If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you might have noticed that I’m cooking a little differently. I am heading in the direction of traditional food preparation methods, such as you can find in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell.
What is Nourishing Traditions?
Reading from the book, its premise is:
…that modern food choices and preparation techniques constitute a radical change from the way man has nourished himself for thousands oF years and, from the perspective of history, represent a fad that not only has severely compromised his health and vitality but may well destroy him; and that the culinary traditions of our ancestors, and the food choices and preparation techniques of healthy non-industrialized peoples, should serve as the model for contemporary eating habits, even and especially during this modern technological age.
Nourishing Traditions departs from modern industrialized food methods because it goes beyond just using whole, natural ingredients. It takes those ingredients and prepares them properly, according to the traditions of healthy, un-industrialized peoples across the globe. Examples of the quality ingredients and traditional preparations would be:
- using raw dairy products – to preserve enzymes in the milk that aid in digestion, to protect against pathogens, and to offer fat-soluble vitamins and minerals that act as catalysts to mineral absorbtion and protein utilization
- using cultured dairy products – to prevent spoiling, to increase enzymes, to break down casein, to increase lactase which helps lactose-intolerant individuals to tolerate cultured dairy foods, and to increase vitamin B and vitamin C content
- consuming saturated fats such as raw, virgin coconut oil and butter made from the milk of animals feasting on rapidly growing grass – to offer essential fat-soluble vitamins and minerals which act as catalysts to mineral absorption and protein utilization, to provide the appropriate stiffness and structure to our cell membranes and tissues, to strengthen the immune system and facilitate inter-cellular communication, and more!
- embracing animal foods and animal fats from animals raised in their natural environment – to provide an appropriate balance of omega-3/omega-6 essential fatty acids, and to provide a rich source of nutrients to protect the heart and nervous system
- sprouting, soaking and/or fermenting grains – to assist in digestion and assimilation of nutrition
- soaking of nuts and seeds before consumption – to neutralize those nutrients that are enzyme-inhibitors
- lacto-fermentation of vegetables and fruits – to preserve food while increasing its digestibility, vitamin levels, enzymes, and healthy bacteria
That list is not exhaustive, but I hope a good overview. I find the nutrition benefits very, very compelling.
This Is What Convinced Me
About 6 years ago, I read Nourishing Traditions for the first time. I loved it. I resonated with almost everything I read. I tried out a few recipes.
I tried sourdough bread; it was horrible – the starter got moldy, time after time. I tried soaking our oatmeal in lemon juice the night before cooking; the sour taste made us barely able to tolerate it. I should have tried a little harder, I think.
The rest of the book was filled with cultured dairy foods, which I thought were out for us, since we didn’t really comprehend the difference between raw and pasteurized dairy foods and thought ourselves to be lactose-intolerant or dairy-allergic, no matter what the type of milk. The book also used many eggs, which were out because my son is allergic.
So the book went back to the library.
Fast forward to last year. By this time, we knew of gluten intolerance issues in my daughter and my husband. I heard from friends and read in other books about sprouting gluten grains. The issue kept coming up. I couldn’t ignore it anymore. We had to try it. We were curious whether sprouting would enable those two to be able to eat the grains without any adverse symptoms.
I did some experiments with sprouting emmer wheat (an ancient, ancient variety of wheat), kamut, hard white wheat, and spelt. (See here and here.) My husband and daughter did very well with these foods. They are thriving, and we are using sprouted spelt and other flours for all our baked good (like cookies, biscuits, scones, tortillas and bread).
