Category Archives: recipes


Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars

My friend Erin recently shared this delicious recipe for a great on-the-go-snack bar. With pumpkins in season, it’s easy enough to make your own puree. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own, the canned stuff works just fine. A couple of words of caution, however, when choosing canned pumpkin:

  • It’s best to use a brand that has a BPA free lining
  • Organic pumpkin is preferred
  • I highly recommend that you read the label and make sure that you are getting only 100% pumpkin. You don’t need all those other ingredients.

These breakfast bars are fabulous for a quick breakfast, perfectly portable if you need to have breakfast on-the-go. And so tasty that they also make a great snack. If you’d like, add a serving of protein powder to make your bars even more nutritious. If you do add the protein powder you may find that you need just a Tablespoon or two of water so the mix isn’t too dry.

Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars

3/4 cup pumpkin purée
2 eggs
1/4 cup organic butter or ghee at room temperature
1 large or 2 small ripe bananas
1/4 cup honey
2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cook variety)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (you can also use walnuts or sunflower seeds)
2 Tbsp shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup oat bran (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
pinch of Celtic sea salt
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup dried blueberries

Measure out the 2 cups of oats and pour just enough warm water over them to cover them
Soak for about 5 minutes while you’re mixing up the wet ingredients
In a mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, eggs, butter or ghee, honey, and banana
You may want to mash the banana before adding to the bowl if it’s not really soft
Before adding the oats, drain them well

Add the oats, nuts, coconut, oat bran, cinnamon, salt, orange rind, currants, and blueberries, and stir until ingredients are well combined (this step is where you would also add the protein powder, if using)
Spread mixture into a lightly greased (butter, ghee or coconut oil) pan so the batter is no more than an inch or two deep. An 8” x 10” baking dish works well
Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown
For very crisp bars, remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack
Cut the bars when cool
 

Terrific Health Benefits Of Turmeric

Officially known as Curcuma longa, turmeric is an herb that has been used for thousands of years. You can use this incredibly tasty spice with a variety of foods and it even provides several important health benefits.

What Is Turmeric?

Native to India and related to the ginger plant, turmeric is the primary spice used in the Indian dish known as curry. Often available at ethnic grocery stores, sometimes at larger traditional grocery stores, it’s best to use turmeric when it’s fresh since the essential oils are more powerful. Fresh turmeric, however, doesn’t last long and must either be consumed quickly, frozen, or made into powder form.

Health benefits of turmeric

Turmeric provides several incredible health benefits and may play a part in preventing many diseases. The bioactive compounds, called curcuminoids, are largely responsible for the health benefits of turmeric:

  • natural anti-inflammatory properties
  • highly antioxidant
  • improves brain function
  • may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • may potentially help prevent certain cancers
  • when applied in paste form may help promote the healing of wounds and bruises

Tasty ways to use turmeric

Most often we think of turmeric as it is used in curries, but there are many ways to enjoy it. Incorporating healthy ingredients into scrambled eggs or a tasty frittata is easy when you add turmeric. It works well with nearly all types of veggies, particularly cauliflower. Rice, stews, soups, desserts, and tea are all delicious when turmeric is added to the recipe. Turmeric is even used in juices and different types of smoothies.

Turmeric is an incredible herb that can be used fresh or in powder form. It offers a rich, distinct flavor to dozens of dishes and may be instrumental in preventing many serious health conditions. Keeping fresh or powdered turmeric in the kitchen is a great way to add rich flavor to foods you enjoy while providing many potential health benefits.

 

Mushroom Curry
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup coconut milk
  2. 2 roma tomatoes, diced (keep liquid)
  3. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  5. 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  6. 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  7. 4 coves garlic, minced
  8. 1 medium onion, diced
  9. 2-4 tbsp coconut oil
  10. 2 large portobello mushrooms, diced bite size
  11. 2 zucchini, diced bite size
  12. 2 yellow squash, diced bite size
  13. 2 cups snap peas diced
  14. 1 bell pepper, diced
  15. 1 eggplant diced
  16. 1 tsp sea salt
  17. 2 tbsp cashews, divided
  18. 2 tbsp cilantro, minced
Instructions
  1. Mix together cumin, coriander, turmeric, and black pepper and set aside
  2. Place eggplant into a bowl and sprinkle with salt to sweat
  3. Set aside to sit for one hour, rinse before using
  4. Add 2 tbsp coconut oil to pan
  5. Add onion and saute until starting to soften
  6. Add garlic and ginger and cook 2 minute
  7. Add spices and stir well for 1 minute
  8. Add tomatoes and liquid
  9. Add mushrooms and stir well, cook 1-2 minutes, add more coconut oil if needed
  10. Add vegetables and cook 2-3 minutes
  11. Add coconut milk, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or so until vegetables are tender
  12. Add sea salt
  13. Serve over basmati rice
  14. Garnish with cilantro and cashews
  15. Top with quick mango pickle if desired
Adapted from Curry In A Hurry
Adapted from Curry In A Hurry
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

