Day 194, Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day with Cultured Vegetables
This morning I made some gingered lemonade, a Neapolitan shake, and a two-egg omelette with three vegetables: tomato, mushrooms, and spinach. Yesterday, in the crock pot, I created a stew of grass-fed hamburger, with the vegetables onions, potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower. I seasoned it with rosemary, basil, oregano, mustard seed, curry powder, and turmeric. My husband loved all the food. I donned my blue and green robe and remembered my Irish ancestors.
The weather is mild again, after the wild storm we had last week. Spring will soon be here, even though here in the high altitudes of Colorado, it appears to be delayed a bit. Spring is a time for new growth. Green is an apt color for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration as it is symbolic of rebirth. What will this spring bring to me and you, my readers? One spring, I bought a large piece of fennel and made recipes with that. I could do that again.
Venturing out of the nest can be scary. A mother eagle kicks her eaglets off a high nest to help them test their wings. She is right there at first to make sure her young do not hit the ground. The free-fall can be a scary experience. However, if eaglets do not learn to fly and remain in the nest, they will end up dying.
We too can kill ourselves with our own comfort. I have been comfortable writing lately but have gotten scared about venturing forth to share my work. What if people ignore or criticize it? I have even had the irrational fear of getting committed to the hospital for it. However, if my work never gets shared, what good will all the time I spent creating it do? It may give me practice writing, but it does not change the world.
The Dental Diet Food Pyramid
Dr. Steven Lin in The Dental Diet, which is still available on Kindle for $.99, has encouraged me to eat a more traditional diet that supports the health of my mouth. He introduces a food pyramid that is very different from the USDA food pyramid. Vegetables and legumes with herbs and prebiotics form the bottom, largest tier; then dairy, meats, fish, and eggs with fermented foods on the next largest tier; fats and oils, nuts, seeds, and spices are next; followed last by grains and fruits at the tip of the pyramid.
Does that sound different than what you have seen in the past? He thinks grains and fruits should be minimized because sugars feed bad bacteria in your microbiome, and that leads to tooth decay. Fattier foods are encouraged because fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamins A, D, and K2 build and protect bones and teeth. Prebiotics and probiotics make the body’s microbiome more diverse with friendly bacteria, which is very healthy for your bones and teeth, not to mention your health in general.
From Probiotic Pills to Sauerkraut
A number of years ago, I switched from probiotic pills to sauerkraut and other cultured vegetables. Sauerkraut has food value: indoles, calcium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin K2, fiber, even sodium, etc. Cabbage has 77 phytonutrients that fight or prevent cancer. It also tastes great. The prebiotic fiber provided by the cabbage provides food for probiotics to multiply even more once inside the body. Also, eating sauerkraut deposits friendly bacteria in the mouth, where they are needed, not just in the intestines. Sauerkraut, I believe, can be more effective and less expensive than using probiotics pills.
Dr. Lin says that its not just bacteria that causes tooth decay, it is bad bacteria. Having a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in your body can reduce tooth decay. I have gotten better dental checkups since I started using sauerkraut.
I should have saved some sauerkraut to eat with corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day. I do have some cabbage in the refrigerator though.
My husband asked me if I could turn cabbage into sauerkraut. I believe I got a recipe to do that when I was at IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Let me see if I can dig it up. It is a bit daunting because there is always the risk of growing bad bacteria instead of good ones.
I found it! Here is a recipe I got from IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) on how to prepare raw cultured vegetables:
Recipe for Raw Cultured Vegetables
To enjoy the benefits and the uniquely appealing flavor of Raw Cultured Vegetables, you may make your own as follows:
Use fresh, well-cleaned cabbage either on its own or as the primary ingredient along with beets, carrots, garlic, celery, kelp, herbs or any other vegetable you enjoy. You may add a high quality sea salt if desired. A five-gallon container will hold about 35 pounds of vegetables and it is best to use at least 25 pounds per recipe. You can either grind the vegetables using a Champion Juicer (without the screen) or cut and shred them with a food processor. If you use the latter process, pound the vegetables to make them juicier.
Put the prepared vegetables in a stainless steel, ceramic or a glass crock. Don’t fill the crock to the brim because the fermenting vegetables are likely to expand and may overflow. Put lots of fresh cabbage leaves on top of the ground up vegetables and using your hands and a little body weight, gently and firmly compress the leaves.
Put a plate that is as wide as possible in the crock and then add some weight to the plate, such as a lidded glass jar filled with two-thirds of a pint of water. A little weight will be sufficient, as too much will force the vegetable juice above the fermenting vegetables. Check the fermenting vegetables a few times over the next day and a half to ensure that the plate is sitting evenly on the vegetables and is not lopsided.
Let the fermenting vegetables sit in a well-ventilated space at room temperature (between 59-71º F) for five to seven days. The longer it sits the stronger it gets. After five to seven days (6-7 days at 62º F and 5-6 days at 70º F), throw away the old cabbage leaves and the moldy and discolored vegetables on the top. Put the remaining delicious fermented vegetables in glass jars and refrigerate. The Raw Cultured Vegetables will last from four to eight months when kept at 34º F and opened minimally. Do not freeze them.
