My sourdough croaked again!

So frustrating!!!  I made two batches of sourdough english muffins and two loaves of sourdough bread and that was the end of my starter!  I tried making another starter and it never took.  Soooo, I’m going to get rye grain when I go to Central Market next week to give it another shot.  I wonder if it is because my house is cooler now.  I tried putting the starter on a plant starter pad, but I think that was too hot.  Another problem I have is that there is something fermenting in every corner of my kitchen and it is hard to keep them separated by more than a few feet.  I wonder if that could have any effect.  Well, back to the ol’ drawing board!!!

Sourdough update

I’ve made two batches of the sourdough English muffins.  The first turned out okay, but my griddle portion of my stove is too hot even on its lowest setting.  The outside overcooked while the inside was still doughy (is that a word?).  My second attempt this morning was soured overnight and so they had a stronger sourdough flavor which I liked.  It wasn’t too strong, just had a good flavor.  I cooked them in my cast iron skillet on a pretty low setting and they did much better.  I’m going to try again and add a little more flour this time.  They are hard to transfer into the skillet.

Sourdough bread, here I come!!

Finally, after two months of trying, I have a sourdough starter that is going to work…I think.  😮 I have to give it several more days of feedings before I start cooking with it. If all goes well, I will be making sourdough English muffins before long. Sourdough will neutralize the phytic acid in the grains and release the nutrients to make them easier to absorb. I will let you know how things progress!

A minute on the lips, forever on the hips!

I am often asked what types of sugars and sweeteners I recommend.  I’ll start with saying that most of us need to substantially reduce, if not eliminate, the majority of sugars from our diet.  Some of the “good” sweeteners can depress the immune system just like the “bad” sweeteners.   The key is moderation.  With that said, I will confess that I can’t pass up a McAlister’s Sweet Tea when I go to “the big city” and I have a hard time passing up a good brownie!  

Here is my list of sweeteners that I prefer:

Honey ~ Most of the honey in supermarkets has been processed with nutrient destroying heat.  The best quality is unfiltered, unheated honey.  Local bee keepers are a good source.  Health food stores usually carry unfiltered, unheated honey but it costs quite a bit more than what I get from my bee keeper.  I use honey mostly in drinks and my bread baking.  I also love it on toast with butter!

Maple Syrup ~ Use pure, grade B maple syrup.  It is stronger in flavor and nutrients than grade A.  Get Vermont or Canadian syrup to insure it is free of formaldehyde residue.   If your not sure where a syrup comes from, organic also insures that it is formaldehyde free.  I occasionally use maple syrup in baking but usually it is used as a topping for pancakes and in hot cereals.

Sucanat ~ Sucanat (Sugar Cane Natural) is sugar in its most natural form. It is extracted from the sugar cane and the freshly squeezed juice is evaporated by a special Swiss process. Only the water is removed. This process preserves all of the molasses. Sucanat is organically grown with no added preservatives and additives.  Sucanat is less sweet but has fuller flavor than white sugar. I usually use sucanat in the place of brown sugar.  To substitute for honey, use at least twice the amount.  To substitute for white or brown sugar, use the same amount.

Rapadura ~ It is organic, whole, unrefined, evaporated sugar cane juice.  It is not separated from the molasses, so it has a lot of nutrients left but does have a different taste.  I use it some in baking, but don’t like it in my drinks.

Stevia ~ A natural sweetener that is made from the stevia plant.  It is 300 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories.  My favorite brand is Stevita.  It comes in a spoonable form, packets and liquid.  I use it in both hot and cold beverages.  It can have a bitter taste if too much is used.  I have never cooked with it but you can.  There are cookbooks that are specifically geared toward cooking with stevia. 

Some of the other natural sweeteners that I haven’t tried or just don’t use very often are molasses, barley malt syrup, date sugar, rice syrup and sorghum.

Whatever sweeteners you decide to use, please stay away from the artificial sweeteners.  They are known to cause many health problems.

Love soaked grains for breakfast!

Fall is upon us and hot breakfasts are appealing to me more that cold smoothies!  I like the fact that soaking the grains for breakfast is so easy.  We had Creamy Quinoa Friday morning and Blender Pancakes with real maple syrup, raw butter, fresh strawberries and raw whipped cream this morning.  Both were soaked overnight to neutralize the phytic acids and release nutrients for absorption.  Another hot breakfast favorite is soaking oatmeal in my Zojirushi rice cooker overnight and programming it to be ready in the morning when we get up.  All we have to do is add the fixings:  butter or cream, real maple syrup, cinnamon, and Super Seeds.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Update on Raw Food Changes

Here is an update on my raw foods adventure. 

