Thursday, January 26, 2012


One of my favorite meals, a meal I don't make nearly as often as I should, is Shepard's pie. As a kid, I would beg my mom to make it - for me, it didn't even matter what she hid within its contents.

Today I made three different versions of this old-time favorite, one to fit each of the tastes and needs of my family members. Normally I don't fancy myself a short-order cook but there are some meals that, given the different dietary restrictions and preferences of myself and family, I just can't get around. There's the husband that swears he needs meat and cheese in his life [I learned a bit ago to not push the matter - prayer seems to be much more effective than nagging anyway], the toddler who is going through somewhat of a picky, independent phase and whom we have chosen to raise vegetarian, and myself, the girl with multiple food allergies. It sounds like a lot of hassle but honestly the adjustments were so simple I barely noticed. 

A little, but completely relevant, aside - in making this me I stumbled upon a great snack for my daughter. She loves to sit on the counter and help me cook and as I was assembling the frozen vegetables, into the dish went her little hand and out it came with a handful of veggies that was immediately plunged into her mouth. To say I was excited is an understatement. Add that to the arsenal of snacks I have to keep a child happy!

May this warm, hearty meal find your empty tummy and fill it with both nourishment and contentment.


6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 - 2 tbsp. ghee, non-dairy butter substitute, or olive oil [more if necessary]
1 - 2 tsp. Real Salt sea salt
1 - 2 tbsp. dried chives
1/2 c. non-dairy milk [I love homemade pumpkin seed milk; more if necessary]

Place potatoes in a medium pot and add water until all of the potatoes are just covered. Cover and bring to boil. Once the water boils, remove cover and boil until potatoes are very soft. Drain cooking water and add in remaining ingredients. Mix with beaters or stand mixer, gradually moving up to a medium-high speed. Add more non-dairy milk if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.

While the potatoes are cooking...

6 carrots [medium - large], scrubbed well [peel if anything but organic] and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

Place carrot slices in a small saucepan and add just enough water to fill the bottom of the pan [about 1/2-inch]. Bring water to boil and simmer carrots until just beginning to soften [7 - 10 minutes].

While the potatoes and carrots are cooking...

1 lb. organic, pastured raised ground beef [optional]
1 large onion, minced

Place meat in a large cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat until browned all the way through, stirring occasionally. Add onion about half way through cooking process.

Note: I specify frozen below because this is what I had in the freezer, stored from this past years garden.

Broccoli, frozen
Peas, frozen
Corn, frozen
Green beans, frozen and cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces
2 large garlic cloves or 3 - 4 more medium / small cloves, minced
2 tsp. thyme
1 - 2 tsp. freshly ground rosemary [I used dried rosemary here]
Rubbed sage leaves, to taste [take dried sage leaves and rub between hands to crumble]
1 - 2 tsp. Real Salt sea salt 
Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
1 - 1 1/2 c. of vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Place all frozen vegetables, garlic, herbs, and seasonings in glass baking dish of choice. Mix well [using hands works great here]. Add a layer of beef [if using] and carrots. Again, mix [use a spoon as the meat and carrots will be hot]. Gently pour vegetable broth over entire dish [a thin layer may or may not collect at the bottom of the dish]. Finally, top with mashed potatoes. You can lightly sprinkle with cheese if you so desire [my husband likes a blend of white sharp cheddar and Parmesan, 3:1 ratio]. 

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 - 10 minutes.

This will make one large 9 x 13 baking dish or a few smaller dishes and serves appx. 6 - 8 people at appx. $1.00 - $1.50 per serving.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I think winter is here to stay, at least for the next few months. This means, bring on the soups! Black bean soup has become one of my absolute favorites and a mainstay in our household. I typically make a double or triple batch and freeze what we don't eat at dinner. 

If you live in a snow-laden area of the world, than I wish you happy ski-ing [or snow shoeing, or skating, or snowman making, or broom-balling, snow angel-ing, or...ahh, winter]!