To Make or Buy
I have not tried this process yet, but at some point I might. We would have to cool the condo to pull it off. I just talked to my husband about what it would involve, and he said, “Buy it at the store.” I talked to him about it again, and he said, “Just buy it.”
That may be your choice too. However, I will include the recipe for cultured vegetables in this blog entry for the adventurous among you. The recipe will at least give you an appreciation for what the preparation of cultured vegetables involves.
What would you like to see in my blog? I think most people want to make good nutrition affordable, easy, nutritious, and tasty. I love Steven Lin’s book. However, I notice that he does not talk much about how to make it easy.
How Joshua Made It Easy
One thing I liked about Joshua Rosenthal at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, is that he wanted to make nutrition approachable for everyone. He demonstrated taking a can of beets, opening it up, blending it in a blender, and just eating it plain. Doing it that way is relatively easy. I never tried it, so I do not know how tasty it is. It has only been recently that I have trained myself to like beets. Even though Joshua counseled us to not use microwaves, he said that eating vegetables was more important than not using a microwave. He said if people would just eat vegetables to not tell them not to use a microwave.
Running Around For Ingredients
Some of the other demonstrations I saw at IIN required a lot of skill, not to mention running around for the special ingredients. A few years ago, I learned how to get raw milk in my Utah area, but it involved driving miles to a farm, signing a liability release form in case I got tuberculosis, paying three times the cost of ordinary milk, and driving all the way back. This discouraged me from getting the milk.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s)
Why is so hard sometimes to make eating affordable, easy, nutritious, and tasty? What can we do about it? I joined Farmer Next Door while I was in Utah, a CSA that delivered local produce to your door. It had great quality and nutrition, but it was a grab bag. You got whatever they were delivering that week, and it was a little pricey. For one person, that many vegetables was a lot to keep up with. I was not able to lose weight during that time like I had planned. However, I did learn how to prepare vegetables, some of which I had never tried before, in tasty, nutritious ways. That is when I started to really like beets.
Do I know all the answers? No, but I have my goals too. I value convenience. I value nutrition. I have a budget to work with. I like tasty foods too, but my taste buds probably favor more nutritionally dense foods than most people are used to. The DelectaBalance Diet is not just about getting food to taste good. It is about culturing your palate to favor nutritionally-dense foods. This can be done. Very low sodium diets do not work for me. That is a good thing. I can use more sea salt and actually taste my food.
Sea Salt and Iodine
Speaking of salt, consider using sea salt. It has a blend of minerals that your body needs. Pure sodium chloride, even with iodine added, can become a poison in your body. Fortunately, the Kettle brand of potato chips, that my husband loves so much, uses sea salt. This is a lot healthier than plain salt. If you do use sea salt though, be aware that you may not get a full share of iodine. (It is possible to not even get enough iodine using regular salt.) I use Detoxidine, a nascent iodine preparation with 650 micrograms of iodine per drop.
So is there a kind of sea sugar that can make food taste great? Though brown sugar has a few more nutrients than white sugar, it cannot really be considered healthy. For my gingered lemonade, I use stevia. The lemons and ginger have the effect of lifting my mood. I used Splenda in the past, but it is an artificial sweetener that is not good for your health. It can interfere with your microbiome, something we should strenuously seek to amplify and diversify. For most of your food preparation, you should not need a sweetener. If you do, you may consider honey.
It is possible that you think you cannot live without ice cream. When I was in college, our hall president asked everyone in the hall what our favorite flavor of ice cream was. If we kissed our boyfriends for the first time, we owed all of our roommates ice cream. Ice cream was a part of the university culture, which had its own dairy and creamery. So how do you live without it? You can consider making your own with stevia. You can increase the amount of cream and eliminate sugar. You may even be able to buy ice cream with stevia, but I have not seen it anywhere.
An other possibility is to find an alternative. For a long time I used yogurt, fruit, and nuts almost every day, then I learned to get along without that. If you want to see my yogurt snack recipes, look in KaeLyn’s Korner Kitchen: Complete Meals for the Healthy-Minded.
Earlier this year, I kind of got hooked on ice cream again. I hoped that I could eat it regularly and still lose weight. That dream did not happen. I finally bought vanilla ice cream for my husband, a flavor I am not likely to pig out on, and left it in the freezer for him. That has worked.
My Neapolitan shake is kind of like ice cream, but it has no dairy in it at all. It is creamy, lightly sweet, and very nutritious. If you are looking for an ice cream alternative, consider this shake. It contains organic tofu, which is a fermented soy. That is probably the best, most nutritious, way to consume soy. Dr. Steven Lin encourages fermented foods as part of The Dental Diet. Even if you have eliminated soy in your diet, I encourage you to give organic tofu a second thought. At first, I made Neapolitan shakes with additional stevia but soon learned it did not need to add stevia.
