Fun With Fermentation, Making Fermented Fruit Chutney

Once again I found an excuse to teach a class about my favorite topic, live fermented foods.  Once again, the class was well-attended by a diverse group of people with an interest in home-made ferments.  Some attendees had a long history of making their own ferments, such as the woman who was originally from Poland and described for us the fermentation traditions of her home country.  She told us that she had brought her traditions to the U.S. in the form of fermented cucumbers, which are different from pickles because they use natural fermentation rather than vinegar.  Other attendees had only ever tried sauerkraut.  They were ready to learn more about the benefits of sauerkraut and try some new things as well.

Fruit Chutney

I credit most of my own health successes and improvements to live fermented foods.  Starting with home-brewed beer and some dairy ferments, I worked my way through the book Wild Fermentation several years ago.  My favorite health promoting ferments are still the fermented veggies.  In my own kitchen, I go back and forth between doing a wild fermentation that utilizes the beneficial bacteria that naturally occur on the veggies and using a starter culture to guarantee consistent results.  Sometimes I make the decision to use a starter culture because I want to use less salt.  Most of the time, though, I only use a starter culture for fruit ferments or anything high in sugar that might favor an alcoholic fermentation.  Click Here to Purchase Culture Starter

For the class, I demonstrated how to make a fruit chutney using either a boxed starter culture or whey from live yogurt.  I chose to do a fruit chutney because it is a fun recipe to try and an easy one to add to your diet if you don’t like other fermented foods.  If you want your kids to eat more ferments, start with fermented fruit (even salsa and ketchup).  For picky eaters, you can make the chutney without the spices or use more familiar spices like cinnamon.

fermented apples and pecans

Here are the topics I covered in the class, including the recipe:

Benefits of Live Fermented Foods:

  • Preserve food for winter and avoid waste during times of surplus.

  • Fermentation increases and even creates vitamins and enzymes.

  • Live fermented foods improve digestion with probiotic bacteria, beneficial acids and enzymes.

  • Fermentation breaks down anti-nutrients and goitrogens.

Making Your Own Live Ferments:

  • Use fresh ingredients, organic and/or local.

  • Culture starters help encourage the right kind of bacterial fermentation, which is important for fruit if you don’t want to end up with alcohol. Yogurt whey also works.

  • Salt inhibits bad bacteria while the good guys start to take hold. Use a culture starter or juice from a previous batch to cut down on salt.

  • Basic directions: Wash and chop fruits or veggies. Add salt and massage or pound to create juice. Pack into a clean jar. Leave an inch of space. Cover and leave at room temperature for 3-4 days. Store in fridge for 1-2 months for fruit, 6+ months for veggies.

Fermented Fruit Chutney

Recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Mix Together:
½ cup filtered water (no chlorine)
juice of two lemons
grated rind of two lemons
1/8 cup sucanat or palm sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt

¼ cup whey or culture starter (Mix the starter culture with sweetener and water according to package directions.  I used the Body Ecology starter with good results.)

Click Here to Purchase Culture Starter

Add to Lemon Juice/ Culture Mixture:
3 cups fresh fruit (apples, pears, peaches, mango or papaya),peeled and chopped
½ cup crispy pecans or walnuts **

½ cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon coriander

 

Place in wide mouth quart jar and press down until liquid covers top of fruit. Cover and leave at room temperature for 2-3 days.  Check the chutney daily and push the fruit down under the liquid as needed.  Once it is starting to get slightly fizzy, pop it into the fridge.  You may store it in the refrigerator for up to two months. 

Important note for beginners:  Eat this chutney as a condiment rather than a fruit salad.  Add just a couple of tablespoons to your meal.  Live fermented foods may contain large amounts of beneficial bacteria.  For this reason, it’s good to start with a very small amount and give your body time to adjust.  Enjoy some live fermented foods every day.  Eventually the good bacteria will start to outnumber the harmful bacteria and yeasts in your gut.

**The recipe for Crispy Nuts is also found in Nourishing Traditions.  Soak the raw nuts for about 8 hours in salted water and then dehydrate until crispy.  This starts the germination process and makes them easier to digest as well as delicious.

Resources: http://www.wildfermentation.com/wild-fermentation/, http://bodyecology.com/

Read more about the benefits of fermented foods.

Make Fermented Cranberry Relish.

 

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

Baking with Sprouted Grains, Making Your Own Sprouted Flour, Sprouted Banana Bread

Recently I had the joy of teaching a sprouted wheat baking class at our local cooperative.  Since going gluten free, I’ve gotten away from using sprouted grains.  It’s a shame, though, because buckwheat, quinoa and many other gluten free grains can also be sprouted for improved digestion and nutrients.  You can make your own sprouted grains and grind them into flour or scroll down to the bottom for some sources for sprouted flour.top of the muffin

Benefits of Sprouted Grains:

 

  • Sprouting reduces anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, saponin and aflatoxin.

  • Sprouting converts some of the hard-to-digest starches to simple sugars.

  • Sprouting reduces the gluten content and makes it more digestible.

  • Sprouting increases B vitamins, vitamin C, Carotene and enzymes.

  • The sprouting process involves cleaning, which removes bugs and foreign matter.

Baking with Sprouted Flour:

 

  • Sprouted flour tends to be more consistent in moisture content than other flours.

  • Sprouted flour can usually be substituted one for one in baking.

  • Sandwich bread may require the addition of gluten or guar gum for better rising.  As with most gluten containing flours, do not over-mix sprouted wheat or sprouted spelt when making quick breads and cookies.

