Get to Know Your Food: 3 Ways

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On Friday, I said I’d come back with specific suggestions for getting to know your food better in 2011. This doesn’t mean you must draw on your eggs like B. did. It also doesn’t mean you should name your cow before you butcher it. Really, each of us may have a different way to get to know our food. I’d like to give you three suggestions for the New Year — they’re open enough to make your own.

So, here they are, three ways to get to know your food in 2011.

1. Grow Something New

No matter what else you’re raising or growing already, try something different. We added alot of animals to our homestead in 2010, and this year, I’m hoping to add a garden and chickens. The chickens may happen this week! The garden is totally Lord willing. What can you grow? A row of herbs on your windowsill? How about a hanging pot of greens/lettuces? Backyard chickens, goats, lamb, a small garden? Big or small, grow something this year — so you and your children can appreciate food that comes from its true source, the Lord through His design for our world.

If you can’t grow something new yourself, try to replace some industrial food with its counterpart from a local, artisan source or farm. You’ll be feeding yourself while you feed your community.

2. Feed Your Gut More

“Think of your intestines as soil and grass: the villi are like the soil, and the layer of good bacteria is like the grass covering the soil. If you go to a meadow or a perennial grass field and you overgraze or do something to strip the grass, the soil will become eroded. If this condition continues, you get further erosion of soil, you get cracks in the soil, and surface material starts seeping into the ground water. That is exactly the same process that happens in the human gut. People “strip their grass” with antibiotics, with vaccines, with processed foods, with not getting the right flora via the birth canal due either to a C-section or gut dysbiosis in the mother. Lastly, “civilized” people today are no longer eating probiotic foods. All these factors create an unhealthy gut ecology, a flattening of the villi, and actual holes in the gut wall.” —Wise Traditions article by Tom Cowan, MD

In 2010, I ran a Probiotics: Every Meal series. I shared my ideas and received your ideas for eating probiotics (aka gut food) at every meal and then some, even desserts! I know many people read the series, but not many participated. This did not surprise me, and I was okay with it being food for thought. You see, we Americans don’t have a “cultured food” culture. It isn’t second nature to put a scoop of sauerkraut next to our burger; most people can their vegetables instead of fermenting them; and most sugar-laden yogurts from the grocery store lack any active cultures (are you thinking what I’m thinking — what’s the point of that?).

What is a probiotic food? A food that contains beneficial bacteria or yeasts — organisms that are good for the gut. As a bonus, those foods usually contain enzymes, too!

It takes work to get our heads around making and serving cultured, probiotic foods regularly. My family made a concerted effort in 2009 and 2010 to eat cultured foods with every meal — and we’ve done pretty well. If I serve a meal without a cultured something, that gives me pause. I feel like something is missing! Strangely satisfying. And that’s exactly what I want for you.

Okay, so having a cultured, probiotic food every meal as we do might sound like too much. That’s fine. Anything is better than nothing — so YOU pick the frequency. Once per week? Once per day? Please don’t choose once per month; I know you can do better than that. 😉

For probiotic breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert ideas, revisit the Probiotics: Every Meal series. To get help learning how to make sauerkraut or other fermented veggies; cultured dairy like kefir, sour cream, yogurt or cheeses; or beverages such as water kefir, check out the in-depth video and print tutorials and forum support at GNOWFGLINS eCourse. And our brand-new service, the weekly menu plans, include a cultured food each week!

3. Add a Traditional Method of Food Preparation

What do you want to learn next? You’re probably already eating real foods. Are they prepared well for optimum nutrition? Soaking, sprouting and fermenting can improve just about every food group! You’ll get better digestion and nutrition out of your seeds and nuts, grains and beans, fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy. Just choose one method and food group — do you want to ditch the cans and soak/cook your own beans? how about learning to make sourdough foods like pasta, muffins, crackers or cake? or start by soaking your morning oatmeal. This blog hosts many recipes to guide your learning, and we’ll walk alongside you go step-by-step and week-by-week at GNOWFGLINS eCourse.

My family and I want to learn about traditional methods of preservation — like smoking and salting meats and making pemmican. Actually, that was one of my goals for 2010, but it didn’t happen (except for jerky, which actually turned out not too traditional).

What are your New Year’s food resolutions? Which of these do you think you can do? How can you make it your own and doable for you and your family? I am here to help you succeed, so please keep in touch and let me know how I can help you. God bless your new year.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    I find it hard to get probiotic foods at every meal but I would like to. I’m trying to have half a cup of yogurt in the morning and sauerkraut at one of my other meals. I just don’ t have a taste for ferments and I find it hard to overcome the fear that something I made is bad (I have a bowl of kombucha in the fridge I’m terrified to taste, lol!). I know it is something I need to get over though.

