Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cranberry salad dressing

Okay, so I'm going to start you off letting you know this may be the best salad dressing you ever eat. It's just amazing stuff. The recipe is from Ali over at Nourishing Meals however this particular recipe is from her cookbook. The whole life nutrition cookbook, one of my favorites. I was also hoping to get this to you before Thanksgiving, but alas that did not happen. I did make it for my Thanksgiving feast this year, and plan on making it again soon. Not sure if you could use frozen cranberries for this recipe but plan on trying later in the year to see if it works. It probably would. It would also make a wonderful Christmas salad dressing or even for Valentines Day due to the beautiful color!

If you are interested in what else I made for Thanksgiving I made a Maple Cream pie from this recipe at the NY times.  I now make this every year for thanksgiving and it's pretty amazing stuff. The NY is a great resource for Thanksgiving recipes- a little late now but Thanksgiving recipes tend to be good for finding yummy things to eat when the weather outside is cold.

I do some slight changes to the salad dressing recipe, she cooks the cranberries and shallots and I do not. I have never made this recipe with cooked cranberries so I don't know what the taste difference is. However I feel there should be more raw cranberries in my life and since they are pretty difficult to eat by themselves this is a good way to eat them raw. Cranberries are also a great source of nutrition. Your bladder will thank you later for eating them.

It's rather common knowledge these days that cranberry juice can prevent and sometimes even cure a bladder infection. I myself have cured a bladder infection with cranberry juice. Cranberries are also high in antioxidants which defend the body from free radicals. Free radicals attack cells in your body- they are something you don't want. This is why antioxidant foods are so great, they assist your body in staying in optimum health by keeping invaders out. Cranberries also have Anti-inflammatory benefits and help to fight cancer. For more cranberry info go to whfoods.com.

Alright so here is the recipe. Again this is from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, which was written locally here in Bellingham and is full of dairy free gluten free yummy stuff.

You will need a blender for this recipe, but a food processor or hand blender would work to (note the picture of the Turkey below was thrown in from our Thanksgiving Dinner- I didn't cook it but it was a pretty bird!)


2 shallots, sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I didn't have this so I used white wine vinegar)
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon Orange zest
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Chop the shallots into usable pieces and combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. This salad is great on top of Turkey and spinach. I found that Ali does actually have this recipe on her blog and you can see her version here.

This should stay good in your fridge for about 10 days.

This recipe part of Fat Tuesday Forager festival over at http://realfoodforager.com/2011/12/fat-tuesday-december-6-2011/

This post also part of Fight Back Friday from http://www.foodrenegade.com

Thursday, October 27, 2011

baby/ toddler smoothie snack

Here is a very simple recipe for some baby food. However, it also works great for toddlers or even adults! I noticed Leo has been backing off of fruits and vegetables quite a bit lately, so I though I would try to make him some "baby food" and see if that would help get some more vegis in him. It worked great. Toddlers still have very simple taste buds and often don't want the complex tastes that adults tend to crave. I often forget that. These pictures are from the beginning of September where he is 28 months. I stopped giving him anything similar to baby food awhile back other than green smoothies. However I have been trying to add some purred foods back into his diet as he likes them and they are easy to digest.

Babies need simple foods. This recipe is great for a baby starting around 8 or 9 months. Giving your baby lots of fruits and vegetables at an early age and keeping the dairy and gluten at bay until they are older is great for their digestive health. Did you know babies do not have the digestive enzymes to break down gluten? Those don't develop until their molars come in, usually around age two. Leo's molars came in at 18 months so I introduced gluten around that time. As a baby he was gluten free. Keeping your baby gluten free also keeps them from eating as many processed foods. It made not giving him cereals and crackers a much easier choice. I did feed him grains though, we made our own rice cereal and ate oatmeal. I also gave him rice puffs from time to time. He also had a period of time where he wouldn't eat any baby food, which was annoying since I worked and he was breastfed. And he wouldn't take a bottle. He ate lots of Nori and rice puffs for this stage. I also started giving him goat keifer around 10 or 11 months. Closer to age one he started eating lots of food. He also went for more solid things, baby pancakes, lentil soup, etc., instead of purred foods. I still made him typical baby food he just ate it less often than I thought he would. Every  baby is different. I've met some babies that eat tons of purred food! When Leo did eat it he never ate very much of it. Anyways, here is some Leo pictures and the recipe:

