serving of a packaged food and decide whether or not it is worth consuming.

I tend to avoid sugar. My body doesn’t like it. My adrenals don’t like it. I immediately begin to feel tired, bloated and out of sorts. But, my body does better with more natural sweeteners; ones that have some nutritional benefits.

Here is an overview of more natural sweeteners:

  • Maple Syrup- Maple syrup is a delicious source of antioxidants, potassium, calcium and zinc. Grade B or the darker maples contain more of these nutrients. Maple syrup is delicious in cooked puddings, in baked goods or drizzled over pancakes or waffles.
  • Black Strap Molasses- Molasses is made from raw cane sugar being boiled down into a thick syrup. Like olive oil, there are different levels of molasses. Black strap has the most nutrition and is extracted from the third boiling of the cane syrup, concentrating the nutrients and flavor. It is rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and iron. Use molasses in baking (quintessential ginger bread cookies) or stir it into tea or use a bit to give a more earthy flavor to baked goods. Be sure to buy ORGANIC, as non organic cane is sprayed with glyphosate.
  • Coconut sugar- Made from coconuts, this sugar is lower in the glycemic index (meaning it doesn’t spike your blood sugar) and is also full or minerals. You can use it one for one in any recipe that calls for white sugar (although I always use less sugar than what a recipe calls for ; almost at least 1/2 of what a recipe calls for!) Note that this sugar is brown in color so if you are wanting to make a white icing with it, it will come out more beige!
  • Raw honey- Really raw honey is rich in enzymes, antioxidants and antibacterial compounds. It is best when used raw, like stirred into tea or a hot cereal, but I do also cook with it. You want to make sure that the honey you are buying is raw. Raw honey will be thicker than the heated honeys you buy in those little squeezable bears. It may set up and be very thick and may even have some bee parts in it! Be sure that you are getting honey from a reputable source. Many of the supermarket honey is imported from China and is cut with high fructose corn syrup.
  • Fruit purees- Fruits have their own incredible sweetness and can be used in baking in place of any of the above sweeteners. Pureed bananas, apples or dates are some fruits that I have used in baking.

Remember that even with these natural sweeteners, it is all about moderation. If you crave sweet things, try eating more sweet foods like winter squashes and sweet potatoes, long braised cabbages or carrots. These foods are naturally sweet and can satisfy our cravings.

Also, when eating foods with sweeteners, try to have a good fat along with it. The fat slows down the absorption of the sugar and lessens those blood sugar spikes. Think about adding a touch of raw cream atop a pudding that is made with maple syrup. Use good fats when baking, like butter or coconut oil and use eggs in baked goods to provide a bit of protein.

Here is a recipe for a gluten free dairy free banana pancake.

Serve it with some nut butter and a touch of maple syrup.

Banana Pancakes

1 ripe banana

2 eggs 

1 T almond butter or sunflower butter ( or chia seeds ground)

1 T maple syrup (or raw honey)

1 T coconut milk (Native Forest Brand)

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 cup almond flour (or gf flour mix)

2 T coconut flour

1 1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t salt

1/4 t baking soda

Heat griddle.

Place banana, egg, almond butter, maple, coconut milk and vanilla in a large bowl and mix well using a hand mixer or food processor.

Add flours, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Mix well.

Melt coconut oil on griddle. Add 1/4 cup batter and cook 3-4 minutes per side, taking care not to burn. Makes 4-5 pancakes.

Make a double or triple batch to freeze.


Corn Sugar? Fructose Syrup?

Who doesn’t like a little sweetness in their lives?

We even crave it sometimes.

But , how we get our sweetness from the foods we eat can make all the difference between health and illness.

We have become a society addicted to sugar. The average American eats about 22 teaspoons of sugar PER DAY! That sounds outrageous, right? But consider how we use it. We put a couple of teaspoons in our morning tea or coffee. We sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar over our buttered bagel. Or, we eat a danish or a muffin for breakfast. We add a little to our hot oatmeal to sweeten it just a bit.

Perhaps for lunch, we order an iced tea or a soda. We add ketchup to our hamburger and fries. We have dessert. We go home and drink some fruit juice. Later in the evening, we have some more sweetened coffee or tea with our dessert. It’s easy to do- sugar lurks in almost everything we eat- baked desserts, bread, in condiments like ketchup and Worcestershire’s sauce, even in jarred tomato sauces we put on our spaghetti.

What are the issues with sugar?