Black beans are such a wonderful food, I don't know where to begin. Okay, maybe I do. Black beans are so versatile you can use them in just about anything, including cookies and brownies [you can use black instead of garbanzo beans, as listed]. These little guys bring on the warm fuzzies and help to reduce damp conditions [think phlegm]. Not only that, they are a great source of soluble fiber [beans in general are one of the best sources on the planet]. Fiber in general, but specifically the digestible form, is something severely lacking the the SAD [Standard American Diet]. High fiber equates to lower risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Now I'll eat to that!


Kombu is actually a seaweed but trust me, there is nothing fishy about it. When added to a soup or any other dish that is simmered or slow cooked, it enhances the flavor and nutrients and generally dissolves into the soup during the cooking process [if, not it can easily be broken up]. When combined with beans, it helps to increase digestibility and reduce those not-so-nice side effects beans have unfortunately become synonymous with. 

One note, if you are pregnant you should not eat kombu in excess as it reduces masses in the body [like tumors and cysts] and could lead to miscarriage.


Note: I believe this recipe may have been created by Terry Walters and can be found in either of her books Clean Start or Clean Food. If I'm wrong and it's yours, I apologize for not jotting down the recipe source [and have since become a bit smarter on that front]!

Lightly saute the following:
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped

Add the following and saute 1 minute more:
2 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. Real Salt sea salt

Combine these remaining ingredients and the ones above in a crockpot:
6 c. cooked black beans [you can used canned or homemade here]
1 thumb size piece of kombu [optional]*
4 cups of vegetable stock or water
2 tsp. mirin or rice wine [optional]
1 tbsp. tamari

Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove 1/4 of soup and puree or blend just before serving. Mix in with the un-pureed soup.

You can also place all in a stock pot and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes if you are starting this later in the day.

Serve with 1/2 a sandwich or two slices of lightly toasted bread [I love this recipe but you can use store bought as well] dusted with a little salt, garlic granules, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. It is also wonderful served with a salad.

Friday, January 13, 2012


From the moment my daughter wakes in the morning, she wants food. First I nurse her, then we brush our teeth [yes, we are pre-breakfast brushers], try to make my bed as quickly as possible [she loves to hand me the pillows in between emptying Daddy's bedside drawers], and then promptly head for the kitchen . One of her favorite meals over the last few months has been warm oats with fruit and a variety of seeds. We cook the oats together [she loves to be my little sous chef] and then head to the floor where we eat picnic-style.

Maybe it's the cold winter weather or the large open space that comes with having combined kitchen, dining, and living areas, but for some reason it just feels cozier if we snuggle up, hidden within the confines of the cupboards. It's one of my favorite times of the day - something I cherish and look forward to each morning. I hope that one day my daughter is able to look back on this time we have together and remember, if not the specific event, the feeling of morning breakfasts with mom. May she always experience breakfast this way.

Amaranth is a great food, especially for infants and toddlers and pregnant women and nursing women and people who do heavy manual labor and on and on and on [you'll find it in this recipe]. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that wherever amaranth is consumed regularly, there is no malnutrition [see source below]. Let me say it again, no malnutrition. It is packed with protein [apparently the digestible kind!] providing half your daily needs, as well as calcium [and the necessary nutrients to help calcium absorption - magnesium and silicon], phosphorous, iron, and zinc. If your child is congested, try giving him / her amaranth to disperse the dampness [found with congestion] and relieve the stuffiness. If you suffer from heavy menstrual cycles, amaranth may help to reduce some of the bleeding if consumed regularly. It is worth trying to fit this food into your and your family's diet whenever possible. Start small [as in this recipe] and work up. My daughter now loves it plain, especially the texture, or with fruit and seed milk. 


1 c. old-fashioned gluten-free oats* 
1/4 - 1/3 c. amaranth [experiment with the quantity to find something you like]*
2 tsp. freshly ground flaxseeds**
2 tsp. freshly ground pumpkin seeds**
2 tsp. freshly ground chia seeds**
8 slices of frozen peaches [or 1 large fresh peach if in season]
2 - 2 1/2 c. of purified water
1 c. frozen blueberries [or fresh if in season]
1/2 c. freshly made hemp or pumpkin seed milk***

Place oats, amaranth, water [start with the smaller amount and add if necessary], ground seeds, and peach slices in a small saucepan. Cook on low to medium-low until soft and all the liquid has been absorbed [appx. 10 minutes]. Once the oat mixture is cooked thoroughly, gently fold in the blueberries. Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Pour into bowl[s] and top with freshly made hemp or pumpkin seed milk.

