Making raw sauerkraut (inspired by Balanced Bites and Chris Kresser)

Homemade Raw Sauerkraut

It's gut rockin', probiotic supreme raw sauerkraut time! I'm really stoked that I finally got to this because I've wanted to make it for months, but it took until last weekend to finally get up the motivation. This stuff  is great for you and it's delicious. Trust me, if you've only ever had the pre-packaged, cooked, store-bought kind you don't know what you're missing. Raw sauerkraut is really really tasty, easy to make at home, and helps promote the right balance of intestinal flora that is SO important to our overall health. Adding a little bit of this to your diet every day is a great way to foster the natural production of healthy gut bacteria and digestive balance. And it's huge in vitamin A, B, and C. So, huge health benefits for your gastrointestinal health and immune system!

Check out this post on the benefits of sauerkraut and other vegetable-based probiotic foods on Balanced Bites (includes a short video). She also has a recipe for roasted jalapeno and garlic sauerkraut, with some variations, which is what I followed to make mine. Also be sure to read Chris Kresser's post about Becoming a Fermentation Ninja (credits to this recipe on Nourished Kitchen).

I'll follow up on this post once it's ready to eat in 2 weeks! Have you ever tried making your own sauerkraut??


CrossFit Style At-Home Workout #1

I designed and completed this workout this morning and even though it's simple, it kicked my ass! Here's what I did:

The WOD:

20 min. AMRAP (As Many Reps (or rounds) As Possible) of

400m run
13 push-ups with elbows tucked (or personal max)
50 single unders on jump rope
15 box jumps (I did mine on a convenient ledge)

Here's a few pics from my crappy iPad camera : )

Not perfect form, but I'm workin' on it!

Flat back!

I made it sets of 13 push-ups because I'm slowly increasing my rep count on push-ups. About a month ago I could only do a max set of 7 and I've worked it up to doing sets of 13, so I did as many as I can in the workout (which definitely made it harder!).

How I did:

In 20 minutes I completed 4 rounds + 125 extra single unders. I knew I only had a few seconds left at the end so I just powered the single unders as fast as I could. It was sweet. I finally got my jump rope to the perfect length so it wasn't catching on my feet and I just hit my stride. I've also noticed huge improvements with this. I could barely do 20 SU when I started and now I can do 125 SU straight! Also my double unders (DU) are really coming along. My record is 3 in a row, but I couldn't even do 1 when I started. The workout felt good and was a good challenge.

The Next Level:

My goal would is to increase the difficulty of the workouts I do and then work up to doing the same number of reps/rounds as I was doing on the easier ones. Here's an example of an increased difficulty version of this workout

400m run
25 push-ups
50 double unders (or 100 single unders)
25 box jumps.

If I could get to a point where I could complete 4 rounds of this in 20 minutes it would be amazing. So far I can't even do a 25 push-up set, and after 15 box jumps I was quite tired, but I'll work towards this as my goal. I'll come back and do this workout in a while and see how I'm progressing!

Now it's time to to fuel up with some whey protein and a veggie stir fry!

 Also, 90's Ryan Gosling because that's hilarious:

Have you done any great short duration workouts or seen progress?


Local food week: 1 week of entirely local food dinners

A challenge! We decided to see if we could eat only local foods for dinner for a whole week.

To follow up to my post last week about our CSA share and recent whole lamb purchase I'd like to share what we've been doing with all those delicious veggies and grassfed meat. We decided to do a local food challenge, just for a week, and focused mostly on dinners. (Our lunches are almost always left overs of dinner, anyway, and breakfast is normally just Bulletproof Coffee (with Kerrygold grassfed butter from Ireland and MCT oil, not local!) and sometimes homemade bone broth from local beef, pork, lamb, and chicken bones.

It was challenging to look at all the foods we eat and actually ask, where did they come from? We knew the main ingredients came from local sources (CSA, meat shares) but there were a lot of things we had to basically not count because it would be practically impossible to make the recipes we wanted without using some things that aren't grown in Oregon.

Things that we didn't count:
  • Salt (we could have used Oregon salt like Jacobsen's, but it's spendy! Our salt is pink Mediterranean sea salt.)
  • Pepper
  • Other spices like chili powder, cumin, paprika, etc.
  • Olive oil, but we used it sparingly
  • Lemons and limes
We used lard we've rendered ourselves instead of olive oil or butter where possible. It's a very stable fat and is delicious! And ours is from grassfed cows so it's full of vitamins A, D, and K.

So here goes, [a little more than] 1 week of Paleo dinners of entirely local foods.