 The green smoothies have been a success and we still have them for breakfast several mornings a week.  I’m not sure how I will feel having a cold breakfast when the weather turns cold but hopefully we will keep it up.  I’m sure we will add more soaked hot cereals.  Irish porridge, cream of brown rice, and creamy quinoa are some of our favorite cooked cereals.  I did make raw granola that we mix with yogurt (made w/ raw milk) and eat for breakfast or lunch. 

Lunch is usually leftovers or a roll w/ cheese and fruit.  If we eat breakfast late, we just snack on fruit midday.  I want to try to make some raw soups in the Vita-Mix as the weather cools off.

We have a big green salad that we eat before the rest of our food at nearly every dinner.  The rest of the meal usually consists of a grain and some more veggies with the occasional piece of chicken or fish.  The raw dinner recipes were just to time consuming for me to fit into my normal day.

I have decided to try to make most of our snack foods raw.  There is a recipe for raw tortilla chips that I want to try out soon. 

I’m not sure what our raw percentage is but I figure we are getting more raw than we were before.  When we have cooked foods, I try to make sure they follow the Nourishing Traditions guidelines.  I’ll post how the raw tortilla chips turn out!

Raw Soup made with Tomato, Avocado, Bellpepper, Apple and Cucumber

Raw Soup made with Tomato, Avocado, Bell Pepper, Apple and Cucumber

I got this recipe from the Raw Glow blog. (http://rawglow.com/blog/2010/05/03/cecilias-everyday-raw-food-blended-soup-recipe/)   It was my first raw soup and was pretty good.  Actually it was a lot better than I expected.  It was very creamy and a little spicy from the garlic and cayenne. 

I really had no plans to ever go the raw soup route.  I have never tried gazpacho because cold soup just sounds gross!  However, I read in one of the books that raw food doesn’t have to be cold, just not overheated.   I decided to warm the soup by running the Vita Mix for a little bit.  It got it up to 110 degrees.  (I was shooting for 105 but ran it a little too long…oops!)   This was definitely a very quick and easy meal!

Trying out raw foods

We have decided to incorporate more raw foods in our diet.  Ideally, we would like to get up to 80% raw but will take it slow.  A lot of raw foodists are vegan, but I do not plan on giving up raw dairy.  We have a great source for raw milk and I am able to make my own butter, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk and some cheeses from the milk.  I also will still occasionally have free-range, grass fed beef and free-range chicken as part of our cooked foods.   I will continue to make our cooked foods using the Nourishing Traditions methods as much as possible.

Our first change is adding green smoothies.  As beginners, we put in more fruit and less greens while our taste buds get used to the “green” taste (and to make sure the kids will eat them).  The books I’ve been reading tell you to start out adding the healthy things, and not worry about taking away foods right now.  As your body gets nourished by the greens, it will start craving more of those types of foods.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  🙂

We  have several raw food books and I’ve been trying out recipes.  What I’ve discovered is that it takes a lot of planning and time if you are making actual meals!  My quest now is to find great tasting recipes that don’t take as long.  Last week we had several all or nearly all raw days, but had a cooked meal on Friday night.  It was a big green salad with grilled asparagus and angus beef patties w/ raw cheese.  Except for the squash spagetti, it was the easiest meal of the week!  I’m going to start some breakfast cereal in the dehydrator and see if we can get rid of our cheerios and organic granola which are two of  the main processed foods we use regularly.   The other thing I’m going to try to replace are the organic tortilla chips we eat.   There is a recipe in Raw Food Real World  that you make in the dehydrator.

Raw Tacos

Raw Tacos

These were by far the most labor intensive of any of our meals so far and probably my least favorite.  I didn’t really care much for the “bean” filling.  It had a lot of sun-dried tomatoes in it and I’m not a big fan of those.  The filling also took about 12 hours of dehydrating.  I did like the taco shells and would probably use them again w/ a different filling.  The shells took about 5 hours of dehydrating so I was able to start them the same day we were going to eat them.  The recipe came from Raw Food Real World  by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis.

Green Smoothies

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