Tag Archives: nutrition

Holistic Nutrition, Holistic Agriculture, Holistic Living!

I’m thrilled to be sharing this guest post today. Brenda Baran is a nutritional therapy practitioner and a fellow blogger at Nourished Living Network. She and her partner Levi are also revitalizing a farm and working to raise funds to do so. Today she talks about the relationship between the health of the person and the health of the land.

The human body is very complex and our environments are also very complex. This is why one answer does not fit all when it comes to diet and health. There is no one perfect diet for everyone. The perfect diet for someone depends on so many variables including their ancestry, how active their lifestyle is, how old they are, how toxic their environment is, etc. This is why when one truly practices holistic medicine, focusing on bio-individuality is essential.

Not only is considering bio-individuality essential, but also discovering the underlying cause of whatever issue or issues a person may be dealing with. For example, instead of giving someone a topical cream for a skin condition, like eczema or acne, we find out what is leading to the skin issue. Is it a nutrient deficiency? Deficiencies in vitamin A, D, and imbalances in fatty acids can lead to skin issues. Is it a toxicity issue? Sometimes we detox through the skin more when our other detox pathways are struggling. Is it an immune issue? Parasites can lead to skin issues. Is digestion working properly? Leaky gut can lead to skin issues. So on and so forth. 


The “Foundations of Health” according to Nutritional Therapy Practitioners include:

  • Digestion
  • Blood Sugar Balance
  • Mineral Balance
  • Fatty Acid Balance
  • Hydration
  • Properly Prepared Nutrient Dense Diet.

What this means is that it is very important to assure that these foundations are all working properly in the body before moving on to more complex detailed things like hormone imbalances or mood issues for example. If someone is not able to digest their foods then they are not able to make hormones or neurotransmitters efficiently which could be an underlying cause to hormone imbalances or mood issues as we literally are what we absorb and digest. Another example would be migraines. Instead of giving someone pain killers you would first make sure to rule out food sensitivities (digestion), hypoglycemia (blood sugar balance), magnesium deficiency (mineral balance), an imbalance of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (fatty acid balance), water intake (hydration), processed, toxin rich foods (properly prepared nutrient dense diet) which are all known to contribute to migraines. 


The human body is not the only complex system on this planet. There are endless systems that are complex, work with, and depend on one another. It seems like most of us are starting to realize that maybe the standard American diet (SAD) is not the best way. Many of us are even starting to get that conventional medicine might not always be the best answer to certain things and that conventional farming might not be in our best interests. The hard part is knowing how to change, knowing where to start, how to transition. 

My partner Levi Meeuwenberg and I, Brenda Baran, at Realeyes Homestead have a vision to not only try to live holistically but also help others to do the same. My passion is holistic nutrition and Levi’s passion is permaculture, a type of holistic agriculture. We are working on building Realeyes Homestead by combining both passions! We would like to make Realeyes Homestead a working model and demonstration site not only for our local community but also for our online community. 

 draw brilliant theories

Learn more about what we are doing on our website RealeyesHomestead.com and check out our Permaculture Farm Design Plan

If you are interested in and believe in what we are doing please help support this vision by contributing to, or sharing our campaign at RealeyesHomestead.com/Indiegogo 

Thank you!

Brenda & Levi at Realeyes Homestead

 Support Our Cause

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Friday Reviews: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead


If you’re a foodie type person, you may have heard of this week’s selection. Fat, sick & nearly dead chronicles the journey across America of Joe Cross, an Australian who was once very heavy and suffered from an autoimmune disorder. In a quest to reclaim his health he started juicing and spoke to people around the country about dieting. He also tried to get them to start juice fasts. Along the way he found a few, including another heavy man with autoimmune disease named Phil Staples. During the film both men lost weight, and in Cross’s case, he was able to go off his medications.

First, I am going to give my review of the movie and then tell you why I feel that way. In a thumbs up/down sort of way, I give this movie a down, but I still would advise you to watch it. Juicing has become quite popular, and I disagree with many things said in this film. Now that I have seen it, I can tell you why I feel that way.

Juicing is not a panacea

I am well aware of the popularity of this method of getting plant matter in to the body. I like plants, I eat them every day. But I EAT them. While juicing in the short term may be a good idea, especially for people with digestive issues, chewing is a vital part of the digestive process. This is how we build both saliva and stomach acid which helps the body to take in all those nutrients. Plus I wonder how much of the fiber gets taken in with this method. If you can tell me for certain, feel free to comment.