The following is a paraphrase from Nourishing Traditions explaining what the sprouting does:
The proteins in grains, especially gluten, are very difficult to digest. If the grains (especially gluten grains) are not soaked or sprouted, they put a great strain on the digestive system, which can over time, turn into allergies, celiac disease, mental illness, chronic indigestion and candida overgrowth. The process of sprouting partially breaks down the gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins into simpler components more readily available for absorption. And the enzymes help with the rest of the job, done by our digestive system. (Nourishing Traditions, page 453)
Additionally, here’s a direct quote from Claude Aubert which is included in the book:
Sprouting accomplishes a veritable pre-digestion of grains. Phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of calcium and magnesium, is largely decomposed. So are certain sugars which cause intestinal gas. Part of the starch is transformed into sugars and numerous enzymes that aid digestion are produced. – Claude Aubert, Dis-Moi Comment Tu Cuisines
Since the sprouting experiment has been so successful, I am convinced that we should follow traditional food methods all the time. We’ve seen that we have no allergies to raw dairy, so now I’m a believer that raw dairy can be consumed by most people, whether in its fresh, raw state or cultured.
We’ve always believed that industrialization has ruined our food. Disease, sickness, and obesity run rampant – and it coincides with industrialization. Two words encapsulate industrialized food (though we can hardly call it food): refined and quick.
What Happens Next
All these years, we’ve been eating healthfully, using whole, natural and organic food ingredients, and working around food allergies. But now I see that even though I’ve been using the best of ingredients, I haven’t been preparing everything properly to maximize nutrition and to reduce stress on the digestive system.
We will be incorporating more and more traditional food preparation techniques. I now soak all grains, nuts and seeds prior to consumption. The usual soaking medium for grains is whey added to filtered water. We don’t have whey yet, but will soon. In the meantime, I either add a glug of raw apple cider vinegar or Kombucha to all my soaking water.
We’re getting dairy goats; we’ve got one already. From them, we plan on drinking raw milk, and making butter (if I can get enough cream to separate), yogurt, buttermilk, and all sorts of cheeses.
I am already experimenting with lacto-fermentation. Last week, I made lacto-fermented pickled turnips. They are fabulous! Instead of cooking food to death through canning and pickling with nutrition devoid white vinegar, you instead add a salt/whey/water solution to cover sliced veggies in the jar. The salt/whey keeps the putrefying bacteria from multiplying while the beneficial lactobacilli grow strong enough to dominate, effectively preserving the food and providing probiotic benefits for your gut. It is amazing! This process takes a few days at room temperature, then the jar is moved to cold storage.
Sourdough bread. I am determined not to repeat my experiments of six years ago! I have purchased starter to try soon. As well, I have yogurt starter, water kefir starter, milk kefir starter, and buttermilk starter to try. (See my Resources page for starter sources).
I have many, many recipes on this site that use the best of ingredients. The task now is to make them over, using raw dairy, cultured dairy, soaking/sprouting, etc. This will take time, but I know can be done with a little thought.
What About You?
The Nourishing Traditions book is a must-read/must-own for any traditional kitchen. I commend it to you, if you don’t own it already. With it, you’ll be able to adjust many recipes to make them slow and traditional. You’ll find just tons of information on all traditional food topics.
Please don’t think that traditional preparations involve much more time. It is not more time they need, but rather, planning. Meals and dishes must be started day(s) in advance. This can happen in minutes, and the beneficial work is done by the food itself.
There is a very helpful brochure, including a simple list of traditional dietary guidelines, at the Weston A. Price Foundation website (founded by Sally Fallon Morell, author of Nourishing Traditions).
For cooking demonstrations, and information on local resources and help, check to see if there is a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation in your area.
The Weston A. Price Foundation also runs the campaign, realmilk.com, where you can find local sources for raw milk.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Although I am a newbie, I am an excited sponge for great information, so I can try to direct you in the right direction!
This post is part of Fight Back Fridays! hosted by FoodRenegade.
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Martha Bisharat says
The research you’ve done blows me away! I am very grateful! Love, Mother
Oh, Mom, you’re the best! Love you bunches.
Thanks for referring this book .Wohh it seems like , i need to read this book now …
Yes would be buying it and reading it ..
Have you read ” In Defense of Food ” or “The Omnivore’s Dilemma ”
I am lately reading this so you need to read this book too .
