Guest Blog by Susan Jaehn-Kreibaum: Down to Earth Nutrition Kitchen Tables Talks

Despite the cold and un-spring like weather, 14 guests came together at Thyme Again Gardens on March 20th to learn how to “separate the wheat from the chaff”.

Thyme Again Gardens is an organic farm located on Smokes Point Road run by Lorraine Schmid and Lori Aselstine. Down to Earth is Lorraine’s nutrition & wellness business.

Until last summer, I would zoom past this lovely gem of a farm several times a day as we live at the end of Smokes Point Road. It was our daughter Vivienne who decided that this would be the ideal place for her to work throughout the summer. While working with Lorraine, Vivienne learned much in the world of organic farming, eating local, and supporting our local farmers.

In conversation with Lorraine, who recently graduated with a diploma in Holistic Nutrition, I learned that she too had been diagnosed several years ago with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a condition our eldest daughter Kate was diagnosed with when she was 14. Lorraine explained that by eliminating wheat and gluten, and many grains and legumes from her diet she was able to stay off medication and regain her health.

Upon arrival on that Thursday evening, we were each given a hand-out of healthy, grain and wheat free recipes. A lovely pitcher of lemon water was set out for everyone to enjoy.

Lorraine explained how our bodies are not meant to be bombarded on a continuous daily basis by so many “foreigners” – i.e. anti-nutrients. The effects of consuming GMOs, processed foods, and grains can have devastating effects on our health, manifesting themselves in all types of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

Perhaps, a little information overload for our first evening and I am sure for Lorraine, difficult to condense four years of Holistic Nutritional Schooling into a 75 minute talk. But, it got people thinking that there are alternative ways to eat and to cook, and that we can take our health into our own hands.

This evening was the first in a series of “Kitchen Table Talks”. The next one is tentatively scheduled for early June. Each event will have a different theme and Lorraine will continue to share her vast knowledge and provide us with recipes, as well as the names of new ingredients and where they can be purchased.

The evening came to a close with all guests having the opportunity to sample different foods that Lorraine had prepared. Everything was absolutely delicious, and how lovely to leave with the recipes for all that we had sampled.



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Christmas Morning Waffles

Winter is here! And I always have the urge (and a bit more time) to cook, when the snowflakes gather on the window 20131221_123839ledge, and the fire is crackling in the woodstove. So to complete the picture we need some amazing holiday scents of cinnamon and cranberries in the air to wake the rest of the family.

Having eliminated grains from our diet, I had to change old favorite recipes; for example, substitute coconut or almond flour for wheat flour (note that it’s usually not a 1:1 substitution, so you really have to play around a bit to get the amounts right). 20131221_080536For this holiday breakfast, I thought why not make special waffles using what’s in season, like apples and Delicata squash, and top it all off with whipped coconut milk and cranberry maple sauce. And of course our very own Berkshire bacon on the side would be the perfect accompaniment.

Of course you can change the flavour of these waffles with any season – just use whatever’s available, and experiment with flavours! You can also play with herbs to get just the right combination of mouth watering flavours. Make an infusion with fresh or dried Lemon Verbena leaves and coconut milk; after the leaves have been strained, use the milk in the batter.

So here’s my recipe to get help you get your Christmas morning started …Christmas Morning Waffles:

8 farm fresh eggs 20131221_083929

1 apple, peeled, cored and grated

1 heaping cup of cooked, mashed Delicata Squash (Butternut Squash will also work, it has the same consistency as Delicata)

1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. Coconut oil

dash of Vanilla

1 tsp. freshly grated Ginger (or powdered)

1/2 cup Coconut flour

1 tsp. Baking soda

2 tsp. or more Cinnamon (I used 1 Tbsp. because I love Cinnamon a lot) 20131221_085738

1/4 tsp. Allspice

1/2 tsp. Sea salt

1/2 cup Coconut milk or home-made almond milk

– scramble the eggs
– add the grated apple, mashed squash, liquified coconut oil and ginger and mix well
– mix coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt together and combine with the wet mixture and mix well
– add the coconut milk and stir into the batter. If the consistency is too thick add more coconut milk, if too runny add small amounts of coconut flour
– heat your waffle iron. Pour batter onto waffle iron and bake. Depending on your size waffle iron you may pour from about 1 cup to 2 1/2 cup of batter onto your waffle iron.
– whip up some coconut milk that has separated from the coconut water

Serve with the whipped coconut cream and cranberry maple sauce (see below) and Berkshire bacon.



