Excellent Primer on Real Foods, Where to Find Them and How to Use Them!

All the ingredients for soaked and cultured pancakes--delicious and nutritious!

All the ingredients for soaked and cultured pancakes–delicious and nutritious!

If you are keen on where to begin on how to use real foods–maybe you’re even wondering where to FIND real foods–then you’ll want to invest in the fantastic education from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.  And, through the weekend of Thanksgiving here in the US, you can purchase Kelly’s trainings at HALF OFF!  Simply enter BLACKFRIDAY as you check out.

What will you receive in Kelly’s trainings?  Here’s a breakdown:

For the Real Food Ingredient Guide E-book, you’ll find:

This revised version is cram-packed with new information.  What I’m most excited about is that it’s set up in a way that gives you exactly what you want in whichever format you need it in at the moment…

  • It has a newly revised 7-page quick reference guide for when you want fast answers to questions like,
    • Will you please just tell me what I’m supposed to buy?!”
    • Or when someone puts you on the spot and you need a quick reminder of “What was so bad about that food again?
    • Or maybe when you’re at the store you might need something to flip to for guidance there on various ingredients, including “good, better, best” options.
    • It’ll also help you know what to look for at your local farm and what questions to ask.
  • It has a more detailed section with facts on the different food groups and ingredients, for when you have time to dig in a little more, and it includes information on where to go for even more in-depth reading and research.
  • If you’re more of a visual learner, you’ll find an easy top ten real foods and top ten junk foods list in pictures.
  • It also includes new bonus material:  How to bring your family from junk food to real food, and how to overcome the six main obstacles everyone faces:
    1. Motivation – You won’t be willing to make a change if you don’t understand why it’s so important!
    2. Confusion/feeling overwhelmed – You’re probably sick of trying to navigate all the information from the ‘experts’ like what’s ‘good’ vs. what’s ‘not good’, especially when that keeps changing; and you just want to figure out the age-old question of “What the heck can I eat?!”  Especially before meal planning or grocery shopping…
    3. How to afford real food – You’ll learn loads of tips all in one place.
    4. Dealing with family complaints – This can wear you down at times, so I’ve got ways for you to get past this one!
    5. How to make time for real food – There are so many ways that I’ll bet you’ve never thought of!
    6. Sticking to it for the long haul – This is often what trips people up.  Life gets in the way and you find yourself slipping backward.  You’ll learn here how to prevent that from happening or how to get back on track.

And, for Kelly’s Real Food for Rookies Online Class, you’ll receive:

  • 12 weeks of online classes with videos, downloadable audios, and written materials.
  • LIFETIME access! Read/listen/watch at your leisure: on your break at work, while the kids are sleeping, in your pajamas, whatever! If you have a busy week, no big deal, just pick it back up on your own schedule.
  • Exclusive expert interviews with Sally Fallon Morell (President of the Weston Price Foundation), Dr. Kaayla Daniel (author of The Whole Soy Story), Jane Hersey (Director of the Feingold Association), Tom Naughton (Fathead filmmaker), and now one more: Jimmy Moore from the Livin LaVida Low-Carb blog!
  • BONUS: Free copy of the Kitchen Kop Real Food Guide
  • Save time and money while serving Real Food
  • Read labels and avoid dangerous ingredients
  • Make nourishing “fast food” meals to avoid last-minute trips to the drive-thru
  • Find healthier alternatives for soda pop, refined sugars, heart-killer oils, sugar-bomb breakfast cereals, factory farmed meat and more
  • Serve nutrient-dense foods that are necessary for good health
  • Take control of your health and change your family’s future!

Both of these tools are invaluable in your journey to greater health and empowerment for yourself and your family.  It takes a village to recapture  the information that’s been lost over the years in regard to how to take care ourselves with nutrition, and Kelly’s classes and information are priceless in their role of keeping you well!  And, from Thursday, November 28th until Monday, December 2nd 2013, you can get these classes and information at half price, by entering BLACKFRIDAY as you check out.

Wishing you the best!  Here’s to your health and the health of your loved ones!

Parmesan Polenta with Bacon and Greens

Polenta before soaking and mild fermentation

Polenta before soaking and mild fermentation

One of the terrific things about being part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program is that your hand is sometimes forced to get creative with ingredients you might not have otherwise chosen.  In this instance, my inspiration was field garlic and Swiss chard.  Thankfully I had some corn grits (polenta) stored in the freezer, as well as raw Parmesan cheese and smokehouse pastured beef bacon from another local source here in our desert hamlet.  And, not surprisingly, there was bone broth, too–this time, pastured chicken.

