Wednesday, December 31, 2014

TOP POSTS OF 2014



About this time last year as I waited for the calendar to flip from 2013 to 2014, I sent up a prayer asking for a year of quiet and rest. 2013 had been filled with struggle and my physical and spiritual health mirrored the toll those twelve months [years?] had taken on my body and soul. It's 30 minutes to midnight and I'm sitting here in such gratitude for the answer to a whispered prayer - the blessing and healing found within this past year.

May 2015 be one of joy and creativity, beauty and grace. Happy New Year friends.

[TOP TWELVE RECIPES OF 2014]













[TOP TWELVE  BOOKS OF 2014]

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr

Energy Medicine by Donna Eden

Emotional Intimacy by Robert Augustus Masters

Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith

The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater


Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

Eat, Taste, Heal by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda, and Johnny Brannigan

Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris



Sunday, November 9, 2014

SUPER IMMUNITY JELL-O

We've been enjoying a lot of jello in our house recently. I've made jello a host of ways with a variety of layers and flavors but this is the one I land on most often. It has both form and function - is delicious and beneficial. I don't add any sweetener to mine as I prefer the sour tilt but raw honey is a wonderful way to add some sweet as well as a nutritional boost.

[THE RECIPE]

2 c. cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 c. dried elderberries
1/4 c. dried bilberries
1/8 c. dried hawthorn berries
4, 1-inch pieces of fresh ginger or 1 - 2 tsp. dried minced ginger
4 c. water
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 - 4 T. pure gelatin
Add-in options: raw, local honey [to taste], camu powder, ginseng powder, ginko powder, goji berries, coconut milk

Optional Roasting: Roasting really add depth to the flavor of this jello. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread berries onto baking stone or parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 7 minutes [if using fresh berries] or 10 - 15 minutes if using frozen berries. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Place dried berries, ginger, and water in a medium size saucepan. Bring water to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 25 - 45 minutes [the more time you do the stronger the tea will be]. Remove from heat, strain out the whole berries and ginger, and set tea aside to cool slightly.

Prepare a 9 x 13 glass baking dish by rubbing it with a light coat of coconut oil. Set aside.

In a blender container, place [roasted] berries, tea, lemon juice, gelatin, and any addition add-ins you may have*.

Blend on high to very smooth. Pour mixture into prepared glass dish and place in refrigerator for 2 - 4 hours to firm.

Cut into small squares or use cookie cutters to create fun shapes. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

*If you want to make this a two layer jello, simply blend 1/2 the ingredients as noted above, pour into prepared pan and place in freezer to set quickly. Reserve out the other half. Add 1 additional tablespoon of gelatin and 8 ounces of regular coconut milk [or milk of choice] to the remaining ingredients. Blend on high to smooth. Remove the jello from the freezer and pour in creamed layer. Place in refrigerator as noted above.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

QUESADILLAS WITH "CHEESY" BUTTERCUP SQUASH FILLING


Because my girls and I don't eat much dairy, quesadillas have been a bit of a challenge for us. However, the simplicity of the meal has had me forever enchanted.

Buttercup squash seem to hold a wonderful solution. These little guys have a thick flesh when cooked, reminiscent of a sweet potato, which is enough to hold together two finicky tortillas. The nutritional yeast and spices give it a "cheesy" flavor although [here's my disclaimer], cheese is cheese no matter how you cut it and, if we call it what it is, there isn't a substitute for the real stuff.

However, there is a different kind of really, really good and this is it.

So, put your preconceptions of what a quesadilla should be [or has been] on the shelf and give this a whirl. You might be surprised by your lack of disappointment.


[THE RECIPE]
Makes 2 - 4 Quesadillas

For the tortillas:

4 sprouted corn tortillas
extra virgin, raw coconut oil
sea salt

Gently rub, using hands, a thin coat of coconut oil over one side of each tortilla. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on each. Set aside.

For the "cheesy" spread:

1 large buttercup squash [or other thick-fleshed squash or sweet potato], roasted*
1/2 medium - large onion [or one small], finely chopped
1 - 2 tsp. raw, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 red, orange, or yellow sweet pepper, finely chopped
1 - 2 medium size carrots, shredded
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. powders of each: turmeric, coriander, and oregano
1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder [freshly ground if possible]
1 T. nutritional yeast
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 - 2 cups shredded greens [kale, spinach, pok choi, arugula, mustard greens, etc.]

Roast squash using instructions below [*].

In a medium cast iron or stainless steel pan, saute onion in a teaspoon or two coconut oil until onions are soft and just beginning to brown. Add pepper, shredded carrots, and garlic and saute for another minute or two until peppers are just beginning to soften.

Scoop roasted squash out of the shell and place in a blender with spices, yeast, and salt. Using a tamper, blend until very smooth. Add water by the tablespoon if mixture is too difficult to blend. The spread should have a thick, paste-like consistency.

Once sauce is blended [taste and make any necessary adjustments], spread onto the non-oiled side of half of the prepared tortillas. Top with the sauteed vegetables and shredded greens, add any additional fillings of choice [see suggestions below], and top with the remaining prepared tortillas. The oiled sides should be facing out. Place on a hot skillet or panini maker and cook until filling is warm [about two minutes]. Remove and gently cut into triangle pieces. Serve immediately with sides of choice [see suggestions below].

Optional Fillings:

additional sauteed vegetables
soaked and cooked beans of choice [black, adzuki, white, etc.]
shredded goat cheese
shredded chicken, beef, or lamb

Optional Sides:

salsa
fresh cilantro
avocado or guacamole
Greek Yogurt or non-dairy plain cultured yogurt of choice
coconut milk kefir

*To roast the squash, cut squash in half and scoop out stringy flesh and seeds. Place haves face-down [shell up] on a cookie sheet and cook at 450 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes or until soft. Use a knife or fork and gently prick to check. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 - 20 minutes or until you are able to handle the hot squash. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

SIMPLE PIZZA CRUST


My girls, like their father, love pizza. When I say love I mean LOVE. I've tried a host of pizza crust recipes ranging from a cauliflower to bean base. From gluten-free flour blends and yeast to straight from a box. Each time they came out okay. You know, edible. An occasional visitor but not necessarily a mainstay at our table.

Then I came across a recipe from Julie Morris in her book Superfood Kitchen and wondered if maybe she had hit on something grand. It's really simple with a minimal ingredients list, something lacking in many of the other recipes. Of course I needed to adjust some ingredients based on our family's specific dietary needs. I subbed different grains for rice flour and sneaked in a bit of squash for the beans.

And then, I held my breath and gave it to my two little [tough!] judges. They plowed through five pieces each. I'd call that success.

