Sunday, February 28, 2010

Window a grocery store?!?

Today, we decided to visit our closest Trader Joe's grocery store.  It is 12 miles away in West Hartford, CT and only minutes away from where we attend church in New Britain.  We had already done our grocery shopping for the week, but I wanted to at least see what they had to offer and at what prices they offered it.  We had been to Trader Joe's on occasion, but never with The Maker's Diet in mind.  This time around, I was looking specifically for grass-fed beef, free range chicken, and anything that featured sprouted grains.

My mission was quite a success!  Trader Joe's has a selection of beef that is labeled as free range but not specifically grass-fed.  They also have one offering that is grass-fed though it is only offered as ground beef.  I didn't look too closely at the free range beef prices as I am mostly interested in the grass-fed option.  They sell this in 1 pound packages at $5.99 each.  Sure, this is more expensive than other options, but as long as I keep it to an occasional 'indulgence' and reasonable portion sizes, I should be fine with the expense.

I was also pleased to find that that have a decent selection of free range chicken, though I was a little less than pleased by the prices.  I am not used to chicken being more expensive than beef!  Sadly, the free range chicken will be more of an indulgence than beef due to the expense.  I will probably buy some once in a while.

One of the more pleasing discoveries was that Trader Joe's carries Ezekiel 4:9 bread and they sell it for $3.99 per loaf - that's $1.70 less than what It's Only Natural sells it for.  They have both the regular and the cinnamon raisin varieties, but they did not have any of the Genesis 1:29 bread.  I am not sure if this is simply an issue of it being out of stock or if they just don't carry it, but I am happy with the Ezekiel 4:9 bread.

Trader Joe's - at least our 'local' one - is not quite as complete as other grocery stores.  For instance, they do not have a full service deli.  As such, we will not be able to rely solely on Trader Joe's for all of our food needs.  Overall, though, we were quite happy with what we found.  It was interesting to discover that quite a few of the options were actually less expensive than what we normally buy.  I found frozen, organic raspberries like I buy at Stop & Shop to add to yogurt.  Trader Joe's had them for about $2.30 less for the same quantity.  I just wish that they were a lot closer - though 12 miles doesn't seem like a great distance, it is not terribly convenient.  We can easily go shopping after church on Sunday given that we are already nearby, but one thing that turned me off was that the store was really crowded.  I felt like I was in the way of other customers.  I have to admit, though, that even in the chaos the employees were very cheerful and helpful.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Egg fast going well

So far, so good.  Today marks the third day of my egg fast.  I am pretty satisfied with the last couple of days.  I am thinking that I will extend the fast for at least two more days before adding a little variety to one of my meals.  Given the way that I am feeling right now, I definitely plan to repeat the egg fast for at least three days out of every seven.

I am running low on Genesis 1:29 bread,  As I cannot drive, I need to plan trips when my wife can take me shopping.  I didn't want to run out so I made a trip downtown to It's Only Natural to buy another loaf.  Unlike my previous visits to It's Only Natural, I found that they had Ezekiel 4:9 bread in stock.  As it is $0.80 less per loaf than the Genesis 1:29 bread, I opted to make a change this time.  Both types of bread fit the profile of The Maker's Diet so I don't have a problem with either choice.

When I got home it was time to check on my cheese-making.  I had let the milk sit for 6 days at this point, so I hoped that it had enough time.  I set up my strainer - I resorted to using the cloth napkin again as I hadn't found a better option - and poured the container into it.  It worked wonderfully.  The whey ran through the napkin and the curds stayed behind.  I left it alone for a couple of hours to let as much whey as possible drain.  Of course, the napkin still absorbed quite a bit of whey, but a decent amount made it through.  It should be a while before I will need to repeat the process as I used a full quart of milk.  Yesterday and today, I made yogurt smoothies with my homemade yogurt, some milk, raspberries, flax seeds, raw honey, and I added a couple of ounces of the whey.  I hope to start using the whey on some recipes that I want to try from Nourishing Traditions.

Additionally, I had been soaking some raw almonds in water, sea salt, and granulated garlic.  Enough time had elapsed for the soaking, so I spread out the almonds in my food dehydrator and started drying them out.  While at It's Only Natural, I also picked up some more raw pumpkin seeds.  After I set the almonds in the dehydrator, I started soaking the pumpkin seeds.  This time, I decided to simply do the sea salt and water.  While I really liked the way the chili pepper seasoned the pumpkin seeds, I felt that the chili pepper wasn't ground up finely enough.  I really want to pick up a nice mortar and pestle to better grind the peppers.
Today, I took out the almonds - they taste great! - and put the pumpkin seeds in the dehydrator.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eating on less than $3.00 per day.

Not long after I started following The Maker's Diet, I began to consider ways to improve the quality of the food I was eating without incurring too much added expense.  The fact is that good food costs more than the processed junk that we have grown accustomed to eating.  For instance, raw whole milk from Deerfield Farm is priced at $6.75 per gallon as opposed to about $3.50 per gallon of pasteurized/homogenized milk from my local grocery store.