Second, can someone please explain this fetish to put raw, cruciferous vegetables into their juice? Uncooked kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and their cousins are rich in oxalic acid, which can cause kidney stones. Not something I would consider to be a healing food when consumed in large amounts. You are much better off cooking them. In fact, there is evidence that cooking food is a big reason why hominids evolved bigger brains.

Show me your agenda

A group called the Nutritional Research Foundation was a big influence in this film, and Cross is a member of said organization. You can see from their “About us” page:

Although the NRF recognizes that a vegan diet is not always necessary for everyone, we thoroughly believe in conducting our work with a humanitarian spirit and the utmost of scientific integrity.

I’m pretty blatant in my thinking that an omnivorous diet is the best option for the majority of humans, which is why I write this blog. I’m also up front about it, and will note that I receive no money from anyone to state my feelings. We’ve got a nice promotional piece from them here.

Food is not your enemy

I think this is my biggest issue with the documentary but also the best reason to watch it. We are seeing documentation of the warped, dysfunctional relationship people in our culture (and spreading around the world) have with food. Even the word “diet” carries a lot of weight. No pun intended. Diet, in its basic form, describes the type and amount of food consumed by a person on a daily basis. At its core, it is not a restricted eating plan meant to keep us skinny but also obsessing about what is “good” and “bad” to go in to our mouths. Incidentally, the subtext of this movie seems to be that meat and processed food-like products are both equally horrifying and should be avoided at all costs. Meat is not junk food! Consuming fat does not make you horrible! In fact, you’re going to need that fat for your micronutrients.

The doctors in the film loved praising micronutrients, and I will agree there. Getting vitamins and minerals in your diet is essential to health. But somehow they missed that some of these vitamins work best when consumed with a fat. Vitamins A and D are among the fat-soluble group, meaning you need to taken in a fat in order for them to function best. Also, no one must have told them about foods like oysters, rich in vitamin B12, or butter packed with vitamin A, or liver and its iron, or heart meat with CoQ10.

They also seem to forget the necessity of the macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

I also HAVE to cover the food relationship aspect more. One, that dieting bit I mentioned above? Has been proven not to work. Don’t believe me? Stay tuned to these reviews and I will give you a list of reasons why in a few weeks. Second, only relying on juicing for calories throughout the day seems like a great way to limit calories. Which also means sending your body into starvation mode and setting up the triggers which could make you gain more weight. But if we eat, we could eat too much too easily in this society (on that I will agree, again, more on that later this month), and if we eat too much we could get fat and that’s such a sin.

I don’t care how much I spoil the upcoming review. Thin does not automatically lead to good health, nor does being heavy mean you are doomed to a lifetime of health problems.

There was one scene in which a stomach was shown to have a small quantity of (liquid) oil in it and another full of produce. Both supposedly being equal to 400 calories and supposed to show that eating plants all the time will nourish you. Again, why the demonization of fat? Or the implication that a small amount isn’t filling? I don’t know about the rest of you but a small portion of protein and fat rich food does a great job of sating my hunger. Paté anyone?

“I’m tired and craving meat”

Some of the realities of the juicing shown in the movie sent up red flags for me. One of the women who was doing the juicing, who said she was not a big fan of meat in general, found herself craving barbecue during her fast. Several participants said that they were feeling low energy doing the fast. When your eating plan has you wanting to spend all your time in bed, there is a problem.  A woman interviewed on the street in the film said she had tried fasting but it did not work for her.

Not all fasts are created equal.

Cross mentions that some religions have a tradition of fasting during the year. This is true. We’re right at the end of Ramadan right now, the time when Muslims fast while the sun is in the sky. In a few weeks there will be Rosh Hoshana, when observant Jews maintain a similar fast. Lent for Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also come with some strict rules as to what can be consumed.

But I don’t see juicing in any of those fasts. Nor do I see any of the people juicing in the movies taking time for spiritual reflection and retreating from the world. Cross has also said that he does his juicing plan (known as Reboot) several times a year. I have to wonder what kind of stress this can put on his body over the long term.

Which leads to another problem I have with this plan. People need to eat and need calories. A limited diet like this could lead to later problems, like the previously mentioned diet fail or even malnutrition.

How much is that juicer?

The tag line for my blog is “real food is for everyone.” Meaning that I think all people can eventually eat in this way and benefit. In the film, Phil Staples goes in to a few stores to buy his daily vegetables, ostensibly to prove how affordable it is.

How nice that he was given a juicer and did not have to drop a few hundred dollars for one.

Final thoughts

One, someone please find the man who was eating liver and onions in the diner!

Two, no one eating plan is going to work for everyone. I know plenty of people who have had great results following other diets, like gluten free, primal, paleo, dairy free, et cetera. You need to listen to your body and determine which foods benefit you and which cause problems.

