Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Non-Traditions?

I had been uncomfortable the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I had been enjoying others' family pictures on Facebook, and I had been reading accounts of Christmas preparations and traditions.  Talking with friends and family, I'd heard them describe their annual festivities that they had enjoyed and were planning.  I paused and reviewed the years of my nuclear "family-ness".  Then I faced the bare naked truth:  we didn't have any traditions.  In fact, we have spent no two Christmases exactly alike. 

Maybe it was hitting our fourth anniversary this October.  Something clicked with a resounding confirmation that we were absolutely, positively no longer newlyweds.  We were established now.  We should have traditions by this time, everybody has them.  Every family has them.  Why didn't we?  Is it because we don't have children?  Is that what forces people to carve traditions into their holidays and histories?  Then I realized it.  The question that was haunting me, though I tried to ignore it:  Were we any less a family because we didn't have any traditions?

We took stock of our holiday activities:  we see family, we sometimes go to Christmas Eve Eve service with our friend, Christy,  we attend a party in our community.  Did these count as family traditions?  I began a quest to think up some traditions for us and to start following them fast.  Several times over the last month I have asked Greg what traditions he would like to start.  We began to list them.  But to just pick from a list is not how one forms traditions.  They are formed by values, deeply held values. 

Christmas Eve was the turning point for me.  I have peace and realize that we have tradition, our one tradition.  You see, each Christmas has been a little different, but with one common theme:  driving to someone, a friend or family member, to spend time with them.  Today I  remembered that we made a decision our first Christmas that we would serve others somehow.  Every year that service has come to us in a unique shape and form, mostly small and unnoticeable to anyone else.  Yet, we have both recognized the small gift each year.  It occurred to me, in not having our time bound up keeping our own family traditions, we have been available to go and bless someone in whatever small way we were called.  The most beautiful part?  Anyone can be available and used by God, no matter what their family size or singleness status.  What hope this is for everyone, single, married with children, married and childless.  How wonderful.

I'm reminded of a pregnancy that was anything but traditional.  It is a true account that you can read about in the Bible, the book of Luke, chapter 2.  The couple was very young and were technically not yet married.  They had not received the community's blessing.  No shower had been given.  As well, this non-traditional pregnancy culminated in an even more non-traditional birth.  They had travelled more than one hundred miles and  arrived at their destination, only to find that there was no room at the inn.  In fact, there wasn't room anywhere in the entire town.  The whole of Bethlehem was filled with travelers who had returned to fulfill a mandatory census.  They would stay in a stable with animals.  There would be no midwives, no family to help.  There was nothing traditional about this birth.  Yet this couple had received this service, this gift, this calling in agreement with their Heavenly Father months prior.  And at the appointed time, the Christ child was born to them, and for all of us. 

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, filled with wonderful memories of traditions and also worship and service to our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

--Two Peas


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Juicers Compared and 10 Uses for Juice Pulp

Are you considering juicing?  Don't know what type of juicer to use?  We have been juicing for about two weeks and now I look forward to it everyday.   There are many juicers and ways to juice so I have written about two main types in this post, juice with no pulp and juice with pulp.   I hope it helps you decide that juicing is for you, no matter what type of juice and juicer.

Dueling Juicers

In our house, food is our medicine, so when we took the opportunity to compare two juicers, the Vitamix and the Sharper Image centrifuge juicer, we did it with the understanding that both ways result in benefiting our body, which is a win-win either way.

The Vitamix pulverizes fruits and vegetables, leaving all the ground up flesh:  skin, seeds, stalks, etc.  You end up drinking the whole plant, pulp and juice.  Other brands like this include Magic Bullet Nutribullet,  Blendtec and Ninja. 

The Sharper Image centrifuge juicer separates the ground up pulp from the juice, so only the juice is what you drink.  There are many brands that do this as well, such as Breville, Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, etc.  Then there are masticating juicers made by Omega, which do an even better job of separating the pulp from the juice.  You can spend a lot of time shopping for of these on Amazon (there are so many) but I recommend that you think about your needs, the price and read the reviews.  We had purchased our Sharper Image juicer about 4 years ago and honestly have barely used it until now.  If I were purchasing one today, I likely would pick a different one simply because I have more interest in juicing now.

