Category Archives: Traditional Foods: How your ancestors ate

Benefits of Fermented Foods

Well the first question is what are fermented foods?  Simple answer:  Foods that have been produced or preserved by the action of beneficial bacteria such as kefir, yogurt, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, ketchup,  tempeh, cod liver oil, miso, pickles, water kefir, sourdough bread, kombucha, beet kavas, kimchi, wine, beer, etc.  Fermentation is actually an ancient method to preserve food and also enhances digestive health, flavor, and nutrient absorption.

Its common knowledge that your gut or digestive system is the key to your immune system.   And its important to read the label to ensure that the foods have been fermented properly as in  “live cultured”.  For example not all ketchup is made using a natural fermentation process.

Did you know that fermentation also positivity correlates to improved mental health by influencing brain health?  Recent research has found traditional dietary practices having a positive impact on mental health.  This includes reduced anxiety, improved mental outlook, nerve cell resiliency, and diminished perceptions of stress.  Beneficial bacteria helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation which are both contributors to aging and poor health.

What happens is that chronic inflammation causes increased permeability of the intestinal barrier (a normal intestinal barrier is very selective on what is allowed through).  When your intestinal lining is more porous then there is an increased access to the absorption of food antigens and environmental toxins, disturbed blood glucose control, and reduced nutrient availability1.  How amazing for us today to reap the health benefits of this ancient practice that has been around for close to 10, 000 years.  And we don’t even know or understand all the contributions of fermented foods to our health.

Interestingly to note is that when studying the traditional diets around the world, a broad diversity (more genre and species) of beneficial bacteria is found whereas a low range of microbial diversity is found in urban diets.   Those populations consuming the traditional diets consume a variety of fermented foods1.

Another study explains that increased levels of carotenoids, an antioxidant known to protect against stroke and angina, was found in the gut and blood of healthy subjects as compared to stroke victims. “Thus, the increased incidence of carotenoid-producing bacteria in the gut of healthy subjects may offer clues to explain how the gut metagenome (bacteria genes) affects disease states.”2  

How do I start out this process of incorporating fermented foods into my diet?  A great place to start is asking around to see if friends or family already practice the art of fermentation and set up a day for a hands on demonstration.  Or you can go to Cultures for Health.

1.  Selhub, Eva. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 33:2, 2014.

2.  University of Gothenburg. Changes in gut bacteria protect against stroke, research finds. Science Daily, 2012.

Great Coconut Flour Breads Recipes – Gluten Free too!

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Easy Sandwich Flatbreads

Check out these great Coconut Flour Bread Recipes by Radiant Life. I absolutely LOVE the coconut flour pumpkin bread (fabulous as a side for dinner or snack). What is fun for sandwiches is the Easy Sandwich Flatbread recipe.  You can get the bovine gelatin here:  Bernard Jensen’s Gelatin or Great Lake Gelatin

Note:  you can also add the gelatin to your homemade bone broth for added bone and collagen support.

Brief Overview of the Mediterranean Diet

Disclaimer:  I don’t promote eating one type of diet.  I recommend eating healthy foods grown or raised the traditional way.   I AM interested in digging deeper in any diet that does not use processed foods.  According to The Olive Oil Times article on The Mediterranean Diet Revisited, The Mediterranean Diet consists of:

  • Olive Oil
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Yogurt
  • Herbs and Spices

greekfoodguideLet’s break some of this down.   In the Mediterranean Diet, 40% of its calories come from fat, mainly in the form of olive oil.  Oh my 40%!!!???    “Don’t be afraid of olive oil, it actually protects you.” Remember to always ask yourself, “What type of fat am I eating?”  The old adage of calories in equals calories out holds true for maintaining a healthy weight.  Basically, you must exercise and not eat an excess of calories, however, it does benefit you to also eat “healthy” calories.  I like to think of it this way, “Your body does not use 500 calories of processed food and 500 calories of wholesome, earth born foods the same way.”  Remember there was an art to preparing traditional foods and using nutritional ingredients the proper way for a body to be strong and active.  Let’s tap into the past!

Ancient Wheat: Einkorn (7500 BC) – oh but you can get it today

What is Einkorn wheat?  You can think of Einkorn wheat as going back to the beginning before the hybridization of modern wheat.  Einkorn wheat is a purer form of modern wheat.  The first domestication of this wheat is was discovered to be at 7500 BC. (more on history here)

My first thought was –is it gluten free?  While Einkorn wheat contains does contain gluten, however, the form of the gluten has a different structure and its lower in gluten.  Here is a piece quoted from the company’s webpage:

“Einkorn is differs from modern wheat in 3 important ways, all of which may contribute to gluten intolerance (more on it differs from modern wheat here):

  • Most modern wheat is a hybrid of many different grains and grasses.
  • Einkorn has a 14 chromosomes , whereas modern wheat has a 42 chromosomes which changes the gluten structure
  • Einkorn is considered more nutritious than modern wheat, based on the higher level of protein, essential fatty acids, phosphorous, potassium, pyridoxine, and beta-carotene.”1

Where do I get Einkorn wheat?  You can buy it here in the berry form and its recommended to grind your own flour.  They also give a description of two types of flour grinders.

