My Experience with Nourishing Traditions Recipes

At the beginning of the summer, I mentioned that I wanted to check out a book called Nourishing Traditions. Well, I did check out the book and liked it so much that I bought it. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the gist is that preparing foods in traditional ways (soaking grains overnight, for instance) makes foods easier to digest and is healthier than many of the fad diet foods out there.

Sally Fallon, the author of the book, is also very much against processed foods and white sugar. In theory, I agree with her. In practice, I’ve found it hard to give up processed foods and sugar. So the question became…could I do it?

The answer is not yet, though I’m making a lot of progress.

The way this book is written makes a lot of sense to me, so I’m sold on the concept of eating unprocessed foods for the first time. I ran out of sugar a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t bought any more. And I ran out of cold cereal yesterday. My plan is to not buy anymore. So that’s progress!

I’ve also tried a couple of recipes from Nourishing Traditions. So far I’ve made pancakes from whole wheat soaked overnight in water and apple cider vinegar. I’m a picky eater, so I was skeptical as to how they’d turn out, but they were a hit with the entire family! Honestly, they were the best whole wheat pancakes I’d ever made. Most of the time my whole wheat pancakes have a heavy texture, but these were light and fluffy. Soaking the grain must be the solution.

I also found an ice cream maker on clearance at Walmart, and I used the Nourishing Traditions recipe for vanilla ice cream. Again, I was skeptical. How could ice cream possibly taste good without sugar?

Nevertheless, I made the ice cream and even cut the amount of maple syrup (used to sweeten the ice cream) in half, because I’m not fond of maple syrup. And again I was surprised. The entire family agreed that the ice cream was delicious! It tasted better than the vanilla ice cream you buy at the store, and it had no white sugar, no preservatives, and no ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce!

I still trying to buy more food locally. I found a local supplier of eggs. My next door neighbor! How convenient is that? My neighbors on both sides of us have also shared home grown squash and cucumbers with us, too, which is great, since my garden hasn’t done so well this year. The tomatoes look good, but everything else flopped.

One of the biggest bonuses of buying less processed foods and buying more local foods is that my grocery shopping is greatly simplified. I barely hit the inside aisles of the grocery store anymore! Produce, meat, grains, and dairy is pretty much all I’ve been buying. And soda. I still haven’t been able to kick the soda habit.

Despite my successes, I’m still struggling with eating out. I’ve been plagued with headaches this summer, probably due to weather changes, and there are some nights when I feel I can’t face my kitchen. But I’m pleased with my progress overall. It’s all about baby steps, right?

Have you ever made a radical change to your diet? Do you have any tips for me in my transition?

Photo by Zoonie.



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By , on Jul 15, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{33 Comments}

  1. Jarhett:

    My Wife and I have been practicing “Traditional Foodies” for almost 2 years now. The hardest part is feeling out all your sources, comparing prices among them, and keeping straight where you can find what. Last month we moved from the Portland area to southern Colorado, where traditional organic food isn’t easy to come by. In your area though I would recommend Azure Standard. It is a food COOP where you can buy in bulk and they deliver to certain drop points all over the Northwest. We found that it was incredibly cheap to buy all your carbs that way, bulk beans, grain, oats, and a lot of canned goods too. You hace to create an account on their website to see their prices and drop points, but it’s free and 170% worth it. Good Luck on the Journey!
    -Jarhett
    PS My Favorite NT recipe is Oatmeal. Throw all the ingredients together in a crockpot before bed, and it’s ready when you wake up.

  2. Baby steps are better than no steps . . .

    We try to make our meals from basic, fresh ingredients– tastes better, healthier, and frugal.

  3. Les:

    I was forced to go on a gluten free diet 3 years ago, it was hard at first because I could not just grab a pizza, burger or sandwich. Now I am accustomed to it but I think planning ahead, well, well ahead, of each meal and snack is key. Never wait until you are hungry to go foraging for food otherwise you WILL fall for the boxed dinner or fast food. This is especially true for snacks.

    To keep from foraging, esp. when something unexpected comes up and you can’t prepare what you have planned, keep homemade frozen or partially prepared foods on hand or remember very basic recipies that can be quickly made with a few ingredients ex. an egg frittata.

