Raw-r

I have been experimenting in the raw… or should I say with the raw.

Raw milk that is.

Cow dairy gives me all kinds of IBS symptoms (not as bad as grains though). However, research points out that people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate raw milk with little to no problems. I have been doing quite a bit of research on raw milk though, and I have been curious as to what would happen if I drank a little. Not a whole glass everyday kind of thing, but a few sips here and there.

I gave up drinking milk quite some time ago, and pretty much eliminated cheese from my diet. This was a feat because I was a cheese hound. Love me some cheese. I stuck to almond milk mostly. However, I switched to full-fat coconut milk to put in my coffee or use for baking over the past year. I love its creamy goodness. Coconut milk is my milk of choice.

Cow milk is technically is not paleo. But I am willing to try some different things. I am an adventurous lady when it comes to food.

However, could my health benefit from small amounts of raw milk? My wheels are turning!

People who scream, “DANGER!” with raw milk say you are taking risks for ingesting harmful bacteria. One example is my husband’s professor…“Raw, or unpasteurized, milk can carry potentially deadly bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous food-borne illnesses,” explains Dr. Mark Kauffman, DO, an osteopathic physician from Erie, Pa. “Symptoms of a food-borne illness, such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, can lead to dehydration and even death.”

Nausea? Diarrhea? Death? Holy shit, no thanks.

But wait, much of the bacteria in raw milk are NOT those deadly little beasts. The FDA and other powers that be will warn otherwise. One thing that is certainly true is that commercialized milk production cannot be produced and sold raw and be safe. Pasteurization made commercialization possible, and the shelf life of this type of milk is longer. And I certainly do not deny that people have gotten a bad batch here and there and it made them violently ill. Still, why would nature make that the rule, not the exception?

Supporters of raw milk state:

“Raw milk contains many components that kill pathogens and strengthen the immune system. These include lacto-peroxidase, lacto-ferrin, anti-microbial components of blood (leukocytes, B-macrophages, neutrophils, T-lymphocytes, immunoglobulins and antibodies), special carbohydrates (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides), special fats (medium chain fatty acids, phospholipids and spingolipids), complement enzymes, lysozyme, hormones, growth factors, mucins, fibronectin, glycomacropeptide, beneficial bacteria, bifidus factor and B12-binding protein.  These components are largely inactivated by the heat of pasteurization and ultrapasteurization.” They will also say the government is biased. Find one supporters argument for raw milk, as stated above, and why the government if off their rocker here http://www.realmilk.com/press/fda-and-cdc-bias-against-raw-milk/. They are selling a product, so keep in mind where they are getting their facts, too 🙂

I heard a lovely story about simple food microbiology on NPR last week that really got me excited about our normal flora and microbiology. Full story can be found at http://www.npr.org/2013/05/03/180824408/michael-pollan-you-are-what-you-cook

“FLATOW: Talking with Michael Pollan, author of “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” a really – you always write fascinating books, but as someone who likes to cook myself, I found it’s even more fascinating. And as someone who loves cheese of all kinds, your chapter on the Ph.D. cheese nun in there…

POLLAN: Sister Noella.

FLATOW: She was – tell us about her a little bit.

POLLAN: Well, she’s an amazing character. She is a nun, and she’s in a Benedictine abbey in Connecticut, in Bethlehem, Connecticut. And she learned a few years ago – they had cows there, and they were trying to figure out what to do with the milk. And a cheese maker from France came over and taught them how to make a very traditional French Saint-Nectaire, it’s called, from the Auvergne.

And she is making it according to a traditional recipe that would give conniptions to the FDA or any local public health authority.

(LAUGHTER)

POLLAN: And the reason for that is she makes it in a wooden barrel with a wooden spoon or ladle to stir it. Now you cannot sterilize wood, and in fact the instructions for this cheese are – and talk about learning to love bacteria – the instructions for washing it out is just rinse it with a little water, no soap, no attempt to disinfect.

