The Other Bread

bannockTo 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…..traditional food?

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?

fry breadWe 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!

no fry fry bread

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

Venison Wild Rice Meatloaf

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.


  • 2 pounds ground venisonPicture2
  • 1 cup carrot (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups wild rice (cooked)

Tomato Jam Sauce

  • 1 jar (18 oz) orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.   Spray a 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine venison, carrot, onion, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt. Whisk eggs together and add to meat mixture. Mix well. Once combined, add cooked wild rice to mixture and mix well.
  3. Press mixture into the greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.   Remove from oven and drain liquid and skim away any fat. Before serving, top with tomato jam sauce (see next step for recipe).
  4. For tomato jam sauce: in a small sauce pan, combine 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 18 oz jar of orange marmalade. Bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

Per serving (1 slice meatloaf with 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato jam – makes 10 servings):   292 calories, 8 grams total fat (4 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat), 33 grams carbohydrate, 23 grams protein, 365 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.










Traditional Plant Scavenger Hunt

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.

Indian Pipe

indian pipe

Indian Pipe

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.

Wintergreen Tea

Collect green wintergreen leaves and boiled in a kettle for 10 minutes. Strain liquid. Add maple syrup or sugar to sweeten to taste. Serve!

Wild Chamomile

wild chamomille

Wild Chamomile

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!



Common Plantain

common plantain

Common Plantain

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.


White Pine

white pine

White Pine

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.


Berry Wild Rice Breakfast

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 raspberriesPicture1

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup cooked wild rice

2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon



  1.  Melt butter in sauté pan over low heat. Add berries and warm gently for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and heat through.
  3. Serve in a bowl with milk.


Serves 2

Per serving : 211 calories; 6 g fat; 37 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 4 g protein.

Note: Nutrition information does not include milk.








dandelionHere in Northern Wisconsin, we are still seeing piles of snow remaining on what we hope will soon be green lawns.  Before we know it, we will be visited by the pops of yellow that are loved by children and despised by allergy sufferers.  The dandelion, which is mostly a weed, is a very nutritional plant.  It was used by American Indians for both food and medicine.  The dandelion is rich in vitamins and minerals, specifically Vitamin A (Source: From Blueberries to Wild Roses: A Northwoods Wild Foods Cookbook, Dottie Reeder)

The dandelion is a great example of how the American Indians believe in using everything that The Creator has provided in nature.  The leaves, roots, and even the flower can be put to use.

Leaves:  It is best to harvest when they are young and tender.  As the plant gets older, the leaves tend to have a bitter taste.  Use the leaves as you would fresh greens or steam like spinach.

Flowers: The flowers are edible and have been used in many ways including: in salads, in  beverages, or as a dye.

Roots:  The roots can be collected, cleaned and boiled as a typical root vegetable.

The following recipe from University of Wisconsin Extension Program uses the green leaves in a stir fry.

Dandelion Stir Fry

6 handfuls of dandelion greens

2 fish of choice (any small pan fish) or 1 medium fish (sucker, redhorse or salmon)

Fat to grease pan

2 onions

Salt and pepper

White sage

Cut, clean, and fillet fish.  Cut into long strips.  Chop onions.  Wash and chop dandelion leaves.  Grease metal fry pan slightly.  Place on medium heat.  Place strips of fish in pan.  Add onion, salt and pepper and a few pinches of white sage.  Let cook til nearly done, (fish is flaking and onions are transparent).  Then add dandelion leaves.  Cook until leaves are tender.  Add salt, pepper, and sage again, to taste.

dandelion2My main reason for writing about the dandelion is because of a legend my grandma told me.  It is one of my favorites from the many she shared over the years.  So, I am sharing the story of Shawondasee and the Golden Girl, as roughly told by my Grandma Dee (Delores Bainbridge, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa).

Shawondasee is the south wind.  In the summer, Shawondasee was very lazy and liked to lie in the shade of great oak trees.  He would inhale the wonderful scents of the summer and when he exhaled, he would spread the beautiful odor.

One day, Shawondasee, from his spot under the trees, sleepily glanced around at the fields and saw a beautiful slender girl with yellow hair in the distance.  He thought she was so beautiful and wanted to call her to him.  But, he was too lazy.

The next day, he looked again and spotted the slender girl with the yellow hair, still out there in the field.  He thought her more beautiful than before.  Every day he would wake and hold his breath until he saw her there in the field.

