Fields of Athenry welcomes Cristina Michael to our farm team!

Here at Fields of Athenry we couldn’t get by without the help of our farm family and staff.  We are a small family farm with just a few employees but each of those employees brings a big 160120_FOA-TURKEY-638_LR6_1personality and talent we just couldn’t do without. Recently, with the upswing in our prepared Farm-to-Table meals and ongoing Bone Broth and Meat Stock preparation we recently brought on a new team member, Cristina Michael. She will not only continue to be a side-kick in the kitchen, cooking away with me during the week, but she will also be sharing her love of food – Raw Food mostly – here on the blog! Please take a look at Cristina’s story below including one of her favorite Raw Food juicing recipes, and join me in welcoming Cristina to the Fields of Athenry team and our Farming for Bernie blog! -Elaine

INTRODUCING CRISTINA MICHAEL

Growing up in a Spanish household, my love for food developed at an early age. My mother provided a home where we would often gather around a table of delicious food with the people we loved. When I graduated high school, I decided to journey to Spain and truly immerse myself in the Spanish culture.

While I was in Spain for a total of three years, one of my first and most immediate impressions was how happy everyone was. As I began travelling all around the country I met lots of different people with different views and backgrounds but they all held a common lifestyle around food. From the preparation to the eating of a meal, to taking the time out of their day to enjoy it with people they love, this culture and way of life became near and dear to me. In a sense they held food and the time they spent eating it sacred. As you can imagine I consequently grew an expanding love for fresh home cooked food and good company. I can still say that the best seafood I ever had was in Spain. Pulpo a la Gallega is one of my favorites and I love the simplicity of how it is made: fresh octopus, potatoes, olive oil, paprika and salt.

After 3 great years, I came back to the states and started a family. In raising my children, I found it very hard to find the time to cook many of the traditional dinners I had grown to love. Not only did I stop making the time for it, it also just became so easy, with 4 kids mind you, to make microwavable dinners, buy fast food, and serve prepackaged lunches. My kids were often sick throughout most of the winter months and were always immediately sick when they came across someone with a cold or the flu. I thought it was normal and that all kids were germy: “kids just get sick” right?  However, my patience was wearing thin. I was wasting my time and money at doctor’s offices. Doctors would write a prescription and that would be the end of it, at least until the next round of colds or flu would hit it. It was quickly becoming a never-ending cycle and I needed to make a change for my family and myself.

CM Making ChiliSlowly, I started to eat healthier and began to take care of my body by also working out again. I started to realize what I ate greatly affected how I felt. The better I ate the better I performed! And, oh boy did that open a new chapter in my love for food. Now I also began to pay attention to where my food came from, how it was prepared, and how the food I was now also fueling my family with was having the same positive effects on their health. It was a big turning point in my life and career.

From that point forward, I have continued to merge food and healthy living together.  I sharpened my culinary skills at L’Acadamie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg and Bethesda and worked under multiple chefs including the Washington Capitals and Wizards head chef Robbie Wood. I am now a certified Raw Food Chef and Holistic Health Coach from the Diet for Living Center in New Mexico, and I am furthering my education by participating in a 150 hours Professional Plant-based Culinary Course taught by Rouxbe Cooking School.

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The foods we eat can be either the safest and most powerful forms of medicine or the slowest forms of poison. Raw foods are simple living foods, found in nature, unprocessed and unchanged. Foods in their untampered state are custom made by nature with the exact specifications to make a healthy life possible. My passion is to share with the world my knowledge of how food can heal and prevent illness. I am motivated to change the way people understand food, body and health and the importance of moderation and balance. I know many of you are hungry for a fresh healthy approach and I am blessed to work with such a devoted hardworking team at Fields of Athenry. We are here to help and guide you on your path to wellness and as part of blogging together I will be highlighting recipes using raw foods, vegetables, and other healthy fun treats that are friendly to all taste buds.