[THE RECIPE]
Adapted from Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris
Makes One Pizza Crust

1/2 c. sorghum, quinoa, or buckwheat flour
1/4 c. flaxseed powder
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 T. chia seeds
1 1/2 c. buttercup squash puree*
3 T. water

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Add the squash puree and water and mix well using hands, a spoon, or a mixer [I find a mixer works best here but use whatever you have]. Let sit for 15 - 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Gently spread dough out on a parchment-lined baking pan or pizza stone. Smooth to a 1/4-inch thick. If the dough gets sticky you can sprinkle extra flour or wet/oil spoon or hands.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and add toppings of choice [I show pesto with shredded goat cheese here]. Bake for an additional 5 - 10 minutes or until everything is cooked to your preference.

Cut into squares and serve immediately.

Monday, October 13, 2014

RED-VELVET PANCAKES

Recently I've been experimenting with my basic pancake recipe, giving it a little pizzazz. If you've visited your local market you know there are beets aplenty - one of the many stars of fall. Can you think of a better way to put these little babies to good use than slipping them into a pancake and calling it chocolate? Me either.  


[THE RECIPE]
Serves 4

Dry Ingredients:

3/4 c. quinoa, buckwheat, or sorghum flour
1/2 c. millet or oat flour
1/4 c. amaranth or teff flour
1/4 c. carob powder [or raw cacao powder]
2 T. mesquite powder [optional]
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. water [use cooking water from beets]
3/4 c. boiled and peeled beets [appx. 4 small]*
1/4 c. whole flaxseeds 
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. molasses [optional]

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside. If you're grinding your own flour using a Vita-mix, I like to add all of the dry ingredients to the dry-mix container and blend. 

Blend all of wet ingredients, separate from the dry ingredients, on high until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry, mixing constantly either by hand or with an electric mixer. When everything has been fully incorporated, gently fold into the batter any add-in ingredients [berries, nuts, dried fruit, shredded veggies, etc.]. 

Let sit for 15 minutes.

While batter sits, preheat oven to 200 degrees [F] and grab a glass baking dish. If you are using an electric skillet [one of the few times I do], heat the skillet to 315 - 325 degrees [you'll adjust the temperature as you go]. 

Pour 1/3 c. of the batter onto the warmed skillet. Batter should form a nice round but if not, gently spread it out with the back of a spoon or the measuring cup. Repeat 3 or 4 times, depending on the size of the pan. 

Cover skillet and cook for about 5 minutes or until the face of the pancakes begin to look cooked. Remove skillet cover and flip the pancakes. Return cover and cook for an addition 3 - 5 minutes or until both sides of the pancakes are browned. 

Turn off oven and place cooked pancakes in glass baking dish and warm in oven. Repeat with remaining batter. 

Once all of the pancakes are cooked and have had a few minutes in the oven, remove and serve immediately with ghee, real maple syrup [local if possible], and any toppings on choice.

*To prepare beets: scrub and rinse beets until all of the dirt has been removed. Place in a medium size pot and completely cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Gently boil until the beets are tender when poked with a fork. Remove from heat and reserve the cooking water / liquid [it should be bright red now]. Under cold water, remove skins of beets and discard. I like to do a large pot of beets and freeze the extra water and beet puree so I have some on hand when needed. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

SPICED APPLE PORRIDGE

As the cooler weather sets in, I naturally tend to gravitate towards the warmer blessings of life - a fire in the fireplace, endless mugs of hot tea [ginger is a favorite right now], heavy blankets, hooded sweatshirts, soups and stews and warm applesauce.

For me, this dish is nourishing with a hint of sweet, rich with flavor and depth, and helps keep me snug through these windy, cold days. The added spices are perfect for warming the body from the inside out.

Apples are in full swing if you choose to make your applesauce homemade. I prefer a mixed apple sauce and, here's a little secret, good farmers know their apples well. Generally they've been making applesauce from their own apples for years and can give you advice on which apples to choose. I've found asking my farmer to put together a basket of blended sauce apples is key to a successful end result. You can find an apple farmer at your local farmer's market or check out Local Harvest and search an organic farmer who grows apples [there are many out there who are uncertified but have amazing practices].


[THE RECIPE]
Single Serving

1 c. applesauce [unsweetened]
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
pinch of ginger powder
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon powder [optional]
1/2 c. seed or nut milk of choice [walnut and hemp milk are lovely]

In a small saucepan warm applesauce and spices over low heat. Once the spiced sauce is very warm [but not quite hot], remove from heat and pour into a single serving bowl. Pour milk over sauce, serve immediately, and enjoy!

Additional Add-In Options: toasted walnuts or almonds, ground flax or chia seed, raw stevia / honey / maple syrup if added sweetness is desired, pinch of ground cloves or cardamom, toasted coconut flakes, soaked raisins or currants, dried fruit of choice

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ZUCCHINI "PASTA"


[THE RECIPE]
Serves 2

Necessary Utensils:
Spiral Vegetable Slicer or Vegetable or Julienne Peeler
Cutting board and sharp knife
Colander
Cheese cloth or kitchen towel, optional

1 - 2 tsp. sea salt
4 small - medium zucchini*
1 - 2 T. coconut oil or ghee or use steam method for oil-free**
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
choice of veggies: bok choy [thinly chopped], fennel bulb and fronds [thinly sliced], kale [thinly sliced], chard [thinly sliced], spinach, and / or tomatoes [fresh or sun dried]
Herb Dressing or herbs of choice [basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, etc.] or use lemon juice with herbs for oil-free
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, optional / to taste


Slice zucchini according to the Spiral Vegetable Slicer instructions [I use the smallest blade] or using vegetable or julienne peeler [as instructed by manufacturer] to make thin pasta slices or noodles. If you are using the peeler, only work as far as the soft, seedy middle and then discard [the seedy middle won't hold up and make for mushy pasta].


Place sliced zucchini in colander [lined with cheesecloth or a towel, optional] and toss with  1 - 2 teaspoons of sea salt. It's important to make sure all the "noodles" are covered as this will pull the water from the vegetable. Set in either a glass baking dish, large bowl, or sink to collect water. Let stand for 30 minutes [minimum].


Meanwhile, warm oil in large cast iron skillet. Saute onions over medium-low heat until transparent and beginning to brown. Toss in garlic and veggies of choice and saute until vegetables are bright green and tender or wilted. Remove from heat and set aside until zucchini noodles are ready.

When zucchini noodles have sat for at least 30 minutes, rinse well under running water. If you used a cheesecloth or towel, gently pick up keeping the noodles in the center of the towel. Begin to gently ring out the water using the towel or cloth to hold the noodles. If you are using just the colander, gently press down on the noodles, pushing out water or pick up and squeeze. The point is to get as much water out of the noodles as possible.

