Monday, May 30, 2011


1 lamb shoulder or leg of lamb, de-boned, cut into 1 inch cubes


1 1/2 c. finely chopped onions
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tbsp. dried)
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped (or 2 tbsp. dried)
3 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped (or 3 tsp. dried)
2 tsp. Real Salt sea salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Combine all marinade ingredients in glass bowl. Add lamb cubes, cover, and refrigerate 2 - 4 hours (more for fuller flavor).

In cast iron skillet, heat 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil. Once skillet is heated (careful to not let it smoke), add lamb and marinade. Cook, stirring often, until lamb is a very light pink inside and lightly browned on outside. Remove from heat.

Gently heat teff wrap. Top with lamb, lettuce and dill cream sauce.

(Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse's Greek-Style Lamb Kebabs feature on Good Morning America on 06.18.2010)

Friday, May 27, 2011


Fatigue, skin problems, mucus and toxic build-up, food and other sensitivities, disease. What do these all have in common? Outside of the obvious "they're all a bummer with a capital 'B'", they symptoms that could be related to an acid-alkaline imbalance in the body.

What is acid-alkaline balance?

Foods are basically classified as acid or alkaline with a few that fall under the neutral category. This doesn't mean how acid or alkaline the food itself is. Instead, foods are categorized by determining the type of residue that remains after that particular food has been metabolized by the body. A human's normal pH is a little over 7.0 [7.41 if you are into exacts] and a good pH reading ranges from 6.5 - 7.5. However, due to our high acid forming American diet, many people have a dangerously high acidity level and don't even realize it! Even people that tend to have a healthier lifestyle could be imbalanced. Foods can greatly affect this balance for the better or for the worse. If the body is to acidic, it tries elimination through the colon, kidneys, skin, sinuses and mucus membranes. This is why an acidic body can lead to the symptoms I mentioned above.

So, what do you do?

First, take a pH test [through urine analysis]. It is so simple and can be done at home. Purchase some pH papers [many drug and grocery stores sell them] but make sure that the test range is at least 5.5 to 8.5. Add some [ahem] pee and compare the color on the strip to the chart provided with the pH papers. If you are 6.0 and under you are acidic and are probably feeling worn out. 6.5 - 7.5 is neutral, otherwise known as the healthy repair / restore zone, while 8.0 and up is overly alkaline [if this is the case on a regular basis or you are constantly getting a reading between 7.5 and 8.0, talk to your doctor as your body may be in a state of tissue breakdown]. The most accurate depiction of your body's balance is most likely the first pH test you do upon waking up in the morning. Work to get this reading in the healthy zone. However, the first couple of days, do a test at various times throughout the day [3 - 5 tests]. This may give you a good picture of how different foods affect the body.

If you are a walking acidic environment, you can change your diet and thus your pH with a little effort and diligence.

Foods that are alkaline and will help lower acidity are:
all vegetables, most fruits, millet, buckwheat, sprouted beans, sprouted seeds, olive oil and water-soaked almonds

Balanced foods include:
brown rice, corn, soybeans, lima beans, almonds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, honey, most dried beans and peas, tofu, nonfat milk, and vegetable oils

Foods that are acidic and will increase acidity are:
wheat, oats, white rice, pomegranates, strawberries, cranberries, breads, refined flour, refined sugar, cashews, pecans, peanuts, butter, milk, cheeses, eggs, meats, fish and poultry

And of course, water is the ultimate healer so be sure to be very diligent about getting at least 8 8 ounce glasses [10 would be even better] of pure water each day.

Haas, Elson M. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 2006.
Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellnees. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2005.

All of this leads me to stir-fry, a fantastically tasty and easy way to get a whole lot of vegetables into your body.