Well, first of all, much of the sugar on the market today is made from GMO beets, and , by now, I hope you understand the issues with these genetically engineered foods.

Cane sugar, which is not GMO (yet) is one of those crops that is sprayed with glyphosate before harvesting.

Today, however , I want to focus on high fructose corn syrup.

High fructose corn syrup still exists in many prepared foods and the Corn Refiner’s Association  has lobbied to change the name of high fructose corn syrup (which has rightfully gotten a bad rap) to “corn syrup” or “fructose syrup” . Don’t be fooled- it’s the same thing!  You can find more on that here.

Dr. Mark Hyman describes high fructose corn syrup here :

The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS. Some basic biochemistry will help you understand this. Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two-sugar molecules bound tightly together– glucose and fructose in equal amounts.The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body. HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. And HFCS is cheaper than sugar because of the government farm bill corn subsidies. Products with HFCS are sweeter and cheaper than products made with cane sugar. “

“Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people.The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin–our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more.”

Additionally, high fructose corn syrup has been tested to contain mercury and has been proven to be a contributor in leaky gut, fatty liver disease and increased cholesterol levels.

If you want to make one change toward creating a healthier life, be wary of where high fructose corn syrup hides in your foods. Become empowered to remove it from your diet by eating less processed foods, avoiding sugary drinks like soda, avoiding nutrient devoid breakfast cereals.


Dr . Mark Hyman

Washington Post 

Dr. Josh Axe




No Nukes!

Many of our kitchens are equipped with them. They are convenient- heating and cooking things in a matter of minutes. But, is it really worth it to use the microwave?
The way microwaves heat; by causing water molecules in the food to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam, causes changes in  the food’s chemical make up.

Studies have shown that foods heated in a microwave oven have a reduction in vitamin content and vegetables often lose their potent antioxidant compounds.

 Another issue exists when heating foods in plastic container or papers. Studies have shown that carcinogens present in these products leach into the food when microwaved- compounds like BPA, benzene, toluene, PET (polyethylene terephthalate)- you get the idea!
Additionally, microwaves emit dangerous radiation at levels higher than what was previously thought.
So, in a nutshell, avoid microwaving. If you have one in your home, use it for extra storage!

It is so easy to heat up food on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a toaster oven. Yes, you have more clean up to do, but your health matters; and having good health in today’s world is not convenient!


Popcorn is the quintessential microwave food.
You can make it on the stovetop just as easily, and believe me, it is worth it! Microwave popcorn is usually full of weird chemicals, additives, colorings- you don’t need it!!
Be sure to get some organic pop corn for this!
3 TBSP coconut oil
1/3 cup pop corn kernels
Covered saucepan (about 3 quarts)
Sea salt
Any extra toppings like melted butter; and if you want to get fancy and have flavors, you can make savory popcorn by sprinkling curry powder, turmeric, cayenne.- Or make it sweet with some honey or maple and coconut oil! But, whatever you do, don’t forget the good quality salt!
Heat the oil gently in the pan. Test 3 or 4 kernels to see if they will pop. If they do, add all the kernels. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat for about 30 seconds (this allows all the kernels to heat up so they can pop all together!)
Return the pan to the heat. Shake the pan over the heat source, keeping the lid slightly ajar. Shake until you stop hearing the pop. Transfer to a bowl and season!

Ditch the Creamer- go for the cream!

We’ve been touching a bit on dairy and I hope you understand that dairy from animals on organic pasture can be a healthy addition to a diet. Raw whole milk, raw cheese, cream, butter  are full of essential minerals and vitamins.

I also hope that you’ve taken away that the “fat” in these products do NOT make us fat. There is NO reason to be drinking low fat or skim milks.

Lately, I have noticed an obsession for the non dairy coffee creamers and I’m not sure if it’s because folks are trying to avoid cream or because they just like the flavor.

You know the ones, the flavors of French Vanilla, Eggnog, Hazelnut, Vanilla Caramel, Creamy Chocolate. Delicious, right? Well, have you ever looked at the ingredients in those creamers?

Here’ s the ingredient list on Coffee Mate’s Fat Free Hazelnut Liquid Creamer (because God forbid we ingest a little fat :))


Let’s break these ingredients down a bit:

Sugar- After water, it’s the first ingredient and if you know about reading labels, the ingredients are listed according to their prevalence in the food .. so basically, you’re consuming liquid sugar.

