Turnips have found purpose in my life


Turnips (Photo credit: Ula Gillion)

Everyone who is getting turnips in their CSA box can thank me. I know you had no use for those things before you saw this!:) Sorry turnips, but I got no love for ya. Well, until now, anyway. I’m not gonna say they’re my new favorite, but they can at least be eaten by my family now. And they do make a pretty good substitute for mashed potatoes (see Living Maxwell’s post on health risks of non-organic potatoes). And here’s a link to show you the health benefits of these root vegetables. Who knew they were a source of Vitamin C?!

You can do a “fauxtatoes” or “faux grits” mash of turnips instead of cauliflower or with your cauliflower! Same concept as cauliflower fauxtatoes recipe found on my blog, but boil your peeled turnips in milk instead of water. Now that I’m writing this out, I’m thinking I will do that for my cauliflower mash next time too! I don’t know why, but milk makes a big difference for the turnips. I have never tried anything but cow’s milk for this, so I have no idea if another milk choice will work as well, but please let me know if you try it! Boil peeled turnips in milk until soft, then pull out the turnips (save the cooked milk) and proceed with blending them, adding milk (the leftover milk from the boiling) and butter and salt and seasoning as needed. You can also do a mixture of turnips and cauliflower.  This can also substitute for “grits”. Not even gonna try to tell you they taste the same (for heaven’s sake, no! I could never deny my southernness that way), but they are a grain free substitute for my southern paleo friends, and they are quite tasty under a fried egg with a runny yolk! Keep in mind when doing any faux-tatoes or faux grits, seasoning is key and what you pair with it is important. In life, we rarely eat mashed potatoes or grits by themselves. Potatoes taste better with some green beans, meat, etc., and grits taste better with bacon and eggs.  So the same goes for eating turnips and cauliflower posing as taters and grits. They’re better with other stuff around them!



UPDATE APRIL 2014: HERE IS ONE MORE RECIPE TO TRY: AN EASY CHEESY TURNIP CASSEROLE! I had to use plain yogurt instead of sour cream and it was delicious!

and PS: you know to eat the turnip greens, right?! So good for you! It has been suggested that you cut the greens off the roots when you get them home. Eat the greens quickly, but you can store the root of the turnips for a couple weeks if necessary.

I hope this post helps you find some love for the lowly turnip. Let me know if it does!

Encouraging Health, and always learning…

Organic Eater

When life hands you lemons, choose kale.

kale and eggs with homemade kraut

The blog is serving two purposes these days. Trying to come up with a way to post about food for the foodie followers, and simultaneously give a personal update on my mom’s cancer to our friends, has been a bit of a challenge.  Fortunately, the writing has been a pleasant distraction from the otherwise heavy thoughts that keep running through my mind. I think God gave me some extra clarity yesterday: “When life hands you lemons, choose kale and eggs instead” was a post I created on Instagram.  For me, it means when circumstances are crappy, find a way to choose joy and count your blessings. For some circumstances it will take longer than others, so please don’t interpret this as some kind of “be happy right now, no matter what your situation.” No. This is about looking deeper than your circumstances, when you’re ready, to find your true joy. Joy that, for me, only comes from an unexplainable peace that God is granting to me. He has granted it quickly for me, but that is not to say yours will come so quickly. The cancer of a child or spouse will look differently than dealing with the cancer of a parent. Everyone must take their own journey when dealing with the explosion of emotions as a loved one suffers, but when and where you can, choose joy. Choosing local organic kale and pastured eggs and fermented homemade sauerkraut is another great choice, but on a different level. So here’s the update for those who want to know:

