Farm Life Raw Milk

Raw Milk For Life

Raw milk, you guys! It’s God’s gift to mankind AND one of agriculture’s best kept secrets. Seriously, a disclaimer if you will, I am a huge proponent of real, unadulterated, unpasteurized, pasture fed, raw milk from healthy, disease free cows and a farmer you trust. I’m not only a proponent, I’m a producer and have been for over 7 years, and a consumer for a year prior to that. We began drinking raw milk for the health benefits and then our dairy farmer decided to take the winter off! Horrors! We just couldn’t live without milk (pasteurized milk is not something we would put in our bodies these days!), so when he decided to quit dairying, we made the huge decision to buy cows and a milking machine and have never regretted it!

People everywhere go to extreme lengths to get raw milk. They drive almost an hour each way to the farm. They pay what seems like exorbitant prices per gallon because raw milk farmers have to be self-sustainable, no government handouts here, and quality grass fed cows on minimum grain produce fewer gallons per day than their industry counterparts and are more expensive to feed, since in our case, we feed certified organic grain at milking time. Why are people convinced that getting raw milk is worth the expense?

For one thing, people are willing to spend a little more on food to save a lot at the doctor’s. If you could hear the amazing health testimonials we hear. People have had their IBS cured. Arthritis, eczema, thyroid issues, asthma, allergies, autistic symptoms greatly relieved and in some cases, disappearing completely. You see, raw milk is a living superfood. It contains hundreds of proteins, enzymes, probiotics, healthy fats, vitamins and calcium completely bioavailable to your body. Conversely, those same benefits are denatured, altered and destroyed by the high heat of pasteurization, which actually renders them not only useless, but in some people, harmful as the body mounts a histamine defense against all the dead bacteria killed in pasteurization. One of the enzymes raw milk contains is alkaline phosphatase, which inhibits inflammation in the body. Raw cream contains the Wulzen Factor the anti-arthritic nutrient which protects against arthritis, and is said to relieve pain, swelling and stiffness. It’s worth repeating: Pasteurizing milk destroys the Wulzen Factor and denatures the proteins, and destroys the enzymes and other life giving, immune boosting qualities found in raw milk. Pasteurized milk is processed milk, “fortified” with many add-ins as a result. And pasteurized whole milk is more processed than skim. Many raw milk advocates truly believe that pasteurized milk is the most allergenic product on the market today. (Raw milk consumption is not recommended by the FDA, do your own research before taking my word for it!)

Some history regarding pasteurization of milk. Louis Pasteur developed the pasteurization process for wine. Raw milk had never been a common agent for illness until the end of the 19th century when distillery dairies were introduced to urban areas as the answer to sudden population growth, as well as a convenient way to dispose of the unwanted byproduct of making alcohol. People wanted milk, but lived too far from farms with healthy cows where they could get quality milk. Dairy cows were crowded into feedlots near the cities and fed distillery waste that acidified their rumens and made the cows sick and diseased. This poor environment and diet combined with bad sanitation practices introduced a time when raw milk was unsafe and pasteurizing it seemed to be the answer. Today’s pasteurized milk also needs a long shelf life. It comes from innumerable cows from large confinement dairies all over the country and has to be freighted to stores before finally being consumed–this kind of milk from large confinement operations should be pasteurized both for safety and long shelf life. Ironically, in the case of UHT milk (ultra high-temperature pasteurization) this “dead milk” doesn’t even need refrigerated. Alternatively, producing safe, clean raw milk is possible these days, thanks to stainless steel equipment, refrigeration, testing, and a better understanding of germs, sanitary dairy practices and bovine health. And even if the fresh taste of your raw milk lasts only 8-10 days, when raw milk turns sour, it is still good for so many uses so we don’t waste it!

There’s so much more to the raw vs. pasteurized debate. I haven’t even mentioned the A1/A2 milk, how different breeds, like Holsteins (the industry standard because they produce huge amounts of milk) are more likely to produce the harder-to-digest A1 milk while Guernseys and Jerseys are more likely to produce the health promoting A2 milk. Raw milk from our Guernsey and Jersey cows TASTES amazing. Fresh and wholesome, not “cooked” as so many describe pasteurized milk. It has a nice 3-4 inch band of cream per gallon which is absolutely delicious in coffee and tea. Ours has an 8-10 day shelf life but the great thing about raw milk is that even when it starts to taste a little sour, it can still be incredibly useful and good for you. All those good bacteria have gone crazy–at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Real Milk website they even share that science has shown that raw milk is anti-pathogenic! Cultured milk in the form of kefir, or clabbered milk (unpasteurized milk left on the counter to sour) are staples in homes all over the world. Sour milk makes great pancakes, smoothies, cottage cheese, and the sour cream at the top is delicious by the spoonful.