So, with a little forethought to begin soaking the grits this morning in warm water with fresh water kefir, we were able to enjoy an excellent meal this evening (just perfect for an al fresco meal on the back patio before we hit the triple-digits on the thermometer!)  I paired this with a fresh, simple salad of various lettuces from our garden and steamed beets, topped with balsamic vinegar, olive oil  and chopped garlic.

Parmesan Polenta with Bacon and Greens

Serves 6 as an entree

To prepare polenta:

  • 1 1/2 Corn Grits (Polenta)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 2  cups warm, filtered, dechlorinated Water (approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 cup fresh Water Kefir

Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl and stir well to incorporate.  There should be about 1/8″-1/4″ of the water/water kefir over the top of the polenta.  Cover and store in a warm spot (I set mine on top of the yogurt maker–turned on–to help maintain a gentle, warm heat to encourage mild fermentation of the grain.  You could also set the bowl in a dehydrator set around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or in an ice chest or oven–turned off–with a couple of bottles filled with hot water.)  Allow to rest undisturbed for at least eight hours, until you see the little bubbles of fermentation and there is a mild tart scent. When this point has been reached, begin preparing the rest of the recipe.

For the remainder of the recipe you’ll need:

  • 4-5 cups Swiss Chard, sliced in 1/2″ strips
  • 5-6 slices of pastured Beef Bacon or Pork Bacon, cut in 1/2″ slices
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth, plus 1 additional cup, heated
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Field Garlic, chopped in 1/2″ pieces, or 4 Scallions, chopped in 1/2″ pieces with 3-4 cloves Garlic, minced finely
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • Cherry or Plum Tomatoes, sliced, for garnish
  • Freshly-chopped Basil Leaves and Lemon wedges, for garnish

In a 5-6 quart pot, combine soaked polenta with 3 cups of chicken broth over a medium heat and bring to a  mild simmer, stirring constantly from the bottom.  In about five minutes, you’ll notice the grits have firmed up substantially and the grain has softened.  Stir for another  five minutes or so and turn off the heat.

In a separate, large pan over medium heat, begin cooking the bacon.  Once it has begun to release its fat into the pan, add the field garlic or scallions/garlic, stirring occasionally to keep all ingredients from burning.  After a few minutes, once the garlic/onions have softened, add the Swiss chard and incorporate well into the mix.  Keep cooking and stirring periodically, until most of the moisture has evaporated off and the chard has softened.  Turn off heat and return to the polenta.

Resume a low heat under the polenta, which will have stiffened while cooling.  Add the Parmesan cheese and pour in an additional cup of hot chicken broth.  Stir all ingredients well to incorporate and to soften the polenta.  Spoon in the bacon and greens mixture and mix well into the polenta.  Remove from the heat and serve immediately with a garnish of fresh, sliced tomatoes, a sprinkling of basil leaves and a healthy squirt of lemon juice.

Store any remaining in a covered glass or ceramic bowl for up to three days in the refrigerator.

 

Pouring water kefir into the polenta to begin soaking and fermentation

Pouring water kefir into the polenta to begin soaking and fermentation

 

Notice how there is a pooling of water over the soaking polenta--not too much, just about 1/8 of an inch

Notice how there is a pooling of water over the soaking polenta–not too much, just about 1/8 of an inch

 

Using the yogurt maker to keep a gentle heat source under the soaking and fermenting polenta

Using the yogurt maker to keep a gentle heat source under the soaking and fermenting polenta

 

The polenta after eight hours of soaking and mild fermentation--notice the little bubbles in the soaking water?

The polenta after eight hours of soaking and mild fermentation–notice the little bubbles in the soaking water?