My husband insists on using the Vitamix to juice since he wants the fiber, hates to waste food and is juicing for the purpose of getting concentrated nutrients.  He also firmly believes that much of the vital nutrition resides in the skin and seeds of fruits and vegetables and doesn't want to miss out on these.

He is not alone in this conviction.  Many health proponents insist that the only way to truly benefit from fruits and veggies is to consume the whole plant.  For example, in many vegetables and fruits, the skins and peels contain the highest amounts of vitamins, carotenoids, flavonoids and antioxidants. To read more on juicing using the whole fruit or vegetable, I've linked to a good article below.

Whereas, I am juicing according to the GAPS protocol, (similar to many therapeutic diets) where juice without the fiber is used to absorb nutrients quickly and aid in detoxification.  There are many health practitioners which promote fiber-free juicing as the only way to benefit from juicing.  Some even eschew reusing the pulp afterward.  I've linked to one such article below.


One day, we decided to compare the process and outcome of the two juicers.  We made juice in the Vitamix and the Sharper Image centrifuge juicer using the same exact ingredients.  Both required the same amount of prep time since the vegetables and fruits need minimal chopping.  The juicers took the same length of time to produce juice. 
Next, we compared the amount of juice and quality of juice.  The centrifuge juicer produced exactly one glass of juice that was very liquid and pulp-free, whereas the Vitamix produced double the amount of juice, filled with pulp.  The centrifuge juice was delicious and palatable, whereas the pulp in the Vitamix juicer rendered the drink thick (and disagreeable, at least to me).  With the centrifuge juicer there was a full pitcher of pulp leftover from the centrifuge juice.  My husband was not thrilled with this waste (even though we compost it).


An example of a health advocate who promotes both pulp-free and pulp-filled juices, the Food Babe article linked here, highlights how she drinks pulp-free juices but also drinks smoothies containing pulp:

10 Recipes for Pulp

And there are plenty of ways to use the juice pulp.  The Plan to Eat article linked below boasts 10 such ways to use the pulp leftover from juicing, and in the comments there are an additional 20 more  suggestions!  I love all the ideas on how to use the pulp.  No more waste.  No more conflict.


Lastly, we compared the clean-up.  Without question, the Vitamix was far, far easier to clean than the centrifuge juicer.  It was clean within 60 seconds, whereas the other juicer took a good 15 minutes to clean, due to all of its parts.

Remember, both juicers are efficient and beneficial, depending on your purposes in juicing.  Both produce nutritious juice quickly.  The whole idea is to get more vegetables and fruit in you, and either will do just that.   I know people who have lost 60 pounds through juicing with pulp and I know people who have lost 60 pounds through juicing with no pulp.   So, juice, juice, juice no matter which way you do it.

Happy Juicing!
-- Two Peas

Friday, December 13, 2013

Magnesium Deficient? Here's What You Can Do

The weather outside may be frightful, but enjoying a hot soak is not only delightful, it is also a great source of magnesium, if Epsom Salts are added to your bath.

For a couple of years now we have indulged in Epsom salt baths.  It is pure luxury!  The heat soothes muscles and joints, and best, the magnesium in the Epsom salts are absorbed quickly through the skin.   For anyone magnesium deficient that is really good news.

How do you know if you are magnesium deficient?  According to the NIH, most people are not getting the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.  In addition, the soils in which our food is grown is deficient in magnesium and therefore our plant and animal food sources are also.  Especially at risk are those with a damaged gut, type 2 diabetes or an alcohol dependency.  Certain prescription medications block the absorption of magnesium in the diet.  And too much calcium in the diet may upset the balance of calcium and magnesium, preventing the absorption of precious magnesium.

Deficiencies can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, migraine headaches and a long list of other symptoms.

How to increase your magnesium?  A good start is a healthy diet loaded with a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes.  Magnesium oil is an excellent way to get magnesium directly into your bloodstream via transdermal (across the skin barrier) absorption.

For more information on the symptoms of magnesium deficiency see the Food Renegade article, linked below.

For a great list showing the amount of magnesium in foods, link to the NIH Fact Sheet on Magnesium.

