Follow me on Twitter

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kefir and Caribou....

In the last couple of years I have slowly been trying to make our diets more healthy.  And yes it's pretty much me making changes and dragging my husband along with me!   In a village in the Alaskan boonies with extremely limited access to what normal America sees as a requirement to having a healthy diet (like veggies and fruit) it's been a learning and seemingly endless experience.  What we have found that works for us is by making a few small changes every few months, pretty much addition and subtraction of one or two things.  The months in between the changes give us time to adjust our taste buds and give us a chance to see of the change works for us or not.  For instance the first change I made was to purchase a 50 pound bag of whole wheat flour.  It pretty much began our adventure into cooking our own foods and creating our own healthy dutch oven no-knead bread, and healthy breakfast muffins, and whole wheat pizza....  the list goes on!  And it only cost me about $50 for the initial flour and shipping and another $20.00 for the food safe buckets and lids to store the extra.  I lost ten pounds just from the single change. 

Amongst the long list of changes we have made (including adding chickens to our household for the eggs/meat/compost for veggies!) I do often experiment with other means of making our diet more and more healthy and natural.  Our diet is pretty meat heavy sometimes...low inventory of veggies and fruit at the store...or we already burned through our own stores of canned and frozen veggies and fruit.  Our ancient subsistence diet is actually supposed to be 45% non-meat, which is really the hardest part! I began looking at ways to help our poor abused guts from these lapses.  literally.

So we tried kefir.  Kefir is a 'fermented' (I really don't like that term for some reason!) add a few grains of kefir to some milk and a day later you get a thickened version of milk that tastes like unsweetened yogurt.  You strain the grains from the thickened milk and start the process over again.  I was extremely hesitant about the stuff but gave it a try anyways....and I loved it!  My yogurt loving husband did NOT.  Which I thought was hilarious.  I loved the tart and yogurty taste and enjoy it as part of my breakfast (and I save a bit for my chickens a couple times a week)  I throw it into a cup with some honey that I get from Honeyrun Farm to sweeten it, a few pieces of frozen banana or strawberries,  and eagerly drink it down every morning.  I found that to get my husband to drink it a couple times a week I have to water it down with soy milk (he is lactose intolerant of course) and add more sweetener and some vanilla.   But this little gem has really completed our changing healthy diet!

One if the things that I have found has been a barrier in having kefir here in the boonies is having a steady supply of milk.  What I have found that has worked is that I keep the batches small...only keeping enough grains to produce a little more than a cup of kefir a day....and by mixing my milk sources.  Our house relies on the super shelf stable Ultra pasteurized milk that you can literally keep on the shelf for a year or more, but this milk doesn't really lend itself to a thick healthy what I do is mix a tablespoon of powdered whole milk ( LINK) into it to give it a bit more lactose and thickness.  When the store does have 'normal' milk, I buy a small amount of it to 'freshen' our grains.   So far so good! 

The caribou have finally arrived in the mountains and everyone is scrambling to harvest and store enough meat for the winter.  Our weather has been chaotic...going from normal low temperautres to spring time temperatures with rain...and back down again.  Confusing all the animals...humans included! 

Hope this finds you all healthy and happy!.....and now some pics!

Our chickens are now producing about 3-5 eggs a day!  such pretty eggs! 

My brother-in-law drinking coffee outside of the family cabin

And actual picture of my normally stoic husband...smiling!

A bull caribou at the verge of rut surveys the path ahead as he guides his small herd of females

In a land without trees and brush we get pretty good at carefully sneaking up on caribou...Patience is a must have!

My husband performs the ritual first cut at the the third vertebrae....

A caribou herd wonders back north...pretty confused by the warm weather...

Kefir!  I also found that dried strawberries work well as a healthy addition!


  1. Bonjour,

    Des paysages fantastiques... vos photos sont merveilleuses.
    Une très jolie publication... Bravo pour les oeufs !...
    J'ai lu avec beaucoup d'intérêt vos explications concernant votre nouvelle hygiène de vie alimentaire.

    Gros bisous à vous

    1. Merci d'avoir pris le temps de lire mon petit blog et pour vos commentaires merveilleux!

      I hope google translate translated that right!

  2. love this post! even in the city veggies can be so expensive. i wondered (assuming) you are able to get enough cabbage/carrots if you've tried fermenting these? (fermentation being another source of good "gut" bacteria). i also would love to know more about the harvest & preservation of traditional greens.

    Also, I know ANMC funds research on links between subsistence diets and things like cancer incidence. The work that you are doing to improve your diet by gardening in addition to subsistence (so much work! and thought! and research!) should go out to a wider audience so that it can help others.

    1. Hello! I am going to be experimenting with fermetation next year! I was hoping to grow my own cabbage, but have yet to grow them to an edible size yet...but I have few tricks up my sleeves for next year! Almost all of the traditional Inupiaq greens were fermented. A few of them were preserved in seal oil. We find that we prefer the seal oil ones... but this year the season was so short for both that we barely got time to harvest any.

      Once I get the garden producing like it should i will hopefully pair with some people! It's just going to take me a while to figure out how to get the most from my tiny garden!

  3. Hi. I'm not sure if I've commented before, but I've been reading for about a year and I'm always excited when I see a new post in the reader. Thanks for the glimpse into life way up north.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for enjoying my blog! I hope to be posting more the colder it gets!

  4. See those Caribou? *thats* where you get your milk from ;) Good luck pushing a baby off momma, though!

    But actually I have a small flock of dairy sheep and when I get extra milk I freeze it. Its freezes just fine for up to a day. Now it might be a bit much to suggest getting sheep in Alaska, but either goat or sheep milk is naturally homoginized and smaller easier to digest proteins that freeze just fine. If you could find a source you could stock up on non-UHP. I do low heat pasteurizing.

    wish i could make a suggestion of the veggies, though. all I seem to grow are eggplants and turnips. I did freeze alot of my veggies along with regular pickling. It worked really well. I'm eating the last of my summer tomatoes today.