The public health department tried to close her down. She appealed to the mother superior, and she got permission to go to the University of Connecticut and become a microbiologist, get her Ph.D. so that she could defend her cheese-making on scientific grounds, which she did as follows. This was – she set up this brilliant experiment.

Most cheese today, all cheese except for hers, I would guess, and maybe in parts of Europe, are made in stainless steel, which we think of as the ultimate in hygienic technology, right, because you can really sterilize it. Well, she got two batches of raw milk from her cows. She put one of them in a stainless steel container, and she put the other in her wooden barrel with the white film.

And she inoculated them deliberately with E. coli, waited a couple hours and then measured the levels. Well, in the stainless steel, E. coli bloomed magnificently, and there was very high, very dangerous levels of E. coli in that milk. In the wooden barrel, the levels were vanishingly small.

And what had happened was that the lactobacillus that lived in the wooden barrel got to work digesting the lactose in the milk, producing lactic acid, and they acidified the milk and killed off the E. coli. So you realize these traditional peasant cheese-makers in France had been practicing a kind of folk microbiology without even knowing it, strictly through trial and error, they had found a system that defended itself against pathogens.

And with this experiment, which she did for the health inspector, they backed off, and she continues to make cheese, or her – the other nuns do. She doesn’t actually do it. She’s done such damage to the carpal tunnels in her wrists from making cheese all these years that other people are making it. But they’re still making cheese in this traditional manner, and it’s a wonderful product.

FLATOW: Do they start out with raw milk?

POLLAN: Yes. She – and she feels strongly about that. A lot of cheese makers do. Raw milk, because it has so much bacteria in it, has a lot more flavor too. Every kind of bacteria in raw milk is producing an enzyme that’s – that is itself breaking down products in the milk and creating flavor. So most cheese makers will tell you that raw milk cheese, even though a certain risk is attached to it, produces a lot more flavorful cheese.”

Very interesting stuff. That nun was sticking it to the man… going back and getting her PhD to prove the government wrong with them facts.

Now, I would hesitate to give anything with a high bacteria content (normal flora or otherwise) to someone who is immunosuppressed, ill, etc. But a healthy, young lassy such as myself is willing to try.

ImageCheck out these cute little cows!

I went to the only farm in Northwest PA that sells raw milk. You can walk up to the cows and pet them. My kind of farm! I am a freak when it comes to petting cute things.

The cows graze on grass, walk, and enjoy life on the pasture. Buying straight off the farm brings me feelings of connectivity, responsibility, and empowerment that I have never felt before when it comes to food. It brings me a sort of peace. All this peace and connectivity talk makes it sound like I just smoked a bong, but alas, no… it is just how it makes me feel. I feel amazing shopping on a farm.

Anyways, I bought some raw milk. And here is how my experiment has gone thus far…

I have been drinking small sips of raw milk here and there for two weeks… no IBS symptoms (whew!). I am feeling mighty good, as usual lately. And my number two’s have been great (not that you needed to know that, but hey). Very regular, not constipated or anything. No cramping or bloating.

I do not plan on making raw milk part of my regular diet. But I do not mind a little change of supplementation here and there.

More posts will be coming up about bacteria. The good, bad, and why the “good ones” are our friends. There was plenty of bacteria talk in this post to get us started.

Again, do your own research, but hopefully these little tid bits will give you something to think about. Until then, eat well my friends.

“Well, it’s not the wheat”

Well, um, actually it is.

I went and saw a wonderful Naturopathic doctor in 2008 in Tempe, AZ. I decided I wanted to see a Primary Care Doctor who had a more holistic approach to health. I brought to her attention my ongoing constant bloating, farting, occasional cramping and other bowel lovelies. She immediately got a blood test for Celiac Disease.

Mayo Clinic definition of Celiac Disease is as follows:

“Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction produces inflammation that damages the small intestine’s lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption).”

I was very excited for the results. Could it be!?!? Alas, my results came in.

Negative.

Image…….

I was certain it was going to be positive. POSITIVE. However, according to my doctor, it wasn’t wheat or gluten. So no allergy. Well, ok then. On I go. “It’s not the wheat.” Just good old Irritable Bowel Syndrome… with no solutions.

