DIY-ing (and a cautionary tale)

I love doing things myself. It makes me feel capable and I get a real sense of satisfaction and achievement from it. When I was teaching Prep, many years ago, my classroom had electric blinds on the outside of the window. We had a recurring issue where one of the wires was loose and the switch for the blind stopped working. Each time it happened we had to get an electrician in. I became really tired of having to wait for the electrician to come, so when he turned up, I surreptitiously watched what he did from my desk. It was a very simple matter and it took about three seconds to correct the problem. So the next time it happened, I took off the switch plate and did what I saw the electrician do. The only difference between what he did and what I did was that I got a teeny tiny little electric shock. When I got myself back together, I put the plate back on and tested out my blinds. They worked. When it happened again, I told the principal and she called the electrician and the whole cycle began again. The moral of the story? DIY is good, but don’t DIY electrical work. That is dumb and you could die. Be patient and leave it to a professional.

Something that I feel great about doing myself (and that isn’t going to result in me getting electrocuted) is making my own food. I love to cook, and I love to make things from scratch. I’m learning to love growing my own vegetables and I’m trying hard to tolerate my chickens. I definitely don’t love my chickens. One of them attacked me when I went in to feed them yesterday and I am still dirty on her about it. They are a both a bit feral.

Today, after 20 days of fermentation, I transferred my Indian-style kimchi* into jars to go in the fridge.

I love this stuff. I have it with scrambled eggs and it makes the eggs so much more interesting. It’s great for the gut, super cheap and super easy to make. When I was working I used to buy it, but a jar like this will set you back anywhere from $7.95 to $13.95 in the shops. I made three and half jars and I think it cost me about $5 in total for the ingredients. I use this recipe and I use this fermenting crock that my awesome Dad gave me for Christmas.

I’ve also started making my own gluten free sourdough (using a recipe from the River Cottage Gluten Free Cookbook). The jars at the back are for Augie’s pumpkin, carrot and quinoa puree that was bubbling away on the stove when I took the photo.

So there you have it. Today’s food DIY, no electric shocks, only deliciousness. Money saving, health promoting and hugely satisfying.

What is your favourite food DIY?

*Now don’t get all mad about me calling it kimchi. I know it’s not legit Korean kimchi. That’s on the cards soon. I just don’t know what else to call it. Feel free to suggest an alternative name if you wish.

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A Change In Direction

Like all good things, life here at Anarchy Road has changed since I last posted almost three years ago. Our values are the same but our circumstances are hugely different.

Our duo became a trio when we welcomed our son, August, to the world in February 2016. We have moved from Melbourne to Geelong, back to the original home of Anarchy Road, back to our vegetable garden and chickens.

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These life changes have also led to a change in direction for this blog. I am on leave from my job indefinitely, and the plan is for me to take the role of looking after our child and home while Tyson works. Anarchy Road is still about good food, but our focus has expanded to making a good home as well. And by good home, we don’t mean an Instagram home. We mean a home that is simple, clean and healthy, full of love and family and good times. We are taking inspiration from simple living advocates, our families, and our desire to live a simple, ethical and creative life.

Tyson and I have always considered the name Anarchy Road to be an overarching title for our joint projects, be they food, home or otherwise.  If you are new to the blog, welcome! You can check out our old posts for lots of stuff about food, particularly ancestral health related content. If you are a seasoned Anarchy Road reader, we hope you will continue to follow us on this journey.

 

 

 

Four Ways I Improved My Health

I’m an experimenter. I like to try different things and see if they work for me. If they don’t, I ditch them. Sometimes I may be a little hasty in doing so, but I don’t see the point in sticking with something if it is clearly not right for me. That being said, here are four changes I have made that have undoubtedly improved my health, and that I have stuck with, and will continue to stick with.