This is a ton of information, I know. But you will be hearing more and more about raw milk as it gains in popularity and continues to be legalized in more and more of the United States. Currently, it is legal in 43 U.S. states to buy raw milk straight from the farm, or as part of a cowshare/herdshare agreement, or labeled as pet milk. Whether you agree that drinking raw milk is a good thing or not, we should all be able to agree that food freedom is important. Do we really need governmental control of what goes into our mouths? Am I wrong or is this a fundamental right, something so basic as what we choose to eat, especially when it concerns a product like milk, that has been around since the beginning of humanity and is known for providing life-giving nutrition from birth. As rational thinking adults, look at the research, talk to raw milk drinkers, see the proof firsthand and pursue health as you see fit. As for me and mine, we’ll be drinking raw milk for life!

Raw Milk

How to Second Ferment Kefir

The best kept secret about kefir is how much better it is when you “second ferment” it. Wow! Second fermenting powers up the nutritive value and further decreases the lactose content, and well, it just results in pure deliciousness because you add so many flavor combinations to it. So read on…

My favorite additions to infuse a second ferment kefir: an orange slice (rind, too!) and a vanilla bean, slivered lengthwise…

Simply put, a second ferment uses the kefir liquid leftover from the first ferment, after kefir grains are removed.

To a glass quart jar containing about 3 cups of your freshly cultured milk kefir simply add whatever fruit or spice or chocolate combo sounds good to you, lid the jar with a plastic lid, drape a dishtowel over the whole project to keep that kefir happy and dark, and wait as little as 6 hours or as much as 30 (personal preference–I’ve forgotten mine for 24 hours and it’s still good, but I like it best around 15 hours!). Shake occasionally (make sure that lid is tight first! and open it to release built up pressure especially if you are letting it ferment longer than 6 hours!) during the ferment process and before drinking. After however many hours you decide to ferment, add sweetener if you’d like and refrigerate. I promise, you will be hooked! You may decide you like kefir better blended in the blender before drinking, that’s fine. You probably want to remove the fruit rinds, cinnamon sticks, etc before you blend though!

A word to the wise, don’t be alarmed if your kefir separates and looks weird, it does that the longer you leave it on the counter, especially if you neglect to shake it a couple times in the second ferment process. It is not dead, you didn’t kill it! (just don’t leave it for more than a couple days…if that happens and it smells “off”, you will be glad you have kefir grains multiplying contentedly in that other jar with fresh milk in a ‘first ferment’ so you can try the second fermenting process another day!)

Should you lid it tightly or loosely? Boy, people do it both ways.My rule of thumb is loosely lidded for a first ferment, tightly lid it for a second ferment. With a second ferment you are steeping or infusing your kefir with yummy flavor. I’ve also read this past year more about how you want to anaerobically culture for the second ferment, so I tighten my lids for this part of kefir-making.

I am sugar free and my favorite sweetener for kefir drinks is liquid Sweetleaf stevia, the stevia clear option, which is available on Amazon and Thrive and in most health food stores. Sweetleaf also makes several other options for flavored stevia such as root beer, vanilla creme, hazelnut, etc.

Here are some delicious additions to try as you embark on your second ferment kefir adventure:

Orange Vanilla Kefir

My favorite! To 3/4 quart of kefir liquid add one orange slice and one vanilla bean (or up to a tablespoon pure vanilla extract). Leave the rind on your orange slice, and slice your vanilla bean lengthwise and open it up so all that good vanilla paste can flavor your kefir. I leave this blend in a glass quart jar on my counter with a loose plastic lid, covered with a dishtowel (to keep it dark!), for 15 hours and shake it if I can remember. When you’ve decided it is ready, you can remove the orange slice and vanilla bean (I don’t) and add a little of your favorite sweetener. I add liquid stevia to taste.

Raspberry Cacao Kefir

Whisk 1/8-1/4 cup cacao powder (to taste) into 3/4 quart kefir, add 1/4 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen), lid it and cover with a dishtowel, shake a time or two, and let ferment 6-15 hours ish. Add sweetener if desired, blenderize it if desired, refrigerate and enjoy!

Cacao Kefir

Whisk 1/8- 1/4 cup cacao powder into 3/4 quart kefir and add favorite spices. I like to add a cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp cinnamon) and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Lid it, cover it with a dishtowel or stick it in a dark cupboard, shake it now and then and let ferment a few hours to desired taste. Add sweetener–honey is good in this one!