One thing that I had considered doing was a modified 'egg fast' for a period of time.  For this fast, my plan centered around relying on eggs as my primary source of nutrition.  Eggs are praised as a source of nutrition as often as they are vilified.  Opponents claim that the fat and cholesterol in the yolk is detrimental to good health and should only be consumed in moderation while proponents claim the egg to be the perfect food.  In the right circumstances, both schools of thought can be correct.  The problems with eggs generally stem from the way that they are produced.  Most of the eggs we buy in the grocery store are produced by 'battery farms.'  These farms cage their chickens and feed them a controlled diet usually consisting of soy and other vegetarian feeds.  The chickens are not allowed to forage on their own and are raised entirely for the purpose of laying as many eggs as they can in as little space as possible.  This is neither good for the chickens nor the people that consume the eggs.  Chickens are omnivores.  They need to be allowed to consume not only vegetables and grasses but also meat - usually in the form of insects and worms.  Free range chickens are able to do just that.  As a result, the eggs that they produce - though quite possibly fewer in number - are much more nutritionally complete than those from battery hens.
For further information about eggs, I recommend reading "Eggs: What Health-Conscious People REALLY Need to Know about One of the Most Controversial Foods."

One reason - probably the biggest reason - why I didn't immediately set out on the egg fast was lack of variety.  The old phrase, "variety is the spice of life" tends to apply to my eating habits as much as any other aspect of my life.  It is easy to grow tired of something when it is all you eat.  Another reason was my initial sense of 'sticker shock.'  Free range eggs - as mentioned above - are more expensive than standard, battery eggs.  My knee-jerk reaction was to avoid buying more eggs than I would normally consume due to the added cost.  Plus, like the raw milk, I need to travel a longer distance to get them.

I am a very stubborn person.  When I think that I have an idea that is good except for a few obstacles, I tend to think about ways to make it work.  As such, I just simply could not get away from trying to work out a feasible and beneficial way to follow the egg fast.

A couple of days ago, I registered with the website, The Douglass Report, and began receiving The Daily Dose email newsletter.  In yesterday's email, Dr. Douglass discussed the many benefits of eggs.  This was the final straw for me.  My desire to come up with a viable egg fast was renewed and I set myself to that very task.

Today marks my beginning of my egg fast.  I will be using only free range eggs and raw, whole milk as my staples.  With some variations, my daily plan is based on the following:
  • Breakfast:  Two eggs, 1 Tbsp. flax seeds, 1 slice Genesis 1:29 bread.
  • Lunch:  6 oz. yogurt, 8 oz. milk, fruit
  • Dinner:  Two eggs, veggies, 8 oz. milk
I intend to add various fruits and vegetables as well as properly prepared nuts and seeds on occasion, but this will be the basis of my diet for the next couple of days.  I will vary the way that I prepare the egg meals - scrambled, omelet, fried, etc. - and the yogurt will be only that which I make myself.

This plan takes care of a number of issues that I have been facing.  First, it addresses the cost of healthy foods.  Eggs - even free range ones - are still one of the most affordable foods available.  Deerfield Farm sells a dozen free range eggs for $3.50.  At two eggs per serving, this comes to $0.58 per serving or $1.16 per day.  At four eggs per day, I will consume 1 doz. eggs over the course of three days.  Second, it gives me an easy-to-prepare meal to make alongside the meal that is being prepared for my family.  While I would really love it if my family would join me in following The Maker's Diet, it is taking time to turn them around.  I am hoping that, once I have fully adapted to the plan and have managed to make it more affordable, they will join me.  As it stands, I am constantly faced with preparing two meals - one for me and one for them - or I am forced to partake of the same foods that they are eating.  Occasionally, they are also eating acceptable foods, so it isn't always a problem.  Third, I can develop a better mind-set.  One problem that I have is a lack of fore-thought when it comes to meals.  I tend to just throw a meal together based on what I have on hand.  Sometimes, the results can be less than desirable which can lead to frustration.  Because I am committing to a narrow selection of nutritious foods for an extended period of time, I can deal with the lack of variety.  Truth be told though, there are a lot of ways to prepare eggs to avoid boredom.

The basic meal plan that I described above comes to a grand total of only $2.74 per day.  Adding some fruit or vegetables will modify that cost upwards, but that is a pretty good starting point.  Here is how it breaks down:
  • Eggs @ $3.50/dozen.  2 eggs per serving yields 6 servings per dozen @ $0.58 each times 2 per day.
  • Genesis 1:29 bread @ $6.49/loaf.  1 slice per serving yields 20 servings @ $0.32 each.
  • Flax seeds @ $6.98/bag.  1 Tbsp. per serving yields 74 servings @ $0.10 each.
  • Milk @ $6.75/gallon.  8 oz. per serving yields 16 servings @ $0.42 each times 2 per day.
  • Yogurt (made from milk) @ $6.75/gallon.  6 oz. per serving yields about 21 servings @ $0.32 each.
My plan is to maintain this fast for 3-5 days. After that, I will switch out one of my meals.  I intend to repeat the 'fast' 2 or 3 times per month.  Whatever I do, I certainly intend to use eggs as a major part of my plan.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Yogurt Making Again.

