To follow up the post on the ever popular fry bread, it is important to know there are other breads that are seen as traditional for American Indian Tribes. I thought about doing this follow up piece to the fry bread post after hearing a nutrition educator from the Minnesota Chippewa tribe talk about their efforts to offer bannock in place of fry bread at community gatherings . Bannock is a traditional Ojibwe bread that is often baked. The bannock, of course, having less calories and fat than fry bread will take less time in the gym to work off after eating the several pieces we are likely to consume!
Other traditional breads of American Indian Tribes include cornbread, tortillas, and Lugaled to name a few. I’m sure you’ve heard of the first two but Lugaled is a traditional bread for which my grandma had recipes in her recipe files. Lugaled, also spelled Lagilette, means fire bread. It was traditionally made in a skillet over the open fire, or if there wasn’t a skillet available, the dough could be wrapped around a branch and baked over the flames.
The recipe for Lugaled in my grandma’s collection includes flour, baking powder, salt, lard, and water. These were likely ingredients that were available either on the reservation or by trading. By hearing the ingredients you can imagine it would be more like a biscuit than the fluffy fry bread. I’m told by one of the nutrition program staff in Red Cliff that it is best with bacon on it! Obviously, our more healthy option is compromised with bacon!
A friend and student of my grandma’s, James “Jimmy” Pete, wrote a cultural preservation article for the Red Cliff Tribal Community in which he addressed the importance of remembering Lugaled. It was clear from his article that Lugaled had a connection to the past and is a small way of keeping traditions in the forefront of our lives. Like many traditional foods, it is a way to bridge generations by sharing stories and sometimes tall tales of what it has meant in our lives.
5 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp. lard or drippings
2 ½ cups water
Mix dry ingredients. Add fat and work until crumbly. Add water. The dough will be stiff. Knead in a bowl for 10 rounds. Add a bit of flour if mixture is sticky. Place in a greased flat cake pan and bake at 400° for 40 minutes. Lug can be cooked outside by an open fire by placing in a greased skilled and facing the fire. When one side is brown, turn over in pan and cook the other side the same way.
Fry bread is likely one of the most recognizable foods associated with the American Indians. Though not a “traditional food” by definition, it is definitely a cultural favorite.
Traditional foods are defined by being whole, nutrient dense foods, coming directly from nature. They are foods that have a long history of supporting good health.
Fry bread is a food that was created for the American Indians because of the loss of many of those “traditional foods” and so it holds a very special place in the food history of most American Indian tribes.
Fry bread came to be a staple of the diet out of necessity. In the mid-19th century, as American Indians were driven from their native lands, they were housed on reservations created by the Federal Government. They were unable to hunt, fish, or gather foods as they were accustomed. Sheep and goats were killed, orchards and crops were burned. Instead, they were given government commodities that were filled with processed foods such as flour and shortening. Making do with what they were provided, American Indians created fry bread. Thus, fry bread became a “traditional food” as they were using the only foods provided to them.
The government policy that led to tribes being forced on to reservations started a dark period in the history of the American Indians. As a result, fry bread has become a symbol of inter-tribal unity and is an important part of tribal ceremonies and feasts.
Fry bread is amazingly versatile! My favorite is to add cinnamon sugar to the freshly fried bread. Then there is the Indian taco—what could be better?
We often talk about the health aspects of the foods we eat. Since eating fried dough is not one of the healthiest choices, what can be done to still enjoy fry bread which is so rich in history without going overboard?
First, choose a training wheel sized piece over a hub cap sized piece. Yes, I have seen pieces that big! Portion size is a great way of enjoying your food but just choosing to eat less of it. I found the diagram below which gives calorie estimates of fry bread based on the size. The hub cap sized piece has a little less than half of the calories that most of us need for the day.
Another idea is to try using some whole wheat flour. This doesn’t change the fat or calorie content very much but it will add some extra nutrients which aren’t in regular flour.
And finally, try a no-fry fry bread recipe if you eat fry bread often. I know, it isn’t anywhere near as delicious as that fluffy fried dough, but it can be used in much the same way. And it is a lot easier to cook and clean up after!
From Honor the Gift of Food Curriculum-Indian Health Service Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention
Another fry bread recipe to try is Pumpkin Fry Bread.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup honey, maple syrup or granulated sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup warm water or milk (may use more if needed)
1 tbsp. sunflower oil
Combine first seven ingredients plus ½ tbsp. oil in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly and knead until smooth. Use additional liquid as needed. Lightly rub the smooth surface of the finished raw dough with remaining oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes to an hour. Heat sufficient oil or shortening in a heavy pot or skillet so that oil is about 3 inches deep and the pot is no more than half full. Heat on stove to medium-high heat (375°).