I want to see some long-term tracking on Cross and Staples. Do they stick with the plan? Do they ever “cheat”?

Have any of you seen this movie? What do you think of it?

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Politically Incorrect Nutrition – a review

The world of food and nutrition gets more confusing every day. One day a food, or a drink for that matter, is praised as the answer to more prayers than we might count, and the next it’s being demonized by the media. It can be hard to keep up and you may just wish you could bury your head in the sand and be done with it.

If you’re looking for a new viewpoint on what’s safe and what is not safe to put in your body, you need look no further than the book Politically Incorrect Nutrition

Michael Barbee has written a great book covering both food and modern practices, some of which are supposed to be safe and even good for you, and some considered anathema. It’s a great introduction to a lot of the principles found within traditional foods and in a much easier form to digest, at only 165 pages.

Among the topics covered:
*Microwaves may not be as innocuous as they seem, as they do not heat food in the same way as a direct source of heat would. Foods developed carcinogens and the bioavailability of nutrients decreased;
*While green tea is full of antioxidants, it is also packed with a cocktail of industrial chemicals, including pesticides;
*Aspartame is another carcinogen which continues to get sold as a sugar alternative. (I do remember hearing about this long before I started eating tradition foods and it floors me that it’s still available on the shelves and so heavily promoted);
*Instead of prventing cavities, water fluoridation can make teeth worse;
*Soy is far from the healthy food it has been sold as;
*Cholesterol and eggs are not the enemy of good health;
*How one can become malnourished on a vegetarian diet;
*and more! I am not about to spoil the whole book by listing everything. Go out and buy it, or check it out from your local library.

For the scientifically minded or skeptics in the audience, Barbee very thoroughly documents every chapter with extensive footnotes, citing well-respected scientific journals in his research. His writing is also very clear and to the point. Each chapter also concludes with tips on either integrating or eliminating the chapter topic into/from your diet. He provides a great deal of food for thought, along with resources to explore topics further.

This is a great book for a lot of different people. For the experienced traditional foodie, you get talking points and perhaps something you didn’t know about before (for example, I was unaware of the issue with green tea). For someone just getting started, its size making the book very portable and not intimidating in its length. For the skeptic, you get information and respected sources as backup.

This is definitely a great addition to any real food library!

Have you read any good books recently relating to traditional food?

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I’m sharing this post at Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, Sunday School, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

Healthy is in the eye of the beholder

Recently a friend of mine posted to Twitter that she was eating eggs for a snack, because she wanted to eat healthier and was using a list she’d found online. Now, I am all in favor of eating eggs. They’re delicious and, when laid by healthy chickens, are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Since there are still some sources saying eggs are bad for you, especially if you eat the yolk (which is where just about all the good stuff lives), I admit I was curious to see this list and sent her a message to tell her. She was happy to oblige and admitted she was glad I had said something about it. Guess my blogging is paying off, even if I am not a formal expert in any sense of the word on these matters.

(Incidentally, if you ever have a question for me, you can always @message me on Twitter or leave a comment on my Facebook page.)

So, on to this list. I’ve been feeling testy lately with the way “healthy” gets banded around to sell foods. Remember when a certain puffed rice cereal was claiming it could prevent bird flu? That sort of thing, only not quite so extreme in their presentations.

At first, given that the domain was whfoods.com, I confess that I was a little concerned it might be from Whole PaycheckFoods, who have been promoting more of a “plant-based” diet. It’s not their work and for that alone I give it a thumbs up. The list has some great foods and ideas on it… and some things which had me utterly cringing.

The Good
I think I am in awe. There is CHICKEN LIVER on this list! Liver, rich in vitamins like A and K2 and a sacred food in many cultures. Huzzah! We may be bringing back offal yet. There is also a nice selection of seafoods; some good meats; a lack of refined sugar, wheat, and salt; nuts; vegetables, fruits; natural sweeteners; and some highly nutritious grains.

The list featured at the bottom highlights very good points about healthy foods: nutrient dense, which has been something of a key phrase among people following traditional food diets; whole foods; familiar foods (aka you don’t have to look to exotic places to find the good stuff); available; affordable; and tasty. All things I can get behind!

But there’s a lot on this list that bothers me.