The oncologist told her it is Stage 4. Incurable. Radiation would do more harm than good and operating is out of the question. The pancreas and liver are covered in tumors. Chemotherapy was his only suggestion, and he urged her to start immediately. She starts tomorrow. Three weeks on, one week off, then do it again. Then blood tests to see if any progress has been made. If the doctor gave her any time frame for how long she’s “got”, mom did not share that with me. I suppose I wouldn’t want to tell my kids that news either if I ever heard it. Emotions as I process this are strange and surreal and I’m not even going to try to explain them here in this post, probably not ever on the internet. It’s too much for me to try to express, for now anyway. We appreciate your prayers for mom as she faces what’s ahead, and for the family as we love her through this valley. This tapestry looks pretty ugly from this side, but I know there’s another beautiful side being woven by the Creator Himself. He has never failed me; I praise Him still. NOT because of my circumstances, but because of who He is. For I know WHOM I have believed and am convinced He is able, 1Timothy 1:12

Choosing Joy and Encouraging Health,


A personal update from Dana

This is an especially challenging post for many reasons. First of all, writing about cancer in your family is never an enjoyable task. Also, I am trying to write this one single post to update all of my Organic Eater followers, as well as many friends and family and business acquaintances, who we have not had time to personally call. I need to get this “right” with one post, so I can move on to all the other things I need to do next. My mind is racing with whether to keep this more “professional” as my OE post, or just pour my heart out and hope my OE readers aren’t too bothered by my realistic emotions, which may go deeply spiritual, way beyond “food” that is normally discussed here. I guess I’m going to risk it, and go with the heart…

My mom has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it has already moved into the liver. It has hit hard and fast, as she had just received a perfect bill of health on blood work and her physical at the end of June. I think she probably heard a “stage” number yesterday, but she hasn’t let me know those details yet. It has been a crappy couple of weeks waiting and waiting for doctor appointments and test results. She has been in pain, and that is by far the most agonizing part so far. My mind has been scattered; I’m even a little fearful of what my mind may forget to do while under this stress. I’ve been on that emotional roller coaster of numbness, to despair, to anger, in between moments of tranquil peace and acceptance of what’s to come. This one is completely out of my control, but thankfully we know the One who IS in control. God has given me (and my mom and family) unbelievable peace through this storm. It’s been quite astounding to literally feel the prayers of so many Believers who are interceding on our behalf. My mom has no question that she will be healed, but we just don’t know yet if it will be on this side of heaven. God has given us great faith to trust Him. He is always good, no matter what our earthly circumstances are. My life is tremendously blessed, and I don’t have to look far to see others who are going through much worse than this. Not that I need to compare sufferings, but I do need to keep a perspective of gratitude and need to find anything I can to be thankful for, in order to get through this. The Lord has made it easy for me to find blessings all around me. I praise Him.  And, there’s more…

My sister was also diagnosed with a skin cancer on her nose the very same day, but we hope hers will not be life threatening. She has no health insurance and is figuring out a way to get 4k to pay for the procedure out of pocket. She is a busy mom of 3 in elementary school (and a 20yr old who is in a stressful situation) and she needs to make some really big lifestyle changes immediately, while dealing with all the stress of her own health as well as mom’s. And yet there’s still more…

As some of you already know, my husband has been dealing with his own health issues too. About a month ago, his eye doctor told him to get to the retina specialist immediately! He had a grey spot in the middle of the vision of his right eye. The specialist has not given us a diagnosis, but everything we have read seems to indicate wet macular degeneration is likely. He has gotten shots in his eyes twice now, and will have one more round in about a month. But we’re not waiting on that alone. Organic Eater has been researching everything possible we can do! And there’s a lot! In many areas of life things are out of our control, but there are some things we CAN do. In the words of Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” And you better believe that’s exactly what we’re doing.  My favorite pastor gave an amazing sermon (click on PART THREE) while we have been dealing with these issues (no coincidence there!). A message on how we do what we can do and let God do what only He can do. If you need any encouragement in that area, I highly recommend watching or listening to the sermon series “I Don’t Know What I Believe“, specifically sermon number three “The Second Circle”. It has given me huge perspective as we go through all of this.

And NOW I am finished with my list of updates. That’s enough for one post, huh?! I would love to hear the stories you may have of dealing with this in your own lives. I know cancer has touched many. Too many. Know that while there are moments of doubt and fear, there is peace in the deepest part of my soul. He has taken me into Deep Waters. He has never failed me. He will not fail me now. This video explains perfectly how I am coping.