Baby/ Toddler smoothie snack

One Pear
3-4 apricots
3 or 4 Kale leaves

Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth! Serve right away and freeze unused portions in ice cube trays or other dishes. I put some in some empty baby food jars and froze. Note this recipe makes quite a bit for one little person!

This post linked to Figh back friday

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cooking from scratch

So today I don't have a recipe, but wanted to talk about simple ways to make cooking from scratch realistic. I didn't grow up in household that cooked a lot or spent time on food. There was no canning in our house, but we grew food. And every year I saw lots of food go to waste because none of it was preserved or used in a creative way. This is probably one of the many reasons I am interested in food in the way that I am...

Anyways, cooking from scratch. Some people seem to do it. For others it seems like an impossible mission. I started slowly, cooking some things, and I am still learning more and more things to cook. It takes time, I wont lie. If you don't do it already starting will not be easy, but it's worth it. And the biggest thing to getting started is habit. I remember feeling frustrated at first trying to cook a meal for dinner every day instead of just quickly throwing something together. Now I feel strange if I am not cooking dinner. The key? Habit. I've become use to spending lots of time cooking making it easy and part of my daily routine. It is hard to change and add routines, but I really think this one is worth making the change for. Yes it is time consuming to make food but it's time well spent. Sometimes I think of other things I could do instead, and not a lot comes to mind anymore. It's just what I do. Though things do come up, especially in the summer with day trips and things that make spending time cooking not as conceivable, but I work around it. I plan (or try to.) It's time I do not spend watching TV or playing on the Internet. Sometimes I think about other species as well, and how for quite a few animals their entire day is spent finding food/eating food. While we have the luxury to only spend part of our days doing this. I know some people would love to go the Jetson's route and have all of our food be pre-made and ready to eat at the push of a button, I think it's very healthy to put your own hard earned time and energy into something you are going to eat. It brings value to the food that is priceless.

Another way to get cooking off the ground is use one food for several meals. Example: I sprouted a large batch of navy beans, about two cups dried. I then used them to make:

Peanut butter bean fudge (from eat nourishing)
Rice noodle pasta with a purred white bean/squash "cheese"
Navy beans in BBQ sauce

I made these over three days.

Now that I am eating meat as well doing this with a chicken is also helpful. I cook one whole chicken, which takes all day to cook so I can get good quality broth. And I freeze some of the yummy broth for an "instant" broth later and get about four meals out of the chicken, sometimes a bit more. The first day has more work put into it cooking the chicken and shredding it, but for the other days I already have pre cooked shredded chicken to start with.

Do you have any real food tips?

This post linked to Monday Mania

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lacto-fermented Salsa

Yes, another lacto-fermented recipe! Pretty soon I might have to rename this blog into lacto-fermenting.com

I don't eat fermented foods like crazy. I do have a few in my fridge and a few on my counter. I don't eat them all the time but they come in handy and they last forever! I've been turning more to them as harvest season is dying down a bit and there is less local vegetables in the grocery store everyday. That's a reason to lacto-ferment in itself, that there will be tasty vegetables in your fridge or cellar when winter comes (if you don't eat them first!). If you are intimated by making or even eating lacto fermented foods think about everything you already eat that is fermented! Beer, sourdough, yogurt, cheese, sour cream... things you may have forgotten are actually fermented foods. We are attracted to them because they make food taste better, store better, are easier to digest, and help us digest other foods as well. However, as we often still ferment dairy and grains fermenting vegetables is not as common. Sauerkraut is still fairly common but not made traditional/fermented much anymore. I use to think sauerkraut was a strange food and wouldn't eat it, until I learned a bit about what makes lacto-fermentation so amazing (i.e. it's not just some old rotting food people are eating for some strange reason). You can tell the difference between rotting food and fermenting food. Fermenting food is usually still attractive in its own way, and will smell tangy- it will smell GOOD. Rotting food will not. You will not want to eat rotting food, nor want it hanging out in your kitchen...