I also love this book. I admit that I started out really trying to follow the recipes, and have fallen away from it.
The only thing on my mind lately is moving to a place where we can raise more of our own food. I think once that happens then I will be able to focus more energy on Nourishing Traditions.
My family LOVES, LOVES, LOVES raw milk! I am a HUGE proponent of raw milk, and feel that it probably saved my life.
Keep up the blogs on this topic!
What a compelling story!
Thanks for sharing it in today’s Fight Back Fridays carnival.
Yes, I feel like Nourishing Traditions replaces Betty Crocker! I tried oatmeal with apple cider vinegar first, because that was all I had, and it was grose. I now use kefir, and it tastes great. I just tried your 4 grain breakfast porridge soaking with kefir and water, and it worked great.
By the way, Azure now carries a type of coconut sugar, check it out and tell me what you think of it. I think I’ll order some next month. It looks like Sucanant, not the creamy kind.
Can’t wait to try your recipes as they become converted to Nourishing Traditions! You are a gifted cook.
P.S. Just as I was really getting excited about the blender batter recipes, my blender died! Hopefully I’ll be able to buy a Vita-Mix soon.
Kelli – I agree. It is a comprehensive resource. And ick on the acv in sweet cereals!
I’ve found at least one thing that is out-of-date. For instance, the information on sweeteners says that Sucanat is refined and therefore to be avoided. However, I gather Sally Fallon Morell has changed her stance on that, since Sucanat is produced without refining now. So it seems Sucanat is on par with Rapadura now. Still sweeteners to be used in moderation, but unrefined and better choices.
Thanks for mentioning the coconut sugar. I’ll think about getting some.
So sorry your blender died. Did you see the cookbook I left at the church for you? If you didn’t get it on Wed, you can get it tomorrow. I guess it doesn’t help you now since your blender died, but at least you could read through it and get ideas and possibly copy recipes you want to try later.
I got the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat that you mentioned. I haven’t started it yet. What did you think? Are you still trying anything in it? What are you going to do about grains now that you can’t do the blender method? I suppose you could just do soaking flours, not starting from whole grains.
Good to visit!
Wow….Wardee…you are very encouraging. I stumbled upon your site a few weeks ago and feel as though you are “plowing the way for me”. I do have a copy of Nourishing Traditions. My husband bought if for me after I gave birth to my 3rd child. I have Multiple Sclerosis and was desperate to find a better way of eating that would allow me to nurse my infant…rather than going back on meds. I have been successful in nursing for 9 months now YEA! Unfortunately, I find myself very overwhelmed when reading Nourishing Traditions, but your site is putting my mind at ease and giving me the courage to dig deeper into these traditions. We have switched to raw milk and really enjoy it and we are really good at soaking grains. I look forward to making more and more changes in the upcoming days. Thank You!
Kristin – That is a fabulous testimony of how traditional methods have helped you in a profound, important way! I am so happy to hear your story. I know it can be overwhelming, so we just have to break it up into bite-size tasks. Since you’re already doing the soaking of the grains and the raw milk, you’re most of the way there. Thank YOU for sharing your story and where you are – we can encourage each other!
Sonya Hemmings says
I am so glad you posted this! I HAD noticed you mentioning Nourishing Traditions quite frequently, so I picked up a copy at my local library. I have been astounded at its contents and so excited to try some things. I sent you a separate e-mail off blog to ask you some specific things about your experience with the methods mentioned in the book. You continue to challenge me and stretch me and, in the process, bless my entire family! 🙂
Sonya – I just answered your email. Feel free to ask away!
Nourishing Traditions became my cooking and food “Bible” some years back; it really got me on the road to “real” healthy eating. Its philosophies are ones you have to go back and remind yourself about now and then. I’ve been without raw whey for months now and need to find time to culture some raw milk. So much of this is pretty easy… if you just plan ahead. I love the info you provide here. Thank you. BTW, one of our patients at my office has a goat farm and they are bringing in raw milk. I can’t wait to get my order soon!!!