With lightly floured hands, pinch off small golf ball size pieces of dough and gently flatten each piece in the palm of your hand until it forms a circle of ½ inch thickness. Should be thinner in the middle or make a hole in the center. Rest these pieces on lightly floured surface until ready to fry. The less you handle the dough, the lighter and tenderer the finished breads will be.
Carefully slide each piece of dough into hot oil. Be careful not to splatter! Fry quickly, turning with tongs or slotted spoon. Do not add too many pieces to the oil at once. Remove in 2-4 minutes and allow to drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar while warm.
Makes 20 to 24 small fry bread pieces.
From Enduring Harvest, Native American Foods and Festivals for Every Season, Kavasch
Unlike most commercial farming today where animals are raised under intense pressure to pack on the pounds as quickly as possible (often times with the help of steroids and growth hormones), whitetail deer live a more free and natural life without any hormones, additives or antibiotics added. They live and grow in a wild environment munching on leaves berries, new shoot twigs, nuts, grass & other natural food.
Many different types of meat were eaten by the Ojibwe, such as omashkooz (elk),mooz (moose) and makwa (bear). But deer, or venison, is one of the most commonly consumed today.
The diets of Native Americans varied with the location of each tribe. But all were based on animal foods of every kind. Native peoples diets included not only large game like deer, buffalo, wild sheep, antelope, moose, elk, caribou, and bear but also small animals such as beaver, rabbit, squirrel, muskrat, turtle and raccoon as well as many different types of fish, shellfish and wild birds including ducks and geese.
The Ojibwe traditionally hunted many of these animals. However, several of these animals have decreased in number in many areas, preferring northern lands that are less populated. Elk and moose, for example, are much less part of the diet as they once were. Today, the most commonly consumed wild game is deer, or venison, along with fish and other small game.
By Ojibwe tradition, waawaashkeshi are ready for harvest when fireflies begin making small sparks in the night air. The Ojibwe were extremely skilled hunters. They hunted all animals in a very careful way. Prayers of thanks and gratitude to the animal were extended before, during and after the hunt.
Food was hunted for the entire community. The entire animal was used, not just the muscle (meat) for food. The skin, or hide, of the deer was used to make clothes, shoes and bedding. The meat was eaten fresh and dried in long strips to eat during the long winter.
The fat of the animal was one of the most important sources of calories for the Ojibwe. Organs, tendons and bone were all utilized as well. Nothing was wasted, as that would be an insult to the animal who had given his life.
Venison was also an important part of feasts and gatherings. Today, hunting is still a widespread practice among the Ojibwe. Many people still honor the animal in the old way and venison is a tasty part of the diet!
Venison is perhaps one of the healthiest meats in the world!
It is a very good source of protein. Venison is higher in protein than beef & chicken! And, at the same time, it is lower in fat than most commercially available beef.
One 3 oz portion of venison—about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand—contains about 134 calories & 3 grams of fat versus 247 calories & 15 grams of fat in the same sized portion of beef.
Venison is also a good source of iron. Again, venison beats out beef as an iron source! Iron is essential to women who are more at risk for iron deficiency. Growing children and adolescents also have an increased need for iron.
Iron is a key part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is also essential for energy & metabolism.
Biboon is the Ojibwe word for winter. For many Native peoples, colder winter weather meant an increased need for heavier foods such as meat like venison & buffalo (and meat’s naturally occurring fat like lard) and complex starches and fiber found in sweet potatoes, winter squash and wild rice (and other foods which can be stored over the winter months). This might also include dried jerky (pemmican), dried berries, corn (hominy), and canned goods.
Make 2015 a “Healthy YOU Year”. Find ways to boost your health, fitness, and well-being and be an inspiration to others!
Need inspiration to get started? Meet three people who changed their health habits – and their lives. They lost weight, became active, gained energy, and became role models so their children could live healthier lives too. Here are their stories and tips for making healthy living easier. They say if they can do it, you can too!
Grace Goad changed her fast food eating habits to reach two goals: She wants to live as long as her mother – 105 years. And, she wants to be able to easily bend down to put on her socks.