 

Polenta with 3 cups of chicken broth, just beginning to cook

Polenta with 3 cups of chicken broth, just beginning to cook

 

Polenta after only 5 minutes of cooking--the soaking process definitely hastens the cooking time

Polenta after only 5 minutes of cooking–the soaking process definitely hastens the cooking time

 

Pastured beef bacon and field garlic sautéing

Pastured beef bacon and field garlic sautéing

 

Freshly grated, raw Parmesan cheese

Freshly grated, raw Parmesan cheese

 

Notice the smoother consistency of the polenta once the Parmesan cheese and additional chicken broth have been added

Notice the smoother consistency of the polenta once the Parmesan cheese and additional chicken broth have been added

 

Swiss chard sauted with pastured beef bacon and field garlic, ready to blend into the polenta

Swiss chard sauted with pastured beef bacon and field garlic, ready to blend into the polenta

 

Prepared polenta with Swiss chard, pastured beef bacon and field garlic

Prepared polenta with Swiss chard, pastured beef bacon and field garlic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A modern spin on the Tale of Fish and Loaves (or how a tablespoon of cultures and 2 chickens helped feed 65 people)

One of the most compelling aspects of preparing foods in a traditional manner is the magic that can be wrought with a little elbow grease, some on-the-fly moves, and the right amount of time.

I just finished presenting to a group of healthcare practitioners at Systemic Formulas Sunshine Symposium.  As with everything that comes from Systemic, it was an excellent event, where I learned more about advances in natural healing than seems reasonable in a 3-day window!  And I was absolutely delighted and very honored to be included in the list of presenters this year.

As I began my deliberations on WHAT I would talk about (no surprise–traditional food preparation techniques and the healing benefits of using these types of foods), I quickly got to thinking about HOW I could enliven my PowerPoint presentation.

Certainly I’d put lots of (hopefully!) compelling statistics on the decline in health, how our diets have changed in very short window of time, techniques on how to do some soaking and some culturing…but I wanted a little “Pow!” to drive those points home.  And, there is nothing like letting people see, taste and smell some good, nutritious food to get them on board with making good changes in their own kitchens!

So, knowing that I would be in a standard hotel room (read: No kitchen, nor kitchen-y tools), with rather limited access to the Systemic Formulas’ kitchen (there’s not much time to cook when you’re busy learning in the classroom for the better part of a 10-hour day), I quickly sorted out that some tasty homemade kraut or raw milk yogurt wouldn’t likely make the cut.  I needed something that would take care of the bulk of its own preparation, without a lot of effort or time from me.

So, what I settled on were two options that I knew I’d be able manage with these parameters, using as little from home as I could, leaning more on what I’d gather from local stores.  And what seemed to make the most sense were organic, pastured chicken bone broth and apple juice naturally fermented with water kefir.

Now, mind you, the staff at Systemic feeds us like family, using excellent ingredients that fulfill the diet based on their founder, Doc Wheelwright‘s, Pro-Vita principles.  So, my offerings were not going to be the mainstay of the meal, but rather healthy adjuncts to the offerings.  Regardless, I wanted to share something that would be nutritious and likely rather different than what most would usually consider lunch faire.

So, I brought a tablespoons’ worth of my raw water kefir grains in a small container, tucked safely in the clothing in my luggage.  And, once I settled in to my room, I walked to the nearest store and purchased a glass carafe, unfiltered apple juice, bottled water and organic Demerara sugar (and then I called the good folks at the Marriott Ogden and asked for the shuttle to help me get all this back to the hotel!)

Back in my room, I started the slow-yet-hopeful process of paving the way for some water kefir in a few days’ time.  Beginning with heating the water in the in-room coffee maker, I next melted the sugar into it, poured it into the newly purchased carafe, tempered the heat with room temperature water, and then finished with adding the water kefir grains to the sweet, warm solution.  And then I crossed my fingers in hopes that in my 3-day window, I’d create the right environment for my transported kefir grains to do their alchemical magic, turning sugar water and apple juice into a richly-probiotic beverage for everyone to share.

The next morning, Nate from Systemic escorted me to the local natural foods’ store, where I made a quick purchase of two pastured, organically-raised chickens, some apple cider vinegar and sea salt.  Returning to Systemic’s headquarters, the wonderful kitchen staff  shared a couple of locally-grown onions for the broth and helped me settle everything into an industrial-sized crockpot, which I set on a 4-hour heat, then reduced to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, to continue simmering over a 24-hour period.

By a couple hours into the cooking, the entire area of the kitchen and dining room was swimming in the delicious aroma of homemade chicken broth–is there anything better?

Returning to the hotel room that night, I peered into my  water kefir carafe, sniffing hopefully for a hint of tartness, the tangy hit of lacto-fermentation.  I’d left the carafe to warm in the sunny window sill all day, but there appeared to be no obvious signs of kefir kefiring.  “Well,”  I thought, “even if this doesn’t take off, at least I’m the only one that knows about it–thankfully I’ve not mentioned this to any of the attendees.”   Adding a little more warmed sugar water to the mix, I placed the carafe into a warm water bath to keep any possibility of culturing moving forward in my cool hotel room.  After a while, I removed it from the water and wrapped it in a towel for insulation.  Then I went to bed.

