Bartlett Farms

LEARNING CENTER

The Recipe for Beautiful Skin

In high school, I was that sweaty, greasy, insecure girl who wouldn’t let people too close to her face out of fear they’d be grossed out. I didn’t even like it when my mom or dad kissed me on my face. I tried all different types of makeup, cleansers, acne treatments (including accutane!), long-term antibiotics, and topical natural remedies to clear my skin, but nothing worked to cure my acne for good. I had deep cysts on the lower half of my face and had many little bumps–they made my skin look rough like sandpaper–all over my forehead…and all that was glazed over with a seemingly permanent layer of grease. With all those hormones, sports, teenage emotions, and stress, no wonder my face (and my chest and back) was a mess. Thankfully, this sad state of my skin changed for the better.

Something I have learned over the years is that good skin starts on the inside. This lesson really started when my husband and I first met and I prioritized our health. We went vegan, I got pregnant right after we got married, and much to my surprise, my skin cleared up! This probably happened because of a perfect combination of hormones and less processed foods in our diets. But, as I’ve discussed in earlier posts, veganism took its toll and ended up causing many more problems than I anticipated. So, after switching to a Weston A. Price-based diet, our health has greatly improved and my skin is not only clear, but supple, moisturized without being greasy, and more youthful-looking than when I was a vegan.

We all know those people who can eat whatever they want and look fantastic, but I’m not one of them. For me at least, my skin is an accurate reflection of the state of my internal health. It always tells me when I need to eat more or less of something. Here is what I have learned: there are two steps one must take to improve health. 1. Remove the bad stuff, and 2. Add in the good stuff. It’s true that you can never out-supplement/medicate a bad diet. Both steps must be addressed for healing, internal and external, to occur.

So, what have I removed from my diet to improve my skin?

  1. Excess sugar: Obviously, candy is a BIG no-no if you want healthy and clear skin! Sugar consumption, especially in excessive amounts, creates oxidative stress and that reveals itself in your complexion. Fruit juices, fake maple syrup, sodas and energy drinks, and even high-fruit diets can lead to breakouts, wrinkles, greasy, or flaky dried-out skin. Always read labels and stick with natural sugars if you can (dates, coconut sugar, real maple syrup, raw honey…), or try to reduce the intake of natural sugars if you’re extra sensitive.
  2. Omega 6 oils: These fellows are not something you want to eat in high amounts. In the form of isolated oils, they’re terrible for your health and your skin will likely demonstrate this fact. The ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats can easily be thrown out of proportion, which is where the high consumption of omega 6 leads to deadly problems. In our modern day SAD diet, it is easy to have too many omega 6 fats in proportion to omega 3 fats. These fats occur naturally in some foods, such as sunflower seeds and walnuts (that’s fine! 🙂 ), but it’s much better to eat nuts/seeds than to ingest so many processed seed and vegetable oils, such as: corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed et cetera. Avoid them as much as possible and prioritize getting fats from less-processed sources.
  3. Processed/fake foods: how many times has mankind changed part of nature in order to make it “better”? Since when is enriched flour, high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, et cetera beneficial? The answer is: it is not and has never been beneficial. Look at our population: the vast majority of people (children included) have multiple cavities, are constantly sick or terminally ill, are suffering from chronic pain, insomnia, inflammation, and of course…unhealthy skin. The Standard American Diet is bound to lower the quality and length of every life that doesn’t deviate from it. It’s both frightening and sad. But, who doesn’t love homemade food from scratch? Healthy food tastes delicious and has the side effect of a stronger body better able to cope with the stresses of daily life. Your skin will thank you if you stick to real food.

And, what have I added to my diet to achieve healthy skin, even during pregnancy?