Sugar weakens our immune system, feeds pathogenic bacteria in our gut and contributes to inflammation. To boot, about 95% of all sugar made from sugar beets is genetically modified. (we don’t know if this sugar is, because here in the US, we have no labels which identify genetically engineered ingredients- appalling , right, but more on that another day!)

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean oil- OK, even the FDA came clean on hydrogenation a couple of years ago and admitted that hydrogenated oils are dangerous to our health.

These synthetic fats are proven to cause inflammation- and inflammation is at the root of many modern diseases (heart disease, autoimmune diseases, cancer).

Additionally, soy and cotton are genetically engineered crops and studies have shown that the oils contain residue of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Round Up which is heavily sprayed on genetically engineered crops).

Remember, glyphosate has been proven to cause endocrine disruption, digestive issues and interferes with the functioning of our beneficial gut bacteria.

Carrageenan: This is a common additive in many foods (non dairy drinks like almond milk, ice creams and yogurts.

It is added to give foods a thickness and a fuller taste.

Carrageenan is derived from a seaweed, so it is considered “natural”.

Studies have shown that carrageenan is particularly destructive to the digestive system, stimulating an immune response that is similar to the response when your body is invaded by pathogens.

This immune response causes inflammation which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding.

Natural Flavors- This is what makes the creamers taste so irresistible.

However, natural flavors are often another name for MSG (monosodium glutamate).

MSG is an excitotoxin, exciting your brain cells to the point of damage.

Not to be a Debbie Downer here, but it is really important to know what we are putting into our bodies.

So, instead of reaching for those non dairy creamers, why don’t you instead reach for REAL cream- REAL organic cream, preferably raw if you can find it.I

If you can’t do dairy, reach for a bit of coconut milk (without carrageenan!) .


Here’s a tasty alternative for those creamers.

If you can do dairy, you can also add a touch of vanilla extract and a bit of cinnamon to your cream!

Coconut Coffee Creamer

1 can coconut milk

2-4 TBSP natural sweetener (honey or maple syrup)

1 TBSP vanilla extract (or more or less to taste)

Mix all ingredients and add desired amount to your coffee.

Store the rest in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Psst.. Butter is Better!

Butter! I consider it a food of the gods!
Luscious, creamy and nutrient dense.
Unfortunately, many are still of the old, false mindset that butter is bad.
That is why those companies who produce the buttery “spreads” are having such a run. Companies like Benecol, Smart Balance and Earth Balance are continuing to prey on consumer fears about cholesterol. These spreads come equipped with “plant sterols” that they advertise have the ability to lower one’s cholesterol in 1-2 weeks.
Well, the ingredients in these spreads consist of plant sterols, vegetable oils, (like canola and soy) emulsifiers, soy lecithin, preservatives like potassium sorbate, citric acid, colorings and flavorings.
Remember that vegetable oils become rancid with processing, are high in omega 6 fatty acids and can cause inflammation. (and, our bodies respond to inflammation by producing more cholesterol!)
And, the ingredients in butter?
Cream and maybe some salt- that’s all !
And, we now know that butter from animals raised on organic pasture is loaded with fat soluble vitamins – A, D and K2-  and it also contains iodine – which our thyroids need to function optimally.
Butter also contains butyrate – a fatty acid that is protective against colon cancer, but also works to regulate our immune system. Our gut bacteria has the ability to make butyrate out of the fibers we consume, but if our guts are not functioning optimally, we may not be making sufficient butyrate. So, eat your butter!
I love to put a BIG pat of raw butter on oatmeal, on gluten free sourdough bread, on steamed vegetables and this time of the year, on organic sweet corn!
If you don’t have access to raw butter, be sure to buy organic butter that is from pastured cows.
Let me know how you like to use your butter!

Got Milk?

Yesterday, we touched upon breakfast, probably the most important meal of the day. And, you want to be sure that your body is well fueled.
What you drink is also as important as what you eat.
This country has been on the low fat craze for a long time now and the result? As a nation, we are fatter, sicker and more malnourished than we were before.
But, how can this be?
Well, first of all, fat satiates us. It provides us with a satisfied fullness so that we are not constantly hungry and reaching for some empty calorie sugar laden food.
Secondly, fat is needed to make our cells function. About 50% of our cell membranes are composed of fat- and it’s SATURATED FAT! If we want to nourish our bodies, we can’t eschew the fat.
And, lastly, fat is needed to absorb the ever important fat soluble vitamins – Vitamins A, D and K2. These three vitamins work synergistically to provide the body cell building blocks, immunity and strength. Without the proper fats in our diets, we can become deficient.