    Growing things are hard since i live in an apartment and where I can plant things in pots gets almost no light at all. I’ve tried the past 6 years growing things with no luck. However, this year I am joining a CSA and I am so excited about it :)

    I am also continually learning traditional food preparation. It is a learning and growing process and one I am excited about :)

    Thanks for being here, Wardee! I love your blog and have learned so much from it!

    • says

      Carla — Getting yogurt and sauerkraut is wonderful! You’re doing great. :) I do think adjusting to ferments is an acquired taste. Give yourself time, but be brave and keep sipping your creations. Hopefully one day you’ll love them.

      CSAs are so exciting. I’m happy for you! Thanks for sharing what your 2011 plans are. Very encouraging to me.

  2. NancyO says

    What an encouragement…thanks! We’ve been increasing our intake of probiotic foods after relying on Biokult for quite awhile (a great source, but expensive!). A tablespoon or two of cultured veggies isn’t much at a meal, and since we don’t have serious issues, I think will be a manageable addition to the kefir and yogurt I already make. Until garden produce is ready we’ll rely on store bought cultured products, which are also rather pricey. I made delicious cultured dills last summer, but those are looooong gone…I’ll be putting out more pickling cucumber plants this year! :)

    I’m also wondering about your take on some of the “5 minutes a day bread” recipes that use bread dough stored up to 2 weeks in the frig. Would the phytates be minimized in dough that is refrigerated? Those I’ve talked to say that it takes on quite a sour dough taste and texture. I plan to try whole wheat bread using this method after putting my mill and Bosch up after 15 yrs. We don’t eat much bread at all (and hope to never go back to a lifestyle where we do), but one of the things I want to do this month is get a soaked bread recipe to the “I don’t have to work too hard at this” point. I know room temp is called for in soaking grains, but I have to think it would do something if it was left for days instead of hours. Are you aware of any WAPF literature on refrigerating dough?

    • says

      Hi, Nancy! Great questions. My take on the 5-minute bread is that it is a start, but not quite there. 😉 The yeasts in commercial yeasts are not effective at preparing grains for optimum digestion and nutrition. Yes, there is a souring that takes place, but because of the presence of the wrong yeasts, I truly wonder if there is a health effect beyond taste.

      If you’re looking for something easy like that, but also healthy, I suggest you check out our Sourdough eCourse. We teach my friend Christina’s “bucket dough” — her sourdough remake of the 5-minute artisan bread. It has proven to be fabulously easy for just about everyone (everyone has a learning curve) with wonderful results. Lately, people are discussing using their sourdough “bucket dough” in the bread machine! How’s that for hands-free?

      As far as the refrigerator goes, I believe that if the right organisms are present, souring does occur at cooler temperatures. Just much more slowly. I don’t have an exact formula for how much time out = how much time in. What I do with the bucket dough is mix it up, give it a few hours or overnight out on the counter, and then refrigerate it. So it got its warm souring time in, and then it is ready to go in the fridge to pull off lumps and bake.

      Have fun with your experiments!

  3. Pam Groom says

    I joined a CSA for this year. I plan to expand my tiny, tiny garden with a heavy emphasis on herbs if my husband is willing to help with a deer fence. My kids are drinking kefir water more regularly and I’ll be expanding into cultured dairy now that I found a raw milk I can drink. Fermented Ketchup is my next probiotic within the next few weeks as well as reanimating a spelt starter now that I seem to be tolerating spelt after about 6 months of going GF. Sourdough is going to become part of our homeschool curriculum for my daughter if I remain reaction-free. Homesteading skills like woodsplitting and knifethrowing are for the boys. We will increase the variety of foods in our newly established root cellar as well. Sounds like fun to me!

    Pam Groom

    • says

      Hi, Pam! We like you, have a deer issue. That’s why our garden is totally Lord willing. I just don’t know how much we’ll get done. We are always running out of time! I’m really happy to hear you’re doing well on spelt. As you know, spelt is one of my favorite things in the world. :) I love hearing your plans for your daughter and sons. Did you just build a root cellar? How wonderful!

    • Pam Groom says

      The root cellar is made out of what used to be perhaps a bomb shelter or hideaway built under my three seasons porch. It’s access point is in the floor of the porch hidden under carpet. It’s a very odd, mysterious room whose original use remains a mystery. We didn’t have to create it at all. We just needed to take advantage of it! Ground water leaks into it and flows down a drain creating a humid environment perfect for apples along with the natural cold environment that never freezes since it is entirely underground!

      • Re says

        Hi, your “root cellar” may have been used as a hideaway for the “Underground Railroad” years ago. There are some homes in my neighborhood that were hideaways that were used for that purpose…I live near Philadelphia.

  4. says

    This is excellent encouragement to eat healthier. I like the reminder about probiotics, things I knew but have not been applying regularly. My goal is once a day, yogurt and kefir will be easy, vegetables is take more thought and learning on my part. Thanks for the nudge in the right direction.