I pray that my situation would somehow be used to encourage you. IF it does that, please let me know because that would encourage ME!:) Maybe you’re here because you need to make some changes that will keep this from happening in your own life. If you need some help with that, this blog has lots of information and links for you! Maybe you’re dealing with a loved one who is battling cancer right now, and you just needed some encouragement that others are going through this as well. Whatever the reason, I hope this would bring you closer to what you’re looking for. This is not really about me. It’s much bigger than me. I am but a small part in a beautiful tapestry He is creating. I see the “underneath” that’s messy, but one day I will see the other side of a beautiful piece of art that my Father has lovingly sewn together. He is good, no matter what my circumstances are. I will praise Him still.

Encouraging Health,

Dana, Organic Eater

PS: i have no idea if I will have time or desire to create blog posts or pictures for Social Media. If I see that any of this encourages anyone, that will likely motivate me to do more. So, if you have questions, ask me, and I will answer as I can.  I will post here if there are any big new updates. I appreciate all of your prayers, especially my many e-friends who I have never even met, but I know you care about this foodie friend you have never laid eyes on! See, just another one of my blessings to count! I love and appreciate you all!

My huge NEW reason to switch to homemade almond milk and 1 hilariously easy recipe to make it happen

IMG_0057I know better. I had a light-bulb moment about something I purchase, and it’s a “realization” I can’t find anywhere on the net, so I am really excited to share this with OrganicEater readers! Cartoned almond milk is PASTEURIZED in America.  And not just pasteurized, but high heat pasteurized, which is often called ultra pasteurization.  You can see on this brand’s website that it is pasteurized.  And this brand’s website tells us that ALL of their products are UHT pasteurized, including their soy and coconut milks, which I am deducting is the case for most or all cartoned milks of any kind in the US (but have not yet been able to verify).

So here is my logic:

if I do not usually drink dairy milk because of the pasteurization process (I DO drink raw milk when I can),

and I try to NEVER drink ultra pasteurized dairy milk,

then it only makes sense that I should give up ultra pasteurized almond and coconut (and all the other) milks too.

(if you need to understand why i do not choose pasteurized milk see this link and my good-better-best info).

This dilemma has caused a good bit of stress in my life while trying to research it! It’s tricky and detailed and it was not much fun trying to figure out this pasteurization process and all the terms involved. Different sources had different information, but after many hours, I think I have a pretty good handle on the subject, but am by no means a pasteurization expert, so read all the links for yourself and decide what’s best for you. All information is for American readers. I cannot address the pasteurization processes in other countries, but please let me know if you are familiar with the processes in your country!

Here is the chart I found that was so helpful in describing the different pasteurization processes in the US. There appear to be two different types of ultra pasteurization: one is sold as refrigerated (although I’m not sure it HAS to be, but could not find a definite answer) and the other is “shelf stable” because of the “tetra pak” it’s packaged in, which acts very similar to a can. So shelf stable milk (on the shelves like soup and juice boxes) is very similar to canned milk. You will find information all over the internet that tells you ultra pasteurized milk is “the same milk”, just processed differently. And that may be true, because I have never personally tested the nutritional differences of low heat and high heat pasteurized milk. I also do not know how those tests were conducted or who financed them; likely it was a milk company or dairy association funding the testing. I do not know who funded the tests, but I do know that whoever pays the bills usually gets the answer they’re looking for, so in general, I don’t trust much when it comes to a company telling me their own product is “the same” or “safe”. Call me a skeptic I guess, but my parents taught me to think for myself (and follow the money trail).  The statements saying it is “the same” just don’t make sense to me.  I often read how cooking food on high heat does all kinds of damage and creates changes in food vs eating it raw. My logic tells me that heating a liquid to between 280 and 302 degrees probably changes things somehow. Heat changes things in this world. How much depends on a lot of factors, but it does change things. I’m gonna go with my gut instinct on this and believe that heating milk so high that it kills all the bad stuff also makes it kill any good stuff that’s in there too, and may also change the protein structure, etc. of the milk itself (yes, I found links to support my belief, and others that didn’t, so I’m not including links here. You can google for yourself. I am just going with my gut on this. And you do not need to post any links in the comments that support UHT milk is “the same”. I saw them already.)

