Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chemistry Cards and such

Chemistry Cards:

I'm currently working on next year's science plans. Why? Because it's much easier and funner than working on this week's housework, of course! Actually, this is the time of year that I'm fretting over not having gotten all accomplished that I wanted to and also fretting about the choices to be made for next year's curricula. I'd like to at least decide on the main curr before the bookfairs and before everyone sells their used curr this spring.

One dd wanted to do physics instead of chemistry next year but they need a bit more math before we tackle physics. I realized that after spending quite a bit of time on physics planning, but that work will come in handy for the next year when we *do* do physics.

As I was working on chemistry I got so excited that I thought I would share :). I'll be combining levels I and II for chemistry for the olders using Real Science 4 Kids (RS4K) from Gravitas, and youngest dd will do the labs with us plus her own thing (probably nature studies and Janice Vancleave - but that would be another post so I'll stick to chemistry right now). Along with RS4K I'll incorporate online resources and Montessori-type shelf works. That brings me to a link I wanted to share.

If you click on the quiz games you can do the matching online and uncover a picture. If you click on one of the quiz games there is also an option "for teachers-print paper version." That's the one I used to make cards for shelf work. I printed each level (gr 4-7; 6-8; 9-12) on a different color of card stock. I'll back them with self-adhesive fun foam and cut them. Then I'll label the back for the control. These cards will go in the Chemistry Box already on the shelf. You can actually print the screen with the cards but the teacher version has bigger print.
Underneath the quiz games there are some online interactive games relating to atoms, etc. Next as you scroll down are some instructional videos. The ones I saw were good and offer a variety of concepts and depth and length. We'll use these as part of Ch. 1 in RS4K.


Bohr Model:

I'm making something similar to this for them to create atoms using the Bohr Model. There are more accurate/modern models but I feel that this basic model builds a foundation for understanding those other models (it sure did for me!!). Since RS4K goes straight into the other models I want this on the shelf before we start our studies. Yes, it's been on the backburner for YEARS!! Of course, in the meantime I've lost my notes and measurements so it's like starting over (sigh). When I get mine done I'll upload a picture of mine also.

Elements Scramble Board Game:

I made a one-page board game for the elements today. Obviously it doesn't have all of the elements, but hopefully enough of the most common ones. It can be used in a variety of ways. At first they can just roll the die and name the element for wherever they roll. As they gain more knowledge they can also say the atomic number or whatever else you think they can tackle. Different children can play the same game with different levels. For example, youngest dd can find it and read it on the periodic table while the others can say the name from memory. Anyway, here is the link for the document. Remember, play nice: no selling my free work! :)

The control for the board game is a printed periodic table.

Middle dd pulled out the Periodic Table poster today during shelf work. I thought she would take out the cards that go with it, but instead she pulled out her culture notebook. She began listing the symbols (abbreviations) and the names for the elements. Since she was showing interest in it I went ahead and put the board game described above out on the shelf as well.

What's Cookin'?
Right now there is a roast and stew meat in the oven and some ground beef in a skillet waiting to be browned. Other than that it's just the routine almonds soaking for almond milk and yogurt that I need to make tonight. I also have a double batch of rice cooking on the stove. We need to make some tortillas (it's been a while) so I might get the dough ready tonight to make them tomorrow.

The pancake crackers last week were a big hit. They went especially well with the cream cheese that youngest made as part of our Little House unit. I used the pancake recipe in Nourishing Traditions but you could probably use any pancake recipe. Thin it out with extra water so it will be a fairly thin pancake), make the pancake (I make huge square ones almost covering the griddle), cut it into squares (I like using the pizza cutter), and dehydrate until it reaches desired crispness (or bake in a low-heat oven).

The exciting thing in the kitchen this week is that we went strawberry picking Saturday. I have tons of strawberries already washed and halved in the refrigerator. Some are already frozen as well. Dh wants preserves so I'm looking up recipes. Two problems with the strawberries: 1) they may be gone before I make jam/preserves because we can't leave them alone; and 2) we've been eating more vanilla ice cream than usual for strawberry milkshakes or to pile strawberries on top of a small bowl of ice cream!

