Storyboarding for Historical Writing Research

As most of you already know, I love history. No, I mean, I really LOVE history. As a history teacher, I used to dress up in period clothing and bring in an array of costumes for my students to wear too. I didn’t have anything near as lovely as an original Frederick Worth gown, but how I would love to even once have the opportunity of wearing such a masterpiece. Yes, my students thought I was a little crazy, but I don’t believe in just sitting in a boring desk and reading about history; I wanted my students to live it, feel it, taste it–at least, as much as possible.

When I’m writing a historical manuscript, I sometimes don a costume and act out parts, wandering about the house or garden, talking to myself. Yep, it’s not something I’d admit to most people and now I’m posting this for the whole world to read. Oh, well, some of you ask how I “get into my characters” when I write, so there you have it. Most of the time, however, I storyboard and I often use Pinterest for my photo ideas. (The only problem with Pinterest is that I cannot organize photos into a specific order, although I have complained about their remedying this flaw.)

This brings me back to my storyboarding process. I recently completed a manuscript about a nearby town in 1893. Clothing, hairstyles, housing, modes of transportation, holiday celebrations, foods, furniture, jewelry, makeup, parties, entertainment, church, and many other aspects of everyday life in the 19th Century occupied my research time throughout the writing of that book.


I find photographs online for inspiration and study them while I’m writing descriptions of scenes or characters. Nicole Kidman’s facial features and hair were inspiration for my main character, Victoria Garrett. When I found this photo of her role in the film, Portrait of a Lady, her determined demeanor was the perfect look, not to mention the perfect era, for my main character. Other photos are from old reprints of 1890s catalogs, museum displays, and even advertisements for period clothing (often sold to film studios for making period films).

Wildwood Cafe, Etna Mills

The town of Etna, California was the setting for my story, so I drove through the town several times, taking photos. In order to accurately describe certain scenes, I did a lot of walking up and down, around, between, and inside the buildings to make sure I really got the feel for how far it would take my characters to walk or ride horses from one place to another.

I suppose I could add more, but you get the idea.

You can view my Pinterest site for my last completed manuscript at Maybe you can start Pinterest storyboarding too. But, if you know of another website that offers the storyboarding concept with the option of moving around and reorganizing photos, I would welcome your advice and suggestions.

Happy writing…..!


The Dutch Diet and Lifestyle

What is it about the Dutch? They’re generally tall (often freakishly so), thin, healthy, energetic, they speak very directly and honestly with one another, they’re discreet about their personal lives and finances, they have a strange love for the color orange, they consume a lot of bread and dairy, they ride bicycles almost everywhere….

There appears to be a pervasive philosophy of minimalism, moderation, anti-indulgence, and anti-extravagance in the Netherlands. It is considered rude to flaunt one’s wealth, overeat, or accumulate material possessions. Whether this is part of their pre-WWII culture or not, I am not certain.

There are a lot of things about the Dutch that could warrant further investigation, but I want to know how they have gotten so tall, thin, happy, and healthy. Thus, I shall focus on their diet and exercise.

Let’s start with a breakdown of when and what the typical Dutch person eats and drinks each day:

~7 AM, Breakfast: 2 pieces of rye or wheat bread with butter, jam or candy sprinkles OR 2 slices of either low fat ontbijtkoek (like spice cake) or eirkoeken (egg cake). The egg cake is high in protein. A beverage includes two or three cups of black coffee, hot cocoa, and/or a glass of milk.

~10 AM, Later Snack Breakfast: 2 pieces of cake or bread (same as the earlier breakfast). Add some dropje (licorice candies) and 1 or 2 glasses of milk (often chocolate or coconut flavored).

12:30 PM, Lunch: 2 open-faced cheese and meat (or fish) sandwiches or soup with a roll or two, and a little fruit, more dropje, plus 1 or 2 more glasses of milk

~ 6 PM, Dinner: well-boiled or deep-fried vegetables (kale, onions, carrots, endive, cabbage, sauerkraut, fava beans*, or pickled beets) mixed in with mashed potatoes (called “stamppot”). Meat is an optional side dish: Sausage, ham, bacon, fish, meatballs (often deep-fried). Another popular main course is thick pea soup with ham or bacon. Maybe add another glass of milk. Bread is usually not served with dinner.

~6-7PM, Dessert: small portions of fruit, custard (vla), karnemelk (buttermilk) with fruit, or yogurt. Greasy food like donuts (Oliebollen, fried in lard) and pancake balls (called poffertjes) are usually eaten on weekends only. Many Dutch drink another cup of coffee with dessert.