Best Banana Bread

Recipe adapted from Summer’s Sprouted Flour  (http://www.creatingheaven.net/eeproducts/eesfc/recipes/bananabread.html)

     Cream together:
1/2 cup melted butter or palm shortening
1/2 cup palm sugar or sucanat
2 beaten eggs or 1 Tablespoon ground chia in ½ cup water
2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Add and stir quickly, until all is moistened:
2 cups Organic sprouted wheat flour or sprouted spelt flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Pour into an oiled loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Cool on rack. (Variation: Add a rounded tsp. of ginger.)

drying sprouted spelt

Sprout Your Own Grains:

    • Fill jar no more than 1/3 full with grain and soak in filtered water over night.

    • Add sprouting screen. Drain and rinse.

    • Rinse three times per day and allow air to circulate.

    • It is done when the tiny sprouts are about half as long or as long as the grain. Dry completely in a warm oven or dehydrator.

    • Grind into flour using a grain mill or coffee grinder. Use right away or store in an airtight container in a cool place, fridge or freezer.

close up sprouted speltThese sprouts are just a little past the point where I would normally stop sprouting and dry them for flour.  Notice how the little shoots are starting to turn green.  If you planted them in a shallow tray, you’d have a nice flat of wheat grass (a.k.a. cat grass) in just a few more days.

Resources:

http://www.organicsproutedflour.net

http://essentialeating.com

http://www.creatingheaven.net

 

 

Mocha Maca Muffins, a Gluten Free Soaked Grain/ Half Grain Recipe

 

It’s the month of love and I’ve been experimenting with maca! If you haven’t tried it yet, maca is an ancient root that grows in the Andes mountains of Bolivia and Peru. It has been used for centuries for energy and fertility. Though the root doesn’t contain any hormones itself, it nourishes our endocrine and reproductive systems, which improves stress response and hormone balance (source). The powdered root has a malty flavor that combines nicely in sweet smoothies and with chocolate.mochamacamuffins

Since I’ve been trying to improve my own health and energy through diet, I was pretty excited when my husband brought home a free sample of powdered maca. I enjoyed adding it to smoothies for a little while but then forgot about it when the weather began to get cold and cold smoothies were no longer appealing. I found the jar of maca again recently while cleaning the supplement cupboard. Yes, we have an entire cupboard full of supplements and super foods, sort of like a natural medicine cabinet. We keep a child-proof lock on it because it’s important to treat these supplements like the powerful medicines that they are. Just because they are herbal or natural, doesn’t mean that they are safe for everyone.

When I found the maca and remembered the benefits I’d gotten from it in smoothies, I started looking for other ways to enjoy the powdered root. I found out that it can be substituted for part of the flour in a recipe. This discovery led me to begin experimenting with pancakes and muffins. Pancakes were a hit, but I prefer to make muffins rather than stand over a hot griddle for any length of time. I wanted my recipe to be both gluten free and properly prepared (fermentation, soaking or sprouting) for optimal digestion. This mocha maca muffin recipe is the result of my efforts.  Begin the recipe the night before you wish to bake the muffins so that the oatmeal and buckwheat can soak overnight to reduce phytic acid in the grains.

Mocha Maca Muffins

  • 1 Cup Gluten Free Oats (I used this kind)
  • 1/3 Cup Buckwheat Groats, ground in coffee grinder, or use 1/3 cup minus 1 Tablespoon buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 Cup Brown Rice Flour or Sweet Rice Flour
  • 1 Cup Filtered Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Softened Butter or Palm Shortening (click to buy shortening)
  • 1/2 Cup Palm Sugar (click to buy)
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Almond Flour (purchase 5 pound bag)
  • 1/2 Cup Maca See Note below (click to purchase)
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Dandy Blend Coffee Substitute (click to buy)
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips

Directions:  Combine the Oats, Brown Rice Flour and Ground Buckwheat in a glass bowl.  Stir in the water and Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice.  Leave in a warm place for 10 – 24 hours or overnight.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a twelve cup muffin pan or use paper liners.  To your soaked grains, add the Eggs, Butter or Shortening, Palm Sugar and Vanilla.  Sift together the remaining dry ingredients except for the Chocolate Chips.  Mix everything together and divide into twelve muffin cups.  Bake for 25 minutes or until they spring back when touched and a toothpick comes out free of sticky crumbs.  Allow to cool slightly in the pan before removing the muffins to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

You can make this recipe dairy free by substituting coconut oil or palm shortening for the butter.  I used Dandy Blend Coffee Substitute for the coffee flavor.  I like Dandy Blend because it has the health benefits of dandelion root and no caffeine.  It’s made with barley extract but is gluten free, as confirmed by testing.  You may wish to use organic instant coffee for a more caffeinated muffin.  (I like this kind.) Be careful because some instant coffee may contain wheat or be processed with chemicals.

Important note on maca dosage: Each muffin provides 2/3 tablespoon of maca. This is a therapeutic dose that is higher than the dose of one teaspoon per day that is suggested on the label of most powdered maca products. You may wish to work up to such a high dose after you make sure that you can tolerate maca in your diet. One way to reduce the maca for beginners is to use a quarter cup of maca and a quarter cup of arrowroot powder or corn starch instead of leaping in with the 1/2 cup of maca in this recipe.  Of course, my husband thinks that even 2/3 tablespoon isn’t enough for full effects. Fortunately he has a big appetite and can easily eat two muffins.

Have you ever used maca in your cooking or smoothies? I encourage you to experiment with substituting maca for part of the flour in your own favorite recipes. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor.  The suggestions here are not a substitute for medical advice.  Please consult your doctor or natural health practitioner to see if maca is right for you.

Paid Endorsement Disclosure:

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  If you order from Tropical Traditions by clicking on one of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

 

Giveaway! Bee Rescued Natural Propolis Body Care Products.