So if this isn't a good enough reason to at least try lacto fermenting I don't know what is! Now is a great time a year to try with the still warmish weather and all the vegetables in season. Perfect time for kraut! I have some on my counter. However, this recipe is for Salsa. I think lacto-fermented salsa tastes much better than fresh salsa! It adds a delious tanginess and will keep, if you don't eat it, for months. Fresh salsa is only good for a few days. Salsa is also one of the simpler things to lacto ferment and you can adapt any salsa recipe to make it fermented, but below there is a basic recipe, feel free to change to your tastes. Note in the pic below I used a purple bell pepper, it is not an eggplant!

Ingredients for fermenting:
1T Sea Salt
2T Whey (optional) (see this post on how to make whey)
Two wide mouth mason quart jars or one two quart jar (glass!) with lids

Ingredients for salsa:
One bunch cilantro
One onion
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno
half of a bell pepper
About a dozen small tomatoes or 6ish bigger ones, this all really depends on the size of the tomatoes... or use tomatillos. I used both, which is why my salsa came out green.
1 teaspoon Cumin
2 teaspoons oregeno

You can chop by hand but it is much easier to use a food processor.

Pulse onion,garlic, cilantro, cumin, and oregeno finely in the food processor. Add peppers and process some more. Add tomatoes and pulse just a few times. When you add the tomatoes add the 2T whey and 1T sea salt.

Pour into two glass jars or one big jar. This receipe makes about one quart and a half of salsa, you can add more tomatoes if you want to fill the jars completely.

Leave jars on your counter for 48 hours at room temp.

Release lids breifly before putting into fridge to let out trapped air. You may see bubbles, this is good, it means it is working. Your salsa will store for many months in a cold environment now! If you dont eat it all in a few days, because it will taste amazing and be the healthiest salsa you have ever eatten.

This post linked to Fight Back Friday!

This post linked to Sunday School at Butter Believer

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to make Whey

Whey is a dairy product. Technically more of a bi-product. But it's a good bi-product with health promoting qualities (though not in it's powdered form.) When you separate milk you have two things, curds and whey (think little miss muffet.) You can use any kind of milk to get whey: cow, goat, sheep, etc. But why would you want whey? What is it used for?

The following is from Wikipedia on Whey : Liquid whey contains lactose, vitamins, protein, and minerals, along with traces of fat. In 2005, researchers at Lund University in Sweden discovered that whey appears to stimulate insulin release, in type 2 diabetics. Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they also discovered that whey supplements can help regulate and reduce spikes in blood sugar levels among people with type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin secretion.

Wikipedia didn't have too much more interesting than that, but had a bit about traditional whey drinks. Whey having a positive effect on blood sugar, though, is very interesting!

Whey is also full of lots of good bacteria. The easiest way to make whey to take plain, good quality, yogurt or keifer and strain it through a cheese cloth. You then have whey and yogurt cheese. You can also take raw milk and sour it to make "curds and whey" and then strain that through a cheese cloth. Whey is also left over from cheese making but depending on the type of cheese you probably don't want to save that whey for lacto-fermenting but you could drink it if you want. Whey made during cheese making tends to be heated thus killing the bacteria we need for our fermenting adventures.

Whey can be added to bread, instead of water, for bread making.

I use whey for fermenting. Due to the lacto-bacteria content it's a great starter to use in making fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickles, salsa, etc. There is lots of great recipes on line and I will post more as I make them.