Place skillet back over medium - high heat and add zucchini noodles. Stirring frequently, heat noodles until just hot and only slightly cooked.

Remove from heat and add Herb Dressing or toppings of choice. Top with toasted nuts or seeds, cooked quinoa, or shredded goat cheese. Lamb meatballs or a broiled fish filet are also delicious if you choose to add meat but remember, keep the servings at 80% vegetable pasta and 20% protein of choice [nuts, cheese, meats].

*Zucchini on the smaller side are the best choice in this case. The larger squash tend to have seedier, mushier centers which can be difficult to put through a spiral cutter. If you are using a vegetable or julienne peeler than size really doesn't make a difference although the younger zucchini tend to have a better flavor in my opinion.

**To steam: place prepared zucchini pasta in steam basket with a medium size pot. Fill pot with 1-inch of water [water should stay below basket]. Turn heat to high and bring water to boil. Steam for 2 - 3 minutes, turning pasta each minute, until just soft.


Monday, August 4, 2014

TWO SUMMER SALADS, ONE HERB DRESSING

Every March it happens. I become so giddy with the idea of fresh herbs I start, what seems like, way too many seeds. Then July rolls around and I am so grateful for the endless supply of basil and other decidedly "summer" flavors. I've been enjoying this dressing alongside almost every meal, preferably while sitting on the patio with a small glass of coconut water kefir.

The dressing is really easy to make and, if you don't have a garden, you can easily find herbs in bulk at your local Farmer's Market. Don't let a missing herb stop you - blend together whatever combination suites you and sub herbs you love for ones you may not favor. This recipe is a combination of my favorites but really, go nuts with whatever you've got.

Within this post you'll also find two of my go-to salads. I love the balance of raw greens with cooked vegetables and tend to make a large batch of the veggies so I have them at the ready when meal-time rolls around.


[HERB DRESSING RECIPE]

Note: This recipe makes a larger batch, about 4 or 5 half pint jars. I make large batches of this dressing and freeze it in small glass jars for a bit of summer flavor come winter chill. 

2 cups organic, extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 c. Genovese basil leaves
2 c. roughly chopped chives
1 c. lemon or lime basil [optional, if you don't have this simply add another cup of the Genovese basil]
1 c. parsley leaves
6 sprigs tarragon leaves

Optional Additions: toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds; toasted walnuts; nutritional yeast; garlic - raw, powdered, granulated, or roasted; onion powder; cayenne pepper

Pour oil into a large blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper. If you have a blender with a tamper you can layer all of the herbs [except the Genovese basil] into the blender and blend to smooth. Add the Genovese basil and blend again to smooth. If you are using a food processor or basic blender, add herbs in stages and blend to smooth before adding the next herb. Mixture should be thicker than standard dressing. If you prefer a pour-able dressing you can add a bit more oil and a couple pinches of salt.

Store in an airtight glass jar or freeze in small glass jars for winter use. I love this dressing with just about everything: salads, butternut squash hashbrowns, zucchini pasta, quinoa, fish, etc.

[CUMIN CARROT-RADISH + HERB QUINOA SALAD RECIPE]

4 - 5 medium size carrots, rinsed and sliced
8 - 12 radishes, rinsed and sliced
1 - 2 T. coconut oil or ghee, melted
4 T. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. sweet paprika
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 c. cooked soaked and sprouted quinoa* [this is a great way to use leftover quinoa from a previous meal]
1 T. herb dressing [see recipe above]
large handful baby greens or salad blend, rinsed and spun dry
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 - 2 T. raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut [optional]**
1 T. extra virgin olive oil [optional, I love using a lemon-flavored oil with this salad]

Place cumin seeds, paprika, a pinch or two of sea salt and ground pepper in a spice grinder or dry vita-mix container. Grind until seeds are powdered. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss carrot and radish slices with oil or ghee. Sprinkle ground cumin mixture over the oil-coated vegetables and mix well [using your hands works best here]. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft when poked with a fork.

While vegetables are baking, heat quinoa in a cast iron skillet over medium heat for about 5 - 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add herb dressing. Toss until quinoa is well coated.

Arrange greens on plate of choice. Drizzle with olive oil and layer warmed herb-quinoa, roasted vegetables, avocado, and sauerkraut. Enjoy immediately or cool.

*Soaking and sprouting quinoa really improved digestibility. Place quinoa in a glass jar and cover with double the amount of water. You can add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to increase the benefits of soaking. Cover with cheese cloth or mesh sprouting lid and let stand for 12 hours. Drain water, rinse, drain, and rinse. Place in jar in a warm, light area and rinse once or twice throughout day. Sprouts should appear in 24 - 36 hours. After sprouts appear, rinse and drain once more. Place in a pot and fill with just enough water to cover quinoa. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce heat to low until all liquid has been absorbed. Let stand covered for 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork. 

**Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut is packed with friendly bacteria. It's a great addition to any meal. If you purchase, make sure it is from a reputable source.

[GREEN BEAN + QUINOA SALAD RECIPE]

2 c. fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch size pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 c. cooked soaked and sprouted quinoa* [this is a great way to use leftover quinoa from a previous meal]
1 T. herb dressing [see recipe above]
large handful baby greens or salad blend, rinsed and spun dry
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 small cut of wild-caught, sustainably harvested fish of choice [I enjoy salmon or halibut]
1 T. + 2 tsp. coconut oil or ghee

Warm one tablespoon of oil or ghee in a medium-sized cast iron skillet or medium. Add onion and saute until very soft and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so. Toss in cut green beans and saute until beans are bright green [or yellow or purple depending on variety] and just beginning to soften. Remove from heat and set aside. 

In another small skillet, heat cooked quinoa over medium heat for about 5 - 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add herb dressing. Toss until quinoa is well coated. Add quinoa to cooked green beans and set aside. 

In the same skillet used for quinoa, warm 2 tsp. coconut oil or ghee over medium-high heat. Rub fish filet with sea salt and freshly ground pepper [you can be generous here!]. Carefully place filet in pan with oil and cover. When first side is browned flip and return cover. Cook until desired level of done-ness has been reached. You could also bake or broil fish if preferred.

If beans and quinoa have cooled, warm over low heat. 

Arrange greens on plate of choice. Layer with warm herb-quinoa and sauteed beans, avocado, and fish. Enjoy immediately or cool.

*Soaking and sprouting quinoa really improved digestibility. Place quinoa in a glass jar and cover with double the amount of water. You can add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to increase the benefits of soaking. Cover with cheese cloth or mesh sprouting lid and let stand for 12 hours. Drain water, rinse, drain, and rinse. Place in jar in a warm, light area and rinse once or twice throughout day. Sprouts should appear in 24 - 36 hours. After sprouts appear, rinse and drain once more. Place in a pot and fill with just enough water to cover quinoa. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce heat to low until all liquid has been absorbed. Let stand covered for 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

PUMPKIN + SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER



After quite a few attempts at making a creamy seed butter, I've finally gotten one I love. The recipe makes a more peanut butter-like seed butter so if you prefer sweet you can add a bit more stevia or coconut sugar.

