Welcome to CHEESESLAVE Q and A!
Every Sunday, I answer your questions. I’ll answer as many questions as I can each week. If I didn’t answer your question this week, please check back next week.
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1. Question: Thoughts On Estrogen Levels And Trying To Conceive?
Hey Ann Marie,
EWCM is “egg-white cervical mucus” — the stuff that your cervix makes that enables the sperm to swim to the egg. It’s a huge part of being able to get pregnant. I haven’t had any in many months.
Also, my periods have become lighter. I used to have to take ibuprofen at least once during my period, but now the cramps are milder so I don’t need it. Seems like a good thing, but I’m wondering if I just have less estrogen. I’m 38 and trying to conceive. We have lost two pregnancies, and I want at least ONE healthy baby with my husband.
I don’t have any other low estrogen symptoms except maybe lower libido. But I’ve been like that for awhile. I’m also always trying to get my thyroid medicine figured out… that could also be a cause of the libido.
Anyway, I’m just wondering about your thoughts on this. Maybe this is not enough info. That’s OK if not.
Thanks for helping all of us!
I’m not an expert on this topic, and I’m not a doctor. You may want to consider consulting with a holistic practitioner who specializes in fertility.
That said, are you taking your temperature every day? If it is not 98.6 or above during the day (or 97.8 or above upon waking), you need to work on raising your metabolism and helping your thyroid function better.
I can tell you what is working for me to raise my body temperature and as a result, balance my hormones and improve my fertility.
I switched from eating low carb to eating 40-50% carbs. I also increased the food I’m eating and started sleeping more (up from 8 hours per night to 9-11).
Since I implemented these changes a few months ago, my temperature has come up from the low 97s (and going up and down all the time) to a steady 98.3-98.6.
I’ve also increased my cervical mucus and normalized my cycle — I have eliminated spotting, swelling, painful cramping and clumping.
You can use Fitday.com to figure out how many carbs you are eating. For me, it looks something like this:
Breakfast: Sprouted or sourdough whole wheat waffles or pancakes with butter and maple syrup OR sprouted cinnamon toast with butter, cinnamon and coconut sugar or sucanat OR sprouted toast with butter and jam OR soaked or sprouted oatmeal with butter, cream and maple syrup OR hash brown potatoes fried in expeller pressed coconut oil. Sometimes I will have an egg or two as well.
Lunch: A sandwich on sprouted bread, sometimes with potato chips fried in olive oil OR whole wheat crackers and grass-fed cheese OR sweetened yogurt with fruit.
Dinner: Meat or fish with potatoes or rice or pasta OR baked potato with cheese and sour cream OR beans and soaked brown rice and sour cream and cheese OR pizza made with sprouted whole wheat OR nachos with tortilla chips fried in expeller pressed coconut oil, refried beans made with coconut oil, cheese, sour cream, and sometimes meat.
I usually have a glass of wine or two with dinner. Sometimes I will have dessert — usually ice cream, sometimes a chocolate chip cookie or two.
Please note: I’m not telling you all of this to say that this is what you should eat. You should eat what you like. Just trying to give you an idea of the amount of carbs I am eating.
This would have seemed like a TON of carbs to me last year. I think many of us are unknowingly restricting carbs in an effort to eat healthier or lose weight. See my post on Why I Ditched Low Carb for more information on why low carb can hurt your fertility.
Also, you may want to read Matt Stone’s e-book, Diet Recovery. I am very grateful for this book. I feel like it turned my life around.
2. Question: Suggestions For Salt Water Systems In Pool?
My husband and I recently purchased a new home and it has a pool. We were planning on putting in a salt water system but have been reading mixed reviews. Apparently, even the salt water system produces some chlorine. Even though it is not as much we would still like to avoid chlorine at all costs. Do you have any suggestions on what the best systems are?
I don’t know enough about this topic yet. I’m planning on reading a few books about it.
See this post on My 2012 Reading List — it has some books you might want to check out on natural pools.
3. Question: Help With Sourdough Recipe?
Just read your sourdough recipe. The instructions for re-activating the sourdough starter were bewildering (to say the least).
I presume one has to stir the settled starter from the fridge. After putting the starter, flour and water into the bowl is the bowl covered?
