Food For Victory!

Borrowed from flikeflu.com

I received an exceptionally terrific gift this weekend: my great-grandmother’s canning book from 1942.  I knew that my aunt would be sending it to me and I was so excited to forge a relationship with the great-grandmother I never knew by following the same recipes that she had used so many years ago.  What is even more wonderful about this gift is that each generation since the original purchase has followed this book.  I have a direct line to the women who came before me through this book.  For me, that is powerful.

I made even more connections as I perused this book.  Although I didn’t realize it when my aunt was describing the book to me, when I had it in my hands I realized that this book was designed as war-time promotional material (I don’t want to use the term “propaganda” because it conjures up images of Nazi Germany when I hear it.).  The very first page reads as follows:

Borrowed from worthpoint.com

Food For Victory

The Need of the Hour

In the recent NATIONAL NUTRITION CONFERENCE, a challenge was given to every one of the 28 million homemakers of America in the following recommendation:

“It is VITAL for the UNITED STATES to make IMMEDIATE USE of the newer knowledge of NUTRITION in the present NATIONAL EMERGENCY.  To neglect this would be as hazardous as to neglect military preparedness.”

What YOU Can Do

It is the sacred duty of every AMERICAN woman to see that her family is properly fed – to make Americans the strongest, healthiest people in the world…

Those are some powerful words!  Although this particular page can lead us down the road of debating about the experience of women throughout history, I want to focus on the main message of nutrition.  In ALL my life I have never come across such a powerful message about the need for the primary caregiver to assure the health of the family.  This book frames good nutrition akin to NATIONAL SECURITY.  Essentially, “if you don’t feed your family well, they will be weak and the commies will take over.”  There is some truth in that completely outlandish statement, but it is mostly inaccurate.  However, I am especially interested in the idea that personal good nutrition is a benefit to the entire nation.  That’s a BIG idea.

Today, we hear a wide variety of messages in regard to nutrition that speak almost completely to the individual: Don’t over-eat because you will be fat and drastically shorten your lifespan.  That is an oversimplification, but you get my drift.  I can honestly say that I have not heard one PSA that focuses on your individual nutrition effecting the well-being of the broader nation.  Although I tend not to be as alarmist as all of that, I do believe there is some truth there.  For instance, if I have good nutrition that results in good health, I am able to care for my family well and have energy and vigor left over to volunteer in my community, thus caring for my nation at large.  The message is different from during WWII, but the IDEA is still the same.

So, is the proper nutrition of my family my “sacred duty as an American woman”?

Borrowed from ideasforcash.co.uk

Perhaps.  At this point in history, I would say that this is the sacred duty of any person who has a family to care for.  Though the words are different, you can find this message in the movements of urban farmers, survivalists, homesteaders, community gardeners, and those just learning to garden and to preserve food.  There is something incredible about being part of your food from seed to table.  This is the HEART of good nutrition.  We all lose when there is no connection to nature that fuels our bodies, minds, and spirits.

We might be seven decades removed from this message, but we still can “Dig for Victory.”  Maybe our digging won’t help to end a war, but it will help to provide a healthy future for our children and ourselves.

Lastly, I leave you with an entry from page 51:

Today our government is stressing Food Production and Food Conservation as the patriotic duty of every American citizen. “Plant a Garden” has become a nation-wide slogan, and with it is associated a larger HOME CANNING program. Protect your family’s health with filled shelves of home-canned fruits, vegetables, and meats – – – your assurance for healthful, nourishing, year ’round meals. YOU CAN HELP in this vast Victory program – – – plant, can and eat – – – this is your part!

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What the hell is a persimmon?!?

Borrowed from wikimedia.org

I get my produce from a good friend of mine that works for a local organic produce distribution company.  I am super lucky to be able to call him with a list and then to pick up a box of the freshest and healthiest produce around.  I often give him specifics and then ask him to grab a variety of fruits that are available so I get some variety and often a few surprises.  This week was one of those weeks with a surprise: two beautiful looking persimmons.  I was surprised that I even knew what they were.  I have never purchased, eaten, nor seen a recipe that called for persimmons.  I have always known they existed because I have heard of them and I’ve seen them in the store.  I didn’t even know that they were a fruit until I looked them up on the internet yesterday.