[THE RECIPE]

2 c. raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
1 c. raw, shelled sunflower seeds

If you want a basic seed butter simply toss with salt and skip the spices. For a spiced bend use the following spices:

3 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon powder
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
2 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. vanilla powder
1/2 tsp. cardamom powder

Option Additions: hemp seeds, flax seeds, raw stevia powder, coconut sugar

Place pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a quart-size jar. Cover with water [filling jar] and secure a tight-fitting lid. Let soak overnight on the counter. In the morning, drain the water, rinse well and drain again. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the soaked seeds on a baking sheet and toss with remaining ingredients. Bake 20 minutes, stir, bake an additional 20 minutes, and stir. After 40 minutes total of baking time, turn off the oven and let the seeds sit in the oven until they are a deep golden brown [10 - 20 additional minutes] but not dark brown. Remove and cool completely.

Place cooled seeds in a blender [with tamper option] or food processor. Turn on blender or processor and gradually make your way to the highest setting, scraping the sides as needed. You shouldn't have to put much effort into keeping down the mixture, the machine will do most of the work [this is where I've gone wrong in the past. I would continually push the mixture down with the tamper rather than just letting it be]. It will start to become a thick paste-like consistency and maybe choke a bit. After a couple minutes enough of the oils will be released and the butter will start to flow more consistently. Once you've achieved a nut butter or creamy consistency, add whatever additions you choose [see options above] and continue to blend to smooth. Pour [you may need a spatula] into a glass container and let cool before storing in refrigerator.

Friday, July 25, 2014

COCONUT WATER & COCONUT MILK KEFIR

I recently started making my own kefir [milk and water] and am so excited about it I had to post it here. First, I love the taste and texture - a bit tart, with a hint of lemon, thick and creamy if milk kefir and light and fizzy if coconut water kefir. It's packed with pre and probiotics, amino acids, enzymes, and the more difficult vitamins and minerals to get from diet alone.

Best of all, my two little girls love it. We enjoy the coconut water kefir with meals and the coconut milk kefir alone, topped with a pinch of pure stevia and berries, as a salad dressing or garnish in soups, and in smoothies.

Don't let the instructions fool you. It really is so easy to make and once you've done it a time or two it'll be like riding a bike. I whip a new batch up in around five minutes or less these days.

A Couple Notes: There are commercially prepared goat's and cow's milk options available [ranging in quality and price] however, this is a great vegan alternative. If you prefer kefir made with animal milk you can use the same kefir starter and simply follow the instructions included. Regardless of the milk or water you choose, remember this is a serious amount of good bacteria coming your way so start small for a few days [think teaspoon for kids and tablespoon for adults]. You may become a bit bloated and / or gassy - don't worry, it will pass. You're experiencing the war between good and bad bacteria in your gut. Over time you can gradually increase the amount of kefir to whatever feels balanced for your body.


[THE RECIPE]

3 packets of kefir starter [I use the Body Ecology brand; it comes with six packets*]
three 14-ounce cans of coconut milk [I use Native Forest Regular Coconut Milk] and three 17.5-ounce cans of pure, young coconut water [I use the Amy & Brian brand] or you can simply do a single batch of either the milk or water [or a double batch of either]
1 small cooler
2 kitchen towels
medium size pot
funnel
2 1/2 gallon-size glass jars with tight-fitting lids
kitchen thermometer [optional]
one kitchen spoon [to stir]

Pour coconut water into pot and warm to 90-degrees over low heat. You can use a kitchen thermometer but I tend to just check it periodically with either a clean finger or my lip - if it feels slightly warm I know it's ready. Once warm, put funnel over one of the glass jars and carefully pour coconut water into jar. Add 1 1/2 packets of kefir starter, secure lid tightly, and gently shake to incorporate. Wrap with one of the kitchen towels, place in cooler, and close lid. Set aside.

Pour coconut milk into the same pan you used for the coconut water and warm to 90-degrees over low heat. Again, you can use a kitchen thermometer but I tend to just check it periodically with either a clean finger or my lip - if it feels slightly warm I know it's ready. Once warm, put funnel over the other glass jar and carefully pour coconut milk into jar. Add the remaining 1 1/2 packets of kefir starter, secure lid tightly, and shake [a little more vigorously than the water] to incorporate. Wrap the jar with the other kitchen towel, place in the cooler next to the jar with the coconut water, and close lid.

Let the coconut milk kefir sit in the cooler [unmoved] for 24 - 36 hours or until slightly thicker. The coconut water kefir should remain in the cooler for about 48 hours.

Gently remove the coconut milk kefir from the cooler so as not to disturb the water kefir, close the lid to the cooler, and gently shake the milk kefir jar. Place in refrigerator to slow fermentation process. It will get thicker over the next day or so if you prefer a thicker kefir consistency [more yogurt-style]. After the water has sat for the required time, remove and place in refrigerator as well. Water kefir should be a bit fizzy. Both should have a tart, almost lemon-y taste.

To make a continuous batch follow the same instruction above but rather than using a new starter each time, reserve 6 T. of the milk kefir and add to the new batch or 8 T. of the coconut water kefir to add to that new batch.

Refer to Donna Gate's Body Ecology Diet for more detailed instructions and the extensive benefits of kefir as well as the best way and time to consume kefir.

*I've tried the more generic [and less expensive] brands from the health food stores and found that I had a fizzier kefir water with the Body Ecology brand as well as a better quality product. I can get quiet a few more batches out of one starter kit than I did with the other brands. It seems to be easier on my digestive system as well. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GREEN SOUP WITH ASPARAGUS, LEEKS AND HERBS

 It's been a while! Here is one of my favorite soups this year. I love it for breakfast [try before you dismiss!]. For me and my body type, soups or cooked veggies in the morning provides a warm, nourishing, and grounding way to start the day. It's also a fantastic simple dinner - light and easy to digest. You can bulk it up by adding any or all of the garnish options listed below or serve it along side a small salad.

