Feeling Blessed by My Man

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Wood Ducks — Locally harvested, cleaned and cooked by my man

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My plate at lunch today… Aside from the carrots, the meal was 100% provided by my man. In addition to hunting and cleaning the duck, he grew, harvested and cooked the turnips and greens.

Gotta give kudos to my man. He’s kind of a throwback to Charles “Pa” Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie. He’s a great provider of nutritious food. He doesn’t just hunt, trap and harvest food, he Ma Ingall’s it too. While I can garden and cook and fish, (though that’s been awhile), I don’t have any experience with hunting and trapping. He’s got a 50+ year jump on me there.

I admire how he can furnish a meal unmediated by a grocer or grower.

I love how he brings me healing food direct from sky and soil. And I am grateful.

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Adventures in Pork Belly

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Grilled, pastured pork belly with garden greens

Sunday dinner brought a first at-home pork belly effort by our resident grill meister, (not me), and, dern, that was good!… I had had visions of pork belly on my mind since my novice exposure to it a few years ago at a lovely restaurant, FIG, in Asheville, NC, where I celebrated completing yoga teacher training. When the pork belly was placed before me that first time, I remember being so taken aback by the thick layer of visible fat that I texted a photo query to my brother, the charcuterie and pig anatomy expert in the family. He educated me on the flavor offerings of that layer of fat, and my tastebuds educated me further. Hello pork belly!

The past few days have brought our pig-centricity into the spotlight for sure: rendering lard, preparing & enjoying pork chops, pork sausage, bacon and pork belly. Additionally my hypothyroidism is treated with a porcine-derived medication, and someone I know and love has a pig heart valve.

I want to reflect on a way to honor the pig and express my deep appreciation for contributing to my wellness. I believe one way to honor the pig is to support farmers who optimize their animals’ living conditions.

Lard is the New Black

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So, all those vegetable oils we’ve been sold for the last 30 years are now out, and saturated fats — butter, lard and coconut oil, to name a few — are in.

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Chopping up 5 lbs of pastured leaf pork fat from a local farmers market

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into the slow cooker for a few hours on low

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to render into pork lard

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straining the rendered lard into jars

I’ve been reading and listening to the science from the experts and incorporating their wisdom into the nutritional side of healing from my autoimmune condition via the autoimmune protocol (AIP) of the paleo approach. I haven’t used corn, canola or vegetable oils for eight months.

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5 lbs of pork fat rendered into 2 1/2 qts of lard

When we cook with fat, we reach for lard, beef tallow or coconut oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are healthy but not always suggested for cooking. Read more on healthy fats here.

Mind Blown

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My sister sent me this link to this perspective-shifting TED talk that (indirectly) addresses the question about the sustainability of raising grazing animals–something that, as a meat-eater, I have been concerned about.

Brilliant and mind blowing. Definitely worth the time (22 mins).

My sister’s neighbor raises pastured beef commercially. In response to the video, he wrote in an email:

“We are strict adherents to managed grazing and all its principles…. We rotate our cattle through sized sections depending on weight of cattle grouping, density of forage, type of forage and height of forage. We are really creating some good soils while sequestering carbon. I will also ‘bale feed’ out in these fields to not overgraze and the animals will spread their nutrients where the soils most need them.

“We have ‘Prescribed Grazing Plans’ on all our grasslands. It’s much more work than just letting them go. But it creates better soils, forage and water. We are monitoring our weight gains (the cattle I mean) and they are doing great because the soils and forage we are creating are so good and can continue to be whether in drought or too much rain.

“It sounds corny so I never say it to anyone, but we are improving the environment, the earth while producing high protein food. I cannot tell you how proud I am of that.”

This is What 6 Eggs Look Like

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I’ve never eaten six eggs in one sitting, but I’m taking measures to put some weight back on, so I decided to go heavy on the eggs today at lunch. In the last seven months, I have lost 10-15 pounds without wanting to by implementing the autoimmune protocol of the Paleo Approach which promotes healing from autoimmune issues.

As part of the plan, I eat three sizable meals daily, including pastured or wild caught animal protein (often a sizable portion), healthy fats and loads of veggies and fruit. But evidently I am not eating enough. So I’m gonna change that.

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LUNCH today: 6 eggs scrambled in lard with garden cilantro, steamed garden collards and ginger, half sweet potato pan fried in lard

Tea and Research

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Good Morning. It’s a fire-in-the-wood-stove kind of morning. Cup of ginger, turmeric, garlic, rosemary, black pepper tea with 1/2 tsp of honey while I hit the books and interwebs and find out what I can about oxalates.

2015-01-09 08.33.11I came across the suggestion that high oxalate foods can increase joint pain in those with rheumatoid arthritis (and trigger other issues for other people). Since I have been loaded up on several high oxalate foods lately–sweet potatoes, beets and carrots, to name a few–I want to explore whether oxalates could be contributing to my recent increase in joint pain. Maybe. Maybe not. Something worth exploring.