The Chicks:
Here is a picture of the incubator and some of the chicks that I posted about in the last post.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chicks ~ Phytic Acid


The chicks are peeping and hatching!! Yeah! We are incubating some eggs for a friend and 4-H project. The little guys are peeping in their shells, wriggling, and starting to hatch. Amazing. We've learned so much. I could formalize it and document it for science but it's not necessary since they have a curr they're doing at enrichment. We'll just enjoy it and call it life learning and biology. I'll log it but not do any bookwork with it - too much else going on. As of this moment there are 12 already hatched and 9 of them are ready to go home.

What's Schoolin'?

We read more from R. Fletcher's Live Writing. The olders generated questions that they would ask someone if they were trying to get to know them. Then I told them that we were going to use that to develop a character. Here is the list of ideas they generated in a google doc. Just ignore the one about a bank account, lol, they were being goofy but I left it in.

The next day they used the brainstorm to come up with a character and answer those questions regarding their character. I worked on one for a while also and it's not as easy as it sounds!

What's Cookin'?

Last Sunday was a cookathon. Not a planned one, but one nevertheless. I pulled a bunch of different beef packets out of the freezer and cooked them up. I ended up pan cooking 2 pounds of stew meat, 2 pounds of ground beef, a roast (in the crockpot), and made both a regular meatloaf and mini meat loaves in muffin tins. I also made Kelly's mini cheeseburgers that uses biscuit dough on the bottom and up the sides of a muffin tin with a chunk of cheese and a meat mixture on top. Bake and then either eat, freeze, or refrigerate. We did all 3 :). I froze the mini meat loaves and left 3 out for lunches. Since I have really gross muffin pans I used paper liners. If you take the paper off while it's still warm most of the paper comes off easily. I ended up with a little extra meat mixture and for lunch one day we tossed it in with some cooked elbow macaroni. The dc loved it. I may have to update with pictures later or I'll never get this posted.

We had several activities this week that bumped right up against dinner or after dinner so it was wonderful to at least have the meat cooked. I had great plans for the stew meat but we actually ended up eating it over the week in sandwiches and it was so delicious. But now I need to cook up some more to do at least one of those recipes.

Here's the recipe for the cheeseburger cups:

Last night I asked dc if they wanted spaghetti or "hamburger helper." They all yelled hamburger helper. So: I cooked up some elbow macaroni, stirred in a can of organic tomato sauce (yes, plastic lined can - but this year I'm buying up all of the homegrown organic tomatoes in the city and either freezing or canning... that's the plan anyway!), added in about a pound of the pre-cooked hamburger meat, mixed it all up and then mixed in some quickly grated *real* cheese that was on sale at Kroger without the "mold inhibitor" that many are now using (Kroger brand does NOT use it in the blocks and uses annato for coloring so that's what I buy). I like the sharp or extra sharp for more flavor with less cheese and because the yellower cheese has more of something that I can't remember right now (!). I forgot to season it so I just plopped some salt and pepper on the table. Ta-Da! Even dh had seconds so I guess it was okay and the dc really liked it. It didn't take any longer than the boxed processed hamburger helper - Give it a try! Use your imagination and go for it! Throw out the box!

Phytates (this is the long part of the post!):

Here is an excellent synopsis of phytates, what they are, what foods have the highest amount, why they're bad for us, and how to get rid of them. I've pasted excerpts to help me remember the most salient points and I hope you find them helpful. Please read the whole article here:

"Phytic acid is present in beans, seeds, nuts, grains—especially in the bran or outer hull; phytates are also found in tubers, and trace amounts occur in certain fruits and vegetables like berries and green beans. Up to 80 percent of the phosphorus—a vital mineral for bones and health—present in grains is locked into an unusable form as phytate.4 When a diet including more than small amounts of phytate is consumed, the body will bind calcium to phytic acid and form insoluble phytate complexes. The net result is you lose calcium, and don’t absorb phosphorus. Further, research suggests that we will absorb approximately 20 percent more zinc and 60 percent magnesium from our food when phytate is absent.5"

There was some unwelcome information that's new to me such as raw cocoa beans and coffee having phytates (but processed chocolate may not). There was some hopeful news such as this since I try to get bone broth in as much as possible already: "Thus, absorbable calcium from bone broths and raw dairy products, and vitamin D from certain animal fats, can reduce the adverse effects of phytic acid."

"Other studies show that adding ascorbic acid can significantly counteract inhibition of iron assimilation by phytic acid.22 Adding ascorbic acid significantly counteracted phytate inhibition from phytic acid in wheat.23 One study showed that anti-iron phytate levels in rice were disabled by vitamin C in collard greens.24"

"The use of sprouted grains will reduce the quantity of phytic acids in animal feed, with no significant reduction of nutritional value.29 Soaking grains and flour in an acid medium at very warm temperatures, as in the sourdough process, also activates phytase and reduces or even eliminates phytic acid."

