Friday, February 12, 2010


I grew up drinking milk, like most of you.  I always thought it was a necessity to drink does a body good, right?  I mean, how are you going to get your calcium and Vitamin D?  Once I began searching for answers to my questions about milk and its supposed benefits, I found out that we are the only species to drink milk (from another animal, by the way) after weaning.  Here's an interesting tidbit, taken from Dr. Jay Gordon (although we don't take his advice regarding the inclusion of soy products, orange juice, and cereals to get our calcium):  (

"Thanks in part to lobbying efforts on behalf of dairy farmers, Americans feel that it's necessary to drink milk throughout their lives. We've seen countless advertisements which perpetuate the myth: "Milk. It does a body good." Milk can be a high fat product with excessive quantities of protein. It's specifically designed to efficiently grow a cow, an animal which will mature rapidly and live a relatively short time. The National Research Council, a nonprofit organization that provides scientific advice to the federal government, has reported that the cow's milk humans drink also contains all of the pesticides and hormones that cows ingest with the alfalfa they eat.

A study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in June, 1993, confirmed that there is a definite correlation between cow's milk and the incidence of diabetes. Furthermore, some allergies, which manifest themselves in runny and stuffy noses, can be traced to cow's milk. Some ear and tonsil infections also originate with the drinking of milk. Ingesting other dairy products including butter, cheese and ice cream can also result in these symptoms.

Surprisingly, we are the only species on this planet that drinks milk after infancy, and we are also the only species that drinks milk from a species other than our own. Maybe the other animals know more than we do!

Many infants have trouble digesting cow's milk. This intolerance of lactose, or to the protein in milk, manifests itself in stomach and intestinal disturbance, gas and rashes.

Lactose is the result of combining two sugars: glucose and galactose. Most of us produce an intestinal enzyme, lactase, which allows us to break down these sugars. Our bodies produce the most lactase in infancy when we drink the most milk. As we get older, our bodies produce lesser amounts of lactase so our tolerance to lactose goes down naturally.

The protein we get from milk can be obtained from dozens of vegetable sources, primarily legumes, which include soy bean products. It is a little trickier to find other sources of calcium but this substance is contained in many vegetables like broccoli. Calcium is also available, in smaller amounts, in many other foods. If you're still concerned, you can buy calcium supplements wherever vitamins are sold. Soy milk, orange juice and cereals are now calcium fortified.

I want you to be aware that cow's milk can show up in unexpected food items so you have to read labels carefully. Even a small amount hidden in a food can trigger a reaction in children with milk protein allergies."

Did you also know that countries with the highest dairy intake have the highest incidence of osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is related more to calcium excretion due to salt and protein intake than to calcium deficiency in the diet.
So, Noah has only had a few cups of cow milk so far.  We don't "drink" milk just to drink it.  He does, however, still nurse (gasp!) and complements breastmilk with almond milk, hemp milk, or coconut milk.  I think it's interesting when people comment on the fact that I am still nursing an almost four year old, yet they don't see anything wrong with giving their child milk from another animal.  I'm just doing the more natural thing!  Besides, we humans are biologically designed to benefit from breastfeeding for an average of  2.5 to 7 years of age (Breastfeeding:  Biocultural Perspectives, Katherine Dettwyler).
I do think there is some benefit in eating dairy products like cheese, yogurt, cream, and kefir in moderation. I think it is better to eat these items over grain products, if you have to make the choice.  We try our best to avoid grains and have found that including some dairy products gives us more variety.  When Noah does eat grains, we make sure they are sprouted (like Ezekiel products) or pre-soaked oats.  I will get into grains another time in another post. 
But I have also learned that not all dairy is equal.  Dr. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Weston Price both promote raw dairy products.  According to Dr. Price (
"Pasteurization is a process of heat treating milk to kill bacteria. Although Louis Pasteur developed this technique for preserving beer and wine, he was not responsible for applying it to milk. That was done at the end of the 1800s as a temporary solution until filthy urban dairies could find a way to produce cleaner milk. But instead of cleaning up milk production, dairies used pasteurization as a way to cover up dirty milk. As milk became more mass produced, pasteurization became necessary for large dairies to increase their profits. So the public then had to be convinced that pasteurized milk was safer than raw milk. Soon raw milk consumption was blamed for all sorts of diseases and outbreaks until the public was finally convinced that pasteurized milk was superior to milk in its natural state.

