26 lbs of Winter Squash

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We love winter squash around here. I stocked up on 26+ pounds of organic winter squash on a recent outing to Whole Foods, which is a 1 1/2 hr drive. One way.

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Six varieties of winter squash

We dove into our stash of squash with this delicious pork-stuffed acorn squash.

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Pork-pie stuffed Acorn Squash. Recipe from The Paleo Mom, Paleo Approach Cookbook

I’m looking forward to kabocha tots and latkes and other squash goodies.

Fried Beef Kidneys with Cranberry and Kumquat Chutney

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Organ meats are a key part of eating paleo. Considered nature’s multi-vitamin, The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, recommends eating two servings of organ meats a week.

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Since starting the Paleo Approach Autoimmune Protocol I have discovered more ways to cook with the kumquats growing just outside our kitchen door than in the 10 years since we planted the tree.

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Cranberries and sliced kumquats added to red onion and garlic sauteed in coconut oil and cooked down with red wine vinegar.

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Fried pastured beef kidneys with cranberry and kumquat chutney

Recipe from: The Paleo Approach

“We are More Microbe than Mammal”

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Microbiome

image from New York Times

Listening to the first 10-minutes of a Chris Kresser Revolution Health Radio podcast this morning, I experienced delight at learning from his discussion with Jeff Leach of the American Gut Project about the emerging science around gut health.

Here are a couple of gems from just the first 10 minutes of the podcast:

JL: “Ninety percent of the cells in the human body are not even human; they are microbial…”

JL: “What’s really remarkable is: not since Darwin’s concept of natural selection has something had such a profound impact on our understanding of self. In our anthropocentric world we think we are the center of it all, but at the end of the day the microbes are actually pulling the levers… At the gene level, they outnumber us 150-300 to 1.”

Much more fascinating stuff there… I can’t wait to listen to more and read more on the subject.

On the same subject, I recently ran across a fun and useful metaphor “Where is the Hippo?” in a blog post on Gut Flora Repair on a blog called Cooling Inflammation by Art Ayers, PhD. He describes how a zoo that has giraffes and elephants but no hippo can build an beautiful environment/enclosure for a hippo and stock the enclosure with food and have it all lovely and ready for a hippo. But having an enclosure is not enough. Unless the zoo actually introduces a hippo to the enclosure, the zoo will only continue having giraffes and elephants. I’ll leave the rest to you to make the connection with your gut flora (or click on the link above to read more from someone much more articulate about it…)

Thanks to my increasing awareness about the importance of a thriving microbiome, I have stepped up my efforts to get a hippo/feed my gut family. This week I started making a fermented beverage called water kefir (pronounced kuh-feer). It started with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast) that I purchased online to which I added some water and sugar and left on the counter to ferment for a couple of days. It takes on a refreshing effervescent sparkling quality that some people flavor with fruit. I look forward to experimenting with it (and sharing the SCOBY as it reproduces. Anyone interested?), but for now I just wanted to share the fun quote of the day in the subject line and note a few of the perspective-changing ideas being shared on the subject.

Please, please, please read the quote down below the picture (not the caption, but do read that too), with the link to the NYT article on Some of My Best Friends!

Here’s to gut health!

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Water Kefir started with a SCOBY and fermenting on the counter to make a refreshing, gut nourishing, hippo introducing beverage that will help restore good bacteria to my microbiome.

More articles I want to read:

Some of My Best Friends are Germs“, New York Times: “Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, suggests that we would do well to begin regarding the human body as ‘an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.'”

How Mood & Gut Health are Linked” The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden“, New York Times

Making Sauerkraut

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2014-10-03 09.37.02Ooh, I’ve been anticipating the results of another new AIP/Paleo nutritional adventure, another food I have not made before. Five days ago, I shredded a head of cabbage and massaged some sea salt into it.

2014-10-04 11.33.58Then I pressed the salt-wilted cabbage firmly into a glass pitcher, weighted the cabbage with a heavy object and secured a cloth over the pitcher. I tucked the pitcher into a corner on the counter so the cabbage could do its thing: ferment and become sauerkraut. In the paleo & autoimmune protocol (AIP) communities (and no doubt others), sauerkraut is prized for its nutrient-dense, probiotic, vitamin and digestive-enzyme rich deliciousness. 2014-10-08 11.47.17 It can ferment for up to five months, but according to the recipe I am using, it is okay to begin tasting it after five days. So, today being the 5th day, I couldn’t resist sampling it. 2014-10-08 11.54.28 I urged out a small test portion and sampled it with my lunch. Hey, I like it — crunchy and sour — well on it’s way. I will keep sampling it daily until it seems just right and then I’ll refrigerate what is left.

I can see that I am going to need to get lots more organic cabbage in here to start fermenting so I can keep a steady supply of this healing goodness on hand. Affordable and easy.

Recipe from: The Paleo Approach Cookbook, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD.

GMOs–Three Sentences

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A friendly discussion about GMOs arose between a student and me following my yoga class this morning. I am not articulate about the science behind the suggestion for people exploring the AutoImmune Protocol (AIP) to avoid GMOs, so I would like to quote a scientist whose work is impacting my current wellness choices. I hope it will be okay to quote three sentences from PhD Sarah Ballantyne’s book The Paleo Approach: 

The Problem with GMOs

“One of the reasons autoimmune disease may be on the rise is that there are more prolamins, agglutinins, digestive-enzyme inhibitors, and saponins in genetically modified crops than in heritage crops. This is because GMO seeds are engineered to contain more of these compounds to protect the seed, which makes the crops more resistant to pests and infections. Unfortunately, what makes GMOs more viable as crops is also what makes them much more problematic for our health.”

She has a section in her book that explains the science about Digestive Enzyme Inhibitors. She begins the section thusly: “Seeds do not want to be digested. A digested seed can’t grow into a new plant. So it makes sense that seeds contain substances designed to protect them during passage through the gastrointestinal tract.” She goes on to elaborate in detail how consumption of seeds can cause increased intestinal permeability and can activate the immune system. Grains, pseudo-grains and legumes are in this group of foods that can be tough for digestion.

Ok, whoops. I went a few more than three sentences. Sorry ’bout that.