 

Quick Mango Pickle
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3 ripe but firm mangos, peeled, seeded, and diced
  2. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  3. 1/2 tsp paprika
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  6. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  7. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  8. 1/2 tsp urad dal
  9. pinch chili powder
  10. 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. heat oil
  2. add mustard seed and urad dal and cook 1 minute
  3. add garlic and cook 1minute
  4. add turmeric, paprika, and chili powder, stir well
  5. reduce heat
  6. add mango and vinegar, cover and simmer on low 20 minutes or until soft and well combined
Notes
  1. keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 weeks
Adapted from India Today
Adapted from India Today
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

 
Sources:

Grover, A.K. and Samson, S.E. Benefits of antioxidant supplements for knee osteoarthritis: rationale and reality. Nutr J. 2016; 15: 1.nPublished online 2016 Jan 5. 

McClees, Heather. One Green Planet. How to heal cuts and wounds with turmeric. 2017 Feb 8.

Nagpal, M and Sood, S. Anti-inflammatory and Anti-oxidant Properties of Curcuma longa (Turmeric) Versus Zingiber officinale(Ginger) Rhizomes in Rat Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan-Jun; 4(1): 3–7.

Ramirez-Tortosa, M.C., et al. Oral administration of a turmeric extract inhibits LDL oxidation and has hypocholesterolemic effects in rabbits with experimental atherosclerosis. AtherosclerosisVolume 147, Issue 2, December 1999, Pages 371-378.

Shanmugam, M.K., et al. The Multifaceted Role of Curcumin in Cancer Prevention and Treatment. Molecules 201520(2), 2728-2769.

 

 

 


no flour GF cookie dough

No-Flour Cookie Dough

Remember when you were a teenager and you’d get together with your friends to make cookies? And you wound up eating half the cookie dough before you even got the first batch out of the oven? Okay, well maybe that was just me, but it sure was tasty.

Don’t eat that

Fast forward a few years and all of a sudden we were being told not to eat cookie dough because it contained raw eggs and those could be a source of salmonella poisoning. I’ll confess that when I was a kid I ate it anyway because I loved it so much. But then when I had kids I wouldn’t let them eat it because somehow it was okay if I got sick but not if they did.  So I figured out how to make cookie dough without the eggs.

Then we were told not to eat any raw cookie dough (even without the eggs) because raw flour could be a source of e. coli. That was a bummer. It was also the end of the raw cookie dough in our house.

Going gluten-free

Over time I changed my diet, going gluten-free and reducing the amount of sugar and sugary foods I ate. Giving up the cookies wasn’t too difficult. It turns out that as good as I am at baking regular bread, cakes, and cookies, when it came to gluten-free it was more of a challenge. One that for the most part I wasn’t interested in trying to figure out. It was easier to give it up or to buy what I wanted from the Gluten-Free Sourdough Company.

In spite of making healthy changes, I confess that every now and then I’d have a secret, sneaky craving for cookie dough. Then one day I was having a conversation with my sister-in-law who told me about a raw cookie dough recipe she had eaten that was made with chickpeas and peanut butter. She couldn’t find the recipe but just knowing it was made with chickpeas was enough to get me started. I began to experiment and eventually hit on the recipe listed below. 

The day I came up with the final version my editor for my book The Pantry Principle was visiting. She wanted to know what I was making. I told her it was a healthy version of raw cookie dough and offered her a spoonful right out of the Cuisinart. She loved it! We both dove in with spoons, it was kind of like a return to my high school days.