[THE RECIPE]

4 c. fresh or frozen asparagus [depending on the season you could also try green beans + zucchini in place of the asparagus or just use extra fresh or frozen greens like kale, spinach or chard], chopped or broken into 2-inch pieces
4 c. fresh or one small bag of frozen kale or spinach, chopped
3 large or 4 medium leeks, rinsed and sliced
2 large fennel bulb, rinsed and sliced, or 2 tsp. whole fennel seeds [or an extra leek in place of the fennel]
2 - 3 large garlic cloves, minced or sliced
1 - 2 T. ghee or coconut oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 c. bone broth, broth of choice, or water [I really like 2 c. lamb, chicken, or turkey broth + 2 c. vegetable broth]
6 c. water
2 T. dried fennel seeds
2 large bunches of fresh basil and/or parsley or 1 c. herb dressing
one large handful fresh dill leaves or 1 T. dried

In a dutch oven or large pot, warm ghee or oil over medium heat. Add cut fennel and leeks. Saute over medium-low heat until leeks begin to look transparent and fennel is soft [about 7 - 10 minutes]. Add garlic cloves and fennel seeds if using and saute for an additional 3 - 5 minutes or until fragrant. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, add asparagus, kale or greens, water and broth, stir, cover, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until asparagus is bright green and soft. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in herbs [basil, dill, and/or parsley]. Carefully blend using an immersion blender or place in blender and blend in batches until very smooth. Return to pot. Garnish as desired. Enjoy!

Garnish Options: coconut kefir [recipe to come soon!], nut / seed milk of choice, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, cooked quinoa, cut avocado, finely sliced basil leaves



Thursday, April 10, 2014

"END OF WINTER" SOUP



This year, more than others, I have anticipated spring with a surprising fervor. Winter has been long and very cold. Yet, as winter comes to a close I can't help but want a few "fare-well to winter" soups to see this season out in respectable fashion. Part of me is not quite ready to bid my squash friends good-bye as they have been common meal companions through these endless months. On the other hand, fresh greens are clamoring for attention, trying with reckless abandon to spring forth from the ground. The effort is just so hard to ignore! And who would want to? Asparagus, spinach, kale, baby lettuces, micro-greens - they're all singing like sirens "look at me, I'm here and ready to nourish you in a lighter way!"

So here is a wrap up to our winter meals - we bid you adieu and prepare to embrace the growth, newness, beauty, excitement and energy of spring!

[THE RECIPE]

1 T. coconut oil or ghee
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
8 large yellow or orange carrots, rinsed and cut into chunks
1 large head cauliflower, rinsed and cut into chunks
2 c. pumpkin or winter squash puree [or 4 c. peeled and cubed fresh or frozen]
8 c. broth or stock of choice
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 T. dried sage
2 bay leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Over medium heat, melt coconut oil or ghee in large soup pot. Once melted, add onion and saute until just transparent. Add garlic and saute another minute or two. Sprinkle in thyme, sage, and bay leaves and stir for 30 seconds or so. Add carrots, cauliflower, and pumpkin or squash if you are using cubed or frozen [if using puree wait until the end to add] and cook for a minute or two. Pour in broth or stock, stir, cover and bring to boil. Once soup is boiling turn heat down to allow for a simmer and cook until all vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.

When vegetables are soft, turn off heat and let cool for 5 - 10 minutes. Add pumpkin or squash puree at this time if using. Very carefully blend with an immersion blender or blend in  batches in a blender. Return pureed soup to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and pour into individual bowls. Add toppings as desired.

[THE TOPPINGS]

Purple Carrot Chips
Follow this recipe using thinly sliced carrots in place of kale.

Kale Chips
Follow this recipe using kale cut into thin ribbons rather than whole leaves.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Place shelled pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet. If you have a toaster oven, toast on the lowest setting once or twice. If you prefer the skillet method, place pumpkin seeds on skillet and roast on medium-high heat for just a minute or two until pumpkin seeds become fragrant and slightly brown. Stir consistently and don't take your eyes off of them!

Chopped Green Onion or Chives
If you grew onions or chives last year, check out the spot you planted them. You may be surprised to find them shooting up!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TAHINI STIR-FRY WITH QUINOA

Limited sleep [such is the woe of being a parent] begs this to be a really simple post to mirror a simple recipe.

I tend to rely on a variety of stir-fries for my lunches throughout the week. Getting a meal in while tending to two active, demanding girls is hard enough. Cooking nearly impossible. So salads, stir-fries, and smoothies generally round out my daily meals.

During the summer we put away quite a few veggies from the Farmer's Market and our own garden. When these run out, as they inevitably do, I rely on store-bought frozen. Organic ensures the product itself is not genetically modified but doesn't protect the product from being owned by a GMO-based company. Whenever you can, try to find out who the parent company is and what they're standard practices include. Even better, ask your local health food store if they carry any local, organic frozen [or storage] produce. You may be surprised with what you find!

[THE RECIPE]

2 medium mushrooms, chopped
1/2 a medium onion, diced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced or granulated garlic powder
A good 2 - 3 cups of veggies of choice, fresh or frozen [for this recipe I use frozen beans and frozen asparagus]
2 tsp. tahini
splash of white wine vinegar
sea salt, to taste
quinoa, cooked
raw sesame seeds, garnish

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until onion is just transparent and mushrooms slightly browned. Add fresh or frozen veggies and saute until just soft. Add tahini, a large splash of white wine vinegar, garlic or granulated garlic powder, and salt to taste [I tend to make this recipe on the saltier side]. Mix well.

Serve over warm quinoa and garnish with sesame seeds.

Friday, February 7, 2014

HOMEMADE HONEY BUM CREAM + ALL-PURPOSE SALVE


 
NOTE: If you don't have children in diapers, this incredibly potent salve is still for you. I keep it on hand for all sorts of general first aid uses, including cuts, scrapes, burns, bites, etc. 

Okay, let's just put it out there. Walking with a baby through teething is miserable - especially when it's a very long journey. There's a reason we don't remember our teeth coming in - the unbearable pain. Sharp bone masses cutting through skin in your mouth sounds like a walk in the park right?

On the scale of teething misery, my youngest daughter pulls a 10. She is notorious for horrible teething. Constant runny nose, check. Cranky and irritable, check. Outbursts of screams in the middle of the night or a nap, check. Terrible sleep, check. Rash on cheeks and around mouth, check. Obnoxiously red bum, check. Sores that blister, check.

The last of these "symptoms" is what caused me both pause and concern. Without fail, my daughter's little tush breaks out into sores that inevitably turn into blisters. I've tried creams, powders, baths, naked time, diet changes - apparently nothing can stave off the sores. At one point I had a steroid cream prescription in hand but simply couldn't get myself to the pharmacy - I knew I could do better right out of my kitchen. 

Then a friend of mine mentioned she had picked up a honey cream from a local Amish community and it worked fantastically on her little boys.

Pause for a brief slap-hand-to-forehead, DUH!, moment.

Of course honey! I had already been using it for cuts, colds, burns, allergies, pretty much everything. It makes sense sore bummies could benefit too.

