Breakfast is on an overhaul here at the Scooping it up household and it feels goooooood. And it involves banishing most of the pasteurized dairy.
That's right. We are changing over to raw milk. Not just organic, grass fed, happy, hormone and antibiotic free cows. It is all those things plus, it is basically straight from the udder.
I want to share some thoughts before I delve into the how and oh-my-word why. I believe all healthy, lasting food choices happen in a snowball effect. First one decision, then the next little tweak, then the next. I didn't become a raging crunchy hippie about food overnight. In fact, I don't think very many people transform their relationship with food in one fell swoop and it actually "stick." My journey to change the way I relate to and consume food is six years in the making and continues to evolve. I have so many thoughts on why I eat what I eat and why I eschew certain foods or non-foods, but after having written it all out, I deleted it.
Because, it sounded like pedantic, boring, obnoxious snobbery. I sounded like some kind of Natural Foods Evangelist. It sounded like guilt. And I like the people who come here too much to be a voice of guilt in your ear. You don't need that.
Eating whole, natural foods (or going paleo, or eating raw, or going vegan or whatever you are into) can feel a bit like a new religion, because you feel so good when you start making better choices it is like a film comes off your eyes, there is a bounce in your step and you think Holy Whole Foods I need to tell people about this. What if they don't know? Why aren't they throwing away their Cheetos? Why are they handing their child that fruit snack?! Maybe they think Totinos pizza rolls are a legitimate food, I NEED TO HELP THEM SEE THE LIIIIGHT!
But then just about everyone who has ever overhauled their diet learns, people don't want your conversion story. They want to drink the Coke without judgement. And so they should. There is balance in all things, and finding it with food is the hurdle of a lifetime for many of us.
When I was newly married to the Hubs, he met a family at church who needed a little friendship. She was expecting her second child and so one night I brought her dinner. She looked like she might gag. She was torn, frozen. She explained they didn't normally eat whatever it is that I made, but then put on a brave face attempting to eat it. I thought she was a snot. I was miffed. All my effort and I clearly made her uncomfortable. But she raised questions for me. Who doesn't eat this and why? What is her deal? This woman taught me three important things. First, abstain if you must for personal reasons. You do not have to eat something just because there is pressure to do so. Hold to your guns. It's your body. Second, if you absolutely can't abstain from food you don't want to eat for any reason, it is not worth making someone feel badly about it. Swallow the pride with the aspartame. Three, finding the right way to talk about food to others who may not be on the same page is incredibly challenging and takes sensitivity and practice and often, silence. And truly, she ended up teaching me so much more. I began to change how I eat in great part to her example. And I certainly am still working on the "how to talk about it" part.
The example that eventually led us here, to jumping straight from Costco, non organic $2.60 a gallon milk to $8.50 a gallon raw, organic, grass-fed cherished (Maybe even sung-to! I don't know!) milk. I will pause here while you throw up a little bit. I know. It's expensive.
What I really wanted to express is how fun it has been to change things up for the first, all important meal of the day. So fun even the ever-tolerant Hubs might allow me to describe him as "moderately jazzed" about breakfast. These changes were warranted for a few reasons. We have far more children now and breakfast cereal, even ones with all natural ingredients, are high in sugar, expensive and our kids were burning through them. We were spending a ridiculous amount of money on cereal. I had to keep about ten to twelve boxes in the house at all times. With this much cereal consumption there also came heavy milk consumption.
This was a piece of the whole eating puzzle that has not been up to par with the other choices that we made with less reservations. Despite all my concern with what we are putting in our bodies, milk (and eggs, actually) seemed too expensive and picky to change. Budgets require give and take. And buying organic milk for this many people has always felt just too much. Wasteful, out of reach. Just forget about it. But it has been eating at the shelf in my brain on which it was sitting for over a year.
Then I kept reading blogs and noting when friends talked about how changing to raw milk completely changed the health in their family. Kids perpetually running noses stopped. Ear infections stopped. Breathing improved. Colds were non existent. Allergies subsided. Behavior and concentration improved. Whaaa?
I liked the idea of raw milk, or at very least organic milk, and on a whim a few weeks ago, asked Facebook what they thought. I was FLOORED about how many people responded that they already drink it and that they will never go back. I had no idea so many people do this and like it. It added fuel to my research fire. And after a day or two of discussion, Hubs and I found a breakfast solution that makes us happy.
We wanted the health benefits of raw milk in our lives. But because of how expensive it is, we knew in general the dairy intake needed to go way down. Better milk, less of it. We also wanted to cut back on the expensive cereal habit. Luckily, these two goals went hand in hand. We told the kids we will no longer be eat cereal regularly, for breakfast we now eat oatmeal, or steel cut oats at least five days a week. (We will make fun breakfast like eggs and firfir or pancakes the other days.)