When you eat clean, it calms your stomach. When you calm your stomach, you quiet your mind, and when you have a quiet mind, you can listen to your heart – and your heart speaks the TRUTH.” – CM

One of my most favorite food passions is making Raw Juice or what I like to call “liquid nutrition”! One of the most frequent tools I use in my kitchen is the Omega 8006 Juicer; a masticating juicer which extracts juice by pressing and grinding at low speeds to avoid added heat. Since masticating juicers run at slower speeds you get less oxidation and more nutrients when you use them. A little known fact: when you heat food over 118 degrees, you lose 80% of the nutrients, antioxidants, minerals, and 50% of the proteins. The juicer in essence does all the “processing”, pulling the liquid nutrients from the fiber, so that your body doesn’t have to do the work. Raw juices supply oxygen to the cells of the body, allowing our bodies to heal itself by virtue of nature’s law.

160120_FOA-JUICING-488_LR6_1The Omega Juicer is also one of the easiest juicers to clean with just a 2-3 minute clean up period (hello, mom of 4 over here!) and has 10-year warranty. And while it may seem like a big initial investment at $250-$300, did you know that’s just the equivalent of one less Starbucks coffee at $5 per week for a year? And trust me, with more of this juice and less of that caffeine and sugar you’ll feel plenty energized to not even notice!

I’ll talk more about raw foods, juicing, and what else a juicer can do for you in upcoming posts but in the meantime if you have any questions on the brand I chose or why I love juicing, send me a note in the comments. If you currently own one or are thinking of giving it a try, check out this easy recipe below:

Hippocrates Juice – With spinach, tomatoes, peppers, celery, carrots, garlic and an optional kick of jalapeño pepper this juice is full of beneficial nutrients and vitamins.

Serves: 2 – 16 oz portions Active Time: 20 mins Total Time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 5 large carrots
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, or to taste
  • Splash of Apple cider vinegar (optional)

Directions:

To prepare the juice, wash all of the ingredients.

Cut and deseed the peppers, peel the garlic and cut the jalapeño in half. Depending on the size of your carrots, you may also want to cut these into half or thirds. Note: Depending on your spice level preference, you may also want to remove the seeds from the jalapeño.

Put all of the ingredients through a juicer and Serve immediately!

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The ongoing journey towards Good. Better. Best.

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Good, better, best, is a motto Dr. Pete Hilgartner uses and one I have put into practice as I travel the road of improving our family’s healthy habits for daily living. I know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging life can get when trying to change how you eat especially when trying to implement the diets and foods from books like Nourishing Traditions, GAPS, The Paleo Approach or The Paleo Solution. Each of those books and their relative authors are just oozing with knowledge and real-life solutions to implement; but where to start? Follow along to hear our journey and some tips on beginning one for yourself.

Positive attitudes in turning over a new lease on life can make all the difference in the difficult world of chasing away the bad habits and convenience of the drive-thru burger joint or the sweet driven coffee shops. How can a positive attitude transform our eating habits? The better our attitude, the more likely good will come out of difficult challenges. By taking the bull by the horns and saying, “I’ve got this. I can do this.”, you make the commitment to change a little each day in what you allow or don’t allow into your diet.

Good.

My family’s first huge commitment was a 6 week challenge of no dairy, no bread, no gluten, no grains in any way, shape or form. We did it, all of us together. Then as our health started transforming we made more changes, conquered more challenges and BAM!, we haven’t looked back because it feels good to feel so good!

Better.

As we work through the good, better, best approach some things in food prep came easier than others to me. After 13 years of working on Nourishing Traditions, GAPS and Paleo style cooking, I recognized there was so much for me to learn. Two areas I really needed help with was fermentation and culturing dairy. It was high time for me to invest in my knowledge base so I signed up to take Monica Corrado’s Cooking for Well – Being Teacher Training, Level 1. I flew out to Colorado in early 2014.

2014 MC Class

Some of the 2014 Cooking for Well Being Class in Colorado. From L to R, Kristen of FoodRenegade, Monica Corrado (fearless leader), Alex of FeedMeLikeYouMeanIt and yours truly!

It was a power packed mind blowing learning experience and I loved it! I felt a little more confident in those areas that gave me trouble. I not only learned the techniques Monica teaches but I had a better understanding of the why. In my enthusiasm I invited Monica to teach a course here at Fields of Athenry Farm. She agreed!