Today if you mention raw milk, many people gasp and utter ridiculous statements like, You can die from drinking raw milk!" But the truth is that there are far more risks from drinking pasteurized milk than unpasteurized milk. Raw milk naturally contains healthy bacteria that inhibit the growth of undesirable and dangerous organisms. Without these friendly bacteria, pasteurized milk is more susceptible to contamination. Furthermore, modern equipment, such as milking machines, stainless steel tanks and refrigerated trucks, make it entirely possible to bring clean, raw milk to the market anywhere in the US.

Not only does pasteurization kill the friendly bacteria, it also greatly diminishes the nutrient content of the milk. Pasteurized milk has up to a 66 percent loss of vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin C loss usually exceeds 50 percent. Heat affects water soluble vitamins and can make them 38 percent to 80 percent less effective. Vitamins B6 and B12 are completely destroyed during pasteurization. Pasteurization also destroys beneficial enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Pasteurization destroys lipase (an enzyme that breaksdown fat), which impairs fat metabolism and the ability to properly absorb fat soluble vitamins A and D. (The dairy industry is aware of the diminished vitamin D content in commercial milk, so they fortify it with a form of this vitamin.)

We have all been led to believe that milk is a wonderful source of calcium, when in fact, pasteurization makes calcium and other minerals less available. Complete destruction of phosphatase is one method of testing to see if milk has been adequately pasteurized. Phosphatase is essential for the absorption of calcium."

While Dr. Mercola and Dr. Price are both fans of drinking raw milk, we don't focus too heavily on dairy products in our diet.  I have found that even raw dairy products create a lot of mucous and I just don't feel as good when I'm eating a lot of dairy.  But when we do eat dairy, we strive to buy the raw, grass-fed, organic brands.  You can visit to find a supplier near you. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Benefits of Co-sleeping

Why am I talking about co-sleeping on this blog?  I think it is a pretty "primal" way of life...I highly doubt our primal ancestors placed their babies/children in another cave or enter form of shelter here.  LOL

Anyway, the reason I bring up this subject is because today I saw a video on ABC news discussing how SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is linked to low serotonin levels in the baby's brain and ways to prevent SIDS.  I have long known that co-sleeping and breastfeeding (including night-nursing) decrease your chances of SIDS.  However, the conventional doctor in the video says to avoid co-sleeping.  She does say that breastfeeding decreases your chances of SIDS, so I'll give her credit for that one.  Here is a great explanation as to how co-sleeping may help to prevent SIDS.  Also, here is a great co-sleeping and SIDS fact sheet that talks about why co-sleeping gets a bad rap, and how to successfully and safely co-sleep.  My favorite part is where the author states:

"Why does our nation rank only 42nd in infant survival in the industrialized world (some non-reporting nations are thought to rank better than us as well)? Our difference from the best-ranking nations is a high predominance of formula feeding, isolated sleep, and medical intervention. The highest cosleeping/ breastfeeding nations rank with half our overall infant death rate (and negligable SIDS rates).  Remember we rank #1 in medical intervention. "

Let me also highlight how co-sleeping decreases your chances of SIDS according to LLLI and Dr. James McKenna:

(Excerpts from a LLLI press release from September 30, 1999: )

Studies have shown that co-sleeping with a breastfeeding infant promotes bonding, regulates the mother and baby's sleep patterns, plays a role in helping the mother to become more responsive to her baby's cues, and gives both the mother and baby needed rest. The co-sleeping environment also assists mothers in the continuation of breastfeeding on demand, an important step in maintaining mom's milk supply.

