Is Dairy Healthy?
Few foods have a more interesting history than dairy. For the past several decades, dairy has been touted as so essential for good health that, if you listened to the ads, it seemed the bones of small children must simply crumble away to dust without their daily glass of milk!

However, in recent years dairy has begun to fall out of favor as digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance have become more prevalent - or at least more obvious. 

So what is the real story on dairy? Is it good for you, or bad? Should you limit your consumption, or avoid it all together?

Today we will take a look at some of these questions and attempt to clear up some of the confusion surrounding dairy.

Homegrown Food Summit 2017
Welcome to June! For this month's "free giveaway," we're handing out tickets to an amazing event that anyone who is interested in real health, self-sufficient living, or making sure that the food you feed your family is safe and healthy will NOT want to miss!

That's right - registration is now open for the 3rd annual Home Grown Food Summit.

This awesome event kicks off Monday, June 12th, and it includes presentations from more than 38 experts on food, homegrown and natural medicines, homesteading,
urban gardening, raising livestock for dairy, eggs, and protein, and many more health and self-sufficiency topics - plus, you'll have the opportunity to win some really cool prizes for your homestead! (See below for details.)

Get your FREE Ticket here, or learn more about the event below.

Grass-fed burger recipe
Summer is here at last! (At least in my book, summer starts on Memorial Day weekend.) :-)  I'll have a homestead update for you soon with updated pictures of our garden (which is finally coming along nicely), but for the holiday weekend, I thought I'd keep it short and share a tasty recipe perfect for your holiday barbecue!

As you probably know if you've been reading this blog for a while, we are big fans of grass-fed meat. If you're going to eat meat, grass-fed is definitely the way to go (check out my previous post on this for why we feel so strongly about it).

My husband and I now purchase almost exclusively grass-fed meats through local farmers who raise their animals humanely on pasture. Not only do we know our food was treated well, but we also know it was fed food that was good for it, which makes it better for us! It also helps eliminate some of the other issues with conventionally raised industrially farmed meats. That's why our burgers for this Memorial Day's cookout will be grass-fed!

Below is a simple and delicious recipe that is perfect for the holiday weekend, or any other summer grilling occasion. The avocado adds plenty of healthy fats, and the garlic provides a nice flavor kick (though you can leave that out if you prefer a milder sauce).  I like mine with a few leaves of fresh lettuce from the garden, and a big slice of ripe tomato on top!

Fat for Fuel
Modern medicine wants you to believe that it holds the answer to disease, but if this is true, why aren't we healthier? In fact, today we suffer more chronic and debilitating diseases than ever before. More than half of all Americans struggle with chronic illnesses, and 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. today are obesity-related.

So what is the key to this problem?

Many researchers now believe that the increase in chronic modern illness and disease over the past several decades is
largely the result of an inappropriate diet. (Surprise, surprise, right?) Most of us eat far too much sugar (and other simple carbs), and far too little healthy fats and fruits and vegetables.

Part of the problem is that we have been told for years that our bodies should run on glucose for fuel, so we need to make sure to consume plenty of carbs.

However, in the interesting video below, Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses some fascinating findings that suggest that fats are actually the preferred fuel of the human metabolism. By correcting our carb/protein/fat ratio in our diet, he contends that we can maintain long-term good health, especially when it comes to avoiding or even curing modern diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Free Detox video class
This time of year, with the fresh air and sunshine of spring all around us, and dreams of beach vacations dancing in our heads, many people are inspired to start a new diet or undertake a "cleanse" or detox program.

Unfortunately, far too many of us have failed at diets - either finding them too restrictive to continue, or simply getting tired of missing out on all of our favorite foods and not seeing the results we were hoping for. Consequently, statistics show that most people who lose weight through dieting will gain it right back again within a matter of months (or sometimes weeks).

Detox programs are often difficult, and even though they may work in the short term, choking down weird concoctions or swallowing loads of pills every day gets old fast, so many people give up before they lose the weight they were hoping to.

what if you could achieve the same weight-loss effects without counting calories…and achieve dozens of other health benefits at the same time?

High-fat healthy foods
Despite much evidence to the contrary, most people still believe that high-fat foods are bad for you. In fact, foods high in healthy fats (in moderation of course) can be an important part of a healthy diet. Some even offer some surprising health benefits, including enhanced immunity to illness, more energy, better brain function, and even better weight management!

A recent study conducted at the University of Georgia found several health benefits associated with healthy high-fat foods. The team analyzed several previous studies that focused on the health benefits related to consuming different foods high in healthy fats.

The 5 foods listed below are some examples they found of high-fat foods that may be consumed in reasonable amounts on a regular basis to help you maintain good health.