The steel cut oats are healthy, have no sugar (we add a little bit with agave or a little honey) fill the kids up more effectively than cereal, one or two bowls, and require very little milk. To each bowl of oatmeal we need only add 1/8 cup of milk, as opposed to a bowl a cereal where each child had at least three bowls and each bowl of cereal required 1/2 - 1 cup of milk each.
Cookie likes his with raisins. The girls all like when I add in an entire apple chopped up small and cinnamon and a dash of vanilla because it tastes like apple pie.
Brady actually eats breakfast. Before, with cereal, he had a hard time with all the crunchy chewing. He took a long time to consume very little. Now, my tiny man is full every morning!
We also have added in a new kind of vitamin that my new pediatrician swears by. He claims out of all vitamins out there, this is absorbed by the body most effectively and basically sold me on the idea that I am killing my children slowly unless they have this vitamin. (Just kidding, he didn't pressure me at all. He had a willing lamb at the slaughter on this one.) This vitamin is in powder form and mixes with a small amount of water to make a tiny drink. All six kids like it and drink it. I take some too. It is also, like the milk, expensive and I will admit, we do it every other day to stretch it. We were eating either no vitamins or occasionally Trader Joe's gummy ones which I am pretty sure are 19% vitamin, 81% sugar.
After a week of better eating I can tell the children are not as hungry, they are focused during school in the morning and everyone just feels better. Even this man, for whom meals tend to be difficult, inhales his oatmeal gladly without bribery or tears, and charges off for his day of slaying dragons and jumping off of small cliffs.
Thus, breakfast has been changed. Not everyone would want to do this. Pregnant woman shouldn't. And not everyone can, because raw milk is outlawed in several states. But for those interested in some of the research, you will find plenty of people who want to shut it down and think it is unsafe. There are also many many who swear by it. I am in the early stages, liking and testing the waters.
Here is some of what I read about the safety of raw milk, from a licensed farm in Massachusetts.
Benefits of Raw Milk
One of nature's perfect foods, milk is an excellent source of nutrients, enzymes and beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus, acidophilus, vitamins, calcium).
Pasteurization destroys vitamin B12, B6, beneficial bacteria (called probiotics), damages fragile milk proteins and enzymes, and promotes pathogens (pathogens which cause pasteurized milk to rot quickly, rather than sour naturally). Raw milk, contains beneficial bacteria and inhibits the growth of many food-borne pathogens.
When the enzymes are not destroyed by pasteurization, raw milk is easier to digest. Many people who think they are allergic to milk, or “lactose intolerant” may be able to enjoy the benefits of raw unpasteurized milk. Raw milk assists in maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Probiotics, are the "good bacteria" found in unprocessed foods, in raw milk, and in some yogurts. Keeping a healthy balance of these good bacteria can aid in digestion, help with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, and assist a healthy immune system in fighting "bad bacteria." When antibiotics are necessary, health care practitioners use probiotics to replace the good bacteria, destroyed by antibiotics along with the bad.
Raw milk also contains the enzyme phosphatase that helps in the absorption of calcium.
Raw whole milk from pasture fed cows is known to contain increased amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an omega-6 fatty acid over cows fed large amounts of grain. CLA is thought to provide some anticancer benefits.
Q: How do I know the milk is safe to drink?
Milk quality starts with healthy, clean, comfortable cows!
Our milk production and bottling practices ensure that the milk is clean, safe and exceeds the raw milk testing required by the state of Massachusetts. We bottle only milk from the first group of cows, when the equipment is freshly washed and sanitized. The cows' teats are double washed and prepped for milking. No cows with any hint of health concerns are included in the first or raw group. Cows are closely monitored to avoid any contamination.
We bottle directly from a separate bulk tank into clean plastic bottles and snap caps. As the milk goes through a rapid cool down process in the pipeline, it is immediately cooled before entering the refrigerated bulk tank. Bottled milk is dated and stored in our farm stand refrigerator.
Q: Is your milk routinely tested or are you licensed to sell the milk raw?
A: Yes, we are a licensed dairy. We are licensed to sell retail raw milk and to sell wholesale raw milk for pasteurization. Our milk is tested every other day for somatic cell count, fat, protein and antibiotics. Additionally, our raw milk is tested for coliform. We are required to be less than 10 and frequently have been less than 1. We also voluntarily test our raw milk for the "bacterial limit." The bacterial limit requirement for grade A pasteurized milk is that it "shall not exceed 2500 per ml." Our grade A raw milk (not pasteurized) has not exceeded 1000 per ml ever.
You can find more helpful raw milk reading here.
Happy moooo to you all!