Bee RescuedI’m really excited to be offering my very first giveaway from Stepha Friendly Foods!  The best part is that I get to send the lucky winner a basket of great personal care products from a very friendly local company!  The drawing will be held on March 4th.  Read on and march forth to learn about this great company and enter to win the gift basket.

As a farmers’ market manager, I often get questions from people who are looking for local farmers and farm products.  Recently, I learned that the local company Little Honeyzzz is looking for more farms to raise their bees.  The sales rep added, “It has to be a farm that doesn’t spray.”  His comment made me smile.  You’ve gotta love a company that’s good to its bees, especially with the problems that are facing honey bees right now.  I was excited to learn that Little Honeyzzz is taking great care to raise their bees without the use of corn syrup, antibiotics or chemicals.

If you’ve never heard of Little Honeyzzz or their Bee Rescued products, it’s time to check them out!  They are a small Wisconsin company making all natural products with the healing powers of propolis.  They also sell beeswax and bee pollen.  I especially love their Propolis Toothpaste and Bee Rescued Propolis Rescue Balm.  To celebrate that such a great company is right here in my own hometown, I’m giving away a Bee Rescued Gift Basket.  The winner will be selected at random on March 4th.  Enter using the Rafflecopter Widget below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Paid Endorsement Disclosure:

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  If you order from Tropical Traditions by clicking on one of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

Stock in a Crock! Using Local Stewing Hens

stock in a crockYou probably already know about the many benefits of a good bone broth, also known as stock.  Just to name a few of my favorites: minerals in an easy-to-absorb form, tummy soothing gelatin, amino acids that promote health and wellness, and a very tasty addition to your healthy cooking.  Maybe you know about the benefits and love the flavor, but wonder if you have the time to make a good stock when you work all day or chase after kids.

Though I love having that pot of stock simmering on the back burner of my stove all day, sometimes I just want to throw things in a crock pot and ignore it for a while.  Sometimes I want to make stock over night and don’t want the risk of leaving an low flame on the stove while I sleep.  Those are the times when I get out the crock pot.

Crock pots are especially useful for stewing hens.  When I speak of a stewing hen, I’m not talking about the young chickens you get at the grocery store.  Those birds were raised for meat and grown very quickly.  They usually have relatively weak bones and lots of tender meat.  Stewing hens, on the other hand, tend to be strong-boned and tough.  The good ones spent their lives outside eating bugs and high quality feed while laying eggs almost every day.  Some aren’t hens at all but are roosters who protected and defended their flocks of laying hens.

happy hensStewing hens are often less expensive than meat birds, but they cannot simply be roasted or boiled for a couple of hours.  They do best with a very long, low simmering in water.  Otherwise their meat is tough and stringy, a sign that they had more exercise than the average American chicken.  Slow cooking allows the meat to become tender and creates a rich stock that is loaded with flavor and beneficial minerals.  Best of all, you can add even more flavor by using herb stems and parts of veggies that would normally be wasted.

Crock Pot Stock

Ingredients:

    • Local Stewing Hen (or bones left over from one or more roasted chicken)
    • Filtered Water – about a gallon
    • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (Click to Buy)
    • Assorted Vegetable Leavings, such as carrot peels, celery tops, onion tops and skins and parsley stems

Equipment:

Remove the giblets from the stewing hen and save for other recipes.  (Click here for a Dirty Rice Recipe, which is better than it sounds.)  Place the chicken, bones and veggies in the crock pot.  Pour in enough filtered water to just cover.  Add two tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar.  The acid in the vinegar helps draw minerals out of the bones and into the stock.  Put on the lid, plug in the appliance and turn the heat to low.  Allow the stock to simmer for 12 – 24 hours.  Enjoy the warm, healing aroma.chicken stock in pot with acv

After a few hours, you may want to skim off any residue that rises to the top.  It isn’t absolutely necessary, and I find that clean stewing hens don’t produce much fat or residue.  After about a day, or whenever it works best for your schedule, turn off the crock pot and let everything cool slightly (about an hour).  At this point, the chicken has fallen apart and the meat falls off the bones easily.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a one quart glass measuring cup.  Use a ladle to scoop out the contents of the crock pot into the strainer.  The broth runs down into the measuring cup.  Refrigerate the broth in quart or half gallon canning jars.  Sort out the meat and refrigerate it in a glass container.  The meat is great for curry dishes or soups.  I always take a moment to enjoy at least a cup of the stock while still warm with just enough sea salt to make it taste just right.

Budget Tip:  I save chicken bones and assorted vegetable odds and ends in the freezer until I’m ready to make stock.  Onion peels will give the stock a rich flavor and a color that is even more golden then usual.  Celery tops and parsley stems add sodium so that you don’t need to add as much salt.  Sometimes I leave out the veggies because I want a pure chicken stock for recipes.

Storage Tip:  You may wish to cook down the stock in an open pot on your stove.  Simply simmer it for several hours until it is reduced by half or more.  This creates a more concentrated stock that can be frozen for later use.  I’ve successfully frozen stock in wide mouth quart  jars.  The trick is to let the stock cool completely in the refrigerator first and make sure to use the wide mouth jars rather then narrow necked ones.  Also, fill the jars only slightly more than half full.

Paid Endorsement Disclosure:

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  If you order from Tropical Traditions by clicking on one of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

Movie Popcorn – in the Comfort of Your Own Home!

movie popcornDo you crave movie popcorn?  Do you find it hard to walk past the poppity-popping cascades of fresh kernels with their enticing aroma without stopping at the counter to pay five dollars for a giant tub to enjoy with your movie?  I admit that popcorn, and especially greasy, salty movie popcorn has always been one of my guilty pleasures.  Fortunately, ever since my hubby and I discovered how to make it at home, there is no more guilt about this fabulous treat!