Tea-steeped Kefir

Two different variations on this one. To 2-3 cups kefir add a favorite tea bag or two. Chai tea is great with a cinnamon stick added and maybe some vanilla. Or, Teavana has a Lavender-Citrus tea that I really like with a sliver of lemon peel added. Lid it, cover it or place it in a dark place, shake it occasionally during the second ferment. Because you are “steeping” tea in a room temperature product, I like to let this second ferment for a minimum of 12 hours but often up to 24 hours. And I leave the tea bag(s) in the kefir when I refrigerate it. Before serving, sweeten with honey, stevia, or your personal favorite!

Cinnamon Vanilla Kefir

In a glass quart jar, whisk 1 teaspoon cinnamon into 3/4 quart kefir and add a vanilla bean or a tablespoon pure vanilla extract. You could also add a cinnamon stick and cut back your powdered cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice and lid it, cover it with a dishtowel, shake occasionally, and let ferment for 6-24 hours. Sweeten it with honey or stevia or your favorite sweetener and refrigerate. Shake before serving.

Now don’t forget to release any pressure build up if you shake your kefir up in a jar with a tight lid! Unscrew the lid after shaking and let that pressure off and then tighten the lid again. The longer you let it ferment, the more effervescent your kefir will become, especially if it had natural sugars like fruit steeping in it. I love it somewhat bubbly!

These are just a few that we’ve tried and enjoyed. Do you have any favorites to share in comments?

Raw Milk

Raw Milk Kefir Yogurt

Kefir yogurt is AMAZING! Thick and delicious and EASY to make. And best of all, no raw milk gold is harmed in the making of this nutrition rich gut-healing treat. Big thank you’s to my good friend and milk customer, Lalana, who brought me my first kefir yogurt to sample, told me how to make it, and got me hooked!

Kefir yogurt made with raw milk from my cows, sweetened with a little stevia and raspberries …

Raw milk in all its glory is full of living enzymes, probiotics, good bacteria. It’s fantastic for your immune system, and has powerful anti-microbial qualities that actually kill pathogens! Raw cream has an amazing quality called the Wulzen Factor which prevents and protects against arthritis! Sadly, pasteurizing raw milk, even heating it up to 118 degrees or higher, destroys so many of the benefits. Many yogurt recipes call for heating up your milk to temps above 118 before adding your yogurt cultures.

Now raw milk yogurt can be successfully made at low enough temps to preserve the nutrition and disease fighting qualities in raw milk, but getting a *thick* yogurt (as opposed to a runny, smoothie quality) consistency can sometimes be tricky. Unless you make kefir yogurt with your raw milk!

Wait! Are you not a fan of kefir?–You need to know that kefir yogurt is delicious! It’s thick and incredibly, there’s no kefir “tang” to it. At least not in my experience! My friends and I are so excited about how easy it is to make, how perfect it is consistency-wise, that I can’t wait to share the process here with you today!

If you are new to the kefir making process, check out this post about kefir here. Assuming you already have a half gallon jar of kefir fermenting in the dark of some kitchen cupboard, you are ready to go.

Blending the kefir before pouring it into colander makes a smoother yogurt…

First, strain out enough kefir grains to get your next jar of kefir going, set that aside to replenish with fresh milk ASAP, and get a large clean plastic colander out and line it with about five wet coffee filters. My colander is large and five filters is about right. I use unbleached filters from Walmart (a 50 pack is about $1), and getting them wet first helps with the draining process. Place however many filters you need around the edge of your colander to cover all the drain holes, and then add one to the very middle bottom for good measure. Remember, kefir doesn’t like metal, so always use plastic colanders and spoons when working with kefir. Cleanliness is important too! This filter lined colander will be home to your kefir yogurt for the next 48 hours, and it needs to fit over a bowl large enough to hold a quart or so of liquid whey that will be draining off of your yogurt. Got the colander ready? Okay!

Put your remaining strained kefir liquid into a blender and blend it well for about 30 seconds. We’re creaming it up. Carefully pour the blended kefir into the colander-nested-into-a-bowl setup, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge. After 24 hours, remove it from the fridge and pour off the whey that has collected in the bottom bowl–this will keep that bottom bowl from overflowing by day 2. Back to the fridge it goes; it will continue to thicken over the next 24 hours at which point you are ready to enjoy some yogurt!

Take a large glass or plastic bowl and carefully turn your colander full of kefir upside down over it. Tap the colander a bit until the kefir collapses into the bowl beneath. Now take a spatula and working with your clean fingers and the spatula, peel the wet filters away from the yogurt and discard. Discard the filters, NOT the yogurt!

