Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring Cleansing

Our Raw Meal, Before Doing Only Juice: Sprouted Sunflower and Grain Crackers, Carrot-Beet-Sunflower Seed Pate, Green Salad with Sprouts, and Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

During this last week, Drew, our housemate Andrea, and I endeavored to clean out our bodies a little by doing a juice f(e)ast. Though all three of us eat very healthy food, and have pretty healthy lifestyles, we felt a clean out would be a good idea. Many natural health practitioners recommend an annual cleanse, particularly in the spring.

The cleanse entailed descending slowly toward the fast: one day of whole foods, followed by a day of eating only raw foods, followed by three days of only vegetable juice. At the end of the third juice day, we did a liver and gallbladder flush. Then, on the way out of the cleanse, we ate mostly raw for a day, then back to whole foods. I can verifiably say that I got clean.

It's a funny experience to consciously alter the intake of food, and even to stop eating for a time. It was a very psychological process, one that we all learned a tremendous amount from, about our bodies, about our relationship with food, and about our regular habits. It was a pretty intense cleanse, and we all found that non-essential activities had to be put to the side. It was almost like a vacation. I would recommend it, for those so inclined.

To make the juice, as well as some of the raw foods, we used our prized Green Star Juicer. Each day, we consumed about a half gallon of raw vegetable juice each, which included an entire bunch of greens, a cucumber, carrots, beets, celery, and apples. After letting go of my attachment to chewing food, this juice is surprisingly nourishing. I learned about the healing power of raw veggie juice from the Juice Feasting website. Before my friend showed me this site, I couldn't have conceived of only eating juice, even for one day. But the basic concept, as with all types of fasting or cleansing, is to lighten the load on our digestive organs, so that they can work on eliminating their backlog of wastes and toxins. I can say, after going through this process that it really and truly does work. I am inspired by my body's ability to clean itself with a little help from my choices on the outside.

There are a lot of great resources on the internet describing cleansing. If you are interested in cleansing, do some research, or consult a natural health care practitioner.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Living Foods

My Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut...Mmmmmm

Last year, I was having a health issue, and one of the things I did to improve it was to delve into the world of raw and living foods. We sprout our breakfast cereal grains (spelt, kamut, rye, and wehani rice), we got into sprouting mung beans, lentils, and alfalfa. And we got into raw juice, especially the juice of greens like kale, collard greens, and bok choi, mixed with healthy doses of carrots, beets, celery, and apples for sweetness. (For a great website on juicing, check out Juice Feasting. I haven't ever done it, but may some day).

Around that time, I got turned onto a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Sally is a champion of living foods, whole foods, and something that I learned a lot about from her book was about the benefits of truly cultured and raw dairy products. I'm not talking about Yoplait yogurt, filled with sugar (or maybe corn syrup?), and flavorings and thickeners, I'm talking about kefir, homemade yogurt, homemade cheese, and whey. I've kind of programmed myself against dairy products as mucous-producing foods best left to infrequent use. Our family meals use dairy as more of a condiment than a main ingredient.

But now we are trying some experiments, as our neighbors are milking a goat. Besides having fresh, raw goat milk to give our daughter when she wants milk, I tried making some kefir last week, and some goat ricotta. The kefir was super easy. If I had real kefir grains, it would have been even easier. I used some commercial culture that comes in a little packet. You heat the milk to 180 degrees, let it cool, and stir in the culture. Then, leave out at room temp for approximately 24 hours, and you have kefir. Kind of like liquid yogurt. SO good with a little maple syrup to sweeten, or in pancakes. I also made goat ricotta, by pitching lemon juice into 180 degree goat milk, and straining the curds through cheesecloth. I added salt and garlic into the cheese, and enjoyed it on crackers. Yummmm.

Making cheese leaves whey behind, and I have been dying to try making sauerkraut with whey, which I have heard makes amazing kraut. I used the recipe from this website. It's supposed to be ready tomorrow, and I can't wait to try it.

And finally, we've been given a kombucha scoby, and I've got our first batch of kombucha fermenting on the counter. I am really excited about this, because even though I love the product, it kind of feels like those kombucha companies are gouging us, given that it's made with plain old black tea and white sugar, and a reproducing culture. It's not like it costs anywhere NEAR $4 per jar to produce. So I'm happy to make my own at home.

Looking forward to sharing the fruits of these labors when I get to try them...hmmm, what do I tag this post with? Maybe wildcrafting, as these foods are about nourishing wild little critters?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Here Comes Plaster

Our first test area, in the Master Bedroom

Same wall, Done with first basecoat

Other wall, almost done, with basecoat

I couldn't help myself any longer...we've been inching toward plaster-type tasks these last few weeks, and I just had to get my trowel dirty, and dive in. So on Tuesday, we mixed up our first batch of Structolite and sand plaster and applied it to our Faswall block walls. We were pleasantly surprised at how easy the material is to mix and trowel. However, we quickly realized that we're going to need to do at least two coats of this basecoat plaster before the walls are ready for the American Clay. The Faswall blocks have a good bit of variation between rows and courses, leaving some blocks slightly proud, and some slightly sunken. Additionally, sometimes there are some gaps between blocks, and also at corners that need to get filled. So we'll have to see how the second coat goes on. Hopefully, we'll be able to do mostly level it with the second coat of plaster.

Even though we realized there is a second coat needed, we are thrilled with the transformation of the Faswall wall! It looks so nice! And light! And finished! I am loving it! Plastering is addictive. I hope I continue to enjoy it so much as we continue on with it...