Stay Warm,
--Two Peas

Monday, December 9, 2013

In a Good Mood Today? Thank Your Gut Microbes

I just love when scientific studies confirm what real food advocates and alternative doctors, such as Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride of the GAPS diet, have been stating for years.  In this case it is the research on gut microbe activity and how it affects the human being, specifically the brain and mood.  Dr. Campbell McBride has documented much of the recent findings in her book, "The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Natural Treatment For: Autism, ADD, ADHD,  Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Schizophrenia". 

Kristen at Food Renegade has documented the new research data on her blog and I've linked to it below.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

And remember, next time you are in a particularly good mood, thank your gut microbes!

Happy Trails (and microbes),
--Two Peas

Friday, December 6, 2013

In Praise of Vegetables -- Juicing

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  I have this strange obsession with vegetables.  I can't seem to get enough of them.  At the farmers' market or grocery store, I'm all over them.  This morning (fridge still full of carrots, celery, eggplant, daikon radish, cabbage, spinach and baby greens) I found myself drawn to the organic green cabbages.  I bought three heads!  Then there were the red, yellow and orange carrots.  Mmm...had to get them.  Then it was the leek and then the turnip.  Yep, brought those home.  You get the idea.

This "obsession" can be traced back to earlier this year when I went on the GAPS diet and removed all grains from my diet.  The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet enables the gut to heal and reseal itself by removing hard-to-digest grains from the diet and increasing foods like bone broth, protein, good saturated fats, pro biotic foods, fruits and vegetables.

While the diet was beneficial, the added bonus was how it broke me of my dependence on carbs and opened up a whole new world of cooking to me.   On GAPS I had only vegetables to satisfy my hunger, so I learned to cook them in a variety of new ways:  juiced, in soups, as snacks, as meals and fermented.

Keep in mind, I am no gourmet cook-- if I can do this, you can too!   Join me in this new passion for vegetables and finding delicious ways to cook them.  Perhaps this obsession with vegetables will spread to family members and children.


Inspired by my friend Denise Rhodes and convinced of its many health benefits, I'm dedicating this post to juicing vegetables, commonly referred to as "juicing".
Denise has lost over 60 pounds and has seen many health improvements in the last year and a half simply by adding juice to her daily diet.  Juicing became such a way of life that she planted a summer garden, her first ever.  She then turned it into a winter garden! You can read testimonies, see her vegetable garden, get vegan recipes and view how-to videos at .
Why Juice?
  • In a nutshell:  to get a concentrated amount of nutrients in one glass.  We've been told to "Strive for Five" or get 7-8 servings of vegetables each day.  Juicing makes that easier.  You wouldn't eat a pound of carrots in one day.  But you can drink a glass of carrot juice!   And you'd be multiplying the vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants over eating just one carrot.  
  • By juicing vegetables you remove the fiber, making nutrients easier to absorb and able to stimulate digestive juices, revitalize the liver, purify the blood, and cleanse the kidneys. 
  • Also, juicing detoxifies and cleanses the body.  The nutrients in vegetables rid your body of toxins such as heavy metals.  Juicing provides high amounts of minerals that chelate metals without the added stress and side affects of chelation therapy. 
Juicing Tips:
  • To get the most benefit, use a juicer that removes the fiber or pulp from the vegetables (a Vitamix won't work here).
  • Use only organic vegetables and fruits, if possible.  
  • Drink your juice on an empty stomach, which means first thing in the morning and/or late afternoon an hour before dinner.  
  • Start with a moderate amount of greens, and balance with fruits to sweeten the juice.  As you progress in juicing, add lemon or lime juice to brighten the bitter taste of greens without adding sugar.  
  • Juice once a day to start (no fasting or starvation diet here!).  If you have leftover juice, drink it within 24 hours; it will remain fresh if refrigerated and sealed very tightly.  

Beginner Juice Recipe:
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • apple
  • orange
  • 3 cups of spinach

For more recipe ideas see the list at: .

Happy Vegetable Trails!

--Two Peas

Monday, December 2, 2013

Post Thanksgiving Day: Still Giving Thanks

"Offer to God thanksgiving" Psalm 50:14. 