In addition to feeling good about the quality ingredients in my own popcorn, I can eat it without feeling sick afterward.  As someone who is sensitive to both artificial colors and rancid oils, most movie popcorn is not a very friendly food for me.  In addition, even though popcorn is currently not being genetically modified, it is a heavily sprayed crop.  As a third consideration, the cost of making organic popcorn with quality ingredients is extremely low compared to movie theater prices.

You can buy fancy popcorn poppers that stir the kernels for you and even make it just like they do at the movies.  We’ve found, however, that fancy equipment isn’t necessary.  We pop our movie popcorn in the same stock pot that we use for making chicken stock and chili.  We found a glass lid at a thrift store that fits our stock pot.  It’s fun to watch what’s happening as the little kernels get excited and pop.  Of course, if your lid is opaque, you can still make successful popcorn just using your ears.

Why Red Palm Oil?

red palm oilWe use red palm oil to give the popcorn a nice yellow color without resorting to artificial colors or beta carotene.  I’ve been using red palm oil in cooking for seven years on the advice of a close friend whose husband is from Africa.  She raved about the deep-colored oil for cooking her husband’s favorite traditional recipes.  Recently a certain TV doctor recommended red palm oil as a source of lycopene, carotenes and vitamin E.  This meant that initially the oil was harder to find in stores.  It may intermittently become scarce again as the television show re-runs the episode that featured red palm oil.  Ultimately, however, the popularity is making it easier to get this fine cooking oil.  It is important to look for sustainably harvested, organic palm oil because the high demand for palm oil has led to habitat loss for orangutans and other endangered animals.

Sadly, much of the palm oil crop that is threatening habitats is used in bio-fuel.  Yes, even with an environmental sounding name like bio-fuel, it is not sustainable and is even harmful to the environment.  Some of the palm oil is also being highly processed and used as an ingredient in cosmetics and processed foods.  Fortunately, many natural food companies are choosing to source only sustainable red palm oil that is raised on small farms without massive habitat destruction.

020When you purchase palm oil, look for a label that indicates that it was grown sustainably and without habitat destruction.  If you are unsure, call the company or ask your food co-op.  Our co-op will only carry sustainable palm oil.  Also, be prepared to pay quite a bit of money for a jar of quality red palm oil.  In my opinion, this is a good thing.  Some food products are just more precious and valuable.  If we lowered the price on them, it would lead to increased consumption and more habitat destruction.  The amount of red palm oil that you will use in this popcorn recipe is so small that one jar will last you for a very long time.

My husband and I have spent months developing this recipe to determine just the right ratio of red palm oil to coconut oil so that the red palm flavor doesn’t overpower the popcorn.  (Gotta love recipe research!  We enjoyed every single attempt.)  You may want to start with a slightly smaller amount of red palm oil if you are sensitive to new flavors.  At first, I was the only one who really liked it.  Now, however, both my husband and my very picky daughter request the buttery colored red palm oil popcorn.  It’s so tasty that we don’t even add butter to it.

Of course, I won’t stop you from adding some nice pasture raised ghee. (Click to Buy Grassfed Ghee) More fat equals more satisfaction, so that you don’t sit there on the couch and mindlessly eat the whole bowl.  Grass-fed ghee also provides fat soluble vitamins like A, D and K.  With the vitamins in the Ghee and the mixed tocotrienols (vitamin E) in the red palm oil, you will be snacking on the important fat soluble vitamins that are sadly lacking in our modern diets.

D.I.Y. Movie Popcorn

stock pot on stove, good one of stoveMelt the coconut and palm oils in a large, stainless steel stock pot.   Add the popcorn and cover.  Cook over medium to  medium high heat, shaking the pan back and forth over the burner frequently.  When the kernels start to pop, they should go crazy and all start to pop at once.  If they don’t, raise the heat a little bit.  Otherwise, the oil and popcorn may burn.  Shake the pan across the burner intermittently and listen closely to the popping.  Use pot-holders because it gets very hot.  I like to vent the lid a couple of times toward the back of the stove.  Just lift it up a little to let out some steam.  I’ve heard that this will help create more fluffy popcorn.  Be careful not to burn yourself.  Ideally the popcorn will pop very quickly.  You will want to get it off the heat as soon as popping slows down.

The next step is very important.  Salt the popcorn while it is still warm.  Since we don’t usually add butter, we’ve found that the salt sticks to the popcorn best when it’s warm.  If we wait too long, we end up with dry, unsalted popcorn and a bunch of salt in the bottom of the bowl.  We pour the warm popcorn into a shallow bowl (actually an old wok that we also found at a thrift store) in layers.  Fill the bowl about a third full and use your fingers to sprinkle salt.  Add another third and another sprinkle.  Add the final third of the popcorn and one more sprinkle.  Taste the popcorn and add more salt to taste.  If using butter/ flax oil, you may salt after the addition of the oil because the oil will help the salt adhere to the popcorn.

You may eat the popcorn warm right away or let it cool down to store in an airtight container for up to a week.  It makes a great after school snack.  The coconut oil and palm oil provide energy and a sense of fullness. Now you can sit back and enjoy your movie.  Add a glass of lacto-fermented soda pop or home-made beer and you may start preferring your own couch to any movie theater.

Paid Endorsement Disclosure:

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  If you order from Tropical Traditions by clicking on one of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

One Mistake That Holistic Parents Make

mistake holistic parentsAre you a holistic parent? Maybe you’ve been called crunchy or a granola mom. Maybe your extended family rolls their eyes when you pull out the gluten free, organic snacks. You roll your eyes when they give your child plastic toys from China. Maybe your discipline style is different from the styles of your friends and family. Do you find that people judge you harshly for your parenting choices? Do you judge other people harshly for theirs? I’m tired of the judgment that I see between different kinds of parents. If we want to be truly holistic, I think we need to realize that other parents who do things differently are doing the best they know how to do and that they are parenting different kids.