"Not all grains contain enough phytase to eliminate the phytate, even when properly prepared. For example, corn, millet, oats and brown rice do not contain sufficient phytase to eliminate all the phytic acid they contain. On the other hand, wheat and rye contain high levels of phytase—wheat contains fourteen times more phytase than rice and rye contains over twice as much phytase as wheat.30 "
Whah! We eat lots of oats (soaked, usually) and brown rice. The family eats corn products, I only eat nixtamalize corn products. On the other hand, the soaked bread is probably okay the way I *usually* do it anyway (sometimes I cheat when I'm stuck). Going back to sourdough would be better though.
"In general, a combination of acidic soaking for considerable time and then cooking will reduce a significant portion of phytate in grains and legumes."
Interesting: "It appears that once the phytate level has been reduced, such that there is more available phosphorus than phytate in the grain, we have passed a critical point and the food becomes more beneficial than harmful...White rice and white bread are low-phytate foods because their bran and germ have been removed; of course, they are also devitalized and empty of vitamins and minerals. But the low phytate content of refined carbohydrate foods may explain why someone whose family eats white flour or white rice food products may seem to be relatively healthy and immune to tooth cavities while those eating whole wheat bread and brown rice could suffer from cavities, bone loss and other health problems."
Not good (I thought our peanuts were phytate free because of our soaking/dehydrating them): "In legumes, sprouting is the most effective way to reduce phytic acid, but this process does not get rid of all of it. Germinating peanuts led to a 25 percent reduction in phytates."
Good news: "Sourdough fermentation of grains containing high levels of phytase—such as wheat and rye—is the process that works best for phytate reduction. Sourdough fermentation of whole wheat flour for just four hours at 92 degrees F led to a 60 percent reduction in phytic acid... Another study showed almost complete elimination of phytic acid in whole wheat bread after eight hours of sourdough fermentation (See Figure 6).47"

"The purpose of this article is not to make you afraid of foods containing phytic acid, only to urge caution in including grains, nuts and legumes into your diet. It is not necessary to completely eliminate phytic acid from the diet, only to keep it to acceptable levels."
"In the context of a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, good fats and lacto-fermented foods, most people will do fine on an estimated 400-800 mg per day. For those suffering from tooth decay, bone loss or mineral deficiencies, total estimated phytate content of 150-400 mg would be advised. For children under age six, pregnant women or those with serious illnesses, it is best to consume a diet as low in phytic acid as possible."

Just as I was ready to throw up my hands and go back to white flour I read this:
"For those who need to reduce phytic acid to minimum levels—those suffering from tooth decay, bone loss and nutrient deficiencies—the magic ingredient is rye. To bring the phytate content of your diet to the absolute minimum, add freshly ground rye flour or a sourdough rye culture to rolled or cut oats, cornmeal, rice and other low-phytase grains, then soak in an acidic medium—preferably water with whey, yogurt or sour milk added—on a hot plate to bring the temperature up to about 100 degrees F. This is a better solution than consuming white rice and white flour, which are relative low in phytate but have a greatly reduced mineral content (see Figure 7)" Cool. I'll pick up some rye flour today if possible!

"In practical terms, this means properly preparing phytate-rich foods to reduce at least a portion of the phytate content, and restricting their consumption to two or three servings per day. Daily consumption of one or two slices of genuine sourdough bread, a handful of nuts, and one serving of properly prepared oatmeal, pancakes, brown rice or beans should not pose any problems in the context of a nutrient-dense diet. Problems arise when whole grains and beans become the major dietary sources of calories— when every meal contains more than one whole grain product or when over-reliance is placed on nuts or legumes. Unfermented soy products, extruded whole grain cereals, rice cakes, baked granola, raw muesli and other high-phytate foods should be strictly avoided."
Rice: "Brown rice is high in phytates...Soaking brown rice will not effectively eliminate phytates because brown rice lacks the enzyme phytase; it thus requires a starter. Nevertheless, even an eight-hour soak will eliminate some of the phytic acid, reducing the amount in a serving to something like 300 mg or less...For those with less time, purchase brown rice in air-tight packages. Soak rice for at least eight hours in hot water plus a little fresh whey, lemon juice or vinegar. If you soak in a tightly closed mason jar, the rice will stay warm as it generates heat. Drain, rinse and cook in broth and butter." [Has anyone soaked, drained, dehydrated, and used the rice later for cooking? I didn't know we were having rice last night until I was cooking it so I didn't soak it. We tried the NT soaking once for rice and blah!]

