Some people are just born foodies who probably not only played with toy teacups and fed their dollies felt food as children, but also experimented with plastic gourmet chef’s knives and stirred sourdough starters with their mothers. Our contenders today really know their way around a kitchen, and no matter what the ingredients, their dishes are consistently incredible. They’re a perfect match-up, because they also have a lot of differences in the way they philosophize (or don’t) about their food. The bottom line though? I paired them up because they’re verbose so the columns look even! 😉
Visit the Real Food Face-Off Introduction page for a full list of all the participants and the complete list of possible questions. Each week, only a handful of the contenders’ answers will be posted here.
Week 3, Part two: Ann Marie vs. Sarah
|Ann Marie at Cheeseslave has always intimidated me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it just means that she is unequivocally committed to the Nourishing Traditions and Weston A. Price Foundation lifestyle, does her research into new developments and shouts her findings from the rooftops. She keeps many, many balls in the air, both in the kitchen and on the computer. Ann Marie is an expert on just about everything NT – I turn to her with questions about kombucha, soaking grains, liver and more. She has a published cookbook (pre NT discovery, though – we need the updated version!) and founded Real Food Media, the only blog network about whole, natural, nutrient-dense foods. She’s also the mom of a little girl and always willing to lend a helping hand.||Am I allowed to have favorites?
How do you describe the way you eat when someone asks you to define your food?
|I say traditional or slow food. Cook everything from scratch, use grass-fed meat, raw milk. Basically I try to cook like my great-grandmother cooked.||We eat real food. Meat, eggs, fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt, dairy. Some, but minimal grains and legumes. We eat food that could be produced before the Industrial Revolution.|
What was/is your major incentive for living a real food lifestyle? (How did you come to eat the way you do?)
|I changed my diet when I was 26 and experienced a total breakdown in health. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and I suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, chronic sinus infections, chemical sensitivities, sores in my nose that wouldn’t heal, and thrush on my tongue. I read The Yeast Connectionby Dr. William Crook, did the 4 week elimination diet, and all of my symptoms disappeared. Of course, any time I cheated, the symptoms would come back. I spent the next two years working with a chiropractor nutritionist to heal my gut — avoiding wheat (I had developed gluten intolerance) and sugar, and taking therapeutic grade probiotics and other supplements. Two years later I had no symptoms, regardless of what I ate. It was then that I learned first-hand the incredible power of food and nutrition.For the next 15 years, I drank 2% organic milk, avoided sugar, still ate butter and cheese and eggs but only when I had time to cook, which was infrequent. I ate seafood and heavy cream and pate and other nutrient dense foods when I would go out to dinner, which was at least once a week — I think that helped me. However, I worked a lot (usually 70 hours a week) and processed foods and restaurant foods became more and more prevalent. By time time I was in my late-thirties, I had had two root canals, lots of cavities, had melasma (dark patches) on my face and a noticeable chip in my front tooth. I experienced chronic pain and sensitivity in my teeth. I thought it was just part of life.
In 2007, my first child was born. By the time she was 4 months old, I was having trouble producing enough milk for her. I was devastated, and had to start supplementing with formula. My great uncle, in his 70s, sent me a link to the Weston A. Price Foundation warning people not to use soy formula. I read the whole website. Then I read the back of the formula container. The ingredients horrified me. I spent the next month researching raw milk, reading “The Untold Story of Milk” by Dr. Ron Schmid. I bought all the ingredients and started giving my daughter raw milk formula. When she was 6 months old, I started giving her cod liver oil, liver, and egg yolks. She has thrived. She’s bigger and hardier than most kids her age (in the 90% percentile), healthy as a horse, and has beautiful teeth.
Fast forward to today. My melasma is 90% gone, the chip in my tooth has completely filled in (remineralized), I have zero tooth pain or sensitivity, and for the past two years I’ve had no cavities.
|I always loved to cook, always loved to eat and I really began learning more about the real food lifestyle when I was in high school and deciding which college to attend and what career to pursue. I had scholarships for both International Business and Culinary Arts. I chose International Business but wanted to continue to learn about cooking so began reading Jacques Pepin’s Technique book and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I wanted to teach myself the basics from mother sauces to knife skills, on my own, at home. From there I sort of stumbled across the real and nourishing food movement and haven’t looked back. It made sense to me, to eat . . . food. Pared down to the original source. Not food products. Not processed foods. Just, food.Now that I’m a mother, I realize that the health of my family, today and in the future, is literally in my hands. I feel it is important to know what they need to not only survive, but thrive, while having fun and enjoying food at the same time. Watching my children relish, with gusto, fresh fruits and veggies, eat all varieties of cheeses and yogurts, pick off and devour (with fat little toddler fingers) all of the crispy skin off of a roast chicken before eating the meat, and being open to new foods and new cuisines, those moments are what make the «work» (which I often think is fun) of living a real food lifestyle worth it!|
If you only had energy for ONE make-from-scratch food, what would it be? Is your preference for taste or health?