The Bad
Item one: Where is all the good fat? The only fat listed in this collection is olive oil. Certainly it’s not a bad fat, but it does somewhat contradict one of their points. Olive oil was originally found in the Mediterranean, which is a far distance from the United States. Granted there are not people growing olive trees in this country, but its adoption into the American diet is a fairly recent one.
Apparently, unless you count the nuts and fish, there is no such thing as a healthy fat. Yes yes, I know what the current thinking says about fat. I hate to break it to you, traditional fats are not going to make you fat. You’re much more likely to get fat, and do a lot of damage to your healthy, by eating the “modern” fats like margarine, hydrogenated oils, and the ubiquitous bottled suff dominating the shelves of supermarkets today. Fats used 100 years ago, like BUTTER and animal fats solid at room temperature, are both much easier for your body to properly process but also contain a slew of nutrients critical for good health.
The grains give me a lot of pause as well. First, it is very difficult for people to digest whole grains in their natural state. This is why traditional cultures would often soak, sprout, and ferment their grains to remove anti-nutrients and make them much easier to digest. In the case of quinoa, the list is again breaking its rule of familiar, as quinoa is grown in South America and has only recently seen a high demand in Western culture. Additionally, that demand has led to a major price hike in the countries of origin. The New York Times had an article about this earlier in the year (and woe to my degree I can’t find a link for it) that this has been a boon to farmers but a bust to the people who depended on quinoa as a major source of protein. They’ve had to turn to imported, overly-processed and imported cheap food instead of the food upon which their ancestors had relied for generations. Finally, unless you buy organic, the corn you’re eating is very likely genetically engineers. GE food has yet to be proven safe for long term human consumption. Also consider if you want to eat food which has a trademark attached to it.
If you’re interested in this topic I highly recommend the documentaries The Future of Food and King Corn, both of which I reviewed here

The Ugly
I’ve got three bits of ugly for you.
First, the “lean” meats. Why lean? As I noted above, fat isn’t bad for you. In a healthy animal you WANT fat. Not to mention, what is so wrong with eating beef? It’s very worth your while to find a source for grass-fed beef, not to mention more organ meats from both beef and the animals listed. More liver, more kidneys, more hearts. If you’re worried about so many animals being killed for specific cuts, expand what you’ll put on your plate. Organ meats were not originally included in the diet to gross out kids. They were eaten FIRST (and predators do this anyway) because they were where you found the most nutrient-dense bits of the animal.
Secondly, what is with that dairy section? Low fat dairy only? Are you mad? Again note The Skinny on Fats. Dairy fat is not your enemy. Again, when the animal is healthy, that fat does a lot for your health. Besides, skim milk tastes pretty bad. I thought the healthy food was supposed to be delicious. For that matter, when fat gets stripped out of things like yogurt, sugar is put in its place for flavor. THIS is where the problem lies. You’ve taken a food which people in eastern Europe cited as the key to their good health (remember ads for yougurt in the 1980s?) and put something in it which causes a slew of issues.
Finally, the soy. An issue I have yet to really cover in this blog. To sum it up though, soy is not the health food it’s been sold to be. In its unfermented state (a la soy milk, texturized vegetable protein, soybean oil), it is full of anti-nutrients, estrogen-boosting compounds, and has actually become one of the more prevalent allergens in the United States due to being found in so many processed foods. It’s also another one of those foods you are likely to find genetically engineered.

Thank you Monsanto.

Lists like this is why I feel very skeptical whenever I see a food blazoned with that “healthy” label. Consider what falls under that category right now.
HEALTHY! (Whatever that means in the next five minutes)
Low fat
Low calorie (you need a certain amount of calories per day just to maintain bodily function. Going below this and putting yourself into starvation mode is a great way to make yourself sick. No wonder why such diets don’t work and people “cheat” on them.)
Vegetarian and Vegan (since animal products are not inherently “bad” for you and the lack thereof does not mean it’s full of good stuff. If the ingredient list reads more like a chemistry lab experiment instead of recognizable food, it’s not real food.)

This is why I no longer describe food as “healthy,” instead calling it nutritious. Or at least when I consider it to be such.

So what do you think of the list? And what is on your roster of “healthy” foods?

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I’m sharing this post at Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday, and Fight Back Friday.

Building a real food and health library

This photo is part of The Commons, an awesome public domain collection of photography.

I love books. I suppose that makes sense. Whenever I have a few minutes of free time to fill, I’m usually reading. I work in a library. I’m almost done with my master’s degree in information and library science. And I also love buying books. While I may not always buy books when I go in to a bookstore, it’s nearly guaranteed I will find something I want on the shelves. So when I started shifting into a traditional food diet in 2009, I started looking for reading material in addition to Real food: what to eat and why and Nourishing Traditions. In the interim I have collected a lot of titles related to food, along with more books about healing and tending to the home. This collection is certain to grow too. As a matter of fact I have a copy of Renewing America’s Food Traditions en route.