So, why whole milk? And, please note, when I speak about milk, ideally your milk would be unpasteurized from a farmer that you trust. This milk is from cows who are raised on organic pasture and not fed grains. If you are unsure about raw milk and the benefits, please visit the Real Milk site to read up more about it and find out if it the right choice for you.

Otherwise, if you cannot get raw milk and need to have milk, your next bet is ORGANIC PASTURED WHOLE MILK. This milk will be pasteurized and most likely homogenized (where the fat globules are broken into smaller segments so they stay suspended in the milk rather than rise to the top).
There are some companies, however, who do not homogenize their milk but you most likely won’t find them in your supermarket aisle.
Please DO NOT buy the ultra pasteurized milk. This is milk heated to Ultra high heat processing that completely destroys the milk proteins and valuable nutrients.The only benefit of UHT milk is for the dairy company- it kills everything and allows for a longer shelf life! Eww!
Unfortunately, many organic milk companies have UHT milk- so please read the labels carefully!
To bring some life back to your milk, try culturing it into kefir!
OK- now to the fat! Like I said, the fat in the dairy is what allows you to absorb the vitamins present in the milk, as well as help you digest the milk sugar, or the lactose.
(If you think you’re lactose intolerant, go and check if you are drinking low fat or skim milk!)
The process of making low fat milk involves stripping whole milk of all of it’s fat, essentially leaving skim milk. The milk is then heat processed and this non fat dried milk is then added to liquid milk- making either 1 or 2% milk. Seems harmless?
Well, actually, in the process of heating the milk, the cholesterol in the milk becomes oxidized.
So, here is the distinction for you. Cholesterol is not bad. It is a vital substance that our body needs to help control inflammation. We typically shouldn’t be worried about dietary cholesterol from real, nutrient dense foods. We should, however, be very concerned about oxidized cholesterol. It is this substance that plays a role in heart disease!
Are you shaking your head yet?!
I know, here we were drinking the low fat milk because we were afraid of the fat and the cholesterol and we think we’re doing it to keep our weight manageable and prevent disease.
Nope- we were actually spurring on disease and weight gain!
So, if you can wrap your head around this (afterall, we’ve become so indoctrinated with this bull****  that they are even recommending low fat milk to children as young as 2 years old to prevent obesity!!!) , here are some guidelines:
1. Strive for unpasteurized whole milk- this has the delectable cream on top- oh my!
2. If unpasteurized milk is not an option in your area and you must have some milk, opt for pastured (grassfed) organic WHOLE MILK that is NOT ultrapasteurized.
3. If numbers 1 and 2 aren’t options, skip the dairy and have a beer instead! (Just kidding)!


Bedtime Milk
Milk is rich in tryptophan, which the body converts to seratonin and helps with sleep.
1 cup raw milk
1 tsp raw organic honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp vanilla
Heat milk gently on the stovetop (please not in the microwave!)
Add honey, cinnamon, turmeric and vanilla.

Breakfast of Champions?

I used to love cold cereal for breakfast. And, sometimes for a snack! My mother never allowed the really sugary stuff in the house, but we had Wheaties, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, you get the idea.

Then, I stopped eating cereal when I went gluten free. It was hard, but I adjusted.

Then, I learned more about cold cereals and what they do to the body. I know, right? I’m such a Debbie Downer, but I think this information is really important. Especially if you have little ones and they are eating Cheerios as their first finger foods!

So, what’s the issue with cold cereals?

Well, they fall under just about every category we’ve discussed so far: Many contain genetically engineered ingredients. The grains used to make the cereal are more than likely sprayed with glyphosate if they are not genetically engineered. And, the so called “healthy” ones are made with whole grains, which we now know that if they are not properly prepared (i.e. soaked, sprouted or fermented) can cause issues in the body.

But the blaring issue with these cereals is with their processing.

Cold cereals are processed using a process called extrusion.