A note about those licorice candies: The Dutch are in love with “Dropje,” little licorice-flavored candies. They eat about 14 pounds per year per person! Could it be that these anise sweets are key to keeping the Dutch alive and well? Dropje began as herbal medicines and ended up being part of their culture. (The anise seed aids with digestion, flatulence, congestion, expectoration, and oral hygiene.)

And what about all that bicycle riding the Dutch are so famous for? Surprisingly, the average Nederlander doesn’t exercise all that much. According to some studies, they only bicycle between 15 and 30 minutes per day and there are no real hills to climb; most of their terrain is level. Many Dutch do not even work out in a gym. One theory is that the Dutch exercise in moderation; this reduces their stress level, making it easy for the body to remain relaxed and not gain weight.

In 2010 the Hogeschool Van Amsterdam reported that the Dutch diet consists of 17 percent protein, 50 percent carbohydrate and 33 percent fat. It is estimated that the average Dutch person consumes 3,320 calories per day. Let’s see how this breaks down:

  1. MILK! = 4-6 glasses (12-oz) of milk per day = 48-72 ounces per day (and at least one of those glasses of milk is karnemelk, which is buttermilk)
    1. Golly gee whiz! 48-72 ounces a day of milk is a boatload of milk!
    2. That’s over 1300 calories per day in milk alone! Shocking! (Man may not live on bread alone, but maybe milk…?)
    3. They generally drink whole milk and, prior to the 1980s, most of the Dutch people drank raw, unpasteurized milk. (Many still prefer the raw variety.)
    4. BREAD! (either savory or sweet and cake-like) = 6-7 slices or per day. Wow! Really? Well, wait. The typical slice of bread in the Netherlands looks like it’s about half of an American slice, so, by US standards, the Dutch are eating about 3-3.5 slices of bread a day. But all that bread is very satiating. It’s no wonder the Dutch don’t get hungry and feel like snacking between meals. But how do they not gain weight from eating all those carbs? Probably the rye. Dutch bread typically has a lot of rye bread has a lot of health benefits. It can prevent gallstones, aids with weight loss, and can prevent constipation, amongst other useful properties. (Sounds like fodder for a future blog….)
    5. Meat = 5.3 ounces per day or less (The Dutch eat 3.5 ounces of fish, usually herring, per week; good for omega 3 fatty acids.)
    6. Cheese = 1.5 ounces per day (not as much per day as one would suspect in a Gouda-rich country)
    7. Vegetables = 7 ounces per day (That’s impressive when you consider how stuffed full of bread and milk the Dutch people are.)
    8. Potatoes = 1 potato per day (eaten at dinnertime in place of bread)
    9. Coffee = 2-4 cups per day
    10. Butter = a little more than half an ounce per day (Note: Many Dutch have switched to olive oil since 1950.)
    11. Licorice drops = 4.8 grams per day (Let’s not forget that’s 14 pounds a year per person.)
    12. Yogurt = 6 ounces per day for an after-dinner dessert (if not eating about 6 ounces of vla, which is an uncultured custard). The yogurt intake is not extraordinary in itself; however, it is their main dessert (aside from vla) and that is worth nothing. It’s much healthier and lower in sugar than other desserts. And let’s not forget the probiotic content of yogurt. Could it be that the timing of their yogurt consumption is important? Could eating yogurt before bedtime be especially healthy, keeping those probiotics and enzymes working on one’s digestion overnight?

Total Estimated Calories: 2,375 (considerably lower than the estimated average.)

My Humble Conclusion:

The Dutch are too stuffed with bread and whole, raw, unpasteurized, probiotic-rich milk expanding in their stomachs and guts to ever snack between meals. (And from what I have been learning about bacteroidetes lately I wonder if the Dutch diet is full of wonderful probiotics.) –note added 4/16/14

Perhaps, along with a little moderate exercise, like 15-30 minutes of bicycling every day, keeps the Dutch stress free so they don’t gain weight as easily. The Netherlands looks like a wonderful place. I think I need to travel there and stay awhile to further my investigation…

If you are Dutch or know someone who is, please write to me. Share your wisdom and knowledge!

Thanks for reading!

*Fava Beans: I’m curious about these edibles, which are often included in traditional diets. See a more recent blog posting about these legumes. In the Netherlands, fava beans are traditionally eaten with fresh savory and some melted butter.