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving.  We reflect and give thanks this time of year.  We rejoice in all that we've been given.  We give and share with others out of the bounty that has been granted us.  This exercise, this discipline of gratitude so aligns us with the giver, God himself.

Thankful.  It is so easy to say.  But am I really living it?  Applying it?  If I were, I would trust God in everything and not worry, knowing that He will give all that I need.  Daily my mind and my heart need to be exhorted in being thankful.  Ephesians 5:20.

A few thoughts on being thankful:

Giving thanks moves our thoughts away from ourselves... and onto God.  When I am thankful, my heart and mind are changed: my mind turns from self and things on earth to things above.  Col 3:2.

When I am thankful, my mind becomes content to dwell on the present.  Things past or things to come are gently diminished and I grow satisfied, content and joyful in everything.

Jesus modeled thankfulness, by giving thanks himself.  At the Last Supper he gave thanks to God for the bread provided before breaking and sharing it.  Luke 22:19.

My hope is you, as we are enjoying this season of thanksgiving, and are remembering all we have to be thankful for.

--Two Peas

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Tiny Whole Foods Kitchen and Why We Don't Use a Microwave

What could these possibly mean?

a)  Another earth quake has hit Northern VA and wrecked havoc in our kitchen cupboards.
b)  Greg and Lisa have a jar fetish.
c)  It's time to clean up and reorganize our cupboards AGAIN.
d)  We desperately need a house cleaner.

OK, so maybe all of the above except A are true.  Honestly, this is a cyclical thing.  We organize our kitchen and in short order, it is messy and disorganized again.  Is this because we live in a tiny place?  Or does this happen to everyone?

Compound that with the fact that whole foods don't come in neat, stackable boxes that make for beautiful shelves.  Jars of honey and coconut oil, bags of dried fruit and nuts, and whole grains don't come in uniform packages.  Add on top of that a bevy of mason jars, stock pots and crock pots, and the cupboards can become a disaster.
We love cooking and eating this way, so we have had to be creative in how to store the whole foods and all their tools.
This post is dedicated to the art of organizing the tiny whole foods kitchen, highlighting a few of the successes we've had in our journey.  We are still wrestling our way through this challenge-- these are just a few tidbits we have found that worked.  We'd love to hear yours!

Guidelines for Surviving in the Tiny Kitchen

1. Keep only items that are necessary and used.  Living in small quarters leaves no room for luxury items that are used only occasionally.  Which leads to guideline #2.

2. Regularly clean out cupboards, drawers and closets. Give away or trash whatever has not been used within the last year (that's being generous -- I almost said 6 months -- you get the idea).   Chances are very good that you won't miss the discarded items.  And, you can easily pick them up cheaply at a yard sale or thrift shop if you need them later. 

3. A home for everything and everything in its home.  The only way to survive living in small quarters is for everything to have a designated "home".  The item is used and returned to its home afterward.  That way when you need to use it, you know right where it is. 

4.  Make use of vertical space.  I stack items on top of my cupboards.  I don't want to waste any square footage. I applied this concept to my closets some years ago, and had shelves installed all the way up to the ceiling.  Though it cost money, I make much better use of the top four feet of my closets.
6.  Get creative.  This is where you use whatever you can to remain organized:  shelves, boxes, crates, racks, glass jars, etc.  Use your creativity to make the most of your unique space.  We use peg board to hang our pots and pans to make room in our cupboard for the crock pot and the Dutch oven.
We also hang this cool retro spice rack on the wall to store our spices so we have room in the cupboard for dry goods. OK, looks like the spice rack needs some organizing, too!
Clear plastic shoe boxes have come in handy in so many ways in our small place, even in the kitchen.
We repurposed this CD shelf (found at the dumpster) and now it neatly holds all of our jars.  It was free and its the perfect size!
7.  Use your microwave as storage.  Yes, you heard me correctly!  We stopped using our microwave years ago and have conveniently used it to store items that otherwise would not fit in our kitchen.

Did you know?  Heating food using a microwave changes its chemical structure, inactivates its living enzymes and depletes its nutritional value.  Studies point to other deleterious health effects caused  by microwave use such as anemia, and low white blood count.
You can more read about those studies in Dr. Mercola's article:
I hope these ideas provoke creative thinking for you in your kitchen.  I'd love to hear what you come up with.