And so, if I believe ultra high heat pasteurization is not a healthy process FOR ME, then I have to apply that same logic to the “healthy” milks I drink, like almond and coconut. Oh, it pains me to have to write this, but I need to change something i have been promoting. I promised myself when I created this blog that I would search for truth and pass it along, even if it contradicted a previously held belief.  I am taking a shift on milk alternatives and recommending home-made instead of store-bought for now. I am not saying I will never buy cartoned almond milk again, because convenience is nice,  but because we drink so much of it around our house, it’s important for my family to make this shift to home-made. And with this recipe below, it’s gonna be so easy to do it, I have no excuse!

There are at least three other compelling reasons to shift to home-made milks, but they have already been covered by other bloggers whom I follow, so I am simply going to list the reason and the link to their site with lots more info!

1. Synthetic Vitamins are added to cartoned milks. The Healthy Home Economist has a great post on this. I never knew! Now I know, and you can too! I don’t take synthetic vitamins as supplements, so why would I want them in the milk I’m drinking every day?! Ew.

2. Carrageenan and other mysterious things are added to cartoned milk, even the organic ones, and The Food Babe has a great post and this post is even newer, covering that topic. From some other posts I’ve read, carrageenan may not be the absolute worst thing in the world they can add to milk. There are 2 forms of this seaweed extract and supposedly the food grade is OK, and the other one is not.  It’s still a little unclear to me just how bad the stuff really is. It does not seem to cause any intestinal problems for my family, but it may for others and I often use the “better safe than sorry” mentality, so it’s pretty easy for me to want to be safe than sorry, and avoid unknown additives in store bought milk, especially for my kids.

3. It’s expensive and hard to find organic! Although, the Food Babe link above regarding carrageenan tells me that buying organic doesn’t make much difference anyway.

And here’s a bonus reason for you guys: did you know that all US commercially grown almonds are pasteurized? Yes, even the “raw” ones. Here is a link and here is another to confirm that statement. If you want truly raw almonds, check those links for how to buy them directly from an almond grower. If you buy “raw almonds” from a store that are grown in the US, you need to ask them how their almonds are pasteurized! There is a water/steam method and a chemical (PPO) method.  I have asked Trader Joes, and they use the steam method on their almonds. I hope they told me the truth. If you buy organic “raw” almonds, they will likely be pasteurized with water as well. I am not positive the USDA standards require steam pasteurization, but it seems logical with what I know about organic policy. And that makes me wonder: are all raw almond butters not truly raw because of this pasteurization policy??? (sometimes I wish I could UN-know some stuff) So, here is my logic again… are almonds pasteurized as plain almonds first, and then ultra pasteurized again after being made into milk , making them twice pasteurized and twice “dead”? These are the things that keep me up at night, but I have not had time to find the answers yet.

OH! One more bonus reason to forego the shelf stable UHT milk: Tetra paks are lined with plastic. They are BPA free (yay!) but they still have a plastic coating inside, and they have a metal (like a tin can) sheet within the paper packaging. It does not touch the food, but it is there. Just something to consider if “canned foods” are not your first choice.

