Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happy / Diversifying Fats / "Nourishing Traditions"

I just left my desk for a moment to run to the ladies room.  On the way, a coworker approaching from the opposite direction stopped me and said, "Kate, you look amazing!"  She continued, "you've lost a load of weight."  It was so spontaneous and honest!  It was so nice to hear!  I've been feeling crappy for a while, and this immediately elevated me to a happy state.  Even before the compliment though, I noticed that today was a headache and grump-free day.  I feel more like myself.  What have I changed!!?

Well, I am still taking the progesterone.  The MD got back to me, and told me that, yes progesterone can cause headaches and that is probably what is going on at the moment.  It should stop once I'm off of the progesterone.  The MD told me I could go off of it if I really needed to right now.  I only have a few days left, so I am going to stick with it.  She said that there is really no way to know whether the progesterone will cause headaches again when/if I have to take it next month. 

I had a high-fat, high protein meal last night for dinner, and frankly, I felt amazing afterwards.  I made meat, veggie and cheese-stuffed eggplant, with raisins, middle-eastern spices, and almonds.  It was flipping fantastic.  I had a hardboiled egg for breakfast today, and leftover eggplant for lunch.  (I'm telling you, this recipe was a killer.  I took care to use a few different fats – lard, organic butter, EVOO – to make sure I get the benefit from each one, ala Nourishing Traditions.  I'm going to post it once I clean it up a bit.  The procedure I used is a little confusing, and would benefit from being streamlined.  These would make GREAT meatballs.  My family loved the recipe, even Picky Daughter Who Disdains Mama's Creative Cooking.)

I am starting to wonder if I need more and better fat in my diet.  Heretofore, my focus has been on increasing protein and lowering carbohydrates.  I have been eating a lot of dairy, and getting fat from there, as well as from the protein I eat.  Truthfully, though, the animal protein usually ends up being lower in fat, just because I like chicken and fish, and because red meat tends to be more expensive than poultry, so I buy it less frequently.  I wonder if I'm not getting enough fat, especially healthy saturated fat.

I've started reading Nourishing Traditions.  Reading this book has been a learning experience for me.  I saw interviews with its authors, Sally Fallon (from Weston A. Price Foundation) and Dr. Mary Enig, on Tom Naughton's documentary, Fathead.  I also saw a link to this book on Mr. Naughton's website, which I enjoy reading.  So, I picked NT up and started to go through the book.  Well… it is so much more than a book about low-carb (its actually NOT about low-carb, particularly...although it discourages refined sugar consumption, it encourages the consumption of fruits, unrefined sugars, and sprouted grain products, which are starches).  It is really a book about returning to traditional foods and methods of food preparation, for the purposes of eliminating toxins from the body and of getting the maximum nutrition out of the food that we eat.  The recommended way of eating is, well, a little intimidating.  Here are a couple of things that I have picked up so far, that I have been incorporating into my diet:

  1. Diversifying fats: I have begun to diversify the fats that I use when cooking, where before I relied mostly on olive oil, supplemented periodically with cheap, salted butter.  The authors of NT really take the time to explain the benefits and risks associated with consuming various types of fats.  Here's what I remember: animal fats are very high in stearic acid; fresh, organic butter contains healthy medium chain triglycerides; coconut oil contains significant quantities of lauric acid; olive oil contains health oleic acid; and flaxseed oil contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids and has an appropriate balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.  So, when I made my low-carb brownies the other night, I used coconut oil and butter together.  When I made my eggplant last night, I used butter, lard and olive oil.

  1. Eating organic: Although NT recommends that all of your foods be of the highest possible quality, organic, free-range, cage-free, animal products from animals fed on pasture, that is really hard to do and super expensive.  They give really good reasons for that.  I'm going to put my toe in to these waters, and make sure that my eggs and dairy are organic, that my meat is hormone and antibiotic free, and that my onions and potatoes are organic (not that I eat potatoes…but my family does).  Apparently, the stuff they spray on non-organic onions and potatoes to keep them from sprouting early can be harmful. 

Here are the two things that make me nervous: 

  1. Lacto-fermentation: I am not a shy cook, by any means.  The daughter of a professional chef knows many food preparation methods and has a number of handy tricks up her sleeve, gastronomically-speaking.  However, lacto-fermentation (pickling, culturing, etc. without pasteurization) is something that I am just not trained to do.  Honestly, I made crème fraiche a few months ago (this is a product of lacto-fermentation), and I was a little scared to eat it (you take heavy cream, add buttermilk and salt, and let the mixture sit out at room temperature to culture for about 8-12 hours, it thickens and sours and is like a lighter version of sour cream).  I did eat it, and it was delicious.  I would probably eat it again.  Even if I would eat it, I don't know that I would feel comfortable feeding it to my child.  Pickling is something that people have done for millennia – my grandmother even periodically makes her own, homemade, crock pickles (very Polish).  However, it doesn't mean that the prospect of allowing certain foods to sit out unrefrigerated for long periods of time is something that I am comfortable with.  I would like to try this out, but I am a little hesitant.  (And I have very clear memories of my mother being horrified by Babci's pickles).  I am going to try to make NT's salsa recipe, and feed it to my husband.  The high salt and acid content in the recipe makes me a little more comfortable with it, and I can probably get my husband to eat it.
  2. Raw milk and raw milk products.  Well, let's just say that this is pretty non-negotiable in NT, as the authors decry pasteurization.  I would personally try raw milk products like butter and cream, I suppose.  However, I would not want to give this to my child.  I have heard horror stories of raw milk tainted with e-coli, and e-coli is scary stuff.  But, if you want to try to make their pickles… a lot of those recipes require the use of whey, which is produced from making curds and whey from lacto-fermenting raw milk.  Plus, I've had raw milk cheeses before, and they are awesome.  Ever been to France.  OMG.  Raw milk goats cheese...just a little stinky + good, crusty bread = pure heaven!  As a general rule, I do love to experiment...  I am thinking that I will come around. 

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