Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa Pictures

This year:

Compared to last year:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sprouting Grains

Like soaking grains, sprouting breaks down phytic acid, neutralizes enzyme enhibitors, and makes grain proteins more easily digestible by the body. In addition, sprouting drastically increases the vitamin and protein content of grains, and adds an important live food factor to meals. Sprouted grains are a great base for hearty salads or raw porridge. They can also be dehydrated and ground for an extra nutritious flour. Sprouting is easy and fun! Simply:

Place desired amount of whole grains in a jar and fill with cool water.

Cover jar with a cotton cloth or cheesecloth. Secure in place with a rubber band.

Let sit overnight.

Pour contents of jar into a wire mesh strainer. Rinse well under the faucet.

Cover with a cotton cloth.

Rinse every morning and night until the grain has sprouted.

Different grains take different lenghts of time to sprout. For example, my quinoa usually sprouts in 1/2 day, buckwheat in 2 days, and wheat in 3 days, etc. Air tempurature and humidity often play a factor in the length of time it takes a grain to sprout. Unfortunately, oat groats do not sprout. To store sprouted grains, place in a ziplock bag lined with paper towels and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Soaking Grains

Soaking grains allows enzymes, good bacteria, and other organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. This neutralization allows the body to absorb all the grain's naturally occurring nutrients. Soaking also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and encourages production of beneficial enzymes, which further increase the grain's natural vitamin content. In addition, soaking breaks down gluten and other proteins into simpler forms that are more easily absorbed by the body. For best results, soak grains for at least 7 hours in warm water with a small amount of acidic substance (lemon juice, vinegar, or whey).
To soak grains:
  1. Place desired amount of grain in a pot. Add an equal amount of water. (If you start with 1 cup grain, add 1 cup water.) Add a splash ofwhey, raw apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice. (Use approximately 1 tablespoon acidic substance for every 2 cups of grain.)
  2. Cover the pot and let sit for 7-24 hours.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and an equal amount of water. (If you started with 1 cup of grain and 1 cup of water, add another cup of water.)
  4. Bring to a boil and cook as appropriate for the grain type.
The yield is typically twice the starting amount. (If you started with 1 cup of grain, you will end up with about 2 cups of cooked grain.)

Rolled or cracked cereals cook up much quicker when soaked than when not soaked - literally a couple of minutes in high altitudes. My usual weekday breakfast:
  • 1 cup cooked cereal grain: cracked, rolled, or ground oats, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, cornmeal, rice, or millet (or a combination of two or more grains)
  • 1-2 T extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 T natural sweetener: raw honey, pure maple syrup, pomegranite molasses
  • 1-2 T freshly ground flaxseeds
  • 1 T bee pollen
  • 1 handful raw nuts: walnuts, pecans, or chopped almonds
  • 1 handful fresh, frozen, or dried fruit

Grinding flaxseeds...

...for this morning's breakfast.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Grain Anatomy: A kernel of grain consists of a hull, bran, endosperm, and embryo.

  • The hull (chaff) protects the inner parts of the kernel while it grows on the plant, but is an irritant and has no nutritional value and so is discarded after harvesting.
  • The bran contains cellulose (which gives a kernel its storage life) and nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and digestive enzymes). The outer bran layers contain lots of cellulose and a little bit of nutrients, and moving in the layers contain progressively less cellulose and progressively more nutrients. Once the cellulose in the outside bran layer has been penetrated, the nutrients in the inner layers start to deteriorate.
  • The endosperm is the starchy part of the grain. It nourishes the embryo before the plant’s leaves begin photosynthesis.
  • The embryo (germ) sprouts into leaves and roots when germinated. It is high in vitamin B, vitamin E, essential fats, and proteins.
Trivia: In the 1800s, many cultures began removing brown rice’s outer layer to create white rice. At the same time, the incidence of heart disease and nervous system diseases skyrocketed. In 1890, a Dutch doctor recognized the connection between those who ate this “polished” rice and those who suffered from the disease heriberi. He prescribed rice bran “waste” and his patients recovered. Researchers later identified thiamine as the vital ingredient in rice bran. The word “vitamin” originated from the phrase “vital amine.”