Best!

From June 24th thru June 30th, 2015, I had the honor and privilege of working side by side with Monica, 18 amazing students from all over the country, and my daughter Bernadette. Bernadette was Monica’s side kick and she did a tremendous job in having all of Monica’s needed groceries and utensils ready, preliminary food prep, and so much more.

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Monica starting off the day with energy and laughs!

Monica has an approach to life that definitely embraces the attitude that what you put out to others and into your food, circles back to each and every one of us either positively or negatively.

Monica goes for the positive and is addicting. Food is holy, food is sacred and so are we. We are what we eat and we can either become negative, sick, worn out, wrinkled, OR healthy, more vibrant, glowing, fun loving, energized, full of life. It is up to us. Personally, I choose Monica’s positive way. I spent the week embracing her teaching again and continued to learn more.

Good, Better, Best and still growing, still transforming!

She taught us about saturated fats and why they are good for us. She went into explaining cooking with oils, culturing dairy, making Creme Fraiche (yum, yum, yum!!!!), butter, yogurts, whey. The class involves learning an in-depth knowledge behind nutrient dense foods, differences between meat stocks and bone broths, the science behind marinating meat, lacto-fermentation, preparing deep green leafy vegetables, soaking and preparing flours, whole grains, nuts, seeds. She teaches the why, when, and how all in an interactive way that keeps you craving more knowledge! Knowledge we hope to share with you here at the blog and over at the farm.

Let’s start with Liver Shots.

Yup, you heard me, liver shots! I know, I know, for many the thought of eating liver may seem unappealing, undesirable, and just down right icky. And yes, I could have started with something seemingly easier to incorporate into your daily life. But I’m here to tell you LIVER SHOTS are both GOOD FOR YOU and EASY to incorporate into your daily life. Hear me out.

Liver Shot

The class about to partake in a liver shot!

Beef Liver, Lamb Liver, Pork Liver, Chicken Liver in that order are nutritional powerhouses, chalk full of amino acids, minerals, vitamins and more just waiting to pump your body full of vitality and nutrient goodness. (Just ask the coyotes that go after my livestock why they plunge into the organ meat first when they feed their young! Even they know how rich and beneficial organ meat really is.)

As the fun saying goes this is the OFFAL Truth! Organ meats rock, offering B complex, including B12 and folate (folic acid), trace minerals such as copper, zinc and chromium, Vitamin D, CoQ10 (essential for energy production and cardiac function; pre-formed vitamin A (retinol), vitamin K2 and so much more.

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Me and some organ meat. Just another day in the kitchen!

Somehow we have gotten so far away from the good stuff that muscle meat has become the American food of choice. While muscle meat is yummy, it is organ meat that rocks as the true KING in nutritional value. Silly us. We are missing out on what native cultures who have maintained traditional diets have known forever – that is: eat real whole foods from plants and animals.  Take note these cultures were free from disease that plague our societies today in record numbers (think cancer, infertility, diabetes, depression, heart disease, the list goes on).

See the Westin A. Price Foundation for more, because Dr. Prices studies are phenomenal! Fields of Athenry Farm is a Weston A. Price Foundation inspired farm.

Feeling fatigued – take a liver shot today!

Here is how: Slightly freeze your liver for ease in cutting. Lay the slightly frozen liver on your cutting board and begin to make small, literally pill size, easy to swallow pieces. Place the “shots” onto parchment paper on flat plate or cookie sheet and place in freezer. Once fully frozen, transfer the liver shots to a tightly sealed bag or container.

Single Liver pill

Single Liver Shot – Simple and Easy!

Now the fun part. Each morning or before you go to bed pop one in and swallow with a big swig of water or if you’re really feeling adventurous send it down with hearty beet kvass! And when you do – comment below or send us a message and let us know how you feel. Keep in mind this is an extremely rich meat so don’t go overboard. As my grandmother would say, “moderation in everything keeps us in balance.”