Stir the yogurt briskly with a whisk or the spatula–I despise cleaning whisks but you really do get a more shiny, smooth yogurt when you go the whisking route–and your kefir yogurt is ready to doctor up to your delight. Pictured below are my preferred additions…a little liquid stevia to taste, and blueberries and raspberries. The quart jar pictured holds the whey–aka: liquid gold–which is a probiotic POWERHOUSE that you dare not waste. I will post more about whey another day, but one of my favorite things to do with it is to steep a bag of tea in it and leave it covered with a towel on the counter for 24 hours, then sweeten it with stevia and enjoy! The half gallon jar on the far right, is my next batch of kefir ready to go for more yogurt…

You can also sweeten your yogurt with sugar, fruit jams, honey, fresh diced strawberries. I am sugar-free so I stick with stevia or monks fruit extract. We are in love with this way to use up kefir, and raw milk from our wonderful Guernsey and Jersey cows.

Health Raw Milk

Milk Kefir FAQs

Gorgeous day today to take mineral around the twenty-four hundred acres that my cowboy husband looks after all summer. Youngest daughter and I tore across green pastures in the Polaris Ranger, seat belts on!, while hubby four-wheeled alongside in his ATV. Blue skies, frisky heifers, creek crossings, and 4,000 lbs of mineral parceled out amongst 8 locations. We left before lunch and got home just in time to milk the cows at 3 pm! Hungry? No problem. A glass of kefir was just the thing. Need another hungry mouth to feed? Let me introduce you to kefir.

What is Kefir exactly and what are its health benefits? Kefir is a yogurt-like product, a fermented milk drink that is thick, creamy, and has a bit of a tang. It is made with milk and Kefir grains, which are a collection of live beneficial bacteria and yeast. Kefir is a probiotic. It actually colonizes the digestive tract with good bacteria, whereas the good bacteria in yogurt simply feed the good bacteria which are already in your gut. Kefir is rich in protein, and packed with nutrition containing good amounts of vitamins A, B2, B12, D, K, magnesium, phosphorous, and an abundance of the essential amino acid Tryptophan which has a calming effect on nerves. And how many people do you know that have to take a digestive enzyme before they eat certain proteins? Kefir has an amazing quality of replenishing your body’s enzyme stores which aids the body in digesting various foods. Kefir is a drinkable supplement for good overall health and immunity. Remember good health begins in the gut!

What’s the difference between the bacteria contained in yogurt and those found in kefir? Kefir has several major strains of bacteria not contained in yogurt. Kefir contains what’s called “right-turning bacteria” and yogurt contains “left-turning bacteria”. The 30-50 friendly bacteria in Kefir can colonize/repopulate your gut, they stick around and work for you building your immune system and killing pathogens. The 7-ish friendly bacteria in yogurt are transient, keeping the digestive tract clean and providing food for the good bacteria that live there, but these bacteria move on through and need replaced. Both kefir and yogurt are good at restoring the body’s ecosystem after consuming antibiotics or experiencing food poisoning.

Can I have Kefir if I’m lactose intolerant? Generally, people who are lactose intolerant can handle kefir since much of the lactose (milk sugar) is consumed by beneficial bacteria and yeasts during the fermentation process.

What kind of milk should you use? You can make kefir with raw goat or cow’s milk, as well as whole milk, or lightly pasteurized milk. I am a huge believer in the health benefits of raw milk from a clean source of pasture fed cows/goats, but you can make kefir from store-bought pasteurized milk. Just go with the lightly pasteurized, non-homogenized variety and know that it doesn’t perform as well with low-fat milk.

What kills Kefir? The only thing that will damage or kill your kefir is neglect or heat. Kefir needs fed fresh milk to stay alive. So if you forget about it, it will starve and die. Heating it up will also kill it.

What if I need a break from making kefir? Easy. Going on vacation, or just want a week off? After straining your kefir grains and covering them with fresh milk, place the jar in your fridge where the colder temps will slow down the fermenting process allowing the kefir to slowly feed on the milk sugars. Going to be gone for 2 weeks or more? Use a bigger jar and more milk for 2 weeks. Or find a kefir babysitter. Need a longer break? Kefir grains also freeze well. Simply place them in a freezer baggie with some fresh milk and freeze. When you are ready to thaw, place them in a jar of fresh milk on your counter and just give them an extra day or two to get back in business. They may seem sluggish and you may think they are dead but jut keep the faith, Sistah (or Brother!). If you need to, drain off the two day old milk and place the grains in fresh milk again. They will revive. Kefir is amazingly resilient.

What is the difference between store-bought kefir and homemade? Store bought kefir usually contains high fructose corn syrup or sugar, which defeat the purpose of consuming kefir for health purposes. Sugar feeds yeast and homemade kefir helps rid your body of yeast. Some say that store-bought kefir is made from artificial kefir starters which don’t contain the multitude of goodies that traditional kefir starters do.

How long does kefir need to culture? Allow it to culture for 18-36 hours. The length of time depends on personal preference, the temperature in your home and if it is in direct sunlight or not. Kefir likes darkness and warmth. Longer culture time results in a more sour flavor. We like to culture ours for 24 hours, and then double ferment it for another 12-20 hours.