  1. Beef liver: well, folks, this really is nature’s accutane. If you want beautiful skin without paying the physical and financial price of accutane or synthetic retinol skin treatments, just eat some beef liver. It’s not just great for your skin, but supports most other bodily functions, as it is loaded with b vitamins, minerals, and fat-soluble vitamins necessary to all organs. Really, the nice skin is just a side effect. 🙂
  2. Bone broth or gelatin: Soups! Rice or beans made with bone broth! Gummy snacks! Everything delicious! These superfoods support your body as it ages, including your aging skin. It will probably help with any joint pain you have, too. Give it a shot!
  3. Cod liver oil and fish: Omega 3 fatty acids are a must if you want healthy skin. The especially-beneficial cod liver oil,  high in naturally-occuring vitamin A for skin health and vitamin D for mental health and immunity (vitamin A probably helps these things, too!), is a great way to kill 3 birds with one stone. Just make sure it hasn’t been fortified with any additional synthetic vitamins, especially synthetic vitamin A. As a side note, I just made these crispy salmon burgers for our family and they were a hit!
  4. Probiotics in the form of fermented foods: I mention these in most posts I write. The benefits we have experienced from consuming them continue to accumulate. A healthy gut supports a healthy body, and this shows in your skin. The fermented food that has provided us with the most benefits is homemade milk kefir.
  5. Potassium-rich foods: it is extremely difficult to meet the RDA of potassium. Make sure you’re getting enough! Here is a list of potassium-rich foods. My babies and I LOVE coconut water for an extra boost of potassium.
  6. Magnesium: Stress. It’s not good for you if it’s chronic or extreme. Magnesium to the rescue! Magnesium is wonderful for relieving stress, and beyond that, it’ll help you get stronger bones (especially when coupled with boron!), nicer teeth, deeper sleep, relaxed muscles, and better health in general. Most of the population is deficient in magnesium. Eat magnesium-rich foods and make sure to add an epsom salt bath (or 3) every week. 
  7. Hydration with filtered water and electrolytes: You won’t have nice-looking skin if your body is dried out like an expired raisin. However, we don’t just drink water for the water…we also drink it for its minerals. I used to have constant thirst that was difficult to quench, but that all stopped when I started drinking my water with a pinch of sea salt and lemon. Try it out!
  8. Healthy fats: fats from healthy animals (butter, ghee, lard, tallow, et cetera) and from specific plants (coconut oil for cooking and olive oil  for cold foods only) are high in antioxidants and naturally low in omega 6 fatty acids. Stick with these and you’ll be healthier and feel more satiated after meals. 🙂

It seems that all types of healing processes are related to good gut health. A person who has many sensitivities or intolerances to foods, experiences a lot of bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and more would probably benefit from gut healing. More information can be found in Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book and the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, but the very basics of gut-healing practices and internal skincare are all listed above. Put very simply: remove the things that hurt you and add in the things that help you. Your body will help you figure out what your unique biochemistry prefers in terms of healing and toxic ingredients.

If you’re struggling with getting or keeping good skin, there are lots of remedies out there. I can say that I’ve tried most of them and they don’t work in the long run, if at all. Our skin is really just a mirror of our internal health. I hope this post can help you focus on the root cause of problem-skin—our diets and the state of our internal health!

On a side note, caring for your skin from the outside doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or harsh. In fact, it’s better to be gentle with your skin…no need to scrub it, pour chemicals onto it all the time, suffocate it with makeup, and constantly strip it of its natural oils. This, too, I’ve learned through the years. For now, my skincare routine consists of this: every morning, I gently wipe my face and neck with a warm washcloth. Then, I put some homemade tallow balm on it, let that soak in for a minute or two, and gently blot off any excess oil. Sometimes, I use castor oil to moisturize, oil-cleanse, or boost eyelash and eyebrow growth, but my skin loves tallow best. It doesn’t look greasy and keeps my skin supple for 24 hours. 

Have you discovered a key ingredient for good skin? What is your skincare routine like?

Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for informational purposes only. I am not a licensed medical professional. Please discuss any dietary or lifestyle changes, supplements, or medical questions with your doctor.

Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.

She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and two children and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.

  1. Skin is a reflection of our internal health
  2. For good skin, remove the damaging parts of your diet and add in healing foods
  3. Focus on healing your gut
  4. My minimal skincare routine

The Perfect Milk Kefir

Milk kefir. Not many things can match its impressive list of benefits, easy recipe, or flexibility of use. To my family, it has been both an extraordinary healing tool and a common staple in our kitchen. Thanks to a good friend for introducing it to us, we will (hopefully!) always have it available to enjoy and in our arsenal of natural remedies. 🙂

It has been about 2 years since we’ve been making it. I’ve taken a couple of breaks (morning sickness!), but, it has come to the rescue for me every time. I’ve tried many recipes with finished milk kefir, changed how I make it, and I’ve finally tinkered around with it enough to come to an excellent routine that makes delicious kefir with only once-a-week maintenance. Perfect for our busy schedule!

There are so many milk kefir tutorial videos and instructions out there that making it can seem overwhelming and confusing. It can even seem scary…my extended family is slowly coming around to it, but I’m sure that the majority of them still cringe at the thought of letting milk sit in my closet or on my counter for 24+ hours! I’ve invested a lot of time trying to figure out how to make kefir the easiest and most delicious way…and I love to read about its benefits and how it has helped people too, of course! I always finish my reading about milk kefir feeling inspired. If you’re interested in any reading about milk kefir, I’ve linked some of my favorite resources at the bottom of this post. Onward, my friends!

The recipe I’m about to share with you is suited to how we like our kefir, but you can change it to meet your own kefir taste and texture preferences. Please feel free to change this recipe and tailor it to your needs. 

My recipe for thick, easy, delicious kefir:

Find 1-2 tablespoons of milk kefir grains. Activate grains according to the instructions from the seller; Etsy is a good place to find them, or, if anyone you know makes homemade milk kefir, ask them if they’d be willing to sell/give you any of their extra grains. If possible, acquire grains used to make kefir from raw milk; in my experience, those grains are stronger than grains only used in pasteurized milk and they yield a better flavor.

Notes on milk: I’ve tried 3 kinds of dairy milk to make milk kefir. The very best flavor and thickness comes from raw/organic/antibiotic-free/hormone-free A2 cow milk, Kalona brand whole milk (in 1/2 gallon or 1 gallon jugs), or Organic Valley brand whole milk in 1 gallon jugs only (their half gallon carton is ultra-pasteurized and your kefir grains may not thrive in it). I do not have experience using goat milk, milks that are ultra-pasteurized, or low-fat milk. I find that making milk kefir from pasteurized milk is more economical while still maintaining incredible probiotic benefits. However, the milk kefir made from raw milk is an entirely different ballgame in terms of flavor. It is absolutely delectable.

Because we make only one batch of milk kefir a week, making it in larger quantities is necessary. One gallon or more is what we use in a week. This way, my children and I can enjoy a large kefir smoothie for breakfast and additional kefir throughout the day.

To make 1/2 gallon milk kefir:

1. Place ~1 tablespoon of kefir grains in a clean 1/2 gallon glass jar.

2. Pour 1/2 a gallon of milk over the grains. Put a lid on loosely.

3. Let it sit in a cabinet (or closet; our linen closet works great for us) until it reaches a thick consistency. During winter, this is about 24-34 hrs for us, but the fermentation may differ depending on the type of milk you use and the time of year. Raw milk thickens much sooner than pasteurized milk, so you can let this sit based on your desired thickness or sourness. The kefir should be noticeably thick, but not separated at his point.

4. When it is thick, tighten the lid and shake the jar hard until the congealed kefir breaks up so it can be strained easier. You can also use a hand-mixer in the top of the jar if you have very thick kefir, which will likely be the case if you’re using raw milk.