Cookie dough is popular again

Fast forward yet again and once again raw cookie dough seems to be a big thing. There are companies, cafes, and cookie dough bars opening all over the country. The Minnesota State Fair has even added raw cookie dough to the list of foods available at the fair. I imagine it won’t be long before other state fairs follow suit, I fully expect to see it at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show next year. The problem is that what’s available commercially seems to be made with regular flour (making it a non-option for those who need to eat gluten-free). Commercial options are also high in sugar and definitely, need to be consumed in strict moderation. What I love about my recipe is that because it’s made with chickpeas it’s got some protein. Don’t get me wrong, it still has sugar (especially in those chocolate chips), but I’ve cut the sugar down to as little as possible making this an option that is as healthy as I think I can make it. 

If you’re seeing news blurbs about cookie dough and feeling a sense of nostalgia (and a desire to make cookies just so you can eat the dough) consider making my No-Flour Cookie Dough. Just be aware that this recipe does not bake into cookies, it’s meant to be enjoyed raw.

No-Flour Cookie Dough
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 can chickpeas, drained
  2. 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
  3. 1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice
  4. 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. generous pinch sea salt
  7. 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Combine first five ingredients in food processor until mixed well
  2. Scoop into a bowl and add chocolate chips by hand
  3. Spoon into ramekins or mini-muffin cups and chill 2 hours before serving
  4. -- or enjoy with a spoon straight out of the bowl 😉
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
crockpot shredded chicken

Use Your Crockpot To Beat The Summer Heat

It’s getting hot here in Texas

And the humidity isn’t far behind. Once the humidity hits stepping outside is like walking into a sauna.

With all of that heat and humidity, it’s no wonder dinner time is seen as more of a chore in the summer. After all, who wants to heat up the kitchen when it’s already hot and sticky outside? And here in Texas, we’re not the only ones. Although we get the heat early, summertime and hot temperatures are about to hit all around the country. The good news is in spite of the heat outside, you can still have a delicious meal without raising the temperature indoors. It’s easy when you use a crockpot.

So, how does crock pot cooking beat the heat? Simple, it uses less heat than an oven or the stovetop. In addition to using less heat to cook the food, a crockpot also doesn’t heat up the environment the same way. This means you don’t need to crank up the air conditioning, run a fan, or start your swamp cooler to reduce the additional heat from ovens and stoves.

Crockpots are also a great energy-saving device and the operating costs are very low. Especially when compared to electric stove and ovens, but even when compared to gas. So not just from a heat standpoint, but from a cost to operate standpoint as well, this makes crockpots a great resource.

Not just for winter anymore

If you’re like most people you think of crockpots as being more for wintertime use. Great for making soups, stews, and chili. But truthfully crockpots are good all year round. I love mine and use it for making snacks, breakfast, and even for making shredded meats for summer salads. Crockpots are actually very versatile and can be used for a wide variety of meals and foods.

Benefits of Crock Pot Cooking

As well as being less expensive to run, crockpots have a number of benefits that make them a great addition to any kitchen:

  • All the work is done ahead of time making mealtime and cleanup a lot easier. If you’re making breakfast, you’re starting it the night before so there’s less cleanup while you’re trying to get out the door. If you’re making dinner, it makes getting dinner on the table faster and easier at the end of a long day.
  • A lot of crockpot dinner recipes are a meal in a dish. Make a salad or a side dish to go with it and you’ve got a nutritious meal for your family. If it’s a stew or a chili you can bulk it up with extra veggies and up your daily count of veggie servings.
  • Cleanup is a breeze. Usually, with crockpot cooking, there’s the cleanup from the prep and then just one dish (the crock) to clean when you’re done. This means you’re not only spending less time cooking, but you’re also spending less time cleaning up.

Have a couple of crockpots is, in my humble opinion, a good idea. I have one large one for the main dishes or large items and one small one for side dishes, appetizers, desserts, and that sort of thing. They’re versatile, easy to use and make life much simpler.

Take it to the next level

Combine crockpot cooking with the Fast Fun Freezer Meals program and you’ll really beat the heat. This program allows you to get 20-24 servings of dinner in the freezer ready-to-cook in 90 minutes or less. Sounds unbelievable but it’s true. And when you’re ready to cook simply pull your meal out of the freezer the night before. Pop it in the crockpot in the morning and at the end of the day you’ve got a hot, delicious meal, but the kitchen is still cool. Make a salad or side dish and dinner is done. Best of all cleanup is a breeze because you did most of it when you prepped the meal.

