Nutrient-dense food, free of preservatives or any ingredients your grandma can’t pronounce. Usually organic, seasonal, pasture-raised, or otherwise sourced responsibly. May not strictly be fermented or probiotic.
Feeling irritated at the lack of snack chips (particularly tortilla chips) made with healthy fats, I created a technique and recipe for homemade baked tortillas that are as good as any fried version. They’re better in fact, as you’re no longer slowly poisoning yourself with rancid, uber-processed vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, safflower, canola) that about every chip on the market is still fried in!
Start with round tortillas. My go-to is organic yellow corn tortillas from 365 Everyday (the Whole Foods brand). I use coconut oil as my fat, but you could use any healthy fat– lard, tallow, avocado oil, ghee, etc.
Another benefit of making your own chips in small batches is that you are more likely to savor them, as they are the fruits of your labor. While it is simple to make, it still takes effort. Rather than mindlessly plowing through a seemingly bottomless bag of store-bought, mass produced chips, you might slow to appreciate the hand crafting and care taken with each chip. That’s what I call mindful eating!
8 oz (wt.) corn tortillas, about 12 6-inch tortillas
2 Tbsp. coconut oil or other nutrient dense fat (tallow, lard, schmaltz, avocado oil, ghee, etc.)
sea salt to taste
Heat oven to 350F.
If the fat you're using is solid at room temperature, Heat up ½ cup water, or run a silicone spatula under hot water for 20 seconds. Dip heated spatula into the fat of your choice. this will allow the fat to be worked more easily. I use coconut oil.
Spread a thin layer of fat on one side of each tortilla.
Stack the tortillas (up to 4 at a time). Cut them into 8 pieces (they will take on the same shape as, surprise, tortilla chips!) Repeat until all tortillas have been cut.
Lay chips head-to-tail on a single layer on two half-sheet pans lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Bake 13-15 minutes, or until they just start to curl up and just start to brown.
As “real food” advocates, we believe slow-cooked broth from properly raised animal bones is a highly nutritious and ancestral food. Our friend (and one of the first “founding members” of Fermenters Club way back in 2011) Quinn has written a great cookbook that’s all about the broth, entitled Bone Broth: 101 Essential Recipes & Age-Old Remedies to Heal Your Body. Here is our review.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bone Broth. It provides no-nonsense advice on everything related to this ancient elixir, from how to source the best bones, to which cooking vessels work best, and even how to clean up afterward! I really appreciated the focus on traditional nourishing foods and ways of growing and raising food. Bone broth is an age-old recipe and technique for getting the most from our meat animals. I really admired the author’s personal story of how broth healed her, and how that inspired her to write this book!
It also details the health reasons why broth is so nourishing, which appeals to my geeky left-brain! (The author shares what science knows about broth, and admits that there is currently limited scientific research. We are just starting to understand why it is such a healing food.)
There are a dozen “basic” broth recipes from various animals, followed by a hundred recipes incorporating finished broth. The “neutral broth” recipe is the key to allowing you to incorporate broth into other recipes!
Chapters are well organized by food type (beverages, sauces, veggies, e.g.) The recipes are well laid out and easy to read. They focus on using whole, traditional, and unprocessed ingredients (e.g. tallow or lard). The recipes even show whether they meet special diets such as paleo, gluten free, etc.
My favorite breakfast recipe is the seasonal frittata.
I was pleased to learn that bone broth can even be used in desserts! The ginger cookies are my favorite dessert recipe. They made a great digestif to enjoy after a big meal!
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Bone Broth in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
If you’re a real food-ist, you most likely have learned the concept of delayed gratification, as many foods traditionally took longer to prepare. If you want pancakes, for example, you have to soak the grains the day or night before. (Learn why soaking, sprouting, or fermenting seeds and grains is important). But sometimes, you just want pancakes RIGHT NOW.
Fortunately, if you keep sprouted flours and fermented dairy on hand, you can have a short stack going in a half hour! By the time you mix the batter and prep everything, it’s ready to go.
This recipe calls for kefir instead of buttermilk (but buttermilk works fine, too). The kefir went crazy, helping to rise the batter in a matter of minutes!