|I buy what I can and make what I have to. We have a great source of local long-fermented sourdough bread. I buy kombucha, mayonnaise, sauerkraut and other fermented foods. I really have to limit what I do in the kitchen because I spend so much time testing recipes (I’m writing a cookbook and doing a weekly menu mailer), I don’t have time to make everything anymore. I do always make my own kefir, which I love, and my husband loves in smoothies. And this year I’m going to get back to countertop yogurts (villi and filmjolk).||So many of our staples, like yogurt or chicken stock, take so little time or effort it is hard to decide! I guess the one thing that I cook that takes effort that I’d continue to develop is my
What food was your favorite that you no longer eat (or shouldn’t eat)?
|I used to drink lots of Diet Coke. Haven’t touched it since I found out I was pregnant and I don’t miss it. You could not pay me to drink that stuff.||Chili Cheese Fritos. I never ate them very often, nor do I like or crave the other pseudo-flavored chips (like Doritos) but with both prengnancies I have craved them. They are deliciously terrible for you.|
What’s your favorite real/traditional food?
|Unpasteurized Époisses de Bourgogne cheese. According to Wikipedia, “Brillat-Savarin himself classed it as the ‘king of all cheeses’. Its odor is so strong that reportedly it has been banned from French public transport.” You cannot buy this soft raw milk cheese here, since soft raw milk cheeses are illegal in the U.S. I was lucky to taste it the last time I went to Paris. I bought some for my girlfriends to try on New Year’s Eve the year before I got pregnant. They all agreed, this cheese is almost as good as sex. The pasteurized version is good, but nothing like the raw version, which you can only get abroad.||This is a really hard question to answer. We eat so seasonally that what I crave in the summer is far different than what I serve in the winter. A favorite meal? Grilled grass-fed rib-eye (bone-on, medium, thank you) with
What’s next on your list of changes to make?
|I want to master sourdough bread baking this year and learn to make sourdough breads, pasta, pizza, and tortillas. I also want to eat more organ meats. I’ll be learning how to make liverwurst and haggis, perfect my steak & kidney pie, and I want to learn to make menudo (Mexican stew made from tripe).||This summer I am going to be growing a big garden and learning how to preserve foods via canning. Over the past few years we’ve lived in apartments and townhomes in big cities with little access to growing space – now that we’ve got a backyard, we’ll be taking advantage of it! I love lacto-fermentation, I love freezing produce, but I’m looking forward to being able to preserve our bounty and store it in the pantry.|
List your top 3 baby steps to move from a Standard American Diet to Real Food.
|1. Stop drinking soda — diet and regular — period.2. Start eating butter — grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is a good accessible brand) and use it on everything.
3. Avoid peanut butter, oatmeal, soy (those are all high in phytates), vegetable oil, and limit grains and sugar. Eat a low carb diet consisting primarily of eggs, meat, cheese, and fish.
|1 – Learn what the ingredients are in the processed foods you’re buying. Pick one thing to start removing from your diet (soy, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, etc.), read labels and choose your groceries wisely.2 – Take your favorite recipes and start augmenting them to make them healthier, whether adjusting ingredients or cooking process – you won’t eat healthier if you’re not comfortable with what is on the dinner plate! (See this week’s theme at KS: Real Food Renditions)
3 – Fill your fridge and your meals with real food. Think about what you’re putting in your mouth and make a conscious decision to choose something real.
What is the worst food (or “food”) a person could possibly put into their systems?
|I was going to say margarine or Crisco, but I now think soy milk and other unfermented soy products are the worst.||Soy – Soy Oil, Texturized Vegetable Protein, Soy Protein Isolate, Soy lecithin, Hydrolized Soy Protein, etc., etc. Soy is hidden in so many foods these days it is hard to find a processed food without it and most of the time the soy is GMO! Even a Grade A fresh Turkey I bought around Thanksgiving had wheat, milk and soy in it (which I was not happy about!) Soy is a thryoid disruptor and mimics estrogen, something no one needs more of than what their body naturally produces, especially growing children!|
If you had only $20 to spend in a week on real food, what would you buy and what would you make?
|I’d buy a 2 gallons of Organic Pastures raw milk. Raw milk is my mainstay. I’d buy it no matter how little money I had or how much it costs. It’s that important to my health and to my quality of life. I love it! If couldn’t get raw milk, I would buy imported grass-fed, aged raw milk cheese. Even when I was a poor college student, I used to always buy imported cheese.||(assuming I did have a few pantry staples) Eggs, cheese, butter, cream, a seasonal vegetable of some kind and organic baby spinach. I’d make poached eggs in marinara for dinner (thanks for the inspiration, Kristen!), a Florentine frittata for breakfast or dinner one night and
What does “eating healthy” mean to you?