Following your procedure, it takes 24-32 hours to get the starter ready to use. Adding on the prep time for the dough, resting time, cooking time, etc. I come to 44 1/2 hours. Most bakers suggest the loaf rests for a while before cutting, you don’t.
Doesn’t four days to make one loaf of bread seem excessive?
Are people really going to go through this nonsense with the refrigerated starter for every loaf? When do they sleep?
Yes, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dishcloth.
When you activate sourdough starter, each step only takes a few minutes. So you’re not actually spending 44 1/2 hours making sourdough bread. You’re only spending a few minutes.
Here’s how it works:
1. Take the sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it with water and flour. (1 minute). Let sit on the counter for 8-12 hours.
Say you want to bake bread on a Sunday afternoon. You would do this first step on either Friday morning (for 3 feedings) or Saturday night (for 2 feedings). When to do it depends on how fast your starter activates, which depends on how warm your kitchen is. When I was in Las Vegas, my kitchen was around 75-80 degrees and my starter would activate in 1 to 2 feedings. If you have a cooler kitchen, it may take up to 3 feedings. Even if you do 3 feedings, that’s still only a maximum of 3 minutes of your time.
You may be able to activate your starter in just one feeding, in which case you would feed your starter just once, on Saturday morning.
2. On Saturday evening, you would then start the process of your no-knead bread baking. Transfer your excess sourdough starter at this point and you can use it to make pancakes or waffles for Sunday morning breakfast or brunch. After breakfast, just add flour and water to your activated starter and then cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise on the counter (or in a warm spot) for 12-18 hours (this varies depending on the kitchen, the altitude, etc.) This step of adding flour and water takes 1 minute.
3. Now on Sunday afternoon, you are ready to bake your bread. Take the risen dough out of the bowl, knead it twice and let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes or so. (1 minute)
4. After the dough has risen in the banneton for a half hour, preheat your oven to 500 degrees with the la cloche or Dutch oven inside (1 minute).
5. An hour later, put your dough into the oven in the la cloche or Dutch oven and turn the heat down to 450. (1 minute).
6. After another half hour, turn the oven down to 400 and take the lid off. Bake for 15 more minutes. (1 minute)
7. Fifteen minutes later, your bread is done. Take it out of the oven and set it out to cool. Now you have freshly baked bread for your Sunday dinner, and you can use the leftovers throughout the week for sandwiches. (1 minute)
How much time did it take you to make this loaf (or loaves) of bread? A total of 10 minutes. And you also got pancakes or waffles out of the deal.
Even if you’re REALLY slow and it takes you 2 minutes to do each step (it won’t though — you’re just dumping in flour and water and giving it a quick stir), it would still only take you 20 minutes.
Either way, it takes less time than it takes the average person to take a shower, get dressed and brush your teeth.
If your family eats a lot of bread (more than 1 or 2 loaves a week), it may make sense for you to leave your starter on the counter and feed it once or twice a day. Then you can remove those extra steps of activating the starter and bake bread as often as you like.
In the beginning, it’s a good idea to use sticky notes or alarms on your phone or computer to stay on track of what to do when. However, once you get the hang of it, especially if you do it regularly, the steps to making sourdough bread will become second nature to you — just like showering and brushing your teeth.
4. Question: Suggestions For Treating Melasma?
I came to know of your blog when Googling melasma. I read in your blog that you suffered from melasma and successfully rid of it.
I too, suffer from melasma and it’s really depressing. I have it on my upper lip and it looks like i have a moustache. I was wondering if you can provide me with the details of the diet you went on to get rid of it. I’ve had melasma for a very long time and it was not due to birth control pills as I have never taken them. I would highly appreciate your help!
Yes, my melasma is 100% gone now. It took about 2 or 3 years. I had the same “moustache” you have. It’s totally gone now, as are the dark spots I had on my forehead and on the sides of my face.
I really need to write a whole post about this.
Here’s how I changed my diet which resulted in a total elimination of my melasma:
1. Switched from organic 2% milk to whole, raw (unpasteurized) milk. I also started drinking a lot more milk because I liked the flavor better and I knew it was good for me. (Prior to this, I only drank milk in cereal, in my coffee, and in lattes.)
2. Started eating a lot more butter (grass-fed) and coconut oil.
3. Started taking fermented cod liver oil regularly.
4. Switched from refined grains to whole grains, properly prepared (soaked and/or sprouted). I.e., soaked brown rice instead of white rice, sprouted whole wheat bread instead of white bread, etc.