And, yes, I will post new pictures as soon as the cupboards are better.  For now, I leave you with a few fun photos of our tiny kitchen.


Happy Trails!

--Two Peas

Friday, November 15, 2013

Please Comment for Saving Farms: Sample Letter and Links

I know how much you value your fresh food and the farmers that grow it.  Did you know that family and small farmers' livelihoods could be in danger?
The FDA regulations under the Food Modernization and Safety Act could easily put small and family farmers out of business, leaving us only with the large, mono-crop industrialized farms. This will affect the consumer, too.  Read how:
"Under the proposed regulations, many farmers will be forced to comply with high-cost, industrial-scale regulations, and they will be unable to use traditional, sustainable growing practices. Food hubs and local food businesses will be forced to deal with costly and burdensome paperwork. Ultimately, consumers will face increased food prices and reduced availability of locally and sustainably produced foods."
You can read the full article here:
How can you help?
Please submit your comments to the FDA before midnight tonight.  The complete information is available via the Farm to Consumer link above.  I urge you to read it and understand the issues.  However, I've simplified the sample letter and links where to paste it.
Copy and paste my sample letter onto the two places for comments.  Links below. 
On-Farm Produce Rule
Preventive Control HARPC rule:
Lisa's sample letter:  Put your name after "Sincerely,"
"Nov 15, 2013
 Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
 Food and Drug Administration
 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
 Rockville, MD 20852

Re: Preventive Controls Rule: FDA-2011-N-0920 and RIN 0910-AG36
 Produce Standards Rule: FDA-2011-N-0921, and RIN 0910-AG35
I am a consumer of fresh farm food.  I am deeply concerned about the impact that FDA’s proposed rules under FSMA would have on the farms that I buy food from.  .
I make a concerted effort to buy from farms that use sustainable practices because it is better for the environment, for the animals and for human beings.
I urge the FDA to address the following issues in the proposed FSMA rules:
TESTER-HAGAN “QUALIFIED EXEMPTION” in both the Produce Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule:
1. The gross sales test to qualify for the Tester-Hagan provision should be based on sales of food that is subject to FSMA, whether the produce standards or the preventive controls rule. Sales of food that would not be regulated under FSMA should not be included.
 2. The FDA should not rush the process of revoking a producer’s Tester-Hagan exemption. The agency has other mechanisms it can use if there is an immediate threat of foodborne illness.
a) The FDA should be held to specific evidentiary standards before it can revoke a farmer’s or food facility’s Tester-Hagan exemption.
 b) A farm or facility that is exempt under Tester-Hagan should be given at least 90 days to submit evidence and defend its exemption if FDA seeks to revoke it.
 c) If the exemption is revoked, the farm or facility should have at least two years to come into compliance with the FSMA rules.

1. The FDA’s approach to traditional farming methods, such as diversified livestock-crop farms, the use of working animals, and the use of biological soil amendments, is fundamentally flawed. The agency should not restrict these sustainable methods of farming without data showing an actual, verified increased rate of foodborne illness; the simple fact that these methods include diverse microbiological communities is not a sound scientific basis for restricting them.
 2. The waiting period between applying manure and harvesting the crop should be no more than 4 months, and there should be no waiting period between applying compost and harvesting the crop. The excellent track record for safety on organic farms shows that this standard is sufficient.
 3. Compost teas and other biological inoculants, including normal additives such as molasses, should be treated the same as compost.
 4. Water testing should not be required more often than once a month, and farmers should be able to test less frequently after establishing the safety of their water source through consecutive negative tests. In addition, farmers should be given the option to test for pathogens, rather than having to treat or stop using the water that tested positive for generic e. coli.
 5. The provisions on wildlife and domestic livestock need to be clarified to protect farmers who use biologically diverse farming from field inspectors using their discretion to require measures such as fencing or destruction of habitat.

