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

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 ( 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