I woke up this morning to the now-familiar sounds of Ginger whining telling me that she needed to go outside.  Unfortunately for me, she doesn't seem to care what time it is but rather that the sun has started to peek over the horizon.  Of course, due to the fact that the winter solstice has passed, this is happening earlier and earlier.

After getting up to deal with her, I began my now normal morning routine:
  • A moment of prayer and reading from the Bible.  Actually, I have grown accustomed to using the website for this purpose.  It is nice to use the concordance feature to easily find passages dealing with a particular word or phrase.
  • I start my supplement regimen with one capsule of Primal Defense Ultra.  This is produced by Garden of Life - the company founded be Jordan Rubin, the author of The Maker's Diet.  It is a high potency, broad-spectrum probiotic formula, providing a 15 billion live cell count of 13 species of beneficial cultures including soil-based probiotics called Homeostatic Soil Organisms (HSOs).
  • Next, I take my daily serving of VIDACELL.  While I could mix this with my breakfast, it is recommended that it be consumed on an empty stomach for better absorption - no other nutrients competing with it.
  • Finally, I have breakfast.  Today, I decided to have some of the yogurt that I made last week mixed with some raspberries, flax seeds, and raw honey.  With breakfast, I took 2 capsules of Omega-Zyme Ultra.  This is a new addition to my supplements and it is another product from Garden of Life.
After I finished breakfast, I settled in to get some reading done.  I read about 20 pages and promptly dozed off...ah well.

Upon waking up - again - I decided to get some exercise in with the Wii Fit Plus.  I put in a little over an hour and a half!

Lunch consisted of a yogurt smoothie.  Nothing dramatic, but I used the last serving of my yogurt so I needed to make more - hence, the next activity for the day.  I tried a slightly different procedure this time.  I stuck to the individual jelly jars rather than making one large batch.  However, instead of heating and mixing the milk and yogurt starter in one pan, I simply put the milk right in the jars and warmed them in the Crock-Pot.  After it reached the proper temperature I mixed 1 Tbsp. of yogurt into each jar, covered the jars, and set the temperature to 'keep warm' to let them incubate.  They should be ready to transfer to the refrigerator around 11:00 PM tonight.  Hopefully, this change of procedure won't have a negative effect on the outcome.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Inspiration.

Last night, I settled down to watch some of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  While I have no personal connection with them other than nationality, I was pleased to see Shaun White and Scott Lago take gold and bronze in the snowboard half-pipe, Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso take gold and silver in the alpine downhill, and Shani Davis take gold in the speed skating 1,000 meter race.  I really appreciate the effort that all of the Olympic athletes put into their training in order to achieve their goal of one day competing on that level - win or lose.  Of course, winning the gold medal is the ultimate reward, but just being able to compete on that stage is an amazing achievement.  A lot of these athletes battle through illness and injury in order to train and compete.

As spectators, we have a couple different responses.  Either we can adopt the stance that we would never be able to do what they do or we can try.  Sure, we just might have some limitations and obstacles standing in our way, but that shouldn't prevent us from trying to improve our own skills and abilities.

For me, my current limitation comes in the form of the symptoms I am experiencing.  Primarily, fatigue is my worst enemy.  There are some days where I just don't have any energy at all.  On days that I am feeling fine (which have been more common lately), I still need to be careful not to push too hard.  Combine the fatigue with the constant feeling of numbness and tingling in my feet and it can be really difficult for me to get anything done.

Again, I have two choices.  I can either sit and wallow in my suffering or I can try to do something about it.  As should be evident by this blog, I have chosen to try to do something about it.  While I may never win a gold medal at the Olympics, there is no reason for me not to try!

Each day, I can either give in to my symptoms or try to overcome them.  By pushing the barriers of what I can and cannot do, I find that I can eventually do more.  Climbing a flight of stairs without getting winded where I once was unable to even climb the two steps out of my sunken living room without help is as rewarding for me as Olympic gold!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It was a good day...

Today was expected to be a busy one and that proved to be true.  The morning found us at the library for a couple of hours.  We make a regular, weekly trip to the library - though I don't always go - but today's trip was a little different.  Rae is teaching an acting class for homeschoolers.  The class is normally taught at the Green Street Arts Center, but due to school vacation this week the center is closed.  In order to not lose momentum, she scheduled a special class today at the library.
While there I was able to borrow (for a second time) book 12 in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, The Gathering Storm.  I had borrowed it previously but had very little time to actually read it and only got through the third chapter before having to return it.  Of course, one reason why I had little chance to read The Gathering Storm was because I had borrowed Nourishing Traditions at the same time.  Now that the most of the reading of Nourishing Traditions is done and I am only using it for reference, I can spend more time reading for fun.  Hopefully I will be able to finish reading The Gathering Storm before I need to return it this time.