What is double fermented Kefir? It’s recommended to substantially increase the good bacteria in kefir, and to further decrease the lactose content. It also improves flavor. The second ferment uses the strained kefir, ie: what’s left after you remove the kefir grains. The kefir is left on the counter for an additional 12-24 hours, usually with something fun added for flavoring, like a strip of orange peel and a vanilla bean. Yum!

Homemade kefir is simple to make. Here is how you do it!

Kefir doesn’t react well to metals so you will need to use glass or plastic utensils and containers. It also thrives in darkness and a warmer environment (72-86 degrees F), so I don’t have much success with it in winter unless it’s kept near our wood stove. Here’s what you need to have on hand:

  • a glass quart or half gallon jar (depending on how much you want to make)
  • a plastic lid for the jar OR a coffee filter and a rubber band to attach it to the jar’s neck
  • a plastic colander for straining your kefir grains
  • a plastic spatula or spoon
  • kefir grains–can be purchased online, or from a fellow kefir “connoisseur”. Check eBay or your local chapter of buy, sell, trade. Kefir multiplies like bunnies so you are sure to find someone with extra on hand who will sell them to you for the price of shipping
  • milk
  • a towel to drape over the kefir during the 24 hour fermenting period, or a dark cupboard

So you’ve received your kefir grains and you are ready to roll. Put them into your glass quart jar and fill with milk to within 2-4 inches of the neck of the jar. A good ratio of kefir grains to milk is 1-2 TB kefir grains to 2-3 cups milk. It’s not an exact science. Once you’ve been doing it a while, and have cups and heaps of kefir grains, you will be using way more grains than you need to and might even decide to ferment a gallon of kefir every other day because you like it so much! Now you need to cap your jar and shake it . You will do this every so often in the 24 hour fermenting process. It’s okay if you forget, I forget all.the.time. and it still does its magic. After shaking, loosen the lid–kefir builds pressure as it ferments and you don’t want your jar to explode! Place jar in a dark cupboard or drape a towel over it and check it after 24 hours. You can let it ferment for 48 hours if you want it extra tangy, it’s up to personal preference, but after 24-48 hours it’s time to feed those grains so they don’t starve to death.

So after 24-48 hours, get your plastic colander out and spoon out the kefir grains. Many times mine are on the top of the jar, but sometimes they are down on the bottom. You can gently pour the kefir jar contents into the colander, removing the larger, clumpy almost cauliflower-like kefir grains to a clean canning jar so you can begin the process of adding milk and making your next batch of kefir. Your kefir will have gelatin like globs in it, that’s fine, and sometimes my kefir grains are tiny (see kefir grain pics above) but they are powerful and keep on keeping me in kefir! Now you have kefir–the strained liquid, and you may choose to do a second ferment with flavors added, or refrigerate it and use it for all kinds of yummy healthy boosting treats!

More to come on kefir!

Desserts Gluten Free

Favorite Gluten Free Brownie Dessert

We have been prepping my 21 year old’s new house (yep, she’s a homeowner as of 2 days ago! Woot! Woot!) for paint–inside and out. Ripping out wallpaper, spackling, sanding, scraping, taping–bringing back memories of *my* 21 year old self, in our first home, doing the exact same things. Only difference being, I was married and expecting my firstborn–yep same firstborn that’s 21 and playing at fixer upper! Ahh the good ole days…

So I came home tonight and indulged in one of our favorite desserts. This delicious brownie recipe happens to be the. best. recipe. ever. Whether you make it gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free or with real sugar, flour and dairy, it’s all good. Even my picky ones love it made “healthy style”. I hope you will too.

Favorite Brownie Dessert with strawberries and coconut cream, the way my firstborn daughter serves it up!

  • 2/3 cup Lilly’s brand dark chocolate stevia sweetened chocolate chips (available at HyVee, Natural Grocer’s) OR Trim Healthy Mama’s dark chocolate stevia sweetened chocolate chips
  • 5 TB coconut oil or avacado oil
  • 2/3 cup Gentle Sweet (a Trim Healthy Mama stevia blend that is unsurpassable!) (You can also use Pyure brand from Walmart, but it’s not the same…still, in a pinch…)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup almond flour (even if you aren’t gluten intolerant, I’d make these with almond flour–they are so flaky and melt- in-your-mouth!)
  • 2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder (or cacao powder)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • At the end you will mix in an additional 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • Optional–sprinkle coarse salt on top

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper. Melt the oil and chocolate chips together and mix until smooth, set aside while you separately whisk together the eggs and stevia blend of choice (or sugar if you aren’t sugar free). Mix dry ingredients and then combine all and lastly add the additional 2/3 cup chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared 8×8″ pan and bake at 350F for 20-24 minutes till edges are set and brownies are still slightly soft in the middle.