Less work, less time in the kitchen, no hot sticky mess. Crockpot dinners are definitely the way to go.

More great crockpot recipes

More delicious summer recipes

Here are a few more fabulous summertime recipes

 

The Healing Powers Of Bone Broth (plus Recipe)

Have you ever been told to eat a bowl of chicken soup when you’re sick?

I bet you have. But do you know why?

It’s truly an ancient tradition. But the truth is, not all chicken soups will do the trick. Especially those found in a can.

Traditionally chicken soup was made by simmering vegetables, meat and bones to create a nutrient rich broth (a.k.a. bone broth). However, most commercial soups today simply use broth made from water and chicken “flavor.”

Bone broth has been used throughout humankind for its rich flavor and healing powers. Many cultures use it to cure illnesses, such as colds and flu. In fact, bone broth is sometimes referred to as Jewish penicillin. It’s also been prized for its ability to treat conditions related to the digestive tract, skin, joints, lungs, muscles, and blood.

And fortunately, bone broth is making a comeback.

Bone Broth Nutrition

Bone broth contains a soup (pun intended) of health promoting nutrients in highly absorbable forms. Thus, it’s much more potent (and enjoyable) than taking a variety of synthetic supplements.

Below are several key nutrients in bone broth along with their health benefits:

Minerals

Minerals are essential to life. They play many important roles in our bodies, such as nerve signaling and the initiation of most enzymatic processes in our bodies. They also impact the health of our digestive system, heart, cells, and bones.

Bone broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicone, sulfur, and a variety of trace minerals.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and have numerous responsibilities when it comes to our health. Bone broth specifically contains high concentrations of glycine and proline.

Glycine acts as an antioxidant, which protects our cells from free radical damage. It also aids in detoxification as well as wound healing, digestion, sleep, memory, and performance. It keeps our muscles strong and is used to make glutathione (another powerful antioxidant).

Proline is essential for healthy skin and joints. It also helps to repair the lining of the digestive system.

Collagen and Gelatin

Collagen is a protein found in bones as well as other connective tissues. Its name comes from the word “kolla,” which means glue. Essentially, its main role is to hold the body together.

When collagen dissolves in water, it forms gelatin. Gelatin has been studied extensively and is often used to heal and soothe the digestive tract, support bone health, overcome food allergies and sensitivities, improve digestion and detoxification, and boost the body’s natural production of collagen.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine lubricates our joints and provides a cushion within them. Expensive supplements are often used to treat conditions involving bone and joint pain, but bone broth is an all natural (and effective) alternative.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Along with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate supports healthy bones and joints. But it’s also essential for heart and skin health as well as maintaining optimal cholesterol levels.

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

Bone broth can be made using beef, poultry, lamb, pork or fish bones. There are many recipes available online. Below is an easy to make chicken bone broth recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken
    or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as carcass, necks, and wings plus gizzards
  • 2-4 chicken feet
  • 4 quarts cold filtered water
  • 2 T raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 shitake mushrooms
  • 1-2 pieces kombu seaweed
  • 1” piece of turmeric root, sliced (or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley

Directions

If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces.

Place other ingredients into a cheesecloth or jelly bag for easy removal later. Otherwise place carcass and parts in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all ingredients except parsley.

Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12-18 hours. The longer the stock cooks the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.

If using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in the refrigerator or freezer.

Delicious Ways to Add Bone Broth to Your Diet

Cup of Bone Broth
Once you have a batch of bone broth, here are several ways to enjoy it:

  • Sip it plain (or seasoned with sea salt and minced spring onions)
  • Use it in soup, stew, sauce and gravy recipes
  • Use it instead of water or other liquids to cook grains, steam vegetables, make mashed potatoes and bake casseroles

To make a “miso-style” soup, follow this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 C broth
  • 1 fresh mushroom, diced
  • 1 spring onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat broth on stovetop
  2. When broth is fully heated add remaining ingredients
  3. Heat on medium 2-3 minutes until all ingredients are warmed
  4. Enjoy!

