Backyard Farms

Farm-Fresh Eggs in the City
Does the thought of really fresh eggs and milk appeal to you? Add the word organic and you have my interest! Have you ever thought about keeping chickens and goats in your backyard?

To tell the truth, I haven’t, but the residents of Denver have given this a considerable amount of thought. Monday night, the Denver City Council passed a proposal allowing Denver residents to have up to six food-producing animals on their residential property. Of those six animals, there can only be a maximum of two goats.

Tristan is amazed at seeing chickens in a Denver subdivision backyard.

I never thought I’d see goats or chickens in cities and subdivisions! The bill passed on a 7 to 3 vote.

Backyard Farms Across America
Backyard Farms are springing up all across America. This movement is about promoting agriculture in backyards, side yards, front yards and vacant lots. It embraces “sustainability,” which in this context means wisely using renewable natural resources.

Families keep a small clutch of chickens for eggs and/or a couple of goats for milk. They say these animals make great pets and are fun for the whole family, neighbors, friends and kids. I wouldn’t know, we had regular pets when our kids were growing up: dogs, parakeets, a cockatoo, guinea pigs, rabbits, mice (is a mouse a regular pet?) and attempted a kitten but allergies prevailed.

Chickens
A backyard chicken coop in Douglas County.
Having a sweet, quiet, egg-laying hens (NO roasters, which crow at all hours) provides its owners with quality food and helps protect the environment. The mad dash to the grocers is no longer needed. For fresh eggs you walk over to the hen house in your backyard. How easy is that?

Goats
I’m still not sure how a pet goat is kept in a backyard, so I checked it out online. Goats are said to be easy to care for and relatively disease-free. Who knew? You need strong fencing and a pen with a shelter. Dwarf or small breeds can even use a doghouse!

For milk, goats need to be breed every two years. (That means a baby goat.) Goats eat hay or graze in a pasture. Now, that sounds really good to me. We live on a half-acre. I could see a goat providing a grass clipping service…just by munching.

Backyard Farms Growing
Denver is not alone. There are many other cities, which allow food-producing animals: New York City, what’s that? Yes, New York City allows them. Also, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. In Colorado other cities include: Lakewood, Arvada, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. Douglas County allows four animals per home. That includes chickens and small goats.

Denver Backyard Farms says raising food-producing animals in your backyard is desirable for the following reasons:
* High-quality, fresh, organic (if desired) food supply raised without chemicals.

* Sustainability: fewer trips to the store and fewer deliveries from agribusiness means less fuel used, less air pollution, and less traffic congestion, i.e.: a lower carbon footprint. Chickens and goats eat your leftovers. Goats can clean up your weeds, and chickens can also remove weeds and insect pests out of your yard.

* Fun, fun fun. Chickens and goats are F-U-N. Their antics amuse and delight their owners. Neighbors all want to see them. Kids love them. Owning them creates neighborhood.

* Animal welfare improved. If you get all your eggs from a half-dozen hens who cavort in your backyard, that is six fewer chickens who will toil in tiny, windowless boxes until their value as producers is spent and they are killed for pet food, never having seen the light of day, a la the Matrix.

I would add two more:
* When you want it, backyard farm animals guarantee the highest quality food products: No GMOs and organic.
* Backyard farm animals provide a way to hedge coming inflation and possible food shortages.

Click Here for The Coming Food Crisis

Good Egg Gone Bad

Good Egg
Eggs are nearly a perfect food. They’re not just yellow yolk containing the fat and white containing protein. Eggs contain a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals. Eggs have vitamins A, E B1, B2, B6 and B12. They’re one of the few foods containing vitamin D. In addition, they have iron, zinc, calcium, iodine and selenium.

If that isn’t healthy enough for you, egg whites contain the purest form of protein found in whole foods. Egg protein is the standard for measuring protein in other foods. Each large egg contains over 6 grams of protein.

Bad Egg
The number of people sickened in the recent salmonella outbreak by contaminated eggs has risen to nearly 2,000. The massive recall is above half a billion eggs and growing! How sad and what a waste.

Katelyn says know the chickens you get your eggs from.

Common side effects for salmonella are diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting, but, in some cases, can lead to more serious illness. Salmonella can be fatal to those most vulnerable to infection: young children, elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

How could a nationwide recall happen? It’s because we don’t get our eggs from one local farm. Chickens don’t run around the farmyard pulling up juicy worms. Eating local is better and the egg recall has spurred the sale of eggs at farmer’s markets. Ninety-five percent of eggs come from mega farms, where the eggs have been washed (often in chlorinated water). The washing destroys the egg’s protective coating, so eggs are then coated with  a petroleum product. Because the shell is porous, what goes onto the shell, goes into the egg. Small producers often “dry brush” the eggs.

