As promised, here is the recipe I mentioned yesterday.
The thing that makes these pancakes a springtime favorite is not actually the pancakes themselves, though they are delicious! It’s really the cultured berries that we pile on top that are seasonal. So, the recipe for the berries will be posted here, too. Notice that these pancakes are not mostly flour. They are very hearty and nutrient-dense. They are gluten free, of course, and some would consider them paleo, as well. (Depends on your understanding of buckwheat.)
The first step is to start the culture, the evening before you want to make the pancakes. Here’s what you need:
1 cup buckwheat flour
¾ cup water
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
Here’s what you do:
Mix these three ingredients together in a mixing bowl. You’ll be adding more to it tomorrow, so be sure there’s room for the rest of the batter. Now, cover your bowl with a plate or lid and set on the counter to culture at room temperature for the next several hours. You can let this stuff sit for 8 to 24 hours. The culturing sours the flour, but it also multiplies nutrients and makes the buckwheat more digestible.
Also start your nuts soaking. Soaking the nuts removes the anti-nutrient phytic acid coating and makes the nuts soft, which helps them to blend better tomorrow. Place the nuts in a small bowl or jar and cover with about 1” water. For this, you need:
½ cup walnuts or pecans, water
One more thing needs starting in the afternoon or evening prior to cooking day- the fruit. Fruit is so easy to culture! Just use a cup or two of berries, and if you want, you can also chop up a pear to add, like I did. If you don’t have fresh berries, you can use frozen (just let them thaw first). Place berries and chopped pear in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons raw honey. Stir gently. Place in a jar, pressing fruit down with a wooden spoon or your fingers. Now add 1 tablespoon whey (easy instructions below), or brine from a previous batch. Add just enough water to cover fruit. Be sure there is at least 1” of space at the top of the jar, as the fruit will expand a bit. Close lid tightly on jar and set on counter top so fruit can culture at room temperature.
For whey: place about 1 cup plain yogurt in the middle of a cotton tea towel, nut milk bag, or several layers of cheese cloth. Gather up the sides of the cloth, tie or fasten, and hang from a cabinet knob or other spot, over a jar or bowl to catch the whey. In an hour or so, your whey will have dripped out, leaving a nice dollop of cultured cream cheese in the bag. (Usually needs a bit of salt to taste really good.) In case you’re tempted to try powdered whey for this, I have it on good authority that the powdered form does not work.
The next morning, the pancakes can be finished. It may look complicated, but it really takes only a few minutes to get them mixed up and ready for cooking! Here’s what you need:
2 tablespoons flax meal (I grind my own in my Nutri-Bullet or a coffee mill.)
Nuts you soaked – drain off water
½ medium organic apple, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 ¼ cups water, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
Here’s what you do:
Place flaxseed, nuts, coconut flour, apples, eggs, oil and half of the water in the blender or Nutri-Bullet. Blend until fairly smooth, though you may still have a few chunks of apple (that’s okay!) Add this mixture to your cultured buckwheat batter. Add remaining ingredients and stir well.
My favorite way to cook pancakes is in a hot, buttered cast iron skillet, on a gas stove top, using a medium flame. Use your preferred method, or try mine. Once they are cooked, top with maple syrup, butter if desired, and cultured berries. I like to drizzle the brine from the fruit on top, too. A handful of nuts is also a great addition.
You’ve been taking all of my recommendations to heart, right? Maybe so, perhaps not. So what if you get sick anyway? If you are new to the world of holistic health and radical good nutrition, trust me, any small changes for the better will pay off! But, it may take some time before you see a marked difference in being able to ward off
common viruses. I’ve heard that the things you do this year to improve your immune system actually yield the biggest payoff next year. My own experience has been that, after recovering from food sensitivities and way to much junk food, as well as learning some long, hard lessons about stress, I am, indeed, finally noticing a huge difference. I have actually succumbed to a virus only once in the past 3 years.
At the moment, however, there are sick people at my house who need my help. My husband is a pretty healthy guy, but when a stomach bug gets him, he’s really frustrated. I’ve been doing all sorts of things to help my family heal more quickly, and to be less miserable while they fight off the sickness. I want to share some of my favorite tips with you today.
1) Drink plenty of liquids, but not just water. Warm liquids, like herbal teas, water with lemon juice, chicken or miso soup are a help to your immune system – partly because they help you keep warm. Sipping these slowly will help you stay hydrated, and the herbs will help fight any infection. I’m using the word “warm” because some practitioners believe that keeping the water just below the boiling point is better for immune health. Also, in the case of miso soup, cooking the miso will kill the beneficial bacteria.
2) Keep the mucous membranes moist. In our dry, Colorado climate, or any place that is being artificially heated, a humidifier can help with this. I also have my family moisturize the inside of the nostrils, using either coconut oil or similar non-toxic moisturizer. Take care to test a tiny amount before coating the entire area, in case you are sensitive. If the moisturizer burns slightly (or a lot!) use something else.