Cranberry Maple Sauce:

Bring about 1 1/2 cup of fresh organic cranberries to a boil with the juice and zest of one lemon and approximately 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water (start with a little water and add more as the water starts to evaporate and the cranberries start falling apart). Stay close so the berries don’t burn. Believe me, that happens quickly.

Reduce heat and continue to simmer until most of the moisture is reduced. Take a fork and squeeze all of the berries that didn’t break down. Add 2 cups of maple syrup, stir over low heat until the syrup is totally warmed. This sauce can be prepared days before and kept in the refrigerator. Just be sure to warm it up before serving.

>Voila, there is your Christmas breakfast – it’s easy to make, looks scrumptious and tastes like Christmas!!!

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Chocolate Lovers Beware!

Last summer, on the August long weekend, the hamlet near us celebrated Consecon Day. Our favourite winery, Red Tail, organized lots of activities in honour of Consecon Day. One of them was a Cooking Demonstration that my friend Trish Krause conducted, and I assisted her with it. We had a wonderful group of people that had many interesting questions about the ingredients we were using. After the demo we were available for more questions while the Jazz Band was setting up. And of course try to stop a couple of Nutritionists from talking about food.

One of the conversations I had involved my favourite ingredient – chocolate. I grew up in Germany with a dad that had a hollow tooth that needed to be filled with Lindt Chocolate and Ritter Sport on a daily basis. Of course I adopted the same habit and could devour an entire chocolate bar within a few minutes. Savouring the chocolate was out of the question, since I had to fight off 2 brothers. This habit followed me to Canada were Lindt was replaced with Snickers and Mars Bars. It wasn’t until I started taking classes at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition where I was faced with quite an conundrum. I knew that chocolate bars were not considered part of a healthy diet, but now- I learned why! I started by reading ingredient labels, not only on chocolate bars, but every other processed food as well. The first ingredient listed on a Snickers bar is sugar, which means it contains more sugar than any other ingredients that are following. Then it also has soy lecithin. In North America (Monsanto Nation), almost all conventional soy is genetically modified, unless labeled organic or non-GMO. Milk products fall under the same category – the cows were given GMO grains and in the United States the cows are also given genetically engineered growth hormones, unless is says organic or non-GMO on the label. Another ingredient is artificial flavour – this could be any number of chemicals derived from petroleum that a manufacturer decides to add, without any concern for the potential health effects. After all of the processing of our foods, the artificial flavouring is needed otherwise the taste of the chemicals would be lingering in your mouth and/or the food wouldn’t have any taste any more and you most likely would not buy it. Does this not all sound so yummy?

Partially hydrogenated soybean oil is a trans-fat, an unnatural man-made fat that creates dysfunction and chaos in the body and is linked to heart disease, cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, chronic health problems like asthma, chronic immune disease and it makes you gain weight. It decreases the immune function, interferes with the body’s ability to utilize omega-3 fats and causes reproductive problems by interfering with sex hormone production. And the list goes on. If this isn’t enough, the amount of soy in our processed foods causes yet additional problems. And it doesn’t matter if it is organic or not. The western attitude ‘more and bigger is better’ has proven to cause problems from a health point of view. Soy has been added to so many processed foods; soy milk has replaced cow’s milk; tofu entered the realm of burgers; and breast milk was replaced by soy formula for babies. With so much soy on a daily basis in our diet it can wreak havoc with our health. Unfermented soy contains goitrogens which block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and upsets thyroid function. Soy also has phytoestrogen compounds that resemble human estrogen. We are exposed to too much estrogen compounds already, and by adding soy to our daily diet it can escalate the imbalance of hormone levels in our body. There are many more reasons for not having an excess of unfermented soy in our diet, but carrying on will leave me short on mentioning CORN SYRUP, or sometimes called HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP (HFCS), GLUCOSE, FRUCTOSE. So much is wrong with this poison and manufacturers are adding it freely to so many of our foods, including peanut butter, soft drinks, cakes, pastries, BBQ sauces etc, etc, even foods you least expect it – Kellogg’s cereals, ketchup, Nutri-grain cereal bars, cough syrup, Cool-Whip, salad dressings and the list goes on. Side effects to name a few are heart disease, obesity, increased belly fat, insulin resistance, it speeds up the aging process, and it triggers immune system problems. I think in the near future I will get to writing a blog just on HFCS and other food additives because it makes my hair curl (even more) just thinking about how our food has been manipulated and altered — and in the end, despite a momentary pleasurable sensation from eating such manipulated food, we are left with a whole slew of health problems.