If ice cream is not your thing, then you can consider yourself lucky. There may be other foods that you need to manage or replace. If you have any “trigger” foods, find a way to deal with them. A trigger food is any food that you find difficult to control the quantity you eat. A lot of people, including myself, have difficulty controlling the amount of ice cream we eat. One bowl leads to another or we just eat straight out of the container.
Not long ago, while living in this condo, I got up in the night, and finished off an entire container of Moose Tracks ice cream. I knew then that I was still hooked, and I needed to do something about it. Not long after, I came up with my Neapolitan shake recipe, which is based on my strawberry chocolate shake in KaeLyn’s Korner Kitchen: Complete Meals for the Healthy-Minded. I have not had a repeat of that experience.
Dr. Steven Lin says that sugar is something he often asks his patients about, and they almost always admit that they eat a lot of sugar. Even the children understood it was bad for their teeth. However, it was a tradeoff they were more than willing to make. Most of us do not realize how bad cavities are until we are older, when we start getting crowns, and then the crowns fall off. I must have swallowed one of mine because it disappeared. I finally got a molar extracted after it lost its crown twice. I did not want to have to keep crowning it and then possibly losing the expensive crown. Now that I am older, I am sure I lost the tooth due to my sugar habit when I was younger. Is the sweetness of sugar worth the price of our teeth?
Sugar is bad for a whole lot more than our teeth. It sets us up for all kinds of chronic diseases. Connie Bennett reached a point in her life where her doctor told her to, “kick sugar now or die young.” Now she dedicates herself to writing and coaching about sugar and its dangers. You may have heard that fat was considered to be the dietary culprit for years. People made strenuous attempts to avoid fat and ended up consuming more sugar, which caused even more serious health problems. Back then, trans fat was an even more serious problem than it is now. However, sugar was overlooked for the danger it was and is. Now, most people recognize that sugar is related to serious health problems. Most kinds of fat are actually important to health and should be incorporated into the diet.
Kicking sugar is no easy undertaking, however. Even though I have at times gone as long as four years without sugar, I still fall into its lure occasionally and have to fight my way back to freedom. Lately, I have been doing much better. When I first got married, I ate quite a bit of sugar because it was available and I did not want to upset my husband or marriage. Our meals at the retirement complex included dessert, which made dessert difficult to pass up. I hated to “waste” our food and money.
Not long ago, I tossed a box of cookies we got for Christmas. My husband wanted to keep them, but they were too big of a temptation for me. Eventually, I disposed of them without saying anything to my husband. When someone gives me sugary treats, I sometimes feel I am going to offend that person if I do not consume them. As time goes on, I have felt less compulsion to eat what I receive. The person would not want my health to suffer because of something he or she did. I think of their real intent of wishing me good health, which they may have unintentionally threatened. The choice is mine. I can say no.
The weight I gained in my early marriage is still partially with me however. Now it is a challenge to get it off again. I wish I had been my strong self when I first came to Colorado. Even as I was trying to reduce, I was overwhelmed with everything going on. Not long before my marriage, I had gone through a prolonged depression, which had initially put weight on me. Through this blog, I am finding the “real me” again, with additional strengths. My strengths were forged by everything that happened, which I got through, without having an episode of bipolar disorder. If you want to know what happened, I wrote about much of it in my blog in the days since Day One.
Challenges Can Make Us
One of the keys of success is take full responsibility for our lives. That is something I try to do, though it is tempting to blame bipolar disorder or the medications I take for it for my situation. The famous writer, Richard Paul Evans, spoke to a fireside group I was in once. He said, “We do not succeed in spite of our challenges and difficulties, but rather, precisely because of them.”
So, it could be that bipolar disorder, which I have hated so much, is really the key to my success. Perhaps I should value that challenge a little more. It took me a long time before I was able to share that I had it publicly, though I told many people about it privately. Just how it is going to make me, I do not know. However, I think I can trust in what Richard Paul Evans said. I have seen other people face trials. They have become great people because of their challenges.
The last few days I have battled some more depression along with some troubling physical symptoms. This time the depression was not really deep, but I chastened myself for falling into it again. I tried to get break out of it quickly before it became a prolonged episode. I even feared it would endanger my marriage. The first indication that I was depressed was that I had writer’s block. I could no longer express myself. I decided that the way to get over that was to start writing again. It took a while, but today I have been able to write. Does that mean the depression is over? I have yet to determine that. However, I am hopeful.
I have a to-do list that sat around the last few days. This week I will get to it. If I do the things on the list, my depression is gone.
Tonight, I forgoed another Marie Callender dinner with my husband. The enriched pasta in the dinner is inferior to a whole grain, and Dr. Steven Lin suggests keeping even whole grains to only two or three times a week, since grains are at the top of his food pyramid. Instead, I had a medley of foods that fulfilled my nutritional requirements in Cronometer. Now I feel I have carefully nourished myself for the day. I ate some greens as well.
My husband has enjoyed his St. Patrick’s Day. It has been a good day for me too. I am happy to be writing again. Writing makes me happy. I thought it would be very hard for me to write today, but the words have just flowed.
If you would like to join me in this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.