Monday, April 27, 2015

JUST CALL ME LARD LASS

     I find it quite interesting to find myself rendering lard these days.  I envision talking to my 14 year old  vegetarian self and wondering what she would say about the whole thing.  Never mind that, I envision myself talking to most people these days and I can just see the perplexed expression on their faces.  We've all been led to believe that saturated fat is the enemy, and as some of you may already know, this is now proving to not be the case.

     Much to my delight, I've discovered (thanks to the Weston A. Price Foundation, of which I am now a Chapter Leader!) that fat is a necessary part of a healthy diet.  Contrary to what we've all been told over the years, the healthy fats like butter, lard, and monounsaturated olive oil are good for your health! These fats and oils are stable and don't break down into harmful substances when processed or heated.  Unstable oils such as polyunsaturates (like sunflower and safflower oil) are highly sensitive to oxidation and rancidity - so much so that in the process of making them the oil actually goes rancid. Food manufacturers then have to deodorize and bleach the oils to make them palatable to consumers.
     Animal fats like butter and lard carry important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2 necessary for strong bones and teeth, protection against infection, normal growth, normal reproduction, and a happy attitude toward life.  Highly saturated coconut oil also protects against diseases like cancer and heart disease.  It is the dangerous liquid seed oils and partially hydrogenated oils that contain toxic breakdown products called free radicals, which can cause uncontrolled reactions in the body.  Margarines, spreads, and shortenings found in most processed foods contain trans-fatty acids which cause your enzymes, receptors and even your cells to not work properly.  This means your body can't make hormones and has trouble healing.  As a result, you may suffer from reduced energy levels, weight gain, and even difficulty thinking.  Partially hydrogenated oils have been linked to heart disease and cancer in adults, and failure to thrive and growth problems in children.
     Lard is very new to me.  I think the closest I ever came to eating lard is in the pie crusts my mother used to make when I was growing up.  Lard used to be a staple cooking fat in every kitchen until the early 1900's.  Lard is the fat from pigs, and like my mother knew, it was the secret to perfectly flaky pie pastry, as well as deliciously fried and baked goods. Unfortunately, nowadays when we hear the term lard, we think of clogged arteries and big butts.  Lard is actually a very healthy cooking fat and is making a huge comeback.

Why I Love Lard!

Lard is Great for Cooking!
The large percentage of saturated fat in lard protects it's more vulnerable mono/polyunsaturates from oxidizing with heat, making lard a great choice for cooking and baking.

Lard Is Heart Healthy!
Saturated fats are vital for human health.  They are needed for the function of the heart, kidneys, and lungs.  They support hormone production, healing and cell function.  They are essential for normal growth and development.

Lard Tastes Great!
Unlike coconut oil, lard doesn't have a strong or distinct flavour.  It is perfect for sautéing, deep-frying and baking.  It also helps create brown crusts to vegetables and meats.

Lard is Cheap!
Compared to butter and coconut oil, lard is definitely more affordable.

Lard is Nutritious!
Lard from pasture raised pigs is the second highest food source of vitamin D, after cod liver oil.  Lard provides the perfect form of Vitamin D along with the required fatty acid cofactors.

Lard is Green!
Pigs are easily adaptable animals that can thrive nearly anywhere.  They provide meat and help improve farmland by turning over topsoil and naturally fertilizing the ground.  Pigs are also great at eating farm by-products such as whey and kitchen scraps and turning it into fertilizer.

Lard is Local!
Pastured pork fat from a local farmer has a lower carbon footprint than imported coconut oil.

Lard is a Healthy Source of Cholesterol!
Lard ranks #18 in foods richest in cholesterol.  Cholesterol is one of the most important substances in the body.  Unfortunately people believe cholesterol is bad, when in fact human life would be impossible without it.  Cholesterol provides stability to our cells so they function properly; and our bodies make hormones, vitamin D and bile salts for digesting fat out of cholesterol.  The notion that cholesterol clogs arteries and causes heart disease is also incorrect.   Cholesterol in our food and cholesterol levels in the blood have proven to have very little relationship with heart disease.