[HONEY - MY SECRET WEAPON]

Raw honey is one of my favorite all-purpose medicinal tools. It's sugar content makes it a powerful antibacterial which is why it works so well in treating cuts, scrapes, large wounds, blisters, burns, rashes, and bites. When environmental allergens are high, consuming a teaspoon or so of honey can reduce allergic reactions to pollen [I also like bee pollen granules for this]. Raw honey is a nourishing food and really an all around wonderful kitchen remedy. Please note, because honey is extremely high in sugar, if you have hypoglycemia you may want to avoid internal use. Heating honey can quickly destroy it's beneficial properties so please use raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized, local [if possible] honey.

This salve has worked wonderfully for us. My daughter still finds herself with a very red bum come teething time but it has kept any sores from turning into blisters and effectively preventing infection.

[THE RECIPE]
Makes about a 1/2 cup of salve

Special note: the essential oils found in this recipe are important as they are specifically used to treat diaper rash. You can use yarrow or Moroccan Blue chamomile essential oil in place of  German chamomile. Make sure you are using high-quality essential oils when treating medical conditions. 

1/4 c. unrefined, pure coconut oil
1 T. lanolin
1 T. beeswax pellets
1 T. shea butter

1/4 c. raw [local] honey
20 drops grapefruit seed extract
5 drops German chamomile essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
80 mg zinc powder [or crushed pills]

In a double boiler place coconut oil, lanolin, beeswax, and shea butter. Heat on low until just melted, stirring constantly when it starts to melt. Turn off heat and gently stir in honey. Pour this mixture into a blender or small food processor. Let it cool to room temperature [about 10 - 15 minutes].

While oil mixture is cooling, place the pills into a small dish and crush to powder using the bottom of the pill bottle.

When the oil mixture has cooled, add remaining ingredients and blend on medium to high until a thick, creamy paste has formed [about 30 seconds, stop to scrape sides, blend an additional 30 seconds]. Scoop mixture into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. You can use immediately but I like to let mine cool for 4 - 8 hours if possible. This will keep for about 6 months at room temperature.

I like to pour most of my salve into a glass jelly jar and put a little in a small tin to keep as an all-purpose salve for general first aid use.

I use cloth diapers and this salve has had no effect on their absorbency.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

PULP CRACKERS WITH ADZUKI-MUNG HUMMUS

The other day I was reading a magazine and much of what caught my eye involved a bit of "the world is in trouble and thus coming to an end" language. As I read I could feel the fear "the end" [and all it may or may not entail] crawling through my body. At least for me, negative emotions seem to creep up as physical first and with every tightening muscle I wondered, "Is all this true?"

Then I looked outside to see my world covered in twinkling ice and pure white. A fire softly burned and my hands were drawn to the warmth of the tea resting in my hands. My body relaxed and faith reminded me although things are bad, maybe getting worse, fear isn't the answer. Concern, yes. But fear leads to rash statements and thoughtless action. Fear may motivate in the short term but can't sustain momentum.

Concern, compassion, love, grace, humility, gratefulness, hope, faith, discipline, passion, adventure - these can bring great shift and immense change. They have the ability to create sustainable motion and allow us to have a bit of fun along the way.

So yes, fracking will probably pollute a good chunk of ground water. And yes, it's a really bad idea. But sit and enjoy a clear glass of pure water on a hot summer day [or a dry winter day!], soaking up it's hydration and satisfaction and you'll quickly realize you want everyone to have the same experience. All of a sudden clean water for all becomes important to you.

And yes, vital pollinating bees are dying due to wide-spread pesticide use on many nursery flowers and crops. Yet, watch a tree bloom in spring, have a picnic beneath it's canopy under the hum of its busy workers, and you'll quickly develop a deep respect for our fuzzy little friends. You may even find yourself creating a pesticide-free sanctuary for them and teaching others how to do the same.

It's true genetically modified crops [and their creators] are attempting to take over the world using less-than respectable practices but walk through a garden full of heirloom vegetables or through a farmer's market bursting with variety and the beauty may just take your breath away. It might even suck you in and beg you to taste the undeniable depth only an heirloom can give. Soon you may find yourself growing these gems yourself, maybe even talking about them from time to time, slowly winning people over through your joy and passion.

Fear is powerful, true. Fear gets its message across fast and with not much effort. It's easy and cheap and dangerous.

Joy is more difficult. Joy asks us to walk away from fear and step into a life full of almost unbearable beauty. But joy is deep and wide and more powerful than fear. Joy is eternal.

So as we are bombarded with headlines and worries and news that brings us to our knees in tears, may we remember fear doesn't need to be our response. Look to what is, right now in this moment. Find something beautiful and cling to it. Let the joy and hope penetrate and from that place move forward. The world may not seem as bad after all.


[THE RECIPE: PULP CRACKERS]

7 c. vegetable and / or fruit pulp from juicing [pictured here are beets and carrots but green juice pulp is equally as good]
1/2 c. flaxseeds, ground
1 c. water
1 1/2 - 2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 T. nutritional yeast
1/4 c. alfalfa leaf, dried and ground*
2 T. herbs of choice [I love sage and rosemary with root vegetables]
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1/2 c. small seeds of choice [sesame, flax, chia, hemp or combination]

*The alfalfa leaf is optional but I add it to give the crackers an added nutritional boost. Alfalfa is an immune booster, anti-inflammatory, detoxifier, blood purifier, is great for woman's health, and can aid almost any ailment. It's health properties are endless and I highly recommend getting it into your diet. As always, if you have any special health conditions always do your own research before consuming any herb.  

Place ground flaxseeds and water in a small glass bowl, stir, and let stand for about 10 minutes to form a thick gel.


Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a large glass bowl. When the flax has gel-ed, mix it in with the rest of the ingredients. You may need to kneed using your hands to form a firm, dough-like ball.

Separate into four sections and set aside.


Dehydrator Method: Place each dough section on a parchment paper lined dehydrator tray. Roll out to about 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with sea salt and sesame seeds if desired and gently press into dough. Score for easy breaking [optional]. Dehydrate on low [around 105 degrees] 16 - 24 hours or until the crackers are very crisp. Break into pieces and store in a Ziploc bag or tightly sealed container. I like to save the silica packages from my nori sushi roll packages to keep the crackers crisp.

Oven Method: Spread the mixture onto parchment paper, rolling out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with sea salt and sesame seeds if desired and gently press into dough.  Score for easy breaking [optional]. Bake at 250 degrees for about an hour and then gently flip. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, turn oven off, and let stand in oven until it is cool. Remove from oven, break into pieces and store in a Ziploc bag or tightly sealed container. I like to save the silica packages from my nori sushi roll packages to keep the crackers crisp.