3) Rest and sleep. This should seem obvious, but we adults have lots to do, and we sometimes make things even harder on ourselves by not heeding our bodies’ many messages, such as “MUST…SLEEP…NOW.”
4) Use garlic, cinnamon, and ginger. Garlic and cinnamon are naturally antibiotic. Use any way you can tolerate them, but fresh, raw minced garlic is best. Cinnamon does well mixed with a bit of local, raw and unfiltered honey. Mix into herbal tea or eat off the spoon. Ginger has long been known to help against nausea and headache. Mince and steep it in near-boiling water for tea, or put it in juice. Which brings me to my next tip.
5) Make fresh vegetable juice, and drink it within 15 minutes. Your body does not need a lot of food when fighting off a short-term illness. However, the potential to become dehydrated exists, especially if you have a fever or are vomiting. Fresh juice is highly nutritious and easily digestible. Use greens, such as celery, spinach, kale, Swiss chard or cucumber. Add a little carrot and/or beet (a little because these are full of sugar). Then, add useful ingredients such as half a lemon or 1/2 inch piece of ginger root. A handful of chopped parsley helps, too. Last, you may want to include a bit of fruit, for flavor, such as apple or grapefruit. Keep it to a small amount, like 1/2 of a small apple. Mix about 2 parts juice to 1 part water, or add warm herbal tea to dilute.
6) Consume cultured foods. (You knew I would say this, right?) Remember that miso or chicken soup I talked about? Add a few tablespoons of lacto-fermented sauerkraut or winter beets. (Remember to never cook them, as heat destroys beneficial microbes.) The miso, as I mentioned, is also cultured. I would not recommend yogurt or kefir, at least for a few days. But after that, go for it. Why? See my last tip.
7) Avoid any foods that will aggravate your body. This would include processed foods, white flour, sugar, or products made with these. Leave out dairy products as they cause your body to create an abundance of mucous, and are difficult to digest. (Cultured dairy can be added back soon!) Obviously, avoid any food that you know you have a hard time tolerating or digesting. This frees up your body to focus more energy on healing, and less on dealing with the crud you may think you want to eat for “comfort.”
There are, of course, many other helpful tips for navigating illnesses due to viruses. I have tried to stick to the easiest and most important, in my mind, at least. I also found a fine post by a lady whose work I greatly appreciate, Wellness Mama. You can read it by clicking here. She includes most of the same things I list here, but her post is a lot longer and she has many valuable pointers on this topic. Get well soon, my friends!
No matter who you are, if you come to me for health coaching, I will probably tell you to eat more greens. Eating more – lots more – greens is one of the things that’s made the most noticeable improvement in my own health, and I want to share some ways they can benefit you, too.
A few years ago, I was stretching in a dance class, and I got a terrible foot cramp. If you’ve ever pointed your toe as much as you possibly can, and then found it stuck in that position because of a cramp, you know exactly what I mean! I’ve had this type of cramp in my calves before, too. They’re awful! My dance teacher then said something that has come to my mind again and again. “If you would eat your dark green leafy veggies, you wouldn’t get those cramps.”
Here’s the thing: if you eat a few leaves of spinach in your salad a couple of times a week, or a couple of bites of broccoli show up in your soup, that’s not enough! When I started to listen to Dr. Terry Wahls (whose You Tube video now has a warning label on it, likely because she has become too intimidating for some, with her radical ideas and all), I realized that I needed a lot more green veggies in my diet, and I needed to eat them without fail, every day. I needed to LOVE dark green leafy vegetables – but could I do that?
I was so convinced that I should really give it a try that I began to eat greens every day out of sheer discipline, inspired by the potential results. But then, a funny thing happened. I really started to enjoy greens! I have a green smoothie nearly every day. I put greens in salads, soups, casseroles, eggs, juice, and just about everything. In some traditions, green foods are associated with renewal and spring, which makes sense. I felt so great after learning to eat more greens that I actually craved them. And, I have not had a “charlie horse” in a very long time (probably a result of the calcium and magnesium).
Greens are powerful allies in our fight for great health. They have all sorts of minerals, such as calcium (for bone health), magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc, and vitamins like A,C,E, and K. They are full of fiber, which is great for helping to keep blood sugar stable and intestines in good form. Greens also contain chlorophyll (what gives them that wonderful color), folic acid, micro-nutrients and other things we’ve barely even discovered. They have been credited with better circulation, improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function, stronger immune health, blood purification, cancer prevention, mucous reduction – and the list goes on!
One caution about eating these wonder foods: don’t get stuck in a rut. Greens have what is known as “anti-nutrients,” such as oxalic acid, which hinders absorption of calcium. Beet greens and spinach are high in oxalic acid. However, lightly steaming or cooking makes that problem go away. That does not mean you should never eat raw greens, but that you should, in my opinion, alternate between raw and cooked greens, and rotate the varieties in your diet. There are so many from which to choose that you’ll never have to eat too much of the same one.
