20 Life-Changing Minutes

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If you ever notice that I become incredibly uncomfortable when I see kids eating donuts, or Doritos and Gatorade being handed out as a snack…if you take 20 minutes to watch this video, you will have an excellent understanding of why. This is why I do what I do and why I post what I post. Please take 20 minutes for a deeper understanding of the issues we face…This video will put the information right in front of you in an easy to understand format that is life-changing.

Fresh Salsa…Mildly Fermented!

Delicious, fresh tomato salsa…ready to enjoy immediately, or to ferment a bit for a healthy beneficial bacteria profile!

Delicious, fresh tomato salsa…ready to enjoy immediately, or to ferment a bit for a healthy beneficial bacteria profile!

Freshly made salsa is so delightful–it is a perfect compliment to eggs, meats, beans, you name it.  And it is one of those condiments that makes nearly everyone happy, whether they’re following Paleo Diet principles, GAPS dietary prescriptions or raw food ideals.  Or, maybe someone just doesn’t bother too much with concern for their nutrition…fresh salsa works for this group, too (and it is a great way to get some fantastic nutrition into them, with a smile on their face!)

I love preparing and enjoying food in its proper season…and since we live in the desert southwest of the U.S., all of these ingredients are here, even in winter.  This is fantastic, as this recipe is a great source of naturally-occuring Vitamin C and gut-boosting beneficial bacteria, thanks to the water kefir and mild fermentation.  Both of these qualities are real boosts when it’s cold and flu season (and this salsa tastes great!)

This is a blended salsa–in this instance, I’ve used our food processor.  However, if you only have a blender, feel free to use it.  Either kitchen tool works fine.

This recipe can be enjoyed without the inclusion of the water kefir and the 24 hour room-temperature fermentation cycle, and it will be incredibly delicious if you choose to prepare it this way.  But, if you do choose to follow the recipe as delivered in its entirety, you’ll not only have the boost to the beneficial bacterial profile, but the salsa will last much longer (remember, fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique–and when combined with the modern-day convenience of refrigeration, the combination can lend itself to an extended shelf life.) However, this benefit of the salsa storing longer in the refrigerator if mildly fermented is really a moot point–it is so tasty, it won’t last long in any case!

Mildly Fermented Fresh Tomato and Cilantro Salsa

Makes approximately 2 quarts salsa

  • Approximately 4 cups organic Cherry or Plum Tomatoes
  • 2 organic Bell Peppers, preferably red, yellow or orange, coarsely chopped
  • Approximately 1 cup loosely packed organic Cilantro, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 organic Green Onions (Scallions), rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic Pineapple and/or Mango
  • 4-5 cloves organic Garlic
  • 1 organic Jalapeño Pepper, seeds removed if you don’t want it too hot
  • 3 teaspoons Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle Powder
  • 1/4 cup Water Kefir (Kombucha or fresh Whey would work as well)

Place tomatoes in the carafe of the food processor or blender and coarsely chop, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Blend/chop well until incorporated and uniform.  Spoon into 2 glass quart-sized jars, cap with lids, and leave at room temperature for 24 hours (do this final step if you’ve added some kind of culture for fermentation–such as water kefir.  Otherwise, you can simply store the salsa in the refrigerator immediately.)  If mildly fermented before refrigeration, you can expect the salsa to last at least a week in the refrigerator.  If no fermentation has occurred, then plan to enjoy the salsa within four days.

Fresh veggies for salsa--what a delight!

Fresh veggies for salsa–what a delight!

 

Tomatoes coarsely chopped in food processor.

Tomatoes coarsely chopped in food processor.

Veggies on top of chopped tomatoes, ready to blend it all together!

Veggies on top of chopped tomatoes, ready to blend it all together!

Freshly made water kefir to add to the salsa

Freshly made water kefir to add to the salsa

All ingredients blended and ready to spoon into jars

All ingredients blended and ready to spoon into jars

Salsa--lids in place and ready to ferment for a day…and enjoy tomorrow!

Salsa–lids in place and ready to ferment for a day…and enjoy tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

Pan-Baked Sweet Potato Chunks

Sweet and delicious baked sweet potato chunks

Sweet and delicious baked sweet potato chunks

 

Simple, delicious and nutritious.  Isn’t that such a terrific combination when you’re looking for something to prepare and enjoy?  Tossed in energy-promoting Medium Chain Triglyceride-rich unrefined coconut oil, these chunks will work whether you fall in the Paleo camp, or adhere to the GAPS Diet or just love delicious whole foods!

