Friday, 13 July 2007

Finally Success! A Breakfast Bar Worth Repeating

I have been struggling with the creation of a breakfast bar recipe that is worth making again.

Voila! HazelnutFig Breakfast Bar

It's not for a gut that's still healing but once stable, this is a real tummy filler...

The best thing is that my kids love it... and they don't even like figs!

No eggs, no grain, no soy, SCD friendly...


Sunday, 8 July 2007

The Great Pond Adventure

Ducklings are new for us this year.

The flyer said you don't need a pond... but that just kind of seems mean to us... So, we filled our kiddie pool with rocks and water and some feeder fish.

I fully expected the ducklings to eat the feeder fish right away... but that didn't happen.

I fully expected the ducklings to think that swimming was their favourite thing to do... but they didn't.

I fully expected the feeder fish to die and the kiddie pool to turn into something disgusting that nothing could survive in or near...

The fish lived, spirulina began to grow and the duckweed from another water plant gifted to me by a friend in the waterplant business, thrived.

To my surprise, it turns out that spirulina is a protein rich water green that people pay a lot of money for and use for help with allergies and sensitivities. (No lack of irony there, eh?)

Duckweed, considered a nuisance by many a pond owner, is not only another protein rich water 'bean' that decontaminates water but it may possibly have detoxifying powers for humans. (Again, irony abounds!) Most importantly for me, it is also a waterfowl delicacy.

Proof in point, the ducklings ate the duckweed to near extinction in one afternoon.

So now I need the kiddie pool to grow duckweed in a confined place because the idea of growing our own animal food is obviously appealing to someone like me. And besides, the ducklings have since decided that if there's food in the water... then the water IS their favourite place to be after all.

So, this weekend was the beginning of 'The Great Pond Adventure'.

Patrick and I dug out a small area that is at least twice the size of the kiddie pool and are now in the process of putting some chicken wire around it to keep out the predators.

As the ducks grow, we will just dig out some more dirt to expand the pond.

George certainly thinks it tastes good.
And this duckling, Quackers, thought it would be a good idea to first have a taste of pond water via dog spit.

The fish seem to like it. Of course it's twice as big as their last home...

And the ducks have clearly stamped a 'pass' on the whole project.

I must admit, rather than working on it, we've already rather enjoyed sitting by the pond, small as it is, enjoying the company of the fish, the ducks, the dogs and the sun.

Okay, it's not so pretty yet... But give us some time... It's a whole new learning curve.

Dogs and Chickens and Ducks... Oh My!

Our house is a bit of a menagerie these days. And if you come for a visit, you are more likely to be greeted by a dog, chicken or duck, than a person.

We've just recently added ducks to our repertoire in hopes of having gluten free duck eggs, after a few years of successful gluten free egg growing via chickens.

The chickens came before our gluten free days because my preoccupation with studying food and living off-grid began long before that.

Seven years ago, we moved into the country with dreams of living a completely independent lifestyle.

I would make all homemade, wholewheat bread and was beginning to talk about plowing up a patch in the back to grow my own wheat when we realized our diet would no longer be including any form of wheat.

I began to research what I might possibly be able to try and grow on my own for bread. Spelt and Kamut, though considered low gluten were out as we were all reacting to even the tiny amount of barley malt found in Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal and the Lindt golden chocolate Easter bunnies.

This left buckwheat (technically not wheat but a relation of rhubarb), quinoa and rice. But then my project took a severe turn as I realized that as we felt better, we were eating a lot more meat-type protein and seemed to have better energy with less grain.

So, once again, I switched gears and began to look at raising our own gluten free meat. After all, we had been keeping our few chickens for several years.

When we first went gluten free, we had switched all the animal food to be gluten free also after the children had become ill just handling the gluten chick feed. We noticed enormous behaviour changes to the positive in the animals.

Our old German Shepherd who was half blind began to see better. (I've since spoken with a vet who has also cleared a pannus affliction in a young German Shepherd Dog by eliminating gluten and corn from its diet too.) Our rottweiller no longer had the horrible gas that we endured for reasons of love alone. And our 16 year old cat who was a recluse for most of her life, began coming down from the bedroom. People would say, "Oh, you got a cat!" And we would reply, "No, we've had her for 16 years, she's just getting more sociable on her new diet." I'm sure they thought we were joking but we really weren't.

Nevertheless, changing the chicken feed to be more 'natural' for the chickens (they are omnivores like humans) had an interesting impact on the eggs we collected from them. The shells were harder, the yolks were a bright orange (as opposed to a light yellow) and tasted 'fuller', somehow. And the chickens were drinking shockingly less water. But then again, we drank less on days that we didn't eat grain too.

This brought, yet another, question to light... Even though we are so healthy now... Could we be healthier if we ate gluten free meat? I mean, if gluten affected us so adversely, could the animals that we eat be affected adversely also?

I began to look up research abstracts and found that, indeed, the meat from gluten fed animals are lower in omega 6's than it should be and higher in acid levels (which have cancer implications for humans).

Even cows that are fed grass but then "grain finished" (the last six weeks before slaughter) have much higher acidity than those who are grassfed completely.

This supported our egg differences that we have experienced first hand. Also, though the typical chicken has a laying capacity for two years at best, our chickens have been laying for five years and show no sign of slowing down. In fact, one of our girls consistently lays eggs almost as large as duck eggs.

So, back to the idea of raising our own meat, chickens seem to be the most obvious choice. It didn't hurt that we were all set up for them already either. After a few years of having a tiny flock that includes innumerable trials and errors, we've finally taken the plunge and now have a fair sized, free-ranged, gluten free organic flock and a new empty freezer waiting to be filled.

The question is, will I be able to do 'the deed' when it needs to be done? We'll have to wait and see. But in the meantime, we sure are having fun with it!