I already had those great reasons above for making the switch to home-made milks, but those had not yet convinced me completely (can you say “hard-headed”?!). Now that I’ve realized the UHT pasteurization process too, that was the deal breaker for me. And while we are on the topic, I am also expanding this logic to ALL shelf stable products like juice, soup, creamers, and the myriad of other products available out there as “shelf stable”. It is my understanding at this point, that all Tetra Pak shelf stable products must undergo the UHT Ultra Pasteurization process in order to kill all possible pathogens and increase their shelf life. That’s called “processed food” by my definition, and I try to avoid processed foods. There may be an emergency situation where I may need to make that purchase; I never want to be a food nazi, but I will be generally avoiding them until I learn new information. I’m curious if others will feel the same after reading this post. Please let me know your thoughts. And if anyone is a Tetra Pak expert and can confirm that not all shelf stable foods are UHT processed, please let me know that. That sparks another thought: have ALL canned foods been pasteurized or sterilized at some level? I’m thinking that’s a yes, and another reason to avoid canned foods in general. And I do not know the differences between home canning compared to UHT Pasteurization, but I bet I have some canning expert friends who can give me some more details on that. And even if the processes were the same (but I don’t think they are), home canning is done in glass rather than a can or a plastic lined tetra pak. Oh dear, more rabbit trails for me to explore…. the more I learn the more I realize I do not know……. I need some experts to weigh in on this.

There will probably be someone reading this who will say, ‘but I think it tastes the same, and what about the convenience of it and the way it saves me money because of the long expiration date?’ If those are your reasons for buying a food, that is your choice. Those reasons do not persuade me to purchase. In the least. I completely understand how they convince a manufacturer to produce it, but they don’t hold much value for me to purchase it as a consumer. The “benefit” is all theirs in my opinion.

So, the title said I have a hilariously easy home-made almond milk recipe for you, and I was not exaggerating. Try this easy, quick, and cheap recipe for home-made almond milk, that does not even require a high-speed blender! You will laugh at the simplicity of it! And here is another recipe  from Whole New Mom, that will use almonds to make it. My real food friend Jon, at Nutrition You Can Trust, has nut milk recipes for several kinds of nuts, that you may find helpful.  If you have nut allergies, here is a home made coconut milk recipe for you to use!

home made almond milk

All the best to you as you educate yourself on the many challenges of being a real food shopper!! I know those aisles can be tough! Keep reading and learning by signing up for the OE email subscription (on the home page) so you won’t miss a thing! And contact me if you need more help!

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

10 Vacation Things I Could Have Freaked Out About, but Didn’t

IMG_0019Organic Eater and fam (plus in-laws) drove over eight hours to Disney World in Orlando, Florida recently. “Happiest Place On Earth”, unless you’re an organic eater with a type-A personality who can “think about things” a little too much if given opportunity. Oh dear. There were some things I had to LET GO while we were in Orlando, because stress is just as unhealthy as the things I’m going to list below, and I was trying not to stress! I was trying to enjoy my wonderful family and vacation time. A “let it go” mindset was critical to our vacation success, but you have to decide what you can let go of in your own family.  Also, I am VERY aware that all of these issues are first-world problems, minor in the big scheme of life, and I know how good I’ve got it!

10. No recycle system in the home we rented. It pained me to see all that plastic and glass going in a trash can, which would then be going to a land fill. I had to let it go because there was no recycle pickup for this house and I could not search Orlando for a service or a recycling center in between visiting theme parks. I let it go.

9. Bugs. Oh, not at Disney World. That place is completely bug free (no, I’m not going to let my mind question how that magically happens, or I would have to make this an 11 point post). All the bugs from Disney go to the rental houses apparently. We killed more than I wanted to count. I had to let it go because I could not hire an organic exterminator to come to the rental house in between visiting theme parks. I let it go.

8. Water. I had no idea what kind of water rating the city of Orlando has, and I forgot to bring my filter pitcher for use in the kitchen of the rental house. My research indicates bottled water is NO better and probably worse, so that wasn’t an option either. We did at least have Bobble water bottles that have a filter, so when we were at the parks we could use those bottles/filters on the water fountain water. For the at-home and restaurant water, it’s anyone’s guess what I was drinking, but I could not get a Berkey Filter shipped to the rental house in between visiting theme parks. I let it go.