Veggie Stir-Fry

large hand full each of kale, bok choy, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and onions [substitute any vegetables you like], chopped
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 - 2" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 c. of olive oil
2 - 4 tbsp. of tamari or to taste [make sure it is a wheat-free, gluten-free brand]

Pour oil into skillet or wok and heat on medium until warmed. Carefully add garlic, ginger, onions, and carrots. Saute until onions are just beginning to become transparent. Add the remaining vegetables and tamari sauce. Cook on medium for 2 - 3 minutes or until all of the veggies are bright with color [green in this case] and just beginning to soften. Remove from heat and serve over cooked millet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Last summer I canned a lot [and I mean A LOT] of blueberries and cherries. This means that this year I have a lot of blueberry and cherry juice left over. Instead of letting it go to waste, I use the juices in this simple syrup recipe. Any berry [or other juice] can be substituted.

Juice of choice
Equal part honey

Combine equal parts honey and juice is saucepan and warm over low heat. Cook until combined. Allow to cool and refrigerate in airtight glass jar. I love this syrup on waffles, oatmeal, porridge, and use it in smoothies as well.

It is important to note that by cooking the honey, it is no longer considered raw and will lose some of its beneficial properties. For a more relaxed warming method, simply set a small capped jar filled half way with honey in a bowl of warm water until honey is slightly thinned and more liquid-like. Add juice of choice, cap, and shake vigorously to combine or stir well. Store in refrigerator and use this warming method if wanting a syrup-like consistency.

Note from Tina: I make a [blue] elderberry syrup in the fall to prepare for cold season. Blue elderberries are used as a herbal cold remedy and honey is great for coating sore throats. See Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health for that recipe and more herbal remedies.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


1/2 c. strawberries [frozen or fresh]
1/2 c. blueberries [frozen or fresh]
1 ripe banana
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
1 avocado [optional]
ground pumpkin, flax, or sesame seeds [or combination of all three, optional]
1/2 c. water or apple juice [if using water, add about 1 - 2 tsp. agave nectar or maple syrup]
1/2 c. coconut milk beverage [or use the coconut that separates from the water in a can of regular coconut milk to make a creamy, coconut-ty tasting popsicle - can also use another non-dairy milk alternative]

Blend all ingredients on high. Pour into popsicle cups. Place in freezer and freeze appx. 4 hours or until solid.


A week or two ago we had some unusually hot weather for Michigan. As a special treat for my 10 month old [and a way to cool her off], I made her a popsicle. She loved it, made a mess and ate the whole thing! Here is the recipe:

1/4 c. organic apple juice [not from concentrate]
1/4 c. pure water [I like water filtered by reverse osmosis]
small handful of organic blueberries
3 - 4 organic strawberries
1/2 an organic banana

Blend all well and pour into popsicle makers. Place in freezer until frozen and treat your baby on a hot day!

Note from Tina: This is a great way to add raw vegetables into your childrens' diet. I like to mix in sprouts, wheatgrass (powder or juice), kale, spinach, and any other veggies I can get my hands on. If you have an infant, make sure you only add foods that you have already introduced and he / she does well on.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I have never been a fan of chilled soups - in fact, in most cases, I found them revolting [I should put a disclaimer here that I have never been brave enough to try any of them either]. However, a friend of mine recently introduced me to strawberry soup and I am hooked! This soup is so refreshing and light that it can be considered breakfast, a snack, or a fresh dessert on a warm day.

1 c. apple juice
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. honey [or agave nectar or maple syrup, adjust to taste]
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Combine in saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool.

3 c. strawberries, frozen or fresh
1 14-oz can of full fat coconut milk or 2 c. greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla

Puree with cooled apple juice mixture in a blender until smooth.

Pour into individual dessert bowls and place in freezer until well chilled and ice crystals are just beginning to form. If you are using frozen strawberries, serve immediately for the same effect. You can refrigerate for a more soup-like consistency.