  4. Jenne:

    Hi there!

    I am interested in trying Nourishing Traditions as well – found it for a really great price on Jessica’s Biscuit/ecookbooks, as well as all the other books everyone mentioned:

    http://www.ecookbooks.com/show.....traditions

  5. Oh! And I have a cookbook suggestion: More With Less written by the Mennonites.

  6. I’m impressed with the progress you’ve made & feel very encouraged for I too am trying to eat healthier. I’ve been trying to eat mostly fresh fruits & veggies during the day, I also have almonds & walnuts, but I’m still fixing dinner like I normally do. It’s been interesting. There are a lot of good suggestions here & I can’t wait to check out the books. Here’s another blog recommendation. This is a friend of mine who is also trying to eat healthier. http://tastetherealfood.blogspot.com

  7. Troy:

    Wow…I really enjoyed reading your stuff. I haven’t tried your recipe for ice cream yet, but it sounds way yummy and I enjoyed reading about that dark ….whatchamacallit sugar….the avacado sounding british sugar which was the last straw and motivated me to write this reply. Btw…advanced apologies for txt errors…it’s coming from my Palm. Ok, so I like the less processed thing about the dark sugar mentioned in your ice cream write-up, but still a bit heavy on simple carbs. I bet you’d like just a dabble of molasas and natural sweetener (doctor grandmas delight is the best if you ask me…zero cal – diabetic friendly too;) Mmm…I’m hungry!

    Not only was your stuff great, but many great comments.

    Totally moderation. I’m not a huge splenda fan, but I’m guessing it’s better than some of the alternatives, but too much of even splenda can’t be good, so, I’ll shoot for balance too.

    I loved the energy comment. Don’t be tricked by low quality grains. There is a difference between red and white wheat;)

    Tea was a nice alternative to coke for me, along with good ol’ H2O.

    Thanks for the great share!

  8. Marci:

    Bread – once you get that recipe down, try taking a little piece of it and rolling it into an 8×10 very flat rectangle. Wrap it around a homemade filling (I saute cabbage, onions, more veggies, muchrooms, seasonings and a meat of some kind all together)(sometimes add leftover rice) and spoon it onto the flat piece. Roll it in thirds the long way, then flip the two ends under it to seal it. Makes a great freezable version of Hot Pockets or Lean Pockets, depending on your filling. These stay great for a long time in ziplocks in the freezer – just zap, still frozen, in the microwave, and voila, instant hot pocket meal :)

  9. Marci:

    My paperback of “Back to Eden” is from 1977. Hard to find :( But I understand there is a 2nd edition in 1997… you might have better luck finding that one.

    If you get into Sourdough, I’d greatly recommend, “Adventures in San Francisco, Sourdough Cooking & Baking Cookbook” by Charles D. Wilford by Charles D. Wilford (Paperback – 1972). Great paperback cookbook with lots of great recipes for your sourdough starter.

    Migraines and weather – on overcast days I tend to get migraines…something to do with the way the light refracts…Monday was such a day here on the coast – had to resort to the Maxalt MLT. Try wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap on those days. Helps keep the glare down, and keeps my migraines at bay. Good luck with it :(

  10. Lynnae:

    @Emily – Thanks for the recipe! I’ll have to give it a try!

    @Kris – Nope. I don’t think the headaches are because of sugar. They seem to be related to my eyes, which means it’s probably weather or allergies. Today I’m not wearing my contacts, so hopefully that will help.

    @Joy – Thanks for the blog link! I just subscribed!

    @Melissa Y. – I love Dr. Sears! I’ve read the first book you mentioned, and it’s very good. I’ll have to look into the second one.

    @DebtorinNYC – The “rule” for sugar is that you should use natural, unprocessed sweeteners, like maple syrup or honey. But you should use them sparingly.

    @Marci – I haven’t heard of “Back to Eden”, but now I want to read it! I’ll have to see if my library has it.

    @jill in chicago – Bread is on my list of things to replace with homemade versions. I’ll have to ask around for some starter. If I can’t find any, Nourishing Traditions does have a recipe.