1. “Very small facilities” should be defined as being under $1 million in total annual sales, adjusted for inflation. Imposing HARPC requirements on businesses smaller than that is unnecessary and overly burdensome.
 2. Any requirement for “supplier verification” should not prevent a facility from purchasing foods or ingredients from farms and facilities that are exempt from the regulations under the Tester-Hagan provision or other exemptions.
 3. Low-risk activities conducted by a farm using its own products, such as making jams, grinding grains, or dehydrating vegetables, should not be subject to these regulations.
 4. Low-risk activities, when conducted off-farm or by multiple farms working together, should not be subject to the same requirements as high-risk processing activities. The requirements should address both the scale of the operations and the level of risk of the activity.
Your Full Name Here"
You will feel good that you have done what you could!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thanksgiving for Cold Days

It had been two weeks and this weekend's drive to our farm in Pennsylvania was shaping up to be like any other... except the landscape had turned golden, rust and brown and there was a definite sharp cold in the air.  As we pulled up, the woods surrounding our house were suspiciously gray and bare, the view of neighbors' flattened corn fields in full view.  It was true, winter would be here any day.

It was the kind of day you want to curl up with a good book, looking out through the window at the cold sky.  So that is what I did.  After all, grace is needed during this subtle transition from fall to winter.  It's colder, the days are shorter.

Thankfully, it is in this time of gloom that lovely blessings abound in disguise.  Here are just a few.
The desire to cook and bake accompanies the desire to warm oneself. 
Sheltering dear friends from the cold with warm coffee and bread.  
No yard work. 
Indulging oneself in reading, comfort foods and watching a good BBC movie.  
Yes, there is plenty to be thankful for.  Soon enough the days will be long busy with digging, planting, and weeding. Right now, it is good to just be here. 


Enjoy These Chill Chasers For a Cold Day

Spicy Warm Coconut Cream:  Heat Coconut Cream with a teaspoon of turmeric and dash of nutmeg. 

Spice-Flavored Coffee:  Sprinkle your favorite ground spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) into your coffee grounds just before brewing for a natural flavored coffee.  Add a teaspoon of honey to your brewed cup and your favorite cream.

Energy-Boosting Simple Lemon:  Twist a slice of lemon into a mug of hot water.  It's so simple, but tastes great and boosts energy.  Sweeten with honey.

Garlic Tea:  Crush a clove of garlic into hot water.  Add a teaspoon of honey and a twist of lemon.  Steep for 5 - 10 minutes. Great to chase away colds.  Start drinking as soon as you feel a tickle in your throat.  Drink 2-3 cups a day and the cold will disappear.

Peppermint Tea:  A simple way to dress up black tea.  Pinch off a few leaves of peppermint and infuse for 5 - 10 minutes in your cup of tea.

 Keep Warm,
--Two Peas

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thanksgiving Stuffing with Turnip and Bacon

What do you do when life hands you a loaf of dry bread?  Make stuffing!
That is just what happened last weekend.  After a bread-baking fest last Friday, one of our loaves turned out just dry enough that it was not fit for sandwiches or soup. 

It was my first loaf of bread baked with organic Einkorn wheat flour.  This ancient wheat grain is unlike the wheat in today's market.  It has never been hybridized, and for that reason is radically different than today's wheat:  it is kind to the gut.  In fact many people with wheat or gluten intolerances can consume Einkorn wheat with no adverse reaction whatsoever.  This makes it an extremely digestible, gut-friendly choice for bread or stuffing.

For more information on Einkorn wheat, you can read this article by Sarah at the Healthy Home Economist:

We measured, proofed, kneaded, proofed and baked, according to the recipe on the bag. 

But, it wasn't meant to be.  This crusty loaf was officially deemed a "lesson learned". 
My husband, ever quick on his feet, instantly suggested we make stuffing out of the bread.  I thought, "I have never made stuffing from a loaf of bread before."  I had always bought the bag, followed the directions on the bag, and not given stuffing much thought.  It couldn't be that hard, could it? 

Now, the norm in our home is to work with what we have on hand, and last weekend was no different.  We did not have sage or celery in the house, but we had a turnip and some other herbs.  Those could work.  Oh, and we just happened to be cooking some pastured bacon at that moment.  Lucky us!  We could use bacon grease instead of butter, and then chop up some bacon and fold it into the stuffing.
So, we used bacon grease, turnip, onion, garlic and herb seasoning in the stuffing.  It was amazing!  The turnip added moisture and crispness without too much flavor.  The bread absorbed all the liquid and was moist.  And, well, bacon makes everything better.  It was so good, we plan on making it again for Thanksgiving.