  5. says


    Question: Would the purchased Kombucha be as healthy? I drink this once in a while, I haven’t learned to make my own yet, though that would be a good next step. Until I do though, if I drink a few swallows of purchased kombucha every day would that have the same effect as the probiotics you mention above?


  6. maria says

    Hello Wardee! I have recently decided to make my own yogurt more regularly as the shop bought brand unsettles my stomach. I need yogurt that’s fermented for 24 hours so the lactose is all gone. When I make my own soured cream, either to use with food or to make into cultured butter, I stir in some yogurt starter and leave covered at room temperature, with great results. However when I make yogurt, all instructions call for heating the milk and then keep it at a warmer temp during the culturing as well. How come there is a difference in procedure when essentially, as far as I understand, you are using the same things to begin with. I should add that neither the cream nor the milk are raw, unfortunately. God bless, Maria

    • says

      Maria — That’s wonderful that you’re making such good sour cream, and working on yogurt. With yogurt, the Greek style (which must be kept warm) can’t be made except at a warm temperature because that strain of bacteria needs that temperature to proliferate. In addition, the yogurt doesn’t turn out as well if the milk is not heated first (and I don’t know why this is).

      You might want to look into the room temperature yogurt starters from Cultures for Health ( ) — they culture at room temperature and don’t require an initial heating. However, those yogurts tend to be more thin. BUT, you can strain after culturing through cheesecloth to thicken it up. If you do this in the fridge, it won’t get any more sour. :)

      We’ll be making both kinds of yogurt in the Cultured Dairy class: Greek and room temp (using the Villi yogurt starter).

      • says

        Wardee which kind of yogurt do you like better? I’ve stopped making yogurt since I have so many living things going on in my tiny kitchen. We don’t eat a ton of it so it made the most sense to scrap. I really want to start it back up again and make larger batches of things so that I can get them into the fridge and juggle more ferments at a time that way.

        • says

          Annette (Sustainable Eats) — Of course I love Greek, because that’s also the Arabic style with which I grew up. However, I don’t make Greek style because I love room temperature culturing for all the associated health benefits and convenience.

          Having said all that, I find kefir more beneficial and easier to make than room temp yogurt, so that’s what we do most often. :)

    • says

      This is so interesting, I make my own yogurt, but I’ve never even thought of making my own sour cream. If I can do that with a little yogurt starter, why not? I’m off to research it.


      • says

        Brenda, oh, I didn’t mean to imply you can make sour cream with a yogurt starter. I was commending Maria on having mastered that task separately. But, hey, if you find something, let me know. :) Edit: I see now that Maria did say she cultured cream with a yogurt starter! Oops, I misread the first time — and you got it right!

        • Maria says

          Wardee, I should have expressed myself clearer and maybe written “cultured cream” instead. It is much thicker than sour cream or creme fraiche and has a lovely tangy but sweet flavour. I use it interchangeably with sour cream or creme fraiche though, with tortillas, on savoury waffles, as an accompaniment to chilli and so on. I suspect you’d need to use a different starter to make actual sour cream. What I was curious about though, was how come the cream can get cultured at room temperature when the milk has to be heated and kept warm, since I am incubating them with the same pot of yogurt (I tend to use shop bought live yogurt as a starter)? Does it have something to do with the fat content maybe… I should probably just try doing milk at room temp and see if it turns to yogurt or not!


          • says

            Oh, gotcha! Sorry I misunderstood. And that’s a great question to which I don’t know the answer. :) I’ve not heard of anyone using yogurt for a cultured cream, but I have done kefired cream (using a kefir grain for the culturing). In any case, is your cream raw or pasteurized? If raw, it might be culturing on its own, regardless of the yogurt added. I think you could be right that the fat content has something to do with it.

            In the cultured dairy class, we’ll be using the traditional buttermilk starter to make both buttermilk and creme fraiche/sour cream — it is heavenly!

            But any soured cream is heavenly. :) I bet yours is wonderful!

            Sorry I misunderstood. I went back and reread and saw that I read it wrong.

            (Sorry to you, too, Brenda! You read it right!)

        • says

          Hey, nothing to be sorry about. Not sure I understood fully, I think I need to do a little more research, I would like to make my own sour cream or cultured cream. Your cultured dairy class sounds interesting as well.

          Have a great day! -Brenda

  7. Holly says

    I will be adding a new variety of vegetable this spring, and this week I pulled my kefir grains out from the back of the fridge where they have been languishing for longer than I want to admit. They took a day or two to revive, but have recovered nicely and are happy to be back in production mode, I think. I like to drink my kefir in the morning, along with some grape juice.
    I need to learn more about sprouting grains…OK, I need to just jump in and try it :~)

  8. Imogene Buckley says

    Thanks for the nudge in the right direction. I find it hard to get probiotic foods at every meal but I would like to. I am also continually learning traditional food preparation.

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