raw food: here’s what’s in my dehydrator right now

You know I love my dehydrator, especially this time of year when I’ve got so much stuff coming out of the garden that I don’t want to go to waste. Right now I have all 9 trays full in my dehydrator with two recipes contributed by readers. (I love y’all! Thanks for your ideas and support of each other!)

Tonya’s cheesy kale chips are filling four trays and they are INCREDIBLE, hard to believe how much nutrition you’re getting just snacking. I just took them out and ate a bunch of them while I wrote this. Just press one side of your leaves of kale in the “sauce.” Doubling the recipe will fill your 9 trays.

Here’s my recommendation on the site, if you don’t have a dehydrator yet and want more info (plus one of my recipes for flax crackers): http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com/robyn-recommendations/dehydrators/

Tara C. gives this tip for using those baseball-bat sized zucchinis in the garden and I’ve got 4 trays of zucchini moons almost dry–just tried one, and I like them. Super easy

! Silly Dilly Zucchini Moons

Slice zucchini in half length-wise.

Scoop out inner core of seeds.

Turn over and slice thinly (about 3/8-inch thick).

Spread on dehydrator trays and sprinkle with dill. Dehydrate until crispy.

Enjoy plain or with a yummy, dilly dip.

Now that I’ve removed the kale chips, I’m going to use up the big boxful of cherry tomatoes my son hauled in yesterday, with this idea also from Tara C.:

Cheery Cherry Pizza Snacks

(My kids say these taste like mini-pizzas.)

Slice cherry tomatoes in half, toss with pizza seasoning (I get it from Azure Standard) and dry till crisp. Enjoy!

(Tara would like suggestions to improve on this idea.)

Here’s Tara’s last idea, which I’ll try next:

Gingered Zucchini Bites

Slice zucchini as above. Before dehydrating, soak for 30-60 minutes in pineapple juice mixed with 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 1/2 cup agave, and a dash of cinnamon. Dry in dehydrator until crispy. These look lovely in your pantry stored in Mason jars with a little raffia tied on top–pretty enough to give away!

This morning at 5:30 a.m., I made some pesto from the basil, spinach, and tomatoes in my garden. See your Jump-Start collection on the site for that recipe–whole-grain pasta with pesto is one of my kids’ favorites. Then I made a variation on that, some zucchini pesto with barely steamed zucchini, basil, kelp, cayenne, walnuts, sea salt, olive oil, mustard seed, and Bragg’s. I put these two types of pesto in pint jars, labelled them, and froze them. I think I’ll share a pint with a few friends this weekend.

thoughts after Educ. Wk.: they’re teaching baloney (literally) part 3 of 5

So I went to the lady’s class and learned two interesting facts that I shared with you yesterday.   But that’s where the useful information ended.

 

I was hoping for some good tips since I’ve spent quite a bit of time assembling an arsenal of good information and great expert speakers for my upcoming 6-part teleseminar on Developing a High-Nutrition Food Storage.

 

Imagine my shock to spend an hour in this class on stocking a healthy pantry, and never hear any of these three important words: Vegetable (with one exception you’ll love, later in this paragraph). Fruit. Whole.   Not even any talk of grains or legumes. What I did hear was advice to stash things like creamed soup (full of MSG), Otis Spunkmaier cookie dough, cake mixes, canned anchovies, and “Krab” meat.   A long discussion of whether to freeze your meatloaf before or after you cook it.   Instructions to blanch all your veggies before freezing them to stop the enzymatic action.   The teacher laughing about how she never uses her oven because she adores her microwave so much.   A tip about a wonderful taco salad she eats often, full of chips, cheese, and hamburger meat.   A suggestion to use your canned chickpeas to make hummus, and don’t bother going to the health food store for tahini (raw sesame seed paste)–just use sour cream instead!

 

I could write paragraphs on each of these pieces of COMPLETELY BOGUS ADVICE.