I think it’s important to at least try to practice non-judgment. I say try because I know how difficult it can be. How hard is it not to judge when you see your friend’s kid gobbling up an artificially colored, GMO-laden, sugary snack? You may want to criticize her right away before she does her kid any more damage. At the same time, she may be concerned about some of your parenting choices as well. If you approach her with respect, she may be more likely to respect your ideas. She may learn from your actions and admire your well-behaved sugar free child who almost never gets sick. No doubt you can also learn from things that she does as a parent.  From experience, I’d like to suggest a different way to view other parents and their choices. Simply put, not only are they doing their best under different circumstances, they are parenting different kids.

For example, I know that my daughter has a very sensitive system. She gets tummy troubles from certain foods. Some people don’t understand why I would try special diets or restrict her foods at all. Other kids seem to do fine eating the very things that would send my girl into a tummy ache or a downward spiral. I suppose I get a little jealous of those other moms whose kids can digest eggs, dairy and wheat.  I try not to judge if they also feed their kids sugar frosted flakes, toaster pastries and bologna sandwiches.  Of course, if someone comes to me wondering what to do for a child’s earache, I tell them how my own daughter’s chronic ear infections have cleared up since we discovered her allergy to dairy products.

On top of her various digestive issues, my girl wasn’t born with the common sense or self preservation that I was expecting. I wanted to be one of those relaxed moms who lets her child experience the world and learn from mistakes. Instead, I’ve had to constantly protect her from dangers like running in front of moving vehicles or trying to breathe under water because she thought she was a mermaid. Someone watching me parent her in those early years probably thought I was a total helicopter parent. Maybe I was.  Now that my daughter’s older, I can fortunately be a little more relaxed. This is good because it seems that she learns best from her mistakes.  For example, she only learned not to run in front of her cousin on the swing when her cousin ran into her and knocked her over. I was nearby to dry her tears and give her a hug, hoping that more lessons will be this easy and free of lasting damage. When I see other parents trying to keep their kids out of harm, I empathize. Nobody wants to see their kids get hurt and it’s really hard to know what will be a teaching moment and what will be serious.

AJ on Carousel

Maybe, like the foods that are friendly for our own unique bodies, there is no parenting style that will work for every child or every family.

I know that other moms who have different kids don’t understand my parenting choices. I even sometimes wish that things could be different. I didn’t set out to be an attachment parent. I fell into it because I had a high need baby who didn’t sleep well and cried when I set her down. She wouldn’t take a bottle or a pacifier. (Ask my mom, who really tried hard to be able to feed her so that I could get a break.) Fortunately I had a large support network of other mommies who taught me about the many benefits of attachment parenting. They taught me about baby wearing and encouraged me to be responsive to the needs of my baby. Because of my own experience, I often wonder how much we create our parenting styles and how much our unique children create them for us.

Reading articles and research studies hasn’t definitively answered my questions about the best parenting style for my daughter.  I’ve found studies that support authoritative parenting.  I’ve also found studies to support a more child-centered approach.  There are articles that discredit attachment parenting as harmful to children.  There is just as much research and articles to support it. Maybe, like the foods that are friendly for our own unique bodies, there is no parenting style that will work for every child or every family.

Like holistic medicine, holistic parenting should address the underlying causes of our child’s behavior rather than just treating the symptoms. I often wish there were a one size fits all approach or a manual that would tell me exactly how to behave in every situation. I also wish that I could be my best self all the time and never make parenting mistakes. Being holistic requires me to be present and often get creative in my actions as a parent. When I make mistakes, as I often do, I’m not afraid to explain what happened and apologize.  Fortunately and unfortunately, kids learn from our actions.  I know that I want to raise a child who admits her mistakes and takes responsibility for the consequences. I guess I’m setting a good example in my own imperfection as long as I acknowledge it and make amends.  There is no such thing as a perfect person or a perfect parent.

I’m troubled by the judgment and pressure that we put on each other as parents. These judgments separate us and shame us when we really need support. Maybe that mother who seems too laid back has developed her style because her child is very self sufficient and practical. The mother who seems to be following her child around too closely may be meeting the needs of a child who tends to put himself in danger.  From the way my daughter taught me to parent her, I have to think that the behaviors of our unique children help create our own parenting styles, sometimes in ways that surprise us. At the very least, thinking holistically in this way helps keep me from judging and stressing out about what other parents may or may not be doing. The reduction in stress helps me be more present with my own unique girl and focus on what might be best for her. Sometimes I think I actually get it right.

LABOR DAY 2011 009

My Favorite Helpful Resources:

A Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto by Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW

Cure Your Child with Food: The Hidden Connection Between Nutrition and Childhood Ailments

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk


A Huffington Post Article on things American parents get wrong.

 
Paid Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. There is no extra cost to you. Furthermore, I promise to only endorse products and services that I trust and/or use myself. Thank you for supporting Stepha Friendly Foods.

The Perfect New Year’s Resolution for Stepha

I personally have a huge, long list of things that I would like to improve in this coming year.  I want to eat better.  I want to be more present with my family.  I want to learn more about health and nutrition.  I want to exercise more.  I need to de-clutter my home and life.  I’ve spent the past week tossing around about six or seven different resolutions that I would love to make and stick to this year.  At the same time, I know myself well enough to realize that it would be self defeating to attempt to do too many different things all at once.  I needed to come up with one resolution that will be manageable and will really make 2014 shine.

What's it going to be?  Eat more veggies?  Exercise?  Meditate?  Spend more quality time with my family?  Focus on my career?

What’s it going to be? Eat more veggies? Exercise? Meditate? Spend more quality time with my family? Read more?