David – great news about your getting raw milk! I’ve noticed that NDs seem be a sort of hub for local, natural food. So your “job” has great perks!
What is an “ND”?
Wardee, I just finished reading Nina Planck’s Real Food- a lot of the same information, with more backup research. It was an excellent and compelling read! I read Nourishing Traditions right before we discovered the girls were celiac, and I was so consumed with that diagnosis and changing that part of our life, I set aside the traditional foods part. I agree it is an indispensable resource.
This is the first time we’ve been able to get raw milk and we thought that we were ALL allergic to dairy- we’ve been through a gallon in two days and everyone feels great! What a wonderful testament to the power of raw milk. I’m going to try making yogurt with it next I think.
I just love your blog!
Kyrie – I am reading Nina Planck’s book right now! It is so good and matches up well with NT. I am curious if soaking and sprouting has made it so your girls can have gluten grains? I’m so happy you’re doing well on the raw milk. Oh, if only we had a gallon! (We’re only getting 1-1/2 cups each morning from our goat; but she is nursing her 2 1-month old kids, too.) Have a great Sunday!
I haven’t tried soaking/sprouting grains yet with Bunny- it’s most serious for her, and I’ve been reluctant to try for fear that she will have a bad reaction. I think bythe time I figured out what was going on with her, her system was already pretty badly damaged. Birdie still has excema- which actually seems to be getting better with the raw milk, actually-
I have doubts that grains are so important, anyway…although I miss Ezekiel bread a LOT. Sigh. We have a totally GF home for the girls’ safety and sometimes I just want a piece of toast! 🙂
p.s. picked up TWO gallons of raw milk today at the farm. So thrilled about that. Nothing better than having your own (out the back door) source, though! 🙂
I’m so pleased to see this post. I’ve made NT my “Bible” for cooking, as a previous poster stated. I’ve had a lot of hits, some misses, and I am still perfecting my sourdough techniques. I love the book (although it can be overwhelming to some people) and recommend it often.
I recently read “Eat Fat, Lose Fat.” It was great! There’s a lot of the same information, but I think it’s a bit more condensed. Also, it focuses quite heavily on coconut oil. I’m dying to try the coconut granola recipe!
I’m excited to see you makeover your old recipes! 🙂
Yes, I got the book, thank you! I will just figure out which recipes to try when I get a new blender.
Eat Fat Lose Fat was a good read, but I would need to have 2 Tbsp of coconut oil before meals. I tried it for ONE day. Right after dinner, I had to run to the bathroom with cramps. Before dinner, I was dredding drinking more oil. I tried it in tea. And I LOVE anything coconut. But my body was telling me to stop. I waited a few days and was going to try again, just having 1 Tbsp before meals, but I was only able to make myself do that once. Something about it my body was just rejecting. Too bad though, I’d love to figure this whole weight thing out. I am just trying to reach for the coconut oil more in things that I used to use oilive oil for at too high of a heat. I am still happy I bought the book for the recipes.
Mindy – I hope you’ll share more about your sourdough experiences – I so need help with that!
Kelli – Since I haven’t started “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” I didn’t know about eating the oil before meals. I totally understand your reaction. I have that now for broccoli sprouts. Once I added them to a smoothie and it was ick, ick, ick. Ever since then, I cannot grow, handle, smell or eat broccoli sprouts. Your using coconut oil as much as possible will be very good, I’m sure. Are you going to get a new blender in the meantime while you save up for the VM?
I am in Oregon too, so that is a nice coincidence. 😉
I came across your stie while seeking out feedback in regards to sprouted/soaked/sourdough grains as I have sensitivities to nearly all grains otherwise, along with starches in potatoes and most sugars/sweets.
I appreciate your time in posting your personal experiences and I look forward to reading more!
Thanks for shairng! 🙂