Have you tried those gluten-free, crack-tacular macaroon-style snacks from the fancy grocery store, which sell for $9 for a bag of like 9 of them? Well guess what, you can make ’em at home for much cheaper.
Here’s a dehydrator recipe for a paleo-ish take on gingersnaps.
Several people have asked me about what I buy and where I shop for “real food”, so I decided to compile a list of resources and provide some definitions. Much of my nutritional beliefs align with those of the Weston A. Price Foundation, which advocates “traditional” diets and eschews all highly processed foods. More on what “traditional” diets and “real food” mean after the list.
2018 UPDATE: Our friends at the San Diego downtown chapter of the Weston A Price foundation have also put together this handy resource guide. Download it for free!
What exactly is “real” food and a “traditional” diet?
With the understanding that diets are like religious beliefs (there are hundreds of them and people have strong convictions about them!), I try to offer my beliefs as to what constitutes real food.
Nutrient-dense– high quality plant and animal products which contain many macro as well as micronutrients
Grown or raised harmoniously with Nature- Plants: organically grown (or better), farming practices that demonstrate mindfulness for the soil microbiome; Animals: allowed to live as close to their natural habitat and behaviors (diet, freedom to move, natural behaviors like foraging)
Minimally processed/As close to whole as possible- a certain amount of processing is often needed to make foods more nutritious (fermentation, soaking, e.g.), but keeping the ingredient raw and whole allows us to benefit from all the nutrients (e.g. eat an apple rather than drink apple juice)
Traditional food refers to foods that can be prepared in a kitchen, and don’t require a factory with a laboratory to produce or create
Pastured animals, meaning they spend most of their lives outside, eating pasture, grazing, mating and giving birth naturally, etc. “Organic” is lacking with regard to meat quality because, e.g. a cow can still be raised in a factory and simply be fed organic grains
Beef- grass-fed, as cows evolved to eat and digest silage (grass), not grain; cows will sometimes eat seeding grasses, which are grains, but it’s not a major part of their diet
Chicken- pastured, getting to run around, eating grass, bugs, larvae, etc.
Pork- pastured, not confined, eating veggie and fruit scraps; they’re great recyclers, eating just about anything
Bone broth- made from the bones, some meat, cartilage, and connective tissue of pastured animals. The good stuff is slow cooked for 1 to 3 days. Bones and connective tissue contains a variety of powerful nutrients that become released when they are slowly simmered in water, the universal solvent. These nutrients include bone marrow which helps provide the raw materials for healthy blood cells and immune development, as well as a host of other minerals like collagen which all help with the development of healthy joints, bones, ligaments and tendons as well as hair and skin.
Milk & Dairy
I don’t buy raw dairy very often because it is quite expensive, and I find it tends to ‘sour’ faster than pasteurized milk. Actually it is still perfectly fine to use ‘sour’ raw milk to make cheese or yogurt. Unhomogenized (pasteurized) is the perfect tradeoff of high quality and minimally processed for me.
Avoid Ultra Pasteurized dairy (even if it’s organic); the UHT process zaps many of the micronutrients
See Where is My Milk From? to learn the exact place where dairy products originate; enter the plant code from the carton, e.g. plant 06-93
Pastured (not pasteurized!) eggs mean the hens get to run around in the dirt and grass, taking dirt baths, and eating bugs, worms, larvae and grasses (they’re little dinosaurs!) Eggs from these ladies are usually more nutritious than “vegetarian fed” hens, and usually have a deep yellow or orange yolk indicating their omnivorous diet.
Pastured eggs are usually not washed (meaning they might have some dirt, dried droppings or hay on them). Do not wash eggs until you are ready to use them, as they contain a helpful bloom which protects the eggs from pathogens.
Outside the fridge, unwashed eggs will keep a month.
DON’T BE FOOLED BY THESE WORDS! “Free-range” label is a dodgy term and generally means little; an operation be labeled free-range as long as there’s a small square of open air (10’x10′) attached to a stifling overcrowded barn (that any of the 30,000 hens inside could conceivably find and use). “Vegetarian-fed” was a reaction to some operations that were feeding chicken meat to chicken. Since chickens are little dinosaurs, their eggs are more nutritious if they feed omnivorously (i.e. graze on bugs and worms.)
