This blog is part of Fight back fridays!

Well, my freaking beet kvass turned to blood! I went to try some yesterday evening, and i knew something wasn't right. The slight foam on the top had turned brown. When I poured a little into a glass and sipped, it tasted a lot like beets and blood. Well that was gross, so I poured it down the sink. Instead of the regular bright magenta of beet juices, it was maroon like blood! It had even thickened a little so it looked like blood as I poured it out.


I wanted to say a few words today on on preservatives.

They're nasty.

I hope you enjoyed my post!


One of the main issues I have with preservatives is that they slaughter intestinal flora. Most preservatives work by killing microbes so they can't get a foothold and spoil the food. A long time ago I bought some corn tortillas that had potassium sorbate in them. I left them in a cabinet for almost a year and they never spoiled.

Think about what happens as you eat something like that. As you digest it that potassium sorbate will slowly leak out as it moves through your digestive tract, slowly causing a probiotic genocide in your intestines.

Sodium Benzoate is another bad one. Sodium benzoate is found naturally in some foods such as cranberries, but it is more common as a food additive. It has been linked to hyperactivity in children, and can actually damage your mitochondria. Mitochondria are the cellular organelles that allow use to use oxygen and ATP to fuel our bodies.

ALWAYS read the labels on your food. This kinds of chemicals are everywhere, and just as prevalent as other bad guys like MSG.

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What do I do?

My Stepmom bought margarine last night. How do I tell her I refuse to eat anything she cooks with it without hurting her feelings?

One of the perks of staying at home for the summer is that I don't have to cook for myself. Looks like I may have to start again, though.

She got some nasty Bluebonnet brand margarine too. That stuff doesn't even taste a little like butter. I'm thinking of taking a few bucks and buying some real butter and recreating the old experiment where a stick of margarine and a stick of butter are left outside. Supposedly insets and whatnot will eat the butter in a few days, and the margarine will not be touched. I'm sure both will soon melt in this Texas summer heat.

Maybe then she'll understand?

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Beet Kvass

Well, Its been two days and my beet kvass is just starting to get bubble. I'm going to try some tomorrow morning and see if its gotten sour yet. Hopefully this ferment will work. My last to attempts at making lacto fermented foodstuffs were so gross.

Wish me luck

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Monday Monday

Every other day of the week is fine...

Anyway, I tried to make yogurt again this weekend. This time I let the milk warm up, added some yogurt to my fermenting pitcher and added the milk in stirring well. I'm afraid the results were even less successful than before. I'm ticked because I bought good organic milk again because I was sure of my success this time.

This time, instead of getting partially fermented yogurt, I got some kind of foul bubbly cheese raft floating on top, it smelled like cheap domestic feta. It was probably safe to eat, but I didn't want to take a chance. It went straight into the dumpster. The raft of cheese fell out and splattered curds like brains dashed against a rock. I want to try making yogurt again, but I just need some help. Anyone have any advice? I could really use some guidance.

Right now I've got some beet kvass fermenting down in the kitchen, hopefully that will turn out ok.

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Yesterday's post on my favorite fats had prompted some questions about eicosanoids. I recommend you take a look at this chemistry post as well before we begin.

Eicosanoids are chemical messengers made from fats that contain 20 carbons. This means they are made from three fatty acids.

Eicosapentaenoic acid - This is EPA. This is one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and cod liver oil. It has 5 double bonds

Arachidonic acid - This is an omega-6 fatty acid found in meats. It has 4 double bonds.

Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid- This i an omega-6 acid with 3 double bonds. I am admittedly not particularly familiar with it.

The eicosanoids are one of the most complex systems in the human body. They are important in inflammation, immunity, and the central nervous system. Eicosanoids derived from the omega-6 fatty acids are generally inflammatory. Those derived from the omega-3 fatty acids are generally anti-inflammatory or have no affect on inflammation. The amounts of these eicosanoids in the body are greatly dependent on the amount of fats that they are derived from. Eat lots of omega-6 fatty acids and you'll have lots of omega-6 derived eicosanoids. This will contribute to diseases like high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and imflammatory diseases like arthritis.