The next morning–the morning of my presentation–I hopped out of bed and immediately checked on the water kefir.  As I jostled the container to remove the lid, I noticed the wonderful tell-tale bubbles rising along the sides of the liquid–Lacto-fermentation!  Sure enough, as I pulled back the lid, I could smell the lively, pungent smell of kefir in action!  The only caveat was that I only had about a quart’s worth of water kefir–certainly not enough for all the attendees to have a taste.  I immediately added the apple juice to the mix and put the carafe back into a warm water bath while I got ready for the day, keeping my hopes high that there was enough lively culturing and the right temperature to begin consuming the newly added sugars and minerals from the apple juice.  As I left the room, I tucked the carafe in a towel and carried it to the car.

Upon arriving at Systemic’s headquarters, I placed the glass carafe in a warm spot in the kitchen (one of the unused back burners to the very busy stove and oven.)  I next asked the staff to help me with removing the flesh and meat from the long-simmered chickens, leaving behind the bones, adding a little more sea salt, vinegar and boiling water to the broth–the staff was my saving grace to pulling this last bit off, as I had to begin my presentation in a few minutes’ time!

Following my presentation, and then sitting in on a great talk given by Dr. Daniel Pompa, I ran back down to the kitchen, just in time to see the most beautiful golden broth being ladled into a festive punch bowl!  What a delight!

Next to the water kefir.

Had it had enough time to ferment the sugars I’d just fed it a few hours’ prior?  What if it was too sweet, more of a warm, sugary apple juice than anything resembling a probiotic beverage?  There was no time to bother with hand-wringing; I could see the attendees lining up along the lunch tables.  With hope in my heart, I began dropping in ice cubes to bring down the temperature a little–and as the ice hit the liquid, frothy, fizzy bubbles shot to the top of the carafe, the wonderful signs of a beverage lacto-fermented!  It worked!

We arranged everything out front, at the end of the food lines.  From a tablespoon of kefir grains and two chickens, there was about a gallon and a half of apple juice water kefir and two huge punch bowls of broth…folks got a “shot” size of the kefir, and as much of the broth as they wished.

And from these small beginnings, I received some fantastic feedback–“We’ve been eating the exact same foods for the last 3 days, and come afternoon, we just hit the wall with the fatigue of sitting and learning all day.  Today, we ate the same foods again, the only difference was the kefir and the broth…and we never hit the wall!  We feel great!”  And, “I was so full from the cup of broth, that I only had half as much food as normal!”  And, “The broth was so good–I had three cups!”

So, if you’re wondering if you can make this kind of food at home…if you’re wondering if it’s worth the effort…if you’re wondering if it will have an impact in your health…I share this little story with you to say, yes, it is most definitely something you can do, and, yes, it is most definitely something you should do.

Bon appetit!

 

Soul-satisfying Bone Broth

Rich, delicious bone broth–this batch was seasoned with onion and fresh rosemary

Rarely a day goes by I don’t extol the virtues of bone broth to someone.

Having made the decision to keep a crock-pot of it on hand at all times, I’ve come to deeply appreciate its virtues, both culinary and medicinally (and, in my life, the two generally go together!)

My first taste of bone broth came in the chicken and dumpling soups my Grandma Linda would make throughout my childhood.  I’m not too certain her methodology, but I do clearly remember a very rich butteriness, flecked with parsley, sizable bits of chicken and chewy, salty dumplings, all swimming in a sunny sea in a Corning Ware bowl.  I’m sure the dumplings were made with Bisquik (which I’d steer clear of today, instead figuring a way to use sprouted spelt flour and ghee or lard), but the chicken broth stands out as the golden essence of love in a bowl.

Happy chance when I began my study of Eastern Nutrition at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and we fell upon the use of bone broths.  The discussion of their use in convalescence from all sorts of traumas, from surgery to childbirth, to recovery from bone-crunching injuries, struck me as very reasonable and in keeping with the sage wisdom of Asian medicine.