Maybe it sounds selfish, but my 2014 New Year’s resolution is that I will take care of myself first.  This resolution is a huge one for me.  In fact, it’s possibly my greatest life challenge, something I’ve been working toward for at least half my life.  I’ve nearly always put other peoples’ needs ahead of my own.  Whether it was a romantic partner or my daughter, sacrifice comes naturally to me.  Does this make me a great person?  No.  It makes me horrible.  I burn myself out.  I say yes to too many things.  I feel guilty when I say no.  I resent people for being helpless and dependent on me when I’m the one who made them be that way.  I get overwhelmed and weepy.  I get sick.  As I end 2013 with a cold, a messy house and a huge to do list, I’m ready to make a change.

I think that the self care part is challenging for many mothers.  It’s the reason that the airlines have to remind us on every flight to put on our own oxygen masks first.  We’re very lucky that we aren’t bears.  Apparently a mother bear will feed herself first when food is scarce.  She instinctively knows that her cubs will not survive if she can’t be there for them.  We human moms have to learn to put ourselves first.  Hopefully you have plenty of food to share with your kids.  I’m talking about all the other things we do for our families at our own expense.  I obviously can’t stop occasionally sacrificing a good night’s sleep when my girl is sick or going out in the cold to pick her up from school.  I can, however, set aside some of the alone time that I do have to take better care of myself.  I know that when I am well, I am not only more able to enjoy my time with my family, but I am also able to be more productive at work and at home.

Action Steps

1. I will continue to practice saying no.  As I’ve gotten older and become more family oriented, I’ve gotten much better at saying no to extra activities outside the home. I realize, however, that I’ve still been bending over backwards to care for my family.  In 2014 I actually need to say no to many things at home. This will have to be a gradual change and probably won’t involve me actually using the word no.  It will more likely involve family meetings, discussions and negotiations. It may be challenging at first, but I think it will ultimately make things better for all of us.
AJ and Lovey Pouting

It’s time for my daughter to start doing more of her own chores.  At seven, she is old enough to put away some of her laundry and help out more in the kitchen.  Now that she has a bigger bedroom, we can set things up so that she can put her toys away and have a place for everything.  I also don’t have to be the one to cook all of our meals.  My husband is a fine cook.  Hopefully he can help out on his nights off.  He can fold his own laundry and put it away.  I can stop picking up after him, except maybe when he leaves his dirty socks on the towel rack.  I’ll always move them to the laundry basket along with whatever hand towel was there.

2. In 2014, I will take time for myself.  This means I will set aside quality time for doing things that are good for me.  Right now I spend much of my alone time washing dishes, doing laundry, cooking and cleaning.  In 2014 I will set aside 20 minutes of my alone time five days a week to do something for me.  Maybe it will be yoga or time spent reading a fiction book.  Maybe I’ll just sit and stare at the wall for 20 minutes.  I won’t use this time to shower, eat lunch, write in my blog, do social media or catch up on my to do list.  I’m putting it on my calendar right now.  Yes, it helps to actually schedule time to take care of myself!

3. I will continue to nourish my mind by studying topics that interest me.  I took a big step in 2013 when I signed up for the Health Coach certificate program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  Now every week I get new lectures and recordings about healthy living, self improvement, running a business and various dietary theories.  I especially like the audio files that I can turn on while washing dishes or cooking supper.  I’m learning about hundreds of different dietary theories so that I can help my clients find their best friendly foods.

Won’t you join me in making 2014 the year that you finally put yourself first (in a good way)?  What are your resolutions?  Can you offer me any advice in my attempts to take better care of myself?  Please share your comments below.  Happy New Year!
Paid Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  There is no extra cost to you.  Furthermore, I promise to only endorse products and services that I trust and/or use myself. Thank you for supporting Stepha Friendly Foods.

Four Things I Learned on a Biodynamic Farm

biodynamic farmAbout nine years ago I decided that I wanted to stop trading my life energy for money at two different jobs and instead make my daily work the work of living, that is growing food, cooking, cleaning and crafting. I sold my car, paid off my credit cards and moved to Camphill Village Minnesota. The year and a half I spent at Camphill Village changed my life. I write today in tribute to Camphill Village Minnesota and other biodynamic farms all over the world.

Camphill is a community where volunteers live and work with people who have special needs such as autism, developmental disabilities and Down syndrome. There are Camphill Villages and similar communities all over the world. The movement began in Scotland shortly before World War II. Everyone in the community participates in the meaningful work of daily living. Many communities sell the products they produce. Many of them also manage biodynamic farms.

The village I chose has seven houses, a bakery, a processing kitchen, woods and prairies, a weaving workshop (to make rugs and scarves), a biodynamic garden, a herd of pastured cattle, an orchard and some chickens. Music and art are a big part of daily life. Growing, storing and preparing food occupies most of the work time. Sharing meals and time together, celebrating holidays, meetings, study groups, musical entertainment, worship services and caring for the homes occupies evenings and weekends. Everyone eats the main meal of the day at lunch and almost everyone rests for an hour after lunch. Most people are involved in some way with the biodynamic farm.

I know I tend to toss around the word biodynamic as if everyone knows what that means. You may have seen the word on your tub of yogurt or in a recent magazine, but maybe you aren’t totally clear on what it means. Biodynamic is sometimes described as “a step beyond organic.” That description may be true, but oversimplifies a system of farming in harmony with nature.  The movement began out of some lectures by Rudolf Steiner and grew into a detailed method of raising food that is scientific, soil saving and spiritual all at the same time.

Here are four of my favorite things that I learned from the year and a half that I spent on a biodynamic farm.