1. Cutting out gluten

Not minimising gluten. Not eating gluten on cheat days. I just don’t eat it. That isn’t to say that I will never eat it again. When I go to France, one day, I plan on eating a bootload of baked goods and enjoying every bite. I also plan on spending the following 24 hours locked in a little room, holding my tummy, groaning, cursing and dealing with other unmentionable side effects that make it impossible for me to be around other humans. Until then, I’ll skip the gluten, thanks.

2. Increasing my healthy fat intake

You probably read Tyson’s post on bulletproof coffee. I’m a fan. It lets me jam in maximum fat in minimum time, and I thrive on that stuff. I physically can’t eat as much butter as I would like to – I put butter on everything. Think I’m exaggerating? Pop around one time and watch me eat butter on cheese, I dare you. How do you like your apples? Buttered, thanks. After I eat butter (or other healthy oils) I feel satisfied and rarely am I left craving sweets. It reduces the amount of food I eat but it makes it taste so good I don’t mind.

An important side note here – I’m talking about butter. Real butter. Organic butter from healthy cows. I am most definitely not talking about that monstrosity that pretends to be butter, the devil margarine. I would never encourage anyone to eat margarine. It tastes like crap because it is crap.

via tappmd.com

3. Minimising my consumption of processed food, grains and sugars

This is a bit of a no-brainer. I like having steady energy throughout the day. I like my unpregnant belly not to look pregnant. I like not turning into a demon because I am craving sugar. I like eating real food.

4. Keeping a food journal that details what I eat and how I feel after eating

This keeps me accountable. I regularly visit a Chek practitioner, Vanessa, who has access to my food journal (thank you, Google Docs) and she lets me know if and when I am getting out of balance or letting things slide too much. For example, without the journal and Vanessa’s expert eye, I would never have questioned the amount of sweet potato that I was consuming. Let’s just say it was a lot. Multiple times each day. I was taking in far too many sugars from carbohydrates through the level of sweet potato in my diet. So now I am aware, I am eating less sweet potato. Easy.

Different horses for different courses, my friends. As always, what works for me might not work for you. But what have you got to lose?

What changes have you made that have improved your health?  We’d love to hear about it!

On Knowing Too Much

I’ve been experimenting with intermittent fasting (fasting for sixteen hours then eating within an eight hour window) over the last couple of weeks. I thought it was going great. I felt good, I rarely felt hungry outside of the eight hour window, I had plenty of energy and I was sleeping well … until I started listening to podcasts and reading articles about how intermittent fasting isn’t good for women. Hearing all of the horror stories about persistent acne, disordered eating, smashed up hormones and adrenals and other ‘side effects’ freaked me out.

(Image via ninapaley.com)

All of a sudden, little things started to turn into bigger, more sinister things. The pimple that appeared out of the blue became an omen that my hormones are out of whack and I am going to get acne that would never go away. The bad night’s sleep due to nightmares when I usually sleep well and rarely have nightmares equals stressed out adrenals. Not losing any weight from fasting – not that I really care about weight loss – equals a screwed up metabolism. A rare headache … something fishy is going on here.

When you start paying attention to what you eat and how it affects you, you notice the tiniest changes within yourself. The problem is that sometimes the cause of the change isn’t always clear.

Is it the fasting, or did I accidentally ingest some gluten when I went out for dinner? Am I just tired from work? Pushing it too hard at CrossFit? Am I being slowly poisoned because I drank tap water when I ran out of spring water? Is it because I can’t afford to eat 100% organic and I have been eating more vegetables, thus more pesticides, herbicides and who knows what else?

It’s very easy to over-complicate these kinds of things. Instead of listening to other people’s stories, I’m getting back to basics, listening to my body and doing what it tells me to do. Thankfully, there have been no more pimples, nightmares or headaches. I’m staying away from the scales because I don’t want this to turn into an exercise in weight loss. I eat when I’m hungry, and it just so happens I am usually only hungry in the eight hour window. If I am hungry in the sixteen hour fasting period, I eat. I stop when I’m not hungry anymore.

Trial and error. What works for me might not work for you. Experiment, document, research and explore, then do it all over again until you find what works, what is true for you.

