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I’m so glad to continue sharing what I have learned about using real fats!  I wrote my first post on this series in February of this year called Real Fat.  It was winter time and I found myself quite comfortably wearing stretchy pants, over sized sweat shirts and well… hibernating.  Well, it’s April and Summer is right around the corner meaning shorts, tank tops, pools… gasp!! 

Okay, take a deep breath and bare with me.  If I were thinking like society has raised us to think, I would go low fat, low calories and cut out the carbs, however, I will not do this to my body.  My body craves and needs saturated fats, it needs carbohydrates and I need to be at full attention for my husband and children and not be so focused on my weight.

I was watching an episode of Tyra the other day. The show I so happened to watch was about a weight loss plan.  It was called, Get Your Shape, In Shape!  I really liked that she stressed getting our own shape in shape because we are all so different and yet we all look at one type and strive for that. So for me, I’ve been cutting my portion sizes especially for my late night dinner meal, I’ve quit eating after 8 and exercise at least 3 times a week. So far, I have dropped 4 pounds.  That is literally all I’ve done.  It goes to show me that I’ve been overeating and that has caused me to carry extra weight. I still drink full fat raw milk, use real butter on my morning toast accompanied by my fried egg, and use olive oil and pork lard to create some pretty amazing dishes.

So let’s talk about real fat and why it’s so good for our health.

This whole saturated fat debate only started 100 years ago.  Manufacturers came up with the idea to turn inexpensive vegetable oils into solid fats that could be used like the more expensive butter and lard.  They also needed this solid fat to have a long shelf life and thus, the process of hydrogenation was invented. Hydrogen atoms were added to unsaturated fatty acids in oils which allowed the oils to stay solid at room temperature.

In the 1950′s Ancel Keys came out with a published study correlating saturated fats with heart disease.  It was a faulty study and yet the vegetable oil industry ran with it and started advising all Americans to quit using pork lard, beef tallow and butter in favor of shortening, vegetable oils and margarine.  All man made and unbeknownst at the time, filled with trans fats.  By the 1980′s only 2% – 3% of households were using real fats.

Fat is an important part to our body makeup.  We need fat.  Our brain, and hormones rely on fat to  function.  Digestion is impossible without fats. An interesting fact I learned from Jennifer McLagan’s book is that fat and protein are found together in nature because our bodies need the fat to help us digest the protein, so it makes sense to eat a well marbled steak or even chicken with it’s skin.  Fat also helps the body to absorb nutrients, calcium, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are all benefits of eating real butter, cream, pork lard, beef tallow, meats with fats, even bacon from pastured animals raised as God intended by local family farmers.

Unfortunately, way too many of us heeded the advice to turn away from real fats and turned to man-made hydrogenated fats which are full of trans fats.  30 years later we were not healthier but heavier and our state of disease is at an all time high.  These trans fats are difficult for our body to  process, so instead stores them as fat.  They increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower the “good” HDL.  They interfere with insulin production, promoting diabetes and obesity. In 2002 it was finally advised that no amount of trans fat is good for our body.

The other dietary fat that we substituted was vegetable oil for pork lard in cooking and frying. Vegetable oil is a polyunsaturated fat.  Polyunsaturated fats that are not hydrogenated are very unstable and oxidize easily, especially when heated, so they are not good to cook with.  They damage our cell’s DNA.  With the abundance of polyunsaturated vegetable oil that we are using, it’s effecting the balance of the essential fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3 in our bodies.  The ideal ratio is 2 – 1.  Twice the amount of omega-6 to omega-3.  By replacing animal fats with vegetable oil many of us are now getting 29 times more omega-6 to omega-3 since it’s a rich source of linoleic acid.  An excess of omega 6 has been linked to cancer, heart disease, liver damage, learning disorders, weight gain, and malfunction of the immune, digestive and reproductive systems.  It’s interesting to note that while our omega-6 intake has skyrocketed our omega-3 has declined.  Meat and butter from grass-fed animals contain omega-3, but animals raised in factory farms fed a grain diet are full of omega-6 acids.

One exception to this is Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil.  I use a lot of olive oil in my cooking as it’s been used in Spain and the Mediterranean world traditionally for centuries!  It is heat stable to 355 degrees making it great for sauteing, even frying.  Make sure it doesn’t go above that and turn rancid.  It’s definitely best eaten raw over salads and drizzled on yummy foods.

Interesting stuff, right?!