HOW TO RENDER LARD

Method: Use a food processor or meat grinder to chop up the lard into small pieces.  Place the lard into a large stainless steel pot with just a touch of water to keep it from buying.  Heat the pot on low, and cook the lard gently, stirring often.  This will take a few hours.  Every now and then I pour the lard into a strainer lined with cheesecloth to drain off the melted fat, and then pour the still solid chunks back into the pot to keep melting.  Eventually you will be left with little bits of meat that will brown nicely into cracklings.  I like to add a bit of salt to it and sprinkle them on salad.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

40

Who knew 40 would feel so fantastic?  I am quite pleasantly surprised really.
My husband and I celebrated my birthday this past weekend, but saved the cake for today which is the day.  We enjoyed some quiet and relaxed child-free moments over a sumptuous feast on the weekend, so tonight I was totally okay with making dinner on my birthday.  
I have quite a thing for buckwheat soba noodles lately.  Don't be surprised if you see them making frequent appearances on our table, as they did yet again today slathered in a zippy tamari almond butter sauce.  To be honest I would have used peanut butter if my children actually liked it.  What child (aside from those with allergies of course) doesn't like peanut butter?  I also would have liberally dosed the sauce with sriracha if the kiddos could handle that too.  I am glad they don't like scallops though, because that left more for us!






SCALLOP & SOBA NOODLE STIR-FRY with Almond (Peanut) Butter Sauce

Sauce:
6 Tbsp organic almond (or peanut) butter
5 Tbsp water
5 tbsp organic wheat free tamari
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp avocado oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp organic apple cider or brown rice vinegar (or lime juice)
1 clove organic garlic
 1 knob of organic ginger, peeled
1/2 cup organic cilantro

1 organic red pepper, sliced
1 organic onion, chopped
1 head organic broccoli, chopped
2 organic carrots, chopped
2 pounds organic buckwheat soba noodles
1 package wild Nova Scotia scallops, drained on a paper towel
sea salt and pepper
avocado oil

Method
Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a blender and whiz until creamy.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  While you wait, sear the scallops in a wok drizzled with avocado oil.  Be sure to dry the scallops well first, and add to a hot pan to get a nice brown crust.  Cook about 1 minute on each side - set aside.

Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes.  While you wait for noodles to cook, saute the vegetables in the remaining oil in the wok until tender.  
Drain the cooked noodles and add to the wok, along with the sauce.  Stir to combine and top with scallops and some more chopped cilantro for garnish.
And this gorgeous cake is my favourite go to birthday cake lately - it's a grain-free delight from Dolly and Oatmeal called Vanilla Bean Ice Box Cake.  No, I did not make my own birthday cake, though I have been known to do that before.  I am pretty excited about freezing it and eating it like an ice cream cake.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BUCKWHEAT BREAD

I can't tell you how much I love this bread.  The recipe is genius, and it is all thanks to two lovely souls named Roberto and Anke from Conscious Catering.  It's got everything going for it - it's gluten free, grain free, and yeast free.  What it is not free from is flavour.  It makes living without bread a breeze.  It not only works as an amazing toast bread, you can also modify the recipe to make crepes, pancakes, and even muffins.  Once you try this, you will be hooked.


BUCKWHEAT BREAD

2 cups organic buckwheat groats
3/4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp sea salt


Method: Rinse the buckwheat groats well and soak for 2-8 hours.  Drain the groats and rinse well.  Mix the groats with the 3/4 cups water and blend in a food processor or blender until creamy.  Transfer to a  glass bowl, cover with a cloth, and allow to ferment for 16-24.  If you don't plan on baking right away, fermented batter can store in the fridge up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 350*F.  Add the salt  to the batter and stir well.  Grease a loaf pan and/or line it with parchment paper and pour batter into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Allow loaf to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing.  Refrigerate or freeze and toast well before serving slathered in salty butter.