5. Strain the finished kefir into another 1/2 gallon jar using a pure stainless steel or nylon fine-mesh sieve. It helps to place a funnel under the strainer to make the transfer less messy.

6. Optional: add the peel of half a small lemon or orange to the finished kefir and let it sit on the counter for 1-6 hours. Lemon peel is my favorite second ferment. Letting it ferment a second time with citrus peel for too long will make the kefir separate, but it’s still good. Just shake it up and use it as normal. I prefer to let it sit for one hour on the counter, and without removing the peel, I simply place the whole jar in the fridge to continue the second ferment throughout the week. I like to do a second fermentation because it changes the flavor to a more mild, slightly citrusy flavor, while making the nutrients skyrocket at the same time. So, why not?

7. Place your kefir grains in 1-2 cups fresh milk. I reward my grains by giving them raw milk to eat while they rest. Then, place them in the fridge with the lid of your jar screwed on tightly. Feed them new milk at least once per week; do this by making another 1/2 gallon of milk kefir or by simply refreshing the resting grains by giving them a new batch of 1-2 cups of fresh milk to eat as they stay in the fridge. Finished kefir tastes best if consumed within one week. It will stay good for a long time, but the older it gets, the less lactose it will have, and the more sour it’ll taste. Fruit smoothies cover too-sour kefir very well. 

Tips:

  • I’ve discovered that the less amount of grains that are used, the thicker the finished kefir gets. Thicker kefir is what we prefer, so do whatever best suits your preferences. Doing about 1 teaspoon of grains per quart of milk is the smallest amount of grains that I’ve had success with. Doing any less than a small teaspoon per quart of milk may not be enough to culture the milk safely.
  • The fermentation time of milk kefir varies based on the temperature of its environment; hotter houses take less time to reach the desired amount of fermentation (aka thickness/sourness). You can go by taste, but I find the congealing of the kefir to be a good indicator of when I like it to be done. You can let it go for 48 hrs, too, if you want. It’ll just be more fermented. But, your grains will probably will be hungry again at 48 hrs, so make sure to remove them from your finished kefir and feed them fresh milk.
  • Do not be afraid to try making milk kefir! It’s hard to mess up, really. And, if you do mess up, your nose will tell you something is off. Trust your body. What do you have to lose besides a little milk, anyway? As previously mentioned, this recipe can be changed to suit your preferences. Some people like more sour and thicker kefir, whereas others like less sour and thinner kefir. It’s all up to you! Experiment and have fun. 🙂

Once you’ve mastered the [super easy] art of making delicious milk kefir, you can try making other things with it, such as kefir bread, quick sourdough starter, non-dairy milk kefirs, straining off the whey to make fermented condiments and vegetables, et cetera. There are endless things to try! Here are a couple of yummy ideas: breakfast pudding or fruit smoothies.

Kefir is amazing in ways that extend beyond the kitchen. I have tried some, but not all, of these ideas: kefir as a DIY face mask, a topical treatment for yeast infections or eczema, adding it to compost, feeding it to pets, adding it to a tampon or injecting it vaginally for bacterial vaginosis/yeast infections/general itchiness/preparation for birth in reducing GBS infections, et cetera. Please research these ideas before trying them yourself.

Some personal benefits I’ve received from drinking milk kefir are:

  • Calms me down in times of stress (I need 1-2 cups to get this effect)
  • Easy digestion of any food, no matter how processed
  • Reduction of cravings
  • Healing of my teeth (this is also because of eating more animal-based foods in general)
  • Clear skin (also due to eating of more animal-based foods)
  • No constipation, bloating, or diarrhea
  • No more yeast/fungal infections (tinea versicolor, ringworm, and vaginal infections included)
  • No more chronic UTIs
  • No more ear infections
  • Self-control while eating (I used to STUFF myself to a point of discomfort…probably because I was nutrient deficient. Thanks, veganism!)