It’s really too bad that we have to get so scientific with food.  Ughhh… I hate it!!  We have seriously stripped our food of all flavor and taste and made eating a science project.  Really, let’s just eat normally.  If we cook with real foods and eat in moderation, we can ENJOY FOOD!  Let’s not feel guilty because we ate a piece of marbled steak with fat or that our morning toast used butter.  It’s nourishing and taste out of this world.  I fell into the same trap and let me tell you, the flavors created by using real fats are DELICIOUS! My grandparents lived a long life, my husbands grandparents are still living and they all grew up using real pork lard, real butter, real tallow, real milk.  I’ll follow their advice as they didn’t sacrifice flavor or nutrition!

It’s also really exciting to see a new generation embracing real foods and real fats.  Celebrity chefs such as Mario Batali introducing lardo on his menu.  Restaurants utilizing duck fat for dishes such as duck confit or to fry potatoes.  As I get into this series, I’m excited to share with you all aspects of the animal.  How to cook the tender and tough cuts of meat.  How our ancestors knew that to tenderize their grass fed roast, they would first have to lard it.  And back then it wasn’t called grass fed it was just a roast ;)  Let’s just praise God that we are living in an exciting time where we are taking back our food system and retraining ourselves on how to cook and nourish our families.

So the giveaway!!!  I’m so excited as Jennifer McLagan the author of fat, an appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient, with recipes has agreed to give away one copy of her book!  This is a book that I would encourage on everyone’s bookshelf.

How To Enter:

  1. Leave me a comment with what kind of fat you are interested in learning more about, butter, pork lard, beef tallow, or poultry fat.
  2. Become a fan of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa on Facebook and share on your wall 
  3. Subscribe to receive my posts via email.
  4. Follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. (copy and paste)

    @dianabauman Fat, An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient Book Giveaway!  #realfood http://shar.es/mqUOo

Please Remember, leave a separate comment for each entry, or your extra entries will not count!

Every comment must include an email address – it’s ok if you comment with your blog account as long as I can get to your email through your blog!  The giveaway ends April 23rd and is open to the Continental US only.  The winner will be chosen by random.org.

This post is a part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday!

According to random.org

Kristin from Flexy Fare will be receiving a Grow Box to grow some fresh veggies!!!

Kristen said…

I have some seedlings coming up for Pink Ponderosa tomatoes, which can get up to 2 lbs! I would try those or some of my sweet peppers. :-)

This is a gift that lasts a lifetime!

I am so excited for your Kristen!! Send me your mailing address and I’ll make sure this gets shipped to you right away!
If you didn’t win, don’t be sad as I have a couple other exciting giveaways coming soon, right in time for the farmers market… hint.. hint!!
Until then, have a great day :D

roast_leg_lamb
This was a delightful roasted leg of lamb that my family and I enjoyed yesterday for Resurrection Sunday.  The flavor of lamb is so tender and succulent that there really isn’t a whole lot of preparation or added ingredients needed.  I enjoy lamb and like to keep it’s true flavor.  I do recommend to order your lamb from a local family farmer in order to ensure that it’s been weaned and taken good care of to harvest. Here in Iowa I order my lamb by the half from Cory’s Lamb who do sell at the Downtown Farmers Market.

For this recipe my mami and I utilized the Spanish flavors of jamon serrano.  We larded the roast to keep it moist and tender throughout the roasting process and topped it with jamon to lock those flavors in and create a nice crunchy salty garnish.  For the creme de la creme, we utilized the pan drippings to pour over the sliced pieces as a sauce.  Simply Divine!

Pierna de Cordero Asada, Roasted Leg of Lamb
-Adapted from 1080 Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 4-5lb bone in leg of lamb
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic pressed or minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup farm fresh pork lard
  • 10 slices jamon serrano (prosciutto or bacon will be fine)
  • salt

Method:

  1. Rub the lamb with the garlic and pork lard on both sides. sprinkle with salt.
  2. Top with the jamon serrano or other cured ham.
  3. Let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 450F.  Put the lamb into a roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 350F and roast for 15-20 minutes per pound basting occasionally.
  6. When the meat is done, let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.  This will ensure that the juices stay within the meat.
  7. With the reserved drippings and juice in the roasting pan, add 1 cup water and heat on the stovetop until all the bits and pieces have been incorporated into the sauce.
  8. Serve with the roasted leg of lamb.

Buen Provecho!

