Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bite-size Steps to a Nutrient-Dense Diet

I have received a few emails and questions about how to transition to a nutrient-dense diet. This has sparked me to present a "12-steps" for food. Even in my own process, there have been gradual steps toward better health. Some things were immediate (removal of sugar), but some things took longer (brewing my own Kombucha). All of my research and instruction into nutrient-dense food has come from the book Nourishing Traditions and the website provided by the Weston A Price Foundation.

Here are my suggestions:

1 - Remove all refined sugar (replace with raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, stevia powder, Rapadura) and refined flours (most importantly white). Replace with soured or sprouted grains.

2 - Switch to raw milk. If this is not feasible, at least switch to organic, non-homogenized whole milk.

3 - Switch to soaked oats for most breakfasts. This will teach you about lacto-fermentation, as well as get you gradually weaned onto soured food, if you are not already.

4 - Make your own salad dressings (use raw products as much as possible. Make Caesar's once a week as they contain raw egg yolks and anchovies, which are both very nutritious)

5 - Make your own broth, and get in the habit regularly making broth/stock so that you can incorporate more soups and gravies into your meal plans.

6 - Learn to marinate and plan to slow roast your meats so that you can purchase the more economical cuts, and then upgrade to pasture-fed, organic with your savings. For the higher quality cuts (chops, steaks, etc) transition yourself to eating them rare.

7 - Brew some Kombucha. It may seems scary, but the "work" is quick and then it takes care of itself.

8 - Begin making your own bread. No sugars, no preservatives, no glue additives, etc. If you are not ready for traditional sourdough yet, there are other "compromise" breads that would still be steps in the right direction.

9 - Try making your own sauerkraut. This is a great next step in lacto-fermentation. Sauerkraut is a great condiment, and a small amount each day is wonderful for your gut. This is a good baby step towards experimenting with other lacto-fermented veggies and salsas as well.

10 - Make and culture your own dairy products! The easiest is probably creme fraiche. After you try this (and LOVE how delicious and cheap it is) try making your own yogurt. If you are daring, try cheese. Make your own ice cream, and load it up with raw egg yolks, and raw cream if you can.

11 - Incorporate liver (I know! Gasp!). The easiest way for us is grating it (frozen), or finely chopping it into gravies.

12 - Take a look at what else you buy "pre-made" at the store. Condiments? Crackers? Snacks? Dive in and learn to make it yourself.

Everything can be made from whole foods. Pretty soon you will have no need to walk down the store isles, as all of your purchases (if you do not get food direct from farms or through a company like Azure Standard) will be on the exterior walls.

I plan to focus on one of these "steps" each month with recipes and how-to's, though it may not be in this order.

Questions and comments are welcome as always!


  1. Number 9 is the one I need to work on...and I had a nice flat head of cabbage to start a batch...but now I've gone and braised it in butter two nights in a row and it's all gone. :(

  2. I've finally subscribed to this blog! Kept forgetting, always meaning to check it after reading your other one. But now I shall do better. Thanks for the list.

  3. Leah - Well, braised and buttered cabbage is pretty good for you too! It's time for me to make a new batch as well.

    Deanna - Thanks for subscribing! Perhaps it will help give us a spring board for further foodie conversations.

  4. I just made liver for the first time last night - my mother's way, pan fried with onions. I coated the liver pieces with a salt, pepper and spelt mixture and then added them to sauteing onions. Nate had never eaten liver before and said that while he wouldn't make it for himself, he'd eat it if I made it. I thought it was delicious.

    I've got my sourdough mother started - she's on her 4th day. :)

    Question about soaking: do you soak the oatmeal at room temperature or in the fridge?

    I'm happy to report that my sugar addiction seems to be waning - a week ago, Nate brought home some chocolate and not only did I forget it was in the cupboard, I only ate half of it and told him he could have the rest!

    I'm going to make your 12 steps my "To Do" list!

  5. Maria - Well done on the liver! I should try making it for my husband. I know that he has never liked it before...but you never know. It would be nice not to have to hide it away all the time. Did Seth enjoy it?

    The oatmeal soaks at room temp (I know, leaving dairy out overnight with the intention of eating it feels strange at first).

    Yay for the waning sugar cravings! Keep up the good work.

    This has me thinking that perhaps you could provide a 12-step model for how to face and restructure your finances to achieve debt free status, etc.

  6. I did soak oatmeal in whey once and Seth did eat it...I was a little too chicken to.

    Seth is pretty much a vegetarian, and won't eat meat, with the possible exception being a hamburger (or god forbid, a hot dog, which we DO NOT serve at home, but I've heard that he's enjoyed while with his father). So, he didn't try the liver.

    I like your idea, and since I'm in sore need of one for my blog, I'm going to run with it!

  7. Greetings from Portland, Marianne! Hope your move went well. Great list of baby steps. I am so glad I learned to ferment vegetables. Not only do we enjoy our kraut, etc., raw, but I have discovered that there fantastic in soups and stews. Choucroute garni, borcht...I blogged last week about two soups I made for lunch, using leftovers and pantry items, and added a little sauerkraut to each right before serving. SO delicious.

  8. Hi Chris, Thanks for stopping by. The move went well, and we are fairly settled now.

    I really want to do more with fermented veggies. Have you tried ginger carrots? I think that's next on my list. I love the idea of using sauerkraut as an addition to soup. Thanks for the tip!

  9. I haven't done the ginger carrots...though I should. I make my sauerkraut with ginger and I love the extra zing it adds.

  10. This is Good, Marianne!

    I believe in the small step approach and blogged on it here:

    Rah Rah Raw Milk:

    Bone Broth is Food As Medicine!:

    Chef Jem

  11. Thanks Chef Jem! I'll be happy to explore your site. I never tire of finding like-minded food friends.


Questions and Comments welcome! If you would prefer to contact me privately, please email mariannescrivner (at) gmail (dot) com.


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