Thank you to My Sources: (Fun video of bicycling in the Netherlands),r:19,s:14,i:225×600/wg-copenhagen-3.jpg

Dutch Diets |

The Connection between Whole Raw Milk and Weight Loss

I haven’t written about raw milk for awhile, so I think it’s about at that time again.
In talking with other people about drinking whole, raw milk—either goat or cow—I have gotten the typical questions regarding the dangers of bacteria in unpasteurized milk, but I won’t address those here. You can research and find the debunking of that myth pretty easily—how pasteurization and homogenization damage vitamins C and B in the milk, how they render Calcium and other minerals unavailable to the human body, etc.
No, aside from the raw milk controversy, the other common question is: How can one lose weight and remain slim while drinking whole, raw milk?
Surprisingly, by removing the fat from milk, the milk sugar, lactose, is increased. This raises the glycemic index of milk so that when a person drinks nonfat milk, sugars are increased and the blood sugar imbalance could actually cause weight gain, rather than helping with weight loss. Note: Over 60% of the world’s population is allergic to lactose.
So, should we all go out and start drinking whole, rather than nonfat or lowfat milk? Well, that wouldn’t work for me, unless I was to take a lactase supplement with it, because I’m allergic to casein, a milk protein found in dairy fat.
Lactase… Isn’t that an enzyme that is naturally found in milk? Well, yes, it is. And, lo and behold, that important little enzyme is destroyed in the heating process of pasteurization. So, my hypothesis is that, if I were to drink a glass of whole, raw cow’s milk, which still contains all the lactase needed for healthy digestion, I would not have any allergic reactions to it and would therefore not require a lactase supplement. However, as of yet, I have been unable to get my hands on a glass of raw cow’s milk, since the sale of it is against the law in the United States. (I still find this unimaginably astonishing.)
So, back to my question, but let me revise it: How can one lose weight and remain slim by drinking whole, raw milk (since I prefer the health benefits of raw milk and would like to eliminate the need for taking lactase supplements)?
Here are some facts about whole, raw milk and weight loss:
1.       Drinking whole, raw milk may be able to end your sugar cravings, causing you to eat healthier overall. (This reminds me of my Dutch article. Is that why the Dutch stay so slim and are able to resist overeating unhealthy, sugary carbohydrates?)
2.       Whole, raw milk is nutrient-dense, which means you’ll get all the highly digestible vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs. Without whole, raw milk, we may be always eating, but ever hungry, because our bodies are craving more nutrients.
3.       Whole, raw milk contains high levels of calcium that is readily absorbable. In fact, it may be the best way to obtain the calcium your body needs. What’s so great about calcium? Well, among other health benefits, studies show that calcium helps us to lose weight—specifically abdominal fat.
4.       Whole, raw milk detoxifies the body in a calm, painless way. As you probably already know, toxins in the body can make you fat (by causing blood sugar imbalances, causing insulin resistance, etc.). Unfortunately, we live in a toxic society filled with toxins in the form of nitrates, animal growth hormones, and other bad things. So, finding a way to rid your body of toxins in a safe, effective manner is good news.
5.       Whole, raw milk causes you to gain lean mass, like bone and muscle. And, of course, the higher your lean body mass, the lower your body fat will be.
So, what is my humble conclusion to all this information? Well, despite the research, results are yet inconclusive. Whole, raw milk alone may not the answer to all your weight and health problems. However, if I can ever get my hands on some whole, raw milk I’ll be very excited about trying a milk fast or at least adding it to my already healthy diet. Along with regular exercise it could be just what I need to get me back on the path to detoxification and overall wellness.
For more information on raw milk fasts and weight loss, read:

The Australian Meat Craze: Aussies are Way Ahead of Americans

reprinted from an article I wrote on September 23, 2012

“…a crispy, fatty wonderland of tasty, tasty textures of flavors, all there to be discovered.” If this sounds like a quote from Anthony Bourdain, you’re right. In one of his No Reservations shows, Bourdain took a trip to Australia to chow down on hunks of beef, lamb and pork. Viewers had the opportunity to witness a surprising cultural sea change from Australia’s bland and tasteless to the brand new world of savory and succulent marbled meats, crispy skins, and oily fat drippings. Gone are the days of low fat, lean, and boring; Australians are crazy for woodfired Argentine meats, like those offered at Porteño’s in Sydney. The natives want real meat loaded with fat—and they eat a lot of it. And what about side dishes of vegetables? Even their Brussels sprouts are deep fried, making them far more flavorful than the average veggie.
Host Anthony Bourdain didn’t go into the health reasoning behind this dramatic evolution, but it certainly makes me ask the following questions: Are Aussies worried about gaining weight now that they’re eating all that fat? Are they gaining weight? Are they increasing their meat consumption in an attempt to up their protein intake? Are they healthier as a result? Are they stronger?
This brings to mind the “Dukan Diet,” you know the one where you eat more meat to lose weight. Rumor has it that both Kate Middleton and her mother were on the diet to lose weight for the big royal wedding.  The diet is high in lean meat proteins like beef, veal, rabbit, chicken, turkey, ham, veal, fish, and shellfish. It’s also high in eggs and lowfat dairy products.
Unfortunately, Aussies, like Americans, are facing their own overweight crisis. Perhaps now that this new high meat protein diet is in vogue, Aussies will start slimming down again. But what about all the meat fat their eating? According to Sally Fallon followers, eating all that high meat protein with the fat should trim their waistlines back to normal and keep them there.
So bring out the juicy cuts of organic grilled beef dripping with crispy fat! Such a wildly delicious way to lose weight and keep fit is certainly tempting to me! I’m boiling some all natural, grass fed beef ribs as we speak.
Fire up the barbie, mate!
Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations “Sydney Education: Fresh seafood; charcuterie; Australian Barbie” episode, aired Sunday, September 23, 2012 on the Travel Channel.