After the library, we enjoyed lunch with several of our friends and fellow homeschoolers.  While this meant cheating on The Maker's Diet for a meal, I tried to minimize it.  I drank water and had a salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  While I did have some pizza, I ate a lot less than I would normally have done.  We hadn't planned on having lunch out but it was time well spent with friends.

Next, we headed down to Durham to visit Deerfield Farm so that I could pick up some more milk.  Knowing that we would be out today, I had called yesterday to reserve a couple of gallons.  I didn't want to take the chance that we would get there only to find that they had sold out of milk.  My precaution turned out to be unnecessary this time as there was plenty of milk available.  As a result, I picked up an extra quart.

Upon arriving home, I promptly poured all but 4 oz. of the extra quart into a wide-mouth container in another attempt at cheese-making.  This time, I added a tablespoon of yogurt to the milk hoping that the yogurt cultures might aid in the process.  I still need to find a better filter, but I have at least 4 days to find something to use.  I may not bother with the expense for this trial, anyway.  If it is successful, then I will likely buy something to use for future attempts.

Finally, tonight I enjoyed the results of my previous cheese-making attempt.  I toasted a slice of the Genesis 1:29 bread and spread on some of the cream cheese I had made.  I still think it tasted more like sour cream than cream cheese, but it is still good.  In fact, I am looking forward to the next time I have a baked potato and top it with the cheese.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cheese...sort of.

Alright, so my cheese trial is a partial success.  I didn't want to waste too much milk so I only used about 8 oz. in a small mason jar - I guess it is technically a 'jelly jar.'  I took off the lid of the jar this morning and saw that some whey had come to the surface so I decided to go ahead and strain it.  I took a cloth napkin - a tighter weave than cheese cloth - and poured the 'milk' through it into another jar.  The curds collected in the napkin while the whey was able to pass through.  Unfortunately, the separation was still not quite complete and the whey is not quite pure.  It looks like watered down milk as opposed to whey.  I figured that I would give the whey another pass through my napkin/filter.  After placing the curds into another jar, I set up my filter again and poured what remained into it. The result was somewhat promising.  I was able to get a better strain the second time through.  The whey looks as it should.  The problem - one that I expected - is that the napkin is a bit too absorbent and it seems to have retained a fair amount of the whey rather than letting it pass through.  From my 8 oz. of milk, I seem to have collected less than 1 oz. of whey and about 4 oz. of cheese - not a terribly efficient process.  I think, though, that I lost more during the filtration due to the fact that I ran it through twice using a clean napkin each time.  This doubled the absorbency factor.
In the meantime, the 'cheese' that was caught by the filter the first time through actually tastes more like sour cream than cheese.  That's OK though as it will still be a beneficial addition to the diet.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The 'whey'-ey-ting is the hardest part.

OK, so waiting isn't really all that bad, but I couldn't resist paying homage to Tom Petty and his song, The Waiting.

Day four of the cheese trial is coming to an end, but there still seems to be little difference in the appearance of the milk in the jar.  I am still not seeing any distinct separation of the curds and the whey.  The milk at the top of the jar is only slightly whiter than the milk at the bottom.  Whey should have a pale yellowish color and should be translucent.  I think that I am going to wait another day before I try to strain the whey from the curds.  If it doesn't work, I will likely give Melynda at Deerfield Farm a call to see what I am doing wrong.  They make their own cheese on the farm using their milk.  It also occurs to me that I might just be able to obtain some whey from them.

We found ourselves downtown yesterday, so I stopped at It's Only Natural to pick up some more raw pumpkin seeds.  Properly soaked and dried, these make an excellent snack for me.  I used up my last batch when we went to see Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief on Friday.  I ate my pumpkin seeds as opposed to candy or popcorn.
This time, I decided to try to season the pumpkin seeds during the soaking time.  I bought 1/2 pound of seeds this time so that I could make some lightly salted and some 'pepitas.'  When I got home, I split the seeds into two separate containers, covered them with water (I have a PUR Water Filter attached to my faucet), and added sea salt to both containers.  To one, I added some dried, ground organic chili peppers as well (It's Only Natural has an array of organically spices).  I set both containers to soak overnight.  This morning, I drained the water from the containers and spread the seeds in my food dehydrator and started the drying process.  I could use the oven, but the food dehydrator uses less energy to achieve the same result.