7.  Soft drinks and sugar for the kids. Yep, I let em have some. We never have soft drinks in the house (not normal GMO sodas anyway) and I limit sugar and junk food like a boss around here. I loosen up on vacations and try not to envision the GMO poisoned chemicals and health-robbing obesity-inducing sugar going down their little throats.  Hubs is a grown man, so I do what I can, but there’s only so much a wife can do, and he really is very supportive of our organic lifestyle. To his credit, he never drinks regular soft drinks anymore and has even cut out his sweet tea consumption! That took about 2 years to accomplish, but I think he’s “unsweetened” here to stay. But I digress… for many families, I think this sugar issue can be a special point of contention when around extended family who think some sugar and soft drinks are just fine. It would have caused more stress on my family to fight this rather than for me to give in a little on this one. I let it go. (I limited it, but I still let it go)

6. Lack of Sleep or relaxation time. If you’ve ever been to Disney for (only) one week, with two kids and six Parks to visit, you know this is no vacation for the parents. It’s non-stop theme park excitement, and it’s awesome, but it is not relaxing or restful until you hit the bed every night. It took me about a week after we got home to recuperate from my vacation. I let it go while I was there, and I let it go when we got home and I needed a lot of recovery time (no guilt for lots of post-vacation sleep).

5. Lack of Quiet Time with God each morning. Yeah, that was pretty much out the window for me with our activity level. My spiritual side was lacking by the time I got home. There were many prayers said, but no time in the Word quietly in the morning with my hot tea. Just gonna be flat out honest here. I had to recover from that when I got back too, and thankfully He is full of grace and new mercies every morning!

4. Forgot supplements most mornings. In the craziness of the mornings, trying to get out the door, I forgot to take our supplements, and sometimes that evening too. Oh well, had to let it go. Fortunately, that one is not life threatening for us and it was totally OK to be super slack that week. Got back on track when we returned.

3. No HIIT exercise, only walking. LOTS of walking. My heart rate didn’t get “up there”,   except for that one time I raced my 9 year old from the park to the parking lot. Like I even had a chance. But at least I was moving in some way with all the walking. And walking. I let it go. It’s good to take a break from your exercise routine anyway!

2. No organic food to be found and questionable ingredients used in restaurants (I didn’t ask). I heard (from this Disney specialist) there was a restaurant called “The Wave” at the Contemporary Resort that has local and organic foods, but we didn’t work it into our schedules to get over there, so I don’t know what selections were really available. Wish I had, but when you’re with extended family, you’ve just got to go with the group decisions and be flexible and keep the peace. I’ve said this several times since we’ve returned: ONE week does not a lifestyle make!! I did the best I could to eat real food as much as possible and let all the rest go! Yes, I had to recover after we returned. Yes, I am now doing a vegan cleanse to detox, but I needed to do this cleanse anyway!  We had precious family time and created wonderful memories that my children will never forget.

1. My child and husband got stuck on a roller coaster ride at Magic Kingdom. Now this is the ONE thing I really could have justified freaking out on! They were stuck for close to an hour before they were on the ground with me and I knew they were safe. I could have easily freaked out here, but thankfully this is another benefit to a maturing spiritual life (thank you, Lord!) and healthy #lowcraplifestyle living. He overwhelmed my soul with peace during the incident and my healthy lifestyle keeps my hormones in balance and happy. So, once I saw them safely returned, all was well in the world again:)

We had a spectacular, joy-filled, laughter-filled, beautiful week at Disney, with perfect weather I might add. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. OK, well, I could have, but  I’ve let those go…… and I am extremely thankful for my blessed life! Tell me what YOU have to let go of when you travel! I’d love to know if you share any of my “freak outs”:)

If you want to see our pictures on Instagram, or read my #Disneytips in the comments of those pictures, go HERE (if you’re planning a trip, I highly recommend reading those tips). Those pictures can also be found on my Facebook page, which has an “Instagram Feed”. You can click on that to see our Disney pics and tips (you will have to scroll down on both of these because I have taken a LOT of vegan cleanse pictures since the Disney ones were posted).

Encouraging Health, and Happy Vacations,

Organic Eater