1. Farms and communities work best together.

At Camphill Village Minnesota, the biodynamic garden and animals provide food that is shared between the whole village. The surplus is sold in the greater community to help fund the other needs of the village. I love the way various members of the community are able to use their time and favorite skills to help nourish all 40+ members of the community. Some people enjoy growing vegetables. Others prefer working with animals. Still others are great at processing, freezing, canning and making sauerkraut. There is always important work to be done on the farm and in the kitchens. Those who enjoy artistic pursuits work in the weaving studio and other craft workshops.

Steph and Adam-1-1The garden produce and animal products are made available to all seven houses, based on need. I think that these Camphill Communities were the original Community Supported Agriculture farms. Now more and more people are renewing their own connection to land and farming through CSA shares, where they pay up front for a weekly portion of the season’s harvest. Many CSA’s offer consumers the opportunity to work on the farm and participate in the harvest. This is a good thing because digging in the dirt is more than just work. It nourishes us in ways that go beyond the food we produce. Farms and people need each other.

2. Weeds are good.

I remember the first time that I worked in the Camphill garden and was corrected for pulling up a clover plant. The vegetables were growing in slightly raised rows divided by foot paths. The foot paths and even some of the garden beds had some wild clover plants growing in them. I don’t remember if I was initially told to leave the clovers to provide cover for elemental beings such as gnomes and fairies, food for pollinators, or nitrogen for the garden plants. Perhaps it was all three. In addition, the weeds help hold the soil to prevent erosion. For all of these reasons, we worked around the clovers whenever we could.

We also worked around nettles, wild berries, coneflowers, huge stands of calendula, various types of mint, comfrey, bee balm, lemon balm and more! The gardens are surrounded by stands of natural prairie plants and various blooming things. These plants provide food and habitat for beneficial insects. Yes, bugs are good too!

The weeds, leaves and flowers also provide herbal medicines and ingredients for biodynamic preparations. We gathered and processed the herbs and flowers according to a biodynamic calendar that helped us harvest in relationship to the phase of the moon and time of day. Because the moon affects water content, among other things, the calendar can be especially useful to grape growers and wine makers. (click here to order a 2014 biodynamic calendar)

For those weeds that you really do want to remove, they are still useful. These less desirable weeds give us important clues about the soil. Based on which weeds are growing, we can know whether the soil is too compacted, recently disturbed or deficient in minerals. I’m not personally an expert in this area, but I know several organic and biodynamic farmers who can tell you quite a bit about your soil health just by looking at the weeds that want to grow in your garden. They may also tell you that leaving some weed roots and other organic matter in your soil will feed important beneficial microbes, worms and bugs. I’ve often wondered if these various helpful creatures are the true fairies or elemental beings that I mentioned before.


3. Animals help complete the circle.

We raised quite a menagerie of farm animals when I was at Camphill Village. My favorite was the herd of dairy goats. If you have never spent time with goats, I encourage you to find a way to meet some. They are very charismatic little creatures. They also have an amazing ability to forage for food, making them very popular in areas of the world that aren’t suitable for growing other foods.

Digital StillCameraI enjoyed taking the small herd of goats for walks in the woods. They would munch on brambles, weeds and even poison ivy, turning these “unwanted” plants into two important products, fresh milk and manure. The manure was composted before being spread on the gardens. Some of it also fertilized the goats’ own pastureland after being spread around and cleaned up a bit of worms and bugs by the free range chickens. The goats also enjoyed vegetable peelings from our kitchens, turning them into milk and fertilizer as well.

I’m glad that we can still find small, humane farms that utilize animals to replenish the nutrients that vegetables remove from the soil.  So many modern farms have separated the animals from the land. They concentrate large numbers of animals in buildings or on cement feed lots. In these situations, the waste becomes a problem rather than an important resource. To grow grains for the animals, farmers pay the chemical companies for synthetic anhydrous ammonia, which they spread on the fields as a source of nitrogen. Composted animal manure provides not only usable nitrogen and potassium, but a host of other nutrients as well as beneficial soil bacteria.

4. We need to stop treating our soil like dirt.

Speaking of beneficial bacteria, did you know that a spoonful of healthy soil contains a billion bacteria? Yes, soil is mostly alive. Well, at least good organic or biodynamic soil is alive. The soil on conventional farms, well, it hangs in there as best it can, but the bacterial composition is different. Just like a course of antibiotics will indiscriminately kill many of the beneficial as well as the bad bacteria in our guts, pesticides and herbicides disrupt the metabolic pathways of many things besides just the weeds and bugs they are meant to kill.

Recent research on the popular herbicide glyphosate, for example, shows that it kills beneficial bacteria because many of the good bacteria rely on the same metabolic pathway that the herbicide disrupts. Bt toxin, now present through genetic modification in the plants themselves, has a detrimental effect on bacteria as well as many beneficial bugs. I believe that this war on soil bacteria is one reason that genetically modified crops have not been outperforming natural plants at the rate that was predicted. In fact, they have been shown to have weaker root structures and lower nutrition than other crops.

Biodynamic farmers utilize homeopathic preparations, compost, beneficial plants and insects and other natural methods to control bugs and weeds. They understand that a well-nourished plant will be better able to withstand the assaults of insects and weather. Maybe I’ll have to write another post about some of my favorite biodynamic preparations and methods. For now, check out the resources below for more information.

In addition to what we put on the soil, the way we care for soil structure is just as important. Biodynamic farming uses cover crops to both protect the soil from erosion and provide nutrients and organic matter. I’ve mentioned the unique preparations and compost. The beds and paths of the garden are yet another way to preserve soil structure. This system prevents soil compaction in the garden beds and reduces the need for tilling. Whenever possible, rather than getting out the rototiller, which harms soil structure and increases compaction, soil was instead worked by hand or aerated with a broadfork. The result is rich, loamy garden soil that teams with beneficial nutrients and critters both seen and unseen.