 

The teacher put mypyramid.gov up on the screen, the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines.   She said this:

 

“Recently a man asked me, ‘Is there a better way to eat than the American diet? Like the Mediterranean diet, for instance?'”   The teacher pointed at the government’s pyramid, which prominently features meat and dairy and ignores raw plant food, and said this:

 

“I told him, ‘No.   This is more research based than anything in the world. It is the best diet anywhere.'”

 

I was astonished.   I got a book out to read until class was over, writing her off as being a rather ignorant grandma who was recruited to teach the class maybe because she was willing and maybe has a very organized year’s supply of food.   But then she mentioned being single and living alone, and a few minutes later mentioned, “When I was getting my PhD . . .”

 

PhD!   I put my book away.   Please, please, I thought to myself, don’t let her PhD have anything to do with nutrition.   Hundreds of people are sitting in this class learning falsehood from her.   Please, please tell me she is not influencing young people, the parents of the future, every semester on this campus.

 

I quickly flipped to the back of my Education Week magazine to learn her credentials, and this is what it said: “Association professor and dietetics program, director in nutrition, dietetics, and food sciences.”

 

So what did I do then?   I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Storing green smoothies: BPA in plastics [part 2 of 2]

I was recently in a conversation where a 23-year old adult said,  regarding this topic, “If I don’t drink bottled water, where will I get it?”   She was totally serious.   Back in the olden days (before water bottles but after the wheel was invented), we used to fill a reusable water bottle or cup at the sink or from the pitcher in the fridge or water cooler or fountain at work.   Soccer moms took a 2-gallon cooler with paper cups to the game.

A popular email goes around constantly about how a Johns Hopkins newsletter stated that Sheryl Crow’s breast cancer was caused by dioxins leaching into the bottled water she drank.   Sheryl Crow doesn’t know what caused her breast cancer any more than anyone else can isolate one factor like that (out of so many in our daily environment).   The watchdog sites like truthorfiction.com and snopes.com were quick to repudiate the story.   This should not, however, be taken as evidence that plastics are perfectly safe.

While this email has no accuracy, and highly dangerous dioxins do not leach from plastic into water, other toxic chemicals like phthalates do.   Avoid bottled drinking water, which often contains more chemicals in the water than tap water does.   It may be convenient, but taking five seconds to fill our own water container not only saves us from drinking chemicals, it also decreases the impact on the environment.   Currently well over 1 million drinking water bottles DAILY are filling up our municipal garbage piles.

My town of 10,000 people ships its garbage to Price, Utah, two hours away, because our landfills are full.   One of the biggest-impact and lowest-sacrifice things we can do to ameliorate that situation is to SWEAR OFF BOTTLED WATER.

The best thing to put your green smoothie in is a simple canning jar.   No leaching of anything.   The only bad thing is that you have to be careful not to break it.

Storing green smoothies: BPA in plastics [part 1 of 2]

Dear Green SmoothieGirl: What should I store my green smoothie in?   I’ve read that certain chemicals in bottled water and other plastic items leach into my food.

Answer:   A government study by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) in Washington, D.C. recently uncovered a surprising (and unnerving) finding.   The plastic lining used by manufacturers of metal food cans have more bisphenol-A (BPA) than plastic containers do.   BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that is linked by research to breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, and neurological problems for babies exposed in utero, among other things.   Cans that test to have the highest BPA levels are chicken soup, infant formula, and canned pastas.   And, the FDA says the average American eats about 17 percent canned foods.   The longer a can sits on the shelf, the more leaching occurs in the food.   And when a container is heated, more chemical is released into the food as well.

What can we do about this?

I believe that eventually the BPA will be removed from cans.   But in the meantime, the first tip is that Eden Foods, a maker of organic items found mostly in health food stores, has BPA-free cans, if you can afford a pricier product.

Second, we can make more of our own food (like soups and beans) and keep cans around for only food storage and emergencies.   Cook the beans you use a lot and freeze them in 2-cup amounts for later use.   Some foods you buy in cans can be purchased in glass jars (spaghetti sauce, for instance).