Bone broths are full of many of the bits we pay for in our modern-day supplement and vitamin regimens–magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, collagen, easy-to-assimilate amino acids, glucosamine, chondroitin.  And the real beauty is that these components (and many others not mentioned!) are in a very bio-available form, so they are a breeze for you to put to use.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has long praised these virtues, and has used this kitchen medicine to repair a damaged body and return it to full capacity.  And I would argue, with the toxic-load we are exposed to in this modern day and age, we need this type of food more than ever.  From electro-magnetic fields, to depleted, pesticide-laced, MSG- and  GMO-tainted foods, to overworked and under-rested bodies, we are pushed to our limits.  And there is nothing quite as settling, nourishing and substantive as a rich bone broth.

To further capitalize on the wisdom of Chinese Medicine, I will sometimes include an additional ingredient–organ meats. Usually it is a liver, but I am happy to use heart as well.  The choice depends on what I hope to achieve in the broth’s nutrition profile.  If there are issues with failing eyesight, connective tissue problems, gynecological concerns, exhaustion and insomnia, then inclusion of a grass-fed, organic liver might be in order.  For cardiovascular issues, anemia and anxiety, then heart might be a good choice.  The wisdom goes, if there is a lacking in a given organ or in the tissues that are governed by that organ, then consume that organ to build the organ and tissues in the patient.

And if one looks at the nutrition profile of different organs, it is easy to see the reasoning.  Liver is rich in B-vitamins, protein, iron, CoQ10, and Vitamin A making it an excellent source for the nutrition to support the building of new blood cells and the various tissues of the body.  Heart is also rich in protein and CoQ10, each comprising the building blocks and energy source of the heart muscle, respectively.

In the yumminess of a broth, these incredibly nutritious foods come easily to the palate of even the fussiest eaters.  Much of the nutrition of the organ makes its way into the broth, without the need to actually eat the organ.

Plan to start your broth with 2-3 bones–a mix of marrow, neck, oxtail and shank, maybe a piece of organ meat, purified water, Celtic Sea Salt, an acid (usually raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice) and a bit of onion.

Place everything into a cool crock-pot, and set it for a 4-hour cooking.  Fill the pot with enough water to leave only about 1.5″ of space at the top, then cover with the lid.

You may want to start your broth as you go to bed, and let it cook through the night.  In the morning you’ll have a broth that is incredibly rich–sometimes so rich, a splash of vinegar in each serving is helpful to cut the oiliness of this first draft, or you might skim much of the fat off to use later to sauté vegetables.  Next pour in enough boiling water to replace the liquid  just removed, add a healthy pinch of Celtic Sea Salt, and keep the pot on the “Keep Warm” setting, which, on our pot is 190 degrees Fahrenheit, beating out the needed 180 degrees to keep pathogens at bay.

Throughout the day, use the broth as a base for cooking soaked and sprouted grains, as the steaming medium for chopped veggies, as a sauce base, as a wonderful beverage, and as the liquid to a quick “bowl soup”–just take some fresh greens (spinach, spring greens, soft chard), some slices of avocado–and pour the hot broth and some chunks of meat over the cold, fresh foods.  Let it sit for a few minutes, and in no time, you’ll have a wonderful, quick soup.  Topping with a dash of vinegar is an absolute delight!

Keep repeating the process of drawing off of the broth, and replacing with boiling water and a pinch of Celtic sea salt, maintaining the temperature at on the “Keep Warm” setting.  By the end of the first day, plan to have all meaty bits out of the broth, though you may keep the bones from larger animals in an extra day or two.  By the third day, strain the remaining broth from the bones and complete what remains of the broth.  Plan to start a new batch on the fourth day.

It should be noted to always use grass-fed,  pastured, organically-raised sources for meats, bones and organs.  There is real concern for toxicity if doing otherwise, whether blatant or as an insidious build-up over time. And even if a chicken is organic, if it’s been kept in a cage, its subsequent broth will not have the nutritious gelatin as part of its composition.  It’s just worth it to pay the extra and make the effort to find a source that meets these standards.  And, when using bones and organs, the cost is incremental to the standard cost of a muscle meat, making this option much more feasible for even the tightest of budgets.  Additionally, bone broth, rich in gelatin, allows for less meat consumption, if drunk throughout the day with meals.

Here’s a basic recipe for bone broth, using beef bones.  You can also use this recipe for lamb, and it could be replicated for bison, too.