People often ask me how we manage to stay ahead of our food selections at home, given that we eat at home nearly every meal, and most of the foods are made from scratch.  Well, Rome was not built in a day, and I didn’t get into the groove of creating meals in this manner overnight!

Over the years, what I’ve learned is to lean on some pre-preparation, so that we can grab something quickly from the fridge, and reheat it quickly in the toaster oven, on the stovetop, toss it into the kids’ lunches or enjoy it as-is.  It’s the homemade version of fast food, and whether it’s oatmeal, pancakes, bread, beans or soup, having some easy-to-use components to a meal on hand makes the WHOLE process so much easier!

This recipe for pan-baked sweet potato chunks falls into this category perfectly.  Once prepared (and they are delicious straight from the oven!), they store really well in the refrigerator for the work- and school week, a true grab-n-go item.  And I have yet to get a refusal from the kids when they find these accompanying the rest of a meal!

In addition to the nutrition in the coconut oil, this recipe leans heavily on warming spices, specifically cinnamon, which has been shown in studies to help with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.  And with natural sea or mineral salt, you will have a terrific food, full of trace minerals.

This recipe prepares quickly, bakes quickly, stores easily and tastes fantastic.  Good luck on keeping them for the duration of the week–you might consider doubling the recipe just in case they don’t make it through the first day!

Pan-Baked Sweet Potato Chunks

  • 3 pounds organic Sweet Potatoes and/or Yams, washed, ends trimmed and coarsely cut into rounds approximately 1″ thick
  • 1/2 cup organic Unrefined Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons organic Pumpkin Pie Spice blend or 1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon ground Nutmeg, 1 teaspoon Allspice and 1 teaspoon dried Ginger
  • 2-3 teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl, sprinkle the spices and salt over the sweet potato chunks and toss to incorporate.  Drizzle the coconut oil over the dressed sweet potato chunks and toss again, insuring that the oil coats all surfaces.  Spread out on a large cookie sheet. so that there is no overlap of the chunks.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes, then move to the top rack  and roast on the Low Roast setting for an 2-3 additional minutes, or until the tops of the chunks begin to caramelize (make sure you don’t go too long here, or that the heat is too high, lest the oil begin to smoke.)

Remove from the oven and enjoy immediately, or allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.  Reheats perfectly in the toaster oven or on the stove top.

Chopping sweet potatoes

Chopping sweet potatoes

Pouring on coconut oil over sweet potatoes

Pouring on coconut oil over sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes dressed and ready to bake

Sweet potatoes dressed and ready to bake

How we get ready for the week ahead--sweet potato chunks and freshly-baked water kefir bread

How we get ready for the week ahead–sweet potato chunks and freshly-baked water kefir bread

Rich and delicious sweet potato chunks--notice the salt chunks.  YUM!

Rich and delicious sweet potato chunks–notice the salt grains. YUM!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferments and Culturing…How I love Your Ways

It may not look like much, but the fermentation and culturing happening here fuels our kitchen!

It may not look like much, but the fermentation and culturing happening here fuels our kitchen!  Shown here:  water kefir, ginger bug brew, raw milk yogurt in yogurt maker, sprouted brown rice incubating in second yogurt maker and fermenting with added water kefir.

I’ve been in the very good habit lately of leaning heavily on lacto-fermentation to pre-digest the foods our family eats.  Culturing, fermenting, sourdough-ing, kraut-ing…our kitchen has been a hotbed of activity, but not always a lot of elbow grease on the family’s part.

After spending the better part of this last year reading and re-reading The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, I’ve felt compelled and encouraged to just sit back and let the bacteria do a lion’s share of the digestive work, so we don’t have to.  (The digestive equivalent of comfortably reclining, quaffing champagne and noshing bon-bons.)

And it has been a good move!

We had decided some time back to work on incorporating some grains back into our months’-long grain-free diet, and as with any move to eat grains, we did so with the expectation that they would always be properly-prepared by a long, warm-water soak before cooking.  The removal of various anti-nutrients by this simple first step is paramount to getting more nutrition from the grains, and mitigating the mineral- and protein-leaching that consuming unsoaked grains can lead to.

But adding in a little fresh culture to that warm, long watery soak–by way of  whey from yogurt or kefir, or a splash of water kefir–provided  the additional benefit of allowing the cultures to pre-digest the complex carbohydrates in the grains, leaving us with much more digestible simple sugars.  Yay!  And everything took on that wonderful, slightly-tart flavor of sourdough (and once a palate gets a taste for sourdough, anything less tastes bland and simple)–Yay again!  But possibly best of all, the grains didn’t feel like a brick in our bellies–even pancakes and hot cereal have been very well-digested, where we are full, but not at all bloated or logy.  Yay!

