Sunday, December 30, 2012

Also from my hands--- food!

It's been a while since I was in a fiber state of mind. My hands have not been crafting due to RA stiffness and to my being consumed by El Rancho and all its inhabitants. However, I picked up my hook again and am nearly done with square #4 of the tablecloth mentioned in the last post. On the way to visit the family in Marble Falls, I seemed to pick up the rhythm like I had never left.

But even when I don't craft with fiber, I am still using my hands productively-- to make food --- which has fiber! I enjoy cooking when I have (or make) the time. When I was at Goat Camp in October as a sous chef (see Goat Camp Part II) , I reconnected with my foodie self. I've always known what a powerful drug food can be and now I am striving to make better food choices. 

Since I was diagnosed with RA, in the back of my mind were unconnected ideas about my health and food, simmering. I do not want to stay connected to Big Pharma on a daily basis forever. Recent research has shown that obesity, inflammation and other ills like diabetes, may all be caused by an imbalance in the gut microflora. These ideas finally came together when I read an article today about research being done at Texas A&M and other places related to unraveling the puzzle of our symbiotic relationship with microbes-- our microbiome-- in the American Gut Project. This is actually a cool research project that is NOT being funded by the government OR by Big Pharma-- it's being funded by individual donations. (Check it out and donate, heck participate!)

Rather than delve into a biology lesson, I'll move onto what I've been doing in the kitchen. First, I'm trying to cook my food. From scratch. I've always been a pretty good cook, but I'm trying to make meals that I can name all the ingredients and where they came from. Eat real food! For instance, tonight we are having Swiss Steak with braised cabbage and mashed potatoes. No mixes, kits, or boxes here. I am a CrockPot fiend, so I've had two of them going most of the day. Sure, I have to chop and sear and saute and such, but there are not hidden junky things in the pot. Just food. Yum.

I am also trying to rebuild my personal microbiome by ingesting good bacteria and getting rid of the bad ones. Most folks will think of yogurt immediately as a food having good bacteria, but many fail to realize that you need to be eating whole milk yogurt without the sugars and fruits put in there by someone else. Or better yet-- make your own! Add your own fruit and avoid the preservatives and colors and 'natural' flavors!

But there are billions of bugs that we need. Another way to rebuild your gut is to eat fermented foods, such as sauerkraut. So I started researching fermented foods and made some! So far, I have made apple-cranberry chutney (added cranberries, used cinnamon and nutmeg for spices), lemon confit, sauerkraut, and ginger spice carrot sticks (I did not use coriander). I did the apples first and have already moved them to the fridge and have begun eating them. The others were made yesterday and today and need to sit at room temp at least a week. 

The foods are not rotting because they are preserved by salt-- nature's first food preservative. Anaerobic bacteria are munching away in the brine, converting the fruits and veggies into pickles! Once the flavor is where you want it, you pop it in the fridge. (You can also do a pressure canning, but that kills the microbes).

Finally, something I learned about myself 20 years ago was that simple sugars and starches are not good for me. Whether you are talking Atkins, Weston Price, Dr Mercola, or a paleo dietician, all note the same thing (using different reasons and language). I lived a low(er) carb life until about 10 years ago and have decided to return to my whole food lifestyle-- this time with microbes!

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