There are four families of eicosanoids. They are:

So how are these eicosanoids made? They are made by the careful enzymatic oxidation of fats. Anyone who's read Nourishing traditions know that unsaturated fats should not be used for cooking because they will oxidize and can cause cellular damage. This still holds true, and the oxidation of these fats is very carefully controlled by enzymes and kept away from the nuclei of cells. Anti-oxidants can help limit the production of some of the pro-inflammatory eicosanoids There is evidence that the eicosanoid pathways evolved from the bodies attempt to detoxify oxidized fats.

The prostaglandins, prostacyclins, and thromboxanes are known collectively as the prostanoids. They ae responsible for the swelling, redness, pain, and heat associated with imflammation.

The synthesis of the omega-3 and omega-6 acids into eicosanoids involves parallel pathways, The same enzymes act on both. It is the difference in the fatty acid itself that makes the often parallel eicosanoids.

One of the most well known eicosanoid enzymes is also one of the most often used. Cycloocygenase, known more commonly ax COX, is responsible for making the prostanoids. There are three types of the COX enzyme; COX-1, COX-2, and COX-3.
Its the COX-2 enzymes that are most responsible for imflammatory omega-6 derived eicosanoids. One of the COX-1 enzyme's major functions is making eicosanoids to help blood clot.

Traditional NSAIDs such as aspirin inhibit all COX enzymes. This is one reason aspirin has a blood thinning effect as well as relieving pain. It is not selective and inhibits everything.

There are some newer NSAIDs available by prescription that inhibit only the COX-2 enzyme. You have probably already figured out that these are referred to as "COX-2 inhibitors." The problem with COX-2 inhibitors is that they have all sots of cardiovascular side ffects, and increase the risk of all sorts of heart problems. Vioxx was one of these COX-2 inhibitors. It was so dangerous it was taken off the market. Many of Pfizer's COX-2 inhibitors got on the market largely due to fraudulent research. You can read up more on this if you want. My advice is to stay far away from COX-2 inhibitors. These drug's names almost always end in "-coxib." i.e Merck's etoricoxib (Arcoxia), Pfizer’s celecoxib (Celebrex) and valdecoxib (Bextra)

The leukotrienes are the other family of eicosanoids, which more people are hearing about. Their action is implicated in inflammatory diseases such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as asthma and allergic rhinitis. There is a drug on the market now called Singulair that is used for asthma and allergies. It works by blocking these leukotrienes.

Remember that when we talk about these broad categories of eicosanoids that its usually the ones derived from the omega-6 fats that are pro-inflammatory, and that the omega-3 ones have no effect on imflammation and may even be anti-inflammatory.

"Well thanks for all the tehnical info Zeke," you're saying, "but so what?"

These eicosanoids are one of the main reasons it is so important to pay attention to your essential fatty acid balance. If you want inflammatory eicosanoids eat more omega-6's, which isn't hard since they're everywhere these days. Soybean oils is almost all omega-6, and sunflower oil is ALL omega-6. Remember that next time you go to grab a bag of Lay's. Even though they are now trans fat free, they are now made with pure sunflower oil. Carbs and omega-6 fatty acids. It's a heart attack in a bag. The craptacular salt they use doesn't help either.

Now this isn't to say that you should cut omega-6 oils completely out of your diet. They are still ESSENTIAL fatty acids. The key is ratio's.