Check out my Dilly Bean recipe that calls for whey!
The prairie homestead also has a blog post about 16 ways to use whey. Check that out if you are interested in even more things whey.

I also read, but now cannot find where, that whey is good for digestive complaints.

Nutritionally one cup of whey has:

60 calories

253 mg of calcium
24.6mg of Magnesium
192 mg of Phosphorus
352mg of Potassium
1.1mg of Zinc
4.4 mcg Selenium
Choline 39.4mg
17.2 IU Vitamin A

This is from a general nutrition website (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/100/2) and I bet grass fed milk would have an even higher nutrient content.

So here are some more detail instructions on how to make yourself some whey!

Get your good quality plain yogurt or keifer, whatever amount is fine but enough to fit in your strainer. 2 cups or so is a good amount to start with.

Line a fine mesh strainer with cheese cloth and put it inside a bigger bowl to catch the whey.

Fill your cheese cloth lined strainer with your yogurt (or keifer).

Let sit on your counter for the day or over night. Poor off whey. Some people like to let it strain the fridge but because its a fermented product it is fine to sit on your counter for a few hours.

Do not press down on or squeeze the yogurt cheese. This gets milk product into the finished whey.

Poor your whey into a glass jar and your yogurt cheese into another. The yogurt cheese will last weeks and the whey will last months.

You can also used soured milk to make whey but I have never tried that. I make my own keifer so I do keifer whey.

This post linked to Monday Mania

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lacto-fermented dilly beans

What is lacto fermenting?

Well, according to Wikipedia, Lactic acid fermentation is a biological process by which sugars such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose, are converted into cellular energy and the metabolic byproduct lactate. It is an anaerobic fermentation reaction that occurs in some bacteria and animal cells, such as muscle cells, in the absence of oxygen.

Lactobacillus is the most common bacteria used to make commercially cultured food, and is the also produced through lactic acid fermentation.  The most common fermented foods you have probably eaten are yogurt and sauerkraut. However, there are many other types of bacteria that are involved in culturing food.

Part of the reason lacto-fermenting works to keep vegetables is when the fermenting is taking place the pH changes and the food becomes more acidic preventing and even killing harmful bacteria.

Cultured foods are also super good for you! They add enzymes (made by the bacteria) and probiotics to your diet and make the food you are eating easier to digest. They also save you money on probiotics and keep your food from going to waste. Plus they taste good. It's really a win win situation. If you haven't cultured your own food yet I suggest you try it, especially now in the warm weather. Having a warm kitchen will give you the best results.

Other benefits of probiotics:

  • Supports your immune system
  • Helps eliminate waste/harmful bacteria
  • assistance in producing vitamin B and K (formed in the gut)
  • help digesting complex carbs
  • Lowers the incidence of allergies
  • Inhibits candida yeast growth
  • helps with digestive issues

How do you know if your culture went bad/ or didn't work? Generally by taste/smell. I haven't had anything I cultured go bad yet, which is making me feel safer to experiment more. Basically if it smells bad don't eat it is the rule of thumb. If it gets moldy it also didn't turn out right. However if you don't have a proper closure on your fermented food it can get a layer of mold on the top. Sauerkraut traditionally fermented for long periods of time, does tend to get a layer of mold on top that is then removed. However, with things more liquid like pickles/ dilly beans I do not think I would still consume it if it had a layer of mold on the top. But if you do it right you should not get any mold.

Mold on the top is different from a thin film. Cultured foods do get film on the top sometimes. This wont effect the finished product but from what I have read if your product is doing this just scrape it off each day.
Lacto-fermented Dilly Beans

You need

1 quart jar
1-2 T Sea Salt
3 Tablespoons Whey (optional)
Green Beans, enough to fill the jar
1 T dill fresh or dried, use more if fresh
2 cloves of garlic, chopped into pieces (or more to taste)
filtered water (must be filtered! Chlorine inhibits the growth of bacteria)

you can add other herbs/spices to taste as well. Hot peppers would be good.