I think I have ranted enough, so I need to tell you now what happened after I discovered how all the bad stuff in my diet can wreak havoc on my health. Well, we were sitting in Nutrition and the Environment when one of my classmates got up and wrote a healthy alternative to conventional chocolate bars on the blackboard. I have worked through a multitude of variations, and changed the recipe quite a bit since that day in class, and here, finally, is MY favourite chocolate recipe:


5 tablespoons of organic raw Cacoa Powder
5 tablespoons of organic Coconut Oil
2 tablespoons of Maple Syrup (can be reduced if you like to add raisins, dates etc)
3 tablespoons organic Almond Butter
pinch of Himalayan Salt or any other Sea Salt
Handful of chopped Raisins, Dates (optional)
Handful of chopped Nuts (optional in any combination) or seeds, like Hemp bits, sunflower seeds etc.
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Maca Powder (available in Health Food Stores)
pinch of cinnamon (optional)
and if you like a bit of a kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper

1. melt Coconut Oil in hot water bath
2. add Cacao Powder and Maple Syrup and stir very well until perfectly smooth
3. add Almond Butter and stir into chocolate mixture
4. mix all the chopped Raisins, Nuts, Ginger Powder, Maca, Cinnamon and Salt and add to the chocolate
5. spread onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and transfer to the freezer

6. let freeze for at least 3-4 hours, and then start enjoying the chocolate by just breaking off small pieces

Please note: the chocolate should stay in the freezer, because at room temperature the coconut oil will soften.

There are many brands of coconut oil on the shelves of the supermarket, what you need to look for is “Organic, unrefined, expeller-pressed coconut oil”. This is the least unprocessed product derived directly from organic coconuts with minimal processing. The more products are processed the less nutritional value is left.

I found that only a small piece of this chocolate is needed to satisfy my craving.

You probably want to know why this type of chocolate is sooo much better for you? Please continue to read:

Cacao Powder: contains a high amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our DNA from free-radical damage. Cacao is a great source of magnesium which relaxes muscles, helps build strong bone, increases brainpower and supports the heart. Cacao also contains zinc, chromium, Vitamin C, fiber and tryptophan, a mood enhancing nutrient. A new study found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for 2 weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in people who felt highly stressed.

Coconut Oil: has very many health benefits, they include healthier skin and hair, lower cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased levels of immunity, proper digestion and metabolism. It has been show to provide relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and other viruses, cancer, and bone strength. The reason it is so effective and healthy is because of high levels of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid. The presence of these acids contributes to coconuts antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial and general body nourishing properties.

Maple Syrup: is an excellent source of manganese, a co-factor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. It contains zinc, and together with manganese they support our immune system. Zinc acts as an antioxidant, and prevents endothelial damage caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol (decreasing the progression of atherosclerosis). Maple Syrup is therefore a much better choice as a sweetener than sugar.

Ginger: promotes the elimination of intestinal gas and relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. It is effective in preventing all symptoms of motion sickness. Ginger contains gingerols, which are very potent anti-inflammatory compounds. When consumed regularly these substances in ginger can reduce pain experienced with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis and improve mobility.

Cinnamon: has many compounds in its volatile oils that have healing properties. One helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets. Cinnamon has been studied extensively for its ability to stop bacterial growth and fungi (Candida). Cinnamon has also blood sugar balancing properties, by stimulating insulin receptors and inhibit enzymes that inactivate those receptors. Therefore, cinnamon can significantly help people with Type 2 Diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin and help balance blood sugar levels. Smelling cinnamon has the potential to boost brain activity. Cinnamon is also an excellent source of calcium and fiber and with this combination improved colon health and protects against Heart Disease.

Maca Powder: has a perfect balance of proteins, carbs, antioxidants, plant sterols, minerals and vitamins. Maca helps improve levels of energy, capacity to hold up against stress, it balances hormone levels and revitalizes the whole body.