But one day, he awoke and glanced over the field.  He looked again and rubbed his eyes to clear his vision.  His golden girl was gone!  In her place stood an old woman with a head of gray.

Shawondasee was so upset that he cried out “My brother, the north wind, has played a cruel trick on me.  He has put his hand on her head and look what he has done!” Shawondasee was so upset that he gave such a mighty cry that the old woman’s hair fell from her head and she was gone.

And as we know, this is the way of the dandelion, so beautiful and yellow to start and then moving to the gray haired lady before blowing away!

Waagaagin Naboob (Fiddlehead Soup)

fiddlehead-food-fern-springApril 16, 2014

Even though 6-12 inches of snow is predicted for today in Northern Wisconsin, spring is officially here!

Early spring just after the snow has melted is the time to start looking for and harvesting waagaagin – the tightly curled shoots – or fiddleheads – of fern fronds.  Ojibwe people traditionally made use of many of the early spring greens including waagaagin.  Springtime greens were a reminder of new life after the long northern winters.

If you like the taste of asparagus and broccoli, you will probably like the taste of waagaagin.  Waagaagin are most delicious when eaten fresh though they can be canned or frozen for later use.  They taste great steamed or sautéed and work wonderfully in soup.

Some tips for harvesting waagaagin:

  • Do not take more than 1/3 to 1/2 of the young waagaagin from each plant in order to not deplete the plant.  Leave some so the plant can grow and replenish for next spring.
  • Choose small, firm, brightly colored waagaagin with no signs of softening or yellowing.
  • Harvest the waagaagin when they are 2″ – 6″ tall so you can get some of the tasty stem but while the fiddlehead is still tightly curled.  Once the head starts to unfurl the taste can be bitter.
  • Fresh waagaagin do not last long once harvested so they should be eaten or preserved within one to three days of harvesting.  They can be kept in cold water for up to 3 weeks but the taste may be compromised.

Eating traditional foods is a healthy way of eating!  Waagaagin are fat free, cholesterol free and have no sodium.  In addition, they are an excellent source of vitamin A.  Vitamin A does many important things for you:

  • —Protects lungs against the development of lung cancer and emphysema.
  • —Helps prevent the build up of cholesterol in the body – helping to keep the heart healthy and risk of heart attack and stroke down.
  • —Reduces the stress on the heart that is caused by diabetes.

There are many recipes online for fiddlehead soup.  Here is a favorite from Tribal Cooking: Traditional Stories and Favorite Recipes , 1996.  This cookbook is a compilation of recipes from Ojibwe tribal members throughout Wisconsin and was published by the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council in Lac du Flambeau, WI.

Waywaagain Naboob (Wild Fern Soup)

To cook one kettle full for supper!

One grocery bag full of wild ferns (4 inches).

Cut into 1 inch pieces or break up.

4 slices of salt pork – cubed.

Boil for 1/2 hour or until tender.  Make little dumplings and put in kettle.  Let continue boiling for 15 minutes.  Stir so it won’t stick to bottom of kettle.

Very, very delicious!!

P.S. These can be picked anywhere in the woods.

Note: Waagaagin should be thoroughly cooked before eating.  Never eat them raw! In 1990 a food-borne illness outbreak in British Columbia was connected to consuming lightly cooked and raw fiddlehead ferns .

Maple Glazed Salmon

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fats.  These fats help reduce blood clotting in the arteries and protects from hardening of the arteries.  Our bodies do not produce these fats so it is important we eat foods—like salmon and walnuts—that are good sources of them. 

Maple syrup in a food that is central to Ojibwe culture and food.  Because it was labor intensive to collect the sap and boil it down into syrup, it was often used sparingly as just a seasoning by Ojibwe ancestors.  In modern days, we know that maple syrup is high in natural sugars so using it sparingly – as Ojibwe ancestors  did – is still a wise idea.

INGREDIENTS Maple Salmon 500

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp garlic power or garlic salt
  • 1 pound salmon


  1. In a small bowl, mix maple syrup, soy sauce, minced garlic, garlic salt or powder and black pepper.
  2.  Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish and coat with the maple syrup mixture.  Cover the dish and marinate salmon in the refrigerator, turning once.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake salmon uncovered for 20 minutes or until easily flaked with fork.

Per serving:  265 calories; 12.4 g (9.9 g are healthy fat); 14.1 g carbohydrate; 23.2 g protein.  Serves 4