“Organic” label is also not trustworthy, because the hens may still be raised in batteries/factory farms, and are just fed organic grains
Coconut oil, olive oil, and fats from pastured animals (tallow, lard); avoid any kind of oils (like canola) which are usually processed with high heat or harsh chemicals
Organic Vegetables and Fruits, grown locally and as seasonally as possible
Fermented foods- DIY! duh! 🙂
Seeds, nuts, grains, flours that have been soaked, sprouted, or fermented; soaking is a traditional method of preparation, and reduces phytates and enzyme inhibitors, both which block absorption of other minerals, and are thus called “anti-nutrients”
I’ve just skimmed the surface here; there are entire books and blogs dedicated to Real food.
Sprouts Farmers Market– not an actual farmers market, this is a regional small-store chain in the southwest; has a good, fairly consistent organic section; a wider array of vegetables than fruits; they do buy from all over the world, so if local is important to you, check the label (peaches and blueberries don’t grow in December in the northern hemisphere, e.g.)
Organic, locally grown vegetables
Seeds, Nuts & Grains
Whole Foods– organic corn tortillas; organic (bulk) oats and other grains/flours; organic bulk beans
Trader Joe’s– has a decent selection of raw nuts (which you can soak/dehydrate yourself!) not necessarily organic or locally sourced. According to Trader Joe’s, if their packaging does not list the country of origin, then it is from the U.S.
Prager Brothers Artisan Breads– Brothers Louie and Clint bake high quality breads in small batches, using high quality ingredients, and only natural leaven (aka wild sourdough), not commercial yeasts. Storefront in Carlsbad and they appear at many farmers markets, including Vista, Leucadia, Little Italy Mercato and farmers markets.
Da-Le Ranch– in Lake Elsinore, CA; pastured chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and other small game animals; at most farmers markets in town
Glacier Grown– ranch based in Montana, they make twice yearly deliveries to southern California. Grass-fed beef and bison; also raw honey. This is a good option to purchase in bulk and store in a separate freezer.
Milk & Dairy
My go-to milk for making kefir and yogurt is whole milk from Straus Family Creamery, a northern California (Petaluma) farm. I buy their unhomogenized, pasteurized organic whole milk. It’s typically sold in glass half-gallon bottles, but they recently introduced a plastic one-gallon container. Available at Sprouts, Barons, Whole Foods, etc.
Clover Sonoma– makers of high quality dairy; I buy their whole milk and heavy cream; I find them at most Whole Foods around southern California.
UPDATED 2018 Pastured eggs have finally gotten their due. I am finding many brands in stores now, between $5 to $8 a dozen. Sprouts Farmers Markets and Whole Foods carry them. I still have not seen them in Trader Joe’s. Just be sure to ask whether the hens are pastured and get to eat bugs and worms! If I’m courting a new egg vendor, I always ask them about how they raise the chickens.
Paradise Valley Ranch (aka Avocado Lovers)- at farmers markets; I’ve only seen them carry eggs at North Park farmers market
Vital Farms– makers of pastured eggs and grass-fed butter
Da-Le Ranch– at most farmers markets (except Hillcrest); $8.50/doz. (as of May 2018)
Descanso Valley Ranch- newer pastured egg sellers; Leucadia, Little Italy Mercato farmers markets; they also sell meat birds; eggs $7/doz. o
Your neighbor who raises backyard chickens- if you’re lucky enough to live next to an urban farmer, this is probably your best bet for local, pastured chicken eggs! That is, unless you raise your own!
Soooo, we are pretty biased about our making our own fermented foods, but there are some great local brands that specialize in raw, cultured foods, including:
Happy Pantry– A nice selection of sauerkrauts, kimchi and kombucha. Husband and wife Mark and Rebecca cover many of the farmers markets, including Leucadia, Little Italy, and Hillcrest
Edible Alchemy– Alan makes various sauerkrauts and kombucha, served from both kegs and bottles.