Problem: In order to create a flour product that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or frozen, manufacturers remove the embryo of the grain (“de-germinate” the kernel). To extend shelf-life, they further process the grain to remove the nutrients and fiber that spoil quickly. The end product contains approximately 10 percent of the original nutrients. Manufacturers often “enrich” the stripped flour by adding chemical versions of some of the removed nutrients. However, because these chemicals are created in a lab and not nature, they are not easily absorbed by the body and are sometimes toxic. To create white flour, manufacturers go a step further and bleach the flour with numerous chemicals, many of which are toxic and disease-causing. In all, white flour has undergone approximately 20 separate processing steps before reaching the grocery store shelf. Even non-white flour, however, has undergone numerous processing steps that render it nutrient deficient at best and toxic at worst, especially if sold at room temperature.

Solution: Purchase a grain mill or Vita-Mix blender to grind your own flour from whole grains. Store the freshly ground flour in the refrigerator or freezer.

Problem: To create boxed breakfast cereals (including granola), manufacturers subject grain to unnaturally high temperatures and pressures so as to form flakes and other shapes. Like flour, this processing destroys nutrients, causes the natural oils to go rancid, and makes some of the natural proteins toxic.

Solution: Cook your own breakfast cereal from whole, cracked, rolled, or ground grains. Try oats, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, cornmeal, rice, or millet. Top with freshly ground flax seed; bee pollen; extra virgin coconut oil; raw honey or pure maple syrup; chopped raw nuts; and fresh, frozen, or dried fruit. Very yummy and much cheaper than store-bought cereal!

Problem: All grains contain phytic acid. Untreated phytic acid combines with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc in the intestinal tract and blocks their absorption into the body. This can lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors, which prevent the body from utilizing the enzymes naturally present in the grain. Grain proteins, especially those found in gluten grains are difficult to digest. Regularly over-straining the digestive system with gluten-containing whole grains can result in allergies, celiac disease, and yeast overgrowth.

Solution: Soak, sprout, or ferment whole grains before cooking them. Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting grains allows enzymes, lactobacilli (an important type of good bacteria), and other organisms to break down and neutralize the phytic acid. Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and encourages production of beneficial enzymes, which further increases the grain’s vitamin content (especially the B vitamins). In addition, soaking, sprouting, or fermenting breaks down gluten and other proteins into simpler forms that are more easily absorbed by the body.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Peppermint is my favorite tummy herb - a quick fix for common digestive problems.

At Greek and Roman feasts, revelers crowned themselves with peppermint and enjoyed broths, sauces, ans wines flavored with the herb. Ancient Athenians perfumed each part of their bodies with a different scent, with mint scenting their arms. Ancient cultures also used mint as a restorative (the precursor to smelling salts).

One of the oldest remedies for colic and indigestion, it was officially admitted to the London Pharmacopeia in 1721 and the English began its commercial cultivation in 1750.

Healing Properties
A member of the mint family, peppermint has the following properties:
  • Antacid - corrects overly acidic stomach or bowels, alkalizes blood
  • Anti-emetic - relieves nausea
  • Anti-inflammatory - reduces inflammation
  • Antiviral - destroys viruses
  • Anti-spasmotic - relieves nervous irritation, muscle spasms, convulsions, and cramps
  • Diaphoretic - promotes perspiration, thus detoxing and lowering body temperature
  • Expectorant - eliminates mucus from the throat and lungs
  • Febrifuge - reduces fever
  • Nervine - relieves pain, soothes nerves, supports the nervous system
Peppermint is effective against such conditions as asthma, bad breath, bloating, bronchitis, burping, colic, the common cold, diarrhea, digestive problems and gas, dizziness, dry coughs, fainting, fatigue, fever, the flu, headaches, heartburn, herpes, hiccups, indigestion, irritable bowel, laryngitis, menstrual cramps, motion sickness, nausea, nerves, sinus congestion, sore throat, toothache, and vomiting.

An "activator," peppermint also enhances the medicinal properties of other herbs.

Peppermint leaves and essential oil distilled from fresh cut peppermint contain multiple healing properties. Major components of the oil are menthol, menthone, and menthyl acetate.

Many members of the mint family closely resemble each other, at times making it difficult to distinguish one from the other. However, because mints share many of the same properties, substituting one type of mint for another typically results in similar medicinal effects. Spearmint is a bit milder than peppermint and can effectively be substituted in children's remedies.

Everyone can use peppermint, including babies and pregnant and nursing mamas.

My favorite preparation using peppermint leaves is tea. Simply brew a cup (or quart) of tea and enjoy as needed!

Peppermint essential oil can be placed directly (undiluted) on the skin and is also safe for internal use. To ease a headache, rub a couple drops of oil onto your temples. To ease a toothache, rub a drop onto your gums. To eliminate bad breath, place a single drop of essential oil directly on your tongue or drink a small cup of warm water mixed with 1-5 drops oil.