Not all titles will include commentary from me, so any words you might want to share about these titles would be awesome.

Traditional food-specific books
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morrell–if there is a bible of traditional food, this is certainly it. Not just a collection of recipes but also a good course in real nutrition.
Politically Incorrect Nutrition by Michael Barbee–I’m hoping to read this soon.
The Real Food Revival by Sherri Brooks Vinton and Ann Clark Espuelos
The Schwarzbein Principle by Diana Schwarzbein and Nancy Deville
Traditional Foods are your Best Medicine by Ronald F. Schmid (maybe this should be in health?)
Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice
Frugavore by Arabella Forge–I promise to review this before summer!
The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates–there will be a post on this soon as I am transitioning into the diet.
Death by supermarket by Nancy Deville
The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla Daniel
Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan and Luke Shanahan
The Lost Art of Real Cooking by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger–This appeared as a suggestion on Amazon, and for such a cheap price I had to snatch it up right away. Can’t wait to dig in to this one!
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith–Reading this, but I think I may start from the beginning again. Yes it’s that good. She’s fleshed out a lot more of the reasons I have for not distinguishing between eating plants and animals.
Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon Morrell
Real Food: what to eat and why by Nina Planck–the reason why I started this path in the first place.

The Joy of Cooking (All new, all purpose edition) by Irma Rombauer–I want the 75th anniversary edition. My mother has an earlier edition, which includes a to DIE for pumpkin chiffon pie as well as recipes for PIGEON!
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman–Between this, Joy of Cooking, and Nourishing Traditions, I can find a recipe for cooking almost any food item I find.
Cooking for Dummies by Bryan Miller and Marie Rama–One of these days I should read this. My personality is more of a baker type. I can’t just pick out ingredients and whip up something. I like detailed instructions.
The Garden of Eating by Rachel Albert-Matesz and Don Matesz–Heard about this from Our Natural Life podcast and had to grab it. Probably should be up in the traditional food section, since a lot of her material in here is based on Weston A. Price-related research.
Tender Grassfed Meat by Stanley Fishman–Another one for the TF section. If you’re making the move into grass-fed and pastured meat but can’t seem to cook it well, you NEED this book. Stanley’s blog of the same name is a great read too.
Solo Suppers by Joyce Goldstein–A lot of pasta but still some great ideas. Along with chicken livers!
Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert
Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin
More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin–Ever need a quick food idea? Both of these books should be in your kitchen.
The Food Substitutions Bible by David Joachim–A Yule gift from this past season. Already has made its worth known by presenting me with a cream substitute on New Year’s. (Incidentally, that would be 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter.)

General Food Writing
The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten–Want to be a good food writer? Read this book. Yeah, he praised oleo in the 90s. But Salad the Silent Killer should be assigned to anyone and everyone who thinks a plant based diet is automatically better for you.
The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky
The United States of Arugula by David Kamp
Food Security for the Faint of Heart by Robin Wheeler
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan–The potato section was quite an eye-opener.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan–How many of you got started on this journey because of this book?
In Defense of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
Diet for a Hot Planet by Anna Lappe

Health and Healing books
The Herb Book by John Lust–I can’t wait to have time to study herbalism
Take Care of Yourself by Donald Vickery and James Fries
Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women’s Health Collective
The Fourfold Path to Healing by Thomas Cowan–the companion to Nourishing Traditions, and if I move to the San Francisco area I intend to become a patient of Dr. Cowan. I know how to get to his office already, thanks to a good fluke.
New Choices in Natural Healing from Prevention Magazine–THIS is my go-to book when I am not feeling well.
American Folk Medicine by Clarence Meyer
Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch
A Woman’s Own Remedy Box by Amy Conway

Home economics
I am a domestic goddess at heart.
Make your place by Rayleigh Briggs
Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson
Country Wisdom Almanac by Storey
Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes–I read this in December. No, let me rephrase: I DEVOURED this book in December. In an ideal world I will someday be among the ranks.

The Virtual Library
Hokti’s Recipe Book of Creek Indian Foods–Traditional foodies will likely squeal at this one. The first recipe is for a corn drink which starts with the corn being soaked in ash water. For those who don’t know, this process breaks down antinutrients in the corn and makes it much more nutritious.
Feeding America, a collection of historical cookbooks. I think I want to start collecting these. If anyone knows where I might find them for a reasonable price, please share.

What books are on your real food and healing shelves? Is there anything here you love? Or loathe? Any titles you think EVERYONE needs to know about?

I’m sharing this post over at Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, and Monday Mania.