Grace is 78 years old, and on the right track to achieve her goals. She lives in the tiny village of Timbisha, in the middle of Death Valley, California. She is able to change her eating habits and get some fresh fruits and vegetables. Some food is brought to the village by staff from Toiyabe Indian Health Project, located 120 miles away. Grace also goes to the town of Pahrump, 50 miles away, to shop.
Her trips to town used to include stops at fast-food restaurants. She used to not be picky about what she bought at the grocery store. But Grace wanted to lose some weight to be healthy and move more easily.
Grace also changed her physical activity. She walks every evening, after the heat of the day. She has arthritis in her knees and uses a walker. But that doesn’t stop her. “I walk from my home to that trailer over there.” Grace points to a trailer near her house. With a walker and arthritis, that is far away! But that doesn’t stop Grace. She has goals to walk to the tribal center, and then walk to her sister’s house which is on the far side of the village.
In two week, Grace has lost two pounds! But better than that, she feels good knowing she is on her way to achieving her goals.
Grace has already achieved her other goal. “I can bend over and put on my socks! Ha!” At that moment, Grace bends over, touches her toes, then stands straight up, smiling big.
Here is what Grace did to change her eating habits:
Eats oatmeal for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs. She knows oatmeal is good for her heart.
Changed the name of “convenience” stores. She calls them all “junk food stores.”
Buys fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and rice at the grocery store. She always has these items in her house so she can include them in almost every meal.
Changed the way she orders “fast food.” She gets picky about breakfast sandwiches. She orders them on English muffins and not croissants. She orders them with only one egg, without sausage or cheese. “I am satisfied,” she says.
“I was young and in love. My boyfriend and I enjoyed doing lots of things together – especially eating. We at three big meals a day, usually washing them down with a couple beers. We ate until we were stuffed and it wasn’t long before I needed medication for acid reflux. But it seemed nothing could slow me down and while my weight soared to 250 pounds, I just kept eating.
I started by eating less than half of what I ate with my boyfriend. I also started walking to clear my head. Pretty soon I didn’t need the acid reflux pills anymore. My red, puffy face was transformed to smooth and youthful looking skin. And just by eating less and walking I dropped 40 pounds. I was amazed at how much better I felt.
Looking back I felt like I couldn’t get enough food – always living to eat. Now I enjoy what I eat but I eat only until I’m not hungry anymore. I still eat the same foods as before, just not as much of them. And I enjoy them more. I not only survived the breakup, I actually thrived by changing my life.
Sometimes I slip into old habits and eat like the old days. Too much meat, too much everything. It takes my body about two days to recover and I’m happy to return to eating just what I need.
I’m proud of myself. I don’t see my old boyfriend anymore, but I can see my toes.”
Desba’s tips for improving your health by eating less:
Listen to your body and eat only until full.
Savor every bite.
Go for a walk. Get up and move.
Expect some setbacks, but don’t let them push you back into your old habits.
Anna and Pat
“My husband dreamed of our daughter before she was born. In his dream she was strong and independent – her name was Eagle Woman. This is the name we gave her when she was born. Our little girl is now 3 years old. She is beautiful and smart and powerful, and, yes, strong and independent, like an Eagle.
My husband and I made several important decisions when we decided to have a baby. For one thing, I made a point of eating lots of fruits and vegetables while pregnant with Eagle Woman. It helped me stay healthy during my pregnancy and I believe it made it easier for our baby to like them later on. How many three year olds do you know love broccoli and carrots? She likes to dip them in ranch dressing. And she likes all kinds of fruits.
She likes fruit juice too. In fact, she likes it so much she’d probably drink it all day if we let her. But it’s not good for a child to have so much juice. She drinks milk with her meals – always low-fat – and usually just water in between.
When diabetes runs in your family, like it does mine, you just have to take extra precautions. We all know that fruits and vegetables are best for children. But sometimes well-meaning relatives want to spoil Eagle Woman with candy. My husband and I explain that eagles are sharp and worthy of pride; we want only the best for her and that does not include candy and other ‘junk food.’
It takes time and effort to offer fruits and vegetables with meals. But Eagle Woman is worth it to us. It’s just something we have to do as parents. She’s everything to us. Someday she will soar just like the Eagle.”
Anna and Pat’s healthy eating tips for the whole family:
Make a commitment to yourself and your family to be healthy and strong for yourself and each other.
Choose fruits and vegetables over candy and other ‘junk food.’
Offer fruits and vegetables during meals.
Limit the amount of sugar foods.
