So. Much. FUN.

I need to take a minute folks, to gush.   Not about how fantastic my kids or dog, family, or even my clients are.  They are wonderful, of course.

This past weekend was for me.  Food for my soul.  Two days at the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) Wise Traditions Regional Conference in Southbridge, MA.

Compared to the huge conference-on-crack national event, this regional weekend was more relaxed.  There were maybe 400-500 people in attendance, listening to a series of talks, perusing vendor tables, and enjoy the outstanding, high-quality food these conferences are known for.   Rare is the restaurant I can go to a feel good about the quality, yet here I was at a two day conference eating my heart out and not thinking twice.

To top it all off, my talk went very well.  Attended by Sally Fallon, the founder of the WAPF, I covered a variety of issues regarding feeding children nourishing foods.  Beyond that, several people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for the talk and said it was one of the most helpful ones at the conference.  I wanted to hug them all.

Perhaps the best part of this weekend was the energy of the place.  Hundreds of people who share my joys and struggles, who have found health through a high-quality diet.  Some have been on GAPS, most have not.  We’re from all over New England, all looking to be/stay/get healthy and feel our best.  We’re all looking for great raw milk, driving long distances for raw cream, look for high-quality meat in bulk.  To be able to talk to so many people who are looking for help, or who have been helped by eating real food is inspiring. I’m honored to have been a part of such a wonderful event.

Moving forward, I have some great news!  I’ve been working on a project all summer that is designed to help you.  It’s pretty exciting, and I plan to launch it next week, so stay posted for news (and likely a great deal)!

For now, please sign up for my newsletter here.  If you sign up, you get some great things: free video & recipes on “Dressings & Sauces” and “Bone Broth”!  I’ll be starting to send out a newsletter about once or twice per month, and you don’t want to miss it!

Guess who’s speaking!

This is exciting folks! Coming in a few short weeks, on September 20-21 is the Wise Traditions conference in MA!Three little chefs enjoying in the kitchen making big mess. Litt

I’ll be giving a talk on children’s nutrition and just how to get them to eat real food on Sunday. I hope to see some of you there!

For more information, click here.

Americans

We’re all working hard.  All of us.  Mom’s, dads, farmer’s, chefs, activists, healthcare leaders, lawyers and doctors.  We’re all wearing 3+ different hats a day working at our professions, caring for kids and our homes, and perhaps, every now and then, taking a moment or two for ourselves.  And the latter is rare, I probably don’t need to remind you.

I read about parenting.  Attachment parenting, the Ferber method, time outs, and personal space.   I read about a child-centered life, and the potential pros and cons.  I think about what’s best for my kids.  I read about how American’s parent past and present, how the Machiguenga parent, how the French parent.  Evidently, American’s are the worst of all time.  We help our kids put on their shoes, we cook for them, we even (gasp!) do their laundry & get their silverware.   And sometimes, don’t tell anyone, I lose my patience with my little cherubs.

Don’t get me wrong, I too can frequently get tired of waiting on my kids.   I wish when I asked for help in the kitchen, my four year old would say “yeah!” with the enthusiasm he used to have.  Perhaps I pushed him away one two many times.

I read a ton about food issues.  How we, as Americans, are messing up the world.  Large corporations have enough financial influence to basically control politics, and so our food supply is comprised of low-quality food best left to nobody.   Many states disallow raw milk, and government representatives harass Amish families.

I lived abroad for quite some time, and in those years I had to do a whole lot of explaining about American foreign policy, our voting system, and why we don’t up-rise.  I also had to point out many, many times how split down the middle our country is politically.

The average American diet is a buffet of sugar, highly processed grains and fillers.  Our children are sicker than ever, more often then ever.  They can’t function in schools that have very low standards compared to their developed world counterparts.  We’re fat, stupid, and too lazy to vote.  Does that sound about right?

My answer- NO!  I’m tired of hearing about how badly we’re all doing.  I work hard at my job, and work hard as a parent.  Not to fill my kids with shit food and stand them in front of network TV so they can watch commercials and then  scream at me in the store to buy the toy they saw on TV as they develop a sugar crash.   That’s not my life, those aren’t my kids.  Why is there hardly a literary article that ends without getting at least one jab in at American feeding or parenting styles?

My husband and I make a point to be conscious.  I garden so my kids can see pumpkins and tomatoes grow, and so that they can pick them daily.   I let weeds run ramshod so they understand that mother nature hates a void (or at least, that’s the reason I give them).   I take my kids to our CSA farm and show them where real food comes from.  We go to the farm to buy raw milk, so they know where their milk and cheese comes from.  We buy a slaughtered cow each year, from a sustainable farm, not from some CAFO.