To start this persimmon loving post, I am going to tell you about my experience eating the first persimmon of my entire life.  I knew I was going to write about this so I did a bit of a mindful eating exercise so I could best share this with others who have, undoubtedly, also never eaten a persimmon.  First off, a persimmon looks kind of like an under-ripe, swollen tomato.  Even the left-over sepals and petals (the leaves and stuff) on the fruit look like they are swollen compared to that of a tomato.  When I cut it open, I found that it had two tiny  pits.  I smelled it, and was completely underwhelmed.  It didn’t really have much of a smell to me, other than a generic smell of “freshness.”  As I ate my persimmon, I noticed that the texture of the flesh was sort of a cross between a mango and a cantaloupe, and the skin was similar to an apple.  The flavor was completely unremarkable.  It was super mild.  It vaguely reminded me of some other flavor, but I CANNOT figure it out.  It drove me nuts for a bit until I finally decided that it wasn’t important and will come to me eventually.  In conclusion, it was an OK experience.  I doubt I am ever going to have a craving for a persimmon.

Borrowed from gardencoachpictures

 

Now that we have completed what I can only describe as a completely uninspiring account of this new-to-me fruit, I will share with you the incredible health benefits of the persimmon.  First off, there are a number of persimmon varieties, but it seems the most popular is a variety native to Japan (this is the one that wound up in my produce box).  This first, most obvious benefit of the persimmon is the amount of Vitamin A that is present.  You can infer this by noting its color.  Also, due to its color, is the presence of lycopene which has been shown to reduce risk both for prostate cancer and stroke.  I’m also pretty impressed with the amount of potassium that is present.  You need potassium to keep your heart, kidney, muscles, digestive system and nerves in working order.  I wish I had known about persimmons back when heaps of bananas were being forced on me to help deal with leg cramps back in my dancing days.  The last component of persimmons that I would like to highlight is the fiber content.  There are 6 grams of dietary fiber in the average 2.5 inch diameter sized fruit.  Diets high in fiber are excellent for preventing colon cancer.  There are a number of other health benefits of high-fiber diets, but I have always been on an anti-colon cancer crusade.

I also read some information that stated persimmons had anti-tumor properties, but I was unable to verify this information.  It is safe to say, however, that there are cancer preventing properties due to the high levels of Vitamin A & C and the presence of lycopene (all are antioxidants).

OK!  Thanks for journeying with me into the wonderful world of persimmons.  They are clearly SUPER good for you, but I didn’t think it was that amazing to eat.  It rather makes me go “meh.”  Perhaps I need to find a good recipe to try!

Borrowed from rayabelna.com

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Delicious and Nutritious Granola Bars

Today was granola bar making day at my house.  Don’t be confused, it does not take all day, but it does come at least once a week.  My husband takes his lunch to work every day and was still stopping at McDonald’s on a fairly regular basis.  As it turns out, he wasn’t taking enough to eat each day and was becoming EXTREMELY hungry before getting home in the evening.  So in an effort to save my husband from heart disease and colon cancer (as well as save my money from disappearing), I went in search of a recipe to curtail his hunger.  I stumbled upon a recipe for granola bars on the Parents.com website and have adapted it for some increased health benefits and sweet tooth quenching.  So here it is:

Super Great Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granola (I buy it in bulk, but you could make your own)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (today I used 7-grain cereal)
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour (just to mix things up from the typical wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup flax meal (for the Omega 3’s; I buy whole flax and grind it up because it’s cheaper)
  • 1 cup dried fruit, finely chopped (I use a mixture of raisins from the bulk section because they don’t have any added sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil (used for its high content of polyunsaturated fat, Vitamin E, and Omega 6)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Splash of pure vanilla extract
  • Dark chocolate chips (dark chocolate is said to have antioxidant effects, I just add however many chips looks right)

Steps

  • Heat oven to 325 degrees
  • Line 8×8 pan with foil, coat with oil (you might be able to not use foil, but I haven’t been brave enough to try)
  • Stir granola, oats, flour, meal, and fruit
  • Whisk egg, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla
  • Mix dry and wet ingredients, add chocolate chips to your preference
  • Press into pan with your hands
  • Bake 30 minutes, or until browned
  • Cool on rack and then cut into squares

This recipe is a great afternoon snack when you just need a quick pick-me-up or are having a crazy craving for sweets.  Feel free to be creative with your ingredients and share your adaptations with us.

Enjoy!

***Weight Watchers Update***

My mom made a few tweaks to this recipe and found that a serving (approx. 1″x1″ square) is 4 points.  Here are the changes:

  • Substitute almond butter for grapeseed oil
  • Kind Healthy Grains Vanilla Blueberry granola
  • 4 tbs dark chocolate chips

Two Months Down and 400 Pounds of Tuna To Go!