After being mixed with water and turned into a slurry, the grains are forced through a tiny hole at extreme pressure and temperature and thus turned into their marketable shapes.
They are then sprayed with  a mixture of oil and sugar so that it maintains it’s “integrity” when doused with milk in the bowl.
According to Paul Stitt, the author of Fighting the Food Giants, this process of extruding the grains denatures fatty acids and destroys much of the  nutrients present in the grain.
The most mind boggling part? Those so called “healthy whole grain” cereals are probably the most toxic. The proteins in the whole grain cereals become so denatured that they become neurotoxins.
Check out this rat study taken from an article written by Sally Fallon : Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry:
“One group of rats received plain whole wheat grains, 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 water and white sugar. A fourth set was given nothing but water and synthetic 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 a white sugar and water diet lived about a month. The study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks—even before the rats that got no food at all. These results suggest that there was something very toxic in 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 that turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.”
So, what is one to do? It’s time to think outside the cereal box for nourishing breakfasts!
Try soaked oats or another grain porridge. (Teff happens to be one of my favorite!)  Or, eat some left over dinner for breakfast. Or some soup! There are much better ways to nourish yourself and start your day than with these extruded grains!
Here is a recipe for some oatmeal.
Oat Porridge
Here’s a little tip if you like to eat oatmeal:
I put up a large batch, leave it to soak at room temperature overnight and then I put it in the refrigerator. My husband scoops what he wants each morning and heats it up. When it’s done, we do the whole process again. This way, you don’t have to remember to soak it every night!
2 cups oatmeal
Water to coat
2 TBS whey or lemon juice
Place rolled oats in a non reactive bowl.
Add water to cover and add whey. Stir a bit and cover and leave out at room temperature over night.
In the morning, heat oatmeal on stove.
(When it is soaked, it only takes a short time for the oatmeal to cook).

Season with sea salt. Add delicious extras like cinnamon, a touch of raw honey, soaked nuts and seeds and enjoy!

See how your energy is different after eating this nourishing porridge in the morning versus a cold cereal and let me know your thoughts!

Do you eat whole grains?

Yesterday, I talked about being gluten free and the importance of eating a nutrient dense diet in lieu of highly processed gluten free grains. Most gluten free flour products are made from very refined rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour and thickeners like guar gum or xantham gum. While it may be ok for the occasional treat,  these products should not be the bulk of our diets.  These highly refined grain products turn to sugar very quickly in our bodies, can spike our blood sugars and feed pathogens in our gut.

So, what about whole grains? Grains are considered to be “whole grains” when the 3 parts of the grain are fully intact after being harvested as they were out in the field. These parts include the bran, the germ and the endosperm. When grains are refined, the bran and the germ are stripped away.

The endosperm is the largest portion of the kernel and contains starchy carbohydrates and small amounts of proteins and  vitamins and minerals. The germ is the part of the kernel that has the capability of sprouting into a new plant. It contains fats, proteins and B vitamins.

The bran is  the outermost layer of the kernel and contains antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber.

For years, the recommendation has been to eat more “whole grains”. Our breakfast cereals are now made with whole grains, our breads are now made with whole grains and some of us may sit down to a breakfast of steel cut oats. That’s great, right?

Well, not really. See, the thing that no one is telling us is that the these grains require special preparation before consuming.  Grains contain anti- nutrients which must first be deactivated in order for our bodies to utilize the nutrients in the grains.

Phytic acid is one of those compounds which is found in the bran of the grain. Left untreated, it can bind to calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper in our intestinal tract and block their absorption. Those eating large amounts of improperly prepared grains where the phytic acid is not neutralized are susceptible to osteoporosis and bone loss.

Other anti-nutrients include enzyme inhibitors, which make digestion of the grain more difficult and puts stress on our pancreas, gluten, (the protein found in some grains) and  tannins.

So, do we not eat whole grains? No, not at all. We just need to be aware of how to deactiviate these enzyme inhibitors.   Soaking whole grains in acidulated water for a number of hours will do the trick! Not only are the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid neutralized, vitamins, particularly B vitamins are enhanced.

How to soak your grains:

  • Take the desired amount of grain.
  • Place grains in  a large bowl and  cover with warm (from the tap) water.
  • Place an acidic medium in the water with the grain. You will use about 1 TBSP of the medium for every cup of water used to soak. (note that I do not always measure this, I usually eyeball it!)
  • Acidic mediums include whey (liquid run off from yogurt), yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar.
  • Cover the bowl with towel and leave in a warm spot in your kitchen for about 12 hours.
  • Cook as desired.

Note that cooking time and the amount of liquid needed will be slightly less for grains once they are soaked. There is no need to rinse them after soaking, but if you wish to, go ahead!

Soaked rolled oats cook up very quickly in the morning- in about 5-10 minutes!

Soaked whole grains are nutritious and gentle on the body. Try to avoid grains that are improperly prepared ( as in cookies, cakes, whole grain dishes) or high heat extruded grains like those in breakfast cereals. (More about those tomorrow)!