So Beet Kvass, you now ask, what is that? Beet  Kvass, as explained in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions (in my opinion a must have book to fast track to your optimal health) is a drink known for both it’s medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Think about it, beets are LOADED with nutrients making it an excellent blood tonic. A simple 4-oz glass morning and night enhances regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood and cleanses the liver. Just like the Liver pills above, it’s an easy recipe to implement into your daily life.

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A jar of Beet Kvass perfection!

BEET KVASS (recipe adapted from page 610 in Nourishing Traditions)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Medium or 2 Large organic beets, pealed and chopped in quarters/big chunks
  • 1/4 cup whey (use the link to check out a great video from our friend Sarah at the Healthy Home Economist)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • Filtered water (no chlorine)

Directions: Place beets, whey and salt into a 2-quart glass container. Fill the container with filtered water. Stir well before covering tightly and securely. Keep the container at room temperature for 2 days before moving to the refrigerator.

The key to this recipe is to make sure you do not cut your beets too small, and certainly do not shred them! Small pieces will cause the beets to create too much juice and therefore ferment too rapidly. You’ll be left with an alcohol similar to “Poitin” – an illegal Irish moonshine! (P.S. that is not the goal here!).

Once your Kvass is ready, enjoy a 4 oz glass twice a day and continue on your path to…

Good, Better, Best.

Monica has challenged me to be the very best version of myself. And I pass that challenge to you. Positive attitude! It can make all the difference in the world when properly nourishing from the inside out.

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The Cooking for Well Being 2015 Class – Fields of Athenry Farm

Additional resources:

Monica Corrado’s cookbook – With Love From Grandmother’s Kitchen

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBrided developed concept of GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) – http://www.doctor-natasha.com/dr-natasha.php

Additional Info and Resources on GAPS – http://www.gapsdiet.com/

The Paleo Mom Dr. Sarah Ballantyne PhD – http://www.thepaleomom.com/

Rob Wolf – Author of The Paleo Solution – http://robbwolf.com/

Alex Lewin – Author of Real Food Fermentation and the blog http://feedmelikeyoumeanit.blogspot.com/ 

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Winner Winner Chicken Dijon Dinner

Here at the farm we spend a lot of time and effort ensuring that each and every meal you make with our meats, cheeses, and eggs are of the highest quality, but just like you we like to sit down and enjoy eating that food too. We are, after all a family farm and not only what we eat, but how it tastes is super important to us too. Join us as we begin to share some of our favorite recipes here on the farm. Many come straight from Elaine’s kitchen, some might be a healthy twist on a food you already know, or a recipe one of our customers has perfected over time.

This past weekend was one of our monthly Patio Service days. The weather was gorgeous, we had a huge turnout, and the grill was smoking all afternoon long. Many customers stopped us before heading out to mention how great the chicken was – and it inspired us to start sharing some of the recipes we use, right in our family kitchen, with all of you.

This chicken marinade is super simple, using clean ingredients as we replaced any refined sugars with Maple Syrup (or local honey if you have it) and of course use our go-to Premier Pink Salt. The whole meal can be whipped together from items you likely already have in your home – and the best part – you can marinade the chicken for as little as 10 minutes for it to turn out great. (We recommend a few hours or even overnight for a more intense flavor.)

Marinade - mixed together to make a thick, rich coating for your chicken.

Marinade – mixed together to make a thick, rich coating for your chicken.

At Patio Service we made this with our Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, but co-owner MaryTeresa will tell you it’s a must have on our Bone-in Chicken Thighs. We dare you to try them both and then leave us a message and let us know which one you liked best!

P.S.  As an extra treat, prior to placing your chicken in the marinade scoup 2 Tablespoons into a small bowl on the side, roast or grill up some veggies, then pour a small amount of marinade on veggies right before serving!

And without further ado (and drooling) here is the recipe:

Combine all ingredients except for chicken into a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Add chicken to bowl (why waste a plastic bag!) and let marinate for as little as 10 minutes. If marinating longer or overnight, cover the bowl in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. When ready, remove chicken from marinade and grill until done (165 degrees – this takes us around 10-12 minutes. flipping once).

*Adapted from www.plainchicken.com
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