The one thing all of these stories have in common is that everyone started slow, making small changes that they could easily stick to. As you start your journey towards a Healthy YOU Year, look for small healthy changes you can make in your life and make a list. Can you walk for 10 minutes a day? Get rid of one soda a day and have water instead? Make it a priority to eat breakfast every morning? How about choosing a fruit or vegetable to snack on once a day? Now pick one of the things from your list and do it. When that starts to feel easy, pick another thing from your list and keep going! Before long you will amaze yourself and become an inspiration to others.
Nanabozho is the benevolent culture hero of Anishinaabe tribes. He is known by over 36 different names! Some of the other names he may be called include: Wenabozho, Nanaboozhoo, Nanabush and Manabozho to name a few.
His name is spelled so many different ways partially because the Anishinaabe languages were originally unwritten (so English speakers just spelled the name however it sounded to them at the time), and partially because the Ojibway, Algonquin, Potawatomi, and Menominee languages are spoken across a huge geographical range in both Canada and the US, and the name sounds different in the different languages and dialects they speak.
The differing first letters of his name, however, have a more interesting story. Nanabozho’s grandmother, who named him, used the particle “N-” to begin his name, which means “my”. Other speakers – who are not Nanabozho’s grandmother – would normally drop this endearment and use the more general prefixes W- or M-. So if you listen to a fluent Ojibwe speaker telling a Nanabozho story, he may refer to the culture hero as Wenabozho most of the time but switch to Nanabozho when narrating for his grandmother!
Stories about Nanabozho vary considerably from community to community. Nanabozho is usually said to be the son of either the West Wind or the Sun, and since his mother died when he was a baby, Nanabozho was raised by his grandmother, Nokomis. In some tribal traditions, Nanabozho is an only child, but in others he has a twin brother or is the eldest of four brothers. The most important of Nanabozho’s brother figures is Chibiabos or Moqwaio, Nanabozho’s inseparable companion (often portrayed as a wolf) variously said to be his twin brother, younger brother or adopted brother.
Nanabozho is associated with rabbits and is sometimes referred to as the Great Hare (Misabooz), although he is rarely depicted as taking the physical form of a rabbit. Nanabozho is a trickster figure and can be a bit of a rascal, but unlike trickster figures in some tribes, he does not model immoral or seriously inappropriate behavior – Nanabozho is a virtuous hero and a dedicated friend and teacher of humanity. Though he may behave in mischievous, foolish and humorous ways in the course of his teachings, Nanabozho never commits crimes or disrespects Native culture and is viewed with great respect and affection by Anishinaabe people.
One day, the great trickster, Nanabozho was wandering through the woods looking for mischief when he came to the shore of a small lake. Suddenly, he heard a great commotion overhead. He looked up and saw a flock of geese. The geese were weary from their journey from the North where they had spent the summer and were wheeling overhead preparing to land on the lake. Nanabozho hurried in the direction of their flight and saw the birds come to rest on the water with a great flurry and folding of wings. He thought of what a delicious feast the birds would make.
But first he had to come up with a scheme to capture as many geese as possible, for if he dashed among them, he would catch only one or two. Going quickly but quietly back into the woods, he peeled off strips of cedar bark and made a long rope. Then he slipped quietly back into the water, being careful not to disturb the weary birds. He swam under them and tied their legs together with his cedar rope. At the same time, he tied each goose to the next one so that he could pull them all up on shore together.
At first all went well, for Nanabozho was so cunning and swift that the geese did not notice him or know what was happening. But his greed finally got him into trouble. Instead of being happy with a few geese, he went on to tie up the whole flock. Just as he was finishing, he had to come up for air. He made such a loud whoosh that he frightened the geese. The first goose to fly up was in the middle of the rope and all the others followed. As they rose from the lake, they formed a V because they were tied together, and Nanabozho dangled at one end. He shouted to the birds to stop, but the geese only beat the air more desperately with their strong gray wings. Just then the birds flew over a stretch of soft, swampy ground. Nanabozho let go of the rope with a shout and landed in a bed of oozing mud.
As for the geese, they continued on their way, still flying in a V because of the rope that joined them together. Wild geese have been flying that way ever since, as you can see if you look up into the autumn sky when they go calling past. Some think they can hear a note of laughter in their cries as they mock Nanabozho for failing in his trick.
It was not long before Nanabozho forgot the foolish side of his adventure. All he remembered was that he flown through the air. He made up a song celebrating his feat, a song he never tired of singing:
Flocks of wild geese up in the sky,
Nanabozho flew as far and as high.