Think of all the options available to you! Lettuces alone are full of variety. Then there are spinach, Swiss Chard and beet greens, collards and mustards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, watercress, dandelion, and cabbage. And yes, there are more still! Then there are sprouts and micro-greens, which are surely superfoods. What’s your pleasure? Find out and eat up!
During my training to become a certified health coach, I was shown that most people can do really well with “baby steps” toward better health. You know, some people try to change everything in their diets & lifestyles overnight, jumping into a radical new eating plan, diving into intense gym workouts and all sorts of exciting promises for transformation. This often happens in January. Well, now that January is past us once again, many of these folks have felt the sting of failure in their new efforts.
If that describes your experience, all is not lost! But while I wish I could say that “baby steps” always add up to a life-change for the better, the reality is a bit more complex. It is true that making small changes which become good habits can really add up to dramatic shifts in outcome over the years. We all see that when we are honest with ourselves, right?
Sometimes, however, a small change doesn’t do much of anything. Deep down, we know it’s true. If today I’m eating a pound of sugar, and for the rest of my life, I eat 3/4 of a pound of sugar each day…you get the idea. In the case of a food sensitivity, you may reduce the amount of an offending food in your diet only to find you do not notice a change. Many clients tell me, “I’ve been reducing the amount of gluten in my diet because my doctor says I’m sensitive to it.” I’m sorry to be a bearer of bad news, but they are really not helping the situation at all. I’ve heard it illustrated this way: “If you’re sitting on 5 tacks, and you take 4 away, it still hurts.”
In order to see a real change, a person who has a food sensitivity must eliminate an offending food entirely, just to stop the destructive activity to their digestive and immune systems. Every single time they ingest the food to which they are sensitive, a reaction takes place, whether they feel it or not. When the food is eliminated – that is, when all the troublesome foods have been discovered and discontinued – the body can rest a bit & stop fighting the onslaught of constant irritation. Only then can the gut begin to heal, if it is furnished with the nutrients and helpful micro-organisms it needs.
This is a glimpse of what an elimination diet can begin to accomplish. On one hand, I hate to have to tell someone that their favorite foods just have to go, at least for a time. But, this is much quicker and less painful than taking decades to learn what’s going on in your gut and how to fix it (which is what I myself did.) An elimination diet is what I recommend to many of my clients. The great thing is that when you are working with a health coach, you have support – a real predictor of success.
So, I’m not trashing baby steps at all. Adding broccoli or more water or gentle exercise to your routine, then adding other beneficial steps to your health habits do indeed yield marvelous results over time! If, however, you are dealing with certain chronic health concerns, you may not see the result you want until you dive in and stay in for a good period of time. I’m not trying to discourage you; I’m just being honest.
A wonderful thing to keep in mind is that sometimes, after a period of healing, foods can be added back to the diet. In my case, I was unable to eat bell peppers & garlic – two of my favorites! – for about 12 years. Of course, a lot of that time I was not healing, because I was still eating gluten, which was a big problem for me. But, a couple of years ago, I realized that I could eat garlic & peppers once again. Now I have a new favorite – lacto-fermented sauerkraut with green & red bell peppers & garlic!
In the winter, we go for warm and wonderful comfort foods like chili and cornbread, turtle brownies, and rice pudding with cinnamon and raisins. Popsicles and salad have lost their appeal when the thermometer reads 3 degrees Fahrenheit (as it does on my phone right now). When I’m trying to make comfort foods daily, I want to still find ways to get all those servings of salubrious veggies. I find myself coming up with sauce recipes, because a delicious sauce turns a pile of quinoa, rice or pasta and some sauteed veggies and/or meat into a nice meal. I want to share with you a favorite of mine, “Creamy Veggie White Sauce.”
This sauce is fantastic over green beans, cabbage, or potatoes. If you eat dairy, parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top and rice noodles underneath gets you pretty close to an Alfredo dish. (Thai Kitchen brand noodles are wonderful, and quick and easy to prepare.) Even without the cheese, it works beautifully. You could add spinach to it for some added antioxidants (and flavor!) Add ground buffalo, beef, or chicken, and it’s a meal!
What you need:
1 head cauliflower
1 medium sized onion (or large if you like onion)
3 cloves fresh garlic
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and black pepper to taste
chicken stock, veggies stock, water, or a mix of stock & water as needed
What you do:
Cut up the cauliflower and onion. Melt coconut oil in a heavy bottom saucepan, skillet, or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add cauliflower and onion to pan. Sprinkle with vinegar, soy sauce, and seasoning. If you want your sauce to look really white, use only a teaspoon of soy sauce and leave the vinegar out. It still tastes delicious. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is fairly soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before next step.
Add the veggies to a blender (I use a Nutri-Bullet). Add just enough stock/water to blend. Enjoy!