I was already a vegetarian at this point eating a plethora of whole grains, per our USDA’s recommendations. So I am a good girl. Right?

Dead ass wrong.

Three more years pass, and during these years I am passing enough noxious gas to fuel a nuclear power plant. Not to be morbid, but you need to understand this was miserable. MISERABLE!!!!! Having to fart all the time is terribly uncomfortable, especially when you’re always around people. This had been my entire life, but when I was eating more whole grain breads, oatmeals, quinoa I was a balloon of bloat. It was Ezekiel cereal for breakfast, a whole grain sandwich for lunch, and some sort of seitan or tofu dish for dinner… mixed with plenty of fruits and veggies of course. And don’t forget the brown rice and beans!

March 2012 is when I did that fresh juice fast for two weeks with the hubby. No bloat, no farting, no misery. What gives? I had experimented with several different lifestyles over the years, however I had never in my life lived without wheat, gluten, and grains. Those two weeks were so relieving. I had read online that different people had success with the paleo diet and IBS, but OMG what a radical change. My wheat… brown rice… tofu… seitan… and beans… 70% of my then diet gone, only to let in meat and up the veggie factor.

Desperate, I tried. I told my husband I would do a two week trial. I mean, it couldn’t hurt.

So…I had never felt so amazing. In my life. I had been on this journey to feel amazing… not just OK, or “better.” I was on the journey to amazing, and I FINALLY arrived. Paleo brought to me what I had been searching for all these years.

Now, enough with me. Onto the bigger picture.

I always keep grains in mind as a healthcare worker. Just because one is negative for Celiac disease, Crohn’s, or ulcerative colitis doesn’t mean grains aren’t the culprit of their non-diagnosed misery.

I spend much of my time researching, and my research for the truth about grains has startled me. I can attest to it’s validity not only from my own personal experience, but from all the research out there. I recently have read more about the history of wheat, and it is kind of mind blowing. I always encourage people to go out and find the research for themselves, but here is a synopsis of what I have found…

Wheat has taken many forms over the centuries. The most radical change, though, occurred between the 1950’s and 1970’s

Image

Wheat was genetically modified… big time. It was modified to be shorter , more resistant to pests, weather conditions, etc. This new dwarf wheat comprises 99% of the world’s crop. This is the beer you drink, the bread you eat, and the pasta you fancy.

The man who was behind the genetic modification was Norman Borlaug (google him). He actually won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in making wheat a “power crop.” The food industry must have been giddy, because they have made the basis of their empire this new wheat. However, this wheat was never tested for human consumption. This wheat was not a work of mother nature, but a result of fiddling genetic codes to make the most profitable and plentiful crop in the world.

“Life in it’s fullest is enjoyed when mother nature is obeyed.”- Weston Price

The foundation of the American Diet is not a result of mother nature… it is man-made. Notice when America started becoming “fat.” Like 1960’s and 70’s? Hmmmm like when wheat became the base of the food pyramid… in it’s new form… interesting. And all of these food allergies, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes, metabolic syndrome…. weird. How did we become this way?

Did you know that one slice of whole grain bread will spike your blood sugar more than a Snicker’s bar? I didn’t. And yet the diabetics in our nation are told to consume whole grains as part of a “healthy diabetic diet?”

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

The higher the GI score, the more sugar is going to be released into your blood, which means more insulin is going to need to be released by your pancreas in order to transport the sugar from the blood into your cells for energy. If your cells have enough energy, anything extra is going to be transported to your fat cells to be stored since it is not needed at the time.

All this food science and talk goes much deeper than this, and I recommend The Wheat Belly by William David MD to get an idea about the history and effects of wheat. But I think you get the picture.

I cannot trust the giants of the food industry, FDA, and USDA.  When it comes to nutrition, I lack trust. Their advice is not a matter of science, but moreso convenience and profits. If it wasn’t, this nation wouldn’t be so sick. I listened for years, and I was not feeling well. Our nation does not feel well. Wheat has caused so much damage over the years that it is hard to imagine how to fix it all. All I can do is encourage people to cut wheat from their diets and find out for themselves the difference. More people are making the switch. Is it your turn?