Salmonella is a result of dirty conditions. Hens can be infected with salmonella and pass it to their eggs in a couple of ways. The bacteria can come from workers, but also can be transmitted from rodents, which leave fecal droppings in feed troughs and silos.

Originally, the recall began at mega egg-laying facilities run by Wright County Egg in Iowa. Wright County Egg is a major egg producer shipping its eggs to widely-scattered distributors, who in turn package the eggs under a numerous brand names and send them to retail in a still larger sphere. More than two dozen brands are involved in the recall.

Should I Throw Out My Eggs?
If you want to be sure, throw out any eggs with recalled codes (see below). Salmonella can be destroyed by cooking the eggs at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds. That means not eating “over easy”, poached or soft-boiled eggs. Cook the eggs until both the white and yolk are firm. Also meringues and salad dressing containing uncooked eggs can be suspect. Investigators believe many of the reported cases of illness stemmed from people eating raw eggs used in salad dressings or meringue.

Recalled eggs should have been removed from market shelves by now. Here are the all-important egg numbers and codes from the first couple of recalls, which include Julian dates of 136-229 and now includes plant numbers 1026, 1091, 1413, 1686, 1720, 1942, 1946 and 1951. The plant number will be preceded by the letter “P” and followed by the Julian date code. You can see a photo of how to read the code here. Sell by dates vary.

Click Here

Failsafe, No-Think Hardboiled Eggs

eggbath2.JPGHave you every tried to peel an egg, only to end up with bits and pieces of the shell stuck to the egg? Do your hard-boiled eggs end up dimpled? This was always a problem for me, especially when boiling eggs for deviled eggs. Dimpled eggs aren’t very pretty.

I learned a trick that makes hard-boiled eggs easy to peel! You will have beautiful hard-boiled eggs when they get an ice-water bath. When eggs are easy to peel, even picky eaters will be able to peel their own eggs, making them more interesting to eat!

Boil eggs the fail safe way:
1. Cover eggs with two inches of cold water in a pan.

2. Bring to a full boil. Place the lid on the pan and turn the heat off. Wait twenty minutes.

Ensure an easy peel, give your hard-boiled eggs an ice water bath.

3. Remove eggs from the hot water with a slotted spoon. Immediately place in an ice water bath. Allow to fully cool. Then remove the eggs from the ice-water and pat dry.

Read more about good-for-you EGGS, Click Here.

For a synopsis of Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater, Click Here.

Egg-licious

shellis-baby.jpgEggs are God’s little storehouse of sunshine; they are one of the few foods containing the sunshine vitamin D. An egg has over 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat (cholesterol). Eggs also contain B vitamins (B6, B12 and Folate) and vitamins A, E and K. Eggs are truly a super food.

In Baby Bites I explain, “Eggs are God’s perfect food, as they contain nine amino acids and are one of the few foods containing vitamin D. The egg protein is of such high quality that all other proteins are measured by it. Eggs are a good source of lysine, also found in beans, meat, fish, and dairy products. In addition there are only 5 grams of fat in a large egg yolk.

Are you avoiding eggs because of cholesterol? There’s a modern myth that eating eggs will give a person high cholesterol. Unless you already have high cholesterol, eating a few eggs a week won’t alter your cholesterol levels.”

Ali is a little bundle of sunshine herself!

Many people have been scared silly by the media blitz about high cholesterol. Because the egg’s cholesterol is contained entirely in the yolk, it’s routinely discarded. My mom always avoided the yolk, even though I reassured her that a few eggs wouldn’t alter her cholesterol levels. In fact, your body makes it’s own cholesterol. When you cut out cholesterol from your diet, your body makes up the difference by producing more!

Egg whites contain very few of the egg’s nutrients. When you throw away the yolk, you’re throwing away ALL of the vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids, 90 percent of the B vitamins, calcium, and iron, and nearly half of the protein. When purchasing eggs, you’ll want to spend just a little more, because organic, free-range eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition!

Real free-range eggs have:
1/4 less saturated fat
1/3 less cholesterol
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more Omega-3
2 times more vitamin E
4-6 Times more vitamin D
7 times more Beta Carotene

So, enjoy your morning eggs, you’ll be better off than taking vitamins.

Boil eggs the fail safe way, Click Here.

For a synopsis of Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater, Click Here.