PANCAKES: Add 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk.
CREPES:  Add 1 egg, 3/4 cup milk, and 1/4 cup melted butter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

PRACTICE SAFE SUN

     Summer is just around the corner, and I am pretty excited to be spending more time outdoors.  I am by no means a sun worshipper though.  Being a very fair-skinned person, I lived a  fair portion of my life in torment really when it came to the sun.  Childhood vacations to Florida and Mexico were torture for a young girl coming from a winter climate to sudden tropical sun exposure.  I have one particularly vivid memory of getting "sun poisoning" (is that even an official term?!) where my face puffed up so badly from a sunburn I couldn't even open my eyes.  Needless to say I am very cautious now about how much sun exposure I get, and I am a vigilant mamma bear whenever my kids go outside.  Now, you're probably thinking I have a bathroom cupboard full of high SPF sunscreens.  Nope.  Being a holistic kind of gal, I am super wary of chemical sunscreens.  Here's why.
     Most of the commercially available sunscreens block UVB's which are necessary for my body to produce vitamin D.  Sun exposure is the best form of vitamin D available.  The key for me has been to find a healthy balance between getting enough natural sunlight to maximize my vitamin D production, while at the same time protecting myself from damage that occurs from overexposure to sun.
     Perhaps the most obvious reason why I avoid sunscreens is because they are usually loaded with toxic chemical that can accelerate skin cancer.  Contrary to popular belief, appropriate sun exposure has been linked to the prevention of skin cancer.  Also, once sunscreen is applied to my skin (the largest organ in my body) the chemicals they contain go right into my bloodstream where they can disrupt my hormones.  Fun.
     Sunscreens often also contain vitamin A which sounds safe enough, by apparently it has been linked to an increased rate of tumors and lesions when applied to the skin of lab animals.  If it ain't good for the bunnies, then it ain't good for me!

I've developed some healthy habits to increase my fun in the sun:

     The first easy and delicious step to safe sunning involves creating an internal SPF by consuming a healthy diet full of natural antioxidants, healthy saturated fats, and foods rich in omega-3's.  This means I eat lots of fresh and rainbow coloured sun ripened raw vegetables and fruits, organic pastured meats and butter, coconut oil, cold water fish, turmeric, fermented cod liver oil, and hemp/flax/chia seeds.  This also means I avoid processed foods, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, trans fats, excessive grain consumption, and sugars.
     The next step I take is to start my sun exposure slowly in the spring so that I create a protective tan with phased in exposure.  The best time of day for sunning is morning to noon.  I start with a few minutes a day and then build up.  When I've had my fill of sun, I always make sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat and enough clothing to protect my skin from direct sun.  Dressing like this not only keeps the sun's rays off my skin, it is actually cooler (literally) to dress this way than baring all your skin.  Most cotton clothing provides about 15 SPF.  My personal favourite items are long sleeved shirts made from ultra thin Indian cotton, and wide legged cotton/linen pants or skirts.  For my children I buy long sleeve button down cotton shirts, and Puffin Gear hats (made in Canada and they last a long time!)
     The only time I wear sunglasses is when I am driving.  My eyes need the sunlight too.  Sunlight in the eyes is an important path of communication between the sun and my brain.  My good health and good mood depends on it!  Natural light is also crucial for healthy eye development in children.  Wearing sunglasses interferes with many important processes required for good health and well being.
     I also use plant oils like virgin coconut, jojoba, shea butter, and olive on my skin because they offer some degree of ultraviolet protection.  If and when I do burn, I soothe my skin with a mix of fresh aloe vera gel with a drop of peppermint or lavender essential oil.
     So take it from a whitey, you don't need to fear the sun.



****TODAY'S TWEETABLE:   "Vitamin A in sunscreen - if it ain't good for the bunnies, then it ain't good for me!" @KeepingItRealNL********


Friday, April 10, 2015

GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN?

     It seems I am long overdue on having the discussion.  No, I don't mean the birds and the bees, I mean lets talk about grains.  It seems like grains have moved right on up there with vaccinations, politics, and veganism on the controvery scale. 
     As it currently stands, I personally feel better when I avoid grains, but I do still serve baked goods, breads, and other grain based foods to my family.  My husband and kids love their bread, and to be totally honest, grains make the groceries stretch a lot further which is good news for my growing family (and I can do without struggles at meal times!)
     That being said, I make it a priority to only serve my family grains that have been fermented, soaked, or sprouted.  This is because grains, beans, nuts and seeds contain anti-nutrients called phytates that are extremely difficult to digest unless prepared in these ways.  Phytic acid binds important minerals which prevent your body from absorbing them.  Consumption of high levels of phytates contributes to poor bone health and tooth decay, lowered metabolism, and is a contributor to anemia.   Traditional cultures around the world knew the benefits of properly preparing grains, and it's time we start following in their wise footsteps.