Dress it up into individual servings with fresh, sliced strawberries and a dollop of coconut cream. Savor every healthy decadent bite!

Gluten Free

Low Carb Gluten Free English muffin & Bread Recipes

Gluten free recipes became much sought after friends when my amazing 83 year old mother committed to a strict Candida cleanse diet. For a year, our nutritionist recommended mom eat a low carb sugar-free diet while taking a rigorous herbal protocol to clean up her body from the devastating effects of this rapidly multiplying and debilitating yeast overgrowth. As mom had grown mostly immobile, with my dad, sisters and I sharing in her caregiving, I put my apron on and went to work in the kitchen.

God truly prepared me to be in a good spot to not feel entirely overwhelmed. My family has no food allergies. However, I had discovered the Trim Healthy Mama diet a few months before in October of 2017 and loved the sister authors’ balanced approach to health and weight loss/maintenance. While the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) diet isn’t exclusively gluten-free (they do have recipes for sprouted grain bread with gluten) if you must go gluten free, you really will find the two THM cookbooks to be a goldmine. I highly recommend getting them ASAP. Follow the link above to their site and check out their featured recipes such as the Nuke Queen’s Awesome Bread (It’s delicious, and no worries, if you are averse to microwaves there is a baked version there as well which is what I’ve made!). I remain mostly gluten free to this day, because of how much better I feel, and without feeling deprived of delicious alternatives.

Today I want to share two recipes with you. Neither of these are THM recipes, but those will come in another post! While developing meals and treats for my mom, I learned that googling “Paleo” and “Keto diet” recipes would also net some very nice dividends.

Paleo-style English Muffins are up first. Have you discovered cassava flour in your gluten-free journey? In addition to being a wonderful substitute for flour in GF recipes, it is a fabulous thickener for soups and gravies. I’ve linked to Anthony’s Goods which is where I purchase mine. For this recipe, premeasure your dry ingredients into snack sized bags for quick grab and fix breakfasts all week, then simply mix in your egg (right into the baggie if you’d like!) and squeeze the batter into your buttered ramekin and bake in the microwave for 90 seconds. These can also be baked in the oven at 400F for 12-15 minutes, or till middle is done. But it’s not done till you slice it in half and toast it! Toast it open face down in a skillet, or in the toaster, melt butter or cream cheese on it, and add jam…mmm! Now these are a different size and texture than regular English muffins, but we were pleased with the result.

Gluten Free English Muffins (single serve)
3 TB almond flour
1/2 TB cassava flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 TB butter
1 egg
pinch of salt

Melt butter in a 4 oz ramekin/souffle dish and swirl around to coat dish. Add other ingredients and whisk with a fork until light and fluffy. Cook on high in microwave for 90 seconds. Carefully remove dish (it will be HOT!) and loosen edges. Gently flip upside down and shake out muffin. Cut muffin in half lengthwise and toast to desired doneness.

Cassava Blender Bread. Here is another gluten-free bread featuring cassava flour:

Cassava Blender Bread
7 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups almond flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
7 TB cassava flour (can substitute coconut flour)

Put all ingredients into blender EXCEPT cassava flour. Blend on low for 30 seconds, then on medium for 30 seconds. Add cassava flour and blend 1 minute on medium.

Line loaf pan with parchment paper. Pour batter into pan and smooth evenly in pan. Bake at 325F for 60-80 minutes depending on your oven.

We hope these recipes help make your gluten free journey a bit less difficult!

Cooking and Food

Gluten-free, egg-free Brownies and Blondies

These recipes are for my gluten-free friends…Mary B, you especially!

This is my friend Jane’s specialty. She is allergic to eggs so she came up with this fudgy delicious substitute to regular brownies. The secret ingredient will most likely surprise you…canned beans! There are many recipes for gluten-free Black Bean brownies and White Bean Blondies on the internet, but these don’t have eggs.

IMPORTANT: in my opinion, these brownies need 24 hours in the fridge to meld the flavors to perfection. In fact…the first time I made them I was really disappointed. We ate them while still warm from the oven, and they really didn’t do much for me. In fact, blech! But by the next morning…WOW–they were amazing! Everyone said so. So take my word for it, and save the majority of them till the next day. (because I know you will have to sample at least one straight from the oven…)

You can thank me later for that tip. *Smile*

Another IMPORTANT thing: you will need a food processor or good blender for this recipe.