 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
John 2:19
Have any of you seen the Passion of the Christ?  It had been awhile since I had seen it last, and man does it really make you reflect on who Christ really is. He was real… living… breathing.  He endured so much ridicule, torment, and torture so that we would have a place with him when we leave this Earth.  To think that he did that for me, for you, is humbling at it’s best and for me puts real life into perspective.
Along with everything that he did for us he also left us with commandments…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:43-45
Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:37-39

It’s so easy to get caught up in gossip, in chatter, in noise.  My Jesus resolution is to block that noise, to be kinder, to love my neighbor, and to build up my relationship with my Father in Heaven.  In this day, I encourage you to reflect on what God has done for us.  To look at our lives and see how he is working in it.  If you do not have that relationship with Him, know that he yearns for you!  He wants to be a Father to every one of us but we must seek, we must read his Word and he will, HE WILL, answer when you call!

 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  Luke 11:9-13

So many times, I need to remember that he died for me, he carried that cross for ME!  Let’s surrender everything… all of our fears, our worries to HIM.  Man, when we can just say, forget it!  I GIVE UP!!  Take it Jesus, I’ll follow in faith, will we have true peace :)  This is my constant prayer and something I constantly have to reflect on, that I can’t live in this world one day without Him.  That I can’t do it by myself!

My life verses…

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.  Phillipians 4:6-9

I encourage you to ask God for forgiveness, to forget about the small bickers, to love one another, to be kind and have a pure joy for this time that He has given us on this Earth.  He loves you, He loves me!  What he did for us is enough to stop with the complaining, jealousy, bitterness, hurt, and anger and focus on everything good that we have in our lives :)  Please remember that NONE of those things above come from Christ.  Their is a constant battle and the enemy is very real.  (These are my notes to myself as well!)

Let’s Praise Jesus, our God, today and everyday.  He fought the battle and already won!!!

Happy Easter Everyone!  He is Alive!!!

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With all of the gardening and preserving of food that I enjoy to store up for the winter, I wanted to share with you a traditional form of canning that has increased in popularity over the years.

Lacto-fermentation.  Just the word fermentation can sound so scary and beyond any regular persons capabilities, right?!  Here is some good news.  When we really begin to understand what fermentation is the less scary it becomes.  Fermentation happens all around us and many of us are eating fermented foods on a daily basis.  Bread, yogurt, cheese, wine, and beer are all examples of foods that undergo a process of fermentation.

According to dictionary.com

fermentation is a chemical reaction in which sugars are broken down into smaller molecules that can be used in living systems.

I just sowed 2 different varieties of beets and will be fermenting them to enjoy all of the rich health benefits one receives from eating fermented foods.

In order to ferment beets or any other vegetable, all this really means is that it undergoes a salt brine cure set out in room temperature for about 3 days to 2 weeks.  Naturally, one would think, “won’t the food spoil?”  By covering your food in the brine and allowing it to sit in room temperature it creates an ideal condition for the lactic acid-forming bacteria existing on the food surface to feed upon the sugar naturally present in the food.  The lactic acid will continue to grow (or ferment) until enough has formed to kill any bacteria present that would otherwise cause the food to spoil.

The benefits of naturally “pickling” our bounty is that the lactic acid, not only keeps the vegetable in a perfect state of preservation but promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.

According to Sally Fallon from Nourishing Traditions

The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels.  These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances.

It’s so funny that what used to be completely normal and so unscientific now needs a clear definition in order to feel comfortable to begin to adapt these foods into our lifestyle.  Clearly our age of pasteurization has everything to do with it.  Unfortunately, we are depriving our bodies of needed bacteria in order to have a healthy intestinal flora.  I really believe that a lot of our sickness starts in our gut and by incorporating and reintroducing many different varieties of lactobacilli, we can begin to rejuvenate our intestinal flora improving our digestion and health.

The more that you start preserving and adding canning books to your bookshelf you will notice that every canning book has at least one recipe for brine curing or lacto-fermentation.  Before the age of canning and using vinegar to pickle, our ancestors preserved their bounty by means of fermentation.  All across the world we have natural pickling recipes to prove this true.  From kimchi in Korea, cortido in South America, sauerkraut in Europe, and relishes in the States.

One of the things I really enjoy about fermenting is that you don’t have to spend all of the time needed to can!  A definite bonus for me :D  Also, it’s another great way to get your kids involved in making real food.

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Below are a few recipes for fermenting foods from Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions.