I also encourage people to pour cooled bone broth into ice cube trays and freeze. Bone broth ice cubes are a great nutrition boosting addition to smoothies. They also give smoothies a thicker consistency.

To sum it up:

Consuming bone broth on a regular basis is probably one of the most beneficial things you can do to support your health.

  • It contains a variety of easily absorbable nutrients;
  • It warms your heart and your soul;
  • It’s easy to make; and
  • It’s absolutely delicious!

 

References:
Bergner, P. (1997). The healing power of minerals, special nutrients, and trace elements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub.
Daniel, K. (2003, June 18). Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/why-broth-is-beautiful-essential-roles-for-proline-glycine-and-gelatin/
Fallon, S. (2000, January 1). Broth in Beautiful [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/
Fallon, S., Enig, M. G., Murray, K., & Dearth, M. (2001). Nourishing traditions: the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Brandywine, MD: NewTrends Pub.
Vital Proteins, Why Collagen, Retrieved March 27, 2017
black bean brownies - delicious!

Flourless Brownies

Who doesn’t love brownies?  Oooey, chocolatey morsels of deliciousness. They’re great as a snack, as an accompaniment to a cup of tea, or even for dessert. But some people avoid brownies because they’re high in simple carbohydrates. This includes the gluten free flour versions.

So what if I told you about a brownie that isn’t so high in simple carbohydrates and actually has a fair amount of protein? And no, I’m not talking about putting protein powder into the brownie mix.  I’m talking about beans.  Specifically black beans.  This adds not only protein but is also a great source of fiber, folate, copper, manganese, and thiamine.

Before you think, “Um…no” let me assure you, these are delicious.  I’ve brought these brownies to a number of different gatherings.  Each time I share them I wait until people have eaten them before telling them the ‘secret ingredient.’  Everyone is always amazed at how moist and tasty these brownies are. They’re surprised to discover that the brownies are made from black beans. 100% black beans, no flour. That makes it perfect for those who need to eat gluten free. And tasty for everyone.

When using black beans I’ve found that it’s best to use canned. When cooking black beans from scratch, even in the pressure cooker or slow cooker, the consistency doesn’t seem to come out as well. When using canned black beans consider using a brand that does not have BPA in the can lining. (You can learn more about BPA and it’s health impact in this video) Eden Brands is one company that does not use BPA in their linings.

Black Bean Brownies
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ C. black beans
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 1 heaping T. ground flax seed
  4. 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  5. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  6. 1 pinch sea salt
  7. ½ t. baking powder
  8. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  9. 3/4 cup evaporated cane juice crystals
  10. 2 t. instant espresso powder
  11. 1 C. dark Belgian chocolate w/almonds, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish
  3. Add remaining ingredients (except chocolate); blend until smooth; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish
  4. Top with chopped chocolate
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes
  6. Enjoy!
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
Homemade gifts for the holidays - Mira Dessy, The Ingredient Guru

Homemade Gifts For The Holidays

Holiday Gift Giving

The holidays are just around the corner.  Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa whatever you celebrate, the winter season of gift giving is here. People love to get, and gift, food gifts. One of the challenges with food gifts, however, is that many of the pre-made options come with ingredients that are not all that great for our health.  Making homemade foodie treats is one great way around that issue.  When you make food you’re the one in control of the ingredients. And there’s really something special about a homemade gift that makes both the giver and the recipient happy. As a matter of fact it turns out that baking for other people is good for our mental health

If you’re looking for last-minute gift ideas here are some great suggestions for tasty treats.  Packed up in a jar with a pretty ribbon, in a special tin, or simply in a basket covered with some decorative fabric these are gifts that allow you to share the love with a healthy and delicious treat.

Gift ideas

Granola or Muesli are great choices.  Because you can flavor it any way you like you can make a widevariety based on just this simple recipe.  Put in a jar with a pretty ribbon or a decorative piece of fabric on top it can make a simple, healthy holiday treat.

Granola

There’s still enough time to make a batch of vanilla.  While it won’t be ready right away it will still be delicious and they’ll think of you every time they use it all year long.

You can also make vanilla sugar by placing opened vanilla beans into evaporated cane juice crystals and letting it infuse for some time before removing the vanilla bean and packaging up the sugar.  And in a similar vein, but with a twist, why not make flavored salt.  I got the idea for this after seeing all the different bottles at the grocery store.  They’re rather pricey and yet so simple to make at home.

