Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Baby Steps to Healthier Living

I’ve made no effort to hide the fact that I don’t like New Year’s resolutions…I have yet to meet someone who has been able the keep one.  I think we set ourselves up for failure—knowing the diet is coming January 1st, we gorge ourselves until the stroke of midnight Dec 31st and then think we’ll be able to do a complete paradigm shift as the crystal ball is lowered.  I much prefer to take baby steps toward a goal and from time to time look to see how far I’ve actually come. Let’s look at healthy eating for example…
Raw Milk: Shortly after my son was weaned (over 11 years ago) I began searching for a raw milk source.  Back then we lived in Indiana where the sale of raw milk is illegal so I actually had to buy a share in a cow.   After buying the share I had to pay a monthly fee (to cover the feeding of the cow) and in return I received five gallons of milk per month for my share.  Now that we’re in Missouri I can purchase raw milk at a farm.  The benefit here is I get the milk before it’s been skimmed so I can collect my own cream which I use to…

Make My Own Butter:  Once I discovered how easy it was to make butter in a food processor I never looked back.  For the last seven years I’ve been skimming cream, collecting it in mason jars, and making sticks of butter (I’ve been using the butter molds referenced in the comments for that post).

Kefir:  I’m still on a dairy kick, I know.  A fellow member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew introduced me to Wardeh Harmon and her online classes at GNOWFGLINS.  Back then there was only one class and it was free, now there are nine courses and available to members (but it’s still a bargain).  The Fundamentals course introduced me to both water and dairy kefir and I found a local source to by both kinds of grains.  For the last six years I’ve been making dairy kefir to use in morning smoothies mostly.  Now I’m wishing I’d still kept my water kefir grains to try and make some healthful soda-like drinks for my almost teenage son.

Kombucha:  In the mean time I’ve been making another fermented drink—kombucha.  Every week for the last year and a half I have another six quarts that I flavor with a little organic juice and bottle in some recycled Grolsch bottles I’ve found on Craigslist.   I’ve really noticed that my seasonal allergies have nearly disappeared—oak pollen, cottonwood, etc.  It only makes sense because I’ve been repopulating my intestines and that’s the heart of our immune system.

Grass Fed Beef—Last fall we took the plunge and bought a freezer which meant that we finally had space to buy a quarter beef.  (Sadly, our butcher is closing after 44 years so we bought a second quarter last month just so we wouldn’t run out any time soon).  And I’ve been saving all the bones to make broth.

Organic fruits—Living rurally, I have access to several nearby farms that while not certified organic do not spray their crops (apples and blueberries).  I also have raspberries and blackberries growing wild on our property and a neighbor with several persimmon trees I know they aren’t sprayed.  I freeze the berries persimmon pulp, make applesauce and apple butter, and now I’ll be able to try drying blueberries and making fruit leathers because I bought a..

Dehydrator—I used the birthday money this year to buy an Excalibur dehydrator. In addition to drying produce, I can make yogurt in the box-style unit.  I’ve been working my way through another GNOWFGLINS course on dehydrating and learning I can make broth powders and other goodies rather than buy over-processed and chemical-filled versions at the store.

Herbs & Essential Oils—It’s not just about the foods that go into our bodies but medicines and products for the skin.  Last November I started the Herbal Foundations course from Vintage Remedies.  I’ve learned recipes for cleaning the house, treating sunburn, cleaning cuts and wounds, etc.  When I hear a cough I pull out the Fire Cider and Elderberry syrup.

Trying to avoid the microwave—I’ve never been a fan of microwave popcorn anyway (I’m too frugal), but now I’m trying to avoid the other main use for microwaves: boiling water.  We have an electric kettle for making teas.

If I had woken up one January 1st and said “From now on we’re going to eat/drink/consume only healthy products” I’d have been overwhelmed.  It takes time to get the rhythm of brewing kombucha or making herbal syrups.  It takes thinking ahead to transfer frozen meat to the fridge to thaw when you’re committed to not defrosting in the microwave.  I’d have been overwhelmed and the resolution would have been broken.  Now I can see how far we’ve come and I’m ready to take another step…this summer instead of canning pickles I’m going to try lacto-fermentation.  It’s just another baby step but we’ll see where we’re standing this time next year.

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