At one point last week, I counted 9 different ferments happening in our kitchen.  And while that certainly seems like a lot, it’s important to remember that the process of creating lacto-fermented foods requires time.  Rome may have not been built in a day, but culturing a quart of milk to become yogurt takes about a third of a day, and that’s a little longer than simply picking a container off the shelf at the grocery store.  But the benefits are innumerable if you do allow the time for your homegrown cultures to go to work for you.  Most commercially-prepared yogurt goes through a hastened culturing process, that does not allow for the more complete conversion of what are for many troublesome milk sugars (lactose)  into the gut-benefiting, probiotic bacteria.  And, if you have access to raw, grass-fed milk, then you are able to make a very nutritious food, indeed.

Similarly, making fermented veggies at home–most widely-known as sauerkraut–allows you to make a condiment teeming with beneficial bacteria, with the ingredients you choose.  Many people have issues with thyroid function–whether it be diagnosed or sub-clinical–and consuming raw sauerkraut of cabbage can actually further dampen thyroid function.  It turns out that the fermentation process does not degrade the thyroid-dampening effects of brassica-family vegetables, of which kale, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower and many others belong.  Now, a little raw or fermented brassica veggies isn’t going to squelch most people’s thyroid activity.  But if a person is inclined to eat a few spoons’ full of fermented veggies in a day (read:  me), then, making a kraut that leans more heavily on other types of vegetation–zucchini and other summer squashes, carrots, cucumbers, onions, garlic, chard, lettuces–might be a good option.  Again, this just takes time to let those good bacteria do their good work for you.

And there are more ways we’ve been using the cultures…to make bread, to prepare beans for cooking, as a base for refreshing and calming drinks, in making pancakes, and even as skincare!  The ways to use them are only as limited as our ingredients on hand and our imaginations.  I’d love to hear from you on what you’re culturing and fermenting, what your favorite cultured foods are, how you’re using these foods in your life.  Please leave a comment or contact me–there is always more to learn and share!

Mediterranean Lamb Bake

Sprouted quinoa and grass-fed lamb bake, fresh from the oven

I’ll be the first to say that not every home has ground lamb ready to go in the freezer.  Pastured lamb is not as common in most kitchens as it once was. However, should you have the opportunity to purchase some, consider this recipe as an excellent way to put it to use.

And just because something doesn’t tend to be a regular part of our diet, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be.  Each food has its own unique nutrition profile, and consuming a variety of foods helps to keep us balanced and vibrant.  Dr. Jack Tips’ book, The Pro Vita Plan, speaks volumes about the importance of this practice.

And including a food as nutritious as pastured lamb in your diet is just a very good  idea.  Pastured meats tend to be much leaner than their lot-fed, grain-fed pastured counterparts, and the fat they do contain is much higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and much lower in Omega-6’s (fresh grass is over 60% Omega-3’s, and, like us, these animals are what they eat.)  Pastured lamb is also rich in Vitamin E and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient increasingly recognized for its anti-tumor, cardiovascular-supporting actions. (1)  US Wellness Meats is an excellent resource for pastured meats, shipped right to your door.

Another nutritional powerhouse in this recipe is soaked and sprouted quinoa, which I’ve cooked in grass-fed lamb bone broth.  Although quinoa is a food of the Andeas, and not the Mediterranean, it combines really well with the lamb.  If you wanted to be a real traditionalist, however, you could certainly substitute orzo or couscous, though I’d recommend soaking both beforehand.  Quinoa is gluten free, has its own healthy protein profile, and when it’s soaked and sprouted, many of the anti-nutrients found in all grains and seeds are broken down into easier to digest, less bothersome components (phytates, tannins and lectins, to name a few.)

I pair this with freshly made, plain yogurt and a bright green salad topped with raw garlic, cucumbers and ripe tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt.  It’s wonderful reheated in the toaster oven, or broken into steaming bone broth, a la matzo ball soup.  The kids love it, and the grown-ups do too, so it’s great as a casserole to serve at a dinner party.  And, of course, it makes for a quick lunch later in the week!

Mediterranean Lamb Bake

  • 1 pound ground Grass-Fed Lamb
  • 2.5 cups soaked Quinoa, cooked (preferably in lamb or chicken broth)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Feta Cheese, preferably raw and grass-fed goat or sheep, crumbled
  • Prepared Vegetables (I sliced Carrot, 1 sliced Zucchini, 1 diced medium Yellow Onion, 3 minced Garlic Cloves, 4 sliced Celery stalks) sauteed in 1 tablespoon Ghee or Butter until soft
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Mint Leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Grease an 8″ x 12″ baking dish with butter or ghee and scoop in the mixture.  Smooth with a spatula and place, uncovered, on the bottom rack of the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes, then increase oven heat to a high broil.  Place dish on a medium-high rack and broil for seven or eight minutes, or until the top gently browns.