Seasoned SaltTasty Seasoned Salt:

1/2 cup coarse grind sea salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried onion
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
generous pinch dried thyme
fresh ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into a mortar or a coffee grinder and pulse until blended.
Delicious for soups, salads, and on the table as seasoned salt.
note: I have a coffee grinder clearly marked Not For Coffee and use it for grinding all my herbs and seeds

Coffee Seasoned Salt:
note: for this one I use the coffee grinder that actually IS for coffee

1/4 cup coarse grind sea salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
generous pinch vanilla powder

Place all ingredients into a mortar or coffee grinder and pulse until blended.
Delicious on desserts, especially if they are chocolate (just a pinch though)
I don’t drink coffee but for those who do this apparently is a delicious addition to your cup

BrowniesWhen looking for tasty snack ideas you don’t have to go any further than these Crockpot Nut Mixes.You can make any flavor combination you, or the person you’re giving them to, likes.

These Flourless Brownies are sure to be a hit.  You can either make them and gift them right away, or put together a gift box with all the ingredients and the instructions so your giftee can make them later after the holiday sugar overload has come and gone.

If you’re really in a hurry, is to purchase mulling spices at the grocery store.  If you get them in the bulk food section they’re very reasonably priced.  Placed into tea pockets, or into cut squares of cheesecloth tied up with kitchen twine, and delivered with a container of cider the recipient can easily make mulled cider whenever they wish.

I’m not the only one who has some fabulously delicious food gifts that are just right for the holidays. Here are some of my favorite recipes created by friends that are also wonderful tried and true options for gift giving.  

  • Peanut Blossom Bites from Theresa Houghton – So delicous, they’re fabulous any time of the year, not just for the holidays
  • Pumpkin Mousse from Karen Brennan – A wonderful way to enjoy the flavors of the season 
  • Creamy Turmeric Latte from Kirstin Nussgruber – This one is great to assemble as a gift in a basket, be sure to include the instructions so they can make it themselves
  • Holiday Nut Mix from Margaret Floyd – Highly addictive.  You’ve been warned. 
  • Avocado Chocolate Mousse from Kerry McClure – Because who doesn’t love chocolate mousse?
  • Grain Free Thumbprint Cookies by Julie Matthews – Everyone loves this holiday favorite and this is a wonderful way to enjoy them
  • Quick and Easy Almond Butter Coconut Balls by Dr. Keesha Ewers – These things are seriously addictive

And one final option. If you’re looking for amazing gluten free goodies for the holidays but feeling short on baking time I have the answer. You can order a customizable tray of deliciousness from the Gluten Free Sourdough Company. Offering brownies, biscotti, and cookies (including a wonderful ginger snap) all their recipes are free of gluten, artificial ingredients, soy, eggs, dairy, and food gums. 

Whatever you celebrate, whatever your reason for the season, I hope that it is filled with warmth, laughter, love, and joy. Happy Holidays.

Happy Holidays

Cream Of Whatever Soup

It’s winCream of mushroom soup - Campbellstertime and meal planning seems to turn to soups, stews, and casseroles.  For a lot of people that includes taking a shortcut by using some kind of creamy soup as one of the ingredients in their recipe.  Unfortunately while this seems to save time it’s actually not a great idea.

What’s in that soup can?

When it comes to canned products there are number of ingredients that are used in order to make the product more shelf stable. Or they’re added because they’re cheaper, easier to source, and more convenient for the producer.

For a lot of people using cream of potato/mushroom/onion/whatever in a recipe is something that they have a difficult time giving up.  Just adding milk to the recipe doesn’t really seem to work out too well as it’s too much liquid.  So they make a lot of changes but hold on to their creamy condensed soup-in-a-can.

I’m not only talking about Campbell’s here.  All of the canned soup companies use these types of ingredients in them.  This just happens to be the one that I’m talking about for the purposes of this article.  Remember, if you’re going to buy canned soups you must read the label and avoid negative ingredients.

Luckily you don’t need to rely on the can.  But let’s start by looking at what’s in that can and then I’ll share my favorite cream of whatever soup mix recipe.