Third, store your green smoothies in glass pint or quart jars.   I have always done this.   The downside is that if you drop it, glass shatters.   It’s not as convenient as some drink containers for taking in the car and putting in the car’s drink holder, either.   You can obtain stainless steel containers, too.   With either of those options, you will have no chemicals leaching into your food.   And keep in mind that the best way to keep your body removing toxins like BPA from sources we just can’t control is . . . to drink green smoothies.   The insoluble plant fiber in greens mops up several times its own weight in toxins and removes it from the body.

Fourth, you can google “BPA free” and buy baby bottles and other items free of toxic synthetics.  

More tomorrow about what to store green smoothies in, plastics, and the Sheryl Crow email.

the best food dehydrator on the market . . . part 1 of 3

Today I’m telling you about one of my favorite tools for incorporating fantastic plant-food nutrition into your diet.   This is my favorite appliance, second only to the BlendTec Total Blender.   It’s the Excalibur dehydrator, my “oven,” the best rated food dehydrator in the world.   See if the person who loves you most wants to get you this for Christmas:

 

http://tinyurl.com/56cn36

 

You can buy cheaper food dryers.   The cheap ones do not have temperature controls, unfortunately, so if you’re going to buy one of the small, Walmart-type brands, you’ll have to vent by opening up the trays, and use a thermometer to try to control the heat to not go above 116 degrees.

 

But you truly can’t buy one better for preserving the nutrition in raw foods than Excalibur’s.   If you have a family, you can also make big batches because the 3000 models have nine trays, so you can dry several recipes at once, or doubled/tripled batches.

 

Excalibur is not only the gold standard in dehydrating, but the company knows raw food well and is used and endorsed by all the pre-eminent raw foodists (Cousens, Boutenko, Kulvinskas, and more).   Dehydrating is the best way to preserve the essential properties of fruits and vegetables, and those are ENZYMES, VITAMINS, and MINERALS.   It’s also a great way to preserve the summer harvest and stock up your pantry with LIVE food.

Reflecting on nutrition, food storage, and hard economic times

What a year this has been.   The much-predicted failure of  American investment banking  has come to pass,  our nation’s net worth has plummeted precipitously, and we’ve started into what promises to be a long recession.   I just came across this quote by a wise man named Joseph Smith, from 175 years ago:

“Our nation, which possesses greater resources than any other, is rent, from center to circumference, with party strife, political intrigues, and sectional interest; our counselors are panic stricken, our legislators are astonished, and our senators are confounded, our merchants are paralyzed, our tradesmen are disheartened, our mechanics out of employ, our farmers distressed, and our poor crying for bread, our banks are broken, our credit ruined, and our states overwhelmed in debt, yet we are, and have been in peace.”

So, many other times in even the comparatively short history of the U.S., we have found ourselves in perilous times.   The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?

But we need not fear because we can do simple, inexpensive things to prepare.   People of the dominant religion where I live (Utah) are counselled to store a year’s supply of food.   Yet no matter how long this counsel is given, and how urgently, at any given time, only 15 percent of LDS (Mormon) people actually have a year’s supply.   At the moment, church leaders are pleading with the people to get a three-month supply in place in the immediate future.

This is a smart thing to do for anyone, not just LDS people.   You have observed how sensitive supply and demand is, for food.   (I mentioned in a blog comment recently that I cannot buy canning jars anywhere, because Kerr and Ball cannot keep up with the demand nationally.   You have seen the price of rice increase 250 percent.)   That’s all I’m going to say about that, because I frankly hate scare tactics.   (Love Mike Adams “The Health Ranger,” hate all the fear-mongering in his newsletters.)

Victoria Boutenko says she calculated once that her family of four could live for a year on one 50-lb. bag of wheat, by sprouting it.   I don’t know how that’s possible, unless she is calculating nutrients rather than caloric needs–but anyway, she said that.   The LDS Church has a calculator at lds.org, and one person needs 200 lbs. of grain per year.   (Of course,  50 lbs.  of sprouted grain has in some cases as much nutrition, plus lots of live enzymes, that 200 lbs. of dry grain does!)