Serves 2 - 4 depending on serving size / appx. $0.80 per serving.

*I like to soak my oats and amaranth over night [well, when I remember]. Place both in a glass bowl and cover with 1 cup of purified water. Place in the refrigerator and let soak overnight [appx. 8 hours]. Soaking will make these foods more digestible and will also cut down on cooking time.

**If you are short on time you can make a larger batch of these ground seeds, mix them together, and store in a glass jar [tightly sealed] in the freezer. They should keep for about a week.

***For great, step-by-step instructions on how to make seed milk [it is really easy and will save you money] go here. Boxed milks are actually considered a processed food, something worth eliminating as they can tax your digestive system, specifically your liver. I found a great old-fashioned glass milk jar while antiquing one day. The look of my homemade milk in the jar encourages me to keep it full!

Source for information on amaranth: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood, pg. 10

Friday, January 6, 2012


For many the word "detoxification" conjures up images of deprivation, immediate feelings of hunger and irritability, panic, and an instant list of thousand reasons why "now just isn't the time". I know because every time I think about detoxing my body I have to fight my old flight or fight instincts.

Of course, some of those feelings are valid and based on personal experience with a stricter regime. In some cases juice fasting, water fasting, and other minimalist fast programs are important and vital to health but these require professional assistance and monitoring. They also may not be easy if you are a busy parent trying to hold down a career and a family, a mom or dad who stays at home and needs all the fuel you can get to keep up with the kiddos, a student who needs nutrients to focus and stay alert, or someone who does significant manual labor. These especially don't work [and aren't safe] if you are pregnant or nursing, elderly, a growing teen, or have trouble keeping on weight.

Evenso, just like each of us, our bodies still need a moment to cleanse themselves, take a break and catch up. We call it vacation. In the health world it's called detoxification.

To be honest, ever since I had my daughter my body has been crying out for a break. Like a parent getting to know her baby's cries, the body acts in a similar fashion. The more I listen and pay attention, the more aware I am of the meaning of each cry and can meet that need. Unfortunately, it's taken me until just recently to find a program that I feel is safe to do while I'm nursing. It uses whole foods rather than water or juice [although these are a part of the program as well], lasts twenty-one days, and really focuses on eliminating additives, sweeteners, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine* [please read note below if you are nursing / pregnant and considering this plan].

Now you might be thinking [especially if you know me well], "do you eat any of those anyway?" Well, no. But I do use sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and brown rice syrup and, although they are better choices and host health benefits, it is still good to give the body a break. I also eat baked goods and however good they may be, these foods still tend to be more clogging to the system rather than eliminatory.  no matter what my or your diet looks likes, there is always room for improvement, a time of change, and a little digestive vacation. It's actually the variety of foods found in this 21-day plan that really drew me in. I love that it focuses on specific foods to work on particular areas of the body. 

So what is the plan? It's Whole Living Magazine's 2012 Clean Eating Action Plan. You can find it in their February 2012 edition or, hooray!, the entire plan can be found online - go here.

I'll be starting this plan on Monday and I encourage you to find twenty-one days [in a row] and do the same. The key to success is to plan well and know your motivation. Write down why you desire to detoxify your body and keep those reasons visible to motivate you to begin and complete the plan. Find a family member or friend to journey with and let your immediate family in on your plan so they can support you in this effort. Keep a journal of how you feel - it's easy to forget the benefits when your back into normal, every day life. It will also act as encouragement throughout the twenty-one days. Remember that if you feel crummy at first [headaches, nausea, irritability] it just means it's working. You had a lot of stuff to get rid of and your body is doing a good job.