Black Bean Brownies

  • 1 15 oz can black beans
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup chocolate chips (we think dark chocolate is best!)
  • more chips on top for presentation, if desired (you will so desire!)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Drain beans. Combine all ingredients (except chips) in a good food processor, or blender, and blend till completely smooth. Stir in the chips, then pour the mixture into a greased 8×8″ pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the brownies 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Then let them cook 10 minutes or more before trying to cut. Makes 9-12 brownies.

Chocolate Chip Blondies

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas or white beans
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*F. Drain beans. Blend all ingredients (except chips) until very smooth in a good food processor or blender. Mix in chips and pour mixture into a greased 8×8 inch pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chips over the top. Bake for around 30 minutes. They will look a little undercooked when you take them out, but they will firm up as they cool, and you don’t want them to get hard.

A note about Gluten-Free…

Those of you that are deathly allergic to gluten know what is and isn’t allowable. I do not claim to know the ins and outs of Gluten-free…so before making these and blessing all your GF friends with them…do some research. For instance…I know that gluten-free oats and gluten-free chocolate chips exist…but I don’t know if that’s just because the GF movement is taking advantage of the fact that most normal people don’t have any idea that chocolate chips contain gluten. ?? I know gluten is found in some very strange things, like certain soda-pops. So use your discretion.

If any gluten-free folks can shed some light on the ingredients in this recipe, I’d sure love to know!

Thanks, and enjoy this healthy recipe!


Christianity Cooking and Food

Cookbooks and Food Miracles

Today I picked up a large cooler full of ground venison from the meat locker. Tonight we’re celebrating “red meat in the hoose” by utilizing The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook…her bacon-wrapped and bbq-tomato-gravy slathered meatloaf (page 150) to be exact. And her PW’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes (page 146) made from Yukon Gold potatoes from our very own garden. I haven’t been immersed in such a delightful cookbook since my mom gave us the Two Chicks from the Sticks cookbook. Another must-have. Hint. Many of our best-selling farmer’s market recipes have come from that last one.

But the real reason I’m blogging tonight (besides having t.i.m.e. and no one else competing with me for our one and only computer…) is that we had another miracle recently! We have them quite often actually. I wish I had time to blog about each and every one.

This miracle occurred one chilly morning a couple weeks ago. I was down at our field pens, doing chores for the 30 little chickies we’re raising…when a hunter pulled up. He’d been hunting and successfully bagged his buck and wondered if I could come take a picture of him with it. Just FYI, we’d met him the previous weekend when he’d kindly let us know he had permission to hunt the forested area north of our property. So he’d be driving through our place in the wee hours of the morning and didn’t want us to be alarmed. Heh, if he only knew how familiar we are with the “wee hours” of the morning, getting up at 3:55 am every day to milk. But I digress. Nice guy, from out of state. He waited on me to run up to the house and pull my banana nut bread out of the oven and then we were off for a photo shoot.

The drive was through pasture, a little rough. By the time we got done with the pictures, I could tell he was anxious to get the deer gutted and his deer stand dissembled, so I offered to help. That was a fun ramble through the woods to the deer stand…he pointed out a bobcat lair, among other interesting things I didn’t know were within a half-mile of my home!

The blessing of this adventure is that we got a large cooler of ground venison for our freezer! Because this guy was from out of state, he couldn’t take his deer home with him. He asked if we happened to like venison…we LOVE venison. Not only that…but less than two weeks before, I’d announced to my family that I was praying for God to dump some red meat in our laps so they better watch and see how He was going to provide it. We had been out of everything but our broiler chickens for a while, and I sure was missing the versatility of having ground red meat at my disposal. We just don’t buy beef from the store…we process our own beef here at home because we like to know what we’re eating! I’d even begun grinding some turkey so we’d have ground meat…but turkey is just meant to be roasted. An added blessing of venison is that it doesn’t contain any antibiotics or vaccines….which is a hallelujah side bonus! *grin*

We are truly thankful, and excited to enjoy this first meal made from this venison gift tonight. I guess I’d better go mash up some potatoes!

Have you got anything in particular you need to take to the Lord in prayer? Another thing you should know…the same day this hunter relayed his intention of giving us the meat from his deer, my in-laws stopped by with a grocery sack of beef from their freezer. What a double blessing! Meat to eat while we waited on the locker to process the venison. God loves to knock our socks off…but so often…we “have not because we ask not”…

What miracles has He done in your life recently?

Cooking and Food

Ginger Peach Lemonade Recipe

Farmer'sMarketLemonade2It’s Farmer’s Market season again! Every week amidst the last minute packaging of treats we bake, and whilst my husband and middle daughter are feverishly loading the vehicle for market, my youngest daughter and I are busy in the kitchen concocting the “perfect fruity lemonade”. This is a last minute affair because we want it as fresh as possible, you see. This is 8 year old’s contribution to the market–a lemonade stand.  You can pretty much juice any fruit and add it to a substantial amount of lemonade. Watermelon. Pink Lady apples. Plums and Oranges. Strawberry Kiwi. Cherry Limeade. These are a few of our favorite ones.