Memories of My Great Grandparents

Reprinted from an article I wrote on September 20, 2012

My GG and GG…. They lived healthy lives–no strokes, no Alzheimer’s, no dementia, no heart disease, no cancer…. (I do remember, however, that my Grandma GG’s long-term memory was sharper than her short-term, and she told me lots of stories of her childhood.)
I must also add that my great grandparents were quite thin. I mean, my Grandma GG wore the same clothes in her eighties that she wore when she was in her teens and she did not weigh much over one-hundred pounds. Both of my great grandparents were both spry, active, energetic individuals. My Grandpa GG was born in 1889 in Indiana and died at age 90; my Grandma GG was born in 1894 in Illinois and died at age 91.
I interviewed my dad, my grandpa, and my paternal grandma with regard to memories of my great grandparents, but I remember them well myself. Going to visit GG and GG was a great treat. They spoiled my cousins, brother and sister and me with lots of love, stories of the old days, hugs, and delicious food. In fact, the smell of bacon and coffee always reminds me of being in their home.
Grandma GG was well known for her cooking and butter was especially important to her. Even during the Great Depression, she believed that eating real butter would keep her family healthy. Even during those hard times, they never went without butter. (I might also add that their butter was never refrigerated. I wonder… Does leaving it out all the time help to culture it?)
My great grandparents lived on a ranch in Southern California, where they raised chickens and grew oranges commercially (although the chickens were raised on a relatively small scale). They also had a big garden and raised at least one hog a year. Consequently, they ate a lot of chicken, pork, eggs, oranges, grapefruit, and vegetables.
Breakfast: As far as everyone can remember, Grandma GG served eggs and bacon every morning—with bread. She fried the eggs in bacon grease. They also drank a lot of coffee with either full cream or half and half. It is my recollection that they sipped coffee throughout the day and not just for breakfast. There was a sugar bowl on the table, so I imagine they added sugar to their coffee, as well—at least, occasionally.
Lunch: Sandwiches… My dad and grandparents remember eating only sandwiches for lunch. I imagine they were made with either pork or chicken.
Dinner: My great grandparents had an abundance of chickens, so Grandma GG often prepared fried chicken and potatoes. She fried the chicken in pork lard and her potatoes were bathed in plenty of butter. There was always bread, as well.
Desserts and Snacks: My great grandma had a sweet tooth. When she baked any dessert, she had a habit of adding a little extra sugar and butter “to make it richer.” Chocolate fudge, persimmon cookies, and angel food cake were a few of her specialties. She and Grandpa GG ate little hard candies throughout the day. I remember eating those little Brach’s candies in mint, cinnamon, butterscotch, coffee, and fruit flavors.

There were nuts too, sitting in a bowl on the living room coffee table. My dad, grandpa, and great grandpa would sit on the sofa, talking or watching television, cracking nuts, and popping them into their mouths. Another favorite snack was popcorn, with lots of butter, of course. Grandma GG loved chocolate. She used to set out a bowl of semisweet chocolate chips for everyone to nibble on. Daddy recalls that she liked milk chocolate. I also remember See’s candies at their house and how my siblings, cousins, and I were allowed to choose one or two from the large assorted box–a great treat.

All these memories add up to a list of common denominators in my great grandparents’ diet: lots of butter, pork, chicken, lard, sugar, hard candies, citrus fruits, coffee with cream, and vegetables. Despite the apparent indulgences in their diet, my great grandparents remained thin and strong on this so-called “unhealthy” diet.
P.S. I’ll add to this blog as I learn more about memories of my great grandparents from other friends and family. Maybe I’ll even get some recipes and post them here. (In fact, I have my Grandma GG’s persimmon recipe somewhere….)

lchf – low carbohydrate, high fat diet

reprinted from an article I wrote on September 9, 2012

In following Sally Fallon’s dietary lifestyle, I keep finding myself searching online for low carb, high healthy saturated fat recipes. It seems there is quite a contingency of LCHFers out there in the world and their recipes and blogs are quite helpful.