3 Easy Meal Tips

Do you have a lot on your plate?
kate.JPGI do, and I’ve found that if I have three pre-made items at hand and a few basics in my pantry, I can whip up a nutritious meal in minutes. Also, it’s easier to have your kids pull together the evening meal when all they’re doing is combining healthful ingredients. In my book, Baby Bites, I detail how to cut to the chase with dinner and these shortcuts are incorporated into easy to prepare recipes.

Kate is exhausted from all that’s on her plate!

1) The first strategy is to incorporate brown riceinto your meals. Brown rice contains eight essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and we produce all but eight of the twenty-two amino acids needed for health.

Brown rice makes a nutritious foundation to many dishes and casseroles. Rice is gluten-free and easily digestible; it’s a good choice for infants and people with wheat allergies or digestive problems. Brown rice has five times more vitamin E, three times more magnesium, and provides twice the fiber than white.

The obvious downside for using brown rice is that it takes about 45 minutes to cook compared to the 20 minutes (or less) for white rice. You can compensate for the additional cooking time by preparing more brown rice than you need at one time. Brown rice keeps nicely for at least five days, covered in your refrigerator. Make enough Brown Rice at one time to supplement several meals during the week.

2) Another time-saver is to grill chicken breasts in quantity and then freeze in individual packages.Defrosted grilled chicken pieces can be shredded for quick addition into salads, tacos, and casseroles, or served as the main course when you’re tight on time. If you can’t grill a chicken, purchase an extra rotisserie chicken when you’re at the grocery store.

Freeze extra chicken pieces individually or freeze enough pieces together for a family meal. Pull out one of your gilled chicken packages the night before you need it, or even on your way out the door in the morning. Let them defrost in your refrigerator.

3) Don’t wait until Easter to boil lots of eggs. The last strategy is to hard-boil eggs once a week. Eggs are God’s perfect food, as they contain nine amino acids and are one of the few foods containing vitamin D. The egg protein is of such high quality that all other proteins are measured by it.

Unfortunately, eggs have been given a bad rap. There’s another myth that eating eggs will give a person high cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol doesn’t automatically raise blood cholesterol. Unless you already have high cholesterol, eating a few eggs a week won’t alter your cholesterol levels.

People routinely discard the yolk, the part containing the cholesterol. When you throw out the yolk, you’re throwing out the vitamin D, needed for calcium absorption which builds strong bones. We also get vitamin D from the sun, as UV rays from sunlight trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Eggs are packaged sunshine, especially valuable during the winter months.

Hard-boiled eggs make protein-filled fast breakfasts. Eggs make dinner in a hurry possible. For those nights when a chef’s salad is the quickest means to dinner, include sliced or crumbled hard-boiled eggs for added nutrition. Also, hard-boiled eggs travel well in lunchboxes and make a healthy snack.

For more Time-Savers in the Kitchen, Click Here.

American Nutrition Sadly Lacking

466793_marco_bump.jpgI read an eye-popping article in the Sunday Denver Post. It looks at data about the American lifestyle complied from John de Graaf. The data compares the U.S. with 14 European Union countries in quality-of-life indicators. He says that it’s clear the health care, safety, and education are faltering in America.

“For example, he says, even a need as basic as nutrition is compromised when money is poorly allocated or spent. The average American slurps 53 gallons of soft drinks every year, and now spends more in restaurants than in grocery stores. “Even wild monkeys have healthier diets than most Americans,” says anthropologist Katharine Milton, “partly because in our fast-paced world, the emphasis is on snack-ability, convenience, and shelf life rather than the human life.”

Americans also rank near the bottom among industrial nations in health per unit of food, spending the least for food, but the most for health care. In spite of the expenditures, we’ve fallen to 42nd place in the world for longevity. We’re also 42nd in infant mortality, but number 1 in obesity.”

Click Here for today’s Podcast.
For a synopsis of the Baby Bites book, Click Here.

Fun Food Quiz

girl-question.jpgJust for fun, let’s take a little food quiz.

How many questions can you answer correctly?

TRUE or FALSE:

1) Lemons contain more sugar than strawberries.

2) Rinsing eggs before cracking them removes bacteria.

3) Frozen food stays good for as long as it’s kept in the freezer.

4) You’re more likely to be hungry if you’re cold.

5) Almonds contain protein closely resembling breast milk. Zakia isn’t sure how well you’ll do on the quiz!

Let’s see how well you did:

1) FALSE. Per 100 grams of weight, lemons have approximately 3 grams of sugar and strawberries over 5 grams. Strawberries are sweeter than lemons.