Did you know?

Sourdough Bread:
- before the 1950's most bakeries ran two shifts of workers because the dough was fermented throughout the night with a long, slow natural fermentation process.  Corporate bakers today increase profits by producing fast loaves (3 hours from start to finish) using yeast
- now basic sourdough bread is only found in home kitchens and artisan bread bakeries
- poorly prepared and improperly digested wheat is the chief contributor to the current plague of "gluten-intolerance", obesity, diabetes, candida, and many allergenic conditions
- only when wheat gluten is fermented is it healthy for human consumption
- whole grain sourdough breads contain 18 amino acids, complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and maltase
- fermentation breaks down the bran and releases nutrients and neutralizes physic acid by 90%
- sourdough bread rates 68 on the glycemic index as opposed to 100 by other breads

Sprouted Grains:
- sprouting results in increased digestibility because the starches are transformed into simple sugars 
- enzyme inhibitors are neutralized so your body more readily absorbs minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc
- anti-oxidants and vitamins are increased when grains are sprouted

Soaking Grains:
- soaking grains or flours in an acidic medium at room temperature also activates phytase with helps to release important vitamins, as well as making grains, seeds, and beans more digestible.  Phytic acid is reduced by soaking as well.

  Last night I put a bowl of rolled oats out to soak in some water with a splash of apple cider vinegar.  My son loves oatmeal, so every now and then I make it for him for breakfast.  When I do, I always make a bit extra so I can make these delicious Porridge Muffins.  My husband likes them too because they are a very transportable breakfast for early mornings before work.  Not only are they made with soaked oats, but I also use sprouted spelt flour.

TODAY'S TWEETABLE: "And I can do without hassles at mealtimes!" @KeepingItRealNL


PORRIDGE MUFFINS

2 cups leftover organic oatmeal porridge
2 organic eggs
2 Tbsp organic butter or coconut oil, melted
1 cup organic milk
10 Tbsp organic coconut sugar
4 Tbsp baking powder (GMO and aluminum free)
3 cups organic sprouted spelt flour
1 cup extras (blueberries, chocolate chips, nuts, cranberries)
pinch of sea salt

Method:  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil.  Combine the porridge, eggs, oil, sugar, and milk in a large bowl.  Stir until well combined.  Sift in the flour, salt,  and baking powder.  Fold in the extras.  Fill muffin tins to overflowing, then bake for 20 minutes.  Allow to rest in pan for 10 minutes before turning out.

PRINT RECIPE

How To Soak Whole Grain Flour

1.  If soaking flour for recipes like Pancakes, Muffins, or Quick Breads, add the liquids (water, oils, sweetener) and flour together in a bowl with 1 Tbsp of acidic medium (lemon juice, buttermilk, kefir, apple cider vinegar, lemon, whey) for every 1 cup of liquid used.
2.  Cover and allow to soak overnight.
3.  Proceed with the recipe in the morning by adding remaining ingredients (eggs, milk, etc) and cook as directed.
4.  If soaking flour for Yeasted Breads, add flour and water together while reserving 1/2 cup of the water for dissolving yeast, and add 1 Tbsp of vinegar or kefir for every 1 cup of water added, as well as any sweeteners and oils.  Cover and allow to soak for 8-12 hours.  After soaking add the reserved water to the yeast with a tsp of honey and proceed with recipe.

How to Soak Whole Grains

1. Place the grains into a glass bowl or measuring cup and cover completely with warm water.  For every 1 cup of liquid add 1 Tbsp of acidic medium (lemon juice, buttermilk, kefir, apple cider vinegar, lemon, whey).  All grains with the exception of brown rice, buckwheat, and millet need to be soaked for 12-24 hours.  Buckwheat, brown rice, and millet have low levels of physic acid and only need to be soaked for 7 hours.
2.  Place the bowl on the counter and allow to sit in a warm place for required time.
3.  Drain the grains and rinse - proceed with recipe.  Please note that many soaked grains will take less time to cook that un-soaked grains.