Earlier this year, I hit a weight loss plateau. I researched some more and found Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions” book on my shelf. I read it and decided to try some recipes. I did not lose weight at first; in fact, I gained weight. (That was a bummer.) Then, as I stuck with it and increased the fat in my diet, I found I was not hungry or craving carbs so much, so I ate fewer carbohydrates without even making a plan to cut them out. I eat as many high-fat foods as I can each day (easier said than done), add some protein, and the carbs are naturally low on my overall consumption. My typical ratio is around 40-50% fats, 10-12% protein, and 44-46% carbs per day. (I keep track of everything I eat at I have finally started losing weight again, but I’m still losing what I gained from beginning this diet, so when and if I really get closer to my goal weight (about fifteen pounds from now), I’ll let you know.

This diet reminds me a lot of my gluten-free regimen that I followed for a number of years, in order to heal my IBS–lots of nuts… Nut butters, nut breads, nut crusts, nut cookies, etc. They’re high in fat and low in carbs, so weight loss was much easier on that diet. However, since my gut got better, I started eating grains again. Lo and behold, my IBS came back with all the cramping and bloating all over again. Even though I know gluten-free works, I’m trying this new diet to see if it does the work by adding in healthy foods, rather than cutting out one major culprit. Sally Fallon recommends souring grains before eating them. I’ve been making slow-rise sourdough recipes with much success gut-wise. (Thanks, Sally!)

Next, about sweets. I have a sweet tooth and am not willing to give up sugar for any substantial length of time. However, I am not in favor of a lot of refined sugar. I am a big proponent of local, raw honey–especially as a prebiotic combined with cultured dairy products. I also use some organic, raw sugar in some recipes. Remember, as long as you’re eating lots of healthy fats, you should not be hungry for a lot of carbs, so you naturally won’t eat as many. I have found dessert recipes for chocolate rum truffles, chocolate gingerbread truffles, chocolate mousse, and chocolate lime and salt truffles at too. I hope to try them soon.

Finding high fat recipes online is not easy, but I find that old-fashioned recipes from the 1800s plus recipes from traditional cultures (mainly from Europe) are high in fat and very useful (which is one of the reasons I started this blogsite in the first place). Healthy, old world European recipes are typically high in cheesy goodness, lots of butter, and lots of cream and yogurt. (Think croissants, blintzes, cheese custards, and soups that are often “cream of “this and “cream of” that.) *Note: Croissants are super time-consuming to make; I’ve tried it.

I’ve found myself gravitating toward Paula Deen’s high butterfat recipes. If I could find a way to cut down on the refined flour carbs and loads of sugar, some of her recipes might be usable in a lchf diet.

I have also found a number of recipes at I plan to try some soon. Recipes include: crepes, almond bread, smoothies, muffins, granola, soups, cheese crisps, pizza, and even cakes, cookies and cupcakes. The only problem is that the diet incorporates a lot of fiber, like psyllium husk powder in place of bread and Sally Fallon does not recommend too much fiber. (Some natural fiber in fruits and vegetables is okay, but adding it in other recipes as a substitute for grain is not necessarily okay.) I haven’t read it, but you can also read a book called Fiber Menace, by Konstantin Monastyrsky, which says much the same thing, I hear.

So, now that I’m preparing high fat, nutrient dense foods for my family, the kids and my husband are saying, “Yum, that was good!” as opposed to, “I’m still hungry.”

Well, all this talk about food is making me hungry, so, since I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, I think I’ll head to the kitchen.

Shelving the Cow…Again

Reprinted from an article I wrote on September 5, 2012

Wow. A friend communicated with me regarding owning and milking a cow and he says it’s much harder than even he imagined.

1. Not only does a cow require two milkings a day, but it can take about two whole hours just to milk a cow by hand once a day! Yikes! That’s enough to discourage the entire endeavor right there.
2. People may say they’re committed to jointly buying and milking a cow, but when it comes down to it, a lot of people don’t show up. If the cow lives here, then that means I have to go our and milk her myself.
3. Other people may pitch in and buy the cow together, but if the cow lives here, I’m the one who takes care of any medical issues (like mastitis and colic), and I’ll end up footin’ the bill.
4. It’s expensive to own a cow.
5. It’s extremely difficult to find a healthy, gentle A2 cow.