Good sources for learning more about kefir are:

Hopefully this post has inspired you to try making your own milk kefir or change up your routine, if you want to! I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful this food has been for us. My children and husband are so healthy, and I am grateful…it is nice not having as many issues as I used to have. No more pesky little infections that have a big impact on daily life. If you haven’t yet, give it a shot and see what improves! Many people report that it even improves their sleep if they’re consistent with consuming it.

Do you like milk kefir? Has it changed your life, as it has ours?

Article summary:

  1. Easy recipe
  2. Tips
  3. Personal benefits experienced 

Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for informational purposes only. I am not a licensed medical professional. Please discuss any dietary or lifestyle changes, supplements, or medical questions with your doctor.

Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.

She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and two children and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.

What’s the perfect diet?

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       This is a question I contemplate often. Paleo? The Weston A. Price diet? The GAPS diet? Low-carb? Zero-carb? Well, at least I know one thing: the perfect diet is NOT veganism/plant-based diets, no matter if it’s a ketogenic, raw, or fruitarian version.

       Something interesting I recently learned from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (author of The GAPS Diet) is that plants are cleansing, whereas animal foods are both nourishing and cleansing. In this article, she even discusses how “patients with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and severe mental illness do very well on a No-Plant GAPS Diet: not a leaf, not a speck of anything from the plant kingdom is consumed.” I never thought of food this way…and even though I avidly support the consumption of high quality and quantities of animal foods, I LOVE my plant foods, especially my sauteed veggies! Despite my preferences and in the name of health, I’ll happily accept more animal foods into our diet. Please bring on more juicy rare steak.:)

       I may be wrong, but I think it’s safe to assume that most people have also contemplated this question at least once. Especially with the questionable vegan deception floating around, and so many positive testimonies following it, people are frequently stumped about what is toxic and what is nutritious. In spite of the confusion, not everyone wants to keep thinking about this over and over again. So, what’s a person to do? What is the perfect diet, really?

       Take everything with a grain of salt. With that being said, go ahead and read up on different eating types and styles and figure out what works best for you. As I discussed in the last article, increasing our consumption of animal foods and slightly decreasing our plant foods has done my family good. My babies are full for longer periods of time, as am I, and I don’t have to deal with hypoglycemia nearly as much, if at all. In fact, I can work for hours and feel full all day long, even though I’m pregnant; no cravings except for the occasional rare steak. I’ve got much more energy, my skin is clear (finally! The beef liver, sardines, kefir, and bone broth/collagen/gelatin have made my skin AMAZING), and my hair is filling in. I suspected a slightly receding hairline and confirmed its existence when lots of little hairs started to fill it in…I am grateful it’s going away and not getting worse! Every woman (and man?) loves having a full head of healthy hair! 🙂

       My point is this: don’t be afraid to step away from plants a little bit. Maybe even step away from them all the way, if you want (do so with the help of a medical professional, of course). Temporarily or permanently…whatever feels best for you. I never thought I’d say that. If my research proves right, we could all do a lot better with more animal products (high quality, of course!) and less plants. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out Dr. Natasha’s article above and look into it for yourself. If you want even more information, check out Dr. Weston A. Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. What is popular isn’t always what is right. Full speed ahead!

       My view of food is that it is functional. I love to cook and make delicious food, however, the most important part about eating–in my opinion–is what each food’s purpose is. I eat things that I don’t like almost every day. A good example of this is beef liver. I really don’t like it, but the benefits outweigh its taste so much that I have made liver an important staple of our diet. On the other hand, this view of food is not necessarily what everyone should have. If you enjoy ice cream, have some. Make it good quality, and don’t go overboard…and please do enjoy your food.:) Eat things to help your body thrive so that eating something “off limits” won’t wreak havoc on your system. Balance and self-control are important, but so is enjoyment and quality of life.

I hope this short blurb of mine has inspired you to check out a new (or ancient!?) area of nutrition and dietary success! Have you already found the perfect diet? If so, what is it? I’d love to know!