*Special Note for Pregnant or Nursing Women: This is the only detox that I believe safe enough to do while pregnant or nursing as long as you take a few extra measures to ensure it's safety. These are really important! First, begin to remove processed foods, caffeine and alcohol [no-nos anyway], sugar, and food additives [like preservatives, food colorings, etc.] PRIOR to beginning the detox. You'll want to gently ease your body into this and reducing the toxic load upon beginning the detox is important. The reason many health professionals don't recommend detoxing while nursing or breastfeeding is that the eliminated toxins may go directly to the fetus or into the breastmilk and on to your child. PLEASE be diligent about this. If you eat any processed foods [boxed, canned, and/or bagged], baked goods, consume alcohol / caffeine on a regular basis, eat non-organic meats / cheeses / milks, eat farmed or non-sustainably raised fish and seafood, eat foods with food coloring or preservatives, and/or have a high sugar intake you should forgo the detox and work to eliminate these foods from your diet. Don't risk it. Once these foods have been eliminated for a good period of time you can then, and only then, try the detox. Secondly, upon beginning the detox, make sure you do not get hungry or stay in the "hunger-zone" for long. Eat as much as it takes to stay full. Add ground seeds [like flax, hemp, chia, and pumpkin seeds] to smoothies, salads, and soups to ensure you are getting enough good fats [omega-3s]. You can also add ground nuts in a similar fashion to increase the fat and protein content. Drizzle olive oil on salads and in soups [if it is not already listed in the recipe] and add coconut oil and avocados to smoothies. Thirdly, make sure you are taking the appropriate supplements [prenatals, etc.]. Lastly, talk to your doctor and review your plan with him / her and talk with a holistic health professional to review the recipes and your current situation / toxic load BEFORE beginning. 

During the detox play you can also look at other areas of your life, outside of your diet, that may need some cleaning up. For example:

1. Turn off the TV, radio, news programs, and put down the paper. Take a break from media and enjoy the outdoors, reading for enjoyment or self fulfillment, or spend time with your family.

2. Find areas in your house that need organizational support, donate things you aren't wearing or using, and simplify your surroundings.

3. Get outside and breathe the fresh air.

4. Bring in live plants to help clean your air and crack windows [even if it's cold outside and if only for 5 minutes] to get some natural air inside.

5. Meditate, pray, find a spiritual practice that works for you and try to fit it in daily - even if it's a simple five minutes of focused, intentional time.

6. Exercise. Get your blood moving! Sweat is a great way to speed up the detoxification process. The skin in the most accessible and largest eliminatory organ - use it!

7. Skin brush. Say what? Yes, that's right, brush your skin. Prior to your showers, brushing your skin can stimulate blood flow, remove dead skin cells, and prepare the body for elimination. Go here for more details.

8. Make a list of goals for 2012. Pin them up so you see them on a regular basis and make a plan to achieve those goals.

9. Spend time laughing. Find ways to increase your enjoyment of life and the people in it.

10. Organize your work space. De-clutter your office, take 15 minute breaks and get outside, bring in a plant, and try to make the space a place you enjoy being.

On a special note, recently a recipe of mine was published on My New Roots website in Sarah's Holiday Reader Recipe Challenge Online Cookbook. Check it out!

I hope you the encouragement to get started, the discipline to stick with whatever you choose, and the joy that comes when greater health is achieved. May your body reward you and may you be blessed through this journey.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


As I reflect on this past year two things really stand out to me. First, 2010 was a rollercoaster of a year for my family and I so going into 2011 I prayed desperately that 2011 would be one full of peace and stability. About a month ago I realized that my prayer was answered. It has been a year of much needed Sabbath for me and for that I am so grateful. The second is that it has been a year of wonderful food. Our garden was successful and what we didn't grow I found [organically] elsewhere. Some of my favorite recipes were born throughout this past year, which brings me to this post. I've put together a list of some of my absolute favorites.

May your new year be filled with anticipation, excitement, peace, contentment, and health. May you find time to realize and rejoice the goodness of this past year, reflect on what you desire in this next year, and find the boldness to ask for it. May you receive all that is necessary for you to enjoy a blessed 2012.

Grace and peace, friends.


Buttercup Custard

Homemade Ramen Soup

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Gluten Free Bread

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles with Maple-Ginger Syrup

Chilled Strawberry Soup

Creamy Pumpkin Ice Cream

Rose's Dolma Recipe

Macaroni and Cheese

Roasted Tomato and Basil Pesto Ravioli

Quinoa Cabbage Rolls

Homestyle Refried Beans

Hummus Among Us

Creme De Menthe Tea

Pumpkin Goji Smoothie