Nope, I can’t see Pete ever embracing such an endeavor. I have to confess I’m disappointed, but I need to face reality and realize I will probably never be a cattle owner. *sigh*

Chemical Preservatives could be Blocking Your Weight Loss Efforts

Nitrates and nitrites preserve the color in meats like ham, bacon, lunchmeats, sausage, and hot dogs. My research on chemical preservatives in processed meats appears to confirm a theory I have recently begun to form. As I have written before, weight LOSS is successfully linked to saturated fats (like animal fats and coconut oil) and high protein foods (like organic, grass-fed meats and raw dairy products). However, weight gain can be connected to nitrates and nitrites in processed meats.

Besides the fact that nitrates and nitrites are cancer-causing agents (especially cancer of the stomach), they are inflammatory, and that they can lead to allergies, these dangerous chemicals can also lead to metabolic disorder, causing unhealthy weight fluctuations, food cravings, and weight gain. Have you ever been losing weight and, all of a sudden, you end up on a plateau, unable to budge the scale another smidge no matter how hard you try (or you eat a lot of high-protein meats but find you’re still hungry and craving more food)?  A high protein meat diet could initially cause weight loss, but if you’re consuming too many processed meats, that could be your problem. Nitrates and nitrites can cause you to retain water, bloat, raise your blood pressure, slow weight loss, and unexpectedly halt your weight loss.
I’m going to stop eating processed meats. It may take awhile to detoxify and get those harmful chemicals out of my system, but consuming all-natural, grass-fed venison bone broth will help my body detoxify and I hope to be back in my healthy weight loss pattern once again.
Here are some other natural chelation vitamins, minerals, and herbs to aid in detoxifying your system from nitrates, nitrites, and heavy metals (from
* Milk Thistle is also known as silymarin. It helps your liver detoxify and in the process, eliminate heavy metals. Milk thistle also protects the membranes of red blood cells.* Chlorella is a mild chelator. Chlorella has a 3-layered cell wall that contains cellulose microfibrils, which aids in heavy metal detox. Green algae contains cholorella.* Methionine is a natural occurring chelating agent that supplies sulfur in the body. It helps in heavy metal detox by increasing the production cysteine and lecithin for the liver and for good kidney health.

* N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) increases cysteine and glutathaione production. It is also a source for sulfur. Fresh garlic is a common source of NAC.

* Vitamin B6 is advised if you have undergone dental procedures or has dental fillings. It prevents the contamination of heavy metals in the body.

* Magnesium is important for the proper functioning of your immune system and body enzymes. Great sources of magnesium are found in pumpkin, Brazil nuts, spinach and in fish like halibut.

* Cilantro is helpful in removing heavy metals, including mercury, from your body. Cilantro aids in restoring the normal functions of body cells. You can easily sprinkle cilantro in your salads and soups.


Raising Dairy Cows

Reprinted from an article I wrote and published on September 3, 2012

Since the purchase of raw milk is outlawed–criminalized–in most states in America, I have been discouraged, as you know, by the prospect of raising our own dairy herd. However, I just can’t shake the desire to raise my own dairy cows. In talking with some local folks recently, I am less dispirited. It got me thinking….
If a group of us in our area pitched in together to purchase a cow and calf, build a cowshed, buy a milking machine, buy winter hay and straw bedding, and other necessities, would we have enough people invested in their own cow to sign up on a schedule and come out to milk twice a day every day of the week? In an environment where community supported agriculture is encouraged, here are some questions to consider with regard to buying and raising our own dairy cows:
1.       What breed of cow should we buy? Is A2 vs. A2 important to people?
2.       How much are people willing to pitch in to purchase the initial cow and calf?
3.       How much are people willing to pay for future artificial insemination breedings?
4.       Where will the cows live? (Kidder Creek Camp is open to the possibility of pasturing a small herd in their meadows.)
5.       Do we have people willing to put in the time, money and effort to build a covered concrete floor cowshed complete with hot water hookups for milking?
6.       Do we have people willing to pitch in to purchase a portable milking machine?
7.       How much are people willing to pitch in to pay for winter hay and straw bedding?
8.       Do we have enough people willing to sign up to milk our cow every day of the week, twice a day?
9.       Do we have people willing to pick up and transport our initial cow?
10.   How do people feel about vaccinations?
11.   How will we divide and share the steer shares for meat?
I look forward to feedback from people regarding even the remote possibility of such a venture.