Korean Kimchi

kimchi 
For me any form of sauerkraut was well… unappetizing.   I did not grow up with this and found my first batches of sauerkraut and kimchi rather unappetizing.  After research and reading seasoned fermenters experiences I have come to find out that in order to get the best tasting sauerkraut it needs to be fermented for at least 6 months.  Meaning 3 days fermenting at room temperature and placing in the fridge for 6 months before eating.  Wow, did I find this to be ever true!!  I fermented a large batch of this kimchi and would try a bit of it every month.  It has now officially been 6 months and taste out of this world delicious!!  I will now start a routine to make a few jars of this every 6 months or twice a year to have a delicious and nutritious batch of kimchi at all times.  This idea would hold true for regular sauerkraut and cortido.  This has just enough spice and tang, so yumm!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of napa cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup daikon radish, grated
  • 1 tbls freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3-4 green onions diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)

Place vegetables, ginger, garlic, red chile flakes, sea salt and whey in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices.  Place in a quart sized, wide mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage.  Cover with a large cabbage leaf to ensure the kimchi stays below the liquid.  The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Fermented Beets

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This has to be my favorite fermented food so far because my kids LOVE it!
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They are so easy to make and taste so good!  Earthy yummy beets.
Ingredients:
  • 12 medium beets
  • 1tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)
  • 1 cup filtered water, this is very important.  In order for proper fermentation your water needs to be filtered and clean of any chlorine which will inhibit the fermentation process.

 Prick beets in several places, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 3 hours, or until soft.  Peel and cut into a 1/4 inch julienne or slice.  (Do not grate or cut the beets with a food processor – this releases too much juice and the fermentation process will proceed too quickly, so that it favors formation of alcohol rather than lactic acid.)  Place beets in a quart-sized, wide mouth mason jar and press down lightly with a wooden pounder or meat hammer.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over beets, adding more water if necessary to cover the beets.  The top of the beets should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Cortido – Latin American Sauerkraut

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Ingredients:
  • 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 tbls dried oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)

In a large bowl mix cabbage with carrots, onions, oregano, red chili flakes, sea salt and whey.  Pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices.  Place in 2 quart-sized, wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage.  Cover with a large cabbage leaf to ensure the kimchi stays below the liquid. The top of the cabbage mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jars.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

These are recipes, some adapted, from Nourishing Traditions.  There are numerous ways you can begin to ferment your own vegetables.  Really, you can include any sort of vegetable or spice to your liking.  This year I’m going to experiment more with my harvest.  I plan on buying a crock and try to do some large scale fermenting including vegetables such as cauliflower, onions, garlic, dill, green tomatoes and wow.. the list can go on.  I can’t wait!!  I also have a few recipes utilizing fermented veggies that I can’t wait to share!

I hope you found this way of preserving vegetables exciting and something to try in your own home.  Please do share if you’ve fermented vegetables and how they turned out.  Like and dislikes.  I was excited to create this post especially for Annette’s lacto-fermenting carnival over at Sustainable Eats.

Other posts of interests

papas_albondigas
This dish has always been a favorite of my sisters and I.  The smell of homemade meatballs and the slow simmer of sherry wine brings me back to Espana!  Small cobblestone streets lined with clad iron balconies filled with beautiful terra cotta pots of multi colored geraniums.  Can you tell my heart and mind is set upon my trip to Spain which is only 5 short weeks away!  I can’t wait to smell the beautiful Spanish air! Back to my dish, lol!  This is a wonderful, easy to make dish especially for this time of year.  Not quite cold enough for a stew and not quite warm enough for a backyard bbq.  It’s also a great way to use up those storage potatoes as Spring time and green veggies are near!

In order to capture the best flavors of this dish I recommend to use a good dry (fino) sherry wine, preferably from Spain.  You will find complete differences in flavor when using an ordinary sherry and one from the Andalusian region of Spain.  Manzanilla. The brand I buy here in Iowa, is Pedro Romero, a pale dry sherry, fino.  If you are from Iowa, it can be found at Gateway Market under dessert wines.

Papas Con Albondigas

Ingredients:

  • 5 large potatoes chopped
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, pressed or diced
  • 2tbl fresh parsley, cut into small pieces
  • 1 farm fresh egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1 cup sherry wine
  • pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1-2 tbls arrowroot powder to thicken (cornstarch or flour will work fine)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • EVOO
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

papas_albondigas2
  1. Begin by making the meatballs.  In a large bowl mix the ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, breadcrumbs, and 1tsp salt.
  2. Form into 2″ meatballs.
  3. In a large dutch oven (I used my cast iron) warm 1/4 cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Brown the meatballs on all sides.
  5. Once the meatballs are browned, add 1 cup of sherry wine. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Once the meatballs have simmered in the wine for 20 minutes, add the potatoes and enough water to cover.
  7. Add a dash of saffron threads for color (optional), arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) to thicken, 2 bay leaves and salt/pepper to taste.
  8. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

This dish is wonderful with crusty bread and a nice green salad.

Buen Provecho!

If you haven’t signed up already,  I’m hosting a Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ Giveaway!  An easy way to Grow Your Own Food even in small spaces!!! Check it out!