Basic Bone Broth

  • 1 large Shank Bone (2 pounds or so)
  • 1 Neck Bone (1-2 pounds)
  • 1 Oxtail (1-2 pounds)
  • 1/2 pound Liver, if you like (rinse under cold water and remove any bandy parts)
  • 1 Onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar (raw Apple Cider, naturally fermented Rice or organic Balsamic) or the juice of 1-2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup Wine (not necessary, though I like what it does to the flavor profile–I use organic reds for beef, lamb and bison, and organic whites for chicken, fish and turkey)
  • Enough purified water to fill the crock pot just shy of 1.5″ full

Place all ingredients in pot and place on 4-hour setting.  As you take the broth from the pot, replace with the same amount of boiling water and a pinch of sea salt.  Keep the pot at the Keep Warm setting and consume all meat/organ portions within the end of the first day.  The bones may remain in another day or two.  Plan to consume all your broth within 3 days of first starting it if using this perpetual method, where it maintains a hot temperature.  Any longer and proteins and fats can begin to degrade.

 

Crock-Pot Chicken

Juicy, flavorful, pastured chicken…straight from the crock-pot!

The joy of working with a crock-pot–there is something so wonderful about knowing that a meal will be nearly completed as we work through the day, or sleep through the night. And this recipe for pastured, organic chicken speaks to this delight.  It is rich, deeply flavorful, nutritious…and easy as can be!

Start with a whole, organic chicken–and while this works beautifully with a whole chicken, you might try a chicken that is cut into parts—either works fine.  Just look for a chicken that has been pasture-raised, meaning it has been able to move around, support itself and get some sunshine (seems like not much to ask, but the modern conventional farming techniques have made it necessary to research before making a purchase.)

I love working with the pastured chickens that are  cut into parts, from Tropical Traditions.  These chickens are fed a diet free of soy and rich in coconut…making for a very flavorful and nutritious meat.

Coconut-fed, soy-free pastured chicken, cut into parts

Once completed, this recipe has about 2 1/2 cups of reserve liquid from the cooking process, thanks in large part to the wine (I love the Trader Joe’s Chardonnay made with organic grapes–not too sweet.)  I like to save this in a separate glass container as a base for a soup, to add to sauteed veggies, or as a base for a sauce.  Just don’t discard it–it is very nutritious, rich in tissue-building gelatin, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin and bio-avaialable minerals.  And it tastes divine!

This chicken is excellent served over greens, both fresh and braised.  You can also pull the meat from the bones and use as a great base for a homemade chicken salad, or in enchiladas, or reserved to toss into a veggie soup.  Feel free to freeze some as well, once removed from the bones, to have on hand to add to a vegetable saute or wrapped in nori sheets with avocado…needless to say, the options are endless!

Drunken Crock-pot Chicken with Onions

Makes 6-8 servings of various cuts of meat

  • 1 Large Chicken, whole or in parts, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 cup  Chardonnay Wine
  • 2 T Apple Cider Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 cup Celery, chopped
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, sliced thinly
  • 2/3 cup filtered Water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoon Poultry Herb Blend (preferably organic and non-irradiated)
  • 4-5 Bay leaves

Set the crock-pot to a four-hour setting.

Place the chicken in the pot, followed by the vegetables, then the seasonings.  Pour the wine, vinegar and water over the ingredients, and place the lid on the pot.

Uncooked ingredients in crock-pot

There should be ample liquids in the pot to prevent scorching and burning.  However, if you smell or see that this is happening, simply add a little more water and keep the lid on the pot.

After four hours, you can enjoy this great dish…or, allow it to cook longer on the “Keep Warm” setting, which will further break down the bound minerals and connective tissues, bringing them into the broth’s solution.

Cooked chicken in a rich broth

As mentioned, strain and reserve the flavorful liquid for another meal–it is fantastic when spooned over sauteing vegetables!

Tasty chicken and rich reserved cooking liquid

 

Looking for healthy recipes that are always gluten-free, grain-free and organic?

Look no further!

With these recipes, discover the joy of eating nutritious, tasty foods that are always gluten-free and grain-free .

Learn to make salads that eat like a meal in themselves, protein-rich breakfast foods that will keep your energy balanced, and yummy superfood snacks for when you’re on the go.