Nuts: I soak overnight with salt and then dehydrate. Not optimal but I get raw virginia peanuts that are not organic; choosing raw over organic (too expensive to get raw organic for us). On the other hand, we have organic (unsoaked) peanut butter from the store. (sigh) It's a compromise either way on this one and the dc do eat a lot of peanut butter. Sometimes we make our own from the prepared nuts but usually only when we're out of the other. The article says this, "In general, nuts contain levels of phytic acid equal to or higher than those of grains...Based on the accumulation of evidence, soaking nuts for eighteen hours, dehydrating at very low temperatures—a warm oven—and then roasting or cooking the nuts would likely eliminate a large portion of phytates."

Beans: I've been thrilled to be able to eat beans again after reading in NT that soaking overnight (the traditional way) neutralizes the aflatoxin. I get no reactions when I eat beans prepared at home; yet I react within 20 minutes if I eat commercially prepared beans. Apparently, that's fine for the molds/toxins but only gets rid of 8-20% of phytates. "Soaking beans at moderate temperatures, such as for 12 hours at 78 degrees F results in an 8-20 percent reduction in phytates.54" Here's hope: "An eighteen-hour fermentation of beans without a starter at 95 degrees F resulted in 50 percent phytate reduction.52""At a minimum, beans should be soaked for twelve hours, drained and rinsed several times before cooking, for a total of thirty-six hours."

Oats: I've been soaking overnight before cooking. The article has this to say about oats: "Oats contain very little phytase, especially after commercial heat treatment, and require a very long preparation period to completely reduce phytic acid levels... On the plus side, the process of rolling oats removes a at least part of the bran, where a large portion of the phytic acid resides."

"Unprocessed Irish or Scottish oats, which have not been heated to high temperatures, are availabile in some health food stores and on the internet. One study found that unheated oats had the same phytase activity as wheat.65 ...Overnight fermenting of rolled oats using a rye starter—or even with the addition of a small amount of fresh rye flour—may result in a fairly decent reduction of phytate levels. It is unclear whether heat-treated oats are healthy to eat regularly."

Corn: I can eat nixtamalized corn with no reactions. Again, like the beans, I am getting rid of toxins/molds/biotoxins, but not phytates/phytic acid. One of my fond childhood memories is tagging along to the corn mill to get the freshly hulled corn milled into a wet corn meal (masa). Mainly I remember that it was wet and very loud. The article says, "you can prepare healthy corn products at home. As with oatmeal, the addition of a rye starter or rye flour to the soaking water may be particularly helpful in reducing phytate content... In one research project, soaking ground corn with 10 percent whole rye flour resulted in a complete reduction of phytate in six hours.66" [Okay, so would it be treated with lime before, during, or after soaking with rye?]

What does this mean for me???
-I got some rye flour and will add to our oats when I soak. I tried it for the breakfast cereal/granola bars yesterday and the texture is fine. FYI, I added about 1/2 Cup to the recipe of rye flour (the recipe calls for 6 C of oats and makes 2 batches - I use one for cereal and one for bars).

-I'll try soaking rice again and will add some rye in while soaking. I think I'll use whey because the lemon or vinegar may taste too sour later.
-Soon I'll get another sourdough starter going.
-Beans are fine the way I'm doing it but I'll add 12 more hours soak time. Right now I soak overnight and then cook all day in the crockpot. I need to start the soak the morning before instead of the night before.
-Do I want to roast the almonds after soaking/dehydrating??? I'm wondering how almond milk will turn out if they are roasted. Right now I use the almonds right after soaking for the milk. Maybe add a much longer soak and rinsing a few times during the soak??
-I'm unsure how to coordinate phytate reduction and molds/toxin neutralization in the cornmeal. Until I learn more about it I'll just do the lime water soak (Mrs. Wages) to nixtamalize.
-I'll just keep doing my best, loving my family, getting real food from real farmers or local people/friends whenever possible, and enjoying what we eat. Now, where was that recipe for vanilla wafers?? I think Heavenly Homemaker...