Dr. James McKenna, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, a member of LLLI's Health Advisory Council, and an expert on the subject of co-sleeping, believes there to be more danger in leaving an infant alone in a crib than in arranging a safe co-sleeping environment. He states, "We agree... that special precautions need to be taken to minimize catastrophic accidents. However, the need for such precautions is no more an argument against all co-sleeping and, specifically bedsharing, than is the reality of infants accidentally strangling, suffocating, or dying from SIDS alone in cribs, a reason to recommend against all solitary, unsupervised infant sleep." He adds, "While specific structural hazards of an adult bed are important, the fact that they exist means neither that they cannot be eliminated nor that all bedsharing is unsafe."

Dr. McKenna goes on to address concerns over co-sleeping being unhealthy for a child's psychological development:

In part, this view represents a personal and arbitrary judgment that anyone is entitled to make as long as it is not passed on as scientific fact. Such judgments are based on Western values favoring the perception of how individualism and infant autonomy are best promoted and obtained. No study has shown, however, that the goals for separateness and independence (or happiness, for that matter) are obtained in the individual by, among other things, separate sleeping arrangements for parents and children, nor do any studies demonstrate negative consequences for children or parents who choose to cosleep for ideological or emotional purposes, except when cosleeping is part of a larger psychologically disordered set of family relationships or when cosleeping occurs under dangerous social or physical circumstances. The only studies of the psychological or social effects of cosleeping reveal not negative but positive consequences. One study among military families revealed that cosleeping children receive higher evaluations of their comportment from their teachers than do solitary sleeping children and are under-represented among psychiatric populations, when compared with children who do not cosleep [Forbes JF, Weiss DS: The cosleeping habits of military children. Mil Med 1992; 157:196-200]. Lewis and Janda found that college-age students who coslept as children were better adjusted and more satisfied with their sexual identities and behavior than college-age students who did not cosleep [Lewis RJ, Janda H: The relationship between adult sexual adjustment and childhood experience regarding exposure to nudity, sleeping in the parental bed, and parental attitudes towards sexuality. Arch Sex Behav 1988; 17:349-363] . Clearly, we need to change our conceptualization concerning what constitutes a normal or healthy childhood sleep pattern!

(From: Stein MT, et al. Cosleeping (Bedsharing) Among Infants and Toddlers. Pediatrics 2001 Apr; 107(4); 873-877)

And I can attest that co-sleeping has in no way hampered my sex life!!!

Ten Reasons to Shop at the Farmers Market

My old mommy friend Rebecca over at Know Thy Food is an amazing woman.  She lives the kind of life I strive to emulate.  I especially admire her commitment to avoiding grocery stores and mainstream food consumption.  This means buying only local, organic foods.  Of course, it helps that she lives in an area surrrounded by outstanding farms!  I do my best in Orange County by buying most of our meat directly in bulk from the farm and shopping the farmers market every week.  The few things I stop by the grocery store for are:  organic, raw, grass-fed butter, organic, raw, grass-fed cream, nuts, condiments/spices, almond milk, coconut milk and other coconut products, and occasionally yogurt and cottage cheese.  I am working on finding ways to make some of these items myself or buying them from a more direct source.  Any suggestions?

For those of you looking for a farmers market near you, you can visit  Noah and I love our weekly visit to the farmers market.  Everyone there is so nice to him and he is learning so much about where food actually comes from and what is in season.  He is also learning a little about money by being in charge of paying for our items in cash.  The main reasons we shop at the farmers market are:

(taken from the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture at

1.  Taste Real Flavors: The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen in the field and brought directly to you - no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets -food fresh from the farm.

2.  Enjoy the Season: The food you buy at the farmers market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, savor sweet corn in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the turning of the year.

3.  Support Family Farmers: Family farmers are becoming increasingly rare as large agribusiness farms and ranches steadily take over food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today's globalized economy.

4.  Protect the Environment: Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes greatly to pollution and creates excess trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

5.  Nourish Yourself: Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed. The fresh produce you do find is often grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. In many cases it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. All of these practices have potentially damaging effects on the health of those who eat these foods. In contrast, most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by building their soil's fertility and giving their crops the nutrients they need to flourish in the ground and nourish those who eat them.