When looking over the recipes, the following is a given:

• I use organic produce, herbs and spices to the best of my abilities

• I use locally-grown produce as it’s available

• I use organic, free-range or wild-caught eggs and animal proteins

• Salt is always some type of sea salt

• If I’m using any variety of cultured dairy, it is usually prepared at home– yogurt , kefir , soft cheeses —this is not mandatory, but it makes for a very nutritious selection that I know is full of healthy flora

• Any milk is organic and raw—if you are not inclined to use this yourself, please do use organic and full-fat. And more often than not, I use goat milk

• Raw nuts are organic as often as possible, and have been soaked and dehydrated at 100 degrees—you can use raw nuts that have just been soaked and not dehydrated, but their texture will be moist and chewy, rather than crunchy

• When using stevia as a sweetener, my preferred variety is the concentrated powder, which you can find at Trader Joe’s, or most any natural foods’ store

• When using honey , I use local and raw

I hope these ideas inspire you and give you direction on making healthier foods in your own home.

Change them as needed to fit your taste preferences, or stay true to the ingredients listed to try something new.

Whatever your choice, keep this saying in mind:“Make every fork-full as nutritious as it can be!”

To help you along, I’ve included links to some of my favorite sources to help you find farmers and stores close to you.

And if you are really interested in learning many more grain-free, GAPS-friendly foods, please click here to sign up for grain-free meal plans.

Have fun, be creative and enjoy the process! Bon appetit!

Recipes to Enjoy

Savory, Smoky Grain-Free Meatballs 

Squash and Turkey Bacon Hash 

Baked Cultured Tarragon Chicken 

Nut Mayonnaise 

Sweet Pot-Souffle 

Cousin Dee’s Sweet Potato Pancakes 

Sprouted and Dehydrated Quinoa Flour 

Hazel-Coco Bread 

Sprouted Quinoa Bread 

Chicken and Chevre Salad on Mixed Greens 

Grilled Nicoise Salad 

Cabbage and Turkey Bacon Slaw 

Coconut Fish with Braised Vegetables 

Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing 

Cashew Mousse 

The Dehydrator and Its Many Wonderful Ways

Chicken and Chevre Salad with Walnuts and Raisins



Chicken and Chevre come together in this wonderful entree-style salad. The tart saltiness of goat’s chevre is a great balance to the natural sweetness of raisins. And topped with grilled chicken and walnut halves, it is chock-full of protein and minerals. 

Serves 2 

• 3 cups mixed Salad Greens

• 1 cup Micro-Greens or Onion Sprouts

• 1 Red or Orange Bell Pepper, chopped finely

• ¼ cup Purple Onion, finely chopped

• 1/3 cup raw Walnut halves, chopped

• ¼ cup Unsulfured Raisins

• 4-6 oz. grilled Chicken Breast, chopped and divided

• 1/3 cup Chevre

• Juice of 2 Limes or Lemons

• 3-4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

• Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste 

All ingredients will be divided between 2 pasta bowls. Begin first with the salad greens topped with the micro-greens or sprouts, then the bell pepper. Season lightly with sea salt. Next add the chicken, then the walnuts, followed by the chevre and the raisins. Sprinkle the purple onion over, add a little more sea salt and some black pepper, then drizzle over the lime juice and olive oil.

What can Trader Joe’s do for You? Quite a Lot, and at a Darned Good Price!

Trader Joe’s has been a mainstay in my grocery-shopping experience since I was a teenager—and, except for my years in Northern Arizona, I have always had one nearby (and when I didn’t, I made a pilgrimage, every second or third week, to stock up on provisions, packing produce and perishables on ice to make the 2+ hour drive home.)

I am so comfortable with the store, in fact, that I can easily spot an item not offered in one store, but mixed in to the offerings at another. (No seaweed snacks back in Minnesota this last summer, but they did have more beef offerings.)

And on the occasion that my husband needs to pick up our weekly purchases, I close my eyes and make my list of items based on where he’ll be in one of the 2 or 3 local stores he will be shopping on my behalf.

I still rhapsodize about products that have been discontinued, many years ago—the Spicy Bean Soup from Germany, or the clarified butter that made my need to shop at multiple stores a little less necessary.

Certainly, my allegiance is clear. However, all is not perfect—it is a store bent on offering convenience, very fair pricing and meeting a slightly-left-of-center taste demographic that sometimes hangs a little too close to the middle-road for my preferences.

So, often regular salt rather than sea salt will be used as an ingredient. Or torula yeast will be used as a flavor enhancer in a snack food. Or soybean or canola oil might be included in a dressing, sauce or dip, rather than olive oil. There are different infarctions, and many would consider them minor.  However, for me, they won’t find their place in my shopping cart.

