Fire Cider

My mom first told me about fire cider. I was over at my parents’ house and was complaining about a sore throat. She handed me a bottle of liquid that smelled awful and instructed me to take a teaspoon. She didn’t tell me what was in it. Just to drink it. So I did (because it’s my mom). The taste wasn’t as bad as I thought. But I like garlic. A lot. A few more doses and my sore throat was gone and I was feeling back to my old self.

What was this liquid concoction? Fire Cider. It’s a popular folk remedy, inspired by the work of Rosemary Gladstar (an awesome herbalist from New England), that’s really easy to make. A few key ingredients, a month of sitting, and you have yourself a beverage that’s going to do wonders with either warding off a cold or helping get rid of it at the first signs of illness. And, with looking at all of the ingredients, it’s no wonder it’s called fire cider!

Fire Cider

  • 1/2 cup grated organic ginger
  • 1/2 cup fresh organic chopped horseradish root (This will open your sinuses when you chop it – be prepared!)
  • 2 medium organic onions, chopped
  • 10 organic garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 organic jalapeno, sliced thin
  • 1 organic lemon, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • 1 organic lime, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • 1 organic orange, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • 3 tbsp dried organic rosemary
  • 1 tbsp organic turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp organic cayenne powder
  • organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • raw local honey, to taste
  1. Stuff ingredients into a half-gallon jar, putting the roots on the top to hold the roots down below the vinegar line.
  2. Pour organic raw apple cider vinegar over everything, working out air bubbles and submerging everything.
  3. Put a piece of parchment under the lid, if using a metal lid, or use a glass or plastic lid. Store in a dark cool place and shake daily for one month.
  4. After one month, strain out the liquid using a cheesecloth and store in a clean jar. Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the pulp as possible. Add a bit of honey to taste (I usually add no more than 1/4 cup) and stir until incorporated.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for all of winter and take 1 tbsp daily to help boost your immune system and 2-3 tbsp if you start to feel a cold coming on!

 

On Being Grateful

Some of you might read this and wonder how a post on gratefulness really ties in with health and nutrition. Well, trust me. It does.

Exhibiting gratefulness isn’t something that has come naturally to me. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful – quite the contrary! But, showing someone my appreciation for their generosity, no matter how small, isn’t a natural-born quality. For years I had post-it notes around my house with phrases like “Attitude of Gratitude” and “Be Grateful for Today in All Things.” (Yes, that included being stuck in traffic.) They were on my door, on my dresser, on my vanity mirror in the bathroom, above the sink in the kitchen, in my car visor – the list went on and on! I knew this was a handicap to life and that it needed to change.

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Polish Hunter’s Stew

If you’ve never had Polish Hunter’s Stew, known as Bigos, it’s fantastic! Traditionally a winter stew that was made to help pump the lifeblood back into someone (let’s be honest, Polish winters are brutal), you don’t have to be a fan of sauerkraut to enjoy it. The flavors mute while cooking and the result is a fantastic creamy stew that is so so so fantastic, all you want to do is eat and eat and eat. I’ve had worse problems in life than wanting to eat all the bigos. Homemade sauerkraut is best for this dish – I make my sauerkraut by the 2 liter container and weight out how much I need. You can buy sauerkraut for this dish, but make sure it’s a good quality sauerkraut, many of the canned stuff and even the “barrel cured” brands have cruddy additives in it.

This is one stew that really does get better with age. It was about day 3 of leftovers and everything was enhanced and fantastic. Enjoy it the first night and love it a few days in! Either way, here’s a fantastic stew if you find yourself with a superabundance of homemade sauerkraut (not that that ever really happens in my household).

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Common Is Not Normal

We love statistics. Okay, we may not love stats class (I cried my way through it in college), we love looking at statistics. How much alike are we to others? What percentage is voting for whom? Or not voting at all? How many women will get heart disease? Get my drift? Statistics rule our world and help us calculate what risks we may or not take.

But statistics also normalize behavior. And make us think that things that aren’t normal are.

What do I mean? For starters, over the past few decades, the incidence of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) has increased, with women now reporting PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder aka PMS on steroids). Don’t believe me? Ask women who are a few generations older than you. Chances are, they won’t remember being home from school or work for days on end with cramps. We’re told by the medical establishment that most women suffer from some level of PMS. So, all of a sudden, it’s considered a normal side effect of Aunt Flo.

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Probiotic Ketchup

Some people are the ketchup with fries people. And I have yet to understand them. I’ve always been the fries with ketchup person. As in, “Yes. I did just go through half a bottle of ketchup in one sitting, why do you ask?” So when I started becoming more aware of what I was eating in ketchup – high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, additives, “natural flavors” – whatever those mean, MSG, gluten (WHY does gluten have to be in ketchup?!) and random chemicals that even my five hundred courses in biology, chemistry and nutrition didn’t set me up to understand, I knew it was time to look elsewhere.

My first course of action was to buy “safe” ketchup at the store. There are some great brands out there of ready-made ketchup (and the manufacturers don’t use BPA in their bottles, either!  Here’s a few if ready-made is more your cup of tea:

Annie’s Organic Ketchup
Woodstock Farms Organic Ketchup
Nature’s Promise Organic Ketchup
Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Ketchup
Muir Glenn Organic Ketchup

I tend to stay away from Heinz and Hunt’s – I disagree with their use of and support of GMO products and their lobbying against a consumer’s right to know what’s GMO and what’s not GMO. Even though both make an organic line, I just can’t bring myself to support them and take my business elsewhere.