6.  Discover the Spice of Life ~ Variety: At the Farmers Market you find an amazing array of produce that you don't see in your supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, white peaches, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, maitake mushrooms, gigande beans, whole pheasants, and much, much more. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience first hand the diversity (and biodiversity) of our planet, both cultivated and wild!

7.  Promote Humane Treatment of Animals: At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and been fed natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of so many of their brethren on feedlots.

8.  Know Where Your Food Comes From: A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to reconnect with where your food comes from. Farmers themselves sell their produce at the farm stands. Meeting and talking to farmers is a great opportunity to learn more about how food is grown, where it is grown, when it is grown, and why!

9.  Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas: Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy, but farmers, ranchers, and vendors at the farmers market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling. They'll give you ideas for what to have for supper, hand out recipes, and troubleshoot your culinary conundrums.

10.  Connect with Your Community: Wouldn't you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped in music? Coming to the Farmers Market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The Farmers Market is a community gathering place - a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children, or just get a taste of small-town life in the midst of our wonderful big city.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Guilt-free primal dessert recipe: Gorilla Cake

...courtesy of Son of Grok.  Check out his Primal Blueprint success story here.  Totally inspiring!

I'll admit it.  I LOVE dessert.  Seriously.  Who doesn't.  With the exception of a birthday cake or other special occasion, I've stuck to finding healthy, primal recipes to curb my sweet tooth when it sneaks up on me.  This one's gooooood.  Even the hubby who despises both banana and coconut couldn't stop picking at it.  And the best part is, it's grain-free and gets its sweetness naturally from bananas!  Hooray!

I am going to make this one for my lovely friend Kristina's birthday.  I think I will add some whipped raw cream.  Yum.  I hope she likes it as much as I do :)

Here it is, taken from Son of Grok's site:



- Dash of Cinnamon
- 2 Tblspoons organic butter (or coconut oil if you prefer)
- .5-1 cup almond flour


- 3 bananas
- 2.5 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 eggs
- Dash of cinnamon



1. Melt butter or oil and mix almond flour and a dash of cinnamon into a dough.
2. Press your dough very thinly into your baking pan.


1. Process 2 of the cups of shredded coconut until fine. (I used my food processor.
2. Combine fine coconut, unprocessed coconut, bananas and eggs in a mixer (I was trying out my new kitchen aid) Mix until liquid pudding texture. (if you don’t have a kitchen aid, you may need to uses a blender or processor to goo up your nanners.

Put it together

1. Pour your filling into your pan with your crust
2. Sprinkle top with a dash of cinnamon
3. Bake at 350 degrees until done (mine took about 30 minutes).
4. Serve warm or cold! Enjoy

Setting Us Up For Success

Every Sunday, I score major points with the hubby by whipping up a bunch of yummy, healthy, primal food to get us through the week.  It has helped us stay on track with eating healthily by having a refrigerator full of already-prepared snacks and mini meals to grab for during the day when we're hungry.  Plus, Simon saves money and time by bringing his lunch and snacks to work every day. 

Here's a list of what I made this week:
  • No-bean chili with organic, grass-fed ground beef and chopped up bacon
  • Crust-less quiche to last the whole week made with eggs (of course), full-fat coconut milk, chopped up kale and bacon (Can you tell I'm craving bacon?)
  • One Dozen hard-boiled eggs
  • Enough salad for each of us to eat every day for lunch.  This week I used romaine lettuce, chopped apples, zucchini, cucumber, tomato, red bell peppers, and diced turkey.  We just pour on olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dress it up. 
  • Six chicken drumsticks
The time and effort I put into making these foods has helped us tremendously and I actually look forward to doing it each week.  It makes me feel good when I open the refrigerator and see all the yummy food I prepared with love and care.  Plus it saves me time and headache during the week when I just don't have the energy to whip up something fresh and healthy.