Remove from the the oven and allow the dish to rest for ten minutes at room temperature before serving.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Sprouted quinoa and grass-fed lamb

 

Veggies sauteed in ghee, with herbs and lemon juice added just at the end

 

Top-browning under the broiler

 

Delicious Mediterranean-style baked lamb and sprouted quinoa, with fresh yogurt

(1)  Visit www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm for more information.

Grain-Free Mini “Pizza” Turkey Loaves

All the wonderful ingredients to make these delicious little turkey loaves

Another nutritious, grain-free, easy recipe to support you during a busy week!

Just because I have a family of four and a two-career household, it doesn’t mean that I’m any busier than most everyone else these days.  All of us have many things going on in our lives.  And I know that if we don’t have foods prepared and ready to go come meal times, our choices start looking rather paltry (and for us, eating common fast-food offerings is simply not a choice.)

So, here’s another recipe to prepare ahead of time (i.e., Sunday!), and keep it in the refrigerator for lunches, a quick snack or on top of a dinnertime salad, as you work through your week.

This recipe is delicious and easy…the hardest part will be steaming the spaghetti squash.  And, this isn’t “hard,” but it is a first step.  Save the remainder of the squash in the refrigerator, to sauté in ghee with fresh basil and garlic, and serve as a quick side dish to fresh salad and these little reheated “loaves” on a busy evening. These will also be making their way into my kids’ lunch boxes this week, paired with some fresh veggies, a hunk of raw cheese and coconut crackers.

I call these “pizza,” because they have that flavor profile.  But if you chose to use thyme, rosemary, sage, omit the tomato paste, and used a little Chèvre as the cheese, they would be more in the savory, Thanksgiving-ish category.  You could also shift them toward Mexico, keeping the tomato paste, garlic, onion and oregano, and adding cumin, cilantro and chipotle.   There are countless ways to make these fit your palate!

Mini Turkey Loaves

Makes 18 muffin-sized “loaves”

  • 2 pounds Ground Turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1.5 cups cooked Spaghetti Squash, steamed and drained of excess water
  • 3/4 cup frozen Spinach
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • 3 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Jack Cheese, preferably raw and grass-fed, shredded (Raw Parmesan would be great, too!)
  • 1-7 oz. jar Tomato Paste, preferably salt-free
  • 1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2.5 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 2.5 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 3  teaspoons dried Oregano Leaf
  • Olive Oil or butter for greasing muffin tins

You’ll need muffin tins for 18 “loaves.”

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Grease each tin’s cups with oil to prevent sticking.  Fill each to the top with the mixture, and smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.

Place on the middle rack in a well-heated oven.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes to resorb any oils back into each loaf.

Store in a glass, ceramic or parchment-lined plastic container in the refrigerator and consume within three days.

Turkey “loaves” ready to bake

 

Baked and cooling in the muffin tins

 

On parchment and ready to store in the refrigerator

 

Grain-free turkey loaves ready to enjoy with homemade sauerkraut and fresh greens!

 

Savory Coconut Crackers

Nutritious, crispy, savory coconut flour crackers

I think most of us tend to think of coconut flour in the vein of the sweet delicacies, for which is so well-suited.  But when one uses a fair amount of coconut flour in cooking and baking (read: me), it is nice to diverge from the usual path.  And this recipe does just that, so delightfully, that you’ll forget you’re eating a cracker based in coconut!

As with my Raisin Bread recipe, this recipe uses soaked coconut flour as its base.  The lighter texture that comes from soaking in warm water, with a little whey from fresh kefir or yogurt, makes for an excellent cracker.  (For soaked coconut flour, use 2 cups warm water to 1 cup coconut flour–maybe more, if needed; you want the consistency to be like mashed potatoes–and add 1/4 cup of fresh whey.  Mix all well and keep at room temperature for at least 12 hours, lightly covered, stirring once or twice, before storing in the fridge or using in a recipe.)

My family is loving these little flatbread crackers–they’re great in the kids’ lunches with some raw cheese and grass-fed beef hot dogs, or with a salad at dinner, or just as a great, nutritious snack.  The savory flavor profile can be taken in many directions, based on your tastes–south of the border with chipotle powder and cumin, Italian with oregano, garlic and basil, barbecue with smoked sea salt, coconut crystals, cumin and chili powder.  You get the idea.