My next project is going to be growing my own peppers.  We have a small garden outside, but every attempt to grow peppers in the past has failed.  Either the bugs or the squirrels get to them before they have the chance to grow.  My plan is to try to grow some in pots indoors.  This way, I can at least keep the squirrels away.  I am hoping to support my pepper plants with a small amount of composting.  Depending on the variety, I can then either use some of the whey that I acquire from the cheese-making to preserves the peppers or I can dehydrate and grind them to be used as seasoning.

I really need a bigger kitchen!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The first yogurt trial is a success!  Yesterday was a bit crazy and we weren't home for most of the day, so I didn't really get a chance to sample the yogurt.  Unfortunately, part of the day out was spent grocery shopping and - as I wasn't sure about the success or failure of my yogurt making attempt - I decided to buy another container of yogurt so that I wouldn't run out.

Today, I cracked open a jar of my homemade yogurt and discovered that it had worked.  This is fantastic for several reasons.  One, I will be able to have access to a more beneficial product than those available in the store.  It will be made from raw milk rather than pasteurized milk.  Even Deerfield Farm has to pasteurize the milk prior to making their yogurt (even though they can sell the milk raw).  While it is true that it will be heated (110 degrees is the prime temperature for the yogurt-producing bacteria to do their work), it will not be heated to the point of pasteurization.  Two, I can save a fair amount of money this way.  Rather than buying two separate products (milk and yogurt), I can can simply buy some extra milk and make my own yogurt.  The money spent on the extra milk will be less than the total spent on the combination.  Three, I can completely control what is and isn't in my yogurt.

I will need to spend more time in the kitchen to make the yogurt, but it really isn't that much of a factor.  Now that I have done it once, I know a lot more about the process.  I now know that my Crock-Pot keeps food warm at exactly 110 degrees Fahrenheit when it is on the 'keep warm' setting.  During my first trial, I had to keep checking it to make sure that the culture got neither too hot nor too cold.  Now, I can just set it and leave it for the desired time.  The Crock-Pot I own has room for up to 6 of the mason jars that I used, so I can make a slightly larger batch than I did this time.

The cheese/whey trial is still underway.  There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of separation in the jar yet.  I am somewhat torn between waiting for another day or two and trying to run it through a filter to see how much separation there actually is.  The recommendation is to wait for 1-4 days and at the this point it has been just a few minutes beyond 48 hours.  I guess a was just expecting a bit more visible progress by now.  It truly doesn't look any different than it would had I just left the milk in the refrigerator.  Maybe another 24 hours will make a bigger difference.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Waiting, waiting...

So, the potential yogurt has been removed from the 'incubator' and placed into the refrigerator to chill overnight.  It seems to be a bit too runny but, according to several sources, this is normal for homemade yogurt.  It will be interesting to see what the result is tomorrow morning.  I have to wonder if pouring the mixture into several jars prior to incubation has made a difference in the outcome.  Also, I think it might have been easier to simply incubate the mixture in one pot and separate it into the individual jars prior to refrigeration.

At this time, I think that I will revise my method in my next attempt - no matter what the result of this attempt is.  I will likely be able to monitor the progress better and have a more consistent result by making one large batch rather than several smaller individual servings.

Making my own 'whey'

In an effort to have access of the optimal food choices for The Maker's Diet, I wanted to try to make my own yogurt and cheese.  Both of these things can be made using raw milk - and should be, according to The Maker's Diet.  Neither process seems to be terribly difficult, they just take a little time.

I started working on both processes today.  The steps and ingredients are laid out in the book, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.

For yogurt, the recipe calls for raw milk to be heated to 110 degrees Fahrenheit to which you add some yogurt.  The added yogurt can be either from a previous batch or store-bought as long as it has active cultures.  Transfer the mix to a jar and keep it at about 95 degrees F for around 8 hours.  Well, I wanted to try to make some single-serving jars, so I used five 8 oz. mason jars (I planned on 4, but I ended up with enough to fill 5) instead of the one quart-size jar.  I am using my Crock Pot - set on 'warm' - to keep the jars warm.  After the 8 hours, the jars are to be transferred to the refrigerator.
Hopefully, I will soon have my own plain, unpasteurized yogurt!

As for the cheese, there are of course various types of cheese that require different recipes and aging times to produce.  Again using a recipe from Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, I have begun the process of making cream cheese.  Using raw milk - milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized - makes this process relatively easy.  Because the milk has not been homogenized, it will eventually (about 1-4 days) separate into curds - or milk solids - and whey.  Once it has separated, it is then further strained through - you guessed it - cheese cloth to remove more of the whey.  That is pretty much all there is to it!
Honestly, I am actually more interested in collecting the whey for use in other recipes.  Whey is used for the fermentation process for grains and vegetables, though sea salt can be used as a substitute.  I figure that if the cheese-making works and I have the whey available to use, I may as well do so.

We'll see how things go...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Phase 3 began several days ago...