The proper ration of omega-6 to omega three is believed to be somewhere between 4:1 and 1:1. Studies have shown that the Eskimos ate extremely high fat diets with rations of 1:30 without ill effects. It seems that an excess of omega-6 is bad, but that if the ration is swung the other way with high omega-3's there is no observed ill effect. The typical American eats a ration of 10:1 up to a 30:1 ratio. This is the exact opposite of what the Eskimos ate/eat and we have health as terrible as their's isn't. For your reference, here is a list of some common oils and their fatty acid ratio's shown as the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3

flax 1:3
canola 2:1
olive 3–13:1 (be aware that olive oil can vary from a great ratio to a bad radio. Always read the label.)
walnut 4:1
soybean 7:1
corn oil 46:1
sunflower 1:0 (no omega-3)
cottonseed 1:0 (almost no omega−3)
peanut 1:0 (no omega−3)
grapeseed oil 1:0 (almost no omega−3)

For more reading I suggest the works of Udo Erasmus and Mary G. Enig. Also the wikipedia article on eicosanoids is very good.

This article is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade. Check it out! Its a great blog.

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Flax Seed Cereal and Wheat Germ Oil for A-Fib

The organic chemistry lesson is going to become a weekly thing, so look out for that on Mondays. (I want to do it everyday, but I can't spend three hours on one blog post every day)

Today I'm here to talk about flax seeds and cold pressed wheat germ oil.

I'm 23 years old. I'm a young man about to get his bachelor's degree in environmental chemistry. I have atrial fibrillation.

Its a heart condition where the heart muscle's electrical timing gets thrown off and the chambers don't pump in quite the right order. I've only had one major attack, but for about a year before that, and ever since I would occasionally feel one heartbeat every now and then that wasn't right, then my heart would beat normally.

As anyone who has had A-fib can probably tell you, when you have it, it feels like your heart is trying to do a cartwheel inside your chest. It usually isn't painful like a heart attack, but It can be. I've never experienced pain from it.

I took my a-fib attack as a sign from God to stop eating so much crap. I'd known about NT and traditional diets for awhile but was too lazy to do it. I now had a little motivation.

Sine starting a traditional diet I've lost some weight. (I'm 'morbidly obese' which is why I had a-fib in the first place). It has been slow though because I still eat too many carbs. (I love me some rice.)

Well I haven't had an a-fib incident in quite some time, not even a single beat out of step. Its all thanks to proper fat and vitamin consumption. Before this, even though I wasn't in a-fib, I could feel my heart beating in my chest, like I just had a tiny tiny bit of wannabe a-fib. I haven't even had that.

To me flax seeds are a miracle food. About ten minutes after my first bowl of flax cereal my heart was beating perfectly normal. I couldn't even feel it. For a few second I was afraid that it had stopped! I forgot that this was normal and you aren't supposed to feel your heartbeat. I had been taking fish oil for somet ime, and it helped, but nothing knocked out the a-fib like flax.

Flax is high in mediumish chain Omega-3 (N-3) fatty acids. In fact it's oil is mostly Alpha-linoleic acid. It turns out that omega-3 oils fight inflammation, and a-fib is an inflammatory condition.

Omega-3 oils fight inflammation because of eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are chemical messengers made from fats. Omega-3 oils and omega-6 oils both go through the same chemical pathways to become these eicodanoids. Every omega-3 eicosanoid has a corresponding omega-6 eicosanoid. The difference is in their effect on the body. Omega-6 eicosanoids CAUSE inflammation. When you get bit by a mosquito and have a nistamine reaction, these omega-6 eicosanoids are released and cause the bite to swell and get warn and to turn red. Omega-3 eicosanoids have the opposite effects. They reduce inflammation and swelling, and restore things to normal.

You may have seen commercials fo a drug called Singulair that blocks 'leukotrienes.' Leukotrienes are one type of eicosanoid. The omega-6 leukotrienes are largely responsible for the actual effects of the histamine reaction. Instead of popping pills for your allergies, try restoring your fatty acid balance. I know it has helped mine. To do this you can take fish oil or cod liver oil (extra vitamins in cod liver oil), and flax seed oil. I use ground flax seeds and warm water to make an extremely low carb breakfast cereal. It can be a bit slimy due to all the soluble fiber, but I find it quite tasty with a little butter and salt.