[THE RECIPE: ADZUKI-MUNG HUMMUS]

5 c. mix of adzuki and mung beans: soaked, cooked, and drained
1/4 c. tahini
juice of one lemon
3 - 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 - 2 tsp. sea salt [adjust to taste]
1 tsp. cumin, ground
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
large handful of fresh parsley
large handful of fresh cilantro
few tablespoons of extra virgin olive or unrefined sesame oil

Place all, except oil, in a blender. Blend to very smooth, adding oil as needed. Refrigerate to chill [or place outside if your outside in frozen!] and serve with veggies and crackers.

Enjoy!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

CHAI-SPICED AMARANTH CEREAL [WITH POWER-UP ADD-IN]

I hope you all are enjoying winter. This post is going to be short. I'm taking my own advice and stepping back from trying to do it all today. But, don't let the brief nature fool you into thinking this recipe is less tasty or important. It just means you have more time to try it!

[AMAR-WHAT?!]

Amaranth is an especially great food for infants and toddlers, pregnant and nursing women, people who do heavy manual labor, and on and on and on. 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 and work up. My daughter now loves it plain, especially the texture, or with fruit and seed milk.


[THE RECIPE]
Serves 3 - 4

1 c. amaranth seeds
3 c. water
small handful of dried fruit [like currants, raisins apricot pieces, etc.], optional

Place amaranth seeds [and dried fruit if using] in a quart-size glass jar and cover with water. Soak overnight [I like to keep my jar in the refrigerator] or at least 6 - 8 hours. When you're ready, place all in a medium sized saucepan [add more water if necessary - there should be at least two times the amount of water as amaranth] and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until amaranth is thick and creamy. Approximately 20 - 30 minutes.


3/4 tsp. Ceylon "true" cinnamon
scant 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 - 2 pinches each ground cloves and ground cardamom
1 small pinch sea salt
pure [local if possible] maple syrup, to taste
nut or seed milk of choice
frozen [local if possible] blueberries or berries of choice
small handful of nuts or seeds, gently crushed
1 - 2 tsp. Power-Up Add-In [see recipe below]

After amaranth is cooked, stir in cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, and salt. Pour into single serving bowls and top with maple syrup, milk, berries, and herb mix [see recipe below]. Enjoy warm!


[POWER-UP ADD-IN]

Bulk Herb Store has a great mix of herbs designed for weight-loss [if you're so inclined] but are also great for energy, detoxification, elimination, you name it. I add this mix to my smoothies, energy balls, and cereal to give me a boost whenever I need it. Check it out!



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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

THE ART OF SIMPLE + [LOCAL] WINTER DETOX SALAD



I often live under the illusion all my meals need to be spectacular. You know, full of complexity and perceived "wow!" factor, a table full of mouth-watering dishes, everything coming together seamlessly. When I look at how my life, specifically meal time, actually is I find mealtimes miles from whatever immaculate images I've created in my mind - it's  laughable.

Here's maybe the most important lesson I've learned about feeding people well:

Keep it simple.

It sounds obvious but in reality I need to remind myself of this truth daily. What I know is if I don't keep food simple it just doesn't work. I slack, I rely on the leftovers of leftovers, I get to 5:00 and start to panic, or deem the evening "on your own night". I'm frazzled and frantic and grumpy because I've let myself down again. I'm not present and therefore can't enjoy anything - my husband, my kids, the people around our table, the setting, the smells, the tastes. I miss all of it because I'm in recovery mode.

And then I look into the eyes of my girls and get a sucker punch to the gut. What I'm teaching them is perfection is most important and if perfection can't be attained then just scrap it all, be cranky, and eat popcorn.

[Big gulp.]

Here's the thing, when I keep my meals simple, fresh, local, and "me" I actually serve more than just food to those I love. I give them a piece of my heart, my time, my effort, and all the good things I want for them. I'm giving my girls a sustainable and joyful way of doing food, something they can carry with them their entire lives.

When I hone in on what I'm good at making and enjoy eating, the meal comes out the way I want every time. I can relax and take pleasure in the process, experimenting along the way. This is what makes cooking fun and what brings me back to the kitchen each day. I like the comfort in familiarity that allows for creativity and adventure.

So, if you've struggled to "get it right" in the kitchen, find a few [seasonal, healthy] meals you like to make and cook them a lot. Get comfortable with the process and then experiment with different flavors and ingredients that reflect your own uniqueness. For me these are sauteed veggie scrambles, soups, and salads. I can make a mean veggie-hash in minutes or throw together a salad bar from almost anything. Over time I've learned what flavors I love and which I hate, creating my go-to dressings and seasonings that make assembly a cinch.

Don't feel like you have to scrap all your grandiose meal plans, just save them for the weekend or an open day. If you head into complex meals with the space they demand, I promise you'll have a lot more fun.

Here is one of my favorite, simple, and local lunches that provides the "fresh" reminiscent of summer yet uses seasonal produces and flavors. This is an especially great meal to enjoy while detoxing!


[WHERE DO I FIND LOCAL PRODUCE IN WINTER?]

If you live well north of the equator, it's no secret winter is upon us. Glance out your window and the banks of snow, maybe snow flake flying, and biting temperatures will remind you of this. But all is not lost when attempting to support your local community with your food purchases. In many parts of the country winter farmer's markets are popping up surprising us all with the bounty farmers have year-round. If you can't find a winter market check in at your local health food store - many are locally minded and stock produce direct from your area whenever possible.

Although olive oil and some herbs and spices aren't grown and produced in my area, purchasing them from a local artisan or market gives money to small business rather than big box stores. I like to use well-crafted, high-quality olive oil on my salads for their intensity and variety of flavor.

That being said, if you live in West Michigan, my favorite haunts are:

Sweetwater Local Foods Market
Harvest Health Foods
Nourish Organic Market & Deli
Global Infusion [for herbs / spices / teas]
Old World Olive Oils

Even changing just one or two of your common purchases from large stores to local businesses can make a big difference. If each of us did this, imagine the impact we'd make!


[THE RECIPE]

1 small head of savoy cabbage, thinly sliced [If your cabbage is a bit wilted, cut and place into a bowl of water with a large handful of ice. Allow cabbage to soak for 20 - 30 minutes or until it's crispy again.]