We are deliberate about our parenting.  Nobody gets smacked around here, tempting though it might sometimes be.  Our children do have some minor chores around the house, and we are careful about our consumption.  No excess toys; indeed, our son has been obsessed with shooting rubber bands from store-bought broccoli for the last week or two.

We swim in lakes and ponds, go hiking in the woods.   We show them the moon, the simple pleasures in life and let them chase ants with flashlights well past their bedtime.

Our kids are patient, say please and thank you, and almost never tantrum in the stores.

We eat well.  I make almost everything we eat from well-sourced ingredients.   We are deliberate and conscious of our food choices.  Yet we eat out from time to time, and I let go.  I too need to breathe.

I’m tired of hearing or reading about how we’re doing it all wrong.  I manage a farmer’s market, and I see people coming to buy their organic vegetables with food stamps.  I see people taking their kids to say hello to their neighbors, to pet a dog, and to help and old lady get off the bus.  We must be doing something right.

People cook for women who just had babies.  We pick up each other’s CSA shares when another is away, the same for our gardens.  We watch each other’s kids and dogs when necessary, and offer a helping hand when we can.   We’re conscious of our waste and our consumption.  We organize informal preschools for our kids to meet their needs when the system doesn’t, we’re creative about our careers and incomes and are ever-changing and evolving.

I know activists who work hard, all day every day for the greater good.  Fighting for food rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights, forest conservation.   People voice their opinions about injustices around the world and at home, doing something whenever we can.  We fight so that our kids have a better future, and so that perhaps children from distant lands might also.

We’re also happy.  We find sources of joy every day, relax in the presence of friends, and hug often.  Our kids are secure and comforted.   Perhaps they’re not particularly tough or self sufficient, but they’re healthy and well and learning and improving.

Are we privileged compared to the struggles of the rest of the world?  Of course many of us are, but all of us are not.    I realize this complaint might sound trite, but I’m tired of hearing just how bad we are, and how we’re really messing up in a new way now!    I know we’re not perfect and there are a bazillion ways we can improve, but I just can’t hear about it all the time.  I think we’re doing a pretty damn good job at this business of living.

I’ll stop reading the internet now, as all I ever find is criticism of an America I don’t know.  They write about an America full of zombies who consume whatever Monsanto, McDonalds, and ABC/NBC/FOXnews/CNN/MSNBC/Hasbro/Fisher-Price shove down their throats.  I’m sure those people exist here in this huge country, but I don’t know them and can’t relate to their experience.

My America is wonderful, full of beauty.  It is full of community, of people who care about the world and the greater good.  We volunteer and clean our streets, and get up early to see sunrises.  We take care of animals, the planet and each other.  We are aware of the evils of the world, but are conscious about our role in it and the people we are raising, what we’re feeding them and how our actions affect it all.   We’re sustainable, conscious, and thriving.  We’re a growing population, this America of mine, and although we get little press, I think we’re here to stay.  Maybe I’ll write more about that, about just how well we’re doing in spite of it all.

4 Tips on Shopping at the Farmer’s Market

It’s that wonderful, colorful, delicious time of year.  We’re excited!  We’ve got our cloth shopping bags in hand, sneakers, sun glasses and optimism.  We march on over to the local farmers market dreaming of the beautiful, colorful meals we intend to create.  Maybe even beautiful enough for a Pinterest hit or two?!   And then……. we’re soooo overwhelmed.  With all the options, all the “eat this, not that” out there, how does one know what do actually purchase, take home, and cook?  Furthermore, how to do you navigate the myriad of choices between organic, conventional, local products?  Which is best?

Here’s your friendly guide to what you should look for & questions to ask amongst all those colors and crowds!

1.   Organic vs. Local

This is a great debate, and depends on the item.  For example, here in New England we can’t grow organic apples without worms, which doesn’t work well for consumers.  Is it better to eat local, sprayed fruit, or get organic apples from the west coast at the supermarket?  As far as sprays go, organic is usually better but there are other concerns about bacterial pest control, as this NPR article illustrates.  Yet apples continue to be one of the highest sprayed items in the country.   In the meantime, apples from the other side of the country travel 3000 miles in trucks, thereby using plenty of natural resources to get to our table, and have varying levels of freshness.  Indeed, some apples can be kept up to 1 year in storage facilities.

There’s also the concern of flavor- in my mind, not much compares to the variety and local flavor of the New England apple varieties that come out throughout the fall.  For me, I’m willing to wash well and take on a bit of spray for some sweet, seasonal macoun apples.   I make up for it by buying nearly everything else organic, and never buying apples out of season.  Life is about balance after all, as long as your conscious of your choices.