2) FALSE. If you’re eating farmed-raised eggs, dry cleaning messy eggs with a very fine sandpaper is the most efficient. If you wash eggs you remove a coating, allowing the eggs to become porous and bacteria enters the egg. Commercial eggs have already been cleaned. (CLICK HERE for more information about eggs.)

3) TRUE. Frozen foods are safe to eat indefinitely, though flavor and texture may change with longer freezer times.

4) TRUE. When your body temperature drops, your appetite increases and you experience hunger. Eating “stokes the furnace,” generates heat, and helps warm your body.

5) TRUE. Of all the seeds and nuts, the protein in almonds is most like the proteins in human breast milk. (CLICK HERE for Nutty News About Nuts.)

Egg Boats

This is a recipe for fun! Even picky eaters love to help in the kitchen. You’ll incorporate multi-sensory learning when you make these yummy Egg Boats with your children.

One hardboiled egg yields 2 boats.

Begin with 1 hardboiled egg. Have your child help peel it. Talk about the shell, how hard it is and how the shell comes off the egg. How does the white outside of the egg feel? Cut the egg in half lengthwise. The center yolk is a pretty yellow. Remove the yolk together with a spoon and place it in a small bowl.

Then mix in: 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon mustard, add a dash of salt and pepper.

Have your child wash a cucumber, discussing how it feels bumpy and the deep green color. Cut two thin round slices of cucumber; then cut the round slices of cucumbers into triangles. You’ll be using the cucumber slices for sails. Remember to reinforce how yummy cucumbers are.

Then cut two thin julienne slices of a carrot. Carrots are orange and make a great mast as they are firm enough to hold up the cucumber sail. Thread the carrot through the cucumber triangles to attach the sail.

With your child, replace yolk mixture in the hardboiled egg center and place a sail in each boat.

Encourage your child like Betty Baby Bites, the little character who loves to give words of support to others in my book, Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater. She often says, “Bravo!”

Sunday Quiche

Sunday Quiche
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and then bake a pre-made single crust whole-wheat pie shell for 10 minutes or make your own pie crust. Recipe follows. Remove pie crust and reduce heat to 350 degrees.
While crust is in the oven assemble:
4 beaten eggs
1¼ cups milk
2 sliced green onions
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pre-grilled chicken breast
10 ounces chopped frozen broccoli
1½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
 or Jack or Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon flour
Optional:  Top with Picante sauce
1. Defrost broccoli and squeeze water out.
2. Chop cooked chicken breast into one-inch pieces.
3. Finely chop green onions.
4. Mix eggs, milk, green onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in chicken and broccoli.
5. Toss together shredded cheese and flour; then add to egg mixture.
6. Pour egg mixture into hot baked pastry shell.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until knife comes out clean.
8. Let stand for 5 minutes.

10-minute prep time to make pie crust
Pastry Wheat Crust
This recipe is adapted from my friend Carole who is the best pie lady in Colorado!

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
1¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup butter or coconut oil
¼ cup very cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
In a food processor:
1. Mix flour, salt and shortening together until you have an even mixture of crumbs.
2. Add cold water and mix until there’s a consistent dough ball. If time permits put in the refrigerator, until cool throughout, if not proceed to next step.
3. Toss a little flour onto your working surface. Try not to handle dough too much, press dough into a flattened ball. Roll into a 12 inch circle with a rolling pin.
4. Place rolled out dough and fit in pie pan.
5. Pierce the dough several times with a fork

Go to step one for the Sunday Quiche, then add ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until a knife inserted into the quiche comes out clean.

Free-Range Chicken Eggs: More Nutritious

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Perhaps Mother Earth News has the answer to this age-old question!

1008594_hen.jpgTrue free-range eggs are far more nutritious than eggs from commercially raised hens. They say, eggs from hens raised on pasture contain more omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, and vitamins A and E! That’s great news! The reason, they say, are the differences in diet between free-range pastured hens and commercially farmed hens.

It’s no surprise, that most egg industry advocates still feel strongly that commercially farmed eggs are no different from eggs from pastured hens. They feel that hens’ diets don’t alter their eggs nutritional value.

BUT, Mother Earth News points out the flawed definition of “free-range.” The USDA defines “free-range” as chickens that have “access to the outside.” However, it leaves out a lot information. It doesn’t define their diets, or whether or not the “outside access” is to a cement courtyard or a field fit for foraging.

I think the chicken crossed the road, because she was truly free-range and could!