As you can imagine, the food at Camphill Village is delicious and nourishing. The workers in the processing kitchen freeze corn and beans at the peak of ripeness, put up hundreds of jars of tomatoes, ferment delicious sauerkraut and stock the pantries of every household with various salsas, sauces and pickles. The root cellar stores carrots and potatoes to last for most of the winter. I don’t think I am biased when I say that I prefer food from biodynamic farms. For these four reasons and many more, biodynamic farmers are doing a great job.

For more information on biodynamic farming and the Camphill movement:

Demeter USA – An organization that certifies biodynamic farms

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association

Camphill Communities
Paid Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  There is no extra cost to you.  Furthermore, I promise to only endorse products and services that I trust and/or use myself. Thank you for supporting Stepha Friendly Foods.

Sprouted Cowboy Caviar for a Friendly New Year!

sprouted cowboy caviar The black-eyed pea, or cowpea, is a traditional New Year’s Day food, especially in the Southern states. It is said to bring the eater luck and prosperity throughout the coming year. To me, this makes Cowboy Caviar the perfect choice for a New Year’s Eve party. Plus, it is my mom’s all time favorite party food!

This year, in the interest of making my caviar a little more friendly to digestion, I decided to sprout my black-eyed peas. Sprouting activates enzymes, such as phytase, that break down some of the hard-to-digest components of legumes. The combination of sprouting and then soaking in warm, slightly acidic water makes for fast-cooking beans that melt in your mouth and hopefully start the new year off with good digestion.

I replaced the processed vegetable oil in the recipe with extra virgin olive oil and the white sugar with honey.  I also used organic produce.  Bell peppers are on the dirty dozen list of vegetables with the most pesticide residues.  Corn is on the clean dozen list, but is usually genetically modified.  Choosing organic solves both of these problems.  Most cowboy caviar recipes use canned beans.  You could use canned beans (drained and rinsed), but sprouting and cooking your own beans is cheaper and has digestive benefits.

caviar sprouted pea close up good oneSprouting is surprisingly easy.  The most important part is to make sure they don’t get moldy.  You can keep the mold away by rinsing three times a day and allowing air to circulate in the jar.  If you do see any signs of mold or bad smells, throw them in the compost and wash everything well before starting over with fresh dry beans

I didn’t want to sprout the beans for very long because the growing sprout will eventually push off the outer casing of the bean. Too much sprouting would result in a creamy colored pea that is split in half and without its characteristic black spot.  Instead I watched the beans carefully and sprouted them only until they began to have a slight tail.  Even a short sprouting time of about two days has the benefit of increasing the activity of the phytase enzyme to break down mineral blocking phytic acid.  Here is how I did it:

Pick over a pound of black-eyed peas. Remove any small stones or wrinkled, odd-looking beans. Rinse the beans and place in a half gallon, wide mouthed mason jar. Fill the jar with lukewarm water. This is one place where slightly acidic, reverse osmosis or soft water is great. Let the beans soak like this over night. They will expand and nearly fill the jar. If they do fill the jar, you will have to split them into two jars for sprouting so that air circulates. I found that a pound of beans was about right for a half gallon jar. soaking black eyed peas

Next put on a screen or sprouting lid made for this purpose. Click here to shop for sprouting lids and screens. Rinse the beans three times per day and allow the water to drain and air to circulate. I prop the jar up on a colander at a slight slant so that air can circulate in and water can drain out. After about a day and a half, the beans will start to have a small tail or sprout. This is where I stopped sprouting them because I didn’t want them to lose their skins with those cute little black dots.

I put the sprouted peas in a pot of slightly warm reverse osmosis water and let them sit in a warm place for a few hours just to give the phytase a little more time to break down phytic acid in the beans. After that, I drained the water and replaced it with fresh R.O. water.  Cook the beans at a simmer for one to two hours or until soft. You don’t want them to be overcooked because they will start to get mushy. caviar mixing it together Mine were just starting to become too soft, which made it harder to make the dip. Rinse the cooked beans in cool water to stop them from overcooking. Chop up one green pepper, one red pepper and a medium red onion.

I like raw onions to be finely chopped.

I like raw onions to be very finely chopped.

Stir in the veggies and 10 ounces of frozen organic corn, thawed. Mix together 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 – 1/3 cup honey. Warm gently, if needed to dissolve the honey, but don’t cook it. Pour the oil blend over the beans and veggies. Toss in some chopped cilantro and salt to taste. Serve with crackers, sliced veggies, lettuce leaves or organic corn chips for dipping.

If you make it ahead of time and refrigerate it, the flavors will have a better chance to meld. You will, however, have to bring it back to room temperature for serving because the olive oil will harden in the fridge.  This recipe makes quite a large batch.  You may want to cut the entire recipe in half.  If you want to be very traditional, make a full batch of black-eyed peas and save half to sauté with bacon fat and collard greens for Hoppin’ John, which is a traditional New Year’s Day feast.  Some people say that eating like a poor man on New Year’s Day will bring you riches in the coming year.  Whatever you eat, may you have the riches of good health and happiness in 2014.

Recipe:  Friendly Sprouted Cowboy Caviar

  • 1 pound dry black-eyed peas, sprouted for two days, soaked, cooked (see instructions)
  • 1 organic green pepper, chopped
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 10 ounce package of frozen organic corn, thawed
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4  – 1/3 cup honey, melted over low heat if raw
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed, chopped
  • sea salt to taste

Mix together the cooked beans and veggies.  Add the vinegar and honey to the olive oil, whisking to combine.  Poor the dressing over the other ingredients.  Serve with chips, veggies or lettuce leaves for dipping.
Paid Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Stepha Friendly Foods is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  There is no extra cost to you.  Furthermore, I promise to only endorse products and services that I trust and/or use myself. Thank you for supporting Stepha Friendly Foods.