Thus, my family of six has stored 1,200 lbs. of grain: wheat, quinoa, rye, rolled oats and oat groats, popcorn, Kamut, and spelt.   That may sound like an obscene quantity, but when you add it up, people eat a lot of food!   We also store 400 lbs. of legumes (lentils, split peas, beans) and lots of other items like coconut oil, olive oil, agave, honey, and sea salt.   I do more than that, but if all the rest will be overwhelming to you for now, just start with a three-month supply of those basics.   When you’ve got those inexpensive bases covered, consider storing bottles of VitaMineral Green for your greens; cans of Ultimate Meal for easy, optimal nutrition; nuts and seeds (frozen in Ziplocs where possible); and spices, herbs, and condiments.

The point is, when your food storage is a bunch of white flour, white sugar, canned powdered milk, canned turkey, and macaroni (the staples of most Mormon one-year supplies), you might not end up hungry, but you’re going to end up sick.

Store whole grains, and know how to use them.   What I am teaching you in Step 9 isn’t just for good nutrition–it’s for good emergency preparedness!   When you know how to sprout as I teach in Step 7, you have the invaluable skill to use dry, long-term storage foods (like any grain) and make it live food that will keep your family healthy–not just alive.

My European immigrant ancestors came across the plains from the East Coast to Utah, with handcarts, and some of them were caught in winter storms.   Their nutrition was sometimes reduced, in the winter, to small rations of cornmeal fried in lard, day after day.   Some of them died of starvation, as well as exposure.   Some became ill with typhoid, malaria, scurvy, and smallpox.

We have the ability to spend very little but have the peace of mind to be prepared well, by storing whole foods.   I hope you’re getting a year’s supply of RAW ALMONDS in the current group buy–yet another way to eat well now AND buy very inexpensive insurance against emergencies.   It’s the kind of insurance that doesn’t need the backing of our virtually bankrupt federal government.   It’s the kind of insurance that pays no premiums to a huge company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, being robbed by its executives.

What saves you time in your whole-food kitchen?

I would like to solicit the help of all you kitchen geniuses on a couple of topics for next year’s release of the printed version of 12 Steps to Whole Foods.   Today’s topic: what saves you time in your kitchen?   Some things may not be the absolute ultimate, nutritionally (see a few that I’ve used as examples below), but they save time and therefore break down the time barrier to creating a whole-food meal.   We DON’T want to save time by tossing hot dogs on the dinner table–but we DO want you to save time by using pre-minced bottled raw garlic instead of rolling, peeling, and tiny-chopping every clove, every day.   Everybody contribute an idea or two here, okay?

–Freezing greens or use frozen spinach when it’s not in season, in green smoothies.

–Buy a jar of minced, fresh garlic you get at Walmart (or other grocery stores).

–Buy a $10 electric citrus juicer and juice a whole bag of Costco lemons, freezing 2 Tbsp. portions in an ice cube tray.   Chop the peels in 8 pieces and freeze them in a baggie, using a chunk every day in your GS.

–Drain and crack open a whole case or two of young Thai coconuts at a time.   Freeze the meet in sandwich baggies and freeze the juice in pint jars in the quantities you use for your favorite 12 Steps recipes.

What do YOU spend on groceries?

I have wondered this for years and was so interested and enlightened to learn, on a Yahoo group I belong to, what others spend on groceries in a month.   Only a handful answered the question, but the answers ranged widely, from $1,000/mo. for a family of 4, to $400/mo. for a family of 7.

Unless you’re new and not a subscriber to 12 Steps to Whole Foods, you know that part of my passion for teaching families to eat a health-promoting, plant-based diet, is helping them do so INEXPENSIVELY, within a budget, since the moms who are teaching the kids are usually in the stage of life where money is a scarce resource and must be accounted for carefully.

Maybe it’s a taboo subject, but if so, I’ll try to  pave the way  with some self-disclosure:  my family of 6 spends $800/mo. on groceries, on average (less in the summer, more in the winter).   It’s also important to note that all of  my kids are athletes and big eaters, two of them teenagers.   (Shouldn’t a teenager count as 2 people?!)