Recipe:  Stuffing with Turnip and Bacon

5 cups of cubed bread (if prepared without herbs, add herbs to the stuffing)
1/4 lb of pastured, uncured bacon (free of nitrites and nitrates)
1 cup broth or water
2 tablespoons bacon grease (we probably used more to be honest!)
1/2 turnip, chopped finely
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup suggested herb mix: sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, fennel, coriander, bay leaf **Note: use just 2 tablespoons if your bread was baked with herbs
1/4 cup toasted chopped hickory nuts (totally optional -- we happened to have some from our friends' tree)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cook bacon, reserving the oil.  In an 8-quart sauce pan, sauté the turnip, onion and garlic in the bacon grease until very soft.
2.  Stir in the herbs.
3.  Add water and bread cubes and stir together.
4.  Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes on warm/low to let the bread steam and completely soften.

This recipe was posted on the Food Renegade Fight Back Fridays for Nov 8, 2013.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you end up using the recipe!

-- Two Peas

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Best Apple Pie Recipe

Two weeks ago I promised you an apple pie recipe.  Here is our best one so far.  I hope you try it and enjoy it.

We have been making pies almost every week recently in an effort to use up the dozens of apples we got from an orchard earlier this month.  We have even been known to have a pie baking competition on Saturday nights.  We turn up the music, dance and make pie!

This recipe makes a spicy, tart and tangy pie, which enhances the apple flavor nicely. And unlike pies from the grocery store, this is not syrupy- or overly-sweet.  If you happen to like a sweeter pie, by all means increase the amount of sweeteners used in this recipe, just don't use sugar!  Use a natural, nourishing sweetener such as honey, sucanat, or maple syrup

We use a basic pie crust recipe.  The big difference is substituting regular flour with sprouted whole wheat flour, or an ancient whole wheat like Einkorn.  The result is a slightly more grainy pie crust, but I'm willing to sacrifice on texture in order to gain on nourishment and gut-friendliness.  For the fat, we use pastured lard, which sounds crazy (not the lard found in the grocery store!).  It is loaded with healthy fat and vitamin D.  If you don't have access to a farmer who sells pastured lard then non-hydrogenated palm kernel shortening works just as well and can be found at Whole Foods or natural food stores.  Butter can also be used.

Double Pie Crust

2 Cups freshly milled flour or sprouted whole wheat flour or other wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups lard or non-hydrogenated palm kernel shortening or butter
7 tablespoons cold water

1.  Prepare a 9-inch pie pan by greasing and flouring.
2.  Combine flour and salt.  Cut in the lard or shortening until thoroughly incorporated, making pea-sized balls of dough.  Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough is evenly moistened.
3.  Divide dough in half, forming two balls.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 20 - 30 minutes -- this is especially helpful for rolling out dough made with whole grain flour. 
4.  Roll out on a floured surface.  Makes one bottom crust and one top crust.

Delicious Apple Pie

6 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced and dipped in lemon juice
1/4 cup organic sucanat or organic coconut palm sugar
1 - 2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil
1 - 2 tablespoons finely chopped dried cranberries
1 - 2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1.  On the stove top, melt butter on medium low heat.  Stir in all but the apples and mix thoroughly.  Cook on low 10 minutes.
2.  Mix in the apples and cook on low heat 10 minutes.
3.  Line 9" pie pan with the bottom crust.  Pour in the apple mixture.  Cover with the top crust.  Cut openings for ventilation.  Trim edges and seal.
4.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes.  Pie is done when crust is golden brown.

Let us know how you like the pie!

--Two Peas

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Curried Lentil-Cabbage Soup and Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

Homemade beef broth, farm fresh vegetables and savory herbs can mean only one thing.  Fall.  Yes, fall means comfort food and comfort food means homemade soup.  The smell alone stirs up feelings of home, comfort, and coziness.