The people listened respectfully to Nanabozho’s song, but whenever he was out of hearing they sang a different one.
The use of native plants as food and medicine is an important part of American Indian culture and lore. My grandma often gave talks about the traditional plants and their medicinal uses and shared stories that she learned about them. We would go for walks with her while she looked for various plants. Often she could find some of them by just taking one step out of the door.
So we are sending you on Indian Pipe scavenger hunt of plants commonly used by the Ojibwe. Take the time to get out and enjoy nature for soon the seasons will change again. Get your family and friends together for a hike and see how many you can find. Be active and learn a little something along the way! Please note: We are not offering medical advice simply sharing the old remedies. See your own health care provider for any symptoms you may have.
While growing up, when my grandma would come and journey outside with us, the plant I always wanted to find was the Indian Pipe.
The Indian Pipe had many uses including:
Using juice of plant mixed with water for eye drops
Using dried plant for pain relief and to induce sleep
My grandma would always say that wherever you found an Indian Pipe, it meant that Wenabojoo had been traveling there too and dropped some tobacco.
It is easy to find wintergreen. It grows close to the ground and rarely grows much higher than 6 inches. Wintergreen is used as a pain reliever and to soothe upset stomachs. Typically leaves are harvested in the fall and dried to make teas but wintergreen oil can also be used.
Collect green wintergreen leaves and boiled in a kettle for 10 minutes. Strain liquid. Add maple syrup or sugar to sweeten to taste. Serve!
The wild chamomile is a bit different than what is commonly classified as chamomile. The common uses for the Ojibwe tribes were as a sleep aid and to reduce inflammation. For those in need, it was also thought to reduce flatulence…nature’s own Bean-O!
Plantain is everywhere. You might not even notice it. I’m sure most lawns or roadsides have patches of this plant. The leaves are described as leathery and have thicker stalks. It was used as a poultice and applied to open wounds to prevent infection.
Yarrow has clusters of white flowers and bright green leaves. It typically blooms June through October and is found in many different places. The leaves were often used for headache remedies and to reduce bleeding. The flower is said to have been smoke for ceremonial purposes.
You should have no trouble finding some pine trees in Northern Wisconsin! The Ojibwe boiled the needles in water to create a tea or syrup. It was used for coughs and colds as it was high in Vitamin C. Some tribes also used the sweet inner bark of the tree for similar reasons. White pine was used as a seasoning for meats such as venison.
I love searching for cattails but tread carefully. They tend to be located in boggy, swampy areas and you might get a bit more contact with nature than you bargain for!
The chopped root has been mashed and used as an ointment for cuts and burns.
Several parts of this plant can be prepared and eaten in a variety of ways from cooking the shoots (early) like asparagus to cooking the starchy core of each sprout like a potato.
One more post this month about strawberries! For those that are working in the field of nutrition education in American Indian communities, we recommend the book The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac. The story is not only about how strawberries came to be but also a message of family, love, and forgiveness.
We have used this story often with pre-school aged kids. It is easy to come up with a kid friendly snack using berries. One snack that received rave reviews was strawberry s’mores. Each child gets 2 graham cracker halves. Put a dollop of cool whip on one half and then let the children layer on some berries. Use whatever berries are in season or on sale! Then put the second graham cracker half on top. Finally, enjoy!
With older youth (grades 3 and up), it is easy to take the storytelling piece a bit further. One great activity is to read the story and then have the youth pick their favorite food and write a legend about it. They love to illustrate the story too. Sometimes it is more illustration than words but it is amazing to see where their creativity can take them.
If you have any other fun strawberry related nutrition education ideas, we’d love to hear them in the comments!
Wild rice for breakfast? Yes!! This hearty breakfast uses two Ojibwe staple foods – berries and wild rice. You will get all the benefits of the vitamin C in the berries plus the fiber from the wild rice. Fiber helps you feel full for a longer time so this breakfast dish will fill you up for a long day of summer time fun! As a bonus, wild rice is also an excellent source of niacin which helps your body release the energy in the foods you eat to help fuel you up for those long summertime days!
1/2—3/4 cup blueberries, strawberries or raspberries
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup cooked wild rice
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Melt butter in sauté pan over low heat. Add berries and warm gently for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and heat through.
Serve in a bowl with milk.
Per serving : 211 calories; 6 g fat; 37 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 4 g protein.
Note: Nutrition information does not include milk.