Sunday night:

Slow cooker beef roast with beets (from The Paleo Slow Cooker)
Green beans

Monday night:

Ground lamb with leeks and bell peppers, topped with fresh basil from our porch
Lightly cooked zucchini

Tuesday night:

Lemon rosemary broiled salmon (from Practical Paleo)

Wednesday night:

Cilantro and lime marinated round steak
Heirloom and white mashed potatoes (not by-the-book "Paleo," but I tolerate them well and eat them occasionally when they come in our CSA)
Steamed spinach from our front porch

Thursday night:

Lamb T-bones with rosemary
Purslane salad with grilled zucchini and cherry tomatoes (we grilled the zucchini in the oven in lard and sea salt--amazing!)

Friday night:

Fajita beef, cooked tomatillo salsa, and pico de gallo (recipes for all in this post)
Lightly sautéed zucchini

We did it!

All in all it was a really interesting experiment and put a lot of things in perspective. Our modern lifestyles are really dependent on the existence of a global food trade. Tropical fruits and spices are available all year. We can buy butter and cheese from Ireland, coffee from Guatemala, and rice from Asia, and these aren't even considered "exotic" purchases. Trying to eat as close to home as possible for a week really brought this thought to the forefront of our minds and put a lot of things in perspective. 

I started to think, if I only had access to the foods grown in Oregon, what would I use instead of olive or coconut oil? Lard works for cooking most things. But salad dressings? Most likely it would have to be fat from animals or nuts, but the idea of going without those things I'm used to having sounds really hard. Unfortunately, until they come up with carbon neutral freight, the environmental cost of bringing all these faraway foods to our grocery stores is, in my opinion, too high. I know that bananas are delicious, but I think wanting fresh ones, in January, in the Pacific Northwest is a bit ridiculous. And, having access to such sugary foods all year 'round isn't good for my insulin, anyway. *Steps off soapbox*

But this local food experiment was a great one to get us thinking about these things. And it's been delicious, easy, and fun with our CSA and meat share purchases. It would be a little harder in the winter, though!

Have you ever tried a local food challenge? How did you do it?


CSA, Lamb Share, and Fridge Contents

One of the most awesome things about this summer has been the CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription that my wife and I signed up for. Every week we get a big box full of a variety of veggies that lasts us throughout the week. Here are some of the ways it's been awesome:
  • The produce is super fresh--which means it's tastier and actually has a much higher vitamin content. (This is seriously important. Check out Chris Kresser's podcast episode "Could 'Eating Wild' Be The Missing Link to Optimum Health?")
  • We're able to support a local, Oregon farm rather than a big grocery chain.
  • We get very high quality organic produce at a much lower price than we could at Whole Foods or another store.
  • We paid in one big amount at the beginning of the season and since haven't had to think about it. This, in combination with our meat shares, means that we hardly ever have to go to the grocery store!
  • We get a wide variety of stuff every week which has led us to try new and interesting foods/recipes.
  • It's a fun excuse to go down to the local farmers' market every weekend (which is where we arranged to pick up our box).
We've really had an awesome experience this year with our CSA box from Gathering Together Farm from Philomath, OR, and would definitely encourage everyone to check them out if you're in the Beaverton/Portland area. If not, look into CSA subscriptions in your area and weigh your options because in many places there are affordable options that go for a long time (ours is 22 weeks!) and have a nice variety of produce. (LocalHarvest.org is a great CSA finder.)

We love the trade box at our CSA pickup--we don't eat some of the things we get sometimes (corn, e.g.) so we can swap them for things we do eat!

We also recently bought an entire lamb from a local farmer we found at local farmers' market. We chose to pick that one up at the market, too--so my wife had to carry 50 lbs of lamb back to the car in the cooler! Here's a couple of pictures--this is a whole lamb in a cooler. We got all kinds of cuts, all for a really reasonable price. The meat has been fatty and delicious and we feel great when we eat it!

(Check out EatWild.com to find a local pastured meat source near you, and check out my post here with some tips!)

In the freezer... (more about our chest freezer here.)

Lastly on this journey through my summer food setup is the basic contents of my refrigerator. You'll notice that there aren't very many prepackaged foods, and that the drawers are stuffed with veggies.

Refrigerator Contents:
  • Eggs from coworker's pastured chickens
  • Coconut oil reserves
  • Kerrygold unsalted butter
  • Coconut milk
  • Leftovers!
  • Raw cashews
  • Bone broth
  • Homemade almond butter
  • Slow cooker roast leftovers

It has been so great to live off local foods for so many of our meals! I highly recommend you check out a local CSA and local meat and egg sources if you’re looking to save money while eating a very nutrient-dense diet! What are your tips for local eating this time of year?
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