We save by gardening, participating in a CSA, buying in bulk and stocking up, and preparing meals from scratch.   We preserve and freeze food in our basement cold storage, second fridge, and upright freezer. As you probably are now aware, we eat whole foods and don’t buy meat, dairy, or boxed/canned processed foods.   All of the budget is whole plant foods except for the occasional church social, extended-family, or after-soccer-game food assignment.  We grow organic, but we don’t always buy organic.   We splurge by going to Sweet Tomatoes once a week, and I’m actually not counting that in the budget.

Please write here what you spend, and give any tips on how you save and how you splurge within that budget (and what percentage of your grocery budget is whole foods).  I think women (or the money manager in the home) will find this fascinating and helpful.   I know I will.

High-nutrition food storage

People in my community are dedicated to storing a year’s supply of food (myself included), and we are blessed to have many preparedness experts around us.   I struggled for years to achieve a food supply that we would actually eat, that wouldn’t go to waste because it’s so nutritionally inferior or has such a short shelf life.   (I threw out a lot of stuff over the years.)

I feel that I now have a solid food storage I can rotate into our diet.   So I’m including here a list of what’s in The Hatch.   That’s what we call our cold-storage room in the basement, in honor of our favorite ABC TV show, Lost.   I hope it helps you, and if you’re a preparedness guru, please share any ideas on what YOU store.

I know some of you will have to get creative, space-wise, to achieve any kind of storage, and perhaps you will want to consider starting with a three-month supply of food.)   Tons of natural disasters in the last couple of weeks, along with an international food shortage and skyrocketing fuel costs, have put food storage at the forefront of many of our minds.

I’ve put at the top of this list the things I feel are most nutritionally valuable in my list (the least important things are at the end).   For length, I’ve left off the list all the non-food items and dog food.

 

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Raw sauerkraut (from my garden cabbage)

Organic extra virgin coconut oil

Extra virgin olive oil

Raw legumes: small red, black turtle, small white, pinto, garbanzo, and 11-bean mix, plus lentils and split peas

Grains: popcorn, wheat, Kamut, quinoa, rye, oat groats, rolled oats, brown rice

Shredded coconut

Raisins

Nuts and seeds: raw almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews (many of these are in my upright full-size freezer)

Coconut juice (canned)

Raw apple cider vinegar (gallons are on sale right now at Good Earth, locals!)

Sweeteners: raw honey, raw agave, real maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, stevia

Spices: sea salt, kelp, cinnamon, cocoa powder, baking powder, basil, oregano, cayenne

Natural peanut butter

Whole-grain pasta

Canned: Powdered milk (to make kefir/yogurt)

Whole eggs

No-sugar-added spaghetti sauce

Canned diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce

Dehydrated fruits and vegs (bell peppers, onions, apples, bananas, mixed fruit)

Beans: black, vegetarian refried, garbanzos (for convenience)

Corn

Vegetarian chili

No-sugar-added applesauce

No-sugar-added peaches, mandarin oranges

Some other random items like canned black olives and liquid chlorophyll

storing GS in the fridge and vegetarians in rotten health

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl, how long can you keep your green smoothie in the fridge?   I’m single and don’t want to make it every day.   Does it lose nutrition and therefore is it pointless to store it?

Answer: You can keep in in the fridge, at the most, for 48 hours.   After that it tastes a little funky.   Just shake it up well before you drink it.   My cute cousin Quinn made her dad, a truck driver, enough for five days.   I didn’t want to be a naysayer because she so enthusiastically wanted to improve his nutrition on the road, but, well, as compliant as Alan is, he just couldn’t drink what she made after two days.

Yeah, it loses nutrition, but you have to value your time, so I’m a fan of your making it every two days.    Even if it oxidizes somewhat in the jar in your fridge, the fiber is going nowhere and lots of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients ARE still available a day or so later.   It’s still a million times better than whatever else you might choose to eat.

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: Why should I be a vegetarian? I know  some who are in terrible health.

Answer: It’s a logical fallacy to say A is true, and B seems somehow related and  is true;  therefore, A causes B.   I know junk-food vegetarians, too.   Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you don’t eat a whole lotta Coke, white bread, and Ding Dongs.   😉