Soaking Legumes

1. Take 2 cups of beans and put them in large bowl and cover with water.  Stir in 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar, whey, or lemon juice and allow to sit on your counter for 12-24 hours.
2.  After soaking, drain and rinse the beans.  Fill a large pot with beans and water and bring to a boil, skimming away foam that forms.  
3.  Lower the heat and simmer and cook until beans are soft.

Soaking Nuts and Seeds

1.  Place 4 cups of nuts or seeds in a large bowl and cover with water.  Add 1 Tbsp of sea salt and stir.
2.  Place on a counter and allow to soak overnight or for 7hours.
3.  Deyhydrate for 12-24 hours until crispy.



Interested in sourdough?  Why not try making your own Sourdough Culture & Bread
or Bagels
or Pain au Levain

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

BLUEBERRY BIRTHDAY CAKE

My son asked for a blueberry cake this year.  Previous attempts at fruit based birthday cakes have been colossal flops, so I figured I'd do it a bit differently this time and opt out of icing.  What we have here is more of a coffee cake with an awesome maple walnut crunch topping.  Definitely my kind of cake, but lets hope the 7 year old thinks it's great too.

BLUEBERRY CAKE with Maple Walnut Crunch

2 1/2 cups sprouted spelt flour
3 tsp baking powder (aluminum and GMO free)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup organic vegetable oil
1/2 cup local maple syrup
1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1/2-2/3 cup organic milk
1 1/2 cups organic wild blueberries
Topping:
4 Tbsp organic coconut sugar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp walnuts, minced
generous pinch of cinnamon
2 Tbsp organic vegetable oil

Method:  Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease and line a 9" round cake pan with parchment paper.  
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Whisk oil, maple syrup, vanilla, water and milk together in a bowl.  Stir the oil mixture into the flour mixture, mixing until smooth - do not overmix.  Gently fold in berries.  The batter should be thick, not runny.  Add more milk if needed.  Spoon into pan.  Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl.  Sprinkle onto cake.
Bake on centre rack for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  You may need to cover with foil to prevent top from burning.  Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes before turning out of pan and cooling on a wire rack.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

SQUID

My dad picked up a new hobby since moving to the East Coast - squid fishing.  He's not very good at it, but luckily he hangs out on a dock with a bunch of guys who are, and who don't even like to eat the squid they catch.  My dad's a generous guy, so our freezer is full of squid.  Now, to be totally honest, my favourite way to eat squid is deep fried with cocktail sauce.  After a couple of batches of those I decided it was time to prepare the bounty of squid in a new way.  Hence tonight's supper.
     And guess what?  Squid is a sustainable seafood, and is a good source of omega-fatty acids, vitamin B2, phosphorus, B12, B6, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, B3, calcium, and iron.  Go squid!


SQUID MARINARA SAUCE on Buckwheat Pasta

3-4 cups squid, skinned and sliced into rings, reserving the "moustaches" as is
1 large organic onion, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 organic tomatoes chopped, or (1 can diced)
sea salt
black pepper
organic buckwheat noodles (I used Soba)
romano cheese to serve

Method:  Heat a large skillet on medium high.  Drizzle with the olive oil, and add the onion and spread it in a thin layer.  Top the onions with the squid.  Cover.  Cook for about 10 minutes, then lower heat to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, cover and simmer another 15 minutes.  While the sauce simmers, bring a pot of water to boil and cook your pasta.  Add to the sauce, season to taste and serve with cheese (even though the Italians never eat cheese with seafood pastas.)

Friday, April 3, 2015

CHOCOLATE COCONUT ICE CREAM

True story.  I'm at the grocery store the other day picking up a few things in preparation of my son's 7th birthday party.  I'm at the checkout line when a charming older man strikes up a conversation about the weather (of course), which led to a discussion about maple syrup making.  Turns out he lives off the grid and taps his own sap and cans the maple syrup.  The cashier is ringing me through and I decide to stick to only spending what I actually have in CASH (bizarre I know!)  This inevitably means I have to remove a few items from my bag, which unfortunately included a wee carton of coconut ice cream.  My new friend then offers to pay for my ice cream, which I gratefully decline.  So, before you know it, I'm at home digging cans of coconut milk out the cupboard and making (even better) chocolate coconut ice cream for the party.  I left the supermarket without ice cream, but happy about the generosity of kind strangers, and the homemade version we ended up with instead.
CHOCOLATE COCONUT ICE CREAM