1/2 delicata squash [I roast the whole squash and save extra for another time], reserve seeds
sage or rosemary, ground
caraway seeds, whole [optional]
sea salt

squash seeds of delicata squash
sea salt
nutritional yeast

1/2 kohlrabi, peeled and either shaved [use vegetable peeler or mandolin] or cut into match sticks
2 radishes, thinly sliced
3 - 4 baby turnips, thinly sliced
1/2 [local] apple, cubed
homemade sprouts [mix of choice, alfalfa is great for detoxing]*

juice of 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed or 1/2 - 1 tsp. local apple cider vinegar
extra virgin, first cold-pressed olive oil [from local specialty store]
splash of local, organic, pure apple juice [if added sweetness is desired]

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry delicata squash. Cut in half, length-wise, and scoop of pulp and seeds. Separate seeds from pulp, rinse in fine mesh strainer, drain, and set aside. Slice the squash into 1/2-inch piece, cutting along the width. Then cut those slices into either thirds or quarters. Toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of sage or rosemary, caraway seeds, and sea salt. Rub seasoning in to pieces using your hands. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet or directly on stone baking pan. Roast for 25 - 30 minutes, tossing at the 20 minute mark.

While squash is baking, place rinsed and drained squash seeds on another parchment lined baking sheet or stoneware pan. Toss with a pinch or two each of sea salt and nutritional yeast. Set aside [if you have an additional oven or toaster oven you can bake these while squash is roasting]. When squash is done, set oven to 375 and bake squash seeds for 10 - 20 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy.

While squash and seeds are roasting, prepare additional ingredients as noted above.

Toss prepared cabbage and kohl rabi. Drizzle over salad a tablespoon or two of olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. When squash is done, toss with cabbage mix.

Top with a layer each of sprouts, turnips, radishes, and apples. Sprinkle with roasted squash seeds and eat to reducing toxins, good health, and supporting our local communities!

*To make homemade sprouts: purchase seeds specifically used for sprouting [will note on the package]. In a large glass jar, place seeds to cover bottom and cover with four times the water. Place a piece of screen or cheesecloth over the jar and secure with a rubber band. You can also purchase a sprouting jar. Let the seeds soak for 24 hours. Double check to make sure the cloth or screen is securely in place and then drain the water from the seeds. With cloth or screen still on bottle, let water run through to fill the jar. Drain water again, tip jar to side and place in a sunny windowsill. Gently rinse and drain the seeds 2 - 3 times a day for 3 - 5 days or until sprouts are a few inches long. Remove sprouts from jar and store in an airtight glass container for no more than a week. 








Monday, January 6, 2014

HERBAL TEA FOR A COLD / FLU + THE BEAUTY OF REST

Today I did something very uncharacteristic of my Type-A full-steam-ahead personality. After finishing cleaning the kitchen, I took my lunch, sat down by the fire and thought to myself, “Wow, I just cleaned the kitchen.” Then I took a break.

This is unlike me for two reasons: 

1] When I have a to-do list, generally I feel the insane urge to plow through. Only upon completion do I allow myself a tiny moment of relief it’s over. Then I add another item to the list and bam! moment vanishes and off I go. Rarely does cleaning the kitchen feel like an effort worth pause and celebration.

2] The idea of sitting quietly and enjoying myself for a moment mid-day a few times over has, until fairly recently, been a foreign concept – one that tends to make me twitch. I’m inclined to bow down to accomplishment and success in the work I do yet never allow myself to fully embrace the “after” of such work. My mantra [I’m sorry to say] has been “What else needs to be done?” My answer? Everything.

And then today, with the help of a little divine intervention, I actually sat down. Not in the “well, I’m practicing mindfulness and being present so I should” sort of way but in an “I really want to just be for a minute so I’m going to” manner.

Let me make this clear – I am not giving anyone an excuse to be sluggish and lazy. With a world full of good, life-giving work there is no room for sitting on your laurels with the TV on, eating another microwave dinner, and repeating this charade day in and day out. If that’s you, this is your wake up call. Get up, the world waits! As important as it is to have rest with work, it is equally as important to have ample work with rest.

On the other hand, I do support the practice of putting accomplishment in its proper place understanding I can achieve many things and still refrain from letting accomplishment define who I am - it is not my God. Achievement does not own me - defining my mood, my energy level, my personality. By taking a moment to sit in the present and consider the thing I just did [whatever it was], I am allowing myself to feel the pleasure and gift of hard work. I compare it to savansana after an intense yoga class or long day. It’s natural for me to give everything to my practice or day but even more innate, if I allow it, is to sink into the rest that comes after.

When we live in the present and give ourselves fully to something, there can be no other response to the act but to be still.

Of course we can push through, railroading any form of rest and reflection on the way. But in yoga this is where injury happens to our bodies. In life this is where damage happens to relationships with self, others, the earth, and with God. 

If we don’t take the time necessary to reflect on our decisions made and actions taken, how can we possibly make well thought out choices that will benefit the people and world around us?    

As we enter this new year swelling with both promise and challenge, may we take intentional time each day to recognize that our accomplishments, the things we do, cannot define who we are. 

It’s the spaces in between the doing that truly form us into our best selves.

Now, if you’re not convinced to rest amid bouts of work simply because it’s awesome for your body, your spirit, and actually allows you to be more productive overall, then maybe adding an immunity boost to sweeten the deal will get you. That’s right, rest [both mental and physical] is bar none the most important thing you can do to prevent illness. I’m not messing with you – you can do everything I've listed on the Colds & Flu Prevention page [all good things to do regardless], but without giving yourself space to break, will still be culpable to colds and other illness.

That being said, this is my go-to tea blend in the event a cold pops up. I drink at least 4 strong cups a day throughout the duration of the cold and then a cup or two each day in the week or two after as sort of "I mean it!" finale. You can also use this tea as a preventative if you feel something coming on.

This, along with some of my other tried and true remedies [by this I mean I have personally tried and found them to be true], ensures any illness will be short-lived.

Oh, and did I mention? This recipe is as simple as they get. This means you can combine the herbs while the water is boiling, steep a cup, and go rest basking in the accomplishment of just making your own tea blend!

A note about measuring in "parts": "parts" is a general measuring term that can mean any form of measurement. The thing to remember when using parts is if you start with 1 tablespoon equating 1 part then you need to continue that measurement throughout recipe. For example, if 1 tablespoon equals 1 part then 2 parts would  be 2 tablespoons and 1/2 part would be 1/2 tablespoon. 



[THE RECIPE]

2 parts each:

Yarrow Flower, dried
Elder Flower, dried

1 part each:

Peppermint Leaf, dried
Olive Leaf, dried

Place all of the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, leaving at least a two-inch space at the top. Gently shake the jar to mix herbs. 

To use, place 2 - 3 teaspoons of tea mix in a metal tea strainer, tea ball, or unbleached cotton tea bag. Put tea bag in a mug suitable for hot liquids and pour 1 - 1 1/2 cups of boiling water over tea. Steep for at least 10 - 15 minutes to make a bold tea [the stronger the tea the more health benefits you receive]. I like to let my tea steep to room temperature and drink warm rather than hot. 

If you're dealing with a sore throat, add a good splash of lemon juice and a bit of honey.