Ingredient breakdown

Cream of mushroom soup ingredients - Campbells

  • Funny enough even though it’s condensed soup the first ingredient is still water.  That means you’re paying a lot for all of these ingredients but mostly water
  • The vegetable oils include corn, canola, and soy, three of the most genetically modified foods on the face of the planet.  GMO foods are not a great choice for health, you can read a brief blurb about it here
  • Modified food starch is often made with corn (making is a GMO) and can be more difficult for your digestive tract to process
  • Monosodium glutamate can cause a wide range of health issues.  In this particular can it’s there as monosodium glutamate, but may also be present as part of the “yeast extract”
  • Soy protein concentrate is obviously made from soy and is therefore a probable GMO ingredient. Extracted from defatted soy flour there may be a concern about pesticide accumulation during the concentration process as GMO crops tend to be heavily sprayed with glyphosate
  • Dehydrated cream is most likely to be from cows treated with rBGH, an artificial hormone linked to increased risk for diabetes, cancer, and several other heath issues.  It’s also been shown that cows treated with rBGH have a higher risk for mastitis and infertility
  • Flavoring is a very generic term and we don’t really know what it includes

Homemade alternative

Instead of reaching for the can, consider making your own cream of whatever soup mix.  Because it’s a powder it is shelf stable for quite some time and you can make enough to always have on hand for your favorite recipes

Cream of Whatever Soup Mix
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups powdered organic milk
  2. 3/4 cup organic cornstarch
  3. 1/4 cup organic bouillon powder or organic bone broth powder
  4. 2 tbsp dried onion flakes
  5. 1 tsp dried basil
  6. 1 tsp dried thyme
  7. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. To use simply mix 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1 1/4 cups of cold water in a saucepan
  2. Cook and stir until thickened
  3. If desired add 1/2 cup of additional items such as diced mushrooms
  4. Can also add directly to a casserole calling for cream of soup
Notes
  1. Store in an airtight glass jar
  2. Keeps well for 3-4 months
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
 
Enjoy using this and be sure to share your favorite recipes that call for cream of whatever soup mix below

Bone Broth And The Rest Of The Story

Screenshot 2016-01-10 22.10.37Many years ago I used to list to a Paul Harvey program called “The Rest Of The Story.”  In his radio show Paul Harvey would lead with some sort of a story.  But it always turned out that there was something we didn’t know.  As I recall, usually after a commercial break he would come back on air with the statement, “And now, for the rest of the story” and proceed to fill in something we didn’t know or perhaps had forgotten.  He’d end with, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

Ingredients matter

I was reminded of this the other day when an article about the benefits of broth came across my desk.  Entitled Broth Is Back the article was talking about bone broth and how wonderful it is.  It went on to give three recipes for broth, beef, chicken, and vegetable.  A quick look showed the use of apple cider vinegar in the beef broth but not in the chicken broth.  This is unfortunate because the vinegar helps to draw minerals from the bones making the broth richer and more nutritious.  The article did not specifically mention it, but it’s best if the vinegar used is raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar which has enzymes.

Then I looked more closely at the recipes and was frustrated to see that they were recommending the use of canola oil.  Canola is not a good choice as far as oils go.  Highly genetically modified (it’s one of the most modified crops we have) it’s not a great fatty acid profile.  If you want to add fat to your broth a better choice would be some of the fat from the meat, ghee, or olive oil.

Recipes

Broth is back.  It’s delicious, nutritious and so easy to make.  Adding collagen, glutamine, and a host of nutrients it’s easy to incorporate into your diet either drinking it plain or using it as the base for risottos, sauces, soups, and more.

One of my favorite ways to serve bone broth is as a miso style soup.  It’s a perfect afternoon treat.

Nourishing Broth Miso

1 cup nourishing broth – heat on stovetop
while broth is heating shred ½ a carrot
dice 1 spring onion
thinly slice 1 mushroom
add veggies to broth
add generous pinch of sea salt
add generous pinch of freshly minced parsley if desired

And if you’re looking for a variety of bone broth recipes both to make and to use the broth there’s a new book, Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel.   Starting with chapters that provide a deeper understanding of collagen, cartilage, bone and marrow, the book discusses why the addition of this nourishing food is so supportive for our system. If you’re looking for more information about broth and some creative ideas on how to incorporate it into your diet, this book would be a good addition to the bookshelf.