Diabetes risk
Diabetes kills thousands of people every year, and the rate of adult onset diabetes (type II) has skyrocketed in recent decades, despite the mainstream assumption that cutting fats out of our diet reduces the risk of diabetes and other weight-related modern diseases, and the resulting widespread reduction in consumption of most kinds of fat. (By the way, this theory has been debunked hundreds of times - check out some of our previous posts on this topic here and here.)

So what's going on?

If we really are eating healthier, why are we getting sicker?

Below we explore 4 common habits that have been proven to drastically increase the risk of developing Type II diabetes. You may think these habits are totally innocent, but you will be shocked to learn that studies have shown these seemingly innocuous behaviors can actually double your risk of developing this deadly disease...

Community Supported Agriculture
I haven't mentioned CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs) in a while, but even though we now get the majority of our summer produce from our own garden, we do still participate in a winter CSA program from a local organic farm that uses unheated greenhouses and high tunnel techniques (a la Eliot Coleman) to grow fresh greens and other veggies throughout the winter months. They also provide a number of partner items from other local businesses and farms - including apples, honey, maple syrup, natural soaps, dry goods such as beans and flour, and more. Participating in this program allows us to eat mostly local year-round! (We also buy almost 100% of our meat from various local small farms which raise animals humanely on pasture.)

While not everyone necessarily has access to these resources, there are now thousands of CSA programs throughout the U.S., so unless you live in a very rural area, you most likely have at least one near you!

We share some helpful information about Community Supported Agriculture on our CSA page, but I recently stumbled across this comprehensive infographic, and thought it might be fun to share it with you... Check it out below to learn lots of interesting and informative tips about CSAs including the benefits of participating, questions to ask when choosing a CSA, and how to make the most of your share, as well as some recipes for using some of the more uncommon vegetables that you may find in your CSA!

Note: We will be taking a blogging break next week to enjoy spring! However, we will be sending out an important email with a FREE resource that you won't want to miss if you care about your health... If you aren't already subscribed to receive our updates, please do so now via the box to the right, so you don't miss out!

Fermented ginger ale
If you are at all interested in health, you almost certainly know how bad soda pop is for you. Most commercial sodas are packed with sugar - or even worse - high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and of course, weight gain. The "diet" versions are even worse, if that's possible, containing cancer-causing chemical sweeteners such as aspartame.

So what is a soda lover to do? Must you give up those cold, refreshing, fizzy drinks forever?

Not at all! In fact, it is surprisingly easy to make your own healthy, homemade soda pop at home. When you make your own, of course you can control what goes in it, and even better, you can also use a natural fermentation method to create that fizzy sparkle, while actually turning your soda pop into something that is GOOD for you! That's right - natural fermentation creates healthy bacteria that support a healthy immune system and improve digestion. We've talked before about the many health benefits of probiotics, and fermenting your own beverages is just another way to get more of these healthy probiotic bacteria into your diet.

There are all kinds of fizzy fermented beverages that you can make at home - from juice-based sodas, to root beer, and more. If you want to take it to the next level, you could even make hard cider (something that I have been experimenting with over the past few years, with varied but generally delicious results), but today we're keeping it simple, and sharing a delicious recipe for a refreshing, bubbly, and healthy (non-alcoholic) ginger ale.

Below is my favorite recipe - I have made this several times, and I think I have finally gotten it down to the appropriate ratio of ginger for me; my first batch was not quite gingery enough for me, and the second was way too potent! I think the third time was the charm... You can of course experiment to find the right level for yourself.

Natural fermentation recipe
I have talked at length before about the benefits of probiotic bacteria for good health. A healthy gut bacterial balance is essential for overall good health - something that most people in the modern world seem to have forgotten!

One of the best ways to establish and maintain healthy gut bacteria is to eat fermented foods on a regular basis. This is something that we in America rarely do anymore. In fact, the only fermented food that still remains popular in our culture today is yogurt, and often store-bought yogurts are packed with so much sugar and contain so little live bacteria as to be all but useless.

I highly encourage you, for the sake of your health, to start consuming more fermented foods! The recipe below is a great way to do so. If you don't like cabbage, you can also pickle other vegetables using natural fermentation methods. And there are plenty of other fermented foods you can make as well, including yogurt (which is super easy to make at home), kefir, and kombucha tea.

Natural fermentation is not only easy to do at home, but it is also safe, and really fun! And once you develop a taste for fermented foods, you'll probably start to crave them like I do. :-)

Here's how to make a classic naturally fermented sauerkraut - plus a variation for spicy kimchi if you're feeling more adventurous. (Note: This recipe makes approximately 1 quart, but may easily be doubled if desired. The kimchi recipe may make about 1 1/2 quarts due to the additional ingredients. To make a half-gallon, use a larger head of cabbage, and double the salt.)