Here’s a good template to begin with, a flavor profile that is a great accompaniment to lots of dishes.

Savory Soaked Coconut Flour Flatbread Crackers

Makes 2 sheet pans’ worth of crackers

  • 2 cups Soaked Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 cup freshly ground Flax Meal
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Ghee
  • 1.5 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Oregano Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Preheat oven to 385 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

Take 2 baking sheets and line with parchment paper. Divide the mixture between the 2 sheets.  Take another sheet of parchment paper the length of each of the sheets, and cover the mixture.  Using a rolling pin, evenly compress the mixture across the length and width of the sheet, then repeat for the second sheet.  Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and discard.

Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to score the dough into 1″ crackers.

Place both sheets in the middle of the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Any edges or thinner spots will brown first, so remove these with a spatula, then replace the remainder in the oven until the rest have browned accordingly, likely just a few minutes longer.

Place hot crackers on a plate to cool, spaced from each other to keep humidity from forming that will cause sogginess.  Once cooled, place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.  Will keep for 5-6 days or longer, though the humidity of the refrigerator will begin to soften the crispiness.  To crisp again, simply place for a minute or so in a toaster oven.

Soaked coconut flour, the texture of stiff mashed potatoes

 

Freshly grated raw Parmesan cheese

 

Freshly ground flax meal

 

Delicious ghee

 

Parchment paper lining to sheet pans

 

Preparing to roll out dough

 

Scoring the dough

Edges browning and crisping!

 

Crispy, delicious, gluten-free, grain-free crackers!

 

Cinnamon Raisin Soaked Coconut Flour Bread

We’ve been enjoying this recipe very much lately, and it comes together in a snap, when you’ve got your flour soaked and ready in the refrigerator!

I’ve gotten into the (good) habit of soaking most of the flours we eat, and that is including coconut.  Doing so unleashes enzymatic activity within the flour, making all components more digestible and bio-available, while breaking down tough-to-digest “anti-nutrients” like tannins, phytates and difficult proteins.  And, when a little bit of a culture is added (such as a couple tablespoons of fresh whey from cheese or yogurt making), the beneficial bacteria have an opportunity to further break down the complex carbohydrates, using them as a fuel source…and, in turn, helping to reduce the carbohydrate load of the food being consumed.  A total win-win!

And, as mentioned, I’ve even been soaking coconut flour, the darling of many nutritional pundits these days.  I do it for the reasons just stated, and also because I like what it does to the texture of the flour once I’m actually using it, say, in pancakes, or as in this recipe, a quick bread.  Because coconut flour is so hydrophilic, the end products with it can be on the dry side.  When the flour is well-saturated, though, by pre-soaking, the end result is very moist.  So, I’ve found it’s worth the effort, for all the right reasons!

When I soak my flour, I start with about one cup of flour, to which I add warm (110 degrees Fahrenheit, or so) water–usually 2-3 times the amount of flour.  I add it slowly, and incorporate it well, before adding more.  The texture should be like mashed potatoes.

Not mashed potatoes…soaked coconut flour!

Once the consistency is right, then I’ll add about two tablespoons of whey, which I also mix in well.  Then I cover everything and leave it at room temperature for about 24 hours, stirring occasionally.  At the end of this time, I put it in a glass bowl and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week, using it as needed for the afore-mentioned pancakes, and quick breads.  The inherent anti-pathogenic qualities of coconut allows this to keep longer than most flours that have been soaked–again, another bonus!

This recipe makes a very moist quick bread that is not overly sweet.  I use freshly ground flax seed as a binding agent, thus reducing the amount of eggs usually needed when working with non-gluten flours.  Stores beautifully  in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Cinnamon Raisin Soaked Coconut Flour Bread

Makes 1 8″ x 4″ Pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blend flour with flax, sea salt, spices, baking soda, sugar and stevia.  Add the beaten eggs and oil, then add raisins.  Mix all ingredients together well, then spoon into the oiled baking pan.  Smooth the top, and bake in the middle rack in the oven

Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, or until knife inserted in the middle comes clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing, as the saturated fat content of the bread will help to give it body once cooled.  Store any uneaten portions in the refrigerator.

Soaked coconut flour

 

Flax seeds about to be ground in coffee grinder

 

Incorporating oils (I used Blue Breeze coconut ghee from Green Pastures)

 

Consistency just before transferring to pan

 

Bread uncooked, ready for the oven

 

Bread fresh from the oven!

 

Bread cooled and ready to enjoy