Strategically place fresh peppermint leaves or cloths scented with peppermint oil as a deterrent against ants, mice, and other rodents.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Month in Our Life: November 2009

Truly a month for thanksgiving, November brought us a new home with new roommates: Erika, Ticha, Andy, and two cats. I am so thankful for their generous hearts and offer to share their tiny, new (to them) home with two new people. We now live in a house where I can cook in the kitchen, do laundry, and play with my baby all at the same time. Each of our new roommates loves my baby (well, except the cats, although one seems to be warming up to him) and he loves playing with each of them. This makes for a wonderful gift of spare snippets of time where I can easily wash the dishes or organize a corner of the closet. Thank you!

This move also means we are officially out of the burbs and into the Denver city limits. It's a far cry from living in DC - we're certainly not in the hood - but we are no longer surrounded by the materialistic excess that defines so much of the suburbs. Of course, we will miss Oma and Opa and Shooter the dog, as well as our friend and neighbor Lisa and her three super fun, rambunctious boys.

The past month was a huge boom months for my baby's vocabulary. We seem to have moved from A words to B words: bread and ball-ball and Bible and baby (meaning all children, not just babies) are favorites. But the all time favorite word of the month is basura (trash in Spanish).

My baby actually runs down the sidewalk and turns into the alley yelling bura, bura because he knows there are dumpsters around the corner! He tells me pee pee and poo poo, refers to all fruit as apple, and said his first three-syllable word: Erika (who owns our new home).

A few pictures demonstrating other fun activities this month:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mamatoto - The First Year

June 25, 2008 - June 25, 2009

1 hour

1 day

1 week

1 month

2 months

3 months

4 months

5 months

6 months

7 months

8 months

9 months

10 months

11 months

1 year

Sunday, November 8, 2009


People often tell me, "I bet you can't wait until your baby is old enough for school, then you'll have some time to yourself." Actually, they're wrong. I often feel nobody understands what I am doing or why I am doing it. But nobody really needs to understand my life or even like it. I am responsible to God alone for how I raise my child. This article by Evangeline Johnson, printed in the November 2005 edition of Above Rubies, always encourages me to keep a godly perspective of motherhood. (You can find other great articles at www.AboveRubies.org.)

Friends With Who?

Are you amused by printed warnings that are apparently obvious? Warnings like "Do not put fingers in food processor" or the one I saw on the side of a septic tank, "No swimming allowed." Well, lo and behold, to add to the collection, I found one in the Bible. I laughed right out loud before I could help it.

It is in Titus 2, the famous passage where we are told to love our children. Have you ever stopped to think about that? Of course, all mothers love their children! Why tell them to do something they already do? Barring a few twisted women, all mothers would die for their children. What an obvious thing to write.

I thought I had better investigate. I found that the Greek word for love in this verse is philoteknos which literally means "to be a friend to your children." Her's the crutch. It's easy to love, but are we their friend?

The human heart cries out for friendship and God designs it to be met by... not the TV, not the dog... but the mother. The mother is God's first display of friendship to the world. Why? So our children will know how to be friends with God and friends to the people around them. By doing this, we either make or break society. We literally affect our whole culture. Instead of being a redundant statement in the Bible, it is one of the most important!

Friendship, at its most basic level, is hard to come by in today's families. Yet it is the highest cry of the human heart. What do friends do? They want to hang out together. But what do we see today? Children hanging out with TV... children hanging out with anything or anyone but their mother. Statistics reveal that over 50 percent of children less than two years of age have a TV in their bedroom!

The latest figures, via internet, show that in the last 30 years the average time parents spend with their children has dropped by 40 percent. This tells me that friendship has literally been shipped out the door. Our lives have become too busy!

Webster's Dictionary defines friendship three ways:

1.One who is attached to another by affection, which leads him to desire his company.
Are we attached or detached? My friend has a saying, "Wherever you are, be there!" We can easily miss the relationships we have right now by not embracing the present. Do we desire the company of our children or are we tolerating them until bedtime?

You may say, "Look, lady, "I'm around them all the frantic day. What do you want from me?"

What I propose is to "hang out" with your children, just like best friends, for one week! Lay down the phone from all your other friends and acquaintances and symbolically get on the phone to your children! Include them in whatever you are doing.

Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson wrote about the best day of his life. It occurred one day when his dad went fishing with him. Boswell said that day changed his life forever. The rest of childhood was a blur, but that day..."that day my Dad was a friend to me and I learned what life was about through example." Some historian decided to track down the diary of Boswell's father to see how he reflected on the most important day of his famous son's life. The entry read, "Went fishing today - a whole day wasted!"

A lot of mothers think they are wasting their time. No, you are not! "But I'm cleaning my house, shining my tea pot." Many mothers are more of a friend to their house than their children. Yes, we must keep house, but you will notice that is further down the list in Titus 2 than loving your children. God always puts things in order of importance.

When we were first married my husband said, "We will include our children in everything we do. If we can't we won't do it!" Consequently, our children have gone to a lot of things other children have never gone to, and we have not gone to a lot of things that we could have gone to. Our children have learned to sleep anywhere and behave well. Remember the Word does not say to make friends with the church functions but with out children.

2.A companion who is kind, promoting the good of the other.

Friendhsip comes before discipline and order. Before you freak, let me explain. I am a firm believer in complete obedience. That goes without saying! However, it is far better to have friendship, than everything perfect with no relationship. That is dead meat!

Some belive that to be "buddy, buddy" with you child destroys order. Wrong. Do I propose they should start calling me by my first name? No. Respect is a must! Respect and obedience must come out of trusted friendship. They will then realize that discipline comes out of desiring to see the best for them. Discipline without relatinoship breeds rejection, which is the seedbed of rebellion. You may be able to enforce external compliance, but without friendship there is no real heart change. They might be sitting down on the outside, but they will still be standing up on the inside. Submission is a heart issue. No child on earth submits his heart willingly without the love of frienship.

3.Having a favorable opinion of them, noble opinion from a pure source.

Some friends tear each other down like it's their favorite thing to do. True friendships encourage each other - daily! Everybody yearns to be validated, worth-while and encouraged. I grew up on it. If children don't get it in the family, they will look for it somewhere else.

I have often thought that it would be great if every person could have their own funeral service before they die! I long for people to hear the beautiful words people say about them at their funerals, words they should have heard while they were alive. If only they knew how much they were loved, how talented they were, how beautiful they were etc. Let's not wait. Children long for encouragement and friendship from their mother.

There is a level of trust in friendship that can be damaged by the following:
  1. Outbursts of anger. And, on the flip side, the silent tratment. If anything kills friendship, it is these two. They are like a bad smell. We can put nice perfume on when we go out, but what if our children are getting stink bombs at home? Do not use your children as your emotional toxic waste dumps. Treat them like friends.
  2. Betrayed confidences. There is nothing worse than a child overhearing their mother talk badly about them to another person, even their father. It takes the very stuffing right out of them, then and there. Do not label your children, deal with them!
  3. Favoritism. This is extremely destructive. If your friend treats another better than you, it sours your friendship pretty fast. It is the same with your children.
Remember the obvious, "Don't use your hair dryer while you are in the shower and do be a friend to your children."

Your friend Vangi!

Evangeline Johnson
Primm Springs, Tennessee
Howard and Evangeline's 10 children are Zadok, Sharar, Rashida, Crusoe, Jireh, Arrow, Tiveria, Sahara, Iqara, and Saber Truth.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Problem: To pasteurize milk, workers heat it to 160 degrees for 45 minutes. This heating process not only kills bad bacteria, it also kills good bacteria, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. and alters the milk proteins, fatty acids, and amino acids. It destroys 50% of calcium, 50% of magnesium, 66% of vitamin A, 60% of vitamin B-complex (including folic acid), 50% of vitamin C, 66% of vitamin D, 90% of enzymes, and 95% of amino acids, altering the remaining 5% of amino acids. The resulting lack of enzymes means that those people whose bodies don't produce lactase (the digestive enzyme necessary to digest the milk sugar lactose) on their own cannot consume dairy products (termed lactose intolerance). Furthermore, the altered milk proteins cause dairy allergies in many people.

Problem: Homogenization breaks up whole milk's large butterfat globules into tiny particles that are easily suspended in the milk. This results in milk that doesn't need to be stirred and has a longer shelf life. However, because the resulting fat molecules are so small, they easily pass through the intestinal wall directly into the blood stream, where they build up as plaque inside arteries.

Problem: Today's dairy farmers inject their cows with antibiotics and growth hormones that unnaturally raise milk production from 500 pounds a year to 3,000 pounds a year. The milk produced by these cows is itself laced with hormones, which are often blamed for early onset of puberty, and antibiotics.