This varies from item to item.   When deciding which fruit/vegetable you’ll stick to organics on, I suggest this list from the Environmental Working Group, which lists the items they suggest only organic on, and which conventional items are best.

2.  Eggs

Eggs can be confusing.  There’s lots of advertising for “vegetarian fed!” eggs out there, as if it’s something to aspire to.  The problem with that is that chickens aren’t naturally vegetarians.  Rather, they eat grubs and bugs from the ground, turning what humans in many cultures would consider inedible beings into a high-nutrient super-food.  Cool, eh?

I always suggest finding high quality eggs that have been raised on pasture.   A good question to ask your farmer is “how long to the chickens roam outside?  In a pen outdoors is fine, as long as they have access to dirt and grubs.

If you must buy grain-fed chicken, always presume that they’re fed corn and soy, as they always are.  If you are sensitive to soy, as many people are, be careful.  I’d always purchase organic eggs, as this ensures the corn and soy your eggs grew on were not GMO, which has a whole host of other problems.

3. Meat: chicken & beef

These guidelines follow nearly the same ones as eggs.  None of the domesticated animals we consume ever naturally survived on grain, certainly not GMO grain.    Beef should be grass-fed and finished, chicken should have significant outdoor access.  The vendor’s at the farmer’s market should absolutely have the answers to these questions, and if they don’t then simply move on to the next stall.

4.  Breads, baked goods

Are bakers farmers?  Maybe not, but I know many of us are thrilled to have fresh boules in our bag when we get home, not to mention some sugary treats we couldn’t resist.  We’ll discuss the two main ingredients in bread and sweets, so you can make your decisions.

Wheat: While GMO wheat is not yet on the market in the US, it’s coming.   There is also some debate about how much of wheat has been contaminated with GMO varieties.  Of concern is also conventional wheat, which is also heavily sprayed with fungicides and insecticides.  For that reason, I suggest organic bread products, which are widely available.

Sugar:   In the US today, 50-60% of sugar comes from GMO sugar beets.  So it’s fairly safe to assume that unless you’re cookie is organic, it’s got plenty of GMO’s in it.   The good news is that organic sugar is widely available, from Costco to Whole Foods and ordering online, you can likely find it near you for your home-baked goods.

For more information on breads, and how to select the healthiest kinds see this post:

Now, that you’re armed with information and questions for your farmer, go shop, eat & enjoy!

 

Chocolate Class, May 18!

Chocolate class is coming up THIS SUNDAY! Sign up soon!

Nutrition Basics

This is the class you’ve been waiting for!  You’ll learn healthy ways to make one of the world’s most cherished foods.  All of the chocolate will be sugar free- and no artificial sweeteners either.chocolate

We’ll make both dark and white chocolate, and have lots of fun and samples along the way.   This will be a hands-on class so you can experience how easily healthy treats can be made.

As usual, this class will have nutritional information discussions so you can feel good about what you’re eating and help spread the word of good nutrition.

Class will be held a private residence in Westwood, MA and space is limited.  Please sign up by paying in advance here.  After sign-up, the address will be sent to you.

May 18, 2:30- 4:30 pm.

Cost: $45 in advance, $50 at the door

Class will be taught by Gena Mavuli a Traditional Foods…

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Bone broth for breakfast?! How?!

That’s right baby, in my house we drink bone broth for breakfast.  Not every day mind you, nor in big bowls of thick soup.  Rather, in OATMEAL!

No, I’m not kidding you. It’s rich and delicious, and the oatmeal still comes out buttery and sweet.  And you know what, it happens to be the best oatmeal I’ve ever had.  Yup, I’m tooting my own horn  My kids gobble it, my husband has (er, had) no idea, and I’ve sat there smugly enjoying the scene.

But wait, why should one eat bone broth for breakfast?  Because bone broth is one of the most healing foods you can eat, is extremely nutrient-dense, and is excellent for digestion and combating the many seasonal illnesses surrounding us.  Grains are by nature tough to digest, so adding bone broth to any grain dish is a good way to ease your stomach into digesting grains, or at least passing them through without tearing up your insides.

How do I do it?  Here’s the recipe!

Bone broth Breakfast Oatmeal

  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp (or big splash!) of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of bone broth
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (you can sub in raw milk or cream if desired)
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup of grade B or C maple syrup (or more, if desired)
  • 5 tablespoons of butter (or more, if desired)

Soak oatmeal, water and apple cider vinegar in a small pot overnight.   In the morning, mix in bone broth, coconut milk, and salt and cook for 5-10 minutes on low; be careful not to burn it.  Turn off stove and add in syrup and butter.  Then enjoy this rich, satisfyingly healthy goodness.

Do you want to know more about bone broth and how to make it?   Contact me and I’ll get you started:  holisticnutritionbasics@gmail.com