2 cans organic coconut milk (full fat)
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1/2 cup local maple syrup
4 organic egg yolks
6 oz organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cups organic cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic milk (almond, goat or cow)

Method:  In the top of a double boiler over medium heat, melt chocolate chips.  Gradually whisk in cocoa powder until smooth.  In a bowl whisk egg yolks and maple syrup.  In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring coconut milk and milk to a simmer.  Gradually whisk into the egg mixture.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir in the chocolate.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Do not boil.  Let cool to room temperature.  Stir in vanilla and refrigerate overnight.  Stir cream mixture.  Transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze according to machine directions.  To serve, let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes until it is soft enough to scoop.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

RECLAIM YOUR KITCHEN (and your health!)

     After a long day of work, whether at the office or at home caring for children, you’re probably pretty exhausted.  Sometimes the last thing you want to do is cook - and for many of us this means reaching for convenience foods or eating out in restaurants more often than we’d probably like.  These fast foods are quick and easy, but they can get expensive and take a toll on your energy levels and well being.
     Cooking at home is the first step to take if you're interested in eating healthier and cutting costs.  Home cooking is hands down the best way to save money. Whether you're considering dining out or bringing home prepared food, you're paying for someone else to do something you can do yourself — and, with a little practice, probably do better. Buying prepackaged frozen foods or restaurant meals means you are paying for the processing, packaging, and advertising of that product — none of which adds value to the food itself. So, when you cook, you are saving money, and when you cook sustainably, you're taking those savings to the next level. When you buy locally raised and produced food you're not footing the bill for transporting ingredients across the country or around the globe. Another way to save money by making your own meals is  “using the whole thing.” The bones from tonight’s chicken and the trimmings from fresh vegetables can be transformed into a mineral rich stock, the ultimate “must have” in every kitchen and the basis for a pot of delicious and nutritious homemade soup. If you compost and do any gardening, some of your dinner waste can be repurposed as free fertilizer too! 
     Another benefit to cooking at home is that you have more control over what goes into your body. By buying organic, sustainably raised or minimally treated meat, dairy and produce, you can reduce your consumption of food contaminated by chemical fertilizers, hormones, or antibiotics. Your food will taste much better too because it won’t contain artificial colours or flavours, texturizers, preservatives, or packaging. Making homemade meals from fresh foods means they will taste superior to frozen foods and will be more nutritious.  When you leave it to corporations to cook for you, your food will be of lower quality (they will use the cheapest ingredients they can get away with) and it will be full of salt, sugar, or fatCooking at home means you can keep an eye on these types of ingredients which is especially important for people with medical conditions or food allergies.
     Another amazing thing about cooking is that it activates your body’s powers of digestion.  Taking the time to prepare your food will help your brain get your digestive juices flowing. During the first phase of digestion, called the cephalic phase, the sight, sound, smell, and thought of food triggers the brain to transmit signals down your central nervous system to prepare your body for digestion.  So not only will you meals cost less, taste better, and have higher nutritional value, but you will actually absorb more nutrients from your food with better digestion!
     What percentage of your meals are cooked at home? And I don't mean fish sticks and frozen pizza!  How can you take a small step to upgrade your choices, even if for only one or two meals per week?  I could go into a long list of foods that are better to eat or worse to eat, but at this point, as long as you cook it yourself from scratch, nothing is out of bounds. Happy cooking!


CHICKEN BROTH
Properly prepared chicken broth is a storehouse of nutrients liberated from the bone and connective tissues which accelerates overall healing and supports our own bones, teeth, joints, digestion and immunity.  Pretty amazing for leftovers!


1 whole chicken (preferably free range/organic)
or 
2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts (such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings leftover from dinner)
Gizzards and/or feet from one chicken (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
sea salt
Optional add-ins (Nova Scotia kelp, reishi mushroom, shiitake mushrooms)

Method:
If using a whole chicken, cut chicken parts into several pieces. Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley.  Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours (I like to leave it overnight on low).  The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavourful it will be.                
     About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will add additional mineral ions to the broth.  Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.