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Taco Seasoning Mix

I recently purchased a bunch of grass-fed beef and the cow is in process so… I have to clean out my freezer. Which means I eat my older beef as quickly as possible. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? This morning it was taco meat. I ate it with some scrambled eggs and guacamole for a delish high-fat/high-calorie meal (it’s cold, windy and rainy over here in Western Oregon). I guess you could say I’m jonesing for more tropical climates… or San Diego. Which ever is cheapest.

Okay. So, here’s my super easy recipe. I make a whole bunch of it up at once and buy my spices organic and in bulk. There are probably places that you can do this from wherever you live. Here in Portland, we have Bob’s Red Mill over in Milwaukie. They have bulk organic spices and really reasonable prices. I buy my own spice jars and have cute labels. Heck. I even alphabetize my spices. Don’t judge me. You know you do it, too. First and second letter.

Once I’ve made a mega batch of taco seasoning mix, I dump it in a half-pint mason jar and put a lid on it. I mark on the lid my ratio – 1 ½ tbsp mix (sometimes I feel like having a bit more zip and throw more in) to a half cup of water. Below is the recipe for a single batch and is for a pound of beef. If cooking more beef, simply double, triple, etc the recipe. When I make my large quantities, I usually make 6 batches at once – those are included in the parenthesis. Enjoy!

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Sauerkraut

I have another recipe for sauerkraut on my website but this one is so much easier to make! A few months ago, I had a few clients who were unable to pound sauerkraut so I started using this method instead and found the texture to be much more enjoyable! It’s a simple sauerkraut and can be forgotten between turnings – which makes it perfect for those who don’t have enough time to make it in one sitting! It’s also gentle on joints, as it requires no pounding, and is much less messy. (Pounding sauerkraut seems to go every which way sometimes except for in the bowl.)
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Fermented Zucchini Noodles

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Zucchini noodles are a tasty alternative to wheat-based noodles but can often be a tad bit soggy. “Wetting” the noodles with some salt can help firm them up a bit when they are cooked, but they can still be soggy. Fermented zucchini noodles, on the other hand, don’t get soggy. Ever. At least not in the gazillions of times that I’ve made them.

You’ll want a Spiralizer – either one that sits on the counter or a handheld tool. It just makes life easier in every aspect. In the summer, our Spiralizer is a permanent fixture on the counter. And, spiralizing veggies is a fun and creative way to get kids to eat their veggies (hint, hint, parents). Other tools needed will include a jar with sealable lid, sea salt, weight and filtered water.
 
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Liver Burgers

Okay. These sound gross, I’ll admit. And that’s not a good selling point at all. But, at least I’ve learned a thing or two since I was 5 years old and I no longer call a burger a “booger” (my parents thought it was quite funny, btw). So know that I have your attention… and managed to embarrass myself all in one fell swoop. Liver burgers. Yea. That’s right. It’s the super organ that everyone needs to eat and no one wants to eat. Auth Ethel’s liver and onions? No thank you. (And no, I don’t have an Aunt Ethel and apologize to anyone who does. I’m sure she’s lovely.) Pâté

? Well, I like it now. So that argument is moot. But I used to think it was nasty. 

(So this photo – it’s the only one I have of the burger and was taken on my super ancient iPhone 4s.)

Incorporating liver in your diet should be a necessity. Unfortunately in the United States, we view organ meats and sub-par. Why have organ meats, the most nutrient-dense of the whole animal, when you can have a nice flank steak? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good marinated flank steak as much as the next person… but it just doesn’t match up for the vitamin powerhouse that organ meats provides. In fact, according to an arcticle by Chris Kresser, organ meats contain 10 to 100 times the nutritional benefit than corresponding muscle meats. (He also has a nifty chart comparing the nutrition of liver against other foods.) Organ meats were once so prized in traditional cultures that they were given first to the pregnant and women of child-bearing years. Talk about a super prenatal! 

If you’re not ready to take the liver and onions plunge, and I’m there with ya so don’t worry, than hiding it in your muscle meat might be the way to go. I usually direct my clients with putting a ¼ lb of ground liver in with 1 lb grass-fed/organic/pasture-raised/etc ground beef. They look at me like I’m crazy. Or have a new growth growing out of my face and it suddenly appeared. Either way, it’s the easiest way to hide the flavor. Yes, it does taste slightly gamey. But it’s not bad. In fact, the flavor is like a mild venison. And who doesn’t love venison?! 

To grind the liver, thaw in cold water and blend in blender until it’s all broken up. Or, if you have a fancy meat grinder, you may use that. Cutting it on the cutting board also works but if you’re trying to hide it from a picky eater, the pieces might be too big. 

Liver Burgers

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ¼ lb ground liver (see above)
  • ½ tsp ground dried organic onion
  • ½ tsp ground dried organic garlic
  • pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cook as you would any burger. And top with your favorite toppings. Might I recommend my Fermented Ketchup

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