Shelving the Cow Idea


Reprinted from the original article written on August 27, 2012

Okay, so now I understand the difference between A1 and A2 cows, but, first of all, finding an A2 cow is nearly impossible. Secondly, in talking to people about raising cattle, I’m no longer as excited about the whole endeavor–especially since it’s illegal to sell the milk, so it would not be cost effective. (Illegal to buy or sell raw milk??? That’s another super duper big stupid shock that I don’t understand! Sheesh! It’s not illegal in other countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland, where people are generally healthier than in America!)

If we want to just have a family cow for milk for our family, the prospect is daunting, with two milkings per day, the costs involved, etc. Yes, I might be able to find someone willing to milk the cow when we were unable to do so, but I’m getting worn out just thinking about it at this point….

What is most frustrating is that I can’t even find a way to drink one single glass of raw milk–even from an A1 cow, let alone an A2 cow–just to see if I have any allergic reactions it.

So, as to the whole cow thing, it’s on hold for now–indefinitely. However, I’m still trying to find some way to drink a glass of raw milk, if you can believe that! I may have to move to France, or something.

Search for an A2 Cow?

Reprinted from an earlier blog from August 16, 2012

Kidder Creek Camp

So, I’m still in a tiny state of shock right now, but I talked with my husband Pete about raw milk, A2 milk, cultured dairy products, and the like and he actually suggested that I look into co-purchasing some A2 dairy cows to share with other interested cow owners in our community! I can hardly believe it–for several reasons! First of all, I would never have pictured myself as a cattle rancher/farmer; second, Pete is just not the health nut that I am. I think what most intrigued Pete are two factors–the demand for these rare beasts, and the beef option.

We live next door to Kidder Creek Camp, a beautiful property in a valley of apple orchards and pastures, and Pete says that, if I can line up people to take ownership in a cow and have all owners sign up for various days each month to milk this cow (so that we don’t have to do it every day), it might be worth our while to look into such a venture. (I have a friend in Quartz Valley who has been doing this very thing and she has people lined up not only to milk their co-owned cow, but to purchase future calves from this cow.) Pete feels that cattle grazing in our pastures would add to the peaceful ambiance of the camp, as well as provide us with possible beef cattle and cows to sell.

Pete has already been running a business classified as agricultural for over a decade now. He breeds, raises, trains, and sells hunting, pointing Labrador retrievers. Consequently, he has studied the genetics of the working field trial Labs and recognizes the value of a good pedigree. He is proud to have learned to administer his own AIs (artificial inseminations) on dogs too, although he says we’ll hire someone else to do our bovine AIs. (I have helped with a couple of canine AIs and I know we’re not ready to do the same with cattle.)

So, I will blog from time to time on the progress and status of our A2 cow search. So far, I have learned quite a bit about the Dexter cattle at the Hope Refuge Farm in Kentucky and am intrigued by that breed. Dexters are the smallest of the European cattle breeds and raised for both milk and beef. Most seem to test A2 positive. A2 genotyping can be done at UC Davis. More about the Dexter breed can be found at at

A1 vs. A2 Milk (from

This article was so interesting and informative, I copied and pasted it here in its entirety. It was written by Jeffrey L. Newswanger, DO of Hope Refuge Farm, a farm in Kentucky that raises Dexter cattle, which appear to fairly consistently test positive for the A2 gene. This article explains in easy-to-read layman’s terms the A1/A2 milk controversy. The Hope Refuge Farm website is:
Dexter Cattle at Cascade Meadows Farm in Oregon
December 5th, 2009 by jeff

What to do with A2? A Review of the A2 Milk controversy for Dexter Owners
Jeffrey L Newswanger DO
Here at Hope Refuge Farm, we recently acquired a very nice polled, red bull from the Belle Fourche farm.  The seller informed us that, in addition to his other great traits, he is homozygous for A2. At first, this information meant nothing to me. However, when I learned that A2 referred to characteristics of the milk his off-spring might produce, I was immediately interested.   Our breeding goal at Hope Refuge is to develop Dexters suitable to be family milk cows.  As a primary-care physician and small scale farmer, I am very interested in the relationship between health and agricultural.   Thus, I began a thorough review of the scientific literature in a quest to understand the mystery of A2 milk. The literature trail that I discovered proved at various times to be intriguing, confusing and occasionally downright disgusting.