So as you can see, eating this kind of chocolate will actually be beneficial for you.20130915_142333 Take a bite, enjoy, and don’t feel guilty!

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Rhubarb Muffins

DSC03762Sunday, June 16th and after only 2 good days we are back to rain and cold temperatures. My “things to plant list” is growing, farm chores are becoming more slippery and muddy, hay is still not cut and I feel like I’m getting more anxious as we are getting further and further into the summer. So I am waking up to yet another overcast and rainy day, thinking this may be a good day to relax (Lori and I have had 15 to 16 hour days for the last month without a break) and catch up on my Coronation Street episodes, which I had to completely abandon since early May because of hockey. So there I am sitting in front of the TV and all I can think of is: what shall I do with all of the ‘Reject Rhubarb’ that didn’t make it to the markets in Toronto or the farm stand this Saturday.

Most of you who’ve known me over the years know how much I like my baked sweet goodies. And most of you also know that thanks to Sarah Ramsden, a fellow nutritionist and friend who stayed last year with us, introduced me to the Paleo diet. Eating Paleo consists of grain and legume-free, no processed foods, and focuses on lots of vegetables (mostly greens), fish, grass-fed meats, eggs and some fruits, nuts and seeds. You can imagine that made baking at first quite challenging.

However, to make a long story short, I took the opportunity of a very wet, gray and cool day and spent it in the kitchen and experimented and brought my sweet tooth, my overabundance of rhubarb and passion for cooking and baking all together. After several batches of muffins and a run into town to buy more eggs (our chickens can’t keep up with the demand of so many eggs), this is the recipe that I came up with:

Lemony Coconut Rhubarb Muffins

Preheat oven to 350F, makes 12 muffins

½ cup Coconut Flour

½ tsp. Baking Soda

¼ tsp. Sea Salt

¼ cup ground Flax Seed

¼ cup shredded unsweetened, unsulfured Coconut

Zest from 2 Lemons

  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in small bowl

Juice from the 2 lemons

6 Eggs, when you use room temperature eggs it will make fluffier muffins

1 Tbsp. Fresh grated Ginger

1 tsp. Vanilla

1/3 cup Coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup Maple Syrup

  • Use a whisk and mix all the wet ingredients very well together
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet

2 cups sliced Rhubarb

¼ cup chopped Walnuts

  • Fold Rhubarb and Walnuts into the batter
  • Line the muffin tin with muffin paper cups or grease the muffin tin very well
  • Put into preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 min.
  • Let cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin.

DSC03753They are quite delicious when they are still warm, I can’t wait for them to completely cool anyway. Lori has allergies to nuts, so I made different batches, one without the walnuts and another using pine nuts. The nuts do add a nice texture and crunch.

I also found they stick to the paper a lot, so we tried them in a heavily greased muffin tin. In this case I let them cool a lot longer in the muffin tin and Lori (she has more patience than I with this) uses a spoon to gently scoop them out. I think the next time I may try to use soaked dates (in warm water) to sweeten the muffins instead of the maple syrup.

I feel proud to say they are ‘Lori approved’. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.


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Welcome to My Blog!!

Today is the day I am facing my fear of writing.

Today is also the first day in 3 years, 4 months and 3 weeks of waking up and not having to think about signing up for another class at IHN or organizing my day to get all the reading and homework squeezed into it. Yesterday was my last class and in a few months we will have our graduation and I can call myself a Holistic Nutritionist. How fabulous is that. It was a long and bumpy road at times, and Lori can attest to it. However it was a tremendously great experience in every aspect of my life, my spiritual being, my self-confidence, my everything. I learned about making better food choices for myself (and with that I lost 30 lbs and kept it off and feel fantastic in body and mind), and now can guide others to do the same for themselves. I learned about combining foods for vegetarians and vegans, was introduced to the Paleo diet (which I am loosely following now), can put a gluten-free breakfast on the table for our B&B guests on a whim, and gained confidence in creating new recipes and sharing them with others. I have a new appreciation for science and as it turns out, I love it. And I can’t forget the introduction to Ayruveda and the psychology of disease, which helped me to strengthen my spiritual being.

I am looking forward to using this blog to share with you what’s on my mind about nutrition, the state of our food, what is happening on our farm with the garden and our animals, and the latest recipe that is coming from our kitchen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I know I will!

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Coming Soon

Stay tuned for the blog!

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