So, I find myself 4 days into Week 5 of The Maker's Diet with very little fanfare.  While I had celebrated the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 (beginning of Week 3), this transition went by very quietly.  I think the reason is that I was comfortable with Phase 2, so moving into Phase 3 was not a terribly big deal.  While there are certainly more foods available now, the Phase 2 food list was satisfying enough on its own.

One notable addition to the acceptable foods for Phase 3 is bread.  Not just any bread, mind you, as white flour (among other popular ingredients for bread) is still on the unacceptable list.  The Maker's Diet recommends 'Ezekiel-type' bread.  Ezekiel bread - more correctly, Ezekiel 4:9 Bread, is produced by the Food For Life Baking Co., Inc..  It is inspired by the Bible verse that it is named for: "Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it..."  Given the biblical basis of The Maker's Diet, this bread is a perfect addition to the diet.  It is made of sprouted grains, not bleached, processed flour.  Sprouted grains have a higher level of enzyme activity than do the non-sprouted grains so Ezekiel 4:9 Bread has advantages beyond those of other whole grain breads.  As well, soaking/sprouting grains reduces the naturally occurring phytic acid that is present in grains.  Phytic acid inhibits the absorption of several important nutrients.
I made a trip to It's Only Natural in order to buy some.  For some reason, It's Only Natural stocks almost the entire line of Food For Life's bread except for Ezekiel 4:9 Bread.  They have the sesame variety that is essentially the same with the addition of sesame seeds, but not the basic variety.  I thought maybe they were simply out of stock, but I have visited several times and have yet to find it.  I found that they did stock Food For Life's Genesis 1:29.  Either the sesame or the Genesis bread would have been fine for me, but the Genesis bread includes an even greater variety of ingredients, so I opted for that one.  I don't know what the MSRP is for Genesis bread, but It's Only Natural sells it for $6.49 per loaf.  As expected, this is more expensive than your average loaf of bread.  However, after a little analysis, I determined that it really isn't all that bad.  The loaf is sliced into 20 slices.  If I only eat one slice per day, this will last me almost 3 weeks at $0.32 per serving.  Because it is so nutrient-dense, there really is no need apart from societal norms - i.e. two slices to make a sandwich - for me to eat more than one slice at a time.

One of the major reasons to not eat healthier than we do is the perceived expense.  Healthy foods cost more than the junk that we have grown accustomed to eating.  The fact is that we simply eat way too much food.  Our food is so stripped of its nutrients that we need to eat more of it just to get what we need.  Unfortunately, it is also loaded with ingredients that are detrimental to our health and, by consuming more food, we also get more of these harmful additives.  Product nutrition labels try to do the responsible thing by posting the serving size on the package (as well as the servings per package).  How many people truly stick to these guidelines?  Look at any loaf of bread and you will see that the recommended serving is one slice.  As well, check out just how thick those slices are.  In an attempt to avoid high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, we had previously sought out a commercially produced bread that included neither of those items.  As well, we preferred to avoid bleached white flour.  What we found was that most bread includes all of those things!  One variety that we found was Martin's Famous Potato Bread.  While still not ideal, this was the lesser of several evils.  This sells for about $3.49 per loaf.  By comparison to Genesis 1:29 Bread, the loaf is about the same size but the slices are considerably thicker in the potato bread yielding only 16 one slice servings per loaf ($0.22 per slice).  Using two slices of the potato bread gives us only 8 sandwiches per loaf!

Essentially, we not only need to assess what but how much food we are eating.  We need to re-train ourselves.  In my last entry, I talked about eating smaller bites and thoroughly chewing them as opposed to inhaling our food.  This is one thing that The Maker's Diet has re-taught me.  As a result, I am definitely consuming less food and, therefore, spending less per meal due to the smaller servings.  This also translates into being able to afford better quality foods.  That 2 slice sandwich made of potato bread costs me $0.44 before even adding any thing between the slices and I get less nutrition (though I have eaten a larger quantity) than my $0.32 serving of Genesis 1:29 Bread.  By eating the Genesis 1:29 Bread more slowly, I feel just as full.  Sure, eating the potato bread more slowly would also produce the feeling of fullness but it still lacks the nutrition of the Genesis or Ezekiel-type bread.  We have been trained for our whole lives that two slices of bread are used to make a sandwich (though I remember my parents going through a phase of eating 'open-faced' sandwiches that used only one slice with the other ingredients piled on top of it).  It is 'abnormal' by society's standards to eat only one slice of bread.

How many other societal influences are there that affect our eating habits?  We eat lunch at work quickly because we are only provided 30 minutes in which to do so.  We stop at the drive-thru and pick up a quick meal that we proceed to eat behind the steering wheel of our car because we are in a hurry.  We pop a frozen dinner in the microwave oven.  We tear open a  package of processed food loaded with cheap ingredients that prolong its shelf life (and significantly shorten our own life) and call it a meal.

Don't conform to society's norms.  Take a step back and look at what 'normal' has caused.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mom always said...