    Thanks for being so encouraging, everyone!

  11. jill in chicago:

    I applaud your efforts, Lynnae – and want to point out that eating unprocessed food is far more frugal, as well. I suggest obtaining a sourdough starter, as it will be the kickoff for many delicious and easy baked goods (don’t get me started on the ingredients in store-bought bread), especially if you feed it honey instead of sugar. We’ve found a fruit market with a wonderful butcher, and since paper goods come from the bulk store, we rarely need to hit the supermarket any more.
    Regarding the soda thing, we found that flavored seltzer water is a very satisfying alternative to the high-fructose corn syrup sodas, even for the kiddos. On that note, I had a “duh” moment yesterday: sent to the Quickie Mart for a Pepsi (the hubby cannot kick it), I found something new called “Pepsi Throwback”, which is made with sugar, not HFCS. I’m a Pepsi gal (NEVER Coke) and this was the best thing I’d tasted since the stuff came in glass bottles. This illustrated to me why my generation, weaned on soda, missed many of the health problems associated with soda today – the sodas of our day were made with sugar, not HFCS. And they tasted better back then – no gummy aftertaste. I hope this is a lasting trend. Consumers: demand your soda be made the olde-timey way, with real sugar! And then, of course, enjoy moderately.

    • Mary:

      In 1989 I was in college at U of M. I lived in a small town about 20 minutes north of Ann Arbor and I cleaned a few people’s apartments in Ann Arbor for money. I’d stop at a small store called the Polly Market and I could get an 8-pack of glass bottles of Diet Pepsi for $1.99 plus deposit. They were the only store anywhere that carried glass bottles and I had to return the bottles back to them. After nearly a year of living on this stuff…and thinking no one else knew my secret because it was always in stock…they stopped carrying it. I could have cried!

      Now, more than 20 years and thousands of bottles of diet pop later, I am giving it up for good. I gave it up the previous two years for Lent but I always snuck back to the nasty habit of drinking it again by summertime. This year – it’s going to be gone for good! I’ve substituted just water and occasionally hot tea or homemade iced tea. No heavy sugar fruit juices (I’ve never liked apple or orange juice) and I’ve tried a few of the “low sugar” fruit drinks but really I just don’t care for them. I prefer to eat my calories rather than drink them!

      My headaches this past week have been horrible. I, too, avoid gluten (due to anemia that only clears up after I cut out gluten – took me years to figure that one out!) but again, I start sneaking it back in and next think you know I’m eating a baguette while driving home only to find I’m completely winded walking from the car to the house.

      So, no more pop and no more gluten. I don’t fully appreciate how great I feel when I do adhere to this…and then go off the wagon and feel like crap for weeks while I try to crawl back on the wagon.

      Good luck to you – it’s not easy to start new habits, but we have willpower!

  12. Marci:

    Basic scratch raw cooking is pretty much all I do, which is why I believe my grocery bill stays under $100/month… Always have done it. Only way to go :) Good luck with your transition. You’ll find it becomes second nature in a year or so – just stick with it :) Much healthier for you!

    My library system (4 counties) has only one book listed, and it’s checked out, but I put it in my hold que, and as soon as Toledo Library gets it back in, it’s mine next :) I want to see how it differs from “Back to Eden” by Jethro Kloss – a very old book that I swear by for good basic recipes.

  13. Does the book have any “rules” for sugar substitutes? Such as using Splenda?

  14. Melissa Y.:

    My family has had great success with Dr Sear’s book, Healthiest kid in the neighborhood & his newest book about nutrition is very interesting, NDD The Nutritional Deficit Disorder. Both books are written with you the parent in mind and how to navigate changing your families mind about foods.

  15. Joy:

    You might want to check out this blog from Rhonda Jean in Australia. http://down—to—earth.blogspot.com/
    She loved and uses Nourishing Traditions also. Her and her husband live a very simple life.
    One step at a time . When you look back in a couple of months you will see how far you come with your plan.

  16. I’ll have to check out Nourshing Traditions. Sounds like what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve been adding the healthy foods instead of trying to take stuff away and I seem to be gradually weening myself off of processed foods. And…I have more energy and my moods are stable for the first time in a VERY long time.