Therefore, dependent on how seriously you read labels, you may find that many of the prepared foods will not meet your standards. Not to worry, however—just take the time to look over the ingredients and decide if what is listed is a good fit for you.

From meeting the needs of those concerned with wheat allergies, to offering ingredients for simple, healthy recipes, Trader Joe’s has many options.

So, what do I buy? Hands’ down, Trader Joe’s has some of the best pricing and highest quality of organic produce from any retail grocery outfit. It is always my preference to support all the local farmers in the area, but out of season (meaning, the height of summer here in the Sonoran Desert), there needs to be a Plan-B.  And, it is nice to fill in some of the blanks of what is offered in our CSA program.

So, when I do shop Trader’s for produce, I love the 4-pack of organic avocadoes, the organic micro-greens, the different organic fruits available in season, packages of different varieties of organic lettuce, the organic onions, garlic, and the bags of organic sweet potatoes…I usually find that at least 2/3 of my purchases are of produce alone.

And I also love the organic, free-range eggs for when I’m unable to get mine locally. The organic, unsalted butter is a great price, and comes in handy for when I run out of ghee—I just melt a few sticks down for my own homemade clarified butter. In the refrigerated section, I also like the carrageenan-free, unsweetened vanilla almond milk—wonderful as a base for the kids’ superfood shakes.

When I’ve not made any  cheese or goat yogurt , it’s wonderful to get some raw gruyere, or Dutch goat gouda, or goat brie from the store’s selection—and what a price! These products are not organic, but they are rBST-free—a compromise in quality on each over making them at home with organic, raw milks, but sometimes I simply run out of time to do all that I would like.

The store also offers great pricing on organic hamburger, free-range and/or organic chicken, nitrate- and nitrite-free and antibiotic-free turkey bacon. There are many other meat selections—again, just read the labels closely to make sure it’s something you are happy to consume.

I also love both of their organic, extra-virgin olive oils—they make a wonderful handmade dressing with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and fresh herbs. They are also carrying organic coconut oil these days.  And from their herb and spice offerings, I am totally enamored with their smoked sea salt, the South African smoke herb blend, and the vanilla extract in bourbon.

We also use many of the organic, frozen foods, too—broccoli, spinach, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries—they’re all great to have on hand, and they are excellent quality.

And I love many of Trader Joe’s eco-friendly cleaning supplies, especially both varieties of their dish soaps–each cleans well, using a plant-based surfactant, and they are scented with essential oils, rather than chemical perfumes. I also like their Next to Godliness surface cleaner when I’m traveling and away from my homemade cleaners. And who can argue with recycled toilet paper and paper towels, especially at the price offered at Trader Joe’s?

Finally, if you’re in the mood for a little wine, they even have differentvarieties made with organic grapes—and, again, at a ridiculously-low price. I love the Trader Joe’s Chardonnay—wonderful to drink, and a great addition to chicken stock.

So, these are but a few of the ways that I have loved Trader Joe’s and encourage everyone I know to take some time and explore one when they have an opportunity. For taking care, naturally, their stores are a wonderful asset in doing so without too much of a dent in the pocketbook.

Just read the labels and enjoy your finds!

Baked Cultured Tarragon Chicken



Baked Cultured Tarragon Chicken is refreshingly light and mildly lemony.

Marinating the meat in the cultured dairy lends to the hint of tartness, while also making the meat incredibly tender.

Excellent over sautéed greens and onions, with a side of roasted parsnips or yams.

Serves 4

• 1 pound each Organic Chicken thighs and breasts, cut into 1” slices

• .75 oz fresh Organic Tarragon, ½ with leaves stripped and stems discarded, the rest left on stems

• Juice of ½ Lemon

• 1 cup plain Kefir

• 1 cup plain Yogurt

• 2 T Fig Preserves

• 1 tsp. Sea Salt

• 1 tsp. Black Pepper

• 1 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

• 1 tsp. Onion Powder

Put chicken slices in a glass or ceramic bowl, and cover with tarragon, lemon juice, preserves and kefir and yogurt. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Chicken marinating in seasonings and cultured dairy 

Once marinated, remove chicken and tarragon sprigs from the dairy marinade, and set aside. Discard residual marinade.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and arrange the marinated chicken the bottom of a deep roasting pan (I like to use a Dutch oven.)

Sprinkle with the remaining tarragon, salt, pepper, nutmeg and onion powder. Gently toss to mix. Place in oven and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Served over sauteed greens and onions