RFNH = “Real Food Nutrition & Health” Study. My children and I will be working our way through Kristen Michaelis' book, Real Food Nutrition and Health, during the fall and winter months as part of our homeschooling curriculum. If you're following along, or falling behind, no worries! This series will be here for you whenever you're ready. And even if you're not quite caught up, feel free to jump in regardless.
Click here to read more about the study and get the proposed schedule, as well as current and past downloadable discussion questions/activities each week — which you can save for the future if you're not going to participate now.
We're on Chapter 6: Living Foods & Superfoods. Click here for Chapter 6's discussion questions/activities (a free PDF download).
Quick! Think of a Fermented Food!
We began the chapter the same as Kristen suggested. And the kids did pretty well. First was the unanimous and excited: “Sauerkraut!” which they love. Then they named other fermented foods we've tried or have regularly: pickles, kefir, carrots… I helped them put 2 and 2 together, naming cheese and sourdough bread as fermented foods also.
The first time I got my head around this was when I read Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation. The amazing lactobacilli (bacteria which consume sugars in all kinds of foods, leaving behind lactic acid) are involved in food preservation and culturing of pickles and sauerkraut, cheese, sourdough bread, and even old-fashioned fermented beverages (including probably the wine that Jesus served at the wedding in Cana).
What makes the lactobacilli so special? While submerged in brine (no oxygen required*) or inside a food, the lactobacilli feast on whatever sugars are present. Their byproducts of eating are carbon dioxide (the bubbles) and lactic acid (the sour taste). The lactic acid preserves the food, though it must be in cool storage. The bubbles make the food a bit bright. 🙂
*In sourdough bread, oxygen is required for the fermentation of the dough. However, it is not for the lactobacilli in the starter; it is for the wild yeasts.
In addition, this process (called lacto-fermentation) increases vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, as well as probiotics. Those lactobacilli proliferate, and they're great for our guts.
It was cool to see the light bulbs go off in the kids' eyes. Of course, I talk about these things all the time, and we eat probiotic foods at every meal and then some. But my talking is more in passing, and in bits and pieces. Did you know? Of the 14 lessons in the Fundamentals eCourse, 5 involve lacto-fermentation. It is that important!
I credit lacto-fermented foods* for a recent improvement in how my body handles seasonal allergies. I had barely a symptom this year. Have you heard me complain in years past how I can't function through the grass season without daily antihistamines? This past year, I took no antihistamines in the three months of allergy season! How does this work? Well, the strength of our immune system lies mainly in the gut. A gut that is lacking good flora leads to a weak immune system, and vice versa. Read this for more information.
*On the advice of a reader (thank you!), I also took bee pollen prior to the allergy season. However, I started the bee pollen late and took it sporadically. I'm sure it helped, and probably these two things worked together to give me a virtually symptom free year. I am hoping it was not an aberration. Next year will be really telling!
Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes From Living Foods
The aforementioned cultured foods (or fermented foods) are examples of living foods. Raw, uncooked foods are also living foods. What makes living foods so great? They provide vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Did you know that the SAD (Standard American Diet) is virtually devoid of any living foods — raw or fermented? While traditional cultures would eat 60% to 80% living foods, we basically eat none. As Kristen said, they aren't the weird ones. We are. 🙁
And it shows, doesn't it? The results of the modern diet is deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes — leading to overall unhealth and disease.
Of the superfoods listed in the chapter, which do you eat? Which would you like to start eating? We eat the fermented cod liver oil/high vitamin butter oil, and nutritional yeast. Check out this homemade seasoning salt that uses kelp! I am very interested in the acerola because of help with allergies.
It was great that my kids got to hear from someone else (Kristen) how good fermented cod liver oil is.
I suggested 2 activities in the discussion PDF for this chapter. One of them was to select and make a fermented food. There are many recipes in our Lacto-Fermentation series, but you can also choose a recipe from Nourishing Traditions or from another real food blog. I would love to hear what your children do!
The other suggested activity was to start a sourdough starter, which my daughters have done successfully. Yay! I'm so proud of them. Between Kristen's book and putting into practice the recipes/activities in both the Fundamentals and Sourdough eCourses, my children are getting a wonderful food education.
A note about sourdough. Because the end food will be cooked, anything sourdough doesn't offer probiotic benefits. However, the probiotics do a wonderful job of preparing the grains for better digestion and nutrition. The bottom line: sourdough breads are not living foods, however the process of souring involves the important and beneficial lacto-fermentation.
What did you get out of this chapter? Do you think you need to improve the quantities of living foods or superfoods your family currently eats? Are your children more willing to eat these foods now that they see how nutritious they are?
GNOWFGLINS will earn a commission on sales of the Real Food Nutrition and Health book through this blog. But honestly, we'd be doing this study whether or not we were associated. Thank you for supporting GNOWFGLINS with your purchase. You should also know I'm very thankful to be undertaking this study with Kristen's permission.
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