[This recipe is adapted from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wart, p. 42]

Monday, May 16, 2011


If you are anything like me, you get the feeling, sometime around March, that everything is dirty, smells and out of place. There is this restless itch that only fresh air, deep cleaning and organization can cure. It's spring cleaning time. I don't know whether to love it or hate it but I do know that I love the feeling after a few weeks of tackling various cleaning projects around the house. Everything sparkles and shines and smells like sweet orange and lemon--and not the fake, chemically induced kind.

Over the years I've eliminated all of the toxic products I had previously collected but this year I took it one step further. In March, I reinvented my dust-busting armory with a few simple recipes I found in The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning by Karyn Siegel-Maier. Here are some of my most used combinations.

Note from Tina: If you decide to clean out your toxic supplies be sure to dispose of them safely. This means foregoing dumping them down the drain, flushing in the toilet or dumping them outside [doing any of these endangers the ground water, streams, lakes, rivers and most importantly you, me, and the children who drink and play in them]. Instead, take them to a place that safely disposes of toxic chemicals - contact your local recycling agency or Department of Environmental Quality to find out where to bring them.

Lemon Blast Cleaner

1 tsp. liquid castile soap
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 c. water
6 drops citrus seed extract [like grapefruit seed extract - you can find it at most health food stores]
4 drops lemon, lime, orange, or eucalyptus essential oil [or a combination of any of these]
1 tsp. borax

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well before each use. Spray generously on surface and wipe with cloth or sponge. Wipe dry with towel.

Easy Breezy Glass Cleaner

1 c. water
1 c. white vinegar
10 drops of lemon or lime essential oil [or combination of the two]

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake a few times to blend. Spray lightly onto a cleaning cloth and wipe surfaces until dry. Shake before each use.

Germs-Be-Gone Toilet Cleaner

2 c. water
1/4 c. liquid castile soap
1 tbsp. tea tree essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray on toilet surfaces and wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge.

Easy-Does-It Bowl Cleaner

1/2 c. baking soda
1/4 c. white vinegar
10 drops tea tree essential oil

Combine all ingredients. Just add to the bowl, swipe with a brush, and you're done.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I adapted this recipe from a recipe my friend Aubrey came up with based on a delicious tea drink she had tried in Chicago.

1/2 c. water
1/2 c. non-dairy milk [rice, almond, coconut, etc.]
1 handful [appx. 1/4 c.] fresh mint leaves [fresh is really the way to go here but if you don't have fresh I would use 1 tbsp. dried mint with a splash of mint extract]
honey or maple syrup [optional - to taste]
1 tbsp. raw cacao [optional]
1 tbsp. vanilla Rooibos tea [I use a raspberry-vanilla that is fantastic - you can find Rooibos tea at Mountain Rose Herbs or Global Infusion - Global Infusion is a local shop in Grand Rapids].

Bring 1/2 c. of water to boil. Pour into mug or glass and steep 20 minutes. While tea is steeping, place milk and mint in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer, 15 minutes. The milk and tea should be ready at the same time. Strain mint from milk and add to tea. Stir in sweetener of choice (if using).

If you want to make the chocolate version of this, add the cacao to the milk and mint when there is 5 minutes left to simmer. Stir until well combined. I would use a small amount of sweetener if using cacao.

If you want a frothy top, pour milk (after strained) into blender and blend on medium-high for 15 - 20 seconds. Pour into tea, reserving the froth until the very end.

This is also wonderful on ice (just cool and pour over ice) or blended as a smoothie (add ice and avocado / banana, blend until smooth).

Sunday, May 8, 2011


To all the mothers out there - Happy Mother's Day!

The cherry blossoms recently bloomed in our orchard. This reminded me that I still have canned cherries in the pantry and rhubarb in the freezer. So, here is a simple dessert to celebrate the spring season and all those hard working moms!



4 c. rhubarb [frozen or fresh, chopped into 1" pieces]
1 quart canned cherries or appx. 4 c. fresh, pitted and halved
4 tbsp. arrowroot powder
4 tbsp. gluten-free flour [see recipe below]
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. pure maple syrup or coconut sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a large glass bowl and pour into 8 x 8 glass baking dish.