The other thing I've added to my diet that has helped is cold pressed wheat germ oil. This is one of natures best sources of vitamin E. Cold pressed palm oil is also high in vitamin E.

Wheat germ oil contains not only all the tocopherols in the proper balance, but the tocotrienols as well, which are almost always forgotten about. I forget who did the study, but many of the early studies that showed vitamin E was good for your heart were done with wheat germ oil. Many vitamin E studies today are done with synthetic vitamin E and even the unnatural and harmful esterified form of vitamin E. Yuck!

I take a spoonful of cold pressed wheat germ oil with my fish oil every day. It tastes strongly of wheat germ, so I was it down with water pretty quick, but its a small price to pay to prevent heart failure, don't you think?

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Intro to Lipid Chemistry Part 1: Organic Basics- Atoms to Alkanes

Well its time for the long awaited introduction to lipid chemistry series. Todays post will not contain very much quantum physics. Don't let that scare you, quantum physics is fun!

The next installment will contain a little more quantum physics, as it is necessary for understanding orbitals and bonds. Bonds are very important in lipid chemistry. Anyone into Nourishing traditions and similar lifestyles knows that you can't cook with saturated fats due to the double bonds. These are best explained with a little quantum physics basics.

Today we are just going to go over some of the basics of organic chemistry. We'll start with the atom, and today's lesson will end with alkanes.

Lets get started, shall we?

Everything in the chemical world is made up of three things; Protons, Neutron, and Electrons.

Now, Protons have a positive charge and are usually represented in print as 'p+'
Neutrons have a negative charge and are represented as 'n', sometimes with a little superscript zero to show that they have no charge.
Finally, electrons have a negative charge and a represented as 'e-'

"So what Zeke?" you're saying to me, "I already know this, I went to middle school."
Just bear with me braniac.

Protons and neutrons are about the same size as each other. They both have a mass of one Atomic Mass Unit (AMU). Electrons on the other hand are very tiny. They are so tiny in fact, that even though they do have a mass, it is considered to be nothing. Only hardcore particle physicists actually care about the mass of electrons.

Protons, neutrons, and electrons mix together to form atoms. Protons and neutrons lie at the center of an atom in the nucleus. Electrons fly around the outside in orbits. The simplest Atom is Hydrogen. It has one proton in the nucleus and one electron orbiting it, and It chemical symbol is 'H'. What makes one element different from another is the number of protons. Hydrogen has one, carbon has six, and uranium has 92.

This is where things get tricky.

Here is the traditional solar system orbital model you probably learned in school.

solar system model of the atom

The solar system type model is a LIE!

In actuality electrons don't really 'move' around the nucleus. They kinda pop out of existence in their current location, while simultaneously popping back into existence someplace else. Its weird, I know.

It gets weirder. These 'orbitals' aren't anything like the orbit of a planet. They are just locations around the nucleus where there will be a good chance of finding an electron. Electron 'orbits' are just a statistic. This creates what is known as the 'electron cloud theory.' This makes our hydrogen atom actually look more like this:

electron cloud model of the atom

I told you it was weird. Instead of having a nice neat orbital, we have a area of 'electron density. I like to visulaize it as a could of gas, or a blob of gelatinous stuff surrounding the nucleus.

The thing is, that kind of model isn't always helpful to chemists, because well... we're chemists, not physicists. When we're being chemists and doing our chemist thing, we usually write the molecule like this:

hydrogen atom

This is just the symbol for the element, with a dot for the electron. When doing this we only show the electrons for the outermost orbital, since these are the only electrons that bond. This is simple for hydrogen since it only has one orbital that can be filled with a maximum of two electrons.

If you've never taken any type of college level chemistry course, your brain is probably tired. If it is, go get a glass of water, give your brain a minute to relax, and come on back. Things are going to be simpler for the rest of the lesson.

Welcome back (if you left). Let's continue our discussion of electrons. Electrons have some issues. They're awfully codependent. They can't stand to be alone. Electrons always occur in pairs. Its their nature. So what about or hydrogen from before? He only had one electron.