1.  Is Einkorn flour gluten free?

Where to buy raw milk, meat, and other pastured foods?

A little about food co-ops:  I am all about food co-ops!!  My parents had one out of our house growing up and all I thought of then was every two weeks all these kids came over and played in our backyard with us–so fun!  Unfortunately, the two companies are no longer doing food co-ops so where do I go?

For example, check out the Real Food Club.  The offer pastured foods from a Amish farm in Pennsylvania.  They follow the grass-based farming principles as outlined in the Weston A. Price Foundation.  If you get a group of friends together one person can place an order to save on shipping.  Ta Da!  You started your own food co-op.  Check this post out to find out all about pastured foods and eggs.  Also, go in together and split an order of half a cow (see below for links).

Places that sell grassfed pastured meat, eggs, and dairy products:


  • Jimbos
  • Whole Foods
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Sprouts



Eggs 101: What are the best types of Eggs to buy?

Eggs from pasture raised chickens wins for the best choice.  Yes, chickens were created to eat bugs and greens off the land which is partly why roaming free on a pasture makes their eggs higher in key nutrients.  Here are two nutrients highlighted: Omega-3 fatty acids are formed in the chloroplast of green leafs so chickens feeding off of the plants in the fields increase the content of that under consumed fatty acid and pass it onto their eggs.  Pastured chicken eggs also have ” 3-6  times more Vitamin D then hens raised in confinement.”Well that’s because they walk around in the sunshine all day.

One study1 found that when compared to commercial eggs, pastured eggs had:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fats
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more Omga-3 fatty acids
  • 7 times more beta carotene

Here is more on Omega-3 fatty acids:  “Omega-3s are called “good fats” because they play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most heart-friendly. People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Remarkably, they are 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack. Omega-3s are essential for your brain as well. People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer’s disease.”1

I also found this another article that breaks down all the definitions in relation to types of eggs you can buy: pastured raised, cage free, free range, organic, and conventional (click here for article).

One must be aware of “all vegetarian diet”.  That does not mean hens were allowed free range on a pasture.

1.  Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products:

Liver is Packed Full of Nutrients

My mom was looking up a recipe for liver pate which inspired this post.  Please note that if you are taking cod liver oil its best to skip it on the same day as consuming liver.  Here are my favorite articles:

Learning to Love Liver: A Simple Liver Pate

Benefits of Eating Liver: Our most nutrient dense food

Different Ways You Can Cook Liver for It to Taste Good  You can use virgin coconut oil  for cooking in any of the recipes as its a better oil to use for cooking at high heat.  If you ever get coconut oil and it doesn’t smell like coconuts then take it back to the store to exchange.  (Trader Joes has it for a good price.  I can’t go to fifty different stores to grocery shop so ya know I am sure you can find it cheaper somewhere else.)

Why I Don’t Eat Paleo or Primal

Fats: Anti-Inflamatory and Inflamatory

I have been interested in inflammatory foods vs. anti-inflammatory foods for some time now.  I came across this write up and figure its a great read with a bonus great chart. Click here for article.

Olive oil tip reminder: only buy cold-pressed, dark glassed bottles to reduce chance of rancidity

Fermented Cod Liver Oil or Fermented Cod Live Oil Blend (produced by Green Pastures): Oh gross!!  Well research is showing the health benefits outweigh “oh gross.” Many sources say the cinnamon flavor is best including me! My two year old eats it off the spoon (crazy) as well as the others–try it mixed in with juice or cereal or applesauce.  Its a excellent source of Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K2 as well as small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that are highly bio-available to your body (meaning they are absorbed well).

Article in a Nutshell

Inflammatory Fats:

  • Oxidized:  unsaturated oils exposed to high heat or light, olive oil or seed oil used for cooking in high heat
  • Hydrogenated Oils: taking a naturally unsaturated oil and making it solid at room temperature
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids (when consumed in large amounts without the added protection of omega-3 fatty acids):  found in seeds and grains

Anti-Inflammatory Fats:

  • Natural Saturated Fats:  butter, coconut oil, ghee
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  wild caught fish, egg yolks of pastured chickens, meats from pastured animals

Soaking Nuts and Seeds: Tapping Into the Traditional Ways

Check out this guide about the proper way to prepare nuts and seeds in order to increase the nutrient bioavailability to your body when you eat them.

Find it here: That’s Nuts! A Complete Guide to Soaking Nuts and Seeds

A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Interested in Tooth Decay and what you can learn from the traditional diets? This is an great link by Weston A. Price with a wealth of information.  It also has chapter and topic links so you don’t have to scroll through the whole thing.  Click here for the ebook.