How many things did your mom constantly tell you to do when you were a kid that you still do as an adult?
Along with the standard, "Brush your teeth after every meal" and "Wash your hands before eating," my mother added a few 'rules' to the mealtime ritual.
  1. Take small bites.
  2. Chew each bite at least 25 times.
  3. Leave a part of your meal on your plate.
Each of these rules had their purpose.  Taking smaller bites would essentially prolong your meal which helps to improve digestion.  Part of the problem we face today is our propensity for eating quickly and on the go.  We don't give our bodies a chance to digest the 'food' that we are eating.  Chewing each bite at least 25 times goes hand in hand with the first rule.  Yes, it does cause you meal to last longer, but it also aids digestion in another way.  Chewing food thoroughly before swallowing causes more exposure to saliva which helps to break down the food.  This helps it to be more fully digested and the nutrients more available for absorption.  Finally, leaving a part of your meal on your plate was intended to prevent over-eating.  I suppose this was meant to be a sort of portion control.

Since beginning The Maker's Diet, I have been trying to follow the first two rules more diligently.  The third rule is somewhat unnecessary due to the fact that I am already taking smaller, more appropriate portions than I had previously eaten.  As well, by slowing the process down - actually taking the time to enjoy the food - I actually feel 'full' on less food.  This is no mystery, though.  It basically gives your body time to respond to the influx of food.

Yesterday, I made another visit to It's Only Natural.  I was actually looking for a specific product - raw, organic honey.  I was pleased to find that they had a couple of brands to choose from.  As with all other healthier food options, the choices were not cheap.  Well, I ended up picking up a jar for about $11.00.  Given that I intend to limit my usage to no more than 1 Tbsp. per day, this jar should last me about a month (unless Rae decides to also add it to her tea!).  Today, I added a Tbsp. to the 32 oz. container of yogurt I have in the refrigerator.  After blending it in - no easy prospect as the honey was almost solid - I dished out a serving.  I was amazed that that comparatively small amount of honey sufficiently sweetened the entire container of yogurt.  As I primarily intend to use the honey for this purpose, I should get even more than 1 month out of each jar.

It looks like I am going to need to make another visit to Deerfield Farm soon.  I really want to try making my own yogurt and other things that require milk.  I am not sure when I can get there next, but hopefully it will be soon.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Wow, I'm tired!

Today has been an eventful one!  I decided to use The Biggest Loser game today as we need to return it tomorrow.  I wanted to give it another round so that I might be able to solidify my opinion of it.  I spent about 30 minutes on the various activities that it offers and worked up a decent sweat.  It really does offer quite a good workout.  Sadly, I just didn't feel motivated to stand there and record my food consumption for the previous day as well as what I had consumed thus far.  I suppose that if I were better able to plan out my meals and snacks, I could enter the whole day even if it were still only morning.  That just isn't me, though.  I pretty much decide what I am going to eat shortly before meal time.  Now, I realize that exercise and weight loss requires more than just a passing 'game,' but this aspect of the program seems a bit cumbersome.  If I am going to record what I eat and keep an activity log, I don't want to have to turn on the TV, the Wii, and put in The Biggest Loser game just to do it.
As a result of my experience today, the jury is still out on this one - though it is leaning 8 to 4 in favor of it.

After my trial with The Biggest Loser, I decided to push it a little further on the exercise front.  As such, I popped in my Wii Fit Plus disc and spent some time with that.  'Some' time turned into an additional hour!  I really like the boxing routine in the game.  It seems to be one of the biggest calorie burners offered - which makes sense as it incorporates the entire body in the workout.  You have to step on and off the balance board (not a huge step, but I do have the additional risers added to it) as well as throw punches in time with the 'beat.'

When I was finally done exercising, Victoria and I went downstairs to finish putting together some bookcases we were building.  This project actually began during the summer.  We had replaced the carpet in the basement and decided to give it a complete overhaul.  We thought that turning it into a sort of library would be really cool.  So, that meant needing more bookcases to properly display (and improve access to) all of the books we own.  I didn't want to get any of the cheap but heavy stuff (you know, the stuff built out of cheap particle board with cheesy laminate covering it to make it look like real wood), so we decided to build our own.  'Our' bookcase project quickly became 'my' bookcase project.  I had gotten all of the wood measured and cut to size, cut dado grooves in the upright pieces, and assembled several of my new bookcases - though not all - on a particularly productive day during the summer.  I had reached my limit when I still had three more bookcases to assemble.  Well, as things go, the prepped pieces came inside, went downstairs, and sat there waiting for the day that I would finish them.  Today was that day!  With the help of Victoria, we drilled the pilot holes and screwed the three remaining bookcases together.
As you might imagine, I had just about reached my limit for the day so the rest of my day has been, and will continue to be, rather peaceful (aside from helping to prepare dinner, that is).