1. Slice your green beans into jar sized pieces. Leave them big or small. Put them in the jar.

2. In another container mix whey, 1 tablespoon Sea salt, or use two tablespoons salt if not using whey. You will get better results with whey as it is a starter culture. Add 1 cup or so of filtered water and stir to mostly dissolve the sea salt.

3. Add dill and garlic to green beans in the jar.

4. Poor salt water over beans. Add more filtered water to fill jar but leave an inch of room at the top (important for expanding fermentation).

5. Put lid on jar and shake around a bit to get all mixed up. Leave on your counter, at room temp, for several days. I put mine out for three days then put in the fridge, thought that wasn't long enough, them took them back out and on the counter to ferment more. I then looked up more recipes and saw that a lot people fermented dilly beans for 2 weeks! So, leave them out between 3 days and two weeks. Taste every so often to see when they are ready. They should still be crunchy and when you take the lid off you will see bubbles rise to the surface.

TIP: Your beans need to stay under the water to not get moldy. If they float to the top what you can do is take a plastic baggie, fill it with salt water brine and put it in the jar to weight the beans down. This will keep everything under water. You wont need a lid on them if you do that, but may want to cover with a towel to ensure bugs and such stay out.

Once your beans are done put them in your fridge or cellar. They will keep for about 6 months! Note that this recipe also works well for carrot sticks too. You can ferment all kinds of things. More recipes to come!

This post part of traditional tuesdays blog hop hosted by realfoodwholehealth.com

This post also linked to Kelly the kitchen Kop Real food Wednesday

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Grain free Blueberry coconut pancakes

Pancakes have to be Leo's favorite breakfast. When we were picking strawberries a few weeks ago and I asked him what we were going to do with them he said "make pancakes!"

I've been delving a bit into GAPS and learning about the potential benefits of being grain free. Surprisingly, you can still eat lots of yummy things on a grain free diet. Including these coconut blueberry pancakes. I got the recipe from http://www.nourishingdays.com and changed it slightly; using keifer instead of milk, lowering the amount of baking soda and adding blueberries which are very abundant right now!

I've been making my own keifer. When I started I felt pretty unsure about it, but now I  love it. It's great to have around for cooking and the keifer eats all the lactose in milk so I find myself using keifer for all my baking needs instead of milk-substitutes. Don't get me wrong, I do love hemp milk and even soy milk, but they aren't the freshest foods to be eating. When you buy them boxed they are heated to a pretty high temp to stay good in there and not go bad. I tried making my own hemp milk a few times but it wasn't very good. Plus regular milk is just more nutrient dense, and keifer is full of probiotics!

Here is the pancake recipe, but note if you don't have access to keifer use yogurt. Otherwise you can use milk or a milk substitute.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup Keifer
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBS honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (yes that's all you need!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Butter/ coconut oil for frying
  • Blueberries! (optional)

  • Mix liquid ingredients together well (eggs, keifer, vanilla, honey). Make sure the eggs are well combined and frothy.
  • In a separate bowl mix coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Combine
Your best bet for success in this recipe is to use cast iron. I use an enamel covered cast iron pan.

Heat your grill with coconut oil or butter until hot over medium heat.

Once hot add your batter. Note this recipe will cook different then regular pancakes! It feels more like cooking eggs. Make the pancakes small but thick. Use the back of a spoon to spread them out. If using blueberries, add them now by pressing them into the cooking pancakes.

Make sure the pancakes are well cooked on one side before flipping or you will have a mess! Once you flip your pancakes cook just a few minutes more and enjoy with your favorite pancake toppings. This is one of my favorite pancake recipes. Great to try even if you aren't grain free! Plus with all the eggs they are quite high in protein. I feel a lot fuller eating these pancakes than traditional ones.  The leftovers also make great toddler snacks.