I am sure Norman Borlaug meant well when he did his work. But in the end, you can’t mess with Mother Nature. It simply does not work.

I will be posting many wheat-free recipes for breads, cakes, bars, etc. Wheat is not the identity of a wonderful cupcake!

Until then, eat well my friends.

Don’t you miss cupcakes?

How could I miss them if I never left them behind? 😉cupcake

(My very own dark chocolate cherry cupcake, paleo stylie)

One thing people do not realize is that cupcakes do not have to be made from gluten-filled boxes from the grocery store. Nor does the frosting have to be out of a can, either. What all is in those cans, anyways?

I truly believe life should be celebrated here and there with occasional cupcakes, brownies, pies, and other delicious nom noms. But what I refuse to do anymore is feel like crapola after I eat something treat-like. Why can’t we have high-quality treats that taste amazing and are nutritious?

I eat cupcakes that I make from scratch, and they are delicious. Usually the cake itself is coconut flour. The frosting is a cashew-butter base, and then I add the flavor of my choice. I made my mom some dark chocolate cherry cupcakes for mother’s day. It brought her to tears (aw) and she ate every last bite. My brother and his girlfriend tried them as well and were nutty about them.

My brother’s birthday is coming up and I plan on making him dark chocolate espresso bean cupcakes, paleo stylie. I shall post my concoction on my next post. Until then, eat well my friends.

 

Dark choco cherry cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake:

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs local maple syrup (or best available)
  • 4 eggs. Get ’em from a local farmer if you can!

Icing:

  • 1 cup raw cashew butter
  • Marichino cherry juice (from the bottle of cherries). Add to taste.
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk

Toppings:

  • Dark chocolate broken into pieces
  • Cherries!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Place all dry ingredients into bowel or food processor. Add eggs, syrup, and vanilla. Blend until mixed. No chunks! Place into cups. Bake at 350 for 15-18 min. Use toothpick to check if done.

While those puppies are cookin, place cashew butter and coconut milk into bowel. I prefer them to be chilled, so chill before or after if you can. Mix until creamy, then add cherry juice and mix thoroughly.

Cut cupcakes in half to make them look like a sandwich. Add frosting to middle and on top. Place cherry in middle with 2 pieces of chocolate on sides. Dust on top with cacao powder. And voila!

 

It starts…

Well, what the heck!? I am biting the bullet and starting a blog. Yep, taking the plunge to make public my everyday happenings involving the journey into true health, well-being, and happiness. There is so much to talk about, really. I live an interesting life, full of cooking, traveling, learning, nursing, hanging out with people, and of course my 3 wonderful cats: Pounce, Oliver Winston, and Nicolette. Most importantly I share my life with my amazing husband, Allen. He is the best. Truly.

You will find that I will probably talk about food… a lot. I mean, I eat all day, everyday. Always have. However, what I have put into my body hasn’t always been savvy when it comes to proper health and overall well-being, so I am going to start this blog with talking about my search for health.

This is me currently… 26 years young and the healthiest I have ever been! Moi

I currently follow a paleo diet. Only meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds (98% of the time) for this girl. I would have never imagined such a lifestyle, but here is how it came about….

I grew up in the Midwest on the typical American Diet. School lunches, chocolate milk, white flour, and sugar…basically processed everything. Thank heavens my mom breastfed me… at least the first 2 years of my life were healthy! From ages 3-23 my diet was abysmal. When I was going through puberty I was a little husky, but nothing out of the ordinary. I was by no means “fat.” However, I was no picture of health. I always had to stop and catch my breath in gym class when we ran. I remember even going on hikes with my parents and feeling tired when I was 9 and 10 years old. Kids are supposed to have boundless energy, right?! Well not this girl. I watched plenty of MTV to keep me on my butt. I played sports year round, but I never was active outside of my sports time. AND HOLY CRAP COULD I EAT… I would put down an entire burrito in less than 10 minutes. I always had a clean plate. In fact, my nickname in high school was “garbage disposal” because I would finish all of my friends’ unwanted food.  In high school I always felt tired and never felt like I got enough sleep. I always thought that I could feel better, but was active in sports and happy with my body and body image (despite gaining 20 lbs during my junior and senior year) so I did not take action.