This is one of the delicious recipes from the book:

Breakfast Meat and Veggie Scramble

serves 2

2 tablespoons lard, duck fat, suet, butter, or ghee, or a combination, plus more if needed
8 ounces meat (i.e., shredded chicken, ground meat, sausage)
2 ups shredded or finely ied vegetables
up to ½ cup homemade broth
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toppings:  butter, grated raw cheese, sour cream, avocado, or raw sauerkraut

Melt the fat in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the meat and cook it until browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a bowl.  Add additional fat to the pan if necessary.

Add the vegetables to the fat in the pan and cook until tender.  Start with onions, mushrooms, and more fibrous vegetables, and add the more tender vegetables at the end.  Add up to ½ cup bone broth, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the meat to the vegetable mixture and cook until warmed through.  Serve with your choice of toppings.

*****

So yes, bone broth is back.  It’s not new but it’s perhaps newly rediscovered.  It’s delicious, it’s good for you, and it’s best made with a healthy fat and even chicken broth can benefit from the addition of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Now you know the rest of the story.

 

Dinner In A Jar

dinner in a jar

I’m not a fan of plastic for food storage.  While there are times that it’s unavoidable, my preference is for glass.  So I save jars.  Lots of them.  They’re great for dry goods, things like beans, grains, and spices.  But they’re also fabulous for efficient leftover storage.  Take the picture above for example.  It’s ratatouille and polenta.  After the meal rather than packaging up the leftovers into one container of ratatouille and one container of polenta I’ve assembled them into meals in the jar.  Perfect for grab-and-go meals on the road or if I’m trying to save time and energy at home.

By assembling my leftovers into meal containers I avoid having to find a container for the ratatouille, find a container for the polenta, take them out when I want to serve them, put a container with less stuff back in the fridge (which takes up more space).  Repeat with consecutive meals until there’s just a smidge left in all the containers, the fridge is jam packed, there’s no room, but there’s not much food either.  This is much more efficient and I love it.

The two jars in the picture demonstrate the different ways of filling your jar.  It’s important to remember that you want to use wide mouth openings, otherwise it’s more difficult to get stuff out.  Putting your base (in this case the polenta) on the bottom and your saucy stuff (the ratatouille) on top makes a perfect on the go meal.  I can heat and eat straight from the container.  Yes, I’m talking reheating in the microwave oven.  Not my preferred method of heating but when I’m out and about I don’t usually have the option of reheating on a stove top.

The other method, with the sauce on the bottom and the base on top is fabulous when you can dump everything out onto a plate.  When you turn it over the base is on the bottom and the sauce is on top.

This meal was so delicious I know I’m going to be making it again soon in the near future.  And because I know you want to make it too, here’s the recipes.

Ratatouille

1 large eggplant
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 sweet bell peppers
5 medium to large tomatoes, cored and diced
1/4 cup olive oil plus more if needed
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh basil, minced
sea salt and pepper to taste

Cut the eggplant into 1″ cubes
Sprinkle with salt and let sit 1 hour
Rinse and drain eggplant
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in pan
Add diced onion and saute until starting to soften
Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil and the eggplant
Stir to fully coat eggplant
Turn heat down to medium and add remaining ingredients
Stir frequently for another 10 minutes
Turn heat down to low and simmer 15-20 minutes

I love this ratatouille over polenta, but it’s also great on a baked potato or just by itself.

This polenta recipe is the one from The Pantry Principle, if you’d like you can put fresh mozzarella on top of the polenta after it’s been cooked and then put the hot ratatouille on top.  This will cause the mozzarella to melt into ooey deliciousness and makes the whole meal delightful.

Polenta

So easy to make at home that you’ll wonder why you ever bought it. The homemade version is much more versatile and, by choosing organic cornmeal, can be GMO free polenta.

1 C. cornmeal
1 t. sea salt
3 C. water

Bring water and salt to a boil
Reduce water to a simmer
Very slowly add cornmeal (this is important to avoid lumps)
Cook approximately 20 minutes until mixture thickens
Remove from heat and pour into a pie plate (for triangles) or a cake pan (for squares)
Let polenta set for 10-15 minutes
Cut and serve

Enjoy!