|Butter, cheese, cream, raw milk, eggs, and meat from grass-fed animals, plus lots of shellfish and sea food. Notice I didn’t say vegetables? I think vegetables are fine in moderation but I don’t go out of my way to eat them. I focus on nutrient density.||Eating healthy means eating, and enjoying, real food. Not worrying about the calorie count of your yogurt or slice of bread, not focusing on the minute nutrient content about each bite, but eating good, solid, varied meals with a healthy attitude and a healthy appetite.|
What’s the most creative thing you do to make life easier in the kitchen?
|For me it’s all about the tools. The better the tools, the easier it is to cook. So I bought a dehydrator, a good stand mixer, a chest freezer (and I also have an upright), a good food processor and blender, a great chef’s knife. I know that’s not very creative but that is my best tip for making life in the kitchen easier.||I take advantage of two favorite kitchen tools – my crockpot and my food processor. My crockpot is my best friend; I use it to make
What do you refuse to buy at a grocery store that you do eat from its source?
|I buy everything I can directly from farmers — I want the money to go into their pockets. Especially meats, milk, and eggs. We buy about 95% of our meat, eggs, fish and milk directly from local farmers. I buy our bread from a local artisanal baker. I only buy this stuff from the grocery store when I’ve run out of something and I’m desperate.||Fish. Being from Alaska, I’m a fish snob, I grew up eating it freshly caught in the wild and eaten or processed within twelve hours of catching it. Now that I live in the Midwest it is difficult to find good, fresh fish. I can not buy fish from my local grocery store, they carry it but it is frequently farmed and smells horrible so I don’t buy it, but I do buy it from a specialty fish shop in town, Whole Foods and occasionally from Costco (with a thorough reading of the fine print).|
When eating out, how do make your menu decision (fav “out” food, anything you avoid)?
|Instead of eating cheaper less healthy restaurant meals more frequently, I eat less frequently at more expensive restaurants with real chefs who make their own stock and use real butter and buy food from the farmer’s markets.When I do eat at restaurants that are not as expensive, I try to choose places that use quality ingredients. I ordered Eggs Benedict yesterday at a French restaurant and asked if the Hollandaise was made from scratch. The waitress looked at me like I had two heads, “Of course.”
I tend to trust French restaurants because they would never dream of using margarine instead of butter. We also have tons of sushi restaurants in LA — you can’t go wrong eating raw fish.
|When we go out we normally go out for food that we can’t or don’t make at home. Sushi, Thai food or specialty meals like oysters on the half shell for an appetizer followed by crispy duck or osso bucco (and oh yes, I eat that marrow spread on crusty bread – YUM!).I avoid fast food. If I am in the mood for a burger, I’ll seek out a local diner or family run «fast foood» restaurant that I know makes their burgers by hand over a nationwide chain.|
Best book recommendations?
|I have a long list. If I had to name 5, I’d say The Untold Story of Milk by Dr. Ron Schmid, Nina Planck’s Real Food, Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, Dr. Weston Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth.||Favorite cookbook authors include Julia Child, she taught me how best to use ALL of the ingredients and leftovers I have on hand, Jamie Oliver, Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson. They eat real food and never or rarely use any processed or packaged foods in their recipes. I’ve been influenced by everything from Sally Fallon and Nancy Enig and also love the honesty of Nina Planck.|
Number one tip you tell your blog readers about eating healthy foods:
|Eat butter and cheese from grass-fed cows. I think most of us are deficient in vitamin K2 (what Dr. Price called the “X” factor). Most people love butter and cheese — so I encourage them to buy grass-fed so they can get more K2. Scientists are linking low levels of K2 to heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, kidney stones, and, of course, tooth decay. I think it’s absolutely critical to consume more K2, particularly for growing children and the elderly.||Be reasonable, cook what you like to eat in a healthier manner, don’t be afraid to try new things and new techniques and if you can’t figure out how your ancestors made a food before the Industrial Revolution, you probably shouldn’t eat it.|
That. Was. Impossible. These ladies are such unique human beans with the most challenging and thorough answers to every question. I nearly died having to leave any of their information out. Being a verbose writer myself, I am not cut out to be an editor! Truly, truly, you must visit my real food guests over at their blogs, Ann Marie at Cheeseslave and
Sarah at Heartland Renaissance (no longer available). I know Sarah has published the rest of her answers here (no longer available), every one of those omitted as tasty as the ones here.
You may be interested in: I’m hosting a real food skillet meal round-up today, otherwise known as “Meals that Hamburger Helper was TRYING to Imitate!” Link up an archived recipe if you’ve got one or check it out for something for your menu plan next week! (Husband-and-kid approved!) 🙂
Be sure to come back next Tuesday for the next installment of the Real Food Face-Off, Paula (aka Mother Hen) at The Chicken Coop vs. Jen at A Heavenly Perspective. Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed to make sure you catch them all. You can also follow me on Twitter.
Special thanks to Jo-Lynne from DCR Design for the fabulous Face-Off logos. Please visit her if you are a blogger looking for design improvements!
I appreciate you doing so if you’re buying online anyway, but I’d also recommend trying your local library first! Of course, if you’re going to shop at Amazon, you may as well try Swagbucks. I’m liking the gift cards to Amazon that are rolling in!