What experiments have you undertaken to improve your health? What is your truth? I’d love to hear about it!

Planning for The Perfect Health Diet

So, I’ve been reading ‘The Perfect Health Diet’ by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. It’s a good read, and confirms a lot of my suspicions about certain foods. I was considering starting a Whole30 this week, but I have decided to give the PHD a try instead.

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A few benefits of bone broth.

In the general vernacular “broth” and “stock” are used interchangeably, but as an explanation of terms, a broth is made at home with bones and leftovers and a stock is a strict recipe used in commercial kitchens to maintain consistency. I’m talking about broth, mainly because once you understand the health benefits, how you flavour it is up to you.

Try to get the best bones you can. If you are going to go to the trouble of making a broth make sure you get healthy bones – organic grass-fed are the best. Yes, you can buy bones, you just have to ask at the butcher. Buying bones is an extra step, another hurdle created by the modern culture of pre-portioned, over-packaged convenience foods. In the good old days, people would buy meat on the bone and use it all to make stock, broth, soups and sauces, so as not to waste anything (and reap the health benefits on the side). I know it may seem crazy, but the best things don’t come easy.

It’s delicious.

Usually that’s enough for me to advocate the consumption of real food, but in this case, the further I look into bone broth and the more I experiment with drinking it, the more I realise how amazing it is. You can make your broth from all types of bones including chicken, fish, veal, beef, lamb and venison (the list goes on). We generally stick to chicken and beef. Adding different flavours to the broth also keeps it interesting (like Pho spices, Thai hot and sour) although we generally stick to the classic method, allowing us to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of how different bone tastes.

Broth makes your joints feel smooth.

I try my best to not take any supplements. But when I do, it is because I’m experimenting with an increased dose of something, and if I’m getting results from it, I’ll look for it in real food. The beauty of bone broth is that it contains so many vitamins and minerals that it’s a one stop shop. In particular – glucosamine. Ever heard the expression ‘you are what you eat’? By slowly simmering the bones you are releasing glucosamine which is crucial for collagen health in your ligaments, tendons and the ends of your bones.

It’s nutritious.

Sally Fallon writes in Nourishing Traditions (1999): “Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth.” Basically, because it’s a liquid form is is easily absorbed by your body and keeps you hydrated.

There many more health benefits to drinking bone broth, I’ve only listed a few that important to me. After some experimenting I’ve found that the best time for me to have a cup is about half an hour before Crossfit. The key is making enough to last a week or two and not over doing it, one cup is enough per day. If you want to find out why you shouldn’t drink too much Paul Jaminet writes on the topic in “Perfect Health Diet” (2012).

How to make beef broth.

First buy enough bones to fill the largest pot you have. We generally buy 3kg.

Lay the bones out on trays and roast in the oven, about 180 degrees for about 1 hour (maybe longer, you want them brown all over but not burnt).

Raw Bones

Peel, wash and chop carrots, celery and onion and sauté in the pot you are going to use for the broth. While the bones are in the oven.

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Next add one head of garlic, some thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf and a couple of pinches of salt. Sauté.

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Add about half a bottle of red wine and let it reduce to about half or a third.

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Add your roasted beef bones and a couple of pigs trotters (for a little extra gelatine and flavour).

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Fill the pot with water and bring to a fast simmer. Turn your broth down to low and let it slowly simmer for somewhere between 42-72 hours. Keep topping up the pot so the bones are always covered and it doesn’t reduce too much. Take the broth off the stove and strain into a bowl, let cool on the bench for a while (so it doesn’t bring the temperature of your fridge up) then put it in the fridge. This allows the fat to rise to the top and set, this is so you can pick it off easily and throw it away or keep it for roasting potatoes.

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From here you may need to freeze some, but in our house there’s not much point.

Very Important: When you are ready to drink your broth you’ll need to add salt. I just heat up a cup in the microwave and add salt to taste. After a while you’ll know if it’s right or not.

If you want any direction on how to make variations or soups just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.