Oh, I almost forgot...  I also signed up for the Pound for Pound Challenge.  If you don't watch The Biggest Loser, then you may not know what that is.  Basically, it is intended to serve two main purposes: 1.  To help people to lose the weight that they really want to/need to lose, and 2. To help the 1 out of every 6 Americans that struggle with hunger.  Essentially, for every pound pledged, $0.14 is donated to Feeding America.  At this point, I am not sure if there is any accountability for those that pledge to lose weight.  Either way, I figure that I am planning to lose the weight, anyway, so I might as well help others in the process.

Some reviews...

Well, you already know by now that I have been following The Maker's Diet since the beginning of the year (yeah, I know - a really long time).  In addition to reading the book, I also picked up The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide.  Recently, I checked a book out of the library that has a similar approach to nutrition that The Maker's Diet has, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (wow, that's a really long name!).  This book was written by Sally Fallon, the current president and treasurer on the board of directors of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  While this book is - as the title suggests - primarily a cookbook, it is also loaded with information that challenges current tenets of nutrition.  So, how do these books fit together?

Essentially, the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) "is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. It supports a number of movements that contribute to this objective including accurate nutrition instruction, organic and biodynamic farming, pasture-feeding of livestock, community-supported farms, honest and informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing therapies."  Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats is based on the nutrition principles promoted by the WAPF.  It exposes the dangers of processed foods and other things that are commonly accepted as health food.  About 90% of the book is devoted to recipes and preparation instructions in addition to information about the various recipes.  Honestly, I have only read the first section of the book and briefly scanned through the various recipes but I am impressed thus far.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to move away from processed foods and toward a more natural diet.

The Maker's Diet is essentially a subset of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.  It takes the tenets of the WAPF and goes a little further.  Where the WAPF allows for the consumption of bacon and other pork products (though Nourishing Traditions does mention that "in the laboratory, pork is one of the best mediums for feeding the growth of cancer cells.") while The Maker's Diet does not.  The Maker's Diet takes a look at nutrition as detailed by the Bible.  For example, the Old Testament labels pork as 'unclean' and not intended for human consumption.  Similarly to the WAPF, The Maker's Diet rules out all processed foods including refined sugar and white flour.
As to the differences between The Maker's Diet and The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide: both books are, of course, describing the same diet.  The former has a lot more text describing and supporting the diet while the latter is very streamlined.  There is essentially no new information in The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide.  It is a compact version of the original book.  I provides a more expanded listing of sample meal plans, but other than that it simply repeats the recommended food lists and recipes (most of which are actually reprinted from Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats) from the original.  I would not recommend buying both books - you simply don't need them both.  However, I was grateful that I had them both when I loaned one to a friend and still had the other to refer to.  Of the two, I would suggest that you pick up The Maker's Diet and not The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide.  If you plan to have a partner participate in the diet with you (that does not live in your household), have your partner get a copy of The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide so that you can swap and get the benefits of both books.

As previously mention, I had rented The Biggest Loser for the Wii.  I have since been able to give it a try.  I have to say that the workout it offers is a lot more intense than that offered by the Wii Fit Plus and it can be used with or without the balance board.  The Biggest Loser 'game' provides the opportunity to record an estimated caloric consumption while also providing a recommended calorie target based on your height, weight, and weight loss goals. 
After entering my personal data (using the balance board in order to record my weight), I started to explore the options in the game.  For exercise options, you can select from preset programs, make your own program, choose from individual exercises, or participate in challenges.  I decided to try out a preset program first.  The choices of programs are focused on various goals - you can choose among programs for upper body, core, lower body, and more.  Prior to starting the program I was given the chance to do a warm-up.  Even though I could not do a couple of the exercises called for in the program that I chose, the game still registered activity and gave me credit for doing it - though not as much as it would have had I actually done them.  As I was using the balance board in addition to the remote, it did take into account when I stepped on and off the board.  After I finished the program, I was given a chance to do a cool down.  As I planned to continue trying out the game, I declined.  I next decided to try to create my own program.  This option allows you to choose up to 9 different exercises.  Once you have determined which exercises you want, you then choose how many circuits you would like to do up to four.  Again, you can choose to do a warm-up prior to your program and a cool down following it.  After running through my program, I wanted to look at the challenges.  The challenges each utilize a couple of exercises.  You alternate from one to the other - depending on the challenge you chose - in an attempt to beat your opponents.  Each challenge lasts for up to 8 rounds depending on your performance.
I found the preset programs and the challenges to be the more intense workout options.  The other options provided too much 'down-time' between movements.  There is a bit of a learning curve involved with the game - learning the various movements as well as making the best use of all of the options.  As well, it seems that getting the most out of the game requires inputting data at least a couple of times per day (calories consumed, activity level, etc.).
I want to give this one a bit more time before I decide how much or little I actually like it, but my early feeling is that it is a good one.