Solution: Organic raw milk. Modern sanitation standards, sterile holding tanks, milking technology, and bovine health standards have made pasteurization unnecessary in today's world. (At the time pasteurization was discovered, approximately 65% of cows had tuberculosis and 15% of cows had brucellosis.) Pasteurization typically drops the bacteria count to about 25,000 per cubic centimeter, but the count starts to rise as soon as the milk is cooled. (Because pasteurization also kills the good bacteria, they are less able to keep the bad bacteria count in check.) The FDA only requires the bacteria count be less than 75,000 at the time of sale. Certified raw milk, on the other hand, is required to have a bacteria count of less than 10,000. Therefore, raw milk is virtually guaranteed to have less bacteria than pasteurized milk. In fact, in the past several decades, all salmonella outbreaks and most listeria outbreaks traced to contaminated milk actually came from pasteurized milk.

Raw goat's milk is also a great alternative to cow's milk because it is significantly easier for humans to digest. While cow's milk digests in approximately 3 hours, goat's milk digests in only 20 minutes.

In What the Bible Says About Healthy Living, author Rex Russell, M.D., lists his milk preferences (from most preferable to least preferable) as follows:
  • Organic raw milk
  • Non-homogenized pasteurized milk
  • Pasteurized nonfat milk
  • Pasteurized homogenized milk
For local raw milk sources, visit www.RealMilk.com.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Month in Our Life: October 2009

October was a busy month for us!

New words include ball, balloon, vacuum, belly button, and up. Doggie now refers to all animals, not just dogs. Agua now refers to water, herbal tea, ice, and snow - smart baby to instinctively know these things are just different forms of water! The word for help has changed from "baby" to "all done," which at times leaves me feeling confused. And my baby counts to 2 twice in a row in Mandarin whenever he wants me to count things with him or read his favorite book, Freight Train (because we always count the wheels on each page). But there still is no word for me, his mama. On the other hand, the words I started to practice this month were "no tantrums." My baby understands most of what I say and loves searching for and "fetching" the Ergo, his Baby Legs, mama's boots, the blue bag, etc. So fun!

Favorite activities these days include sweeping, vacuuming, going for rides on suitcases, turning around in circles until he is dizzy, running while being chased, sitting on my shoulders, copying everything I do, and most of all "talking" on phones! He has even managed to (accidentally) make a couple calls and send a text message on different clients' phones. Anything works as a phone: remote controls, toy boats, even a crumpled up paper towel!!

Here is a picture montage of our month:

First haircut:
Before - After - The Proof

At the office:
Vacuuming - Suitcase ride

Copying mama:
Putting on shoes - Clipping his toenails

Cuddling with our friend and her cat:
(the only one he doesn't call doggie)

Mama's birthday hike with our hiking buddy at Garden of the Gods:

Celebrating fall:

Celebrating fall with snow!?!:

And a quick video of a remote control-becomes-a-telephone:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are an easy, quick, tasty way to enjoy the aromatic and medicinal properties of herbs. Loose herbs are more potent and much, much cheaper than store-bought tea bags. They're also more fun! When brewing tea with loose herbs, use 1-2 tablespoons of herb for each cup of water. Herbal tea dosages are as follows:
  • Newborn - 2 years: 2-3 teaspoons tea. Alternatively, a nursing mama can drink an adult dose just before breastfeeding, and the herbs will be transmitted to her baby through her breast milk.
  • 2-6 years: 1/4 cup tea
  • 6-12 years: 1/2 cup tea
  • 12 years - adult: 1 cup tea
To brew a quart of flowers or leaves:

Place 1/4 cup herbs in a quart mason jar.

Pour just-boiled water over the herbs and cap the jar.

After 10 minutes, strain the herb mixture through a wire mesh colander.


To brew a quart of bark or roots:

Measure 1/4 cup herbs.

Place herbs and 4 1/2 cups water in a pot on the stove. (The extra water allows for a bit of evaporation.) Bring to a slow boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain through a wire mesh colander.


To make a single cup of tea:

Fill one half of a tea ball with herbs.

Place tea ball in a cup, wrap the chain around the cup's handle, and hook the chain to itself to keep in place. Pour just-boiled water over the herbs and let steep for 10 minutes.

Remove tea ball and enjoy!

For a cup of tea to go, place 1 tablespoon of herbs in a tea filter bag. Pour just-boiled water over the herbs and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bag and enjoy!