Well, hydrogen doesn't occur like that in nature. It always pairs up with another hydrogen, and they share electrons. Here's the picture:

hydrogen molecule

Since two elements are coming together, this is no longer an atom. It is now a molecule.

The outermost electron orbital (or more commonly, 'shell') s known as the 'valence shell' and the electrons within it are 'valence electron.' Elements like to have their valence shells filled as well as having electron pairs in them. Most electrons like to have 8 electrons in their outer shell, the only exception we will concern ourselves with is hydrogen, which only needs two. Go back and look at that hydrogen molecule, It's stable and happy. Can't you see how happy it is? No? Look closer.

The hydrogen molecule is sharing a valence electron with the other, so both of them have full valence shells at the same time. This is called a covalent bond.

The vast majority of bonds in organic chemistry are covalent. We'll talk about Ionic bonds tomorrow.


Organic chemistry was originally the study of chemicals produced by lifeforms. Since all known life is carbon based, these were carbon based compounds. Now days organic chemistry is the chemistry of all carbon compounds, whether they are organic or not.

Let's meet our friend Carbon, shall we?

Carbon has six protons and six electrons. Only four of these electrons are valence electrons. They are lonely and have no one to love. Here's a picture of carbon:

carbon atom

Man he looks so sad. unpaired electrons and an empty valence shell. I know! Lets send in some hydrogens! They only need one more electron each. Four should do it.


Look at that! We just made methane. Methane is the simplest organic compound. It's also the simplest hydrocarbon. Its called a hydrocarbon because, you guess it, its made of HYDROgen and CARBON. It is also the simplest alkane. Alkanes are the simplest type of hydrocarbon. Alkanes are what we call saturated hydrocarbons, they have no double or triple bonds. More on that later.

Carbon is a very special atom. Not only can it covalently link with other atoms like hydrogen, it can covalently link with another carbon. So we'll take two carbons and link them, then pair any unpaired electrons with hydrogen. Notice that carbon ALWAYS forms four bonds. This will become very important later.


This is ethane. It is the next largest alkane. Notice how they both end in the -ane suffix? That is how we know its an alkane. If we added another carbon, we'd have the next smallest alkane. The prefix lets us know how many carbons there are. It is important to know the names of the alkanes, because the names of all other organic compounds are derived from them. Here is a list. learn it, memorize it, love it with all your heart:

The number is the number of carbons

1. Methane
2. Ethane
3. Propane
4. Butane
5. Pentane
6. Hexane
7. Heptane
8. Octane
9. Nonane
10. Decane
11. Undecane
12. Dodecane
13. Tridecane
14. Tetradecane
15. Pentadecane
16. Hexadecane
17. Heptadecane
18. Octadecane
19. Nonadecane
20. Eicosane

The 'normal' form of these compounds is in a straight chain. These are called straight chain hydrocarbons and usually have an italics 'n' in front of then because they are 'normal.' i.e. n-pentane, n-nonane, n-eicosane

Now chemists are lazy. Drawing all those little dots for electron is a lot of work, so we usually just draw a single line. Here are some examples.

chemical structure

Of course for big chemicals that can be a lot of work too. So we use something called 'organic shorthand'. We just draw the lines, and ignore the symbol for the carbon, and ignore the hydrogens completely. In organic chemistry they are a given.

organic shorthand

OF course more than one carbon can bond to another carbon. These are called branched hydrocarbons. I'm not going to go into how they are named, but here are a few in organic shorthand. They can even bend back on themselves and make loops! While this is not of too much import for our lipid discussion, if you want to get deeper into organic chemistry it is very important to things like polysaccharides.

branched and cyclic hydrocarbons

As you can see, the possibilities are virtually limitless!

That pretty much concludes today's post. Its alot to digest as it is and I actually wanted to go into more detail. If you have questions about anything, please feel free to ask it in a comment.

Tomorrow we will talk about ions, and go into compounds that incorporate oxygen into their structure.

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