Crumble Topping

1 1/2 c. gluten-free oats [1/2 c. ground in food processor]
1/2 c. gluten-free flour [see recipe below]
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/4 c. grapeseed or coconut oil
1/2 c. raw honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
pinch each of allspice and cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl and mix well. Spoon onto cherry mixture and spread evenly across top.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 20 -  30 minutes, uncovered. Cover with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Cool 20 minutes before serving.

Flour Blend [Gluten-free]

1 c. buckwheat or brown/white rice flour
1/2 c. tapioca flour
1/2 c. potato starch

Combine all ingredients in a quart-size ball jar. Secure lid and shake to mix. 

Vanilla-Coconut Whipped Topping

2 15-ounce cans full fat [regular] coconut milk
4 T. pure maple syrup or raw honey
1 T. vanilla extract or scraped insides of 1 vanilla bean

Place coconut milk in refrigerator for a few hours to chill. This allows the coconut water to separate from the coconut cream. To expedite process, place in freezer for 30 - 60 minutes. Skim off the coconut cream from the cans of coconut [this is the bright white cream on top when you open the can]. Reserve the "water" or milky liquid for a smoothie, making oatmeal, or cookin. Combine the coconut cream with remaining ingredients and whip [with whisk attachment if using KitchenAid mixer] five minutes or until light and fluffy. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour and serve.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Asparagus season is a short but bountiful. Because asparagus is one of the first "fruits" after the long winter months, this has become one of my most anticipated times of the year. I've found that it is really important to eat asparagus right after picking it to experience the best flavors [if you are getting it from the Farmer's Market, ask the farmer when it was picked]. A quick saute can bring out the best flavors of asparagus and keep the freshness in tack.

If you are picking directly from your garden, the snap-off method can save you from having to chop off the hard ends later. Simply take hold of the stalk near the ground and bend, allowing it to snap at it's own natural break. Some farmers at the market use this method as well and finding that farmer will save you money, especially if you are paying by the pound [no need to pay for the tough ends you won't be eating anyway]!

To saute, put 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a cast iron skillet and heat at medium - high until oil is hot [but not smoking]. Toss in asparagus, reducing heat to medium, and saute 3 - 5 minutes or until stalks are just soft on the outside and slightly browned. Turn off heat, sprinkle with garlic salt, and savor! Garlic and onion are also wonderful additions.

Happy asparagus-ing!

Note from Tina: This is so simple that it can be a quick snack [in place of those processed options] or add color to a meal as a side.

Monday, May 2, 2011



Artichokes are a new found friend for me. I am actually going to try growing them in my own garden, although my guess is we will not have a long enough season. But hey! It's worth a shot!

I love artichoke hearts in pasta, frittatas, on pizza and in anything else I can sneak them into. Although the standard oil soaked hearts are tasty they are also heavy in the fat and should be used in small amounts. In response to that, I thought this time I would try my hand at cooking [and eating] the whole thing without the heavy oils. It's actually extremely simple and surprisingly delicious!


2 medium sized artichokes
1 tbsp. lemon juice or the juice of 1/2 a lemon

Cut stem off artichokes, leaving 1/2 inch or less. Cut off about 1/3 of the top. Place the artichokes in a medium size pot of water and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat [you should have gentle simmer]. Cook for 40 - 60 minutes or until the leaves easily pull off [test a leaf at 30 - 45 minutes]. Strain water, cool slightly, and serve with dill cream sauce.


3/4 c. cashew cream
2 - 3 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried mint (or 1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped)
1 tsp. dried chives (or 2 tsp. fresh)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or 1 - 2 cloves, to taste)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 - 2 tsp. dried dill (or 1 tbsp. fresh)

Combine all in food processor or blender and mix on high until well blended and creamy. Refrigerate 30 minutes and serve with steamed artichokes.