The best part of making and enjoying a savory soup is knowing the tremendous health benefits it imparts. Farm fresh vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.  Spices such as ginger and turmeric are anti-inflamatory.  Homemade bone broth made from pastured beef bones is loaded with gut-healing, immune boosting properties. Vegetables sautéed in pastured beef tallow become rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an essential fatty acid vital to health, especially weight control. 

In fact, Dr. Mercola reports on CLA in his article, "The Secret Sauce in Grass Fed Beef",

"A host of research has been conducted on animals, under microscopes, and with humans to determine the impact of CLA on disease.  Results have shown CLA to be a potent ally for combating:
  • Cancer:   Animal studies show that as little as 0.5 percent CLA in your diet could reduce tumors by over 50 percent, including the following types of cancer:
    • Breast
    • Colorectal
    • Lung
    • Skin
    • Stomach
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High Cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insulin Resistance: CLA’s actions actually mimic the effect of synthetic diabetic drugs. Testing on mice with type 2 diabetes have shown CLA to improve insulin action and reduce circulating glucose. Even better, the early results from human trials are just as positive, when consuming CLA for longer than eight weeks.
  • Inflammation
  • Immune system invaders
  • Food-induced allergic reactions
  • Body Composition:  Exciting research with humans has shown that CLA has been beneficial in lowering body fat, with even greater improvement in those who combine exercise with dietary intake of CLA. Animal research has been even more promising, with significant improvements seen in both reducing body fat and in increasing lean body mass.
  • Previous studies have shown that CLA reduces body fat while preserving muscle tissue, and may also increase your metabolic rate."
Read the full article here:


Curried Lentil-Cabbage Soup 

This recipe is budget-friendly, deliciously simple and uses ingredients you already have in your cupboard.  Best of all, it is satisfying and healing.  Serve with your favorite homemade bread for a warming, fall dinner.



4 - 5 cups beef bone broth or vegetable broth
4 carrots, sliced
1/2 large cabbage, chopped
4 celery stalks, sliced
3 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
1 onion, diced
1 cup cooked lentils
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons pastured beef tallow or coconut oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ginger, powdered
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste


1.  In a large stock pot, sauté until tender all chopped vegetables in beef tallow or coconut oil (20 - 30 minutes).
2.  Pour broth into the stock pot.
3.  Add lentils, rice and spices.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 20 minutes and serve.

 Would you like to learn how to render beef fat and make your own tallow?  Make your own beef bone broth?  Let me know.

Happy Fall!
-- Two Peas


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Love, Marriage and Homemade Apple Pie

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God" 1 John 4:7
As Greg and I approach our wedding anniversary, fondly I reflect on the last four years.  How have we grown in the last four years?  Have we changed for the better? 
At this very moment, 11:39 PM, my husband is cleaning up the kitchen after making an apple pie from scratch. 

He still amazes me with his fearless zest for life, work ethic, brilliant ideas, projects and enthusiastic cooking -- the man simply does not tire.

This I learned just days after returning home from our honeymoon.  I remember that first week, anticipating that we'd sit together, reading, singing hymns or watching a movie.  It was with wonder that I watched him move from one project to another in our tiny, 600 square-foot apartment:  cleaning the refrigerator, replacing the garbage disposal, cooking, and organizing closets and cupboards.

What did I do?  I joined in, of course.   Happily, we have spent many hours working and serving side-by-side ever since, sharing with others, enjoying ourselves completely and relishing the gift we have been given. 

Tonight we made a homemade apple pie (a whole-food recipe -- look for it in the next post).  Our fourth pie in less than two weeks.  With gusto Greg jumped in, found a new recipe, milled the flour, and sliced and cored the apples.

Exactingly, I retrieved equipment and tools, refined measurements, and cleaned as we baked. 

It worked beautifully and the outcome was far better than if either one had set out on his or her own.

It has been four years.  By God's grace, we have grown softer, kinder, and more patient toward each other.  We see more clearly how we complement each other.  We have learned to delicately handle the others' weaknesses, and have discovered ways to help the other soar.
A verse comes to mind.  
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We thank and praise God for His faithfulness, goodness and care for us.  His love is amazing! 

Happy, and thankful.
--Two Peas