Well, we happened upon a real peach this past Tuesday night. My oldest knew we were planning on Peach Lemonade…as peaches are in full swing around here, and when possible, we love doing lemonade with whatever fruit is in season. She suggested “Ginger Peach Lemonade”. Oh man. Around here we lo-ove fresh ginger…

And a recipe was born.

Peach Lemonade with a hint of Ginger

  • 12 peaches, with pits removed
  • 2 cups Lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • around a gallon of water
  • ginger syrup: boil 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and about 3 inches of peeled and sliced ginger root till sugar is dissolved. Cool, remove ginger pieces.

I have a Champion Juicer–love it. Someone asked me if they could just throw the peaches in the blender…well, I’d say no, because a juicer separates the juice from all the pulp. But if someone with one of those fancy-schmancy Vitamix blenders wants to set me straight, please do so. It could work! I slice my peach halves into chunks that will juice easily and juice them all. You’ll get 16 oz (at least) of peach juice, depending on how juicy they are. Mix up a gallon of lemonade (your two cups lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and almost a gallon of water). Brew your ginger syrup…and mix all three delights together. Ta-da! Serve it up on ice for a fantastic summer bonus!

This sold out in the first 45 minutes of market…I’m making it again next week! Good stuff…and it’s so much fun to hear people’s comments.

“Wonder what flavor they’ll have this week?”

“I LOVE this stuff!”

“I come to the market just for my lemonade!”

My youngest daughter was able to save all of her lemonade money last summer and used it to purchase a lovely mandolin, which she now plays at market once the lemonade is sold out! Fun times.

I also have a Peach Lemonade Concentrate recipe that cans up great if you want to take a look at that one.

Happy Summertime everyone! Do you have a favorite fresh summertime drink? Do share it in comments!


Cooking and Food Health

The Health Benefits of Eating Whole Organic Foods and How They Can Aid in Preventing Illness

What is your opinion of organic food? Do you think of it as overpriced? Do you think of it as unnecessary? Maybe you have looked at the organic foods in the grocery store and thought the produce didn’t look as robust or oversized as the “regular” stuff.

It is interesting to note that there are many benefits to eating whole organic foods, and that many people remain entirely unaware about the ways that these foods will prevent illnesses on many levels.

Food and Health

Let’s start by understanding two of the terms we used above: whole food and organic food. These are two very different things. Whole food are those that are unprocessed and unaltered to a great degree. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and grains can be called whole foods.

Organic foods are those that are grown to very specific standards and which use no dangerous chemicals in the growing, harvesting, and processing stages of market preparation. In the United States a food cannot simply be labeled as organic without first passing the standards designed by the USDA.

So, why is it that whole and organic foods will prevent illness? Let’s start with nutrition.

The Nutrients in Nature

Because whole and organic foods are grown under relatively ideal conditions and are left as intact as possible, their nutrient levels are superior to the more “traditionally” grown foods.

Need an example? Let’s say you want to buy a bag of apples at the market. These are whole foods, right? Yes, but when they are not grown organically they are fairly saturated with some hefty chemicals. In fact, there is a list known as the “dirty dozen” and it identifies the foods that are the most heavily contaminated when not grown organically. (The list includes peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, celery, cherries, strawberries, grapes, pears, lettuce, potatoes, and spinach)

Now, if you buy the regular, non-organic apples it means you are ingesting large quantities of pesticide residues. It also means that the nutrient properties of the fruit are likely to have been compromised too. This is because the compounds sprayed on the growing apples are intended to make them more marketable. So, the bag of luscious red-skinned apples may look far more appealing than those less glamorous organic apples, but you are going to get a lot more nutrition and good food value from that bag of organics.

Fighting Illness

In addition to upping the nutrition value in foods, buying whole and organic foods also means that you are eliminating compounds that have strong links to diseases such as cancer and immune malfunction.

Of course, there is also the very obvious link to a whole food diet and better health. Because whole, organic foods are low in fat, sugar, and sodium it means that they are less likely to cause any subsequent health problems. For example, if you avoid non-organic and processed foods and opt for the healthier whole foods you are not likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or to become obese.

Lastly, if you did a blind taste test of organic versus non-organic foods, you would usually choose the organic as the better tasting food. This is because farmers have to grow specific varieties if the non-organic food can survive the shipping and marketing processes. Often this comes at the cost of taste and nutrition. Organic farmers don’t work that way and will grow less attractive varieties because they are guaranteed to be packed with flavor, color, and nutrition.

Going organic and eating a whole food diet makes sense if you want to enjoy a long and healthy life.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.