College came around, and with that came the dining halls. Dining halls=processed food heaven. I never really drank in college, but I did eat and eat and eat.  I was just as guilty then as I was in high school of eating copious amounts of processed foods. There was plenty of pizza, sandwiches, and chicken nuggets. I was sleeping 12 hours a night with anywhere from a 1-2 hour nap after classes. I thought it was great to take those naps. I did not know how other people got by with only 7-8 hours of sleep. That to me was an enigma. “Good for them,” I thought. By the middle of sophomore year of college, many of my clothes did not fit anymore. I thought to myself, “Hmmm that’s weird.” Can we say denial?

The walls came crumbling down around me one day when I was back home from college before my mother’s wedding. I stepped on the scale only to reveal the heaviest I had ever been. I thought, “That can’t be right.” I took off all my clothes, my ponytail, and jewelry only to reveal about the same results. NOOOOOOO!!!! How did this happen? How did I get here? Although I always had healthy body image, it didn’t change the fact that I finally realized that I was not being good my shell, and it was time for a change. It really peeved me that I had gotten to this point. Again, I was not fat by any means. However, I was on my way to getting there, and I knew that something had to give.

In 2007 I started where many people do. Weight Watchers. I thought, “Well my problem is I eat too much.” Partially true. I was eating copious amounts. So I did the online program and lost 15 lbs. Not bad. It was a start. Instead of 10 chicken nuggets, now I ate 3. A step in the right direction. In addition to smaller portions, my activity level was up as I started working for the airlines as a baggage handler. By the time my own wedding came around that summer, I was 15 lbs lighter and more toned than before since my habits changed. I was satisfied, but was looking for more…

About the beginning of 2008 I woke-up one day and decided to be vegetarian (Literally). All the years of accumulated information about factory farming just came to a head in my mind.  I called my husband and told him. He was kind of surprised, but was supportive. I mean, it was “healthier” as well. No doubt I made some positive changes when I went vegetarian. I ate more fruits and veggies, but my diet was still loaded with grains. Eventually in 2009 I got really into “whole grains.” I read about how “healthy” they were, and I immediately switched from white wheat to whole. One thing I must tell you is that my entire life I have had IBS. However, when I made the changed mentioned above, it took my IBS to a whole new level (I won’t go into too many details, so don’t worry). I just attributed it to “you’re eating healthy so you’re going to fart more.” Ha.

During my four-year vegetarianism I had a six-month gig as a vegan,  went back to regular vegetarian, and then in 2011 went to pescatarian. I did not feel the “optimal health” that I had been searching for. I was always bloated, farting, and cramps in every lifestyle I experimented with. I found a correlation with cow dairy and my IBS, so toward 2011 I started eating less dairy. It helped, but nothing worth oohing and awwing about.

Then in March of 2012 Allen and I did a two-week fresh juice fast. Why not? See if it helps… One thing that was a miracle was that I had no IBS symptoms during these two weeks. Praise the Almighty! But how could this be? What was the deal?

I went back to my pescatarian ways, and my IBS came back with extra wrath. I was miserable… so bloated and miserable. WHAT THE HECK.

I was desperate. I started going online to IBS forums, seeing if anyone had some insight. I saw many people had luck with a paleo diet… this was going against everything I had been holding on to as the “ideal” healthy lifestyle of being vegetarian. But I was desperate, and I decided to give it go.

One day in June 2012 I went to Chipotle. I got a chicken, rice-less and bean-less burrito bowl. I stared at it for some time. And then I ate it. And I lived. And then after two-days I had no IBS symptoms. None. And since then, I have been a happy camper.

The main culprit in my GI inflammation was wheat. I will be writing many more posts about what I have learned, gained, and lost in my most recent food journey. But this is my background story. And, now it starts…