5. Began eating more nutrient-dense foods, such as liver and other organ meats, seafood (particularly shellfish), dairy, eggs, legumes, properly prepared whole grains instead of refined grains (see above), and unrefined sweeteners such as sucanat and coconut sugar instead of refined, white sugar.
6. Started incorporating bone broth (chicken stock and beef stock) and fermented foods (kefir, yogurt, sour cream, sauerkraut, etc.)
For more information on the traditional foods diet I switched to, see the Weston A. Price Foundation website.
5. Question: When Choosing Meats And Eggs, Soy-Free Or Organic?
Hi Ann Marie,
It’s getting to be that time of the year where my freezer meat is running low and I am looking into ordering from my local farms to stock up for the summer and fall. I look for pasture raised, fed appropriate diet (no soy if possible), and organic.
However, it seems that soy-free AND organic are hard to come by! We have a farm near us that we get food from. They raise all their animals on pasture and supplement with a soy-free mixture of corn and oats (and fish meal for the protein source instead of soy) for their non-ruminants.
I have been struggling with deciding whether it is better to get meats that are soy-free (even though they are not organic), or organic (even though they are fed soy). I notice that the taste and look of the eggs from the soy-free farm are far superior to any other farm fresh eggs we have tried. The meat also seems to be more flavorful.
If you had to choose between soy-free and organic (if you can’t find both), which would you choose as a priority when looking for meats and eggs?
Personally, I would choose the meat and eggs that are more flavorful. I think either one would be fine. Remember, we are trying to do the best we can; this is not about trying to be perfect.
6. Question: Recommendations For Best Brands Of Coconut Milk?
I have a friend who is allergic to all dairy, eggs and nuts. I am wondering what brands of coconut milk are best and why. They are currently using Silk brand. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
It’s best to buy coconut milk that does not have additives, but if you can’t find coconut milk without additives, do the best you can. It’s also a good idea to buy coconut milk that is in cans that do not contain BPA (Bisphenol-A). I believe the Native Forest brand uses BPA-free cans.
You can also order non-BPA coconut milk online from Wilderness Family Naturals — you can find them on my resources page.
Most importantly, always buy full-fat coconut milk.
7. Question: Thoughts On Raw Milk Options?
Our family is ready to make the switch to raw milk… however, I live in the desert and pastures are hard to come by.
I contacted a farm that drops off raw milk in my area. The farm is certified to produce raw milk, however since there is no pasture, their diet is hay, alfalfa and barley (no grain, corn or soy). The cows are not given antibiotics.
My concern is that there are 75 cows on 5 acres. The cost is $10 per gallon, so this would be a big increase to our food budget. I am on the wait list for another farm that is further out of town and the cows would have more access to grass.
So my question is should I buy the raw milk from a farm with crowded cows fed hay/alfalfa/barley or save my money and continue to buy organic pasteurized milk until I can get into the other farm’s milk share?
Ten dollars per gallon is not expensive for raw milk, but I understand your concern as they are not eating fresh grass.
I pay a little more than $10/gallon in California. I used to pay $8 per gallon for organic pasteurized milk, so I don’t mind paying a couple dollars more per gallon, especially when I know how hard it is for organic dairy farmers (particularly raw milk farmers) to stay alive. I always cringe when I hear people bragging that they get raw milk for less than $5 per gallon.
The cows that are producing the organic pasteurized milk — what are they eating? If it’s organic corn and soy, I would rather drink the milk from cows eating hay, regardless of whether or not the milk was pasteurized. If they are eating mostly grass and hay, particularly if they have access to green grass when weather permits, I may go with the pasteurized milk.
That said, Sally Fallon Morell has said that if she did not have access to raw milk, she would not buy pasteurized milk. She said that there was a time when she could not get raw milk for her family, so she bought cream and diluted it with water. She says that when you heat milk at high temperatures, the proteins in the milk are damaged and that this renders them toxic.
I have tried this technique when I ran out of raw milk and it works very well. However, my 5-year-old daughter, who is a raw milk connoisseur, did not like the taste. But I’m sure she would get used to it if she had to.
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Please submit your questions to questions AT cheeseslave DOT com. I’ll answer your questions every Sunday in the order I receive them.