Sweet Dream Eavan
A Dexter Cow at Hope Refuge Farm

Milk contains dozens of proteins. These are divided into two groups based on their function. The first, whey proteins, are small, water soluble and are closely associated with the liquid portion of the milk.  The second group is the caseins. These larger proteins are the main constituent of “milk solids.” Caseins can be divided into alpha caseins and beta caseins.  Beta caseins are further divided into type A1 and A2.  So when we speak of A2 milk, we are talking about the type of beta casein that is predominant in the milk.  This is determined by the genetics of the cow producing the milk. Researchers suspect that A2 beta-casein is the original form or “wild-type” beta-casein. Sometime, long ago a mutation took place that caused a cow to produce A1 beta-casein.  Over time her descendants have become very numerous.  In the common commercial herds of Europe and America, A1 beta-casein is the predominant type. Asian and African cows generally produce A2 milk exclusively.  Interestingly, the channel island breeds such as Guernsey and Jersey tend to produce A2 beta-casein predominantly also.

The current controversy began in New Zealand. The significance of A2 beta casein was initially suggested in 1992 by RB Elliott who observed that the incidence of diabetes among children in Polynesia was much lower than that of Polynesian children living in New Zealand. The main difference between these two groups was that Polynesians who remained in the islands prolonged breast feeding where as those in the more developed New Zealand changed to cow milk based formulas.  This observation led to a series of animal trials attempting to figure out what component of cow milk might be responsible for triggering the development of diabetes.  Eventually, in 1997, Elliott and his team published results of a trial in which genetically susceptible mice fed A1 beta casein where found to be more likely to develop diabetes than those fed A2 beta casein.  More studies were done in mouse, rat and rabbit models resulting in a growing body of literature suggesting that A1 beta casein might increase the risk of both diabetes and arteriosclerosis (the underlying cause of heart attacks and strokes). Other researchers compared rates of human diabetes and heart disease in nations where the milk tends to be high in A1 with nations in which the milk tends to be high in A2.  This effort resulted in a serious of studies demonstrating higher rates of heart disease and diabetes in the nations where people consume the most A1 beta casein.

NewHope Mignon
A Dexter Cow at Hope Refuge Farm

Now, it must be noted that these studies had serious limitations in design.  There are many other differences between nations than the type of milk produced. Also, the rodents used in the animal trials have a metabolism somewhat different from humans.  However, the striking fact is that the bulk of these studies all seem to point in a similar direction.   The few published papers that suggest there is no difference between A1 and A2 milk are from obscure journals and contain little new scientific data.

So, if the bulk of the data points in one direction, why is there still so much controversy? Unfortunately, the answer lies in politics and financial interest. In 1994, a method for determining which beta casein a cow produces was patented in New Zealand.  Soon after, the A2 Corporation was founded with the goal of creating herds of cattle that had been screened to produce only A2 beta casein.  The A2 Corporation proceeded with an aggressive and successful marketing campaign.  The A2 milk health fad grew in New Zealand and then spread to Australia and the Western United States, all under the carefully managed control of the A2 Corporation. While the A2 Corporation was funding studies confirming the dangers of A1 milk and the benefit of A2, Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy marketer, funded its own studies which demonstrated just the opposite.   And so, the exploration of this potentially important finding has run amok in a bog of financially-biased studies and public relations spin-doctors.

A2 Milk Logo

So, where does this leave us?  First of all, we do not yet have a firm answer as to the significance of A1 versus A2 milk.  Part of the reason is that more research is still needed.  Unfortunately, the infighting and money politics have impeded the ability to get these studies done.  However, another part of the reason is that the kind of experiment that would prove once and for all whether A1 is dangerous and whether A2 is beneficial would have to be done on humans and would be unethically dangerous to the people involved.  For this reason, we will probably never have the sort of proof that some are demanding.  As time goes by, the picture should become clearer.  For now, however, it is my professional opinion that there is enough data to raise concern.  I do not think everyone should stop drinking milk.  Even if the A1 is actually harmful, there are many other nutritional benefits to milk. However, if it is practical to get milk without A1 beta casein (ie: A2 milk) then there is a very good chance that this would be better for you.

This brings us back to Dexters.  Unscientific data I have obtained by conversation with other Dexter owners suggests that, although only a few have been tested, those Dexters tested have been predominately A2 positive.  We, as an association, need to know whether Dexters produce A1 beta casein.  If we can test a significant number of animals and demonstrate very high rates of the A2 gene in the population, then Dexter milk may have benefit over that of other breeds.  We must be careful not to get carried away with making claims that are unsubstantiated.  The jury is still out on A2 milk.  We do not want to hurt the reputation of the breed or the association by rash and premature statements.  However, I think it would be valuable if we could begin to understand the genetics of our breed awhile.  This information may become extremely valuable if A2 milk is proven superior to “ordinary” milk.  Unfortunately, the test to determine whether a Dexter carries the A2 trait is no longer available.  It is my hope that the Dexter associations will work to make this test available again.

For further reading: