Real Food App!

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Can’t it be a hassle to find healthy food on the road? Don’t get me wrong–I love traveling, and I love seeing what other communities have to share in their local restaurants, farmers’ markets and natural food stores.  I think it can be a GREAT way to learn a lot about a town or city, and can be a wonderful way to meet like-minded locals.  But FINDING these locales can be a bit of a challenge sometimes.

Thankfully, this just got a LOT easier!

For $6 a year, you can download the Find Real Food App for the Weston A. Price Foundation, and get this information directly on your smartphone–YAY!

I had the opportunity to meet the wonderful couple who have spent the last 3 years developing this app, and when they told me the price, I thought for sure the cost was per month–which still seemed reasonable to me!–but when they told me it was per YEAR, I was shocked!

All you’ll need to do is enter the zip code you’d like to search, and products, restaurants and other whole food entities will pop up on your screen–and they’re even ranked on a GOOD-BETTER-BEST system, by people who care deeply about finding the highest quality foods at the Weston A. Price foundation.

So in this busy season of travel, do yourself a favor and equip your phone with an incredibly helpful tool that keeps on giving!

Fermentation in the Summertime? Yes, It Can Happen!

Refreshing homemade yogurt

Refreshing homemade yogurt–Enjoyed all year long!

Culturing and fermenting foods is becoming an increasingly hot topic in the culinary world.  Who wouldn’t love the gut-benefiting and immune-boosting enhancements that these methods bring to our nutrition, all the while delivering on much more interesting and complex flavors, techniques that break down food macronutrients into easier-to-assimalate components?  Enhanced flavor, better nutrient use, helps to keep a body well–sign me up!

Wild (as in CRAZY) Fermentation in the Summer Months

But all is not rosy when the seasons change and temperatures rise, at least as pertains to cultured and fermented foods. Beneficial bacteria and yeasts–the foundation of these changes–like to work in a certain temperature range, and when the house starts heating up with the warmer days of summer, these temperatures can be too hot, too fast.

Freshly made water kefir to add to the salsa

Freshly made water kefir–a perfect culture starter, or a delightful probiotic beverage on its own–but it doesn’t like to get too hot!

 

Water kefir that has been a delicious and nutritious homemade probiotic beverage during the winter and spring, starts taking on strange and pungent aromas and flavors as the days grow warmer and longer.  Fermenting vegetables are pushed up and out of their containers within a couple of days of preparing them, with the increasing heat generating a lot of carbon dioxide in a very short window of time.  Milk kefir, usually a mellow ferment on the kitchen counter, quickly separates into curds and whey, leaving a marked separation between the cultured milk solids and the increasingly acetone-scented liquid.

Whey and curds in yogurt

Notice the whey in the middle of the curds in this yogurt that cultured at too high of a temperature

Definitely not too appetizing.

Keeping Ferments and Cultures Calm, Cool and Collected!

If any of the above describe what happens to you in the summer months as you attempt to maintain your fermentation practices, you might consider being a little more mindful of the temperature ranges you’re fermenting in.  Ferments and cultures that do best in the 60-75 degree Fahrenheit range (about 15.5-23.8 degrees Celsius) really won’t do well if your home gets warmer than this.  My workaround for this, living in the Mojave Desert of the American Southwest, is to prepare my ferments, and then keep them cooler than my kitchen at its warmest points.

Happy Water Kefir, Milk Kefir and Mesophilic Yogurt Culturing

Plan to prepare each of these as you normally would, only do so at night.  Then, whether the cooling system is on so you can sleep at a more comfortable temperature, or, because the outdoor night air has cooled to a temperature comfortable to sleep in,  leave these ferments on the kitchen counter, or outside on a table (whichever appears to be coolest.)  The home (and hopefully the outdoors!) will eventually be in the mid-to-high 70’s, and, with the cool ingredients (milk or water) going into mix, the final temperature will stay in the cooler temperature range through the night as the ingredients slowly warm to the ambient temperature. There have certainly been some flat-out hot nights here in the desert, where the temperature doesn’t dip below 90, so, in those instances, I definitely leave the ferments indoors.

The next morning, as temperatures begin to warm in earnest, move the ferment to the warmest part of your refrigerator. This allows the fermentation to continue, but at a much slower pace.  Generally, this allows for the cycle to complete for the day.  Every person’s refrigerator is different, so if you find yours seems to stop the fermentation cold (pun intended), then you might consider making a cooling box, of an ice chest stocked with a couple zipper bags of ice.

This is an art, with scientific components at its root, so you’ll have to find the method that best works for you.  You just want to find that happy spot that keeps things cool, but not too cool.  We keep our refrigerator on the medium setting, so, putting my ferments away from the cooling element seems to work fine for us.

Fermenting Summer’s Bounty as a Salsa or Sauerkraut–to be Enjoyed In the Summer!

I really get to missing fermented veggies over the summer, and the best way to get around this (short of purchasing some from the grocery) is to learn to work with the heat of summer.  Plan to prepare your veggies for fermentation as usual, but handling from that point forward requires a little more care than simply placing in a cool spot in a closet or at the back of the pantry.

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

Salsa ready to ferment in the cooler, then transfer to the fridge for a slower fermentation process

Once your veggies are prepared, place them in an ice chest or some other insulated environment, into which you’ll place a few zipper bags of ice.  Keep them in this container for about three days, switching out the ice every 10-12 hours, to keep the temperature cool (an ambient temperature between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit/15.5-21 degrees Celsius) is a very good spot.  At the end of this period, move the ferment to your warmest spot in your refrigerator (which might be a little crowded with your other ferments and cultures!), and plan to enjoy in about four weeks.

Using a little ingenuity and an extra nod to the attention to detail on temperature should allow you to enjoy your ferments and cultures throughout the year.  And there is nothing as refreshing as some fresh water kefir with a twist of lemon juice and a sprinkle of Himalayan Salt after a hot afternoon in the sun–so be sure to keep those home ferments brewing!

 

 

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!

Avocado and Papaya Salad

Papaya, avocado, pumpkin seeds and cayenne topping fresh greens from our spring garden.  Absolutely heavenly drizzled with walnut oil and fresh lime juice.

Papaya, avocado, pumpkin seeds and cayenne topping fresh greens from our spring garden. Absolutely heavenly drizzled with walnut oil and fresh lime juice.

It’s getting hot here in the desert, and we have many months of high temperatures ahead of us.  It feels good to move into the lighter faire of fresh fruits and vegetables when the weather warms–wonderful, juicy sustenance, but grounded with a drizzle of rich oil and soaked and dehydrated seeds.

Here’s an easy, fresh and nutritious salad that will be a light meal on its own, a perfect side to grilled fish or chicken, or paired with an assorted raw cheese plate. It is rich in digestion-supporting enzymes, thanks in large part to the Hawaiian papaya.  Included is sliced avocado–it’s mellow butteriness is like a soft pillow to the gentle sweetness of the papaya.  Topped with soaked and dehydrated pumpkin seeds and raw walnut oil, these simple ingredients will surprisingly deliver on sustained energy until your next meal.  Seasoned only with fresh lime juice, coarsely-ground sea salt and a dash of cayenne pepper, it is a flavor profile that puts me in a Mexico state of mind.

Avocado and Papaya Salad

Serves 2

  • 2 cups fresh Green Leaf Lettuce or Bibb Lettuce, roughly chopped and divided to 2 bowls
  • 1 ripe Avocado, cut into 1/2″ slices, divided
  • 1 cup ripe Papaya, cut into 1/2″ slices, divided
  • 1/4-1/2  cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds (preferably soaked and dehydrated), divided
  • 1 Lime, sliced and divided
  • 1/4 cup raw Walnut Oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil will do, as well), divided
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Coarsely ground Sea Salt

Divide the lettuce between two bowls.  Top each with the avocado and papaya slices and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds.  Drizzle with  walnut oil and top with sea salt and a dash of cayenne pepper.  Serve with fresh lime wedges and enjoy immediately.

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!

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