Canning.  A topic that is near and dear to my heart.  I am so very close to being done with this season’s round of canning: just 400 pounds of tuna and a few more pints of tomatoes to go.  I have been working on this for nearly two months now.  I love canning, but I am so looking forward to sitting back and enjoying my home-canned bounty.  Mmm. Mmm.

I believe home canning to be an essential part of my nutritional lifestyle.  It keeps me connected to my homesteading background and connected to where my food comes from.  I can food I grow, food my family grows, and food from local farmers and fisherman.  There really is nothing more satisfying for me than to see my food go from the land to my table (especially when the whole process is by my own hand).  My child is too young now (although he does point to the stove and say “cook”), but this is a skill that I fully intend to pass on to all my children because I believe that this is an essential skill and brings a smile to so many faces; particularly when sharing.

I get very excited when people ask me questions about canning.  I think everyone should know how to do this.  It is truly not all that complicated, and once you do it, is no longer intimidating.  I know some people have a tremendous fear of pressure canning because of possible explosion (which is highly unlikely), but you can start off doing foods that require only boiling-water bath to cut back on the fear.  I tend to do very large batches of whatever I am canning to get me through to the next season, but a person can do small batches just to have a little fun.  Think pickled mixed veggies, mango salsa, and jams.  You can really do small batches of anything, but those would be the most fun.

Home canning can also be fairly inexpensive.  You can find supplies at the local Bi-Mart, on Craig’s List, and even re-sale shops.  There is really no need to buy brand new jars because they last FOREVER.  Just make sure you have no chips or cracks and you are good to go.

Right now is a pretty good time to try your hand at some home canning as the growing season is ending and you may find produce at lower prices.  I recommend getting your hands on Putting Food By.  This is my canning Bible.  I learned to can from my grandmother and mother, but I’m on my own now so I need a reference once in a while!  This book is chock full of information and great recipes.

By trying out new recipes, you are opening yourself up to a wider range of nutritious foods that you might not otherwise eat.  Having canned goods in the pantry inspires us to try new meals rather than stick with our regular weekly menu.  Canning is a great activity for kids, too and you can very easily turn it into a lesson in nutrition without them even knowing 🙂

Share your questions.  I have many lessons that I have learned the hard way and would be happy to share.  I love canning many different things, but have a very severe hatred of applesauce…8 hours of work for 7 pints of applesauce.  I may or may not have flung applesauce across the room that day.  Also, share your experiences.  I still have a lot of learning to do as well.

I hope this post has inspired someone to venture out into the wide world of home canning!  Here’s to summer’s goodness all winter long!

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Foods to Fight the Cold and Flu

Borrowed from scenicreflections.com

I did not sleep more than a couple of hours last night because I and my 16 month old son have come down with the common cold.  Poor little guy couldn’t breathe so he couldn’t sleep.  The humidifier is doing a great job now and he is napping.  In my downtime I decided to do a little refresher on foods that help out the immune system and fight infection.

The best advice (as with any health problem) is to prevent the illness.  Our immune systems function optimally when we have diets chock full of fruits and veggies.  However, especially for those of us with small children, we can’t prevent everything.  In that case, its time to ramp up the nutritional arsenal.  The first thing we need to do, as just about everyone knows, is increase our intake of clear fluids.  Water, tea, juice, and broth-based soups should do the trick.

Now, foods to eat a lot of:

  • Garlic
  • Citrus
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Yogurt
  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Coconut oil
  • Other herbs and spices such as turmeric, curry, cinnamon, cayenne, basil, and oregano

I wouldn’t suggest eating A LOT of coconut oil due to the saturated fat content, but do enjoy a little of it.  A person could make quite a delicious soup after sauteing some garlic and onion in coconut oil.  I would also suggest sticking to the greek-style yogurt while recovering from sickness to avoid high sugar intakes, but regular yogurt will still provide positive benefits.

Try an Indian-Style Raita for some immune boosting support:

2 cups greek-style yogurt

1 cucumber

1 apple

Dill (or other spice you enjoy)

Chili powder or cumin for a spicy garnish

Whisk the yogurt until smooth, add your choice of herb, mix in chopped cucumber and apple, dish out your serving and garnish as you desire.

Borrowed from talimpu.com

Here’s to rapid recovery from the cold bug!

References: http://www.nih.gov, http://www.livestrong.com

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