  17. Marj:

    My hat is off to you. Congratulations on trying ANYTHING that will help our bodies. No, I have not tried it….just wrote the title and author down. Hopefully I can find it at the library or amazon for a good price.
    Thank You.

  18. Emily:

    I love Nourishing Traditions and frequent the Weston A Price Foundation website. My husband has had trouble kicking soda as well. We came across this recipe for cola. I make it for him by the cup.

    2 Tablespoons sweetener (we use 1/4 t stevia)
    1 teaspoon Vanilla
    1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
    1 teaspoon Lime Juice
    1 Cup Club Soda

  19. I am in the same boat as you. I started trying to follow the eating habits in the book more last year. We have been displaced for about 6 months now and just recently moved back into our own place. I plan to start again but I do believe everything we are able to do does count. You can’t do everything and not all at once. Your doing great!

  20. Zoie:

    We have been eating and follow Nourishing Traditions for about 7 years now. Do not try the baked bean recipe… it is totally messed up. My husband had to make a new one. I can email you a better version if you want. Good luck!

    • Jessica Cross:

      LOL! I thought something wasn’t right! I had to throw away my antique pot because I “tried” to make the baked beans in it. Haven’t tried again. I’m scared to, but it’s one of my favorite dishes and I know my kids would like it if I could get it right. Please post it! I’d love to know how you altered it. Everything else is superb. For me, I enjoy the hobby of baking our own bread with fresh ground grains, making stock, cultured cream, cream cheese, salad dressings, snacks, and yes, especially the ice cream! It is work, but I see and feel the benefits everyday and I know it’s only the tip of the ice berg. See also: The Schwarzbein Principle – The Transition. It’s very helpful for assisting you through coming off processed foods and even has months of meal plans, so you don’t have to think about it so hard! I am a huge Coke lover, but since eating strictly nourishing foods for about two or three months, I don’t even think about it. Try Kombucha! It’s de-lish and has that effervescence you may be craving. See Nourishing Traditions.

  21. trek:

    We have transitioned to eating mostly fresh fruit and vegetables and protein sources for both lunch and dinner. For breakfast, we tend towards Oatmeal Bread (my own recipe – sweetened with honey) or cereals. The benefits are great – weight loss and hopefully also cholesterol lowering.

    Only thing I can say is that the ends justifies the means – some days it is hard to say no to the treat food, esp when tuckered out. In that case, take out pizza is probably the best option – the ingredients tend to be fresh and if you avoid sausage and pepperoni, lower in fat than most take out.

  22. Angelsong:

    I am a firm believer that “everything counts.” I applaud your progress, because I know how you have struggled with this set of issues, and you’re doing great. It is about baby steps and consistency. When you get used to fresh, unprocessed food, it is very difficult to go back, because everything tastes so much better. I would not be surprised to learn that as your progress continues, your headaches become fewer due to less ingestion of chemicals.

    Like you, I used to drink a lot of soda. Now, I rarely drink soda, and it’s usually caffeine free/sugar free when I do. I’m not saying it was easy, and it was not particularly pleasant when I was in the process of giving it up (it took about a month to really kick it), but it’s one of the better things I’ve done for my health. Please check your e mail :)

  23. Thanks for the review. I’ve been attempting to feed my family fewer processed foods for a while now, but get caught in the time trap too often.

    The kids love everything I make from scratch and aren’t picky eaters, so I have that going for me. :) My goal is to eat out once a week or less once I’m a SAHM.

  24. Kris:

    Lynnae, this sounds really interesting, and I’d love to hear more about it as you go along.

    Could the headaches be a result of cutting down on sugar? I know when I don’t drink coffee for a few days, mine tend to get a little crazy, but then subside.

  25. Dawn:

    I have been plagued with headaches as well, as has a couple of friends. I feel like there is something in the air this year.

    I love shopping locally – going to my farmer’s market can put me in a good mood for an entire day. Thank you so much for the recommendation for the book, I feel like that is the way I normally cook, but I would be interested in the recipes and other tips and hints.

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